Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Sprint/Capacity Building/9

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Who will oversee this?[edit]

The WMF does not have a great reputation for transparency of internal projects. Capacity builders, particularly those in non-Western areas, are often the only adept editor in a close geographic region.

Who will be determining that what is being promised is actually being fulfilled, or payments are matching uses. Companies have fairly aggressive vetting and assessment setups and there are still frequent abuses of the system. I don't feel that a flawless, or even a near flawless, system could be set up given the constraints at hand.

I certainly wouldn't donate unless I felt a cast iron set-up was in place and worked. I'd also be concerned if the mechanism used to enforce this was too expensive. Nosebagbear (talk) 15:18, 22 September 2019 (UTC)

Hey Nosebagbear, thanks for your input into strategy 2030. The concept of recognition is quite prevalent throughout the recommendations, whether recognition of volunteers, partners, or ourselves as an amazing global movement. Another prevalent theme and ask by the working groups is evaluation, and they go hand in hand. Like you mention, even companies with aggressive vetting and assessment setups can still face abuse, but such constraints can't hold us back from something that has been called for across the movement. I'm confident that we can set up a system in place and with monitoring, evaluation and learning, adjust and refine as we go forward. --MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 09:02, 27 September 2019 (UTC)
Apologies @MPourzaki (WMF): for the slow answer. If "such constraints" are being viewed as a negative that must be conceded, what level of accuracy is adjudged as reasonable? Obviously if we had to spend $1,000,000 to get $150,000 into the right hands (whether the remainder be lost through mis-targeting, misappropriation or very expensive control/review systems) we'd think it way too much. Conversely, a 1% loss rate would be viewed by most as very good, but not practical. You comment on your confidence of being able to set up a suitable system, but it's tough to give a comment on whether that's reasonable with no more detail than "something would be put in place". Usually a 2nd stage recommendation like this wouldn't be made without some details for a general model, even if then tailored regionally. I'd also like to know what your personal (or your team's) thoughts are on an acceptable efficiency rate with funding - obviously you'd aim for better, but at what level would it be judged as "wasteful"? Nosebagbear (talk) 14:58, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
Hi Nosebagbear, your input is valuable for when these recommendations move into implementation in 2020, and that is why we are planning for further community conversations early next year when these recommendations are further refined and made into a coherent set. I can't speak on behalf of the working group, but I think models and efficiency rates are at the moment advanced for where the recommendations stand as a set. --MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 06:37, 17 October 2019 (UTC)

What makes a good capacity builder[edit]

A good capacity builder is a somewhat disagreed term. The WMF these days primarily focuses on a different metric of editors (those who make 5 edits in the last month) to much of the global community (which is editors who make 50 edits in the last month "active editors"). There certainly are cases for each "getting them in the door vs getting and keeping", focused content made in editathons, ongoing training etc etc.

And just to complicate things, the need for certain types might change place to place.

However, I'm a little concerned that there seem to be two main options:

  1. Various criteria, and if a capacity builder reaches enough of them over a certain timescale then they'd be suitable for some level of payment
  2. A couple of key criteria and then a reviewer decides on a more custom basis whether someone warrants it depending on their specific circumstances.

The first risks "teaching to the criteria" - individuals pushing in some extra souls or otherwise being less effective than they normally would in order to tick certain boxes The second risks a lack of consistency

How would you suggest it were handled, if and only if it went ahead? Nosebagbear (talk) 15:18, 22 September 2019 (UTC)

Hi Nosebagbear, this recommendation is talking about supporting volunteers who take on activities beyond contributing content, such as leading trainings and building capacity for others. You're right in that determining what makes a "good" capacity builder is very relative, I'm wondering where you see the "good" capacity builder concept? It's evident when looking at the recommendations as a whole that this working group has a large focus on localized efforts and building capacity in context based on local needs. --MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 10:16, 27 September 2019 (UTC)

Phrasing[edit]

"The argument could also be made that organizers and leaders and capacity builders are needed and merit extra support precisely to create productive environments for more unpaid editors."

This suggests that there aren't organizers and leaders in the online sphere, and also that there are (paid) "organizers and leaders" and then there are "unpaid editors", a lower class of contributor. Nosebagbear (talk) 15:18, 22 September 2019 (UTC)


Hi, thanks for your thoughts. Our thinking here was the following: The strength and potential for growth of this movement traditionally lies in volunteer editors. In order for the movement to grow and to strengthen emerging communities, we should make extra resources available for those who are inclined to to do organizing and capacity building. We see these as activities beyond, distinct from editing. Based on feedback from community members, these are the activities that tend to take up a lot of time: organizing meet-ups, edit-a thons, working with partners, starting groups and founding organizations, recruiting new editors, organizing outreach events, etc, etc. this takes different types of skills, capacities, resources to do. People who do these things often burn out or have to chose to earn a living instead. Providing monetary support in these cases will hopefully retain these people, and in turn enable them to create well functioning community environments for the volunteer editors. This is not about creating hierarchies, or upper and lower classes, but about inserting resources where they are most needed. I hope this makes sense, if not please let us know where u see the risks. thanks! --Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 10:56, 14 October 2019 (UTC)


" After years of work they often face burnout, financial problems, and the choice to continue or to ‘put bread on their families’ tables’."
I'm not sure the people who write strategy realize this statement applies to volunteer editors in the Global North also!
Attending meetups takes a lot of time, and the expenses you have as a volunteer, especially transportation expenses, add up.
As the years go on, taking time off the job, commuting for an hour, and then spending 2-4 hours tutoring newbies in wikicode and wiki policies is starting to feel like work, even when someone else does the event organizing and training presentation. In fact, it's a lot of work to do in exchange for a sandwich, a small bag of potato chips, and a soft drink.
And then, after the editing event, you need to go home and do more work, if you care about whether the newbies' articles get deleted, or have no BLP tag to protect the subject of the biographies.
First risk is editor retention.
Eventually, experienced editors just hang out with other local editors at editing events discussing wiki issues instead of helping newbies, and over time, we stop showing up altogether, because we feel unappreciated for writing and maintaining the encyclopedia.
Second risk is restricted participation.
Many editors are not able to do public-facing work online, due to work, family, or personal constraints. It is wonderful to see so many photogenic young people in the movement who have never been through nasty divorces/been crime victims/had employment or organizational affiliations which restrict the activities one may undertake outside work.
If resources and support only go to online evangelists or organizers, this can exclude many serious, well-informed people from receiving support.
I have been surprised to see how little actual editing some of the well-known movement organizers do. My guess is that there are about 3K people, if that, who do the consistent, ongoing contribtions for maintaining English Wikipedia. If it's not a priority to support these core contributors, eventually they will drift away. Oliveleaf4 (talk) 01:37, 22 October 2019 (UTC)