Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Transition/Follow-up events
This page contains summaries of the various discussions during the Movement Strategy follow-up events, which were held during January to February 2021. The purpose of these discussions was to help plan the immediate steps for the implementation of the prioritized Movement Strategy initiatives in 2021-22 (appearing in green, in the graph below).
These summaries were created by the Strategy Support Team, and the source material for each summary can be found in the links titles: main article.
Cluster A: Interim Global Council and Movement Charter
During the events the people convened in a total of 4 different discussion streams focusing on different aspects of setting up the Interim Global Council. These streams were structure, representation, selection and planning. This report presents a high level summary of the conversations during the global conversations on the following topics:
- How the Interim Global Council should handle its different tasks, including: 1. Creating the Movement Charter (MC), 2. Setting up the Global Council (GC), and 3. Overseeing the implementation of Movement Strategy.
- Considering the different groups that should receive “representation” on the Council, and how to ensure they are not left out.
- Defining how the Council members will be selected, with possibilities that include: elections, appointment process or a mixed model.
- Rough planning, time frame and sequence of tasks for the Interim Global Council.
Cluster B: Improve User Experience
As a first step, some participants thought, there needs to be improved communication and awareness regarding user experience issues in Wikimedia projects, possibly through a dedicated space or a channel. Contributors, newcomers and readers of the projects (alike) should be closely involved in UX research (for example, through micro surveys for long-term tracking of their experience).
A significant number of small improvements have been proposed with a rough goal of designing interfaces intentionally for a wide range of users and devices. Some of these improvements included: simplifying the use of templates and making the incubator more user-friendly.
Newcomers, according to the conversation, require support in two broad areas: by providing them with resources, and involving their feedback in user experience and interface design. Some of the suggested resources or changes were: more videos and visual content, simple tools and tips for editing, micro editing tasks and banners inviting them and helping newcomers to contribute. Additionality, suggestions included ensuring a friendlier atmosphere for newcomers by raising awareness of their problems and providing better spaces for them to receive help.
Finally, cross-wiki tools were mentioned in different discussions as a necessary step to support the multilingual nature of Wikimedia projects. Better support for translation is urgently needed: for example, by hiring staff to help with translating technical code for the struggling non-Latin languages in the Incubator, or by creating guidelines on gender-neutral language.
Cluster C: Invest in Skills and Leadership Development
For a start, most of the smaller discussions concluded that there should be a wide scale mapping (even called “consensus”) of existing skills and learning resources in the Wikimedia communities. Part of this mapping, or a follow up to it, would also be a needs assessment within the local context of each community or region.
Several strategies were proposed in order to respond to these needs (when they are identified). Networking and mentorship could be effective ways to share skills between more experienced and less experienced affiliates or communities, perhaps through a “Mutual Aid” model or matching tools. Training, online courses and peer learning are also needed, especially if they are available in multiple languages and engaging formats (like video), and resourcing pilot programs in skill development. Finally, a new platform or database can help in providing comprehensive and findable learning resources in specific Wikimedia-related topics (for example, organizing edit-a-thons).
There is already past research that provides a broad definition of leadership across the movement. In order to further develop leadership, it would be important to understand it by evaluating it in different communities by using the existing definitions and metrics. Suggestions for the next steps included: providing leadership training, courses and pathways that can help developing and sustaining volunteers.
Cluster D: Regional & Thematic Hubs
The hubs were discussed under three broad categories: regional hubs, linguistic hubs and thematic hubs. While different topics emerged under each category, there was significant agreement on a number of steps that need to be taken for implementing “hubs” across the Wikimedia movement, starting with the definition of what a hub is (and what it is not).
To help define the scope of “hubs”, it would be helpful to conduct research on existing “hub-like” structures. From regional collaborations to pilot projects, there are several models in the Wikimedia movement that are already similar to the anticipated “hubs”, and surveying or researching them can help learn from the successes they had and the challenges they faced.
In addition to analyzing existing structures, it was argued that analysis is also necessary to the needs of communities that are interested in having hubs, including through proactively reaching out to marginalized communities. The hubs should have a clearly defined purpose and objectives based on these needs, thus gaining an “added value”. This also means defining some systems and functioning guidelines for the hubs, such as roles and responsibilities, a funding and revenue policy, and a decision-making process.
One particular aspect that was perceived differently across discussions is how much formalization is useful for hubs. On one hand, many participants felt uncertain about how to create a “hub” themselves, and wanted a clearly defined process or even an “affiliate status” through which they could proceed with creating a hub. On the other hand, other people argued the “hubs” should have a loose scope and be more of an umbrella to affiliates rather than create “additional hierarchy”.
Since hubs aim to help decentralize the Wikimedia movement, it is important to define their relationship with existing and future structures in the movement. This may include how they relate to the current regional collaborations, to affiliates, to the Wikimedia Foundation and, more importantly perhaps, to the Interim Global Council and the Global Council.
Finally, regardless of the form the hubs take and their potential scope or relationship to other structures, it was repeatedly mentioned that the first 18 months are a valuable time to pilot and experiment with potential concepts for hubs and test them out in a real context.
Cluster E: Funding for Underrepresented Communities
There was agreement that the meaning of “underrepresented communities” needs to be defined (probably in coordination with the Interim Global Council’s elections committee, which may also need this definition). Ideally, there would be metrics to help define these communities as objectively as possible.
According to the discussion, underrepresented communities (when more clearly identified) should receive support to help them grow rather than merely increase their funding. Some examples of the needed support included: assessing underrepresented communities’ needs, providing mentorship from more experienced affiliates, providing capacity building and staff support (to help in dealing with logistics and legal barriers and in funding plans beyond Rapid Grants), and launching pilot programs for improved access to funds.
The proposal of a “fundraising policy” received mixed feedback. On one hand, it could create a pathway for distributed fundraising, while on the other, the policy itself could create a barrier instead of providing real support in fundraising. The real support that is needed for fundraising, some argued, would be the development of missing capacity and skills, as well as support for overcoming legal barriers.
Cluster G: Align with Environmental Sustainability
The discussion thoroughly explored potential action to identify and reduce the carbon footprint of the Wikimedia movement. One suggestion was to make a “self-binding public statement” that commits the Foundation or the movement to be carbon neutral by 2030. This, however, requires defining “carbon neutrality”: in terms of reducing emissions vs. buying offsets to make up for these emissions (the first was preferred by several people).
Additionally, various ideas were presented to achieve the goal of a “carbon neutral Wikimedia”. Some of the prominent examples were: moving to carbon-neutral servers and data centers, providing decent open source tools for virtual meetings (to reduce in-person events as much as possible) and providing guidelines on eco-friendly transportation.
In addition to its own footprint, the Wikimedia movement can help support awareness and reliable information on climate change and sustainability. In order to do that, it was recommended to start by identifying the existing content gaps in different Wikimedia projects, and to provide assistance to communities across different languages in bridging these gaps.
Finally, a helpful step in improving the content is to map out potential partner organizations and experts that can help tackle them. Partners and experts can be asked to release content under free license and to help detect and update misinformation, which tends to be a persistent issue in climate change topics.
Cluster H: Identify Topics for Impact
The discussion took place on three broad topics: High-Impact Topics, content gaps and support structures. Across the three discussions, there was a general alignment around the need to put together, first of all, a clear definition of “impact” and an objective process for identifying “high-impact topics”, possibly including tools to find and visualize data on impact topics.
Capacity building was linked to working on high impact topics, both in terms of: A. supporting communities to conduct decentralized research and assessments of “impact”, and B. empowering them to build partnerships and lead initiatives to improve these topics. Some participants encouraged that pilots in these two areas should start ASAP.
It is critical to recognize that, according to the discussion, the volunteer spirit of Wikimedia projects, thus the process should completely refrain from “deprioritizing” any topics and only prioritizing those where particular resources and support are needed.
While prioritization needs to happen with communities, consulting with experts and researching the work of other organizations were also mentioned.
A suggestion stated that prioritization should happen at several levels that correspond to the drastically different needs of each community, instead of rigid categories. For example, there would be separate “global priorities” for the movement from which local communities select and contextualize their own “local priorities”.
Finally, misinformation was mentioned as an important aspect of high-impact topics. Suggestions included mapping out potential partners that can help counter misinformation and disinformation, as well as consulting the communities and affiliates to build adequate tools for this purpose. Some participants thought that countering misinformation beyond the traditional Wikimedia projects “fact-checking” could be a challenge.