Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Working Groups/Community Health/Recommendations/Rules and regulations, decision making processes and leadership
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.
The recommendations, some of which are yet to be elaborated to the same level of detail, are viewed by the Working Group to be critical to begin to address community health in the current state. It will be refined and elaborated following Wikimania. This will result in the final list of community health recommendations.
Rules and regulations, decision making processes and leadership
Develop a mandatory set of rules concerning online and offline behaviour which will apply to all Wikimedia projects (Code of Conduct)
- The Wikimedia movement will develop a universal code of conduct underpinning its on- and offline spaces. These are the principles which are seen as core to the global Wikimedia movement and its vision, and as essential for maintaining safe and collaborative working environments.
- The CoC will also contain a process for dealing with violations, including imposing sanctions, and make clear who is responsible for upholding the CoC and has the authority to take action. Sanctions can apply to individuals causing justified concerns, as well as to communities that consistently fail to act against such individuals.
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
- Establish new structures which allow equitable distribution of power in all structural levels of communities and invest in developing trust in these structures within the communities
- Empower communities for responsible and inclusive self governance, so they can grow and adapt to meet the future challenges posed by the Strategy 2030,
- Facilitate and support community leadership by capacity building and support for (potential) leaders, and introduce (mandatory) training for certain community roles.
- Prevent accumulation of power by introducing term limits, a maximum to the number of offices one person can hold, and ensuring that all community election processes are designed to encourage both candidacies and voting (e.g secret ballots when voting on people)
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
- Actively encouraging and supporting individuals from previously underrepresented groups to move to positions of leadership
- Setting term limits for all functionaries within Wikimedia communities to make room for new leadership to come through
- Defining which specific skills are essential to be able to fulfill certain roles and making these mandatory, offering training to allow individuals to acquire these skills.
- Making skill training easily accessible at scale.
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
- All Wikimedia projects need to develop and maintain effective processes and structures for preventing and resolving conflicts.
- Individuals and communities need training regarding conflict prevention and conflict resolution. We need to offer trainings to avoid conflicts from happening (consensus-building); processes for mediation and conflict resolution to resolve conflicts when they do occur; and follow-up best practices to apply in the aftermath of the conflict. Training in conflict resolution will be compulsory for admins, ArbCom members..
- To accommodate the movement’s cultural diversity and be equitable, training opportunities will need to be spread across different formats, both in person at regional and global events as well as online. To that end, the training and learning infrastructure identified in “Building an inclusive global movement” ought to offer a range of context-sensitive modules providing different templates.
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.