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WIKIMOVE/Podcast/Transcript Episode 11

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Welcome to episode 11 of WIKIMOVE. In this podcast, we discuss the future of the Wikimedia Movement. I'm Nicole Ebber and with me is Nikki Zeuner.

Nikki: Hi everyone.

Nicole: We are part of Wikimedia Deutschland's Movement strategy and global relations team.

Nikki: This episode was recorded on April 26 at 5:30 p .m. Things may have changed since we recorded this show, but what we still know..

Nicole: is that by 2030, Wikimedia will become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge and anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us.

Nikki: This podcast is also available on podcast apps and YouTube. If you want to reach out to us, you can do so via our Meta page or you can send us an email and all the relevant links are available in the show notes. So go on Meta and also make suggestions for topics and guests.

Nicole: So on today's show, we will talk about two big words: decentralization and subsidiarity. Don't worry, the definitions or what these words mean actually will follow in the conversation. When the Movement strategy was developed, people talked a lot about these two notions. And now, as we draft the Movement charter, there are certain expectations that these concepts are reflected in the text. And that is why we want to shed a light on these principles and where they actually come from.

Nikki: So the Movement charter, for those of you who don't know what that is, it's a document that is currently being drafted by a group of volunteers from the Movement. And it will spell out the basic principles, the governance and the roles of our Movement in our Movement in the future. So it's at the core of Movement strategy recommendations, and it fills a long existing void about how our Movement is governed. and how decisions are made. So we hope that today's conversation will inform the drafting of the charter and enrich the conversations around that that are emerging in the community consultations. So we invited these two very special guests today because people who have been thinking about Movement strategy for a long time often feel that the current conversation is not enough building upon the results of previous phases strategy.

Nicole: So today we are bringing in two of the fundamental thinkers of the initial phases of Movement strategy to tap into their knowledge and their expertise. And I'm super happy to introduce our guests and first is with us Claudia Garad. Claudia is the executive director of Wikimedia Österreich since 2012, so more than 10 years already and she was a member of the Roles and Responsibilities Working Group during phase two of the Movement strategy process. So that was between 2018 and 2020. And she's also the president of Wikimedia Europe since 2022. Hi Claudia.

Claudia: Hello from Vienna. Thanks for the invitation.

Nicole: Yes. And then we have with us Guillaume Paumier. Guillaume is a Wikimedian since 2005 already. So really a long time and he's working for the foundation since 2009. Guillaume is the architect of the first phase of Movement strategy which led to the strategic direction and that was in 2017. Hi Guillaume, welcome.

Guillaume: Hello, bonjour, guten tag.

Nicole: Where are you calling in from today, Guillaume?

Guillaume: I am calling from Western Massachusetts, in the middle of nowhere on the East coast of the United States.

Nikki: Excellent. Good to have you with us. So, subsidiarity. Let's talk about subsidiarity, guys. So the principle of subsidiarity has been defined for us in the Movement strategy. And I'm going to bore us with that definition so we're all starting off on the same page here. So it says, the definition of subsidiarity says, our Movement will make decisions at the most immediate or local level, wherever possible, and will open pathways for more participatory decision-making. And subsidiarity means that our online and offline communities across the world should make decisions for themselves, whenever possible. It's based on the notion that they are capable of identifying their own capacities, opportunities, needs, and barriers to represent the sum of human knowledge in their areas of work. With accountability and transparency, they will self -manage. It's another important term that's also defined. They will self -manage their resources and activities and provide for their needs to overcome obstacles. So that's how Women's Strategy defines subsidiarity. I want to like insert another little piece of information that's also in the Movement strategy, which is it recommends the establishments of a global council as the body that makes decisions of Movement wide importance. So big decisions that affect everyone. And the charter will define what those are the way I understand it. And then once that's defined, the rest is subject to subsidiarity, which is what we're talking about today. So Claudia. Can you maybe let us know how the principle of subsidiarity got introduced into the Movement strategy? Give us a little history here.

Clauida: Yes. So what we did, or like our two main tasks to put it in a bit of a very easy framework is that we in the working group of RosenResponse ?? looked at two things. We looked into the current governance structures of the Wikimedia Movement to find out what works well and what does not work so well. So where is improvement needed and what things are good and we want to expand on that and keep that. And at the same time, because this was not only an introspective process, we also looked into the outside world and current trends in organizations and organizational development and what's going on there and tried to find inspiring stories of other organizations, either other NGOs, but we really had a broader look of like any kind of trend or trade lasers that could be inspiring for what is to come because we did not want to design a governance structure for now, for when was it back then we started in 2018. So not for 2018 and also not for 2020, but for 2030 plus, I would say. So a governance structure that lasts for years to come. So it needs to be future proof in a way. And what we saw when we did both of these things was that there is actually a common denominator there. And this denominator now is framed in this principle, in this underlying principle of recommendations of subsidiarity. And how is that a common denominator? We realized that subsidiarity is actually nothing new to the Movement or something that was just introduced with this strategy process. It's something that is actually inherent in the Wikimedia project, in the self -organization and self -management of the online communities on the Wikipedias and all the other sister projects that we have by now. So it's actually something that we are good at and that we are often also mentioned in literature about self -management and subsidiarity, which also is a trend in the outside world. One of the most inspiring books that informed our process and our thinking is ‘Rethinking Organizations’ by Frédéric Lalou. He claims that organizations have been developing and evolving over the history of mankind and that we are at the verge of a new organization, so -called Teal Organization, that basically, to make it very short, is based on self -management but also on responsibilities to employees, to members of a certain organization and to the commitment to grow them and believe in their capacities and support them in growing their capacities where needed. And bringing these two things together then was seem to be the obvious thing to do, to try to make our organizations future-proof by actually trying to apply some of the principles that were already around in the Movement in our projects. Because we also realized that this was one of the main frictions that we had, that a lot of Wikimedia organizations, especially the bigger ones, were following a different logic, like a classical management organizational logic that were at odds sometimes with the way that the communities organized themselves. And this friction and this tension is something that we need to address in our future governance structure and seems also be a good way to address a lot of the future scenarios that we see for any kind of organization nowadays, which is like fast-paced change, complex environments where we can just see that this kind of new teal organization that is based on subsidiarity and self-organization seems to be a good answer in many regards. So this is basically how this principle made it into the recommendations. But as I said, it's nothing new. It has been around all the time and just got perhaps a bit more prominent or unearthed or got another name. Perhaps so far we had just a different vocabulary to talk about these things, but the idea was there all along.

Nicole: Yeah, and speaking of that the idea was there all along, I would probably like to ask Guillaume that has, subsidiarity is already or has been embedded in our communities. Do you want to talk about that a little bit? Because I also think that this will make it easier to grasp for people who hear about subsidiarity, if they have an actual example of how we are already using it.

Guillaume: Yeah, I think that subsidiarity is useful as a word, like to put on a concept so that we're talking about the same thing, but also there are ways to think about it that are much closer to what the everyday Wikimedian knows. And that is that I think the entire concept of Wikis is based on the fact that anyone can fix a mistake or can add something immediately and then see it as it appears on the screen for the next person. And that means that the person who is closer to the problem, the person who is seeing the mistake or something on the screen can fix it without asking someone else to do it. They have the power to do that themselves and to have an immediate impact. And I think that idea of having the person who is the closest to the problem, having the power to fix it and have the immediate impact for the rest of the readers is one way to frame subsidiarity. And like Claudia was saying, it's also a model that we are known for and that people look at us as models for this. If you think of some of our strengths, like the fact that vandalism is handled completely by volunteers or that we have fewer problems with disinformation and misinformation and all those than some of the big tech platforms because of those big tech platforms, they have a lot of staff doing that work. And those people are not the closest to the problem. So you have to report an issue and then they have to look at the issue and then they might do something about it. But on our model, you have all the volunteers who are on the wikis every day and they can solve most of those issues directly. And of course, every time we talk about being decentralized or centralized, there is always something that has to be centralized. And that is also true when we talk about content, like on the Wikis. There are some, a few very special things where volunteers can't do it. And in that case, they can escalate to the next group or personal entity that is able to fix it. So for example, if there are, like, specific legal issues or something where it's clearly the easiest for the foundation to do it, then the foundation in that case is the entity that can fix it. And so I think that's a way of framing subsidiarity in a way that makes it real for many Wikimedians.

Nicole: Claudia, do you have more examples of and where we already apply it in our Movement.

Claudia: Yeah, or perhaps it's also interesting to talk about the limits of subsidiarity in this context, because I think over 20 years of Wikipedia and Wikimedia Sister projects also shows us where the limitations of these things are. And that is often when it comes to enforcing code of conduct or even coming up with the code of conduct. So these kind of social problems that can emerge wherever people come together and work together. There are escalation levels where it's often hard for a group itself to completely deal with it and make sure that everybody feels equally safe in a certain space. So creating these safe spaces is, I think, something where it's often required to also have independent entities to support these processes once they come to a certain escalation stage. And I think we could see that and that was also something that we learned in the work of frozen responsibilities that there are just like a lot of unresolved conflicts in the communities where there's a lot of frustration, people feel unsafe and they don't know where to go. So they went to the end of basically the existing processes at these times and could not resolve these conflicts and they did not know where to go with that. And I think this is something that we need to think about in this future structure, how we deal with these kind of intense conflicts and safe spaces and how that can and should be supported, not necessarily by a super central structure. So, by some kind of independent entity that is not in the heated conflict, that doesn't have a stake in there, where people don't need to be afraid to lose their face, because there's a lot of social pressures often involved. We all know it. There are conflicts and you often can sense that 80 % of the people know what's the right thing to do, but nobody is, feels safe enough to speak up because they don't want to be drawn into an ugly conflict. So there's like the silent majority and a few people being in a very heated conflict and how can you help them out of it. So I think this is also something that we need, of course, to address, that subsidiarity is not always the answer to all of our problems. And that will certainly also be an interesting topic for the Movement charter drafting process. And we are also in the middle of it, right? Like what we already did since the recommendations came out, we introduced a universal code of conduct. But I think there's still a lot of open questions when it comes to actual enforcement on the local level that still need to be addressed, but that's probably another podcast.

Nikki: What areas or what spheres of the Movement are currently not subject to subsidiary? So we talked about the ones that are, we talked about the ones where it's probably often limited use. And so, but you know, if we present our Movement as, oh, it's already run with the principle of subsidiary, what are the things maybe that we still need to change and why do we need the charter to change that and what areas? Claudia, do you wanna take that one?

Claudia: I think some of the obvious choices also because they have been mentioned in some of the documents that came out of the Movement strategy process are fundraising, which is at the moment centralized or not really centralized, but there are three entities basically who can do the full scope of fundraising in the Movement. And this is grown organically and comes with privileges that don't, they're not grounded in like some kind of systematic reasoning, I would say. So fundraising, but then also the distribution of these funds, resource allocation are two things where we definitely should look into ways to make this a more local process where people have a more immediate say in how and where and when to raise resources and how to distribute them. The same goes for capacity building. Although I wouldn't say that this is necessarily very centralized at the moment, but here we see that this is definitely something that is very well done in a decentralized way. But the question is more like, how can we support those corners of our Movement where it's not developed as much as people there would like it to be? How can we do that without having to centralize it? So I think this is also an interesting question for things that are already not decentralized, but decentralized, but also decentralized in an equitable manner. How do we make sure that these areas are also fairly distributed around the world, everywhere where people wish to have that. And it makes sense for them in their local context.

Nikki: So interestingly, you moved into using the term decentralization sort of as, or centralization as the opposite of subsidiarity. And I think what we're describing here is that Movement the way it currently is with some of the functions extremely centralized, such as fundraising. I agree with that. I don't agree with that. It's organically gone. I think it was a very deliberate decision to not let chapters fundraise in 2011. But then things grew in very strange organic ways after that, after the fundraising was limited to a few. So we're kind of moving into decentralization, which it's not really a principle. It's sort of a term, but it's not a principle that made it into the charter. But Guillaume, do you want to try a definition in our context?

Guillaume: I can try. I think decentralization is a process through which we distribute decision making and operations on work in a way that makes it more efficient and effective and equitable. I mean, I think I can elaborate on that, but I would stop that for a draft definition.

Nikki: What are some of the areas, we talked about some of the areas that are currently centralized already, like fundraising and other decisions that are made currently at the foundation level. So what are some of the areas that you would change, that you would maybe in the future change to be less centralized and more based on subsidiarity?

Guillaume: I think one way to answer this question is to look at why things are centralized and see if it makes sense for them to stay centralized or not. If you think about why things are centralized, I think there are two main reasons. And one is because some make sense and others are because it's historical decisions. And if we take the example of fundraising that has come up a few times, I think it's both. And so you mentioned the decision in 2011 to prevent chapters from running the banners. So that is definitely a historical decision. If you think about other things like running the Wikis. That is, you wouldn't imagine, I mean, we can have that thought experiment. You could imagine that every country would have to run their own servers and run their own language version of Wikipedia or the other projects. I mean, it could have been that way. But then every, it wouldn't be very efficient and it would be very effective. So for hosting the servers, it makes sense for one entity to do all of that because you have cost savings because of the scale and you have centralized expertise and it doesn't make sense to duplicate all of those. So I think those are two examples of why it might make sense to centralize something or why it is centralized because of historical reasons. And then you think about something like, grant making where it used to be very centralized. And over time, it has become, I think, more decentralized in the way that you have now the regional committees, where the people making the decisions are closer to the problem. It's closer to what we mean by subsidiarity. And so I think those are the two ways of looking at it. Does that answer your question?

Nikki: It does, yeah. It makes a lot of sense. So I like the idea of thinking about this rationally, because our conversations about Movement strategy are always, not always, but a lot of them are about they have too much power, they have too much money, they have too much this and that and the other. But I hope that when we talk, or like when the Movement charter drafting committee looks at who should make decisions about what, that we're pragmatic and that we think of these as functions and where does it make most sense to have those functions? And so finding the golden middle between centralized functions and subsidized functions, that's the thing. That's the task that this charter drafting committee has to fulfill.

Guillaume: I would just add one thing, which is that I think centralization and decentralization is a spectrum. And so we can also find ways that are hybrid, where it doesn't have to be completely decentralized or completely centralized. There are usually ways to keep some of the functions centralized, but to keep the efficiency and the effectiveness, but also to have some part of it that is decentralized so that you have the local expertise and the people making decisions about the work that they're doing.

Nicole: I like that you said this with the spectrum, so it's not either or, but it may be some things are moving from being centralized towards being decentralized. And if I may, like what you said about the regional committees who distribute funds. I think this is a good example where it's moving from being decentralized to decentralized, but only it started the, I don't know, the regional committee started the journey towards decentralization because from my understanding, the actual decentralization would be if it's really, if the grant making then would really be in the hands of, I don't know, regional, groups, let's say hubs. I'm not, I don't want to say that hubs should be the grant makers then, but potentially other structures than a central organization, but rather like regional entities or something like that. So I like that picture.

Nikki: Yeah, maybe, maybe we wouldn't call it grant making at that point, you know, cause grant making is like a very, it's a term from philanthropy. Ah, true. You grant somebody sort of a favor, you know, and you're, and you're philanthropic richness, which to me in a Movement, whether it's decentralized or completely decentralized, it's just the wrong sort attitude to start with. But sorry to interrupt. Go ahead, Nicole.

Nicole: Yeah, thanks, Nikki. And now I'm going back to the questioning mode instead of commenting. And I would like to ask Claudia a bit about the history of when did this or where did the concept of decentralization come from during the formation of the strategy and when you and the roles and responsibilities group developed the recommendations and the different models and so on, where did it come from and also why do you think it's such a strong desire in our Movement to decentralize?

Claudia: Yeah, so you've seen me nodding, listeners can't see me, but I've been nodding along for minutes now. So I am strong support for a lot of things that you said and perhaps just to finish quickly, I think what is missing in the regional committees for the funds redistribution, to call it a bit more neutrally at the moment is that we can actually pick these people that they're not selected by the Wikimedia Foundation or another entity so that they can actually somehow be picked also by the people that they serve and that also the decisions of like how much funding there is and all that. So all these decisions are not in our hands at the moment. So just for the listeners who are not so familiar with the current, it's still grant making at the moment more than anything else, but whatever funds redistribution process we will have in future. So I really hope that we will make progress in this regard soon because we are, as you said, we are on a good.

journey there. And it also brings me a bit then to answering your question, Nicole. So what I said in the beginning is that what we realized is that there is a tension between the Movement culture of making their own rules and working independently and self -organized on the Wikimedia project and how the organized part of the Movement, the Wikimedia Foundation processes, but also a lot of the Wikimedia affiliates work that are a bit more classical NGO governance models. And I think this desire that you mentioned for decentralization comes a bit from there to dissolve this tension because people are just, they are expecting to have an agency in decisions and be an active part of it more than perhaps in other movements because it's like such an inherent part of our DNA, I would almost say. And I think something that we should also look at is what is actually behind that term ‘decentralization’. Like what is the desire behind it? Like, is it really to break up big organizations just for the sake of it or something? No, I don't think so. I think for a lot of people in the community, the actual desire behind it is a type of servant leadership. I think this is something that we could say. So it's a bit, it's more about the culture than necessarily perhaps the governance structure itself, but the culture that comes with it. And I think this is really something that we also wanted to convey in the, at least the original namings in the scenarios that we developed in roles and responsibilities where we talked about these still central parts as the basic support structure. It was not called Wikimedia Foundation or something, it was called basic support structure to make clear like this is where the basic support should come from. The one that ideally is done in a more central way because it makes sense in the examples that Guillaume outlined earlier. And the structures that we often refer to now as hubs were called back offices, which also gives a bit of a different ‘why’ around like what this is actually is like this is not some power grabbing intermediate organization where we hope to have like some new functions of important people in Europe, for example. And I'm saying that as somebody who is also the president of Wikimedia Europe. But this is not what it should be about. It should really be an entity that actually is there to help and serve the communities in the region. And I really want to make sure that this is ingrained into what we do at Wikimedia Europe. And I also see that happening, for example, at the socalled CEE Hub, where they're doing a very similar thing and probably even more important because in this region you have way more communities without their own chapter. And that was a big part for us in our thinking, like how, like what structure is good to support all kinds of different local communities and backgrounds, especially in the parts of the world where you don't have existing affiliates, chapters and user groups to support the communities there. And I think this is also something that we should be aware of if we talk about that and where the desire comes from. I think that comes from there to have the organized part of the movement to be there to serve the communities. And I think, of course, that should be obvious to a certain extent, but I don't think it feels like that in the current structures all the time to most of the community. I think that's just like, as often in institutionalism, institutions emerge and become more and more complex and become harder and harder for people that are not in the immediate vicinity of this organization to actually get to where they want to and make themselves heard. So I think if we see that as one of the guiding ideas or goals behind what we want to do, then that is really helpful to understand why we're actually doing it and where this desire comes from.

Nicole: And if we bring this into practice, what areas of our Movement might become decentralized and why will they or might they become decentralized and also what would it look like? So who is then no longer in the center or what does the decentralized area look like?

Claudia: I mentioned earlier, I think what is really important to people is being able to make decisions about the resources they have and this is money on the one hand, but it's also other kind of resources like support by staff members that are there for them. So it also ties a bit into what I said earlier. It ended this capacity building peer to peer learning that these things are organized and I think one important reason also is that we can see from other organizations that are also going into this direction because it's a trend, as I said earlier, is that it also helps us to be more responsive and resilient in the face of change, of like a fast moving environment that we're in. And I think back when we did that, we weren't even aware of how quickly the world can change. There was no pandemic in 2018 to 2019, there was no war in Europe raging where we don't know where this is going. So I think all these factors became even more apparent now where you really have like these super complex environments that are fast changing. And we can just see that being able to make decisions for your context efficiently and quickly, important decisions is very helpful to adapt to these changes if they don't need to go through a million complicated governance models, processes to San Francisco and back. So I think we can just see that the way the world is developing, it also makes a lot of sense to become more resilient by being able to have this kind of decision making processes in place for us.

Guillaume: And so I think we've talked a lot about fundraising and grant making or funds distribution. And what's funny is that the way that things have been in the past tends to shape not just what they are today, but how we think about them. And so it's funny that we talk about resource allocation, but we talk about fundraising, where fundraising is only one way to bring revenue into the Movement. And it's also only one form of resource. And so I think we should think about decentralizing revenue and decentralizing resources. I mean, the generation and collection of resources because fundraising is only one way we can do that. And when you think about it, we were talking earlier about are trying to think through this through a rational lens of what makes sense and how to make sure that we do this, not just for the sake of it, but because it's what is most efficient and effective. And if you think through it that way, then you can look at different ways of generating revenue and go through them one by one and figure out, well, does it make sense to have this centralized or decentralized? And if you think, for example, about banners, you have to think about the whole technical infrastructure needed for processing the payments, for making sure that you protect all the personal data, the confidential data from donors and all of that. And that is a very fast changing space, especially because of all the compliance issues. You wouldn't believe that the time and energy spent by the fundraising tech people to make sure that that whole technical stack is impervious to intrusions and that all that data is well protected. So I think that is one area where centralization makes sense because it would be extremely difficult to have like 100 affiliates maintaining their own technical stack for and maintaining that expertise. But when you think about other ways to generate revenue, I mean, for many years, you have several affiliates that have used the tax campaigns where they, you know, I think there's Poland, Hungary, and Italy, where they can benefit from the tax structure in that country that no one else would be able to access but because they are local to that country, it is the most efficient and effective way to tap into that revenue stream that no one else could do. And I think maybe it was Wikimedia Armenia, I'm not sure, that was also able to get office space from the government. If I'm wrong, I'm sure someone will correct me on that. And then if you think about other things that might work better decentralized, you could think about maybe merchandise. Like the Wikimedia store right now, I think only ships to the United States and Canada because shipping like t-shirts and mugs and all of that around the world is a logistics nightmare. And that is definitely something that would work a lot better with someone who is local. And so you could imagine, I'm not committing to anything because I'm not responsible for that, but you could imagine something like a partnership where you have designs where people can share designs of merchandise. And then you could have local stores in different countries where people can ship and make revenue from that. And that would work as a sort of in-between of centralized and decentralized, where you take advantage of having a lot of people in different countries. And then you also have some maybe centralized expertise in terms of designs and trademarks and all of that. So I think for all of those, we have to think about what makes sense, what is the most efficient and effective way of generating revenue in all those different streams and all the streams that we are not yet thinking about, but that might prove to become revenue streams in the future. We talk a lot about AI and about the fact that a lot of our content is being reused outside of our sites. And so who knows if banners will even bring in revenue in 10 years, there's no way to know because we don't know what the internet would look like in 10 years. So I think the way that Claudia was saying, we have to think about subsidiarity and decentralization as principles of how we approach things. I think we have to keep that in mind so that we can whatever opportunities come up in the future for generating revenue, we have to make sure that if it makes sense from a financial perspective, to have that decentralized, we should seize that opportunity.

Nikki: Claudia, do you have anything to add to that?

Claudia: Yeah, so as always, the ban of fundraising, I think is a bit of a contested issue. And I agree with you, but I think this is actually like one of the areas where we could also think about a bit more on the spectrum to move the little, I don't know, cursor a little bit into another direction, because I think what a lot of us for a long time found to be a missed opportunity is that we cannot at least include messages about our local work into the donor messaging in our countries. So in the Comedio Austria we can't do our own benefit raising. At the same time, I know that people would be interested in what we actually do in Austria with it. And at the moment, I still get the same streamlined message from Jimmy or the current executive director and telling them what the Wikimedia Foundation at large is doing. So I think there's a lot of potential of working together, of course, GDPR compliant to localise the messages we send out to our donors even though we don't do it ourselves. And at the same time I also see that in Europe we have two other organisations also doing fundraising and having their own mechanisms so it's also not impossible and how can we make perhaps these resources also available to a broader set of communities at least in the region just make it a bit more equitable. So I think there's potential there. It doesn't need to be the status quo, but I also see, as Guillaume pointed out, of course, the limitations and the risks involved with that. Just expand a bit on that topic.

Guillaume: I can follow up, but I don't know if you want to go too deep into that. Maybe I'll be brief and you can decide to cut it or not. And I think, yeah, you're right that I think there are two organizations that are involved directly in the banner fundraising. And I think that falls into the area of being efficient and effective because the foundation would not be able to do that in those countries. And so in that case, the most efficient and effective way is for them to do it directly. I do think that local communities are involved in some of the localization when it comes to not just translation, but also finding terms or phrases and idioms that resonate, even though the general message is the same. I agree with you that people in Austria or other countries might want to learn about the activities that are done in Austria. And also, that is not why most people donate and so I think both things can be true. When we do donor surveys, the number one reason by far why people donate is because they want to give back for the use that they have of Wikipedia and other projects. And so people don't donate because they want to support activities in specific countries or to do editathons. I mean, a few, but the vast majority is because they find Wikipedia useful. And I think that we might want to separate those concerns. I think we could have banners to raise awareness about what is happening in Austria and other countries, but I'm not sure that that's the best, that's the most effective and efficient way of raising money, because that's not the message that is not what makes people want to donate.

Nikki: This is a fascinating discussion and I have so many things to say about it. One of which is my salary is paid by an organization that can do its own Banner fundraising and has been incredibly successful at doing so. And part of that success is building relationships with donors, even if they just, you know, donate for Wikipedia. They do donate to an organization, they can deduct it from their taxes in the country that they donate and we have the donor data and can build lasting relationships beyond small donations. And that's why our organization is as well set financially as we are. But I think I would like to maybe move away from the money generating issue and maybe explore one other, probably also running out of time, but explore one other sort of arena and that's, I would suggest, software development as an arena of decentralization. We're curious to hear your thoughts, either one of you, on what would that look like? Or is that even a desirable thing to decentralize, subsidize? Software development from what we have currently.

Guillaume: I can attempt an answer. Although, again, I'm not committing to anything because it's not my area of responsibility. But I think there's definitely a need for better tools and better features, including tools and features that might only be relevant for a particular group or a particular geography. And so in that case, I think the principle of subsidiarity would advise that we do distributed software development. I think, you know, tool labs and the tool server, that was a good example of bringing some of the Wiki spirit to software and tools, like allowing anyone to build something. I think it becomes a lot more complex once you want those tools and features to be running on the foundation servers because of security concerns and because of code quality and also because then you need resources from the foundation side to keep those running and to review the code and all of that. So I think there's a way of making it work. Like we see with Wikidata and Wikibase but I'm not sure how much that could scale because the servers are centralized. And also, I think since we talked about the Movement charter earlier, one thing that is difficult for the foundation is to figure out what communities think about new tools and features and how to have agreement on what should be deployed or not deployed. And I think once you throw into that other entities who want to deploy software onto the Wikis, the complexity increases even more because then you have multiple entities and Wikis arguing about what they want or don't want on their Wiki.

Nikki: But isn't that what open source software communities do anyway? That they have tools to collaborate and coordinate the work?

Guillaume: Oh, yes. And I'm not saying we shouldn't do it. What I'm saying is that that is a good problem for the charter to try to solve because if they can come up with a good way to have mutually binding agreement between the foundation and the communities on what software to deploy and when, then they can probably also apply those to other entities.

Nikki: So Claudia, talk about advocacy. That's that lands a little bit on a in the middle of the spectrum as well.

Claudia: Well, right. Yes, it does, because I think advocacy has different aspects that concern different stakeholders in the Movement in different ways. So here in Europe, we have a lot of experience and history around advocacy. So even long before we even started the strategy process, there was the free knowledge advocacy group EU that was co-founded by various affiliates here and basically tried to bring the voice of online communities, particularly Wikimedia communities, to policy making on the EU level, also given that EU legislation informs a lot of other parts of the world as well. And actually that was one of the good practices that we also came up with in the roles and responsibilities group of like a positive example for cross affiliate, cross community, cross language collaboration without having at that time without having a formal structure around it even. And just like Wikimedia lost monuments internationally like on a content level. So there were these projects that have been around for a while that were pretty successful. And building on that Wikimedia Europe now emerged as a more formalized organization also because we saw the need for more transparency in the ways you can actually participate in it and shape it because before it was basically like the organizations that paid had direct access to some of the decision making and not even actively excluding everybody else. But it was just like a natural thing that the EDs of the affiliates who co -financed that would meet and talk about next year's budget and everything. At the same time in parallel, of course, there was a lot of community driven decision making around the content, like what legislation should be tackled in which countries and in what ways. That was in the Big Fat Brussels meetings. But still, it was a bit of, you know, like a lot of these things that grow organically, it's then for newcomers not really easy to see like what could be my place, what is a good access into these kind of activities. So I think and I hope we change that and seeing how many organizations, I think 26 we are now, that's way more than have ever before been involved into advocacy work in Europe are part of this new structure. I think this has been a successful first step. And what I also think is already a very positive example of our Movement strategy working in the day to day business is how we also integrated the Wikimedia Foundation as another stakeholder in this process here because they have their own interests as the actual platform providers at the moment. So this is a responsibility none of us organizations luckily has here in Europe at the moment on a legal level because it's really not trivial. So their view on the policy process is a bit different than for us as representatives of the content communities and peer production. So joining forces here was also something that the Wikimedia Foundation was very open about. So I really have to say that because their first vision of putting the Movement recommendation into practice was to hire an advocacy person for each region of the world. They also wanted to do that for Europe. But for us that would have been a not very ideal situation to have two parallel structures, two different organizations running around in Brussels trying to talk to people. So I was very happy to see Mariana being very open to conversations of like how else we could do that together. And now we have basically a person embedded in Wikimedia Europe who is paid by the Wikimedia Foundation and works directly with the Wikimedia Foundation. But it's part of our organization and to have an even closer linkage of the two interests and the two ways to approach advocacy work here. And I think this is really cool. Like this is something that we did not envision in four years ago and that just emerged out of the prosperity was one of the principles we mentioned in our letter to Mariana as European chapters when we were saying like, hey, we're not entirely happy with the plans you have at the moment. Can we talk about it? And there was the willingness to talk and the willingness to reassess all that on the basis of the recommendations. And I think this is really something to celebrate that we can see it has already. We don't need to wait to 2030. It already has a positive impact on communities. So there is a willingness and I can only encourage other parts of the world to do that too. Because I also am aware of the privilege we have here. We have a lot of stuff to manage these processes and get in touch and write letters. But I can just sense this willingness and I would encourage other parts of the world to voice what is their vision of subsidiarity and centralized or decentralized structures in their region and go to the Wikimedia Foundation and talk to them about how this relationship should be structured in the future.

Nicole: Yeah, so if we imagine that this trend continues that you just described, Claudia, and the Charter is also going to lay out this decentralized Movement. I have a question for Guillaume. What do you imagine or what would a Wikimedia Foundation look like in such a decentralized Movement?

Guillaume: Okay, that is a big question and I can only imagine. But, you know, if you think about the roles that the foundation is playing now, like I was saying earlier, there are roles that make sense and roles that are historical. And, you know, the foundation just published a draft annual plan on Meta a few days ago. And for those of you who have had the time to dive into the 80 pages of text in the annual plan, you'll see that it re-centers on product and technology. And I think that is one main role of the foundation that is both historical and makes sense. And so I think that that is a function that is a major function that the foundation will keep running for a long time. And then there are other things that the foundation does because reasons. And those, I think, are subject to maybe being decentralized. And you know, there's this model that some of my colleagues have been looking into and also some people around the Movement called the Collective Impact Model that we can link to in the notes. And my colleague, Yale Weisberg, used to be part of the organization that developed this model. And so she's been talking about talking with other people about how this could apply to the Movement. And some, an aspect of this model is the concept of a backbone organization, which is an entity that does some of the centralized work that has to be done anyway, and that where it makes sense for that work to be centralized. And I'm not like, the foundation could be the backbone organization, or the foundation could be like that organization could be separate from the foundation. I don't know what makes sense. I think that's a discussion that we can have as a Movement. And that is just one of different models that we could use. But I think it's interesting to think about what makes sense and what is just a result of history. And I would guess, because everything is a spectrum. There's also what makes sense because it has been that way and it would be too costly to change it.

Nikki: Thanks, Guillaume. It's a great time to think about collective impact and backbone organizations and the other things that make multi-stakeholder initiatives. So there's other jargon for this. What makes them tick, what makes them effective. And I think today's discussion really did what we wanted it to do, which is shed a light on these big words and clarify how they actually bring pragmatism and rationality into this discussion, which is usually, or often very emotional and not very informed by those models out there. So I can only recommend to our listeners and everyone else who's interested in the future of our Movement to go back and look at the recommendations and the work that the roles and responsibilities working group did in 2018 and 2019 because they did a lot of the legwork already and we don't have to do it again. And as people write the charter and consult on the charter, I think being informed by that would be super beneficial. I wanna thank you guys for this great discussion and we dove into some pretty big topics and managed to shed a light on those without having too much controversy. And yeah, thank you guys. Hope to have you back soon. Guillaume, we didn't say this in the beginning, but you are the first double guest on this show. You're coming back for the second time. And so thanks for that. Thanks for putting up with us.

Guillaume: Yeah, I was happy to come back. I think it was about a year ago.

Nikki: Yeah. I think it was our first show actually, right?

Guillaume: Yeah. Yes. You didn't scare me away and apparently I didn't scare you away. So I think it was nice to be back.

Nikki: Thanks for coming. Thanks for coming, Claudia. So that's a wrap of the 11th episode of Wikimove. Thanks for listening.

Nicole: Wikimove is a production of Wikimedia Deutschland and its movement strategy and global relations team. Eva Martin pulls all the strings in the background so that we can create excellent content. Our music was composed and produced by Rory Gregory and is available under a Creative Commons license CC BY SA on Wikimedia Commons. And again, thank you also from my side to our wonderful guest Claudia and the returning guest Guillaume. It's really been a pleasure speaking with you today.

Nikki: We release new episodes every month. So stay tuned, visit our Wikimove Meta page, listen to previous episodes, react to our podcast, connect with the listeners, check out the show notes for all the interesting literature and background we mentioned today. And you can also contact us via email, wikimove@wikimedia.de to continue this discussion and share your suggestions for next episodes. Ciao for now. Ciao for now. Tschüssi. Nikki: Oh, we forgot something. We have to give you guys a little hint for those of you who didn't know the movie we referenced in our previous episode. Here's the clip… And the movie is The Big Lebowski. Thank you.