“Democratizing” participation (making Wikipedia/Wikimedia everyone’s responsibility) and reducing barriers for participation
Q 1 What is your Recommendation?
The community health working group recommends the wiki community begins actively acknowledging barriers and working to remove them by 2030. Barriers must be considered during knowledge work. Barriers the community health working group has identified include: age, disability, geography, language, nationality, as well as others that are social (e.g. gender, ethnicity and being LGBTQI) and technological). Simply recognizing and communicating barriers can alleviate the isolation that barriers impose. The movement needs to acknowledge barriers and work with barriers in mind.
Democratizing participation also includes advocating for a role for the Wikimedia projects in society, which in turn generates a sense of shared responsibility for the Wikimedia projects, greatly increasing the democratisation of the projects.
Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?
We are assuming barriers are limitations to the success of the wiki community. By not acknowledging barriers and continuing to isolate people, the goals of the strategic direction will not be recognized. CHWG research including a survey sought to learn what the main barriers to participation are; participants named some technical barriers (changes to wiki structures, two respondents mentioned Lua, and the need for a better mobile telephone editing interface) while many more referred to harassment, especially of women; fear of reprisals and backlash in response to targeting bad behavior; reprisals and backlash that specifically target women, LBGTIQ and ethnic and racial minorities; and mob mentality were all listed as barriers to participation.
Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?
The rationale for this recommendation is that the way we see, acknowledge and try to reduce barriers and the way society perceives of the Wikimedia projects has to change in order for us to move toward knowledge equity.
Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?
Wikipedia and Wikimedia related projects become easier to participate and people will feel more inclined to be their authentic selves. Barriers will be analysed systematically and solutions that reduce these barriers of participation will be developed, making the Wikimedia projects more accessible; and therefore allowing communities to better represent society as a whole. Advocacy will ensure that our goal of integrating the Wikimedia projects into society will be achieved in the long term.
Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?
Everyone, including society as a whole.
Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?
Reducing barriers may result in backlash from experienced users who feel that continuing to have certain barriers protects them from unwanted questions, problems or actions.
The working group is also aware that democratisation of the Wikimedia projects will not be possible in all countries due to local circumstances. While in those cases a shift towards a more open and tolerant society might in itself be difficult to achieve, it is important to integrate the Wikimedia projects into those societies as much as possible without undermining the core principles of the Wikimedia movement.
Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?
Demonstrate the need for the reduction of barriers that keep certain groups of people out and work on a project level to minimise the negative impact that the lowering of some barriers may have or that the community might perceive them to have.
Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality? Does it keep something, change something, stop something, or add something new?
The recommendation relates to the current structural reality in regard to barriers existing. These barriers must be recognized, discussed and considered when developing solutions or building programs. This participation must not be exclusive to one community, group, etc. but open to all and actively connect with the prior recommendation implementation (Community Health working group recommends developing a network to support community health.)
Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?
Yes, all of them. Barriers must be considered in all aspects of the community health recommendation development. For example, in recommending the code of conduct we must consider what barriers exist that this could impact. For this, an unwelcoming environment, harassment, and exposure to unsettling material could be barriers. Language must also be a consideration so it does not create or exacerbate a barrier, including the way we resolve conflicts within communities, how we welcome newcomers and how we can become a truly inclusive global community.
Q 6-2 Does this Recommendation connect or relate to your Scoping Questions? If yes, how?
Yes, we heard concerns during the Wikimedia Summit when we asked the participants our scoping questions (barriers of technological nature, policies, community engagement, lack of resources, etc.)
Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?
Barriers impact the work of everyone. Advocacy for advocating change in integrating Wikimedia projects, Product & Technology for technical solutions to lowering barriers, Partnerships for potential partnerships with organizations which specialize in this kind of scenario.
Q 8 Do you have anything to add that was not covered with previous questions, yet essential for understanding the recommendation?