Wikimedia Deutschland/Movement Report 2018/Wikimedia Movement
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In the second half of 2018, the next phase of the Movement Strategy Process picked up speed. Two WMDE staff members have been commissioned to support and lead the process for the movement, taking on movement roles separate from Wikimedia Deutschland. Nine working groups were formed at Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town, and initially, eight WMDE staff members and volunteers joined six different working groups. Additionally, two staff members took the role as Strategy Liaisons between the organization and the process. The working group model came with many challenges, and some of our WMDE working group members did not expect the heavy workload of the working groups. Also, some experienced social challenges within the working groups in general, especially with the diverse work styles. By end of the year, four members dropped out, one was replaced by another volunteer.
The Wikimedia Conference 2018 took place in Berlin in April, and again combined three tracks for representatives for the Wikimedia affiliates: The Movement Strategy Track, a track on partnership and a capacity building track. Wikimedia Deutschland has now hosted these conferences for nearly a decade, and organized the last four of them, improving formats and processes over the years. This year, more than 300 Wikimedians gathered. The participant evaluation showed a high level of satisfaction among attendees, in line with all objectives we set for this year’s conference.
Since October 2018, preparation begun for the Wikimedia Summit, the reformed Wikimedia Conference. In close collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation’s Community Resources Team, as well as the Movement Strategy Core Team, we developed goals and indicators for the event. One of the main aspects of the new Wikimedia Summit is that it mainly focuses on Movement Strategy and Governance – leaving out trainings, workshops, and skill sharing. The rationale for this is as follows: As the movement grows, we will have more and more attendees at these conferences. Organizing them with two major purposes in mind, (1) capacity building/learning and (2) strategic work among affiliates, overloads the program and causes participants to have to choose one over the other. In addition, learning and training also takes place at Wikimania and at the regional conferences, which are gaining traction and importance year after year. Learning events make more sense at a regional conference, as people with similar issues and regional contexts are enabled to support one another. Capacity building, of which trainings are only one step in an organizational change process, can then continue through the next steps within a region. Strategic work that requires all affiliates to be present should continue at a focused annual event. For 2019, the Wikimedia Conference/ Wikimedia Summit agenda will focus on the implementation of the strategic direction, requiring each affiliate, organization and committee to send a delegate. The proposal for a new conference system is detailed here.
In the future, customized trainings and other capacity building activities should be increasingly carried over to regional and local levels. This promises a higher impact due to use of regional languages and working in a networked manner within local cultural and political contexts. As a result, in 2018 we encouraged and supported regional conference organizers in expanding their conference programs on training and peer-to-peer capacity building.
The plan to localize training and capacity building results not only from many years of organizing the Wikimedia Conference, but also from leading several trainings and workshops at regional conferences such as the CEE Meeting 2018 or the WikiIndaba 2018. Wikimedia Deutschland staff hosted a variety of sessions with a focus on building capacities related to partnerships. The sessions brought together the diversity of regional expertise of Wikimedia chapters and communities on how to better build, manage and scale partnership projects, and discussing how Wikimedians can work better together in a regional as well as international context. We learned that especially for partnerships, talking about this in a regional context is key in order to build possible new cross-country partnerships and apply local expertise in neighbouring countries or regions. For African communities, for example, similar challenges exist in terms of fundraising, community building and communication. At the same time, almost all affiliates are already working with partners in the local context, for example for event spaces or with local libraries. In the workshops we hosted, participants first collected their most pressing questions around collaboration in the Wikimedia movement and then spent some time in small groups to try to answer some of these questions.
Results of these sessions included, an initiative to restore the African hour, an initiative for an Africa Coalition, and a call for more hardware donations for small communities for the WikiIndaba 2018. Overall, conducting these sessions at the WikiIndaba 2018 showed us that there is much demand for capacity building on partnerships at a local level. This informed the design of the partnerships track for the Wikimedia Conference 2018 as well as our proposal for the future of the conference. It showed us that capacity building conversations at regional conferences are one of the most promising ways of building a strong community and fostering collaboration among regional affiliates - which is an important foundation for a strong movement.
One of the first regional conference with a heavily expanded training program was the CEE Meeting in Lviv, Ukraine. Vira Motorko, who was the Visiting Wikimedian for the Wikimedia Conference 2018, and Nataliia Tymkiv, developed a conference program including trainings and skillsharing workshops, and even organized a pre-conference day offering facilitation trainings. Additionally, four WMDE staff members attended the CEE Meeting, organizing several workshops: on Community Growth, (Wikidata) User Research, and regional collaboration in general.