Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Reports/Movement strategy office hours notes

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Compiled notes from the two Movement Strategy Office Hours call held on January 30, 2020


Below is a condensed, general summary of the meeting notes from the office hours calls that were held by the core team on Thursday, January 30. The notes provide an overview of the key points and questions that were raised during the two calls as well as summaries of the responses.


Discussion about the process itself[edit]

Introduction / General input from the core team:

Community conversations and lessons learned by the core team:

  • Timeframe: a lot of effort has gone into developing the recommendations. The way the process has been designed might feel as if there has not been a lot of space to provide input. We are currently collecting the final input into the recommendations. The time window of 5 weeks might seem short and not adequate compared to the length and scope of the process.
  • Community conversations run in parallel to the development of recommendations. They started at the end of March 2019, providing a six-month window to provide input.
  • As part of this:
    • Community strategy liaisons have been facilitating discussions in different languages and channels, on- and offline
    • Strategy salons: 48 in-person meetings held in 29 countries.
    • Also engaged affiliate liaisons who facilitate discussions at affiliates
  • During the 2019 community conversations, our team was not as present in the online space, where we were rightfully expected to be. The influx of feedback was large and we lacked time and capacity to address all of it.
    • We, the core team, did not provide enough clarity to the working groups about the response process, and who actually responds on what level and platform. We understand that the lack of engagement has caused frustration and disappointment.

General input from the core team:

Additional information about the recommendations:

  • In drafting these 13 recommendations, things were kept high level, and some of the recommendations lost their sharp outline.
  • Thematic area recommendations - these have not been scrapped; they served as the foundation for the current set. We will go back to these if needed during implementation to get more detail.
  • We are at a stage of getting high level alignment and then go into the details. A lot of community input is around these concrete ideas, not these high-level concepts.

General input from the core team:

Other process topics:

  • Phase III – Implementation: This is where strategy meets reality. As a movement, we will try things out in different contexts, we will iterate things, and we will work together. The core team’s hope is that this type of coordination will become the movement’s DNA. The core team’s mandate is to deliver Phase II – Recommendations for Change; its mandate ends with the delivery of the recommendations, and with transfer of knowledge and information to the next phase.
  • Integration - two weeks in March have been set aside to consider and integrate the feedback from communities, affiliates and board of trustees in the final recommendations.
  • There are points of controversy that need heavy consideration - mainly around a Universal Code of Conduct, Movement Charter, Global Governance Body, and connections to the branding strategy, which are being led by different WMF teams.

Discussions about recommendation topics[edit]

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

Concern expressed about scalability, safety and security and user experience. Efforts should be scaled way up to measure with the size of the community, particularly with regards to software and hardware support.

Input from the core team:

  • Scalability looks to use and build on the resources and knowledge we already have across the movement. Servers and hardware support - this has not been a focus of the community discussions and the process overall so far.

Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC)

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

It does not seem like the online community is really able to have much of a say in what goes into these recommendations. As an example, the UCoC attracted a lot of feedback and pushback from different communities, yet it still appears among the recommendations.

Input from the core team:

  • There are ideas in the recommendations that are proposed but are currently not outlined in a specific way, such as term limits and the UCoC. The core team’s current aim is to collect feedback from communities about these broad ideas, see where there is strong opposition and strong support so we can understand which ideas should advance and which may need to be revised or may need additional research or work. Beyond knowing whether an idea is generally supported or opposed, the core team also needs to understand what these ideas might mean in practice or what must be taken into account before the idea can move forward i.e. a UCoC might be good in theory, but community autonomy should not be breached, as it would undermine this.
  • There has been a lot of opposition around the UCoC on Meta. There was also feedback received on this recommendation via other channels that was not as strongly opposed to it, and was in some cases even supportive. Things were changed a lot from the first version of the recommendations to the second so that it became more a model of behaviours that are largely self-evident.

People are assuming, with a UCoC, if you swear, you will get blocked. Nobody knows what it will say. If you’re seeing opposition to this idea, think about what are currently unwritten rules - we do not block people because of gender, because of their heritage, sexual orientation, username that have numbers in them. The UCoC should mention this.

Movement Charter

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

There are concerns about the Movement Charter. It is currently not clear how this would help support a symbiotic relationship between organizations and communities. The process for this is also unclear - it is proposed but it’s not clear what the content would be. What is the timeframe? How will this be taken forward?

Input from the core team:

  • It is a movement strategy, it is a long-term strategy. This will become clearer in implementation. We are gathering input now. At the Wikimedia Summit, we will start more concrete planning, mapping out how we move forward
  • The specific details of concepts such as the UCoC, Movement Charter, Global Governance Body will only be consulted and worked on if they make it into the final recommendations document and then into the implementation phase.

Global Governance Body

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

It’s hard to really respond to certain ideas like a Global Governance Body without knowing exactly what they would do. It is also difficult to understand how much authority they would have. There seem to be different ideas about what their role would be - consultative or would they have resource allocation powers?

Input from the core team:

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

This seems like it would lead to more hierarchy and more disconnect between the Wikimedia Foundation and the communities. The Foundation should look to become more global and community oriented. Yet the Board of Trustees should also focus on serving the Wikimedia Foundation more.

Input from the core team:

  • The idea would be to have the Board of Trustees and the Global Governance Body as two separate entities (but the exact legal status would have to be defined during the implementation phase). So the Board of Trustees would nurture the Foundation but then there would also be a body specifically focused on nurturing the global projects. The Roles and Responsibilities working group proposed a distributed power and decision-making model. It is not currently clear what this would look like exactly, but the idea would be to have a body linked to the Wikimedia Foundation that is focused on the international bodies and also works with the movement, especially the organized part, to support self-management.

Preparing for the Wikimedia Summit[edit]

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

There is a feeling that there is quite a lot to do and prepare between now and the Summit. Some participants are unsure what to expect. Will people be discussing or debating the recommendations or will it be about implementation?

Input from the core team:

  • At the Wikimedia Summit, we will look at how these ideas will be taken forward and develop a rough plan for implementation together. So initial discussions around implementation will start here. These will focus on prioritizing the initiatives presented in the recommendations. Then we will discuss the sequencing, so which steps to take and the order to take them in, as some of the recommendations build on each other. And then we will start planning out the concrete measures that will help us implement the recommendations.
  • Looking to have affiliates play a strong role here. The movement strategy process has been about building movement-wide collaboration; the nine working groups were a pilot for this. Our aim is that movement-wide coordination becomes the default in the implementation phase.

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

How will this be done? Harmonizing the recommendations was a huge challenge, and it is difficult to understand what we can expect from 200+ plus folks at the Summit in terms of getting on the same page and going forward. There may be a lot to digest following the Summit.

Input from the core team:

  • We will aim to break up the recommendations into certain initiatives (i.e. governance topics) and then discuss these with people who are passionate about these. It is a lot. A tip for preparing from the affiliate side - look at the initiatives you see emerging and where your interest and expertise lies and where you could contribute to creating the implementation plan.
  • To be clear, we are not looking to walk away from the Summit with a blueprint; a rough outline is what we are aiming for - what are the priorities? In what order should things be implemented? The goal is to spread responsibilities across the movement. Due to how high level the recommendations are, further discussions with communities or feasibility assessments will be needed around certain initiatives.

Prioritization[edit]

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

What does prioritization mean?

Input from the core team:

  • This is about making decisions around initiatives that emerge from recommendations. There are three levels:
    • Level 1: Prioritizing - Assessing and deciding which initiatives are the most important and also looking at existing capacity and resources that could facilitate implementing these.
    • Level 2: Sequencing - the order that initiatives should be implemented in (what do we implement first?)
    • Level 3: Responsibilities - understanding and deciding who will implement what.

In addition to this, we also need to constantly consider what the recommendations will mean for different parts of the movement and ensure that we do the right things in the right contexts.

Support for recommendations[edit]

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

The strategy process and the Movement should generally try to work with community support unless there is a strong reason not to. With this in mind, we also need another measure for gauging community support or input. With Meta being predominantly in English, some people can’t or can’t confidently contribute. Gauging support makes sense but done on Meta, it makes it difficult for a broad group of people to participate. When will endorsement happen?

Input from the core team:

  • It’s not a vote or endorsement at this point. We are still developing the content of the recommendations. We are looking into the general idea of what are the things that would enable the movement to function better. What’s presented is a new type of content. The previous community conversations focused on recommendations that were related to thematic areas. We then tried to find the common ideas for change among these, out of which 13 recommendations emerged. Now we need to understand what people think these 13 recommendations mean on a global scale, what they mean in local contexts, do they address our needs - we need this input to improve the recommendations.
  • We are looking to get support for the recommendations, but this process may not be formal. It would be hardly possible to get this from affiliates prior to the Summit given the timeline. The goal is to have people at Summit adequately represent their affiliate and discuss what is sensible for them and/or their community to take up. The Summit participants of course only reflect a part of our movement, and conversations around support and implementation need to be developed for the different Wikimedia stakeholder groups. Following the Summit - there may be a process where people submit statements of support for certain initiatives.

General questions from affiliates[edit]

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

From an affiliate point of view: This all depends on budget. Will budget allocation be addressed in Berlin at the Wikimedia Summit?

Input from the core team:

  • Yes. Although we won’t have a fully developed plan coming out of Berlin. The aim is to have a ‘general sense’ of our priorities, i.e. where the focus should be and what can be implemented first. Based on this, concrete action items and a budget for the upcoming year can be mapped following the Summit. With the current financial structure for the movement, a successful implementation will be dependent on funding from the Wikimedia Foundation. The annual planning in the WMF for the next fiscal year (from July 2020 to June 2021) has already started, and funding for recommendations and respective initiatives across the movement will have to be factored in.

Lack of clarity: text and how community input was integrated[edit]

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

It is difficult even for native speakers to understand the language used, and the lack of clear language, clear ideas, and lack of responses on Meta during previous community conversations makes it hard to engage and comment now. This lack of clarity leads makes it hard to have focused discussions and get to a clear point together.

Input from the core team:

  • The vagueness is the result of the process - we aimed for a high level to create recommendations that are flexible and can be adapted in a number of contexts. It also means this document does not have the usual KPIs or methods to measure success.
  • It is at quite an abstract level - that understandably creates a disconnect between the online contributors day-to-day work and what the recommendations are proposing.
  • We have heard the feedback about language and we aim to improve this in the final version of the documents.

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

The connection between input and changes is not clear. It is difficult to see how input has influenced the recommendations, and it is not clear what has been removed because the community disagreed with it and what has been taken out for now and pushed back to a later stage:

Input from the core team:

  • Community input has shaped the recommendations throughout but we have not done a good enough job of showing how we have been doing this. One example of this is licensing being taken out of the Diversity working group’s recommendations. But we know that we need to close feedback loops, as people are unsure how their input was used. Even though engagement was not always visible from our side, every comment was reviewed and analyzed. The core team is currently looking at applying a more detailed approach retrospectively to show how feedback has been incorporated into the recommendations.

Intersection with branding process[edit]

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

The branding discussion has major implications for affiliates - are we now tied to content and language and does this put volunteers at risk? This is so connected to movement strategy and it is completely separate.

Input from the core team:

  • During the New Voices discussions of Phase I, it emerged that Wikimedia is not always a helpful brand. The communications team were able to take this discussion forward faster than we were able to progress in the movement strategy discussions. This is how the two processes separated. As movement strategy has grown and encompassed numerous discussions, these two processes have remained distinct from each other.

General topics[edit]

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

What’s plan B if the movement strategy process does not work?

Input from the core team:

  • If we see that some of the plans don’t work, we will go back to community input and adapt and reiterate based on this. One of the main features has been collaboration, to continue to find ways to coordinate globally. Alternatively, communities take the initiatives and apply them in a non-coordinated way.

Outreach, boosting engagement and how to surface community feedback[edit]

Question/ topic raised during office hours:

What can affiliates do to help surface community feedback?

Input from the core team:

  • If you are having conversations with people, the core team would like to know what the key points of this were. This can be surfaced on Meta, direct to the core team, or via the strategy liaisons. One example that could be helpful: strategy liaisons have posted summary comments on Meta from their communities. See here.
  • How the strategy liaisons do this: they reach out via as many channels as possible to gather feedback. This is summarized and posted somewhere public (like Meta) and this community is asked if this reflects their ideas well. This is then translated into English.