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Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Transition/Design Group

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Harmonization Sprint in September 2019 in Tunis,
By Sailesh Patnaik, CC BY-SA 4.0

During July to August 2020, a diverse Design Group of about twenty volunteers held several working sessions and put together an Outline of the Transition events. The WMF Support Team has been using the Outline as a basis to facilitate the upcoming Transition events. Below is more information about the Design Group, along with detailed updates from its past work (kept in this space for documentation and transparency purposes).

Design Group[edit]

Username Photo Affiliation Location Introduction
Anass Sedrati (talk · contribs) WikiArabia Morocco, Sweden ar-N, fr-N, en-4, sv-4, es-4, it-3, pt-3. Editor on ar Wikipedia since 2013, Wikimedia Morocco co-founder and project Coordinator. Ex-Advocacy WG member, ex-Arabic Strategy liaison, ex-connector.
Anna Torres (WMAR) (talk · contribs) Executive Directors Argentina
Bachounda (talk · contribs)
WikiFranca Algeria Long time volunteer, mainly on French, Arabic and Commons projects, cofounder of WikiDZ at the end of 2014 Since 2015, I organize several activities for the local and regional community, photo contests, education program etc. My latest challenge: Wikimassak, a MOOC gathering 10,000 subscribers for Arabic-speaking beginners. with zero budget. arq-N,ar-N,fr-N,en-3
Biyanto Rebin (WMID) (talk · contribs) ESEAP Indonesia Volunteer on id.wp and jv.wp since 2006. Join Wikimedia Indonesia since 2014, Chair of the Board of Executive since 2016. Languages: id-N, jv-N, ms-3, su-2, en-3, zh-2, it-2
Delphine (WMF) (talk · contribs) Wikimedia Foundation Germany Languages: fr-N, en-4, de-3, it-2, es-2. Senior Orientation Specialist, Talent & Culture
Jeeb1207 (talk · contribs) Executive Directors Switzerland Languages: fr-N, de-N, en-4, es-4, nl-4, it-3, ar-1. Executive Director since Feb. 2016
JKumalah (WMF) (talk · contribs) Wikimedia Foundation United States Senior Data Analyst, Advancement
John Andersson (WMSE) (talk · contribs) Executive Directors Sweden Languages: sv-N, en-4, no-2, da-1, de-1. Volunteer editor since 2006, incl. administrator on sv.wp for a number of years. I have been an employee at Wikimedia Sverige since 2012 and for the last 3 years I've been the Executive Director.
Kayusyussuf (talk · contribs) WikiIndaba Nigeria Co-founder, Wikimedia Usergroup Nigeria. Handled Wiki Indaba 2019 logistics and organized three Strategy Salons in Nigeria.
Marcmiquel (talk · contribs) Writers Catalonia Writer of the recommendations. Member of Catalan Community and Chairman of Amical Wikimedia. Wikipedia Diversity and User Experience Researcher. Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) PhD scholar and lecturer. ca-N, es-N, en-4, it-3, ro-2.
Netha_Hussain (talk · contribs) Expert India, Sweden Gothenburg University PhD scholar. Movement expertise in thematic topics (medicine and education), addressing content gaps, and diversity in participation.
Philip Kopetzky (talk · contribs) Chairpersons Austria, United Kingdom Volunteer on de.wp since 2005, active in the CEE community and for simpleAPG
Opsylac (talk · contribs) Core Team France Ex-French Strategy Liaison. Fr-N, en-4, es-3, it-3. Editor on fr Wikipedia since 2016, Wikimedia France board member since november 2019. Local organizer in Grenoble.
ProtoplasmaKid (talk · contribs) Iberocoop Mexico
RMerkley (WMF) (talk · contribs) Wikimedia Foundation Canada Chief of Staff
Shanluan (talk · contribs) North America United States
Rupika Sharma South Asia India Former Community Strategy Liaison for South Asia. Wikimedian since 2014. Director at Open Heritage Foundation. I work in support for Partnerships, Policy-making, GLAM-Wiki Projects, Community growth, and Campaigns and edit on Wikisource, Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons. Languages: en-N, hi-N, pa-4, ja-2, fr-2, sa-4
Ymblanter (talk · contribs) CEE The Netherlands Volunteer editor since 2007. I currently have admin flags on en.wp, Wikidata, Commons, and ru.voy. I am not a member of any affiliate. Languages: ru-N, en-3, de-2, fr-2, nl-2, es-1, it-1.

Support Team[edit]

Username Photo Location Introduction
Abbad (WMF) (talk · contribs) Jordan ar-N, en-4, de-2, fr-1. Editor on ar Wikipedia since 2009, Wikimedia Levant Chief Coordinator. Providing content support with the Core Team.
CKibelka (WMF) (talk · contribs) Brazil de-N, en-4, pt-4, es-3. Editor on de-Wikipedia since 2004. Wikimedia Deutschland staff member 2011/2015–2020. (Virtual) Event Coordination for the Support Team.
Ellie McMillan Canada
KVaidla (WMF) (talk · contribs) Estonia et-N, en-4, fr-3, ru-2, de-1. Account in Wikipedia since 2009, main projects et.wp and vro.wp. Wikimedia work mostly related to organizational part, having served as executive director for Estonian chapter and supported activities in CEE regional collabortaive. Involved in movement strategy since 2017 in volunteer capacity and since 2018 in a contracted role.
MPourzaki (WMF) (talk · contribs) Canada, Iran fa-n, en-N, fr-1, es-1. Wikimedian at heart, with Movement Strategy since 2019.

Design Group updates[edit]

August 25: A summary of feedback on the Transition outline, which is to be integrated into the current draft, is now available for review and potential additions.
August 19: An updated version of the Transition events outline is now available. The updated versions includes improvements of language and structure based on feedback.
August 6: The Design Group has produced a first draft of the Transition events outline. The document will be open for community's review and feedback until August 20th.
July 23: The Design Group held its third regular working session. During the session, Design Group members discussed three large areas of work that emerged from previous discussion (People, Process and Legitimacy of Transition events). A summary is available for review and feedback.
July 16: The Design Group held its second regular working session. Most of the session was dedicated for experimentating around clustering and prioritizing the list of initiatives. A summary is available for review and feedback.
July 9: The Design Group held its first regular working session, out of a total of four to five sessions. The discussion topics were mainly around the considerations for the design of the upcoming Transition events in September. A summary is available (in English) for review and feedback.
June 29: The Design Group composition has been announced. The group will be working together for the next several weeks to draft a Transition plan.
June 9: The call for nominations of the Transition Design Group members, to certain communities and regions, is now open.
Design Group updates (now embedded into the Events Outline)

From July to mid August 2020, regular updates about the Design Group's work were shared for community feedback and input.

The group held a total of 5 working sessions, the output of which is a plan for the Transition events. Once an initial plan is available, around early to mid August, a two-week period will be dedicated for a community consultation.

Updated Events Outline[edit]

  • An updated draft was posted by the Support Team on August 19th, to improve the language and logical structure, per various feedback.

Session #4[edit]

The working session 4 produced a draft outline of the Transition events.

Feedback processs:

  • The outline will be available for community's reivew and feedback from August 6th until August 20th.
  • A feedback summary (similar to the January - March 2020 summary) will be produced and shared back with the community for validation, around August 20th, so that the feedback loop is complete.
  • The consolidated feedback will be afterwards incorporated into a final Transition events outline in late August.

Session #3[edit]

Date: Thursday 23 July 2020.

Based on the brainstorming from session 1 and the exercise from session 2, a few “areas” or “containers” of work emerged that the Design Group may need to think through for the Transition events. Those areas were grouped under three main categories:

  • People: How to be inclusive? Who can participate? How to communicate?
  • Process: How do we create a clear process for all participants, while still serving the complexity of the movement?
  • Legitimacy: How do we ensure the legitimacy of the process and the decisions made?

Design Group members worked in sub-groups to further discuss each of these areas in their 3rd working sessions. A summary of the conversations around each area is below.



  • Underrepresented groups: don’t forget less prominent groups, including:
    • Communities from the Incubator, Media-Wiki, Wikidata and Kiwix.
    • External experts, researchers, Creative Commons and GLAMs.
  • Language barrier: organize some of the events in the major languages.
    • There we have at least 7 events already - AR, ZH, DE, FR, ES, PT, RU
  • Technical barrier: people should be able to give feedback in other ways according to their connectivity. We have to facilitate 3 levels of engagement:
    • Full connection
    • Audio only
    • Text-only
  • Localize and contextualize as many documents as possible.

Selection and participation:

  • Create a combined process where:
    • Organized groups are asked to select their own representatives.
    • Decentralized, online community members are able to self-nominate themselves.
  • There will be people who want to remain anonymous, especially individuals
    • Not an issue for offline events, but it’s a different concept in online events.
    • Should be an important consideration.
  • The Friendly Space Policy needs to be applied.
  • We could have a quota system
  • The current affiliate model favours the bigger affiliates
    • Can do a selection committee and encourage people to apply
    • Each region can submit a list of the most active participants.
    • Suggestion to organize events the same way we have our regular wikimedia conferences: announce the events everywhere and have a selection committee taking into consideration several aspects such as diversity, gender, etc.
    • The selection of people in the event will affect the implementation itself so we have to be careful about the balance of powers so that not only (the powerful) will nominate themselves and end up creating a power gap in the movement
  • Other suggestions:
    • Open up as much as possible (for example, with a maximum of 1,000 people) and find a way to delegate the decision-making.
    • People can register, then based on that we see who is missing, then advertise to certain communities or invite them.
    • We need to have cross-community conversations so people get out of their bubbles
      • This would need simultaneous translations
    • Feedback a day later
    • Suggestion to also stream, e.g. YouTube (or an open source platform) to maximize the number of participants, especially for the bigger events.
      • Share recording of the calls so people can provide input asynchronously also.
      • Provide subtitles in different languages.


  • Have videos of individuals who were part of shaping the strategy talk about their experience. People who are also consuming the strategy can talk about their experience.
  • Identify ambassadors, especially outside affiliates, to talk to them about the whole process, and help them to communicate with their communities (so that the community feels represented).
    • Self-nomination is best, so that those nominated believe in the cause to propagate the cause:
      • (1) self-nomination, PLUS
      • (2) mapping of key folks
    • Care should be adhered about the balance of powers so that not only the “powerful” will nominate themselves and end up creating a power gap in the movement.
      • Create a new metric to tackle the power structures, e.g. have a certain number of people from the global south.


  • Make sure all participants have a basic understanding of the process
    • Explain the process
    • Explain how the process and decisions in the process affect them.
  • Create a survey and ensure it is accessible to the participants.
  • Have advance meetings that will explain the process to participants.
  • Keep it very simple and easy to use regardless of bandwidth, language or device etc.
  • Identify the needs of communities that will participate in this process. This will give the support team advance information that will help shape the process.
  • Design activities that will get participants to warm up to each other and have shared objectives for the process.
  • Use visual aids to increase understanding
  • Design considering people have limited volunteer time
  • Idea: fully open online conversation in breakout rooms, where everyone could participate
    • Manage the discussions with smaller breakout groups
    • Provide language support where needed (see People)
  • Bigger events can be for identifying and building concepts of how initiatives can be implemented, then feed in to the bigger event
  • Smaller events can be topical and regional - certain initiatives will be more important here


  • Legitimacy questions are mostly coming up in the online communities.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient level of involvement for the people from the online communities.
    • Online space makes it possible to include more people
    • Create spaces for people to interact across projects
    • Pre-sessions prior to the actual implementation discussions would be helpful in creating involvement, leading to legitimacy
  • The principles that help us to reach legitimacy are openness, transparency, and multilingualism
    • Translate materials to about 20 languages to make it more accessible
    • Report back and engage in online spaces
    • Find people to act as (ideally, voluntary) ambassadors for the process - they can be more deeply involved and answer questions that raise in the communities

Session #2[edit]

Date: Thursday 16 July 2020.

The Design Group went through an exercise to work around with the list initiatives (i.e. key actions and outcomes from the recommendations). The exercise was to cluster and prioritize initiatives according to how they should be implemented, which was an experimentation for exercises that may later take place in the Transition events. There has been a rich feedback from the Design Group regarding the exercise and the clustering and prioritization processes. Some points from the feedback are highlighted below (as quoted from the session notes).


  • The exercise is too complex.
    • Sequencing some clusters turned out complicated, because they were not thematic.
    • The types of clusters we chose look mostly functional, so it helps create clarity but not really sequence inside each cluster.
  • We shouldn’t look for new ways to cluster the recommendations.
    • The recommendations are already clustered together.
    • The recommendations are already structured/grouped together by “need”.
    • There was a predefined set. We have 10 recommendations. We were not working with the initiatives that were predefined. Maybe it is not the best for the process.
  • Clustering has been the most difficult exercise so far, throughout the Strategy process.
  • The [initiatives] are not homogeneous.
    • What do these initiatives actually mean?
    • Some of them are goals, others are processes; others are actions, while some more like processes other like goals
  • We managed to create clear clusters and well divide work between us, good dynamic
  • We had time pressure because of the limited time of the session; but the real event design we should have sufficient time


  • Break the work into smaller pieces.
  • Build shared understanding: set the rules for clustering as a team.
    • Have super clear instructions => have actionable sequence of actions to do
    • Make sure the instructions are followable
  • Make room for different approaches and try to make sure that people understand that different approaches might yield different outcomes but that all are important to look at.
  • Use a visual metaphor to build up the initiatives (what do we need first -> foundation, what comes next -> rooms, how do we ensure that the rooms work? -> roof).
  • In structure things need to be super clear, because it takes time to understand how things actually need to happen. This should not take more than actual thinking or designing time.


  • Instructions weren't sufficiently clear.
  • Difficulty in deciding what comes first (what comes first in terms of a timeline, or what comes first in terms of priority, or to consider both).
  • How to manage priorities and sequence at the same time?
  • What we need now is to prioritize the needs that should go first. It’s the most important question right now.
  • We should determine the main goals of Strategy, then prioritize based on that.
    • The strategy is basically about finding alignment then prioritizing, rather than jumping to the final initiatives (i.e. we should first prioritize / align the recommendations themselves.).
    • Not agreeing on the foundational initiatives would endanger the whole strategic process.
  • Parallel processes will have different priorities and are not intertwined necessarily
  • Regional differences are already blossoming and impacting priorities.
    • Prioritization by itself can be problematic due to the different contexts of the single participants.
    • Prioritizing in itself is not homogeneous. Different groups have different interests and therefore different priorities.


  • Let’s keep it simple, clear and low bandwidth.
  • The difference between prioritizing and sequencing needs to be clearer.
  • Steps for the movement to distribute the initiatives among all stakeholders
  1. Alignment on a few important needs of the strategy to prioritize in this round of implementation (alignment). Not all, just four or five.
  2. Agreement on the requirements and opportunities of each of the recommendations’ initiatives (evaluation/agreement).
  3. Clarity on the suitability of each actor to deploy the initiatives according to capacities, aspirations and resources (evaluation/decision).

Feedback & Considerations[edit]

  • The task is terrible to manage on a slow computer (video+miro+google doc).
  • Time pressure should not be there. We are designing an important thing for the whole community for the next 10 years, and it should not depend on whether we have extra 15 minutes.
    • Frustration in trying to get to a group understanding of the actual task. Dedicate time to make sure that there is a shared understanding of the task at hand.
    • Create space for the groups to define their approach and find a way to jointly group topics, since everyone approached the exercise differently.
    • There should be time built in for errors and mistakes and understanding given everyone is coming from a different community, language and tech equipment varies.
    • Take into account cultural language network barriers by marking a "review task instruction time" at the beginning of the meeting.
  • we managed to make a process happen, and it yielded interesting results and observations,
  • Questions and objectives should be simple, very clear and repeated.
  • Designate roles at the beginning:
    • Online groups should have one facilitator/ note taker / screen sharer and one or at most 2 central low bandwidth work spaces.
    • Facilitation is absolutely necessary + permanent support for the “administrative tasks”.
    • Trained and informed note-taking will be key for making sense of the discussions.
  • There should be some feedback loop to define the initiatives themselves or validate them.
  • Be realistic about what we can do.

Next Steps[edit]

  • Design Group members to keep working asynchronously around:
    • Inclusivity for the events.
    • Scoping the Transition.
    • Design in a 10 step-approach.
    • Design for prioritizing the initiatives.
    • Visual approaches to unpacking the content.

Session #1[edit]

Date: Thursday 9 July 2020.

In its first working session, on 9 July 2020, the selected Design Group brainstormed some of the “immediate concerns and considerations” that are to be addressed in the Transition events design throughout the next five weeks. The group clustered their initial ideas into the groupings below. Community feedback and suggested changes or additions to this list are welcome.

List of considerations[edit]

Below is a list of considerations for the Transition events design, with some examples of the discussion points that came up during the working session:

Theme Concerns and considerations
Inclusivity Diversity and inclusion
  • How do we make these events as inclusive as possible?
  • How do we ensure equity in participation?
  • How do we make sure that all regions of the world can participate in the same, equal way?
Engaging online communities
  • Different stakeholders in the movement are part of the diversity: affiliates, individual contributors, WMF, editing, organizers etc.
  • We need the perspective of communities (users, editors) in the future. How to get them on board?
Language gap / diversity
  • The language barrier is significant if we want to be inclusive.
  • Suggestion: Facilitators/translators who can capture/transmit contributions from those communities.
  • Suggestion: Using written options for contribution - allow people to prepare their notes (rather than speaking “on the spot”) through google forms, surveys, questionnaires.
Bandwidth  / connectivity
  • Internet bandwidth is a big concern. Related issues include potential power outages and the bandwidth needs when using video by default.
Technology gap
  • We need to support technological capabilities.
Governance Feasibility
  • How do we ensure that people feel heard and decisions are still being made?
  • How can we resource the people and communities so that they can start the work as soon as possible?
  • Make sure that there is ownership possible with check-ins along the way.
  • How to ensure that small affiliates will also be given responsibilities and operations, rather than just splitting them between already big and sustainable chapters?
  • How do we ensure cross validation between all actors so that we are as efficient as possible when we later start implementing? How to increase the legitimacy of the distribution of initiatives?
  • How do we ensure that it is not top-down but inclusive from the start?
  • How do we ensure that all stakeholders hold mutual accountability?
Contextualization Surveys / research
  • Do we need research that analyses the needs of stakeholders that won’t be taking part in the transition events?
Community needs assessment
  • Assess the needs of these communities to ensure they have the ability to participate in implementation.
Feedback loops
  • Feedback loops, as always, will be needed along the way of Transitioning into implementation.
Scoping and priorities for Design
  • Ideally, by the end of the process we will have a list of things which need to happen to implement all the recommendations; what can be keep running in parallel, what is the sequence, and what are the priorities within every “parallel line”.
Other Expectation management
  • Not every product might be acceptable for everybody, but the expectations must be clearly labeled.
  • Keep the conversation going with the whole movement. Official messaging. People should understand what we are doing.
  • How can we turn the idealistic recommendations into concrete actions and tasks?
Create space for the Design rather than designing the plan
  • How to avoid designing the 'plan' itself by designing the events to 'design the plan'?
Start experimenting with implementation in an iterative manner
  • How can we from now start to test and try in an iterative process that ongoingly allows us to bring in more and more people that are interested in the work?
Empowering communities and stakeholders
  • How do we empower emerging communities if they can’t even participate?