Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Working Groups/Community Health/Recommendations/Nutshell

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The Community Health Working Group has gathered information on the state of community health throughout the movement via collaborative conversations, interviews, surveys and a review of existing data. The analysis of this information has not yet been completed, but the Working Group has formulated some tentative conclusions:

  • Problems concerning community health are reported across many communities and relate to:  
    • harshness and lack of respect in communication;
    • outright bullying, harassment and discrimination, especially of hitherto excluded/underrepresented groups;  
    • lack of clarity about who is responsible for community health;
    • unclear rules, practices or regulations, or the lack thereof, to address inappropriate behaviour and/or inconsistent application of rules that do exist;
    • decision-making and community discussions being dominated by a small group of veteran contributors whose position is considered unassailable;
    • insufficient expertise and tools to tackle problems.
  • In the specific perspective of the 2030 Strategic Direction two main community health issues stand out:
    • current lack of diversity within communities makes it impossible to fully achieve knowledge equity
    • contributors are possibly at an increased risk of external persecution or harassment as a result of political and social changes, jeopardising the Wikimedia mission.

Rules and regulations, decision-making processes and leadership[edit]

Develop a mandatory set of rules concerning online and offline behaviour which will apply to all Wikimedia projects  (Code of Conduct)

At the moment there is no clarity about behavioural standards, no well defined basis for action against inappropriate behaviour, and confusion about who is ultimately responsible for safeguarding and maintaining a good working atmosphere.

The Wikimedia movement has mandatory codes of conduct for in-real-life events and for technical spaces. There is however no such code for our main areas of work/meeting spaces:  the Wikimedia projects.

Redefine formal and informal power structures to better serve communities and community health

Knowledge equity can only be achieved if our movement imposes equity in decision making within our communities. Current bureaucratic structures and decision making processes do not counteract established inequality in informal community power relations (eg. veteran editors vs newbies, dominant groups vs marginalised groups, Foundation vs affiliate). Nor do they encourage  active participation in decision making and governance by a wider section in the community. This jeopardizes community health. By having a balanced distribution of power within communities, we can achieve knowledge equity.

Invest in building the leadership of the future, with a specific focus on diversity and rejuvenation

The cornerstone of a healthy community is a diverse, well-trained, and supported group of leaders. We need leaders that are well-prepared and reflect both their local communities and the changing world at all levels of our projects and ecosystem. To enhance the mission of the project and by extension, of many affiliate leaders, mandatory trainings are key. Term limits will enable communities to periodically re-confirm that local functionaries are still in sync with the people and project(s) they serve in respective roles and will provide opportunities for new generations of leaders to come through.

These leaders also need to build an inclusive global community that tackles the challenges we all face together, leading the way in their region and co-operating on a global level to constantly challenge and improve the way we work.

Develop capacity and effective processes for handling conflicts in all communities

In many communities, conflicts are less and less likely to be resolved. This is an unsatisfactory situation for everyone involved, necessitating a more organised approach in the future.

The strategic goals of opening up to more people and partners will also bring in many people that will have different viewpoints on many topics, making it necessary to put in place measures that make consensus building a very important factor in retaining partners and users.

Community diversity and growth[edit]

Invest in building an inclusive global community

This would support the goal of knowledge equity by supporting people of different backgrounds to contribute and use the platform.  A social online movement needs to foster a shared group leadership learning space and experience to build a common experience group identity and direction.

Currently relevant education and training resources are limited and not equitably distributed.

The current community does not have a shared understanding of social dynamics within the ecosystem itself and how it relates to the world at large.

Build a culture in all communities which is welcoming to newcomers, as they  are a key to the success of the movement

Newcomers (people, communities, partners) are essential to our movement as it diversifies both in terms of knowledge and people. The strategic direction challenges Wikimedia to reach out and embrace both new stakeholders and new forms of knowledge in the pursuit of knowledge as a service and knowledge equity.

Newcomers face a diverse set of challenges not encountered or already overcome by current members of the movement that need to be systematically assessed and incorporated in decision making on all institutional levels.

Wikimedia is just one of many current and potentially future online destinations newcomers can participate in, share their knowledge with, and learn from. If we want to be the destination of choice for such people, both in joining our existing communities of volunteers and readers and in building new ones, we have to make offers to them that meet them where they are, with their needs and in their language(s).

“Democratizing” participation by removing barriers  (making Wikipedia/Wikimedia everyone’s responsibility)

We are assuming barriers are limiting to the success of the wiki community. By not acknowledging barriers and continuing to isolate people, the hopes of the strategic direction will not be recognized.

Safety[edit]

Privacy and security for everyone

Privacy and security for everyone entails taking a holistic perspective observing the range extending from readers, who interact with the content we provide to the world, to IP editors, who put themselves at risk in contributing to the movement’s mission, to registered editors and other movement roles with complex needs and challenges they face due to their participation.

The annual Freedom of the Net report 2018 detailed the 13. successive year of internet freedoms being curtailed around the world. The working group projects that these concerning trends will continue around the world.

The Wikimedia movement and its ecosystem depend on and are a key pillar of the free open web facing increased pressures around the world.

Develop secure methods to protect people in their activities in the movement

We currently do not have a systematic approach to support users at risk due to their participation in movement activities and lack the essential local capacity to support users as demonstrated in recent events like the political instability in Venezuela and Turkey. We will continue to face state and state-sponsored censorship efforts impacting the movement and currently do not have publicly available material to support contributors who are affected by such measures.

Working with indigenous communities without understanding the impact of such work on these populations could be dangerous as demonstrated from previous work of other civil society organisations. We currently fund various communities to work with indigenous knowledge but we lack a guideline or best practices safeguarding the agency of communities.

Agile and responsive support of community health[edit]

A centralized structure to support people and communities in assuring community and individual health in a relatable and personal way.

  • The Community Health working group recommends developing a network of resources and people to support and monitor community health across the movement. Care for community health must be done on an ongoing basis and firmly integrated into the fabric of the global movement.

Aligning resource allocation with community health goals

  • Ensure that resources can be accessed by all members of a community equally

Investing in equity-centered technologies

  • We recommend investment in equity centric technologies, which can support people using diverse languages, people with disabilities and people with varied levels of access.