User:Christof Pins (WMDE)/Sandbox Impact 2017
2017 was a year of gaining strength, cohesion and focus for Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE). Given stability at the leadership level, we were able to tackle a number of issues, including filling long-open positions, streamlining internal processes in finance and HR, and beginning to re-organize aspects of the organizational chart that were outdated. We improved the annual planning process, and along with that, turned the quarterly reporting cycle into an opportunity for organizational learning, with quarterly all staff review and peer consultation meetings. Here, teams present their progress towards goals and objectives, discuss what they have found out and learned, and ask their colleagues for input and advice.
Board of Directors
The Wikimedia Deutschland Board of Directors focused its work in 2017 on two major themes: First, determining strategy and future direction, and second, stabilizing leadership and organizational structure. Board members participated in the movement strategy process and prepared for the membership assembly to endorse the strategic direction. The board also passed a resolution outlining concrete steps towards increasing and diversifying revenue sources, with the aim of building sustainable financial stability for the organization. Finally, board and leadership laid out the steps and engaged external consultants for WMDE’s strategic process to strengthen WMDE's fitness for the future (“Zukunftsprozess”), which began in 2018. In terms of the second theme, the board extended the contract with Executive Director Abraham Taherivand, reviewed and confirmed the current executive structure, and developed steps to assure continued smooth executive transitions.
Two new members joined the board through the process of cooptation ‒ being selected from a pool of people who were recommended and/or invited to apply ‒ rather than through being elected by membership. We were looking for directors with specific skills and backgrounds. These included experience with non profit governance, financial and controlling expertise, skills around strategic planning and organizational development, as well as strong, relevant networks and relationships. We were fortunate to find two excellent new board members: Dr. Gabriele Theren is a lawyer, a trained mediator and leads a department in the state Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration in Saxony-Anhalt. She feels strongly about equity in access to knowledge and has much experience in working with public and private institutions. Peter Dewald has served in leadership positions at several large international IT corporations. He was a member of the board of the IT industry association Bitkom and has been civically engaged for many years.
The 2017 online fundraising campaign was completed successfully on December 31st, 2017. We displayed banners in the German and English Wikipedia desktop and mobile versions for 51 days, with Wikipedia readers seeing the banners for a maximum of ten times. We accompanied the banners with email and postal mailings to existing donors, through which we were able to almost double the revenue from resulting donations. In addition to generating revenue, the annual campaign also helps to recruit new members. Accompanying activities included postal mailings and thank you banners after the campaign. As a result we received 13,000 new applications for membership, and convinced almost 1,000 members to increase their individual contribution.
Overall, our membership base grew from 43,138 to 52,650 in 2017. Our membership support staff focused on the optimization of member communication and the evaluation of the members assemblies, specifically the framework program ‒ an informative and interactive program where staff introduces the organizational work and community projects, and gathers feedback from members. In 2017 we further refined the array of opportunities for members to participate, and created several avenues to communicate them ‒ on the website as well as in the welcome package going out to new members. In 2018 we will focus on further increasing awareness of ways to participate, and on facilitating entry and increasing the engagement of our members.
The Wikimedia Deutschland Works Council, jointly with leadership, focused on addressing the issues that had surfaced in the late 2016 employee satisfaction survey. These included, among others, employee participation in decision-making processes, transparency, leadership and clarification of roles. All these are now ongoing discussions at the quarterly meetings, with the Executive Director providing updates. The works council also consulted on improving HR processes including agreements/policies on internal promotions, tracking work hours and overtime. Towards the end of the year, the council ran the second employee satisfaction survey, which will inform workplace improvement efforts in 2018.
Wikimedia Deutschland strengthened existing and built several new partnerships at the various program levels: We gained the VolkswagenStiftung as a partner and funder of the Open Science Fellows Program. The co-founding partner Stifterverband expanded their commitment to the fellow program both in terms of the time frame and the financial contribution. We joined the EU-funded research consortium WDAqua, and worked with the German Institute for Artificial Intelligence and a large consortium on a research proposal on a data curation platform. We continued our organizational support for the Open Education Alliance (Bündnis Freie Bildung), and co-organized a multi-stakeholder workshop on the topic of digital civil engagement. After the Mozilla Corporation opened their new office in Berlin, we started building partnerships with our colleagues in software development, business development and communication.
In terms of Wikimedia Deutschland’s programs, their goals, objectives and their impact, which are discussed in detail below, teams celebrated many successes: such as the quickly apparent positive outcomes of the Open Science Fellows Program at the institutional and individual levels, and another exciting Coding da Vinci Hackathon with many new software developers/ designers, GLAMs and data sets. We saw aspects of our work improving and being validated and appreciated by communities, such as in community-centered software development and volunteer support. Other aspects took longer than anticipated, such as the development steps preparing Wikidata for Wiktionary. We failed on some of the projected objectives, such as putting a stop to shrinking active Wikipedia editor numbers, and learned a lot in the process of designing banner campaigns and measuring their impact. Our political and advocacy work picked up speed and intensity, with the help of a growing professional team in both Brussels and Berlin.
Finally, WMDE expanded its presence in the movement through continued improvement and development of the annual Wikimedia Conference, through providing expertise to the movement strategy process, and through supporting strategic and peer consultation activities such as the Partnerships Group Meeting and the Volunteer Supporters Network Meeting.
Metrics Overview – All Programs
|Program||Number of participants||Number of newly registered users||Content pages created or improved|
|Annual target (estimated)||Achieved Outcome (12/2017)||Annual target (estimated)||Achieved Outcome (12/2017)||Annual target (estimated)||Achieved Outcome (12/2017)|
|Program 1: New Volunteers||70||-(1)||750||1,531||does not apply||-|
|Program 2: Volunteer Support||5,000||5,844||1,300||1,039||150,000||1,760,677(2)|
|Program 3: Software Development||430||785||8,400||12,054(3)||5.0M||17.49M(4)|
|Program 4: Advocacy||3,400||1,886||does not apply||-||does not apply||-|
|Program 5: Institutions and their Content||700||418||20||-||7,800||6,838|
|Other (e.g. Wikimedia Conference, WMDE members’ assemblies)||400||570||25||-||does not apply||-|
|Total all programs||9,000||9,303||10,495||14,624||~5.16M||~19.36M|
1) Program 1 focuses on online campaigning mainly. Participant numbers for events like e.g. introductory Wikipedia workshops are summarized under Program 2 or ‘Other’.
2) Based on analysis via Glamorous and Petscan tools and project documentations from supported volunteer projects.
3) New registered users in Wikidata (January - December 2017)
4) Increase in Wikidata items (January - December 2017). We regard this strong increase in Wikidata items as partly problematic for the overall health of the project as quality control and usage in other projects is not always ensured. We will support the Wikidata community to tackle this challenge.
Our set of grantee-defined measures was selected from the objectives and their indicators in the 2017 WMDE Annual Plan (see also the respective objectives & targets below). For each of our five main programs we selected one of the indicators as our grantee-defined measure. These measures are central for monitoring the progress of each respective program. Nevertheless, the additional objectives and targets shown in the program sections below present a more complete picture of our work.
|Measure||Target||Achieved Outcome (until Q4/2017)||Explanation|
|Monthly increase of de:wp editors with 10+ edits||In at least four months in 2017 the increase reaches or surpasses the respective 2016 figures.||Target reached (only formally)
Between July - November 2017 the monthly ‘new editors’ figures were higher than the respective 2016 figures. Nevertheless, the overall declining trend for active editors in de:wp was not stopped.
|The effect of a higher monthly increase in new editors between July and November can not be clearly attributed to the WMDE campaigns:
From 1531 new registered users in the 2017 campaigns, only 27 editors reached the 10th edit threshold until end of the year.
|Number of data uses from Wikidata in Wikimedia projects (--> ‘entity usage’)||Baseline 12/2016:
Targets are set on a quarterly basis.
|Entity usage by 12/2017:
(+62%, target for end of 2017 was ~334 Mio.)
|The strong increase in data use since Q3 2017 was mainly due to increased usage in cawiki und Commons.|
|Number of uses of new media items (resulting from 2017 GLAM cooperations) in the Wikimedia projects||5,000||5,943 new files / 895 uses||Although we missed this specific target, we regard one of our main activities in this field (Coding da Vinci 2017) as a success with respect to several other dimensions: sensitizing 12 new GLAMs for open licenses, building sustainable partnerships, much attention in the media, growing interest to adapt the format nationally and internationally.
Please note: Here we are not counting the new media items and file uses that result from volunteer projects supported by WMDE in 2017 (for this, pls. check the shared metrics table at the top).
|Usefulness of WMDE volunteer support services||No target||Usefulness rating for WMDE volunteer support services: 9.24
(mean value; scale 0-10, n=266, March-November 2017)
|Results of the newly set up ‘support barometer’ (Förderbarometer, launched in February) are published quarterly on-wiki. The support barometer will be continued in 2018.
Feedback is continuously utilized by the support team to improve the support services for volunteers.
|Policy processes influenced by WMDE (qualitative)||Q1/Q2
Program Stories – All Programs
Continuously sinking numbers of editors in the German-language Wikipedia are threatening the vitality and the diversity of the community, and the quality of its content. Wikimedia Deutschland and many members of the community take the continuing decline in editors very seriously. In 2017, we tested banner campaigns and accompanying measures for their potential to halt the decline. Online campaigns are only a first step: They create awareness, make readers more interested in contributing, and may move them to create an account. However, creating an account is easy, but becoming a Wikipedia editor is not. New authors have to learn about both the technical user aspects of the project as well as its culture. For the technical onboarding, a diversity of learning and help tools is needed. Making sure that newbies absorb the cultural rules and understand how Wikipedians interact and collaborate must be the task of the existing community.
In 2017, WMDE conducted four banner campaigns on Wikipedia, working iteratively and trying a variety of approaches. Over the course of the year, we increased the distribution rate for each successive campaign. We learned that with maximum distribution (as done in the fall campaign), there is a ceiling of possible new account registrations that result.
|Thank You Campaign||Spring Campaign||Summer Campaign||Autumn Campaign|
|Banner diet||100% (attracting new users was just a small button in the thank you banner of the fundraising)||5-10%||20-30%||80%|
|Page views landing page||1,318||44,576||68,333||231,251|
|Registrations||no proper tracking (there were 375 clicks on the button, that directed to the registration page)||319||158||1,054|
|Edits||(no proper tracking)||376||107||1,118|
|Edits reverted||(no proper tracking)||2 (0.5%)||3 (2.8%)||11 (1%)|
|attracted users >= 10 edits||(no proper tracking)||4||9||14|
Overall, 1,531 people who created new accounts could be directly linked to a banner campaign in 2017. Some of these new account holders also began editing. 334 of these have continued to make edits (based on data by December 2017). We are operating under the assumption that it takes about 10 edits to have a basic understanding of how to work in Wikipedia. 27 of the new editors have reached ten or more edits (based on data by December 2017).
Surprisingly few edits of the new editors were deleted, leading to the conclusion that they do farely well in terms of working within the rules.
However, becoming an active editor is a long journey. With a few exceptions, the new authors edit only occasionally, and not several times per day or week. Finding your niche in Wikipedia is apparently a lengthier process, as we have learned previously from research studies. Early on during the campaigns, several editors quickly reached their tenth edit, but then that number decreases significantly over time. At the same time, we observe a mid-term impact of the campaigns, showing new users that make their 10th edit later on.
Do campaigns actually make a difference? When checking ‘normal’ registrations’ against those during the time of a campaign, we observed a noticeable increase. This was especially clear during the fall campaign, when the distribution rate was much higher (80%). So campaigns do reach readers, and compel them to register an account. We know from research that among readers, there is still very little awareness of the fact that they themselves could contribute to Wikipedia. Banner campaigns do increase the basic awareness about how one can participate in Wikipedia.
But banners are not enough. They are a first step to create attention. The various pages that readers get to when they click on the banner lead to onboarding and help tools, including guided tours and explanatory videos. However, after viewing that, the new users were on their own. Many of them did one or two more edits and then stopped. We know that onboarding tools are useful, but we do not know enough about which ones work better and how often they are needed. Because of that we started testing and working on the second phase of the editor journey: onboarding. We now have a range of scalable onboarding tools at hand to meet the learning needs of newly registered users. By improving these tools and continuing our approach of combining activities with research, we intend to improve the percentage of new users who reach their tenth edit and help them to become active members of the community.
What we learned
- Banners should link to a very brief introduction page, which elaborates on the message of the banner.
- Suggestions for specific and simple editing tasks (such as updating facts or correcting spelling errors) help new users dare to make the first edit.
- Readers respond well to banners that use bright colors and contrasts. However, the banners need to make a respectable and serious impression to align with the image of Wikipedia.
- Banner campaigns do continue to have impact over time, as some new account holders do increase their edit rate two to four months after the campaign is over.
- Working with external service providers to support us with research data around campaign reception, and then reflecting this data back to community, was crucial to improve each sequential campaign.
|Learning Pattern||Creating Guided Tours together with the Community|
Involving the community
Throughout the year, the team consulted with community members at many points. We shared our strategy and plans at various stages on our project page and asked for feedback. This was very helpful to plan, design and implement better campaigns and onboarding resources. With the help of community members, we were able to test prototypes of the help tools, such as videos, online trainings and guided tours. For the fall banner campaign, we had a pre-test conducted externally, and we also presented the plans to the community at WikiCon 2017. This provided much useful feedback on the message, design and distribution path, which significantly improved the final campaign.
A look ahead
In 2018, we are continuing our work to create enthusiasm among readers for working in Wikipedia. We will continue to show banners, and will focus specifically on easing the onboarding experience of the new users. To this end we conducted interviews with potential new editors, finding out more about what types of information and help tools they might need at the beginning. We will develop new tools based on this input and test them. We will also take a closer look at potentially removable barriers to taking up work in Wikipedia. To complement this approaches, we will support the existing community in onboarding newbies and in creating a positive, welcoming culture.
Throughout the Wikimedia movement, volunteers and affiliates are searching for sustainable ways to win new contributors. We are constantly learning from each other about how different approaches work. Our current approach of systematically testing online campaigning and accompanying online measures is one potential way to gain new editors, which may be adapted by others in the movement. To foster the general conversation about how to tackle this important issue within the movement, we are strongly interested in sharing and discussing our findings e.g. at conferences, during Learning Days or on-wiki (English project page) and welcome hints, comments and interest.
|Measure||Target||Achieved Outcome (until Q4/2017)||Explanation|
|In the course of 2017, the monthly increase of de:wp editors with ten+ edits (and thus passing the ‘new editor threshold’) reaches or surpasses the monthly increase of the respective 2016 months.||In at least four months in 2017 the increase reaches or surpasses the respective 2016 figures.||Target formally reached
Between July - November 2017 the monthly ‘new editors’ figures were higher than the respective 2016 figures. Nevertheless, the overall declining trend for active editors in de:wp was not stopped.
|The effect of a higher monthly increase in new editors between July and November cannot be clearly attributed to the WMDE campaigns:
From 1,531 new registered users in the 2017 campaigns, only 27 editors reached the tenth edit threshold until end of the year.
The Volunteer Support Team is looking back at a successful year 2017. We were able to process requests without delay (average processing time was 2.7 days). We supported 20% more individuals active in projects than in 2016, for a total of 436. We supported an ever-growing variety of projects. This growth trend is expected to continue in 2018. We supported a total of ten projects with a focus on non-German speaking participants.
We created materials to increase the awareness of support types, including new print materials focusing on Wikipedia and on sister projects. We also improved, jointly with our colleagues from Austria and Switzerland, the portal for volunteer support. We added a few new types of support as well, such as reimbursement for freedom of information requests, or prizes for on-wiki competitions in order to support participant motivation. The idea portal, designed for volunteers to pitch and jointly develop projects, now logs all supported projects and has also seen an increase in utilization this year. Finally, community members and staff jointly developed guidelines for the documentation of projects.
Staff members participated in an international workshop with twelve participants of the Volunteer Supporters Group hosted by WMDE in Berlin (see detailed story below in the part about our international work). The meeting was aimed at strengthening volunteer support in the Wikimedia movement by learning more about each other’s work, discussing common challenges and ways to handle those, as well as looking at the evaluation of success and impact of our work as volunteer supporters. The workshop allowed for a valuable mutual exchange of experiences and advice, and results were documented in a learning pattern and a detailed reader.
|Learning Pattern||Reach and engage your community|
The support barometer (‘Förderbarometer’) was implemented in early 2017, as a continuous feedback system. It measures the level of volunteer satisfaction with WMDE’s support programs, by asking all volunteers who have received support a series of questions around the usefulness of the support, and allowing them to rate on a scale of 0-10. They are also able to leave suggestions on improvements. Between March and November 2017, we received feedback more than 280 times, which we utilized to constantly improve our support services.
Support Barometer: A tool to systematically capture community feedback (by Nicolas Rück)
Why did we start doing this?
We are committed to continuously improving our support services, and to assuring that they meet the needs of the active community members. In order to do this, we needed a continuous data source to monitor the perception of the quality of our services. We wanted to know how satisfied recipients are with the services, and how helpful they find the support for achieving their project goals. In addition, we are now able to gather suggestions for improvement in a structured manner. Having this structured, regular flow of data will help put singular complaints in a broader context. Finally, we can compare rates of satisfaction and helpfulness among the different support types, and improve them individually, if needed.
In 2017, we conducted analyses of the gathered data at three points and published the results. Satisfaction and helpfulness were rated very high, and remained between 9 and 10 throughout the year (on a scale from 0-10). We were able to distill some very useful information from the suggestions in the open feedback fields, which was utilized right away to make the appropriate improvements to our processes. For example, we created guidelines for cost reimbursement together with our finance department as requested in the survey.
How well has it worked?
The survey worked well to monitor the level of satisfaction with our work. Having regular, reliable data on how positively our work was seen by the community made our team feel good and confident. Now, individual complaints can be looked at in context and have less of a morale-crushing potential. We now know that our services are helpful overall, and that there are mostly minor adjustments needed to make things work more smoothly. As we were reviewing and documenting the suggestions, we also took the opportunity to directly respond on-wiki. Many of the suggestions were actually already being worked on before we received them.
With the available data we are now able to monitor and analyse changes and needs in specific support types, and make data-based decisions, rather than having to rely on individual, often subjective input only. For the volunteers, the survey represents an easy and fast way to give us feedback, which will be quickly incorporated into our continuous quality improvement work.
Whereas the support barometer now provides us with a reliable tool to monitor feedback across a large number of supported volunteer activities in a comparable, standardized way, meaningful day-to-day communication with Wikimedia volunteers and individual in-depth feedback remain crucial ways to keep up good working relationships and high motivation. We will continue to capture feedback via the support barometer throughout 2018 to improve our services, and at the same time we will increase our consulting for individual volunteer projects, especially those with new approaches as well as larger, complex volunteer projects.
Selected Supported Volunteer Activities in 2017
27 volunteers were awarded with full, partial, or admission scholarships from WMDE to attend Wikimania 2017. For the first time, recipients were selected with regards to the programs of Wikimedia Deutschland. Together with staff members working on these programs, volunteers prepared their participation in the conference at a pre-Wikimania workshop. All volunteers receiving a scholarship from WMDE are now required to document their activities at Wikimanias on a dedicated documenation page on-wiki. A few of the participants shared new experiences, pictures, and documentations from the sessions live from the conference on their on-wiki blogs and on a subpage of the Wikipedia:Kurier, the German Wikipedia’s community newspaper.
WikiCon, the annual meeting of people active in the German Wikipedia, its sister projects and all those interested in supporting free knowledge, took place in Leipzig this year. The community-designed program offered more than 80 workshops, discussions and presentations to 287 participants. The participant survey revealed generally good ratings of both, the program and the organizational aspects of the gathering, and clearly demonstrated the motivating effect of this community conference.
Wiki Loves Monuments 2017
In Germany, this contest took place with 443 participants and more than 20,000 image uploads — for the first time in cooperation with the German Commission for UNESCO, and with returning support of the German Cultural Heritage Committee. We were also awared funding by the German Cultural Heritage Committee to support next year’s WLM, with a special focus on the European Year of Cultural Heritage. We will be able to provide the international movement with a special photo award dedicated to European heritage, and organize workshops for 360 degree photography, as well as for the GLAM and young Wikipedian communities in Germany. Furthermore, we will be able to promote WLM and European heritage more broadly and establish these topics in the global communities. After preparations have been completed, more information will be shared soon with the Wikimedia movement.
Wikipedia for Peace
This constituted one of the most international of the supported projects for non-German speakers. It was a community project to increase and improve the Wikipedia content on social movements, justice and peace, funded by Wikimedia Deutschland and Service Civil International. The project was organized as a work camp, where people from different backgrounds come together for about two weeks to write and edit content about topics related to peace on Wikipedia. The event took place in Berlin in July and brought together 15 participants from a variety of countries who created 131 new articles in many different languages.
This new local hub in Berlin opened in April 2017 and features two spacious areas: One dedicated to working with a conference setup, the other more casual with a small library and sofas. The local hub attracts not only Wikipedians, but other groups in the free and open scene, and Wikimedia Deutschland staff are invited to use the space on a regular basis. The rent is more expensive as in other local hubs in Germany, but the volunteers decided themselves that they wanted a space which was easy to reach from all over Berlin and a concept which invites lots of other people in their space to connect and engage with them. Events at Wikibär include several open editing sessions, including those explicitly targeted at new editors, thematic edit-a-thons, and meetups such as WomenEdit and Open Source Ladies.
What We Learned
- In order to create new local hubs, it is not sufficient to simply replicate the successful models of previous hubs. Working on mutually agreed guidelines for local spaces and consulting by our volunteer support staff may prevent conflicts and foster productive collaboration.
- For projects with non-German speaking groups of editors/users, the same rule applies as with all volunteer projects: those that come from the community, and are based on community ideas and contacts are easier to start and more likely to succeed.
Finding the Balance (by Maria Heuschkel)
As in any collaborative situation, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of roles, responsibilities and the division of labor in a volunteer initiated, staff supported project. Often, the roles and responsibilities have to be negotiated and clarified at the beginning of a project. Each endeavor presents a new set of expectations, needs and conditions.
During 2017, our team was challenged to take on a number of different and evolving roles. In each situation, a different set of competencies is required from staff. During this past year we have applied more of an analytical lens to the evolving roles. We want to assure that we are well-prepared and equipped to effectively and competently fill them. Three major types of roles have emerged:
Providing an administrative framework
Having a clear division of labor between volunteers and staff aims at ensuring that volunteers have the possibility to fully focus on the content work for a Wikimedia project. This is enabled by staff acting in an administrative role. An example: the De Gruyter literature database. The administrative aspects of this partnership ‒ setting up accounts, managing the relationship, updating the documentation pages ‒ had been handled by volunteers for years. Based on strong community demands, staff has now taken over this work. Likewise, in regards to Wiki Loves Monuments, our staff took on an increasing amount of administrative tasks, including the development of the on-wiki project pages and banners. This allows community members to focus on the creative photography work.
The evolving nature of this work leads us to constantly question the degree and the nature of our involvement in community work. Should we be proactive, by starting and actively influencing certain projects when we identify potentials or risks that the community has not recognized? How do we prevent the impression that staff is taking over the projects and interfering in community projects too much ‒ and thus weakening volunteer motivation? In 2018 we will explore these questions further and we will adjust and test new strategies.
Another role emerging in 2017 has focused on supporting conflict resolution. Conflicts and dealing with conflicts are not new issues for staff in the Volunteer Support Team. Our experiences this year, however, led us to increasingly reflect whether, how and to what degree staff should intervene in conflicts between community groups or community members. These conflicts are emotionally exhausting and demotivating for volunteers, and on the one hand, we would like to help reduce this strain volunteers are confronted with. On the other hand, our staff also needs to remain neutral, which ensures our ability to interact and continue working productively with diverse groups and members of the community. In addition, situations may arise where staff themselves are parties in a conflict (either with community involvement or without), for example in the case of mismatched expectations around project content and results. This brought up the question of whether or not resolving conflicts should be a staff role. And it revealed that both staff and community members will have to improve their conflict resolution skills. As a result, this will be another role to be discussed and better defined in 2018.
Bringing communities together
We are reflecting on and defining the two roles described above largely in reaction to community needs and trends. Apart from that, bringing communities together is a role we would like to develop and grow based on impulses and ideas from Volunteer Support Team staff. These come out of discussions as part of our annual planning process. We were reflecting on how to leverage the skills and resources of different language and project communities, and encourage collaboration, new ideas and new content. Generally, volunteers have appreciated our help in creating synergies and connections. However, each time we engage with communities in this manner, we have to re-define our role, the goals behind creating new connections, and the extent and length of our commitment. As with all partnerships, the first connecting handshake does not necessarily lead to a successful cooperation. We are looking forward to exploring the ‘connecting communities’ role further in 2018 and to gathering some insights on what works and what doesn't.
The three roles sketched above by no means fully describe the variety of the work the Volunteer Support Team is engaged in. Instead these are emerging roles, which bring up many questions and cause us to constantly reflect, adapt and prioritise the way we work.
|Objective||Target||Achieved Outcome (until Q4/2017)||Explanation|
|Through increased awareness and accessibility of our support services, the number of individuals active in projects who apply for support rises||No target
In 2017 we will increase the number of volunteers who know about and get access to WMDE support and project funding.
Number of individuals supported: 436
(Total until Q4 2017; + 20% vs. 2016)
‘Individuals applying for support’ includes organizers of volunteer group activities as well as volunteers applying for individual grants (e.g. technical support, literature stipends etc.).
|WMDE supports at least three projects benefitting major non-German speaking user populations (e.g. refugees).||At least three supported volunteer projects||Target reached
Total: 10 supported volunteer projects by end of 2017
|Example for a project supported in Q3/Q4:
German-French Editathon at the Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt book fair)
|Objective||Target||Achieved Outcome (until Q4/2017)||Explanation|
|100 % of volunteer support applications receive a final response within three weeks of submitting a complete proposal.||100 % final response within three weeks||Target reached
Q1-Q4: 99% final response within three weeks
Mean: 2.7 days (incl. weekends)
|Only on very rare occasions, final decision took longer than three weeks (e.g. support for Wiki Loves Earth 2017 took more time due to the complex nature of the project)
This target is aimed at quick and unbureaucratic processing of support applications submitted by volunteers. We track this on a quarterly basis to ensure our application processes stay efficient.
|To continuously improve support services, WMDE surveys all applicants and project leaders, assessing the usefulness of services and gathering suggestions for improvement. Results will be published quarterly and will inform the further development of support services that is done jointly with the community.||No target/ ‘usefulness measure’ was newly set up in early 2017||On track
Usefulness rating for WMDE volunteer support services: 9.24
(mean value; scale 0-10, n=266, March-November 2017)
|Results of the newly set up ‘support barometer’ (Förderbarometer, launched in February) are published quarterly on-wiki. The support barometer will be continued in 2018.
Feedback is continuously utilized by the support team to improve the support services for volunteers.
|In order to effectively shape our project collaboration with volunteers, WMDE continues the development of guidelines for support services together with the supported community members.||Agreed guidelines and other resources are published until Q3 2017.||Target reached
||Agreed documentation guidelines published by October 2017.
Detailed FAQ regarding reimbursements set up and published by November 2018.
|| Comment |
|editors (1+/ 30 days)||16,729||18,110||+8%||still growing, clearly positive|
|active editors (5+/ 30 days)||7,240||8,030||+11%||still growing, clearly positive|
|very active editors (100+/ 30 days)||1,250||1,540||+23%||still growing, clearly positive|
|new active editors (passing 10th edit threshold)||735
(average per month, 01-12/2016)
(average per month, 01-12/2017)
|| Comment |
|pages||26.04M||44.18M||+70%||strongly growing, to be observed|
|items||24.67M||42.27M||+71%||strongly growing, to be observed|
|items with referenced statements||15.52M
(~63% of total items, data by December 26)
(~74% of total items, data by January 1st)
|+101%||steadily growing, share increasing, to be observed|
|edits (total)||422.80M||615.7M||+46%||steadily growing, clearly positive|
|statements (total)||127.50M||371.3M||+191%||massively growing, to be observed|
|statements referenced to Wikipedia||30.97M
(~24% of total, data by December 26)
(~11% of total, data by January 1st)
|+32%||still growing (but slower compared to overall growth in statements), share is decreasing, positive|
|statements referenced to other sources||34.41M
(~27% of total, data by December 26)
(~62% of total, data by January 1st)
|+571%||massively growing and share is strongly increasing too, to be observed|
|YoY Change|| Comment |
|# of entity usages from Wikidata in Wikimedia projects||282.30M||459.4M||+63%||strongly growing, clearly positive|
Table disclaimer: Changes in the table above which are marked as green are evaluated as predominantly positive (e.g. growth in editors and entity usage). Changes marked as yellow are evaluated as ambivalent and are to be observed, as these values are considered disproportionately high increases which might present a risk for the overall health of the project.
Overall, 2017 has been a year full of changes for WMDE’s Software Development Department. From the beginning of the year until early September, Abraham Taherivand acted as interim department head since he was confirmed as WMDE’s new Executive Director and was leading the department while also carrying all the responsibilities of steering an organization such as WMDE. Fortunately, WMDE’s new department head Franziska Heine started in September 2017 and took over the responsibilities of leading the department. Franziska, among many other things, took over a change process that had already started in the beginning of the year, but had not been completed: the team structure of the entire department was in the process of being adjusted, giving more management responsibilities to staff members. At the same time, several position for this re-organization had remained vacant, including the crucial position of an engineering manager. WMDE was finally able to fill this position by January 2018, which meant that the new team structure could only recently be completed and all necessary changes finalized. With the new engineering manager, the software engineers now have a strong representation on management level and the engineers are split into four instead of three teams. Furthermore, roles and responsibilities can now be defined more clearly than before.
In terms of programmatic work, WMDE’s Software Development Department steadily continued to work towards its goals set for the year. With regards to securing the social and technical sustainability of Wikidata, available content, the number of active editors, the use in the Wikimedia projects and the number of queries are continuously rising. The first WikidataCon effectively contributed to strengthening the Wikidata community. A growing number of data partnerships enable a sustainable usage of Wikidata outside the Wikimedia movement.
With regards to increasing the reach of Wikidata into the Wikimedia projects, entity usage from Wikidata in Wikimedia projects increased significantly in 2017 overall, especially when comparing the metrics reported in the Progress Report 2017 (+16% as of June 2017) with the year-end metrics (+63% as of December 2017). This positive development is largely due to the communities finding Wikidata increasingly useful for their work and to technical improvements in the software that make such cross-project usage more appealing. As a foundation for integrating structured data into Commons, the work on developing multi-content revisions started and will continue throughout 2018. A first prototype for support of lexicographical data on Wikidata was developed, presented and tested at the Wikimania 2017. Based on this prototype, user feedback and further development, users will be able to edit lexicographic data for the first time in early Q2 2018.
Regarding the development of MediaWiki and making the software more effective for its users, a number of technical wishes were implemented during 2017. The high usage rates and low opt-out rates (see beta features TwoColConflict and AdvancedSearch) as well as fast integration as standard features to MediaWiki (RevisionSlider after only eight months as global beta feature) prove that the new and improved features developed so far are useful for many editors. Additionally, the German-speaking Community Technical Wishlist survey was conducted in the first half of 2017, with continuous feedback loops and increased participation in the survey and additional workshops.
Wikidata loves data quality
Despite these overall positive developments with regards to community, software and reach of Wikidata, reaching the project goals is never a straight road forward and with each new turn or next phase reached, a new challenge appears on the horizon. For Wikidata, this challenge has continued to be securing data quality during 2017. While much of Wikidata’s growth is clearly positive and increases the sustainability of the project, growth in certain areas might be challenging for the project and its community. Looking at the Wikidata metrics table above, several metrics related to editors, content and use show a steady growth that is clearly positive, when comparing data from 2016 and 2017 (marked green). However, in terms of content, a strong growth can be observed with regards to the number of pages and items (about +70 % increase, year-to-year, marked yellow). Massively increasing values include the number of statements (total, +191%) and the number of statements referenced to sources other than Wikipedia (+571%). Such strong growth is extraordinary and while we know why this is happening, the Wikidata team is currently in the process of analyzing, together with the community, what such developments mean for the development of project and how to deal with this.
In 2017, the extraordinary growth in statements referenced to sources other than Wikipedia is largely due to the automatic import of data related to journal articles for which a large number of new items were created as part of a user project. The Wikidata items created for each journal come with several statements (e.g. for title, author name, publication date, volume, page numbers, cites). Due to the nature of scientific research, most journal articles have several people co-author an article and so the respective Wikidata items also contain one statement per author. For example, the Wikidata item Q40532498 (scientific article on a tetanus toxin fragment) contains a total of 34 statements, of which nine statements alone provide information on the names of authors and 19 statements provide information on cites in other journals. One of the longest items, Q30300250 (a scientific article on electroweak production of jets), contains 2,158 statements for authors alone. All of these statements can be referenced, since the journal article the item is about is the reference itself. Overall, these newly created items for scientific journal articles now make up between one quarter to one third of all items currently listed on Wikidata (as of early 2018). Generally, the impact of this particular user project can be seen as generally positive in nature since having more items with referenced statements is good for Wikidata. As of December 2016, about 51% of all statements had a reference, either to Wikipedia (24%) or to other sources (27%). Until the end of 2017, this number of statement with a reference has risen to 73%, largely due to the total number of statements references to other sources growing from around 34 Million (27% of total) to almost 231 Million (67% of total). This growth in referenced statements is almost entirely caused by the mass import of data on scientific journal articles described above. Projects such as this one challenge the Wikidata community to better understand the differences in impact new developments have in different areas of the project: while items with externally referenced statements are generally viewed as an indicator of data quality, it might not be positive to have one particular subclass of items (e.g. journal articles) be disproportionately represented in Wikidata compared to many other subclasses of items. The Wikidata team is currently exploring ways on how to deal with the challenges of these new developments and has addressed this topic at the WikidataCon in the fall of 2017 in Lydia Pintscher’s ‘State of the Project’ session (notes, slides, video) and during the panel on main problems and challenges of Wikidata (abstract & notes, video), for example.
Another challenge when it comes to data quality is related to Wikidata’s sister projects. The goal has been increasing both data quality in Wikidata and the re-use of Wikidata in other Wikimedia projects at the same time. To tackle this particular challenge, the Wikidata team had to look deep inside the usage of Wikidata items on projects like Wikipedia. A substantial amount of work went into the improvement of the Recent Changes feature on Wikipedia: Users are now able to track changes coming from Wikidata in a fine-grained way that displays e.g. the length of a river that was changed in the Wikidata item associated with a Wikipedia page. Time was invested to work on the improvement of Recent Changes to motivate editors to work on Wikidata data quality from Wikipedia - and not to overwhelm them with lots of irrelevant changes (like a label being changed in a language that is not used on that Wikipedia) as it was the case in the past. The topic of data quality is also central to the research done on Wikidata content. In 2017, our efforts to look at Wikidata with the methods of data science were much improved.
From the life of Wikidata (by Goran S. Milovanović, Data Scientist)
Wikidata documents the things that exist, real or not, the facts about them, and the relations that connect them, in a huge network of over 40 million items: the elementary units referring to what claims an existence as meaningful, single entity. Wikidata then maps their presence across the pages in Wikipedia and its sister projects. Now, this fact has a rather significant consequence that we wish to draw your attention at.If we keep track of things and ideas as items in Wikidata, and at the same time know how many times and where they were referred to, we can begin to understand the global pattern of how our common knowledge is distributed and used across the Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. We can begin to understand the similarities and differences in the ways we think and connect things, ideas, people, events, and whatever else there is, in our editor communities, languages, and cultures. We can begin to draw a map, a map of conceptual diversity and complexity, watch it evolve while thousands of minds read, write, and debate on truth and possibility on Wikipedia, and then provide a picture of the debate as whole. A single mind could not do it; the extent as well as the depth of information is simply overwhelming. Thus we’ve employed machines and algorithms and built the Wikidata Concepts Monitor (WDCM) system to do the job for us.Q6256)) are used across the Wikipedia and related Wikimedia projects? The map on the left might be informative in that respect. This twisted map - a cartogram, more precisely -was generated by a smart GIS algorithm applied to the Wikidata Concepts Monitor (WDCM) data sets. The area of each country is transformed until the areas of all countries became proportional to how many times the Wikidata items that represent them are used across more than 800 Wikimedia projects.
The WDCM system, developed by Wikimedia Deutschland in 2017, has a curious task to track, crack, and visualize the numbers on Wikidata items usage across all Wikimedia projects. It is a statistical machinery that currently tracks 14 semantic categories in Wikidata, currently encompassing 35,153,186 of Wikidata items. Its results are reported across four specialized dashboards: Overview, Usage, Semantics, and Geo, which provides interactive maps of the geolocalized items alongside their usage statistics.
What is the motivation behind the development of such system?
Well, no one has probably ever brought a good decision on the direction of development of a large socio-technical system without relying on some appropriate data source of solid quality. Such decisions can be brought in the very beginning of the system’s development, when the matters of its design by definition outweigh the matters of its application. For successful systems like Wikidata, that epoch doesn’t last long, because they tend to grow fast. In order to understand what needs to happen in Wikidata, one needs to understand what are our editor communities doing with it. Beyond that, and even more important, the communities themselves need to understand the pattern of their own Wikidata usage: it is in itself so complicated even in a single project only, that no single individual could understand it easily without relying on a system like WDCM that assesses the relevant numbers in the background and does the math to reduce the system’s manifest complexity to a manageable proportion.
For example, an index of gender divide in Wikidata usage, i.e. tracking the item usage of the Human (Q5) item in respect to gender and across many Wikimedia projects, is already under development, and will help us quantify this bias and learn where we need to address it more urgently. These and other future WDCM based indicators of Wikidata usage biases are planned as the Knowledge equity components of the system; the rest of the system is designed having in mind the development and promotion of the Knowledge as a service component of the agreed 2030 Wikimedia movement direction.
To continue reading about what data from Wikidata is used most often, how much of Wikidata is used in all the different Wikimedia projects, and what essential questions the WDCM is trying to answer, please visit the Wikimedia Foundation blog and Goran’s original blog post here.
All WDCM Wikidata usage data sets are publicly available from https://analytics.wikimedia.org/datasets/wdcm/. Many aggregated data sets, including user customized ones, can be downloaded from the WDCM Usage Dashboard.
Wikidata loves community
One of the biggest highlights was the WikidataCon in the fall of 2017 in Berlin. This conference was conceptualized with the goal of keeping the Wikidata community involved, happy and connected. And we succeeded: 83% of conference participants rated the conference as excellent (n=116, 100% of participants rated the conference as good or excellent) and for 98% of attendees expectations were met or exceeded (n=119), as the survey report shows. The event was offered free of charge for participants, and funding from the WMF enabled 47 travel scholarships for participants. Due to the large interest from community members, the event was fully booked many months before the conference and a long waiting list kept. Such a huge initial interest and the great feedback from the Wikidata community goes to show that having separate conferences for Wikipedia sister projects can be of great benefit for their communities. WikidataCon remains one of the first conferences that focused exclusively on a Wikimedia project other than Wikipedia. Given that the Wikidata community is international in its scope and has grown into a large community with around 8,000 active (5+/30 days) und roughly 1,500 very active editors (100+/30 days), the conference was vital in bringing people together. It was amazing to see what such an event can do for a community.
WikidataCon - Bringing people together (by Léa Lacroix)
The WikidataCon took place in Berlin, on 28-29 October 2017, and welcomed 180 attendees from the Wikidata community: editors, data users, tools developers, partners. The first edition of this new format was the first conference built by and for the Wikidata community, to encourage the community to meet, share knowledge around Wikidata, and to celebrate hard work along with the 5th anniversary of the project. This conference was organized by Wikimedia Deutschland, with the help of thirty volunteers from the community. The sessions, keynotes, talks, workshops, the social events, discussions, the birthday celebration, the quality of the documentation and the positive mood of the attendees made this event a great experiment and a real success. Several factors contributed to the success of the conference in keeping the Wikidata community involved, happy and connected.
A conference built by and for the community
We wanted an event focused on Wikidata, where the different parts of the community - editors, developers, people donating or using data from Wikidata and more - can participate and find interest in the conference. We expected a huge participation from the community, involvement in the different steps of the process, and we organized the conference in a way that people could not only consume the event, but really take an active part in building the program and the discussions.
Except for two keynotes that provided external points of view on the open data world, and a few sessions run by members of the Wikidata team, the entire program was built by the community, through a call for project and a selection made by the program committee including for a half volunteers. We had more than one hundred talks, workshops and discussions, run by 78 different speakers, out of 180 attendees, meaning that 40% of the attendees ran at least one session during the WikidataCon.
The Wikidata community works online on a daily-basis, from all around the world, using a lot of different tools to add new data, improve the quality of the data, reuse data, and so on. One of the core goals of the WikidataCon was to offer them the opportunity to share their knowledge about these tools, increase the average level of knowledge regarding Wikidata, and share experiences and best practices about editing and reusing Wikidata’s data.
Three main tracks in the program were dedicated to specific topics (culture, education, science, data quality) and two rooms hosted a lot of technical workshops during the two days of the conference. Community members could demo some of their favorite tools, show their usual processes (such as using Wikidata query to verify the quality and completeness of Wikidata items) and discuss about different topics during the meetups (GLAM, research, ontologies).
The WikidataCon was also the occasion for the editors, tools builders and data reusers to meet the Wikidata development team and the UX team. These informal discussions were really useful for the team to understand more the needs of the users, what they may struggle with, and for the editors to discuss any kind of technical issues with the developers.
Celebrate the 5th birthday of Wikidata and the work of volunteers
The WikidataCon was built on top of the 5th birthday of Wikidata. Every year, we use this anniversary date to celebrate the work of the community, share appreciation and highlight our successes. Our goal was to make the community members feel happy and appreciated, gain motivation, and in general enjoy the event.
The birthday celebration happened on the second day of the conference and included a motivational speech by Lydia Pintscher, birthday cake, sweets brought by the participants from all around the world, and a demo of all the birthday presents build by the community. Every year, developers and editors take the opportunity of the birthday to develop new tools or features, create maps, drawings or write about their experiences on Wikidata. During the WikidataCon, we highlighted all of these initiatives and took a moment to thank all the people who make Wikidata more awesome every year.
In general, during the conference, attendees were encouraged to show their support and interest for the work of other members. A bingo grid that we released with the program suggested for example to find the creator of one’s favorite tool and thank them for their work.
In summary, these were three main factors that helped us keep the Wikidata community involved, happy and connected with the conference. Additionally, the WikidataCon turned out to be one of the best documented Wikimedia conference to-date and for almost all session, documentation can be found both in the form of videos, slides as well as notes. And of course, we still learned a lot about various aspects of conference to be improved, for example the program structure or several logistical aspects. The full conference report with all the details can be found on Meta.
Wikidata loves data partnerships: Wikibase installations
As described in the last APG Progress report, working with partners is an integral part of ensuring the sustainability of Wikidata. This work with partners had concentrated on enabling new partners to navigate the complex Wikidata universe more independently, for example by providing better documentation and guidance for data imports, in the past year. While all of these materials make it easier for people to collaborate on new data partnerships, the Wikidata team realized that this should not be the only way to respond to the multiple requests from a very diverse range of new partners. In the past months, we focused on making it easier for partners and interested parties to install their own Wikibase instances, independent from but potentially interconnected with Wikidata. This major shift in our partnership work will enable a whole new set of partnerships to emerge with very exciting opportunities ahead of us. Wikibase installations will also enable Wikidata to not be the only central storage base for all data in our knowledge ecosystem, but rather be one of its central repositories for structured data, with many more repositories connected to each other.
FactGrid, a database for historians — made with Wikibase! (by Jens Ohlig)
|Historians at the research center Gotha at the university of Erfurt, Germany, were faced with a problem: They wanted to explore the content of a mysterious box, the “Schwedenkiste” (Swedish box). It contained 20 volumes of written letters from the estate of Johann Joachim Christoph Bode along with registries and lists of contents, all dealing with the historic order of the Illuminati. The original founder of the Illuminati, Adam Weishaupt, had fled in 1785 and the center of activity for the Illuminati shifted from Bavaria to the Duchies of Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Weimar where Johann Joachim Christoph Bode (1730-1793) took the reins and assumed the role previously held by Weishaupt. Through his letters, the complete social network of a secret society in 18th century Europe becomes visible.collection called the Schwedenkiste is real. When after a rocky post-war history the last volume of the collection was returned from Moscow in 1992, the entire collection was available for study in Germany for the first time. In recent years the researchers decided that they wanted to explore this chest and its content using methods from digital humanities.
Inspired by the possibilities that Wikidata offers to create, link, and query items and its flexible data model, the researchers wanted something similar for their project. As structuring and describing the collection is original research, Wikidata was not the place for their effort. So for their Illuminati project, they chose to have a special Wikibase installation.|
Wikimedia Deutschland helped the team from Gotha during an intensive workshop and assisted in finding people to work on the installation and providing software for the upload and curation of the data.
The project is documented with the FactGrid blog. By putting the correspondence of the Illuminati in a specialised Wikibase installation, those who worked on the project were illuminated in various ways already: The Wikibase team gained valuable insight into problems that come with an installation of the software outside a Wikimedia project. And for those who actually go through the knowledge base of the Illuminati order, it is eye-opening to read that the secret messages of the members of the order aren’t very much like in a Dan Brown thriller. Most letters don’t contain mysterious secrets or even plans to overthrow governments — while they provide historians with new understandings of the time, their contents are rather unremarkable and trivial.
Lexicographical Data: What’s happening
As described in the APG Progress Report, the Wikidata team has been working on increasing the reach of Wikidata into the Wikimedia projects, with a specific focus on supporting the integration of lexicographical data in 2017. If Wikidata is able to store lexicographical data, then data from Wiktionary can also be stored in Wikidata. In the first half of 2017, the Wikidata team had reached its milestone already with publishing the data model of WikibaseLexeme. For the second half of 2017, another milestone was reached when the team created a lexeme prototype and a demoable lexeme page in time for Wikimania. During the Wikimania sessions much feedback was collected from users that is very valuable for further development.
However, the biggest milestone for the year was set as enabling the storage of first lexicographical data in Wikidata by the end of 2017. Unfortunately, despite many previous milestones reached and several other positive developments, the team did not succeed in reaching this objective and is currently behind plan. Users will most likely be able to edit lexicographical data for the first time in early Q2 2018. This delay is largely due to two reasons: First, due to discussion about data quality and request from within the WMF and community, resources were shifted to work on the Wikidata core to improve Watchlist features. As a result, fewer developer resources were available for work on lexicographical data. Second, teams in the Software Development Department were restructured in early 2017, but unfortunately, the role of engineering manager for the team working on this particular project was not filled until early 2018. Improving certain development processes and restructuring the teams can only now take on its final forms and we expect the improvements to take their full effect in the remaining months of 2018. The team working on lexicographical data is now complete and is working full steam to enable the first lexicographical data to be stored in Wikidata in the coming months.
The Technical Wishes team loves feedback and diversity
After hosting another round of the technical wishes survey in the first half of 2017 (the most inclusive survey so far, with higher participation and a more diverse range of contributors), the Technical Wishes Team committed to look into the top nine wishes plus the support of one volunteer project. Compared to the previous surveys, more guidance was given in terms of the input the team was looking for. Participants were asked to use a template that focused on the problem instead of the solution they had in mind (because understanding the problem first is key for exploring possible solutions). Accordingly, when evaluating the survey results, instead of committing to fulfil a solution wish, the team committed to solving problems. So for each wish, a problem statement was formulated based on the team’s understanding of the problem at that point. In the first step in 2017, user insights on the new requests were gathered from both the international communities and the German-speaking communities: For example, the team hosted an introductory session about the new requests at Wikimania, and gathered feedback via a feedback board at WikiCon 2017, the annual conference of the German-speaking Wikimedia communities. On top of that, outreach to contributors and our welcoming culture around Technical Wishes were strengthened through creating a new newsletter and a barnstar for giving feedback.
The Technical Wishes team loves MediaWiki
The approach to improve MediaWiki through realizing wishes was further refined. The team focussed on extensions and MediaWiki core rather than gadgets, tools or scripts. The reason for this change being that the Technical Wishes team wants to make sure the software is sustainable, can be maintained easily, improves possible technical debt, and can be used by the international community. As a drawback to this approach, development time tends to be longer when focusing on MediaWiki core than when programming gadgets or tools since the code has to undergo security reviews and can sometimes only be merged by people with the highest rights. This is why the team also continued to improve its development process:
These changes meant, for example, that the deployment plan is improved before an extension is deployed as a beta feature on all wikis. The team introduced a “small beta” release which usually includes de-wiki (since this is where the wishes originated from), at least one right-to-left (RTL) wiki, mediawiki and any other wiki that sends a community request for an early enabling of the feature (e.g. the Arabic, Hungarian, and Persian wiki communities requested AdvancedSearch). The small beta has the benefit that its most obvious bugs are fixed before the feature is released to many more people.
Furthermore, this approach allows to scale and plan addressing the feedback of diverse users better. For example, through the early deployment to a right-to-left wiki, bugs that are related to the writing direction of the language can be detected in an early stage. How to serve a diverse community of users best was also the topic of a session conducted jointly with a community member from the Arabic Wikipedia community at the Wikimedia Diversity Conference in Sweden (session slides). In 2018, the team plans to dive even deeper into the topic and provide a list of criteria for addressing diverse users’ needs to be considered in the development work.
New approaches in supporting volunteer developers (by Birgit Müller)
For the first time we have reserved a special slot in the wishlist survey for submissions from volunteer developers who want to work on a project and are looking for advice. We identified and recommended easy tasks for the Wikimania Hackathon 2017, advertised by a physical board that contained title, ticket number on phabricator and mentor contacts. We offered a MediaWiki newcomers’ workshop at the Wikimania Hackathon, and we have launched the weekly Technical Advice IRC Meeting in August 2017. The Technical Advice IRC meeting is the first regular online support meeting for volunteer developers. The weekly gatherings have developed into an important contact point for volunteer developers and we receive very positive feedback (quote: “I love this IRC meetings. They are really a catalyst in clarifying problems”).
The recommendations of easy tasks for the Wikimania Hackathon and the real life support worked really well: four tasks got solved during this hackathon. We only recommended tasks that had been discussed and assessed by the team prior to the Wikimania Hackathon. This way we could make sure that volunteers only get recommendations for tasks that are actually doable during a hackathon. Having the physical board helped making the tasks more visible. Having mentors directly available helped clarifying questions and allowed to review, merge and even deploy the code right away. With regards to software for the Wikimedia projects, volunteers often have to wait months or even years for code review. We wanted to make sure that volunteer developers who work on tasks recommended by us can work effectively, and in a satisfying way.
Besides testing concrete formats, we have invested in further research and are discussing best methods to grow and maintain the technical community: Together with WMF staff, we ran two sessions “(New) developers and MediaWiki: How to become BFFs” part I and part II at the Wikimedia and Wikimania Hackathons. At the Developer Summit in January 2018 we took a lead hosting the session “Growing the MediaWiki Technical Community” jointly with WMF staff (session slides). The main focus areas of the session were: (1) Making all developers (including third-party and volunteer) a key and efficient part of our software engineering, (2) building up Open Source partnerships in areas that are important for us today and tomorrow, (3) growing the MediaWiki technical community by reducing technical debt and fragility. In the three-hour session, participants identified and prioritized core challenges and action items. As a next step it was planned to further discuss the outcome with the broader technical community, and then decide if and what can be included in the planning for the next years. Further, we will continue to conduct the technical advice meeting, recommend tasks and offer newcomer workshops at hackathons in 2018.
AdvancedSearch - Making existing search power more accessible (by Lea Voget)
|AdvancedSearch originated out of a three-part workshop series in Germany that was organized by the Technical Wishes team. The goal was to improve searching on Wikimedia wikis, by using all the power that already exists, but not many people know about. CirrusSearch, which is the search used on Wikimedia wikis, provides many keywords such as “intitle”, “inlanguage” or “filetype” that allows users to refine their search. The workshops showed, that even very advanced community members often had little knowledge about the existing keywords for their searches. Therefore, the Technical Wishes team committed to providing an new form on the advanced search page, which allows people to use keywords without remembering their existence or syntax.
Although the team had committed to improving the form, simply discussing the project with the WMF’s Discovery team already resulted in an improved search itself. Not only were bugs found during feedback loops and then fixed by the team. But because of use cases discovered in the research phase, the Discovery team developed the "subpageof" keyword and is in the final stages of deploying a ‘deepcategory’ keyword that allows users to not only look for pages in a specific category, but also in its sub-categories.most current use cases.
AdvancedSearch was deployed in small beta mode to de-, ar-, hu-, fa- and mediawiki in November and December 2017 and was received with excitement. For example, people immediately set to work making it compatible with the newly released Timeless skin. Full beta for AdvancedSearch is expected to happen in the first half of 2018.
Update on Technical Wishes
|Two-column conflict extension
||Show changes in moved paragraphs
|Tables in PDFs
||Correctly move files from Wikipedia to Commons
||RevisionSlider: last improvements
|The team works on technical wishes in multiple ways. The projects listed above were developed with WMDE in a leading role. Other projects on the wishlist are developed by other teams or volunteers, and the Technical Wishes team focuses on communication and research in a supportive capacity. A few examples:
Save contents of external links in the internet archive: was wish #5 on the German Technical Wishes Survey. Investigations and discussions with staff of the Internet Archive by the Technical Wishes team showed that this this request is already fulfilled. Thus no further action needed to be taken.
Highlighting the syntax in the source code: was a request from the German-speaking Community Wishlist in 2013, but also a request from the International Community Wishlist in 2016. The Foundation’s Community Tech team provided Wkitext Editor Syntax Highlighting as a beta feature in 2017. WMDE’s Technical Wishes team gathered updates on the progress of Syntax Highlighting in regular sync meetings with the Community Tech team and provided updates for the German-speaking community.
The full list of Technical Wishes projects including the projects worked on by volunteers or other teams can be found here.
A look ahead
For 2018, WMDE’s Software Development Department will continue its journey towards expanding Wikidata and further developing MediaWiki. The teams are working on further decentralization, a direction that has already been taken when enabling decentralized Wikibase installations instead of exclusively supporting Wikidata as the one and only instance for storing structured data. When envisioning the future direction of the department, WMDE’s Software Development Department would like the Wikimedia Movement and its software to work more like Wikibase: as a network with various instances or hubs that are all interconnected, but set up to work independently from each other. In such a decentralized network, if one instance fails and loses its position in the network, it does not endanger the existence of the entire network. With this vision in mind, the department is working to further expand and improve collaboration between the WMDE teams, the WMF and the many volunteer developers and community members. For this purpose, a first workshop together with the WMF already took place in early 2018 in order to plan the future of Wikidata and Wikibase, and to tackle the challenges of re-architecting the MediaWiki platform.
With regards to Wikidata, data quality will continue to be an important issue. One of the Wikidata engineers will further develop data checks and more powerful tools as well as features to find mistakes in the data. At the same time, ConstraintChecks will be released as a standard feature and users will be able to edit lexicographical data for the first time in early Q2 2018. More Wikibase instances will be developed and installed, with the Wikidata team continuing to learn from these new use cases.
The Technical Wishes team will continue to develop the features outlined above and get a number of wishes (FileExporter/FileImporter extensions, AdvancedSearch) ready for beta deployment. Furthermore, the team also plans to implement the improved user interface of TwoColConflict, in order to finally fulfil the number one wish of the 2015 survey and improve edit conflict handling. Several more features, ideas and developments also remain in the pipeline and will be developed and deployed throughout the year.
Note: The Wikimedia Foundation now directly supports the core maintenance of Wikidata through direct payments based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between WMF and WMDE. The MOU requires that WMDE submits an annual plan with goals, objectives and budget in the first quarter of each for the WMF fiscal year starting July 1st. The MOU also states that in addition to quarterly check-ins submitted to WMF Engineering, the APG reports will serve as the reporting mechanism for Wikidata. As a result, the goals (1) and (2) below plus their objectives are structured along the lines of the goals and objectives updated in the Wikidata business case. In the tables, we have placed the related older APG Proposal objectives alongside the related WMF objectives. Objectives related to the work on lexicographical data in Wikidata are not part of the Wikidata core maintenance covered by the MOU and are thus funded exclusively by other sources.
|Objective APG||Objective WMF||Achieved Outcome
(until Q4 2017)
For progress details until Q2 2017 please refer to WMDE’s Progress report 2017
|The quality and quantity of data in Wikidata as well the health of the community continue to develop positively based on the key performance indicators for content, usage, community and quality.
For figures on Wikidata KPIs please refer to the Wikidata Metrics table above.
|Improve the usability of Wikidata||
Status: on track
|Improve the documentation around Wikidata||
Status: on track
|Note: More and more people in the community are seeing documentation as important and valuable and work on documentation for high-impact tools like e.g. Quick Statements|
|Keep the community involved, happy and connected||
Status: on track
Note: We are seeing more and more people from the community step up to give talks and workshops about Wikidata and will support that more next year.
|Jointly with the Wikidata Community, WMDE supports a minimum of one institution to contribute to and to use Wikidata, publishes related success stories and motivates additional institutions beyond 2017 to contribute to Wikidata.||Document data partnerships||
Status: on track
|Objective APG||Objective WMF||Achieved Outcome
(until Q4 2017)
For progress details until Q2 2017 please refer to WMDE’s Progress report 2017
|The usage of data from Wikidata by sister projects continues to increase, according to the key performance indicators for usage and community.
For figures on ‘entity usage’ please refer to the Wikidata Metrics table above.
|Make ArticlePlaceholder pages discoverable by search engines in order to help small Wikipedias grow their reach||
Status: on track
|Make using Wikidata data on the other Wikimedia wikis easier||
Status: slightly behind
Adapted planning for this objective:
|Automated creation/update of list articles based on queries to Wikidata||
|Prototype of a list creation query builder was released in Q1 2018.
Adapted planning of other major tasks for this objective:
|WMDE, jointly with the Commons community, develops a plan for the migration of unstructured Commons data.
Note: Due to a grant of the Sloan Foundation awarded to the WMF for bringing structured data to Commons with the help of Wikidata, WMDE goals and objectives were changed. Tasks are now shared between WMF and WMDE.
|Provide structured data support for multimedia files to Wikimedia Commons.||
Status: slightly behind
|By the end of 2017, the ability to store lexicographical data in a structured manner in Wikidata is assured and first lexicographical data is stored in Wikidata.
Note: This objective is not part of the WMF/ WMDE funding agreement (MOU) for Wikidata’s core maintenance and thus exclusively funded by other sources.
|Support for storing lexicographical data in order to support Wiktionary||
Adapted planning for this objective:
|Objective||Target||Achieved OutcomeProgress (until Q2/2017)||Explanation/Outlook|
|The WMDE Software Development Department continuously implements solutions to user requests based on the ‘technical wishlist’, utilizing periodic feedback iterations.||At least 200 editors engage in voting on/ discussing the upcoming 2017 wish list.
Minimum eight feedback iterations around new features with at least 80 participants in total (online & offline)
450 editors engaged in voting on/discussing the 2017 wish list (~45% of the very active editors in de:wp)
Feedback iterations 2017: 16
(2016: 10 total)
Technical Wishes:2 as default feature/ 2 as a beta feature
|For TwoColConflict (alternative two-column view for the edit conflict resolution page) in Q1 2018 we decided to start working on a second iteration after the first beta feature phase, in order to develop an even better solution.
Work on a mobile version for ‘showing text changes when moving text chunks’ will start in Q1 2018.
New features in Q3/Q4 2017:
|By the end of 2017, WMDE tests, evaluates and publishes a variety of support formats for volunteer developers.||At least 2 support formats are tested, evaluated and published until end of 2017.||Target reached
The new Technical Advice IRC Meeting received very positive feedback and established itself as a valuable contact point for volunteer developers. Participant numbers vary.
Suggesting manageable tasks and hands-on support for volunteer developers/ Mediawiki newcomers at hackathons proved as a good format and will be continued.
A new voting for projects of volunteer developers was included in the 2017 technical wishes survey. The ‘winner’ project, secwatch, will receive dedicated support by WMDE developers.
|Contact to the volunteer developer for secwatch was established, but due to limited availability of the project’s developer, development work has not started yet.|
During the second half of 2017 we continued our advocacy efforts around the EU copyright reform. We convinced members of the German and the European parliament to be open to suggestions that strengthen free knowledge curation and distribution. We helped bring two issues back on the agenda: Safeguarding the public domain status of digitised historical works, and harmonized freedom of panorama. Our main topic on the EU level remained as keeping intermediary liability low and getting upload filtering off the table.
Further highlights in the context of the September federal elections in Germany included launching the Digital-O-Mat, the online vote match tool we had previously piloted at state elections, as well as posing a set of free knowledge questions posed directly to the running parties (Wahlprüfsteine) and publishing their subsequent answers. These tools help to clarify Wikimedia Deutschland and its allies’ positions around topics such as open educational resources, Open Source Software, digital privacy, Open Science and open government data, to name just a few, and to then compel parties and candidates to think about these issues and state positions. Overall, more than 39 thousand voters used the Digital-O-Mat tool to compare their preferences on the various positions with the answers of the running parties.
|Learning Pattern||Digital-o-Mat: A vote matching tool for policy work|
Upload filters and more
We wrote an open letter to the German federal government, urging the Department of Justice to embrace our position on upload filters. At the EU Parliament, five committees are tasked to review the proposed legislation, and we were continuously involved in their work. We were able to have a positive impact at several points: Upload filters became the main point of contention of the whole reform process, and we were able to affect the compromise proposals in regards to upload filters, as well as in regards to the issue of re-usability of digitized Public Domain works. Freedom of panorama stayed on the agenda, partly thanks to our efforts to team up with car manufacturers, the games industry and augmented reality companies. A similar tactic was quite successful when highlighting to politicians that text and data mining (TDM) is not only something concerning major scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishers and research institutions, but every data-oriented project out there including all citizen scientist efforts and Wikidata.
In November, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) of the European Parliament voted to strike the upload filter obligation from the draft copyright reform, aligned with the Internal Market Committee (IMCO) version. In the Cultural Committee (CULT), we were able to directly suggest language that considers open content licenses (the ‘Linux paragraph’). These are interim victories, though, illustrating the long breath it takes to work our issues through the lengthy law-making process.
We issued a statement regarding the reform of the mandate of the German public broadcasting institutions. These institutions currently ‘de-publicize’ content (i.e., take it off their internet sites and disallow third party use after a certain period of time) that was produced with public funds (including obligatory user fees from viewers). The new proposed text kept this outdated regulation, which our statement sharply criticized, in line with our belief that publicly funded works should be publicly accessible under an open license without any limits.
We started constructive dialogues with a number of influential political interest groups that had been working against favorable conditions for free knowledge. In regards to harmonizing freedom of panorama and to liberal rules for text and and data mining we succeeded in moving corporate partners to voice these issues to decision-makers.
Generally, we created more visibility for our political work, through materials, statements, and by assuring presence at events and strengthening our role as a part of the broader ecosystem of free knowledge. For example we partnered with netzpolitk.org on the annual ‘Das ist Netzpolitik!’ conference. Topics discussed included data protection, copyright reform, civil society participation at the EU level and open science. Here, we were able to put our positions forward in direct conversations with decision makers.
Our own events were designed to emphasize the value of free and open knowledge and the threats posed to it by laws currently under development. These included ABC-Salon of Open Knowledge with the topic P = Politics and the Net, the new series Networks & Politics as well as sessions at the ‘Designing Access!’ conference (Zugang Gestalten!) and at the OER-Festival 2017.
Update on the Attribution Generator Tool (by Christina Rupprecht)
|Attribution Generator tool, designed to facilitate the correct use of license attributions for 3rd party users, significantly expanded its reach in 2017/2018:
With its availability in German and English, the tool helped to generate ~ 42k correct license attributions in 2017 (2016: ~12k), with more than half of those deriving from the English language version. A few technical upgrades and improvements have been implemented: The tool can now also be used for public domain images from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. Furthermore, every license attribution generated is machine-readable. A new language selection menu enables the user to choose between the four language versions (de, en, es, pt) right from the starting page.
Two fellow Wikimedians started a great initiative to expand the tool’s reach: In 2017 and early 2018, Santamarcanda and Ivanhercaz from Wikimedia España paved the way for the translation into Spanish and Portuguese. Through their efforts the tool is now available for another 800 Mio. potential users! The two volunteers have outlined their experiences with this in a blogpost available in three different languages, and they are featured in the 51st edition of WMF’s Community digest.
¡Mil gracias, Santamarcanda and Ivanhercaz!
What we learned from our policy work
Wikimedia or Wikipedia often serve as a conversation starter. To take advantage of this, we are putting increasing emphasis on external events of economic, societal or political nature. Here we are able to establish contacts, and draw attention to our issues and our projects. This takes time and patience, the ability to recognize opportunities to find new allies, and a good grasp of the political happenings in our arenas. Since both our Brussels and Berlin team have grown, we are able to cover these functions and tasks better and with more impact. We are getting better at coordination of the teams and working on issues simultaneously at several fronts, for example though contacting members of the European Parliament both in Brussels and at events at home in Germany.
We were able to increase the visibility of the the Open Education Alliance (Bündnis Freie Bildung) through presence at specific events, with interest groups and through publications. There is continued strong interest to work as an alliance, and members participate with regards to specific topics or issues. However, we are lacking the regular and active participation of all members of the alliance with events and publications. An alliance meeting in March has helped to map out the activities for 2018 and clarify roles and responsibilities.
A look ahead
In 2018, we will monitor the development of the new German federal government, and weigh in on our issues as they are touched by the coalition contract. Along with our partners in Brussels, we will continue to be pushing our goals in the context of the EU Copyright Reform. We are preparing to build alliances in Germany to achieve our goals around changes in German law. We will directly address concerns and myths around open and free knowledge. And we will continue to build our network through partnerships, alliances, and visibility with interest groups and decision makers.
Building bridges between non-traditional allies, and how that can improve EU legislation (by John H. Weitzman)
Until recently, our advances had been denied, in a friendly but consistent manner. Meanwhile, the larger EU-level CMO associations portrait Wikimedia as henchmen of the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) tech companies, out to strengthen Silicon Valley positions against European culture.
The developing proposals for reforming EU copyright incorporated much of the concerns and interests of the EU CMO associations, prioritized over the interests of users and smaller interest groups. One of the smaller groups which had her demands denied is AEPO-ARTIS, a nonprofit association of 36 CMOs representing artists all across Europe. These CMOs specifically represent performing studio artists who often sell their rights to a work of art for a small sum and then do not get to share in the profit even if the piece becomes a huge hit. In response, AEPO-ARTIS is advocating for a new unwaivable right that performing artists cannot give up. This would assure that the artists profit from successful sales and cannot lose these rights through any contractual arrangements. This pits AEPO-ARTIS against the big music industry interests, including the dominant EU-level CMO associations, which are often also opposing Wikimedia’s positions.
Wikimedia is generally not in favor of new exclusive rights, as they increase the complexity of rights clearing and thereby restrict the distribution and re-use of information and open knowledge. Often enough unwaivable rights are incompatible with public licenses, which are meant to enable creators to give up exclusivity in a controlled way for the benefit of the public at large. And in any case, in a fight between performing artists and the music industry, we do not want to be seen on the side of the major labels.
So, together with Creative Commons, we started looking for a solution that protects the functioning of open licenses, while incorporating the interests of the performing artists. And, we found something: for years, German copyright has been including several so-called Linux clauses. These are specific exceptions to the rules of unwaivable rights, allowing a waiver if and when this happens as part of a ’free-of-charge user right for anyone’, i. e. when a creator is using public licenses such as GPL and CCPL. In these cases, the copyright holder may allow a simple, free-of-charge user right to anyone even though some of the rights involved would otherwise be unwaivable.
Next, a meeting was called between us, two of the member organizations of APEO-ARTIS, and the offices of two EU MEPs, with the goal of incorporating language inspired by the above ‘Linux clauses’. This meeting in itself was extraordinary, as it joined groups typically seen as adversaries - civil society organizations advocating for both, open knowledge and collecting societies. It was made possible by the German CMO GVL, whose representatives were of course already familiar with the Linux clauses as part of the copyright code at home. MEP Helga Trüpel then took the drafted language to the Cultural Committee (CULT) of the EP, which approved it and made it part of its recommendations for copyright reform:
The same language is now proposed to the Legal Committee (JURI), which has the lead in drafting the legislation. This means that the clause has a good chance of making it into the final Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. As a consequence, Linux clauses would be implemented in all EU countries, and this would help to deescalate one of the central conflicts between the interests of creatives and free knowledge advocates: unwaivability of exclusive rights.
|WMDE influences a minimum of ten relevant political decision-makers who previously did not have positive positions regarding free knowledge.||10 relevant political decision-makers have been influenced by end of Q4||Target missed
Statements of interest/ intent by new relevant decision makers in 2017: 2
|This objective reflects new official statements of intent by institutions, which were harder to achieve than previously expected.
However, we had numerous interactions with individual decision-makers with considerable impact on crucial policy processes. These cases of influencing are reflected under the following goal.
|WMDE’s political network includes a high level, responsible decision-maker from each interest group that we have identified as relevant.||By the end of 2017, our network covers each identified interest group||Target nearly reached
Coverage of identified interest groups: 31 of 36
|Our mapping of relevant interest groups was constantly expanded throughout 2017 and now comprises areas like digital policy in general, Open Data, Open Science und GLAM. In most sub-clusters of these areas, we now have qualified leads towards responsible decision-makers, thus, partly differing in breadth and depth.|
|WMDE reviews the premises of its political positions covering the policy areas of education, science and culture, and expands on the respective arguments through publication of at least two statements or studies.||At least two statements or studies published until end of Q4.||Target reached
Statements/ position papers/ studies published: 12
|WMDE policy positions
Examples of new statements:
Note: Suitable occasions for statements are partly volatile and strongly depend on external factors.
|Objective||Target||Achieved OutcomeProgress (until Q2/2017)||Explanation|
|WMDE successfully influences the development of essential policies and laws related to the re-use of content without permission (“Open by default”) which, as a result, will benefit collaboration in the Wikimedia movement.||Successfully influenced cases (qualitative).||Important cases in 2018: >14, for details please see text above.
||Further campaigning against mandatory upload filters in the EU will be one of the main focuses in Q1/Q2 2018.|
|WMDE begins to work with at least five key institutions on the reform and development of their policies, regulations and procedures so that they favor free knowledge.||Work with at least five institutions has started.||Target reached
Work with 6 key institutions has started in 2018
|Work in Q3/Q4:
The team working on science, education and culture deepened the work with institutions in 2017, tried new formats and gained additional insights:
Coding da Vinci 2017
Coding da Vinci - the cultural hackathon - took place in October in Berlin and involved 19 GLAM partners, 12 of which were new to the program, and saw for the first time the potential of innovative applications of their cultural heritage content. They provided 30 data sets for coders to create projects. In advance of the event we offered a two-part ‘Prepare your data’-workshop to the institutional partners. This was tailored to GLAMs which already had their cultural content digitized, but lacked specific knowledge about what to do next in order to share it with the public. The trainings were structured to answer the following questions: How can we increase the visibility of our cultural heritage files on the internet? How do we need to prepare our data in order to upload to Commons? What are the appropriate free licenses to use? How can we assure that cultural content online is not only accessible, but also reusable (for example, in programs such as Coding da Vinci)? During the second part of the workshop, the data sets were uploaded to Commons and the community was alerted to their availability for re-use through an article in the wp:kurier, the online newspaper of the German-speaking Wikipedia community. The impact of this work does not immediately show itself in the instances of re-use, however. We have no influence on what the communities do with data that is available on Commons. The real impact is at the institutional level, where we introduce open licenses, build competencies, and take the fear and insecurity out of sharing data.
After three years of Coding da Vinci events, the format is ready for scaling. We have received many requests for cooperation from interested organizations around Germany and Europe. In 2018 we plan to prepare the program for further scaling through regionalization, potentially supported by a new public partner, with the founding partners in the primary role of capacity building and consulting local partners, and moving out of the role of running events.
Open Science Fellows Program
The Open Science Fellows Program started its second year in 2017. Again, we invited young scientists to apply for the fellow programm, and learn about and apply open science methods and tools as part of a class of fellows. The call for applications was completed in the third quarter: We received 78 applications, and the review committee selected 20 participants representing a variety of disciplines. The generous financial support of the VolkswagenStiftung allowed to grow the program from 10 to 20 fellows who gathered for a kick-off in early October. In addition to the new funding and program partner VolkswagenStiftung, we were also able to win new scientific partners who are supporting the development and deployment of trainings (webinars and workshops) for the fellows. These partners include the Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB), the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Center für Digitale Systeme (CeDiS) of the Free University Berlin, and the Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen.
We completed the evaluation of the fellow program for the pilot year, and published the evaluation report. The rigorous, multi-phase evaluation examines the impact of the program based on the stated goals and outcomes, and provides data for continuous program improvement. A specific focus was placed on the integration of the Wikimedia projects into the open practices of the fellows. In summary, the report concludes that the pilot program has proven to be an innovative and promising approach to promoting open science. The participating fellows were able to build their practical skills and their theoretical knowledge. They act as enthusiastic ambassadors for open science with their colleagues, at conferences and within their institutions. The program creates a network for the young scientists within the open science community. New initiatives, partnerships and collaborations that support open science originated from the program. Many positive reactions from fellows, mentors and additional scientists asking to become part of the network are evidence that this program has really struck the right chord. We also learned that in coming years, we need to put a focus on a deliberate and structured knowledge transfer into the scientific institutions, and another one on the development of an active and supportive alumni network.
'GLAM on Tour' heading towards its 25th Stop (by Holger Plickert)
GLAM on Tour promotes networking between Wikipedians and cultural heritage institutions at the local level. With the organizational support of Wikimedia Deutschland this initiative connects active Wikipedia volunteer projects with staff of cultural institutions. This happens through joint activities such as guided tours, scientific presentations related to current exhibits, photo excursions, Wikipedia workshops and edit-a-thons. These first connections between people lead to longer-term cooperations between volunteer groups and organisations. Ultimately, the impact is measured in additional free and open content for the Wikimedia projects.
Our GLAM-enthusiastic volunteers are looking back at an exciting 2017. We established six new GLAM on Tour stations, created jointly to provide more free knowledge to the Wikimedia projects and the world. We were able to strengthen and build upon many existing contacts and relationships, and develop a variety of new encounters and connections between volunteers and institutions. In 2018 we are looking forward to welcoming the 25th GLAM on Tour station!
Why is this project so effective? It brings together players from previously disconnected worlds and creates synergies towards the creation of open content. Here’s the point we often start from: Most cultural heritage institutions are basically willing and interested in providing free content to a broad public. However, they face multiple barriers to bringing a project to fruition: insecurity and concerns about the legal and licensing implications, lack of technological skills, and lack of connection to Wikimedia volunteers with matching interests. GLAM on Tour provides the expertise, assures the matching and creates the basis for building trust, one GLAM on Tour station at a time. The collaboration between institutional staff and Wikimedia volunteers happens at eye level, and this is crucial for the sustainability of the relationships and for their potential to liberate content. Additionally, successful collaborations have potential to become model projects with multiplying effects in the larger field of GLAM institutions.
Among volunteers, GLAM on Tour builds community: Getting to know each other and networking among volunteers also contributes to the vitality, the expertise and the motivational drive in each project and creates the momentum for developing further activities together and with GLAMs. Two inspiring examples are the projects in Hamburg and Heidelberg. In Hamburg, an existing relationship to the Museum of Art and Trade was expanded, gaining additional partners for future projects. Much new content for Wikipedia resulted from this. Existing relationships of volunteers to the University of Heidelberg served as the foundation for this year’s activities: Wikipedians engaged in a lively knowledge exchange, on equal footing with the university scientists. This has built the trust needed for a sustainable partnership. Both of these stations have model character for a volunteer-institutional partnership. They demonstrated respect for voluntary work, provided optimal working conditions at the locations, and showcased the willingness of the institutions to act as trailblazers and supporters for the creation of free knowledge.
Thanks to the participating volunteers and GLAMs, GLAM on Tour has become a recognized trademark of the movement, one that allows GLAMs to experience the power and beauty of digital engagement firsthand. 2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage. This inspires and commits us to continue our advocacy for free knowledge and to make our joint cultural heritage visible within the Wikimedia Projects.
Stay tuned and and carry on, Open GLAM!
What we Learned
We developed a number of print materials, workshops, and webinars together with partners and with communities. We learned, that while the outputs here are the tangible result, the impact happens on the road to co-creating the output. For example, in jointly developing a brochure on open educational resources (OER) with the Association of Chambers of Commerce (DIHK), a completely new partner, we built valuable relationships of trust with the individuals championing the project within the partner organization. While the brochure itself took longer than anticipated to complete, at the end of the year several other of their staff had participated in trainings and events on OER, and the concept had been introduced and understood on several levels of this large institution, as evidenced by internal OER workshops that staff created without our initiative. The collaboration around OER in vocational training is now likely to continue.
The collaborative update and re-issue of a book for educators on using Wikipedia in the classroom also took all year, but given the wide and well-established distribution channels of our partner organization klicksafe, this was well worth the wait and the work.
We learned that when working with partners institutions, often the unintended, unexpected side effects show the most interesting and powerful impact. This includes the spontaneous partnerships generated by people in the Open Science Fellows Program: the fact that fellows act as champions not just within their institutions, but also with other institutions and at conferences, and the relationships developed through joint development of materials. Coding da Vinci, GLAM on Tour, and the educational offerings we provide act increasingly in concert and have mutually reinforcing effects in terms of deepening and strengthening partnerships, and affecting institutional learning and change.
A look ahead
In 2018, we will continue to focus our work on partner institutions, with a focus on quality and satisfaction with the materials and educational offerings we provide. Coding da Vinci will prepare for scaling, and the Open Science Fellows Program will further be improved based on continuous evaluation. We will also develop an updated Wikimedia Deutschland approach towards open and free knowledge in education. The education team is working on this in Q1, based on reviewing the current challenges and opportunities in the German education system, an assessment of what other players are doing, and finally what Wikimedia Deutschland brings to the table in terms of assets, values and competencies. In this manner, we hope to develop a more deliberate, pro-active and impact-oriented approach to furthering open education.
|Through cooperation with GLAM institutions and with volunteers, data sets are made available for Wikimedia projects, and new media files are re-used a minimum 5,000 times in the Wikimedia projects by the end of 2017.||By the end of 2017:
Media items are used a minimum 5,000 times in Wikimedia projects.
Use of new media items from GLAM-cooperations:
895 times (5,943 new files)
|Although we missed this specific target, we regard one of our main activities in this field (Coding da Vinci 2017) as a success with respect to several other dimensions: sensitizing 12 new GLAMs for open licenses, building sustainable partnerships, much attention in the media, growing interest to adapt the format nationally and internationally.
Please note: Here we are not counting the new media items and file uses that result from volunteer projects supported by WMDE in 2017 (for this, please check the shared metrics table at the top).
|Experiences from these cooperations are shared in published success stories, in order to encourage additional institutions to contribute content for Wikimedia projects.||At least 3 success stories are published until end of Q4.||Target reached
3 Stories about successful GLAM cooperations
|At least six cultural and memory institutions take advantage of our consultation, information and educational services.||6 cultural and memory institutions are consulted by the end of 2017.||Target strongly exceeded
Consulted > 100 GLAM institutionsPartnered with 6 GLAM institutions
|The target was set way too low. Our events and workshops usually gain much interest and reach dozens of GLAM institutions per year.|
|Jointly with volunteers, WMDE develops and tests the implementation of one new resource each for the fields of science and educational institutions.||2 new resources are tested by the end of 2017.||Target missed
We clearly fell behind our aspirations, as we failed to establish new systematic approaches in this field.
|New materials like a Wikipedia course for education and several webinars about Wikimedia projects will be finalized in Q1/Q2 2018.|
|80% of scientific institutions that host fellows as part of the pilot phase Open Science Fellows Program implement further steps towards Open Science (seminars, research projects, publications, and working groups) within six months.||Within six month after end of the program:
80% of the scientific institutions implement further steps
|Target nearly reached
In 7 of 10 (70%) of the scientific institutions which were hosting our fellows, further activities towards open sience were implemented.
|Additionally we have observed further activities to foster open science, which were inspired by the fellows of the pilot year, at 8 other scientific institutions! We clearly underestimated the reach of the program and of its fellows.|
2017 was a busy year for our international team. Our staff took a main role in shaping and implementing the process that led to the movement strategic direction. In particular, we supported the track that gathered input from Wikimedia affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation.
The work on this track was kicked-off at the Wikimedia Conference 2017 in Berlin which created the essential level of energy and trust across the organized parts of the movement. In addition to the extensive on-wiki discussions, many affiliates hosted in-person strategy conversations and used these as an opportunity to not only bring strategic conversations to a local level, but to also build and strengthen relationships with their partners and communities. At Wikimania, a dedicated strategy space was created to host conversations around the strategic direction and the next steps of the process for all participants. Phase I concluded with the endorsement of the strategic direction: Almost all Wikimedia organizations and groups expressed their support and commitment to the direction. Never before has the movement seen such a strong unity around one common cause.
Phase II of the movement strategy process, in which the movement players will plan how to get the strategic direction on the road, will begin in 2018. Wikimedia Deutschland will again play a major role in shaping this phase. We commit to helping assure that all voices are heard, that internal and external expertise is incorporated and that the process is conducted in a clear and participatory manner. Topics and work groups are yet to be determined, but are likely to include the role of Wikimedia affiliates or the Wikimedia Foundation, governance, fund distribution, program support, and capacity building. At the end of Phase II we envision a movement with the equitable values, structures and resources that allow all of us to be successful on the path to knowledge equity and providing knowledge as a service, while serving as the essential infrastructure of the knowledge ecosystem.
The 2017 successful Wikimedia Conference is discussed in the APG Progress Report, as well as in its own grant report. After the event, our team went to work to evaluate the conference, with the help of the participant survey. Overall, participants rated the conference very positively, and noted that the strategy track provided an opportunity to gain better understanding of each others’ views about our movement.
The 2017 edition of the Wikimedia Conference concluded our official mandate to host and organize the Wikimedia Conference from 2015 to 2017. While we are going to organize a Wikimedia Conference in 2018 again, we took the opportunity to write an extensive report about the three conferences (2015, 2016, 2017) and what we have learned while hosting them. Based on our report’s key takeaways, as well as our longstanding experience in organizing this conference, we developed our vision and proposal for the future of this event. We believe that given the new strategic direction, new formats for connecting, peer support, strategy and learning are required. The recently submitted proposal includes the following main points:
- Move the WMCON away from serving as a one-stop-shop, trying to meet all affiliates’ needs. We were never able to fulfill the needs for capacity building and learning, as they don’t happen very successfully in sessions at global events, but rather in seminars and workshops designed for the context of each organization and region.
- Turn the conference into one global event for strategic conversations around governance, structures and decision making for the organized part of the movement.
- Move capacity building and learning to regional and thematic conferences. Ensure that there is commitment from the WMF that these events are equipped with financial and administrative support to handle these additional needs.
- The conference should in 2019 focus on movement strategy and governance across the organized parts of the movement (affiliates, WMF, committees). It should be designed according to the requirements and status of the movement strategy process. 2020 should then be adjusted according to the outcomes of these conversations.
Volunteer Supporters Network Meeting - A missing link (by Anne Kierkegaard and Veronika Krämer)
The Volunteer Supporters Network (VSN) was formed to pool knowledge and strengthen the connections and exchange between Wikimedia volunteer supporters internationally in order to help improve volunteer support in the movement. The idea of a global volunteer supporters network was conceived at the Volunteer Support Pre-conference at Wikimania 2014 in London.
While most communication between the VSN members takes place online or on the margins of international Wikimedia conferences, the VSN had their first independent meeting in November 2017, hosted by WMDE in Berlin. 12 volunteer supporters from ten chapters participated. It became clear on the very first evening that a meeting like this – providing opportunities for learning about each other‘s work, discussing volunteer support related challenges and exchanging ideas, experiences and advice – had previously been missing in the movement. The meeting, which lasted from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon, was not only an exciting gathering with new bonds and work relations being established, it also marked the starting point of an already intensifying collaboration between Wikimedia volunteer supporters.
In general, the first day provided a solid starting point for further discussions and work on how to measure and evaluate the success and impact of volunteer support. Specifically, it resulted in a volunteer supporters wishlist that can serve as a reference point for future endeavours of the VSN.The list includes tools and skills that are currently missing, factors that prevent focusing on results beyond the output-level, and aspects that participants would like to give more attention in the future. The wish list also includes technical issues, as well as methods and practises for a better exchange of knowledge among Wikimedia volunteer supporters.
The second day of the meeting provided a space for personal exchange. It was discovered that work or community related challenges are very similar to everyone, regardless of community or chapter size. Still, many of the volunteer supporters had felt that they lacked people to discuss those issues with.
Finally, the group agreed to hold regular meetings for volunteer supporters. It was decided to keep the discussions going online and to keep working on the topic of „impact of volunteer support“, most likely during sessions at the Wikimedia Conference and Wikimania. The reflections on what successful volunteer support is, including the volunteer supporters wishlist was compiled in a reader (on the left). The participants also wrote a learning pattern together:
The Partnership People speak up (by Nikki Zeuner)
The Partnerships Group is an open group of Wikimedians from 11 countries and affiliates who have been practicing collaboration for free knowledge for many years. They have built partnership-related competencies jointly and individually over the years in various local and regional contexts. Over the last three years, the members have gathered at movement conferences and at focused meetups in Berlin.In November 2017, hosted by Wikimedia Deutschland, they came together in Berlin to jointly look at the strategic direction and reach a joint understanding of what the concepts of knowledge equity and knowledge as a service mean for collaborative work. For the group, the idea that we are working to become the infrastructure of a larger knowledge ecosystem, as stated in the strategic direction, means that we all have to become good neighbors and partners in that ecosystem. We have to understand the other players, and become competent collaborators, able to function in complex multi-stakeholder situations.
The group then drafted and issued a statement from the perspective of partnership practitioners. It directly addresses the movement in the moment between Phase I and Phase 2 of the strategy process.
The statement closes with a few concrete action items:
We invite movement organizations to read the full statement here and react to it on-wiki or by participating in further conversations as Phase 2 unfolds in 2018.
Table 1: WMDE Revenues 2017
Please note: Exchange rate used throughout the APG 16-17 process is 1€ = 1.115$
Table 2: WMDE Expenses 2017, Budgeted vs. Actual, by Quarter
Please note: Exchange rate used throughout the APG 16-17 process is 1€ = 1.115$
Is your organization compliant with the terms outlined in the grant agreement?
As required in the grant agreement, please report any deviations from your grant proposal here. Note that, among other things, any changes must be consistent with our WMF mission, must be for charitable purposes as defined in the grant agreement, and must otherwise comply with the grant agreement.
Are you in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations as outlined in the grant agreement? Please answer "Yes" or "No".
Are you in compliance with provisions of the United States Internal Revenue Code (“Code”), and with relevant tax laws and regulations restricting the use of the Grant funds as outlined in the grant agreement? Please answer "Yes" or "No".
- Once complete, please sign below with the usual four tildes.