This session documentation was approved by the speaker.
This session is intended to take a look back at the history of the Wikimedia movement and outline the different milestones which led to the current organisational status. Its intent is to accompany people entering the organisation today to benefit from institutional memory and understand the state of Wikimedia today.
People have the sufficient knowledge for the conference and don’t get totally lost
Delphine Ménard opened the session which was meant to be an orientation session for newcomers to the Wikimedia movement. First, she introduced herself being a long-standing Wikimedian. Afterwards, Delphine highlighted the importance to understand and learn some of Wikimedia’s history, as there were certain “collective memories” on specific issues. Sometimes, she said, it was difficult to understand – from the outside or as a newcomer – what pieces of the history were important and which weren’t. The aim of the session was to help new people to hop on “the [Wikimedia] train” which can not be stopped for them, as there are lots of things happening in movement and the learning curve is steep.
[There are no notes of the stories told by Delphine. You can find her slides on Wikimedia Commons, most of them are self-explanatory.]
After the presentation, the stage was opened for questions from the audience.
One participant asked why Delphine did not take position to be interim ED as she was so experienced. Delphine answered that she’s a Wikimedian from the beginning and liked to have a view on the development of it.
One participant asked why Chapters wanted to fundraise on their own when they could get grants [from the Wikimedia Foundation]. Delphine explained that in the beginning, Chapters were allowed to put banners on Wikipedia. Then, she explained, the WMF, which owns the website, decided that “third parties” could not put banners on it. The Chapters were still allowed to get funds but not through the website directly. The four chapters [WMDE, WMFR, WMUK, WMCH] were allowed because they brought the most money, and had donorship relationships. Wikimedia Poland has tax refunds and therefore does not need to fundraise on the websites but that money could not be forwarded to the WMF because tax money had to stay in the country. In Switzerland only national organization can do fundraising at all, Delphine explained.
One participant asked what the number of men and women in the Wikimedia organizations was and what Delphine could tell about the history of gender in the organizations. The participant highlighted that adding such numbers was important for this presentation. Delphine replied that she did not have such numbers and returned the question asking if topic should be part of the chapter bylaws or similar. She said that working to answer that question (how does the gender gap play out in the Wikimedia organisation(s)?) could be a good idea for a grant request.
One participant asked about the definition of “Global South” and if there were any updates on that. Delphine recommended to ask Asaf [Bartov, Senior Program Office for Emerging Wikimedia Communities at the Wikimedia Foundation]. The participant also asked if Asaf was the only one working on this topic. Delphine answered that there were many initiatives but Asaf would be the best to talk about this topic. She added that, probably, there were many initiatives that most of the Wikimedians were not even aware of.
Another participant emphasized how important it was to work on “these topics”, e.g. gender, race, etc. The participant requested the WMF to work on these. Delphine replied that “we” [as in all Wikimedians] should work on these topics, as it wasn’t useful to say “they should”, but “we should” and take leadership ourselves.
One participant noted that much of the information Delphine told the participant wasn’t yet in the Wikipedia article [about the Wikimedia Foundation].