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Wikimedia Conference 2018/Reading material

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WMCON 2018 Core Conference Program Fringe Events Registration & Participants
Reports, Reviews

In preparation for the Movement Strategy track at the Wikimedia Conference, we have gathered different statements, discussion papers, and concepts that are meant to be an input for your thinking around the contextualization of the Strategic Direction.

  • While readings these inputs, please ask yourself:
  • What opportunities am I seeing for my work and the movement?
  • What challenges am I seeing?
  • What could we do/change to address challenges and move towards our opportunities?
  • What questions keep coming up for me?

Please take these statements and concepts as drafts by the respective groups, teams, and organization. Nothing is set in stone, but meant as starting point for our conversations. On Saturday, there will be a slot in the schedule where you can discuss your questions with the authors of the documents.

All statements, papers and concepts in one pdf file (download it! it's easier to read :)

On this page, you can find the different statements, papers and concepts, partially linked to their respective pages on Meta. We recommend you to download the provided PDF file that gathers everything in one file :)

Partnerships statement[edit]

Please see Partnerships & Resource_Development/Take_Action

Community Resources Funding strategy[edit]

Please see Community_Resources/Annual_Plan#Community_Resources_Funding_strategy

Global Event Strategy[edit]

(written by the Community Resources team of the Wikimedia Foundation)

This is from our perspective on the Community Resources team, the team that funds about $2 million in events each year, from Wikimania, to Wikimedia Conference, to 8-15 regional, thematic, and local/national events. Next year we’ll be looking at how our work needs to align to the strategic direction, including our support for events.

Where we are today:

Face to face events play a key role in our movement; they put the “social” in our social movement.

  • Events build our movement, and offline collaboration enhances online collaboration
  • We have been investing in community-led convenings more in the last 5 quarters with the creation of the Conference & Events grant program, funding (18 events, 2.1k participants, from 221 countries with $700k), plus Wikimania  
  • But we have not had a strategy that articulates the objectives and purpose of each type of community-led event
  • We’ve seen events improve in their quality of programming and outcomes, and we’ve seen an increase in diversity in attendees of events. But we’ve also seen a lot of challenges:
    • Events do not always have clear and achievable objectives
    • Visas, distance & costs for global events limit participation
    • Some overlap in participants across events
    • Support WMF currently provides is limited
    • Event organizers spend a significant amount of time focusing on logistics, leaving them less time to plan programs
    • Organizers/user groups often burn out after events
    • No regular schedule for events; events clustered together
    • Many regional and thematic groups do not have a legal nonprofit status necessary to receive grants over $10,000. Fiscal sponsorship has been problematic for many of these groups.  

What we’re thinking

We’d like to see an events ecosystem where each event is designed around a clear purpose, with diverse participants. We’d see these changes as part of our shift to the strategic direction, and undertaken over time:

  • Wikimania as a global event, designed to:
    • Build community: knowledge share, inspire, connect, celebrate accomplishments
    • Provides WMF staff an avenue to reach communities
    • An added element of partnership beyond the movement
    • Expand pre-  & post- conference offerings, including possible movement building with partners, + outreach  
  • More & regular regional & thematic events
    • Significantly expanded participation, including funding for more scholarships
    • Regions eligible to host an event every 18 to 24 months (or more) with deeper logistics support
    • Possibilities to bring regionally relevant external partners  
    • Objectives: Capacity building, teaching, knowledge sharing, community building, outreach
  • These changes are contingent on a few important things:
    • Input from key stakeholders, like you.
    • Resourcing from the WMF
  • Wikimedia Conference
    • Annual movement leadership summit about strategy and governance for the organized part of the movement (Affiliates, WMF, Committees)
    • Platform for decision-making, review and advance strategy of movement
    • See discussion paper about WMCON 2019-2020 (next page of this document)


All in all, we believe these changes would yield many benefits to our movement

  • Equity & increased access: More funding to regional events means more participants, and more opportunities for local leaders to participate in the international movement
  • More hands-on logistical support to events, taking burden off organizers  
  • More advance planning & better scheduling & coordination
  • Higher quality, focused events with better programs & outcomes

What we’re asking ourselves:

  • Who attends each type of event? Who needs to attend each type of event? Who are we missing?
  • What topics or activities are useful to focus on at each type of event? Are there important things that could happen at events that we haven’t done before?
  • What kind of increased support should we include at each type of event? Some ideas we are considering are:
    • Facilitation support: this could mean coaching session organizers on how to plan and manage important sessions, consulting with program committee on the program plan, or attending events to act as a facilitator when requested.
    • Translation support: what are the most important ways we can start to improve translation support at conferences?
    • Admin & Logistics support: this could include support sending visa letters, flight booking through WMF travel agent, project management support to keep timelines on track.
    • Community coordination support: Support from a community liaison to coordinate community input surveys, notify communities about scholarship deadlines, follow up with participants after events with reminders of action items.
  • Where should capacity building take place?
    • What kind of capacity building works well at regional events, where there are both affiliates and individual contributors?
    • Do affiliates and movement leaders want to continue to have opportunities for capacity building at WMCon?
    • What skills are fundamental are important for all affiliates, especially newer groups? How do we ensure equitable and reliable access to opportunities to learn these skills?
  • ...and, what about Wikimania?
    • Wikimania an extremely large financial investment by the movement. Where does Wikimania fit in this system; what role does it play in our movement?
    • How do we align Wikimania to the new strategic direction, especially about knowledge equity and bringing in people who have been excluded?
    • Should Wikimania continue as is, or does it need to be refined in some way?
  • What are our key stakeholders (like WMCon attendees) reactions to this ecosystem approach?

Future of the Wikimedia Conference[edit]

Our concept for the Wikimedia Conference 2019-2020 is based on learnings from the last three years of organizing the WMCON. These are our conclusions.

Move away from the WMCON as a one-stop shop

Despite the current success of the WMCON, its concept is unclear; it tries to fulfil too many goals for too many different audiences at once. We need to move away from a “one-stop shop” and towards a landscape of more focused, specialized conferences tailored to the conditions of the Wikimedia movement and its members with their different roles and needs.

Focus on strategy and governance

The 2017 event created momentum for kicking off the movement strategy process, and was designed to facilitate inclusive conversations about our future. This is exactly what we see as the next step for the WMCON: To become one focused annual event for conversations on strategy and governance across affiliates, the WMF and its committees. A conference that carries the conversations from the movement strategy process further into the future, and is iteratively developed along with the implementation and adaptation of the movement strategy across the organized parts of the movement.

Strengthen regional and global events

The capacity building track and learning events have tried to satisfy everyone’s needs, partly detached from local, regional and cultural contexts. We consider in-person, in-language trainings to have more impact, while a global event can serve to strategically discuss results and objectives for the trainings, and to decide upon improvements of the general approach. Future capacity building efforts should both incorporate relevant contexts and ensure access to methods beyond at-the-conference training

Ideally, there would be a global program support – with an extended program and engagement coordination (PEC) – and a global conference support for logistics to make sure that all events are connected, learnings are collected, and recurring events build upon each other.

Build connections

In our opinion conferences cannot solve problems, they can only support solutions. To build strong and diverse communities, while breaking down existing barriers, we need collaboration and strong connections between the Wikimedia organizations.

WMCON 2019 and 2020

The conference will in 2019 focus on movement strategy and governance across the organized parts of the movement (affiliates, WMF, committees). The format of the conference will be based on the participatory formats we introduced in 2017 and 2018. The eligibility criteria need to be adapted: an application process will be introduced to ensure an inclusive and diverse ratio of participants, while taking into account the experience and contribution each participant can bring to the event - and take back to their affiliate.

The 2019 event will not be an event where decisions are made, but where the process of movement decision making and governance is one of the topics on the agenda, as part of the broader strategy conversations.

Ideally, by 2020, the Wikimedia movement will have developed a model/structure for how strategic conversations, movement governance, and decision making on a global, organisational level will take place. The 2020 conference will be designed along the outcomes and needs of these conversations.

Capacity building, trainings and learning, as well as peer-to-peer exchange will happen at regional and thematic events, while Wikimania could become a platform for global coordination and strategic development of these events. A precondition is that WMF event support and funding structures are adjusted accordingly and movement event organizers are on board.

Technology directions for supporting our strategy[edit]

(written by the Technology Department of the Wikimedia Foundation)

The Wikimedia Foundation recently held a successful Developer Summit in January 2018 and we’d like to talk about what approaches were discussed that will help the Wikimedia movement to become even more essential in it’s infrastructure for free knowledge, how we plan to evolve to build and maintain this infrastructure, and how our chapters and affiliates can get more involved.

To better understand the how, let’s first talk about topics of some of the sessions:

  • Determine if we need new forms of distribution and what priority should these have
  • Identify language infrastructure capabilities and opportunities
  • Consider changes to Wikimedia technology for storing and delivering content
  • Identify the needs of third-party MediaWiki users and developer

We can better evolve by:

  • Identify software that can be improved quickly and what will be used the most by our community (i.e.: low hanging fruit)
  • Clarity on prioritizing opportunities, tasks, and documentation
  • Releasing stand-alone components and libraryization of code

And, how affiliates can help with:

  • identifying challenges that contributors and developers have in growing smaller Wikipedia’s
  • giving feedback on how Wikimedia tools can be made more reliable, more scalable, and easier to adjust to changing demands
  • help to challenge current assumptions and to engage in constructive feedback
  • a better understanding of 'the customer' with more in depth research

Statement of the Wikimedia Diversity Conference[edit]

Please see Wikimedia_Diversity_Conference_2017/Diversity_conversation

Wikidata: What it means for knowledge as a service and knowledge equity[edit]

(written by Lydia Pintscher from Wikimedia Deutschland)

Wikidata is Wikimedia’s structured data repository. It is a crucial part of what Wikimedia needs to deliver on knowledge as a service and knowledge equity.

Knowledge as a service is about providing our shared knowledge to the world in a way that can be shared more widely, easily re-used, mashed-up, remixed, queried and more. One crucial piece of that is making our knowledge structured, bite-sized, machine-readable and connected to many other knowledge repositories. That is what Wikidata provides. It holds general purpose data about the world like the number of inhabitants of Berlin, the ID of a monument in a monument database, symptoms of diseases or who won the last Oscars. This data is used to augment Wikipedia articles, power digital personal assistants, provide the data backbone for sites like Scholia, Histropedia and inventaire and much much more. Wikidata helps our knowledge spread more widely by making it easier to access and re-use it in new and innovative ways inside and outside Wikimedia. Take a look at some of the example queries on query.wikidata.org to get an idea of what is already possible today.

Knowledge equity is at the heart of what Wikidata does and supports. It does so in two ways:

First, Wikidata helps people collaborate across language and culture barriers on a shared knowledge base. Wikidata does this without forcing an agreement where legitimate different world-views exist. By having people collaborate on one shared knowledge base many more people get to benefit from someone’s contribution. Wikidata helps us support our smaller projects better by helping them benefit from all the work done in the bigger projects. But it also - equally important - helps people, who would otherwise not be able to share their knowledge with so many people, have a much bigger impact.

Second, Wikidata helps us better understand where we are lacking behind and who we are missing out on. It helps put a mirror in front of us and see where our content is biased, unbalanced, and not representative. How many articles do we have on a given Wikimedia about women? How are these articles distributed across professions? And how about time periods? What does the geographic distribution of articles on a given Wikipedia look like? These and more are all questions we can now answer with the help of Wikidata. And the answers can help us make a difference in the knowledge we cover.

And in the next years we are going to go even further. We are going to connect more knowledge repositories and collect data about words in hundreds of languages to enable us to do even more for knowledge as a service and knowledge equity. Wikidata is here to give more people more access to more knowledge, together with you!

Wikimedia 2030: Wikimedia’s role in shaping the future of the information commons[edit]

(Executive Summary of the report written by Dot Connector Studio for Phase 1 of the Wikimedia Movement Strategy process, commissioned by the Wikimedia Foundation. Taken from the Wikimedia blog)

Today we’re releasing an extensive research report about Wikimedia’s role in shaping the future of the information commons. The report was created as part of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy process, as the Foundation engaged research teams to examine awareness and usage of Wikimedia projects and evolving information consumption habits. The consulting teams conducted desk research and spoke both with people familiar with and involved in the Wikimedia movement and expert observers who could inform the strategy process but who are not directly involved today. In one-on-one interviews, experts in geographic areas where the projects are most heavily used were asked to think about future trends in their fields and how the trends might apply to the Wikimedia movement’s strategy. This particular research focused on six broad topics that seemed most likely to further or frustrate the vision for growth that the Foundation embraces.

In this report, the Foundation’s staff and its consulting teams present top-level insights from this global process. Perspectives from interviewees around the world are also provided with context about their region and area of expertise. The report draws from six comprehensive research briefs, published on Wikimedia’s strategy website, which address these topics:

  • Demographics: Who is in the world in 2030? The report outlines global population trends, which project the highest population growth in places where Wikimedia has significant room to expand.
  • Emerging platforms: How will people around the world be using communications technologies to find, create, and share information? The report considers future technologies, from the imminent to the speculative, and examines what range of new hardware, software, and content production capabilities might mean for content creation and user access.
  • Misinformation: How will people find trustworthy sources of knowledge and information? The report explores how content creators and technologists can ensure that knowledge is trustworthy and also identifies threats to these efforts.
  • Literacy: How will the world learn in the future? The report forecasts that technology will transform learning and educational settings as well as expand the requirements for literacy beyond text and images.
  • Open knowledge: How will we share culture, ideas, and information? The report documents the global trend toward opening collections and archives to the public and making them freely available online, and explores ways the Wikimedia movement might partner with people and organizations to accelerate this sharing.
  • Expect the unexpected: How can we know what the world will look like in 2030 — and what the Wikimedia movement’s role will be in it?

The report proposes that a study of trends can never be truly predictive and introduces alternative visionary tools such as scenario planning and speculative social science fiction.

The consulting team published an additional research brief on the future of the digital commons, examining the political and commercial forces that could lead to the contraction or expansion of the open web. Looking at the constellation of issues most important to the Wikimedia community, this brief identifies access, censorship, privacy, copyright, and intermediary liability as active battlefronts.

The fate of the digital commons is the single subject that rises above and intersects with each of the other areas of research. The commons of the future will shape the environment that ultimately fosters or blocks all of the Wikimedia projects’ work. Thus, this report weaves research findings about the future of the commons throughout.

Specifically, the report highlights growing concerns across civil society about the quality of and access to open knowledge online, as well as compounding threats to the Wikimedia movement and its open knowledge allies. Between now and 2030, open knowledge advocates face headwinds that include censorship by governments and corporations, internet shutdowns, surveillance of users, information monopolies, and troubling developments such as the arrests of scholars and journalists operating in closed societies.

The Wikimedia movement is positioned to work toward potential solutions to these threats. Despite the trend toward a “darkening globe,” some leaders see the Wikimedia movement as among the brightest hopes and most inspiring exemplars of the global digital commons.

The Wikimedia movement has immediate internal challenges to address, including adapting to an increasingly mobile internet, recruiting a new generation of volunteers, and expanding its partnerships with schools and “GLAM” organizations (i.e. galleries, libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions that have access to knowledge as their mission). But Wikimedia and its open knowledge allies, working together, can lift up people everywhere, empowering communities through access and participation in knowledge creation and sharing. Across the interviews and salons, there was a clarion call for the building of this larger, more active, and multi-partner open knowledge movement.

For extended narratives, many more citations, and community discussion of the research, visit the Wikimedia strategy page that aggregates into a single web directory not only this work but also the totality of the Foundation’s strategy process: 2030.wikimedia.org.

The report concludes with an analysis of cross-cutting themes that arose from the research, as well as a set of recommendations and discussion questions for the movement and its partners. The goal of these final sections is not to close the discussion. Instead, it is to set the stage for the next phase of work for the Foundation and the movement: to move from strategies to actions that not only will preserve what has already been built, but also make the projects useful and vital for billions of future Wikimedia users.

“Recommendations for the Wikimedia Movement” (from Strategy 2030: Wikimedia’s role in shaping the future of the information commons)[edit]

(page 31 from Strategy 2030: Wikimedia’s role in shaping the future of the information commons, report written by Dot Connector Studio for Phase 1 of the Wikimedia Movement Strategy process, commissioned by the Wikimedia Foundation)

Do now

  • Re-articulate and widely share your values statements, and do so in ways that enhance the urgency and the value proposition of the Wikimedia movement.
  • Clarify and reinvigorate the relationship between the Wikimedia Foundation and the movement globally.
  • Clearly define what you mean by the “Wikimedia movement”—who is in it and what roles they play.
  • Engage with other open knowledge players globally, identify areas of common interest, and join forces to mobilize against threats to the open web.
  • Take a proactive role in efforts to solve online misinformation challenges and campaigns, which poses an imminent danger to the Wikimedia movement while also providing a strategic opportunity to create greater public value. Ӓ Strengthen editing, access, and submission tools for mobile.
  • Use popular social platforms to recruit new movement members and find digestible ways to share timely content and engage users.
  • Make the case for new kinds of volunteers: ambassadors, futurists, designers, connectors, and others.

Do soon

  • Use Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town to complete a concrete plan for making Wikimedia projects invaluable across Africa
  • Build internal capacity to scan for and respond to major changes in technology, policy, and user habits.
  • Invest in user experience testing and visual design. Ӓ Prioritize Wikipedia’s credibility, authority, and usability in education.
  • Consider and prepare for Wikimedia’s role in moments of natural and manmade disaster.
  • Reward and celebrate veteran volunteers—but not at the expense of adapting to a changing world.
  • Maximize partnerships with GLAM institutions to engage new movement members in local communities.
  • Connect and partner with philanthropic foundations and donors that are seeking to protect the digital commons and advance open knowledge.

Do by 2030

  • Retool for a more visual, aural, immersive, and tactile media future.
  • Rethink sourcing rules to validate non-Western forms of knowledge and information.

Summary of the Chapters Dialogue (2014)[edit]

Wikimedia is a global movement: the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia Chapters and the international communities work and fight for Free Knowledge. In spring 2013, Wikimedia Deutschland initiated a structured assessment of the movement organisations’ needs, goals and stories: the Chapters Dialogue. Nicole Ebber led the project and hired Kira Krämer, who adapted the Design Thinking methodology to the process.

In the course of the project (August 2013-February 2014), 94 movement representatives (volunteers and staff) from Chapters, the Wikimedia Foundation as well as the Funds Dissemination Committee and the Affiliations Committee were interviewed.

The interviewees spoke about their understanding of roles and relationships within the movement, of responsibilities that come with being a Chapter or being the WMF. They described their goals and stories, what support they need and who they think is in a position to offer this support.

The synthesis of all the interviews resulted in an overall picture of the movement and a distillate of the most pressing issues. The findings and insights cover these main areas, which have had a great influence on the movement as it is today.

Lack of empathy and the persistence of old narratives: All the conflicts described in this report are based on causes that are deep rooted and manifested in people’s perceptions about each other that still persist today. Each party in the movement has its own needs and tries to solve issues in its own interests, while lacking empathy for other views, opinions, contexts and behaviour.

Measuring success when exploring new territory: The movement lacks a definition of what impact actually means to it, as all Wikimedia activities can be described as exploring entirely new territory. Chapters struggle with proving that they and their activities are worth invested in while WMF has difficulty providing a clear movement strategy.

Organisational structures: Organisational structures have grown organically without any official recommendation for or analysis of the best organisational form to achieve impact. The lack of a shared understanding about the Chapters’ role and contribution to the movement causes severe insecurities and is fuelling conflicts and misperceptions.

Money-driven decisions: Creating a consensus about money, its collection and responsible dissemination (donors’ trust!) is scarcely possible. The Haifa trauma persistently blights the relationship between WMF and the Chapters, fuelled by additional disagreement about the new fundraising and grantmaking processes.

The gap in leadership: Who should take the leadership role and what should leadership in the Wikimedia movement look like? Adopting the narrowed focus, the WMF clearly states that it does not see the development of movement entities as their duty. Chapters on the other hand expect the WMF to take a leading role in Chapters’ development, while the WMF expects Chapters to be more proactive.

None of these conflicts can be viewed in isolation, and no solution can be developed without a thorough understanding and frank conversations about the causes in the first place. We therefore consider that it would be highly irresponsible to suggest solutions to any of the described issues. Instead, we have distilled tough questions from the insights that need to be addressed urgently and answered in an open and comprehensive manner:

  1. What do we as a movement want to achieve? Do we run a website or foster free knowledge? Why are we doing the things we do, and what for?
  2. How do we define impact when exploring new territory? And how do we measure success?
  3. What is the role of the Wikimedia Foundation?
  4. How do we want to communicate with each other? How can we build the necessary empathy and learn from each other? How can we overcome the old narrative and perceptions?
  5. Where does the money come from and where should it go? Should money be the limiting factor when striving for Free Knowledge?
  6. What movement framework is best suited to fulfil the Wikimedia mission?

The way things are at present inhibits the movement from striving effectively for Free Knowledge. Instead of using its full potential to further its mission, it revolves around itself. The common mission is at serious risk if the movement does not tackle the causes of its problems.

These tough questions can only be approached in a structured and professional way, with dedication and commitment. There is no point in tinkering with the symptoms and finding single-problem solutions.

The Chapters Dialogue concludes with the recommendation to build upon the insights and to initiate a sequel: the design of a framework for the Wikimedia movement in which it can work strongly and effectively towards its mission in a professional way, yet stay true to its grassroots and maintain its diversity.