Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Reports/Summary of Movement Conversations 2020/French

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

The numbers[edit]

Francophone conversations were open for 5 weeks, with outreach made with all francophone online Wikimedia projects, and all francophone Wikimedia affiliates of the WikiFranca coordination.

During this period, the recommendations landing page in French was viewed more than 900 times and 250 people engaged in the consultation. Around 90 engaged online, 30 on wikis (mainly Wikipedia, but also Wiktionary and Meta-Wiki), and 60 more through Twitter and Telegram. 160 people engaged through 14 in-person meetings happening in 11 different countries: Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, France (4 meetings in Grenoble, Paris, Rennes and Brest), Guinea, Haïti, Mali, Senegal, Tchad and Togo.

Overall, we estimate that the gender ratio among participants is 70% men and 30% women, with a few non-binary participants (maybe 1%).

General feelings[edit]

The consultation process was overall well received, although with some localized pushback.

Some editors on village pumps refused to engage with the recommendations, either because they found that the language of the document was “management jargon” (partly because of heavy presence of anglo-saxon concepts that were hard to translate), or because they were defiant about the very idea of a WMF-led consultation, with some confusion with the Rebranding process, saying they thought they would not be listened to.

Nevertheless, a majority of participants positively welcomed the consultation, seeing it as an opportunity to collaboratively shape the movement strategy. These were often people who were at least somewhat familiar with how Wikimedia organisations work, or even involved in affiliate organisations, which explains why the purpose of the strategy process was more transparent to them. Communities from Francophone Africa, in particular, participated with enthusiasm, appreciating the opportunity to share their views, as well as strongly supporting the goal of creating more equity in our movement and projects.

Areas of support[edit]

General support was expressed for all 13 principles (eg. Subsidiarity, Equity and Empowerment, Collaboration, Accountability). The document itself is deemed to be at the right structural level, and addressing the right problems (community health, newcomers retention, content gaps…).

The most enthusiasm went to recommendations focusing on capacity building: Foster and Develop Distributed Leadership and Invest in Skills Development. They were particularly celebrated by African communities, who appreciated the focus on horizontal learning methods, with contextualized training and peer-learning, which are seen as likely to empower their local communities. Promote Sustainability and Resilience is also well regarded, in particular its intention to provide better support to volunteers and help communities grow and strengthen.  Improve User Experience is also greatly appreciated: people indeed want friendlier platforms and tools, both for readers, content contributors and developers.

Create Cultural Change was also well received, with some nuances here and there. Editors highlighting how communities’ current toxicity (especially on Wikipedia) is harmful to newcomers, women and minorities, and hence community diversity and renewal. Support was expressed for the creation of a Charter of shared values and a Code of Conduct, as long as they allow for local adaptation, and creation of a Movement Charter to ensure accountability. Also, editors in countries where being a Wikimedian can be politically dangerous appreciated the Safety and Security recommendation.

People also expressed great support - though warning that extra-care will be needed when going into implementation - for recommendations that aim at creating more equity, either in Movement governance (Ensure Equity in Decision-Making, Coordinate across Stakeholders) or in projects content and accessibility (Innovate in Free Knowledge, Prioritize Topics for Impact). They are seen as allowing for more democracy in governance, increasing WMF transparency, and opening the way for marginalized communities to better represent their knowledge, for example oral history.

Recommendations focusing on internal processes (Manage Internal Knowledge, Evaluate, Iterate and Adapt, Plan Infrastructure scalability) received less attention but are seen as useful and necessary.

Areas of opposition or concern[edit]

Some recommendations also received criticism.

In Promote Sustainability and Resilience, the idea of looking into compensation means for non-editing tasks only was criticized by one person, while it was generally supported by others. The idea of selling API services created debate too, with pros but also fears that it might lead to a loss of independence or betrayal of free knowledge principles.

Some people fear that implementation would be decided unilaterally, and highlighted that it needs to be a collaborative and multilateral process. Some communities also expressed fears that Western standards would be imposed on other countries without adaptation, for example for a Code of Conduct. And concerns were shared concerning data privacy if creating a ‘database of peers’ (Manage Internal Knowledge).

The recommendation Prioritize Topics for Impact, was seen as positive if it was meant to address content gaps, but was rejected in the case it meant we should prioritize the number of page views.

There were also concerns about some recommendations creating too much bureaucracy, hierarchies, or too much reporting work for volunteers or affiliates.

Finally, the absence of any mention of environmental issues was seen as missing in the text.

Suggestions for improvement[edit]

Many suggestions for improvement of content were shared (captured in detail in this table).

The main point everyone agreed on was that the language of the recommendations was often too vague and bureaucratic, lacking explicitness, and should be overall clarified, in particular for key concepts such as “cultural change”, “impact” or “leaders”.

It was also suggested to make the document more inclusive (explicitly mention minorities such as LGBTQI+, use gender-neutral language, etc.). African communities would also like to read more explicit mention of the specific needs of emerging communities, such as legal and financial support, or the need to have learning material available offline.

More precision is also asked to distinguish between stakeholders and their respective roles: online / offline communities, volunteers / staff, movement / partners… Some editors said that online communities need to appropriate the recommendations and take action themselves to improve situations (eg. for Cultural Change), and that it needs to be mentioned that many implementation steps will need to be built by communities themselves, or at least in close collaboration with them.

Besides, people highlighted the need for transparency, especially for conflict resolution processes, that need to be equitable for all parties.

Explicit mention of Sister Projects specific needs is demanded too (Innovate Free Knowledge, Improve UX).

Finally, there is a demand to better define each outcome: what it would look like exactly (eg. is the Global Governance Body a 200 people assembly or an 10 people council?), who it would apply to, and who would be accountable for its implementation.