Access donation partnerships involve a series of steps that start with explaining the benefits of the program and continue with arranging the distribution of a donation. We call this initial process the "pitch", because we are throwing the partner the tools and information to decide if a donation to the Wikimedia community is a beneficial one. We hope the pitching materials here should make that decision a fairly easy one for the partner, especially once you have the appropriate person inside the organization with whom you can discuss.
Who can pitch partners?
Most partner pitches have historically been pursued by the TWL team, because we have time and energy devoted to building a network of publishers and librarians. However, like Wikipedia, we also want the The Wikipedia Library to grow into a community process, so we would like to encourage Wikipedians, Chapters, and other Wikimedians to reuse this process to support their own partnerships.
That being said, if you plan on pitching a partner we encourage you to let Sam know: we try to track which organisations are being contacted, to ensure that the community doesn't start multiple conversations with the same partner (our decentralized community can be hard for publishers to work with – their typical business relationships are with other publishers and libraries through single points of contact). This tracking primarily takes place on Phabricator.
If you have not previously taken the lead in pitching a partnership, we would love to schedule a phone or video call to discuss the process: partners can sometimes ask hard questions, and we want to help Wikipedia community members gain experience in convincing outside organizations to support Wikipedia, so they feel confident about the work.
Who should I pitch?
In the world of publishing, not every research tool is the same, and each Wikipedia community has different policies on what constitutes reliable sources. When creating a partnership, you want to assess whether the research database or publishing partner has sufficiently reliable sources and that the language community that will most likely use the resource would take advantage of a partnership if established. If your local Wikipedia language community doesn't reliably use the source as a citation, the partner may become disheartened, and you might feel that the time spent reaching out to that partner might have been better spent on other outreach.
To assess if a publisher or research database is a good fit for your community, we recommending exploring the following questions before pitching the partnership:
- Does the platform have a strong reputation in library or research communities outside the Wikimedia community? (Try searching Google in the platform's main language to see if libraries have recommended the source to their patrons).
- Has your local language Wikipedia community used resources from the platform as a reference in the past? (Try finding a URL pattern that covers their resources and check it with Special:LinkSearch).
- Does the platform provide access to source materials that would be considered reliable sources under your local languages policies? (Try checking the Wikidata item for that policy to find your local language community's policy or recommendations).
- Do you have demand for that source, from at least a handful of community members? (On meta and some Wikipedias, we have created request pages that allows editors to make their requests).
If you can answer yes to at least half of the questions above, it's likely a good fit for your community. However, even then, not all partnerships will be readily used; sometimes a publisher is simply not well known by Wikipedia editors and/or they find it hard to decide if the available resources would be useful to them.
Getting to the right person
Getting in the door generally falls into three different levels of possible return:
- Low return
- Unprompted emails.
- Cold calls to corporate customer service or sales numbers.
- Medium return
- Contacting a specific individual within the organization who is in the right department. Often people in charge of publisher relationships, nonprofit partnerships, and/or marketing make good targets.
- High return
- Contacting people directly that we already know and have an informal relationship with.
- Talking to people we meet at conferences, and providing them with a handout and business card.
- Working with partners recommended by a peer, where someone at one publishing organization will point us to someone who would likely be interested in another organization.
Discussing the donation program with new partners
Once you have found the right person, you will often have a call with them to affirm their understanding of the program. If being conducted in English, one of the TWL team would be happy to join this call to assist the conversation. Please contact Sam if you would like someone to join you. Typically the conversation will progress as follows:
- Introduce yourself to the partner and describe your affiliation with the program (e.g. Volunteer Coordinator, Project Organizer, Coordinator for the Spanish Wikipedia Library, etc.) This gives credence to our commitment as a community and allows you an opportunity to highlight the growing size of the program.
- Give a little information about the Wikipedia Library program and its main goal: getting the best sources into our editors' hands so that they can edit Wikipedia! Emphasize that Wikipedia is only as good as its sources, and if our editors have specifically requested a partner's resources let them know. Mention the many existing partnerships we have with leading publishers and aggregators such as Oxford University Press, Elsevier, De Gruyter, JSTOR, Springer Nature, and EBSCO. It might be worth including names that are more within their field as well (for example Newspapers.com competes in a similar market with Newspaperarchive.com).
- Ask them if they have any questions about our process. Be prepared for lots of questions and be ready to answer them (see below for the most common questions we see).
- If you don't know the answer to a particular question, it's always OK to say you'll find out and email them with details after your call.
- Conclude by saying thank you, and always plan a next step, whether that's a conversation with another decision-maker in the organization, an example of a signup page, a draft memorandum of understanding, some data showing impact, or other request. Always have a next step!
Before meeting with the partner, prepare yourself to talk about the Wikipedia mission and community, the Wikipedia Library donation model, and the role that the Wikimedia Foundation has in supporting the program. Below are the most common questions that we have received from publishers in the donation program so far. For best results, you should read this ENTIRE PAGE before you make your first call as it provides lots of language, phrases and soundbites that have been useful in the past.
- Why would we want our work affiliated with something anyone can edit? What does that do for the authority of our texts?
- We are choosing editors who have lots of experience in the community, thus they have demonstrated they will represent the information and knowledge with the community's verifiability policy in mind. The text they add will just be a summary of the content you hold, not a copy/paste. Our community is fairly academically conservative, in that we require authoritative sources to back all of our claims (at least this is the case in English Wikipedia; make sure to localize your explanation for the community you are representing).
- The users in our community are mostly hobbyists, so they care about representing scholarship accurately because they are invested in that information being shared with other people accurately.
- Recent surveys by libraries and other researchers show that most academics, student researchers and members of the public start their research at Wikipedia. They frequently have the tools to go and find those sources, even if they are paywalled or not linked. Having a citation without a link now will eventually pay off in encouraging people with access hubs to request more access.
- Will your editors be copying/posting the articles or documents to Wikipedia? We don't want copies of our work/data/information being distributed widely...
- Be clear that protecting copyright is our problem too.
- To make sure that Wikipedia is published under an open license, we cannot allow copying of material that isn't expressly released from copyright claims. The community is very active at self-policing these issues: we have both semi-automated tools and editor screening that works to prevent these issues. Moreover, the editors we are giving access to are people with considerable community experience and a good reputation within that community.
- We have specific terms in our user expectations that forbid mass downloading, distributing, access-sharing, or data mining.
- Any suspicious conduct can result in immediate termination of access at your discretion at any time for any reason.
- Editors will only be using your sources as cited references; they won't be re-using or copying the content of the sources to Wikipedia.
- How many editors would use our source? How big of a donation would we be making?
- This depends on the access model the publisher wants to move forward with. If they're interested in the Library Bundle, see the access methods section below for details. If they want to provide a specific number of editors with access, read on.
- Before the meeting you should think about the scope of the demand for the source. How many editors are highly active in this area that meet the signup criteria?
- Emphasize that we work in a wide range, from 20 accounts for a niche source or pilot program to 500 or 1000 for a broad resource or partnership. Make a mental goal beforehand, based on how our previous donations have worked.
- If the partner seems apprehensive about giving too many accounts, offer to start with a set amount and increase it in batches according to demand.
- Don't discourage large donations if a partner is enthusiastic but make sure to note that it might take us a while to distribute all the accounts.
- We don't have individual account access opportunities; could we give a group account? Or vice-versa, we don't have a good way to give group access, can we focus on individual subscriptions?
- We have experience working with both. Whatever process works best for the partner is what we are happy to do. We are very flexible on this.
- Some partners are happy to set up accounts for each individual editor, others give us a single login, and others even provide the account coordinator with the tools to set up free accounts directly.
- Do we need to sign a contract?
- We have an optional memorandum of understanding (MOU) which is a lightweight and low-formality agreement that we have developed and refined with our other partners. There are several things to know about the MOU:
- The MOU offers a clear non-binding agreement to outline the expectations of our relationship.
- The Wikipedia Library rarely uses formal "contracts," because much of our work is done by volunteers around the globe, who are not formal members of the legal entities within the Wikimedia Community (WMF, Chapters, etc). Formal contracts need to go through one of these entities.
- MOUs can be signed with either the partner organization or the team responsible for the "brand" being given as access to our volunteers.
- Some partners choose to donate without an MOU, either because they don't want to process it through their legal department or they simply feel comfortable enough without it. We're happy either way.
- We don't have permalinks for article content on the open web, or we don't have open access previews for the sources, so how will your readers find and access the source once it's cited on Wikipedia?
- We ask Wikipedians to always cite where they found a source, and to give as many possible ways as possible for how to access it.
- We create custom templates for recommended citations to your sources.
- Some of our partners have worked to strengthen their permalinks and landing pages so that readers click through to an ideal summary or abstract that also provides access options. This will benefit more than just our editors and readers: you will likely see greater visibility of your sources amongst other users citing your databases as well.
- Most of our citation metrics rely on the ability to search standard identifiers (i.e. DOIs) or URL prefixes, so consistent linking schemes help us demonstrate the impact of the donation.
Library Card Platform and authentication
We distribute access through our centralised signup tool, the Library Card platform. When pitching partners you'll want to let them know that we can grant access to their content through IP-based authentication (also known as proxy-based access).
Here is the information you'll need to know when discussing this with partners:
When users access content through a normal library they typically make use of proxy authentication, whereby they can use a single login to get access to all the available content across many different websites. We have integrated OCLC's EZProxy software to facilitate this access method. If a publisher supports IP-based authentication we strongly recommend you present this as the default option. It makes the workflows easier for the community, the Wikipedia Library, and most importantly editors.
- IP-based access reduces the time between user signup and access by removing the need for partners to set the accounts up. The access is controlled by the account coordinator(s), who can respond to a user within a few days. Individual account setup processes can typically take 1-3 weeks.
- Related to this, it reduces the burden on partners to need to put work in. After the initial agreement there is no longer a requirement for someone to be setting up accounts on the partner's end.
- This is likely to increase the amount of resource usage due to the improved ease of access.
- In more general terms, this is the kind of access that users expect from a library.
- Approximately 50% of partners are using this access method.
If a partner wants to be part of the Library Bundle, then users who meet the criteria (500 edits and 6 months editing - as is currently the case - in addition to 10 edits in the last month and not being blocked) will automatically be granted access to their content. This automates the manual user approval step, removing applications entirely.
- When users are searching for material, they're usually looking for a particular resource, and either want just that one resource from a partner, or want access to the resource right away - waiting for a week just isn't useful.
- Additionally, when they receive access, that access is usually for a whole year, taking up one account for that amount of time for one or two resources isn't an efficient way of doing things.
- The approximate number of users who are eligible for automated access under this model is 25,000. This seems like a scary number, but to put it in perspective, we only have approximately 50 users per day using the proxy server to access content.
- This method will help to catch the 'long tail' of users who only want access to one or two resources, but don't want to take up an account for a whole year.
- We think this also greatly increases the number of users citing the partners' content.
- This method will become even better when we have implemented a search tool - Library Bundle content will be highlighted and users are likely to prefer it.
- 15 partners have agreed to use this method so far, and we're happy to trial it for a period of time with partners. We know that this will seem like a more drastic change, and aren't pressuring partners to go with it too much.
Search and discovery
Beyond the new access options, we're going to be providing new ways of finding content. Under the current model (and even after the library bundle is completely integrated), users still need to know which partner, database, or aggregator contains the content they need, which is often an unrealistic expectation. We will therefore be building a search tool, which allows users to search through the content of all our partners (and probably open access content) at the per-source level.
- This will greatly improve the discoverability of sources from partners whose content is less obvious (e.g. aggregators, niche sources)
- Library Bundle content will be immediately accessible from the search results.
- Users will have an easier time learning which partners they want to apply for access to.
If you have any further questions about our plans and any of the above information, please drop Sam an email.
Make sure to replace [the words in brackets] with specifics relevant to the partner you are contacting!
There are two types of email you might want to send. The first is for a full partnership with The Wikipedia Library through which many (10+) editors will be able to receive accounts. The second is a request for one (or a few) accounts for a niche source that isn't likely to be of interest to the wider editing community.
A note on language
We recognize that much of the material that we are sending to partners uses a language of benefit that is uncommon in our mission-driven world. Frankly, this is the language partners understand and how they are used to speaking. Links, visibility, and other aspects that speak to exposure address existential needs for publishers in the increasingly online world of journals and reference; they simply make for persuasive arguments, applying Pathos (emotion), Ethos (authority of communication) and Logos (logic) that speaks directly to their needs. Our partners work with us no doubt in part because it benefits them. It also greatly benefits us. In short, these are mutually beneficial collaborations which provide our top editors with excellent resources and don't otherwise place demands or restrictions on them in any way. We're being pragmatic because, well, it works.
- Subject: Partnership with Wikipedia
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Hello from The Wikipedia Library,
My name is [Name] and I work with Wikipedia. To advance our awesome mission of sharing knowledge with every person on the planet, we nurture partnerships and collaborate with people, organizations, and institutions that deepen and grow the world of reliable information. I want to briefly tell you about a project we run that I think your organization might be interested in.
The Wikipedia Library collaborates with publishers by facilitating a donation of access to select, top volunteer Wikipedia editors who go on to edit the encyclopedia using donated resources as summarized, cited, and linked references.
We currently work with more than 60 partners, including Oxford University Press, JSTOR, Springer Nature, Elsevier, de Gruyter, EBSCO, ProQuest, and Gale, among others.
Not only do our partners serve Wikipedia's inspiring mission, they also see increases in the exposure of their content on Wikipedia. Some of our partners have even seen 200-600% growth in the number of links from Wikipedia references to their site. I have included more information about our process in the "How it works" section below.
The information below should be useful in explaining our account facilitation process, but I would also be very happy to set up a meeting to discuss further any questions you have.
I hope the rest of your week goes well,
The Wikipedia Library
How it Works
It's a pretty simple, positive-relationship model: You would provide qualified and prolific Wikipedia editors free access to your collections. The amount of editors receiving access is up to you: it could be a pilot of 30 (like we started with Elsevier), or it could be 1000+ (like we are doing with De Gruyter).
Editors apply through our Library Card platform (https://wikipedialibrary.wmflabs.org/), and our coordinators approve them based on trustworthiness and history of positive contributions - and then collect and/or distribute information needed to get them access. In one model, you can give us access codes which we deliver to editors ourselves; in another we can collect editor email addresses and have you set up and deliver access directly to them. If you support IP-based access, we can use EZProxy to make this process easier for everyone.
Editors would then use their access to cite and link directly your resources across highly trafficked Wikipedia articles. When readers of Wikipedia articles check a reference on Wikipedia and follow the URL, it would lead them to your resource providing increased visibility and the potential for broader awareness of your services (and possibly new users).
The access relationship is ultimately between you and the individual editors, so in addition to all of our signup and usage expectations, all of your terms of service still apply. Most important of these are the restrictions on access: no mass scraping, downloading, distributing, or datamining--and no sharing accounts with others. You retain the right to revoke access at any point; we patrol proper usage of resources per our inherent commitment to avoiding copyright violations (Wikipedia is very open, but we cannot share copyrighted information while maintaining an open license).
That is the basic sketch, but the details are all customizable to your needs, comfort level, and preferences.
I've attached a generic Memorandum of Understanding to this email so that you can see the kind of agreement we often sign with partners.
END OF DRAFT EMAIL, STOP COPYING
Remember to attach a pdf of the draft Memorandum of Understanding!
This email is structured less strictly than the partnership email because you should tailor it to your specific experiences and requirements. Feel free to reword sections as necessary for your topic area and resource.
- Subject: Wikipedia editor account
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My name is [Name] and I'm a volunteer editor on Wikipedia. I write articles on [Topic] and find your resources particularly useful when researching and providing linked citations in the articles I write.
Unfortunately, however, [some/all] of your content is paywalled and thus inaccessible to me. I don't have the funds to personally pay for a subscription to your resources, and so was wondering if you might be able to provide me with an account that I could use in my work on Wikipedia. This would allow me to make more and better use of your resources, in turn improving the visibility and number of links to your website.
This is a model already being used with many of the biggest publishers such as Oxford University Press, EBSCO, and JSTOR through The Wikipedia Library program where a large number of accounts are donated to Wikipedia editors, however in this case I'm simply looking for [one/a few] account to improve Wikipedia's coverage of [niche topic area].
Please let me know if you have any questions.
In a followup email or conversation, make sure to communicate these simple, easy next steps:
- You select a product and a number of accounts
- We review and sign the draft MOU
- We set up a signup page on our Library Card platform (e.g. https://wikipedialibrary.wmflabs.org/partners/26/)
- We decide how exactly is easiest to transfer access and/or codes
- We promote open signups, vet editors, collect necessary information, and transfer editors access
- We collaborate on some optional social media or press releases if you'd like
- Our editors hopefully add lots of your content to Wikipedia
- We can find one of our editors to write a blog post about their experience using your resources
- We provide you with metrics about the number of links from Wikipedia
Note that it could take as little as 2–4 weeks to be up and running!