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

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The numbers[edit]

Germanophone users from Commons, Wikidata, Wikibooks, Wikiversity, Wikisource and Wiktionary were invited to comment on Wikipedia or Meta and have done so. More than 50 people have come together on Wikipedia to discuss and comment on the strategy recommendations. Another 20 people responded on Meta and other projects. During office hours, a total of 11 people showed up. Social media channels were scarcely used for discussion, but there were discussions at the AdminCon with c. 60 participants. A round table discussion took place in the local space WikiBär in Berlin with 10 participants (further sessions to happen soon).

General feelings[edit]

The feedback from the online community of german language was predominantly critical. Main points were that there were too many recommendations, formulated too vaguely, with no differentiation between stakeholders.

People did not manage to discern a clear direction of strategic changes and concrete consequences for the project communities.

Because the language was hard to understand for many users (both in the original version in English and in the German translation), there were also many misunderstandings and the sheer volume of the recommendations was simply too much for those who were dealing with it for the first time. There were nevertheless some areas of support about the content itself.

Areas of support[edit]

Greater financial independence and autonomy of organisations, as well as support for new organisations and emerging communities, was supported by many users of the online communities.

The investment in training and capacity building, especially for mentors, ArbCom and recruitment of newcomers generated a positive response. The development of stakeholder coordination and knowledge management was also supported, as well as research on how our content is used or manipulated. The scaling of technical capacities was also supported by a few users.

Practical design of the platform and enabling and supporting the communities through good user experience was generally supported. Technical accessibility for disabled, but also for newcomers - that, however, must be able to understand a complex set of rules and work in an encyclopaedic way - is broadly seen as very useful. One user welcomed the focus on recruiting newcomers and pointed out that this effort had already started in 2004, with another user calling it one of the most important topics of all.

Studies by the Wikimedia Foundation and handouts and assistance for online communities are gladly accepted, as long as the communities have the free decision about possible implementations.

Areas of opposition or concern[edit]

Great fears were expressed about possible intervention in the communities self-governance by WMF or newly created structures such as the Global Governance Body or new guidelines like the Code of Conduct (from recommendations Cultural Change, Provide Safety and Security, Ensure Equity in Decision Making).

The general lack of trust in the Wikimedia Foundation due to non-transparent interventions in the past (FramBan, Superprotect) was projected on all the fields mentioned above. The Code of Conduct generated fear of a top-down imposition and enforcement of behavioural guidelines while neglecting the self-government of the community. The "Prioritisation of Topics for impact" was principally rejected, especially if it is directed at or influences the content activities of the online projects.

There also is a concern that new rules and standards will not solve the problems - there are already enough - but the implementation is critical (Create Cultural Change).

The participating part of the community expressed a widespread concern about commercialisation (paid API) and a possible gap between 'normal volunteers' and paid advocates (Promote Sustainability and Resilience).

New hierarchies and leadership claims are not seen as suitable for Wikipedia, a project of volunteers at eye level. This was also a translation problem, as leadership might have a positive connotation in English, but has a negative one in German (Foster and Develop Distributed Leadership).

Start of new sister projects like for oral history were supported as long as such sources do not have to be a general basis for Wikipedia articles.

Suggestions for improvement[edit]

Not many users suggested improvements, but a central preoccupation through various projects was to clearly prioritise the functionality of the tools provided by the WMF (eg. for Commons, the Upload Wizard) instead of creating new features when implementing recommendation 12 (Evaluate, Iterate, Adapt) and recommendation 3 (Improve User Experience).

In general, the desire has been expressed to prioritise editorial independence more strongly over knowledge consumption, but at the same time to turn more favourably to newcomers with good intentions.

Clear examples and setting goals instead of processes were seen as beneficial to the strategy.

Points to clarify[edit]

From the discussion so far it has been made clear that the "leaders" are meant in a different way than it seems (even people who occasionally organize a regulars' table or something similar), but if that is the case, then expressing clearly which people are actually meant would be helpful.  

Similar comments were made in relation to the term stakeholders, where it is not entirely clear who is meant. The concept of community should also be sharpened and contextualized.

Finally, it might be useful to clarify that the aim of the recommendation which addresses the prioritization of topics will not harm the autonomy of the editing community, but is meant to support (e.g. fund) projects that make good sense.