Wikimedia CH/Strategic Plan

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This document follows up on the Strategy defined in the Summer of 2014 and outlines Wikimedia CH's broad strategic priorities for the next 3-5 years.

Background - the SWOT[edit]

Wikimedia CH has grown significantly over the past 3 years, from zero to up to six employees, from purely volunteer-driven to professionally managed institutions.

Expectations, as a result, have changed and there needs to be a clear understanding from everyone on board of where we’re heading, and how we’ll get there, particularly in the wider Wikimedian world where we face unique challenges, chiefly:

Wikimedia CH has a language burden

As much as this can be sometimes seen as a strength, the immediate consequence of having three main languages (or even four as English is our lingua franca) is that we need staff to accommodate everyone, even though all communities are not equal in size. This, in turn, generates structural costs as everything takes four times more resources (even if we don’t have to have a Community liaison for each language area);

Consequently, Wikimedia CH is expensive

This is true in absolute terms, because we’re based in Switzerland, a country that tops the Big Mac Index; and also relative to our size: WMCH is considered one of the “big” chapters, whereas the population base we serve is fairly small and the languages we use have more speakers (and contributors, current or potential) in neighbouring countries with their own chapter. Put it differently, it can easily be argued that other chapters could better serve our communities for cheaper.

And additional threat is user attrition, which is probably compounded by the growing use of mobile which the projects have a hard time grappling with: organic recruitment of new editors is hard, while editors fatigue remains an issue.

Conversely, our strengths and opportunities are:

Wikimedia CH is blessed with a rich and diverse market.

Money-rich of course, as evidenced by the fact that we’ve consistently had one of the highest level of dollars per donation (USD 43 in 2014 vs. around 20 USD for the Foundation), but also partner-rich, with a high number of GLAMs and private foundations which we can tap both for content and funding as they’ve constantly expressed a strong demand for services. Except for Romansh speakers, our population base also extends beyond our immediate borders.

We own a unique selling proposition, namely Kiwix.

This product is great in terms of image and has a demonstrably huge market in the Global South. In the long run, this should be the first of a suite of Wikipedia-centered tools, the basis for constructing WMCH’s image as a center of excellence for side products which the Foundation cannot or does not want to develop. We have a demonstrated know-how and culture for building quality products.

Objectives - Where do we want to be in three to five years?[edit]

The current strategy has four axes: two are relevant to our context -with expectations that are common to every chapter and reflect the Foundation’s global metrics; and two build on our very specific conditions. As defined in the Summer of 2014, these four strategic priorities are:

Support contributors
Does what we do contribute to editor retention, or does it help create new editors? We need to keep editors engaged, and we need to be there to help lower tensions.
  • Our first objective is to keep the number of contributors stable or slightly increasing.
  • Our second objective is to know and be known by our communities.
Support content
Is content supported by WMCH of higher value than what an average volunteer could create on his own?
  • Our first objective is to support the creation of content that has an added value
  • Our second objective is to offer GLAMs a mean to free their content
Develop Tools
Which tools can help the Movement or the dissemination of free knowledge?
  • Our objective is to have a sustainable software offer that can be used by other chapters and user groups.
  • Ultimately, this includes growing a software development arm.
Outreach
Do we talk to someone who can help us reach our objectives?
  • Our first objective is to be recognized as the Wikim/pedia point of contact in Switzerland
  • Our second objective is to reduce our dependency on WMF funds to less than a third of our budget.

Note that "first" and "second" do not imply specific priorities.

Strategy - how do we get there?[edit]

Ideally, each arm should feed or complement the other. In practice, this means that when thinking of a new program or opportunity, the first question to ask should be “Does it intersect with one or more of these axes?”.

Supporting contributors[edit]

  • New editors: every year we should engage a lot more new editors as there are core editors, if only because retention is usually low. The means for that can be thematic edit-a-thons, contests, and possibly providing training classes.
  • Existing editors: we need to know our people, meaning that each year we must have engaged (live, via email or on-wiki) with at least half of the top (active, 5+ edits/month) contributors. The problem is that because Switzerland has no home language (except for Romansh), Swiss editors cannot be spontaneously inferred from their presence on a given wiki.
  • We also need to make users feel engaged with and help them relate to WMCH. We want to help foster a culture where Swiss Wikimedians care about one another. For each language community, this means at least several meetups a year to help ease on-line tensions and build a sense od community. Those meetings need not be limited to Swiss nationals, however: communities are language- rather than border-defined, and all three border areas are densely populated. For photographs we support, this also means regularly broadcasting their work on our media channels.
  • To project and broadcast our services, we need to identify and single out those contributors we can count on and leverage throughout the year: those will be our “super contacts” who participate in our activities, help us connect with other users, and generally speaking whose efforts go beyond mere editing. There should be several such super contacts per language community and their efforts should be directly acknowledged by WMCH in the most personal manner.

Last but not least, we should run a yearly satisfaction and needs assessment survey.

Supporting content[edit]

We need to create value, through contributors taking quality images they couldn’t have taken without our help, and through partnerships with GLAMs who will free their curated content onto Commons. The key metric are pageviews and number of uploads.

  • For contributors, this means microgrants and reimbursement of travel costs; providing business cards or email addresses and supporting accreditation requests; provide legal opinions if need be. Since we cannot “force” people to go out and get there, we need to make these services known through our regular outreach channels. Also, because these incur costs, we need to be clear upfront with benefitting contributors that they need to provide us with some form of metrics.
  • Since there is a demand on the GLAM side for help to get their content out, we can strike two birds with one stone. GLAMs should be presented with a clear, three-tiered commercial offer: 1. Wikipedians in Residence (whereby WMCH finds and employs the WiR and charges a fee to cover the admin costs); 2. Zivis (same principle, but cheaper and for menial uploading tasks); 3. direct consulting fees for training staff. For cash-strapped but interesting GLAMs, community liaison can use a discretionary amount of their budget to “fund” the uploads.
  • We need also to encourage like-minded groups so as to pool resources and talent. Small investments in motivated groups and individuals (or fiscal sponsorship, using WMCH as an umbrella oganisation for them to receive grants) can yield results in fields of interest to us that we normally wouldn’t have the time or competency to investigate (e.g. digitization of objects; open data, lobbying).

Tools[edit]

  • The immediate priority is Kiwix, for which there are two sides: distribution and development.

We must maintain a clear supply chain and commercial offer, allowing potential customers to purchase a plug with a base content and have it delivered with minimum WMCH involvement. This offer should be priced so as to allow us to make a commercial profit to reinvest in our software development (or, in the worst case scenario, break even). Most of the revenue dedicated to Kiwix, however, will have to come from fundraising activities. Kiwix is a brilliant service with many uses: it goes where the Foundation’s Wikipedia Zero cannot go, and complements it without competing. It supports high-profile projects such as Afripedia and Project E in North Korea: these are highly marketable, and Kiwix development and maintenance should be aggressively promoted to donors in light of these. The money raised should, at the very least, allow us to pay for maintenance and, in a best-case scenario, start building a development team to manage the product’s lifetime, prepare its next generation, and start developing other products if possible.

  • We must also maintain our current know-how for small, nimble tools and support that benefit the Movement as a whole: be it providing hosting services for much smaller chapters (Pakistan and elsewhere), or developing tools that chapters can use to easily capture their needs (content scouts and other alternative metrics tools).

Outreach[edit]

We need to do a branding effort for WMCH and establish it as the reference for Wikim/pedia matters in Switzerland: we've been repeatedly approached by people who only found out about us through a mention in the press. Valuable partnerships were born from these serendipitous encounters. Practically speaking, this means:

  • Grow our Twitter and Facebook following to levels comparable to or higher than chapters with a similar population base (Amical, Austria, Ireland, Belgium), and maintain a constant link with our increasing membership base, most notably through a regularly scheduled newsletter with quality content.
  • Maintain an active media presence, meaning that we should attempt to get media coverage for every major Wikimedia-related event (e.g. edit-a-thons for the local media, national press for larger events such as the Fundraising campaign or any WMF-driven event).

We must also diversify our income sources: this means developing a fundraising offer that is independent from the yearly banner campaign and work on a three-pronged approach:

  1. Fundraise for WMCH activities in Switzerland (including Kiwix);
  2. Use Switzerland’s unique place as a banking center to fundraise for other chapters (and get a small cut for our efforts);
  3.  Grow a network of partnerships whose pro bono work we can rely on to diminish our costs.

Benefits - What will happen when we get there?[edit]

Once this strategy has been laid out and understood by all, we should expect at least two things:

  1. Know how to make Wikimedia CH sustainable in the long run: this means know which programs work and which ones don’t, so as to cancel the latter and focus on the former. For instance, Edit-a-thons work, wikipermanences don’t.
  2. We will have a clearer idea of what programs we want to or should engage in, and what programs do not fit our core objectives. It is always tempting to stray away because an incredibly exciting opportunity or project arises. But as an organisation with limited resources and time, we need the necessary discipline to cherry-pick those who will further our goals in the long run. The difference between junior and senior positions is that the senior is able to say “no”.

Principles - How does this fit?[edit]

For maximum efficacy, these principles should overlap or, at least complement each other. There needn’t be some overly complicated goal-setting but rather a clear understanding of what we want so that, again, we can privilege resource attribution from one project over another. The more core points a project hits, the higher the priority. For instance, a wiki-expedition meets our goal of getting contributors to know one another and providing quality content; an “illustrate articles” edit-a-thon helps recruit contributors and make use of the content that was created; Kiwix is a strong product that we can leverage with the press and fundraisers; etc. etc..

Goals and deliverables - Where are we now? And where do we want to be?[edit]

The overall goals have been described under point 2 and 3. Our starting points and their progression will be tracked on the members wiki. The tactical implementation of this strategy will be described in our APG proposals and annual plans.