Talk:New Readers/Target countries

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NOTE: This page is here as an archive. After considering all of the feedback on Meta as well as a few industry experts we spoke with, we will not be moving forward with a new metric at this time. The New Readers team's efforts will stay focused on the pilot countries we've already identified: Mexico, Nigeria, and India.

There are a few reasons for deciding to table this effort. In short, implementation of a new metric would take staff resources and there wasn't any clear consensus from people we consulted about our proposal or another suitable option. With the movement strategy process happening, it's likely that our thinking as an organization will shift, and we plan to reconsider how to prioritize countries at that time.

Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on the proposal to use the Social Progress Imperative's Access to Basic Knowledge index as a rubric to segment the countries of the world. We appreciate your time and careful consideration.

(Help with translations!)

Is this the right index?[edit]

Learn more about a proposed set of indices for this work. Do you think these work for this? If not, what would you suggest? Click "edit" above to join this discussion.

Thank you for inviting me to comment. It seems like identifying possible target actions would help decide what the priority countries corresponding to actions (could be multiple approaches) would be. Countries vary widely in social factors that trying to sort them into some order on a single numeric criterion will always be problematic. Shyamal (talk) 02:58, 28 October 2016 (UTC)
That's a good point, Shyamal! The team discovered this on their trips to India and Nigeria and how different each country's approach to the internet was. Even things like news access varies from country to country. However, it is necessary to use some kind of index for this sort of work. The metrics proposed here are to replace the current global south metrics, which are based on factors which arguably don't apply to our movement. Joe Sutherland (WMF) (talk) 18:46, 28 October 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for asking me to comment on this. My two cents on this is very different, and probably answers none of the questions for you.
  • First, A number of WMF projects are pretty strategically heavy on the planning phase but relatively unflexible when it comes to the actual implementation. While a specific number will certainly be a good starting point; I personally have a immensely strong preference to build something that is much more approahable in terms of actual ground work that will be done.
For example, socio-linguistically (and in a number of other ways), India often behaves more like a continent, and every state might end up requiring completely different approaches to increasing readership. While Kerala and multiple Indian cities will have relatively good internet connectivity, rural regions, especially in North India, will have getting internet access as a pre-requisite before we convert readers. Similarly, the political environment of India will be much different in approachability than China and depending on the number of volunteer/staff/associate we have in the region, we can be able to understand and adapt each region's ideal approach and (potentially) reach out to respective organisations within the country to help spread Wikipedia further.
All of these above points are much more nuanced and during implementation, would work best with a relatively fluid strategy. That way, the approach for each respective country as well as the priority order are more adaptable based on what the "market ceiling" for respective countries are, and where we have potential for growth of even more users.
  • Second, almost all of Wikimedia strategy that (I am aware of) on readership focuses either directly on internet connectivity (All Wikimedia Projects); or specifically aimed towards allowing people without internet access to get it (Wikimedia Zero and Kiwix readers etc). Whether or not a population is educated is much different from whether they can access and disseminate information and knowledge effectively. (Someone might be schooled in a rural area but will still be more likely to lack the ability to access knowledge than an uneducated person living in a city).
When considering these factors, it makes more logical sense to align our strategies based on the Access to Information and Communications index of SPI. All the strategies we pursue to improve Wikimedia outreach worldwide will necessarily rely on this index (or similar indexes) one way or another.
Cheers,
Soni (talk) 11:57, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Hello, first of all I would rephrase the question "is this the right index to identify global south countries?" to "which criteria should we use to select target countries?"
The world is extremely diverse. São Paulo is very different to Manaus, Buenos Aires is very different to Ushuaia, and I can't imagine India or China. Using national averages is an extreme simplification, and we should avoid that.
Back to the criteria, we should consider the situation of the population, the political system and the Wikimedia community.
If an authoritarian government decided to seriously push a massive Wikimedia program, it would be likely to be successful (except for human rights issues, of course). If such a government decided to oppose Wikimedia, it would be impossible to do any project. In a democratic country, the government would likely put no barriers, but possible could not help either to do the project.
Of course that populations with the least access to information should be a priority. But if there is no established Wikimedia community, such a project would fail. It's better to help active communities to do projects than to parachute on a wiki-less region.
--NaBUru38 (talk) 15:58, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for chiming in, NaBUru38! Agree completely that strategies within countries will be best executed hand-in-hand with active communities. We've been working with community members in the 3 pilot countries for exactly that reason. That said, there is some potential for efforts to help bring readers in countries where we already have lots of content in the local language, but not an active community. It's not something we've explored really yet, but it could be an interesting thing to look into. AGomez (WMF) (talk) 21:50, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
Thanks also for your thoughts, Soni. I agree with what I think you're saying about maintaining a flexible implementation strategy. In part, we're breaking this out by country because that's the level of metrics (pageviews, unique devices, etc.) that we keep, but I think we should have much more specific intervention strategies (for languages, regions, etc.) in most countries, India definitely included. That's actually why we're thinking about keeping this targeting high-level and based on the places where we think our content can do the most good rather than focus on something that would be based on some sort of implementation strategy, such as Access to Information and Communications (AIC). New Readers has some implementation that we're piloting right now, based off our research earlier this year, but we're definitely not settled on that being the approach for other efforts going forward. As far as this list goes, our thinking to date has been to develop and initial list with something like the proposed index and then do further analysis within that list to prioritize with factors such as internet access, political climate, etc.. If we settle on the proposed metric, I think we'd used Access to Information and Communications as one of the factors to inform country-level strategy/implementation. I'd be more than happy to hear any further thoughts as well - I'm not sure if I've totally captured what I think you were trying to say. AGomez (WMF) (talk) 21:50, 1 November 2016 (UTC)


This index is probably no better or worse than another - at the end of the day you don't want to spread resources and focus on languages that matter worldwide (e.g. Spanish and Arabic for sure, possibly French). As indicated elsewhere India and Nigeria are extremely complex countries with very diverse conditions, you'd probably spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to do what where. Bottom line: you should include somewhere language diversity and country size as a negatively impacting factors. On the flip side, the more decentralized a country is, the easier it is to engage with local stakeholders and experiment new ideas. Stephane (talk) 10:15, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for your thoughts Stephane (Kiwix). I know you've been working in the complexity of these areas for a while. We'll definitely take language diversity and size into account when we're thinking about implementation and prioritization. AGomez (WMF) (talk) 21:50, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

Well i support the index but I think it will best work if some limiting factors are properly looked at. As mentioned by a couple of people, indices will vary from country to country or sometimes even explaining how they mean in real value terms may not be an easy task and to even decide who needs more help than. A 15% access to basic knowledge index from country A may not be literally higher than 12% index from country B as they both don't have the same factors of consideration or basis of comparison. Factors like population, attitude/acceptance of people, levels of availability, etc. may not be factored in the indices which may sway the focus of the study. But i agree we must start from somewhere and identify some sought of basis to start classifying these target group and yeah i think this is a good start. --Flixtey (talk) 09:25, 7 November 2016 (UTC)

What should we call this list?[edit]

We want to move away from "global south". What should our list of priority countries be called? Click "edit" above to join this discussion.

  • Why not just index the countries as High (Growth) Priority, Intermediate (Growth) Priority and Normal (Growth) Priority instead? Soni (talk) 11:57, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
  • No matter which innovative terms appear ("developing", "emerging", "new economy"), people will understand that they are euphemisms for "poor".
Now, "target countries" is very precise, because it means that the WMF is focused on them and not other similar countries. So for example if Brazil and Phillipines are target countries for the WMF but Nigeria and Venezuela are not, we say that some countries are more prioritary than others, and we get to avoid the discussion about euphemistic terms. --NaBUru38 (talk) 15:41, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
Fully agree. Stephane (talk) 09:52, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
  • I think just calling these target countries "Emerging Countries" which simply means they are new to the movement and being guided to follow the already existing groups or countries. This doesn't make reference to economies (whether developing or developed) but simply classifies them for their novelty in the movement. --Flixtey (talk) 22:20, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
  • As Soni said above, I think that concentrating on low/medium/high bandwidth is a more productive metric. Yes, this doesn't map to countries cleanly *but that's the whole point*. Rather than lumping all people from Country X as "developing" or "emerging" or etc, let's acknowledge that countries (and races, and language groups) are not uniform. Within an "emerging" country there will be city folk with good internet access and speedy desktop machines, rural folks with extremely limited connectivity and a mobile phone, and probably a bunch of country-specific "in betweens". It may even vary by time of day -- kids might have good access while in school, and then very limited access when they go home. We should be sensitive to the individual conditions and make sure that our projects targeting "country X" aren't just reaching "the subset of people in country X currently using computer resources equivalent to those used by WMF's San Francisco developers". If our metrics are currently unable to make this distinction, we should change the metrics, not try to change the countries to match our preconceived notions that they "should" be uniform. Cscott (talk) 00:08, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
Thanks Cscott. I'd love to talk to you more at some point about how we might adapt metrics while being sensitive to privacy. This is something the Product teams talk about a lot as a constraint in our thinking and would be a significant change that would take a lot to implement, as I understand it. We're also working with people from Community Resources to think about how we can measure impact that isn't pageviews/unique devices with our projects so that we can be more specific about the impact of individual efforts/initiatives. Are you suggesting that we should take bandwidth and discard country-driven metrics entirely?
I'm reading Soni's response as being about high/intermediate/low priority countries rather than bandwidth. As we've been talking through options it seemed to us to make less sense to target bandwidth because it's not something that is directly in our mission to solve for - we're in it to reach people with knowledge, so it made sense to us to target that way at the very broadest level, and develop strategies to reach people within those countries that are more specific to those individuals, which we can segment however makes sense. I think building our metrics around bandwidth could encourage us to address the wrong problem... but I'd love to hear a case for why bandwidth is the right thing to help us focus our work. I see it more as a way to inform how we approach solving problems than something at this high-level. AGomez (WMF) (talk) 22:30, 4 November 2016 (UTC)
Bandwidth is not a value judgement, like "poor" is. As a privacy matter, collecting page load times as a proxy for bandwidth (for example) is much less invasive than trying to geolocate someone and categorize their entire country as "poor" or not. Yes, I am very suspicious about trying to use country-driven metrics entirely. Inequalities can be extreme. By looking only at country-level metrics we risk "seeing" only those people in that country which look like "us". Why not use a measure like bandwidth which allows some of "us" to look like "them"? Our mission is to reach people with knowledge. Bandwidth seems to me to be an integral part of this mission, since that's how our knowledge is distributed. Income is related only insofar as bandwidth can be expensive in some places---but in other places the infrastructure required for high bandwidth is impossible to achieve regardless of income. Cscott (talk) 06:05, 8 November 2016 (UTC)