Talk:Movement Organizers

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Latest comment: 3 years ago by Zblace in topic Some thoughts

Specific Tooling Needs?[edit]

The "What do we want to learn" section rightly says that the team will learn about organizers' needs by interviewing them. Will the team also be able to observe organizers as they perform their typical functions: publicizing an event, creating lists of articles to be improved or created, signing up participants, registering newbies on the day of, managing the event itself, gathering and reporting on metrics about the event.... As a product manager in Audiences, my hope is that the team will come back with observations about gaps in tooling that will be actionable. Asking organizers about the technical roadblocks they face is a good start, of course, but direct observation is another vital research tool for such questions. Will you be trying to arrange such session as well? —JMatazzoni (WMF) (talk) 01:24, 8 February 2019 (UTC)Reply

Hi Joe. Yes. We will definitely ask participants if it is OK to observe them using any tools they might mention as part of their work, as appropriate. It definitely is a goal to understand what kinds of tools folks use in support of their work. If in the course of this research we don't gather enough direct observation of folks using specific tools(what works what doesn't etc) we can do follow on research focusing on those specifics. Since we are talking with a spectrum of people, there may not be enough concentration of participants who use the same tools to understand details about specific tools. Maybe there will be, we don't know yet. This research as a whole, as you know, is focused on understanding the overarching needs, behaviors and challenges of movement organizers. Tools are one part of what we need to learn about. Once the research is complete, we will have better ideas of what kinds of solutions might be of assistance(could be tooling, programs, or other things we are not even considering now, since we have yet to learn from organizers).--ARipstra (WMF) (talk) 17:46, 15 February 2019 (UTC)Reply


«Organizer impact is broad: between Fall 2015 and the end of 2019, over 6 million content pages were contributed and over 400,000 people were activated over the course of our grant giving».

This sentence is bizarre: it makes it sound like the report is focused on people who requests grants from WMF, i.e. "what WMF money can buy". Nemo 16:59, 5 October 2019 (UTC)Reply

@Nemo bis: We included a bit of rational/context around the ability of the movement to facilitate this kind of work when we invest in organizers. In part, we are trying to demonstrate why investment in organizers is valuable (not a universally shared opinion in the movement, especially amongst online editor communities). Our hope is that more organizations in the movement can use the research to ground their own, organizer focused investments. Astinson (WMF) (talk) 19:28, 7 October 2019 (UTC)Reply

Entry points[edit]

Recommendation p. 26: «While there is a path from editing into organizing, the Wikimedia Foundation doesn’t provide clear tools for recognizing other paths and talents beyond editing as equally valid entry points into the community».

This is largely a self-created problem which exists only in WMF's own communication bubble, not in the general Wikimedia movement. There would be a very simple way: tell people they can join Wikimedia chapters and other associations among Wikimedia affiliates. That's a very obvious way to become "formal" volunteers or supporters with little effort and then develop from there, even considering the well-known and often discussed cultural differences mentioned at p. 56 ("Low volunteerism and activism"). Nemo 17:05, 5 October 2019 (UTC)Reply

@Nemo bis: I think the main takeaway here Nemo is that many communities in many parts of the world have to recreate the infrastructure for becoming ""formal" volunteers or supporters with little effort" -- and many communities around the world do not have the level of experience and skill doing that as the community in Europe does. There is a substantial need for both centralized and decentralized improvements in this pathway and infrastructure so that the effort isn't entirely on local organizers to relearn the experiences of other communities, while still meeting their volunteers where they are at in local contexts. Astinson (WMF) (talk) 19:23, 7 October 2019 (UTC)Reply
The way I'd put it is that some affiliates do a lot of good work in this area. Not all do - first because it's challenging to get affiliates into a position where they can provide this support (there needs to be a strong volunteer base, good governance, and enough civil society infrastructure... present in some places but not others, and there is little support for developing affiliates at present); and second because not all affiliates see this as their role, I can think of some who see their role as either 'we exist to run an outreach programme and that's what we do', or some who see their role as 'we are basically a club of Wikimedians'. So creating more affiliates is not, in itself, the answer to the problem. But if you are looking for "who in the movement is great at this already" then probably there is more expertise and experience in affiliates collectively than there is within the WMF, and really it's a problem that there is no way to address except in partnership between the WMF and affiliates. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:10, 9 October 2019 (UTC)Reply


I suspect that the population interviewed for this study was not especially representative of the Wikimedia movement. At some point it's claimed that one driving factor is a commitment to "open", in another that it's some external political/activist goals. There is no focus on our central value i.e. free culture (including free knowledge and free/libre software). Nemo 17:19, 5 October 2019 (UTC)Reply

@Nemo bis: We found, in general, that folks adopt "open" values and approaches the more they participate in Wikimedia(typically Open Education, Open GLAM, open knowledge), but don't actually gravitate towards the full "free software" part of the ecosystem we are in. It was insightful to me, also have been around this community for a while, to see how that part of our origin is not showing through very much in our current communities and organizers. Astinson (WMF) (talk) 19:18, 7 October 2019 (UTC)Reply

Tools and technological neutrality[edit]


Mentioning specific software products here is troubling. You should say "[collaborative] spreadsheets", not "Google Sheets". One would hope that people use LibreOffice online or Nextcloud, and at any rate Wikimedia Foundation cannot be seen as discriminating against free software in favour of proprietary products. Speaking of which, please contribute your learnings to the central page FLOSS-Exchange.

Also, is this project somehow coordinated with The Wikimedia Movement CRM? It seems we need a common category, perhaps under Category:Organizational development. Nemo 17:21, 5 October 2019 (UTC)Reply

@Nemo bis: We only described what we observed and we observed very little use of free software technologies by organizers, especially not in the items described in the tools table. The major exception was a small part of the community in Argentina, and that was largely for telecommunications. It's important to note that organizers turn to the tools that they are familiar with or are easily accessible, not necessarily the ones that we want them to use. @ELappen (WMF): is using the research to influence their design of the CRM, and may have some more direct feedback on this. Please share and connect the research where you can! Astinson (WMF) (talk) 19:15, 7 October 2019 (UTC)Reply
@Nemo bis:, Astinson (WMF), yes the teams working in the Movement Organizers research and The Wikimedia Movement CRM have been in conversations since the idea of the CRM started being explored. The CRM program is just starting , and we are discussing several use cases to support movement organizers through this CRM. However, this is just early days, and the legal aspects can be right now more complex than the technical. This is why we are starting with basic and relatively straightforward objectives. Qgil-WMF (talk) 21:19, 7 October 2019 (UTC)Reply
Quim, good to know that there was coordination. Alex, have you considered the possibility that your sample is not representative? Thanks, Nemo 19:39, 23 October 2019 (UTC)Reply
It was never designed to be fully representative of every single part of the movement -- but it matches my experience with the Global community, the outreach parts of the movement, the findings in other studies of movement participants and broader technology users more generally (New Readers in particular pointed to the use of proprietary systems very broadly), and it certainly is representative of how folks work on the ground in the several communities we looked at deeply. Open alternatives are theoretically alternatives in these spaces, but rarely used as deeply as you would hope, because of the larger social contexts that people operate in. Astinson (WMF) (talk) 21:27, 25 October 2019 (UTC)Reply


«While there are many potential solutions, we strongly warn against the equal application of solutions across all contexts». Yes, this is important. Centralisation and lack of flexibility and accountability to local communities are big risks. Nemo 17:42, 5 October 2019 (UTC)Reply

Thanks @Nemo bis:. I think some of this includes acknowledging that some of the communities that we have origins in (like the free software community you mention above), aren't always the ones where these newer more decentralized communities are going to form. Astinson (WMF) (talk) 19:35, 7 October 2019 (UTC)Reply
Our values, including free software, empower decentralisation. Certainly in some areas an additional effort is needed. Nemo 19:37, 23 October 2019 (UTC)Reply

Some thoughts[edit]

Thank you for conducting this very interesting piece of research. I think it will be an important input to whatever the future of capacity building in the Wikimedia movement is. I particularly liked the sensitivity to different contexts, the mapping of different backgrounds, the different roles played within the broad category of 'organisers', the appreciation of different natures of motivation what affects them, and the idea that one might approach recruiting 'organisers' differently depending on the different challenges faced in a particular place or location.

I can certainly see parallels between this research and my own experience of working taking part in a Wikimedia chapter and eventually supporting other chapter boards. There are also a number of parallels between this research and the interviews we conducted for the Roles and Responsibilities strategy working group.

I suppose my main other comment would be "And what next?" In many ways parts of the "burdens and challenges" section is a list of recurring issues: there is no systematic support for this kind of work despite the valiant efforts of a number of affiliates and a number of WMF staff, there can be serious challenges in navigating the Wikimedia projects for newcomers, and filling in sometimes arbitrary metrics on grant reports is timeconsuming and demotivating. Much the same could have been said (and, indeed, was being said by some people) five years ago. Which is in no way a criticism of this report or the work that went into it, but does pose the question: What is going to happen differently now? Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:25, 8 October 2019 (UTC)Reply

Thanks @The Land: I really appreciate that you found the report insightful.
The first things that are going to happen come in several concrete uses within the Community Engagement department: the Community Capacity Development team is factoring both the concepts and personas into Learning Days and other Leadership development training; the Wikimedia space with @Qgil-WMF: et. al. is targeting organizers as described in the report; my work in the upcoming couple of years focused on content Campaigns is a direct response to the research (WMF supporting organizer recruitment directly through thematic campaigns); we will be working with @DMccurdy (WMF): and team to improve some of our community measurement strategies to better identify organizers more generally (as opposed to concepts like "program leaders" which was closely tied to grant evaluation); and the research will be important for forming strategy for other teams in Community Engagement in pursuit of the Foundation's Midterm Plan. Moreover, internal to the foundation we are still socializing the research, but there are a lot of signals that the Movement Strategy team, product designers, folks engaged in onboarding processes, etc are interested in using this to modify their approach.
However, baseline design research like this works best when it is adapted by many contexts, and I suspect some of the most useful applications of this will be for affiliates who want to provide direct strategic interventions in their local contexts. Please help us identify new venues for sharing the research with different audiences! Astinson (WMF) (talk) 13:15, 9 October 2019 (UTC)Reply
Hi Alex - great to hear this is getting a lot of interest within the WMF. I am sure many affiliates will also find it useful, as you highlight. To my mind the greatest use will be in both affiliates and the WMF finding ways to work together to develop ways to make use of these insights. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 13:45, 11 October 2019 (UTC)Reply
Hi Alex - It was good to hear you speak yesterday after my panel at Wikimedia CEE online meeting and to learn more about your work. I am starting to digest all the content and was going to try translate some of your work in Croatian. I find the word 'audiences' super problematic (note I am not a native speaker) as it both decanters and reduces (biggest contributors in quantity and most likely active in quality) to term used for more-less passive consumption - no? Am I understanding something wrong? #lostInTRANSLATION? Zblace (talk) 12:36, 5 October 2020 (UTC)    Reply