Top Topics for Strategy Discussions in the Portuguese-Speaking Community
By Lucas Teles
Internet Word Cloud, by Dave Braunschweig – CC-BY-SA 4.0.
Since March 2019, the online and in-person Portuguese community for Wikimedia has been participating in the discussions around the movement strategy for Wikimedia 2030 on various channels. In this post, you will read a summary with the most relevant topics across all thematic areas.
Building technical capacity within the volunteer community is a recurring topic on Portuguese wikis, especially Wikipedia, and an old known general issue. The lack of users with technical skills is a problem yet to be solved and, as expected, it was mentioned in many opportunities during the community discussions on Capacity Building and Product & Technology thematic areas.
Programming in Lua, editing scripts in order to improve or create revision tools, like FastButtons or Twinkle, and running bots for repetitive actions, are tasks performed by only a small set of users. Community members believe that if more users were involved in these efforts, it would have a positive reduction on the total human workload. The resulting increase in volunteer time could be spent on improving content or any other productive task that would accelerate community growth and have a substantial impact.
Capacity development training in Brazil, 2016. By Horadrim, CC-BY-SA 4.0.
While some existing volunteers have voiced interest in learning these technical skills, it has been hard for them to drive this learning on their own. One of the ideas suggested to circumvent this issue was the investment in capacity development in this area, with the creation of videos, tutorials, presentations that could provide Wikimedians those skills, so they can use it on their communities and potentially spread this information with others.
Another recurring topic is the relationship between affiliates, the Portuguese online editing community, and the many committees that interact with them for certain situations. For instance, users mostly mentioned the relation between affiliates and Affiliations Committee (AffCom), but also pointed out to communication between Trust and Safety, as an area where they would like to see improved relations. Community members would like to see the online community empowered again to oversee their own issues whenever it is possible or at least be well informed when it has to be trusted to other groups. It brings the message that the editing community believes that, in order to become more accountable for itself, it has to be less dependent on external aid.
Centralized vs. decentralized way of governance
What is the best way of governance for all the different needs regarding the many activities related with the Wikimedia environment? According to the opinions of the lusophone participants, both centralized and decentralized methods are appropriate in different contexts. For instance, server maintenance and fundraising are better taken care of by paid functionaries of Wikimedia Foundation. On the other side, other activities could be changed for a decentralized management in order to better serve each different local demand.That would, in theory, shorten communication distances, provide more value to specific local details according to each culture, language, social condition. For instance, by establishing formal partnerships with government entities to help harder to reach and less resourceful schools to obtain access to free content.
Balancing accessibility and openness with quality
Vitor Oliveira from Torres Vedras, PORTUGAL, CC-BY-SA 2.0.
While editors on Portuguese Wikipedia are eager for new technical tools to expand access to and participation in editing work, they also raised some worry that this could result in a possible downside of increased vandalism, and therefore a net higher editing workload. Stakeholders were not entirely sure how to prevent this, but saw it as important for future consideration, especially when building new tools like Visual Editor. Overall, many still felt that it was important to make editing accessible to as many people as possible, and that technical knowledge should be less of an overall barrier.
With regard to the strategy process, these preferences signal the importance of balancing user experience, particularly with support to new users, and possible negative consequences in terms of quality or the behavior of new users. Thinking through trade offs like this – as well as others – is something that communities should take seriously in both reviewing recommendations and making decisions around implementation.