Talk:North American Wikimedians

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Recent challenges that might have benefited from a persistent region-wide entity: (incomplete list)

  • organizing WCNA (handling $ and back-office bits, maintaining relationships w/ vendors and support networks in cities),
  • supporting medium-sized grants (running the ~$100k WikiCred microgrants programs),
  • supporting outreach / preservation for small languages (gradual development of interest over time w/o a clear maintainer).
  • supporting outreach for unreached geographies.
  • support for individuals who don't want to deal with affiliate overhead but want some help w/ a partnership or project in their city/community (currently they are usually supported by one of the regional chapters; that matchmaking could be simplified)

SJ talk  16:50, 7 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Peter Meyer's WCNA'22 talk slides: North American Wikimedia affiliates.pdf 18:07, 13 November 2022 (UTC)

Related ideas[edit]

See also the recent ideas at Barnstar Country - if the motivations are similar, might be appropriate to merge + make the composite work to support WCNA in the future and also work as a hub (however that definition plays out). Are there other historical pages to point to? –SJ talk  16:50, 7 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Naming: NARWHAL?[edit]

In keeping with the aquatic theme: North American Wiki Hub and... ? –SJ talk  16:54, 7 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

North American Regional Wiki Hub…

…and (Lab/List/Lounge/League)
…[for] (Applied/Advanced) Learning

Some suggestions. –xeno 11:00, 14 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Xeno I love "for Applied Learning" :) but "and Laboratory" might highlight the desire to be experimental, encourage the spirit of exploration and change, rather than building a network of permanent edifices. –SJ talk  20:56, 20 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
While preparing NARWHAL/June 2023, I was also thinking of an alternative like North American Regional Wiki Hub for Acting Locally, which maybe gets at another aspect of the original acronym. Pharos (talk) 02:25, 31 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Scope, region, language[edit]

For years there has been discussion about how to group North America.

In practice, Wikimedia community organizations in the United States have held national meetings about monthly since ~2012, and also those groups have collaborated together in national and global wiki editing campaigns.

Representatives or contributors from Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico have rarely or never participated in United States events. Possible reasons for this is that Mexico hosts meetups in Spanish language and affiliates with Spanish speaking communities; there has not been labor capacity or particular interest to explore collaborations between the Caribbean and the mainland United States; and French Canadian wiki editors prefer French meetings while English wiki editors lack administrative capacity to organize for the Canadian region. There is practically no Indigenous language wiki organization visible, nor Wikimedia Foundation investment visibility in this for the region.

Possible directions forward:

United States, English speaking group only
  • advantages: this is what exists now; it requires no new financial investment to establish; one national legal system; hundreds of people have participated in this system
  • disadvantages: in the long term regional and multilingual diversity is desired, and everyone wants a plan to advance this
North America, multilingual hub
  • advantages: if we had administrative resources then we could share them regionally and across communities; multicultural collaboration is desired
  • disadvantages: no person or community has documented a proposal for this; large financial and labor costs; multiple national legal systems to navigate; the majority United States editors are offering this but minority communities are not asking for this

I propose that until and unless someone comes up with lots of money then we keep this group to the United States. The budget for regional administration since 2001 has been $0. If we are going to develop, I propose that we invest first in ordering just the established United States, then if and when there is money, expand for other groups. In the meantime if it helps other groups, the United States could be a fiscal sponsor to their projects but not otherwise an administrative partner or community organizer. Bluerasberry (talk) 11:46, 8 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

These seem like different goals, perhaps for different groups, rather than two directions for the same idea :) The cross-language collaboration of the regional events, and the possibility of supporting smaller languages without a core community able to organize, feels like what I'd like hubs to be there for.
I agree with your comment that everyone wants a plan to advance this. So my goal for this page is to develop that plan. If there's sufficient interest in also having a monolingual US-wide entity, I think there would be plenty of good coordination that group could do also, and we can add that as one of the groups in the region. –SJ talk  18:46, 20 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To clarify a bit more @Bluerasberry and @Sj - I favor a US-centric approach to start, but not necessarily an "English speaking group only." There's no reason why it has to be intentionally restricted to English, even though it's likely that English will be prominent by default. For example, we may want to work with multilingual language content for Wikidata labels, or en:Indigenous languages of the Americas content, or Spanish language communities in the U.S. So I would encourage being open to collaboration on any language communities that make sense, and not be restricted to English. - Fuzheado (talk) 10:57, 17 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Restarting the conversation after WCNA 2022. @Bluerasberry - I'm very much leaning towards your assessment here - "I propose that we invest first in ordering just the established United States." There have been numerous inefficiencies that have been obstacles for NYC, DC, Boston, and other affiliates in the US to keep the momentum going on partnerships or supporting local communities. It's best to get the legal and fiscal concerns addressed first in the United States, and then we can think about expanding the scope beyond the U.S. Walk before we run. Get our house in order. Underpromise, overdeliver. Whatever metaphor we choose, I think it's best to scope out a manageable and practical goal, and start from there. - Fuzheado (talk) 21:25, 14 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Sj and Fuzheado: I would like to join others in asking the Wikimedia Foundation for a grant, perhaps about US$500,000 for 3 years, to develop the United States hub. The role that I want to play in this is helping with the grant request; I would like for others to help decide the priorities of what to do with the money. WE talked about this at WikiConference this last weekend and there were lots of ideas. My view is that we do two things: administration and programs. The money I want to request is for administration, and anyone who needs money for programs can apply to the WMF for that additionally. Also, the hope is that if we have central administration, then we can get more success in funding from non-WMF sources as we have had in the past with probably 20 major sponsorships and several hundred minor sponsorships. There are lots of reasons why now is the time for investment and changes. Let's plan to talk more at the December WALRUS call. Bluerasberry (talk) 17:00, 15 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks, Lane. @Pharos mentioned that the WALRUS call in the first week will be full of MCDC agenda items, so perhaps we can arrange an extra call one week later? As discussed so far, a good "minimum viable product" that builds on our strengths might include this three-pronged approach that is in line with what you mentioned above:
  1. Grant making - Administer a pool of funds to support activities based in the United States, which could range from traditional areas of strength (events, education, conferences, leadership training, et al) to new areas of innovation. The experience and maturity shown with Wikiconference North America 2019 and the CredCo grants that have followed helps make the case that this community has the capacity to administer these functions. If the funding allows for a small amount of full-time staff to support this, even better.
  2. Partnerships - We could re-visit the success of the GLAM Wiki US Consortium in its heyday (2013-2019) to see how we might structure sustainable GLAM Wiki and cultural/heritage partnerships (not just restricted to GLAMs), which has been start-and-stop. Restart the "boot camps" that did systematic training and produced a stream of leaders and professionals within our community. We have worked deeply with the Internet Archive in the last five years, and this past year's conference has brought us closer with OpenStreetMap. Imagine the types of things we could do with a budget and closer collaboration.
  3. Technical development or software/tool support - As a service to the entire movement, take on the task of supporting popular technical tools (ie. Magnus's long list) that only have casual support or piloting new initiatives, such as WikiCite and structured citations.
We could do more, but I think these play to our strengths where the U.S. community has a track record. The focus on the U.S. does not need to be so strict either. Given the resources and bandwidth, we could also expand work with other affiliates that are overlapping, adjacent, or aligned, such as WikiCaribbean. Eager to hear thoughts on this as a possible framework for moving forward. - Fuzheado (talk) 21:16, 15 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Fuzheado: Yes of course I am ready to join more discussions, and I expect the same of the WALRUS regulars, and when we have a draft proposal I think many more interested people would review.
There will be time to talk later, but my view is that the United States Wikimedia community should request Wikimedia Foundation sponsorship for administration and offer absolutely nothing in return. The Wikimedia Foundation has been insistent for years that if they fund programming, then the Wikimedia community should be able to crowdsource administration and management. This expectation would have been insane as a nonprofit development strategy for any non-wiki project at the Wikimedia Movement's scale, but somehow in the context of other technological and social miracles in the wiki space, we and many other wiki community groups tried it over the years. This administration strategy has been a failure as we have no documentation or case studies of this organization model working well anywhere after dozens of experiments over a decade, and I do not agree to repeat it. There is such a thing as conventional management, and nonprofit administration is a professional field, and we can adopt those established and proven organizational models going forward. Wikimedia community development in the United States should proceed in a way that would be normal for any other non-wiki organization managing a community in this region.
I am with you on your point one, "grant making", because that is administration that we are currently crowdsourcing, but for which we could use paid staff to administer. For "partnerships" and "technical development", I will hear you and others out, but my initial reaction is no. Those are programs, and I think we should have separate budgets for programs versus administration. We need a stable core of administration to support programming before we take on new special projects like partnerships, training, tool development, or the rest.
The main things that I want funded with the central grant are these:
  • annual reporting to government
  • annual reporting to WMF for all user groups
  • publishing the budget three times
  • being a central point of contact for general inquiry
  • central communication by email and social media
  • holding the keys to our shared organizational social media accounts and web platforms
  • keeping membership and contact lists
  • thanks, credit, letters of support, certificates of participation for contributors as needed
  • periodic checks on regional community diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • organizing the several elections we do every year for governance and ethical issues
  • inventory, documentation, and evaluation of the projects which our membership already does (100+/year already)
  • issuing press releases
  • managing records of third-party media coverage of our projects
  • receiving centralized reports of crisis, harassment, threats, etc, especially for the recurring cases which are out of scope for Wikimedia Foundation intervention
  • all the office functions that sustain the staff to do the above
Note again that in all this administration, these activities count as zero accomplishments in the current scheme which the Wikimedia Foundation applies to our region. I support your wish for partnerships and technical development, and I think the Wikimedia Foundation should sponsor those things, but the conversation that I want to directly have with the Wikimedia Foundation at this time is a request for stable, annual, long-term administrative sponsorship separate from any defined goals in particular programs or special projects. I am just pushing back a little at you because you said "underpromise and overdeliver". I would like to start the discussion with promising zero and I want that starting point taken seriously. Bluerasberry (talk) 14:40, 17 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Many good ideas! DC board members suggested to me that the first grant could support a strategic planning process, like the one WMNY just did, but for the new hub group. So we’d DO some things, and we’d have expert help working thru our next steps. We don’t exactly have to do that but WMF asks its chapters to do this periodically. —econterms (talk) 05:37, 18 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't know where to put this, but I'd be excited to see the GLAM boot camp or something similar organized! And I think Bluerasberry's desire for a conversation with WMF about administrative infrastructure for the US Wikimedia movement is important. Rachel Helps (BYU) (talk) 17:35, 18 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WCNA notes 11/13[edit]

Peter Meyer's WCNA'22 talk slides (re-pasted from above): North American Wikimedia affiliates.pdf
  • Could start with a pilot grant
    • Survey needs and recently experienced issues, what other sponsors and supporters have offered to date
  • Be in a position to ask for WCNA 2023 event support via a hub
  • Look at recent discussion of needs assessment for other hubs (where there is less historical work to go on)
    • WikiCari: needs to deal with 15-20 countries
    • WMF: wants an easy way to redirect GLAM and other topical interest in the US
    • Some attendees: want to ensure that facilitation/coordination isn't done by WMF itself
  • Small groups need a way to get help that doesn't feel like asking for [favors, attention]
    Ex: Groups that run into obstacles or silence going through 'standard channels' need a way to get peer support
    Ex: Groups that have paperwork issues (legal, financial, administrative, technical) need access to shared expertise
    Ex: Groups running events could use support (including: technical, translation) from people/groups that run them regularly
  • Everyone could use help with reporting (on ongoing projects), and outreach (about upcoming projects).

  • Start simply: what's the simplest thing that can work and would be helpful especially to small groups?
  • Examples of admin help (for routine budgeting, planning, scheduling, comms templates)
    • WikiCred: staff under existing grant, hosted at Hacks/Hackers, handling logistics, comms, submission workflows
    • WCNA: lead event organizer in 2019. Wikimanias: mixes of local community, local staff, global community, global staff support; what works well?
    • Help crystallizing successful efforts into patterns, docs, tools
  • How can we share "easy regular event patterns" across our orgs?
  • How can we share lessons learned by larger orgs? (we have ~10 w/ multiyear plans and staff)
  • Support on retainer: conference planning; social media; community-internal PR; external PR; translation; videography + conversion

  • Prepare basic calendar planned / hoped for, then include in (hub proposal) coordinating and perfecting it
    • [PM appears to offer to organize events in PHL, LAX, and Bahamas]

Comments on all of the above[edit]

Lots and lots of good ideas above, which seem to expand on the conversations we had at WCNA 2021. I think what's important at this point is to get consensus on something that we can take to WMF. I'm intrigued by Lane's "administration only" grant idea, but has such a thing ever been funded by WMF? $500K seems like a lot of money if none of WMF's priorities are being addressed.

Overall, I'd like to see us outline a "both/and" approach rather than an "either/or" approach. We can have a strategic goal of a hub (NARWHAL!) to support any/all interested North American regional groups + one or more technology/competence-centered org(s). And we can have short-term tactical goals, like a foundational first phase for 2023-2024 that is US-centric, primarily administrative, with tasks like hiring 1-2 professionals to help us survey needs and opportunities, arranging WCNA, offloading reporting from small groups, and so on. Starting small doesn't prevent us from expanding scope. But I think it's crucial to develop expertise and build good will before we take on the universe. PKM (talk) 00:53, 18 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I like the principles of "both/and" and starting small-ish. My only concern is that we pick a future-proof name for the pilot project, that is flexible for multiple directions of later evolution. (I tried this earlier with the Barnstar Country branding, but that was a bit too obscure). Pharos (talk) 02:57, 18 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd suggest rather than giving it a fancy proper name at this stage, we just set it up as a subpage of WCNA, as WikiConference North America/Hub pilot.--Pharos (talk) 16:54, 19 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Before we do that, we should perhaps take a look at how others have been proceeding. CEE has a new meta page Wikimedia_CEE_Hub which has the advantage of being a "clean slate" and not bringing any baggage along. Most other hubs at Hubs/Ongoing seem to be doing this too. Another idea might be to make a "Hub" subpage of North American Wikimedians for planning purposes. I'd lean towards starting anew on some page, outside of any established affiliate. - Fuzheado (talk) 21:45, 19 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I like that idea Fuzheado, started at North American Wikimedians/Hub❁. This is very much a draft, please edit it directly to include things left out. I included some of the comments above, including the idea @PKM and Pharos: to start small and flexible. I would imagine a hub pilot in the region would include support for WCNA next year, but agreed that we can discuss it apart from any existing affiliate. I could see a range of next-step proposals to include Lane's suggestion further above regarding what a hub could become. –SJ talk  23:42, 23 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]