Wikimedia Diversity Conference 2017/Diversity conversation

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Summary statement

We, the Wikimedians at the 2017 Diversity Conference, identified that different communities have different needs, and currently face uneven resources and distribution of support. The following statement gains meaning for each community, in its own context.

Our progress is blocked primarily by lack of resources in terms of infrastructure, access, capacity and people, and perceptions of Wikimedia as a closed community. We understand that other forms of knowledge that challenge the conception of traditional encyclopaedic knowledge should be embraced.

Diversity initiatives should be a key priority across Wikimedia groups when allocating resources in the form of funding, professional expertise, time and space. Additionally, allocating resources for translation must become the norm. There is a need to have more outward facing communication in the form of education, outreach and advocacy.

In order to move in this direction, we must collaborate to support the different needs of our communities. We need to change our culture and our priorities in order to achieve knowledge equity through critical self-reflection. We should critically examine the present group norms and hierarchies.

How to use the statement[edit]

Looking at the statement above, please answer the following questions:

1. Defining diversity - what does diversity mean in your context?

Diversity takes meaning in context. While in Western Europe it may mean working with refugee communities, in Latin America it may translate to working with indigenous language communities. What does working for diversity mean in your context?


Comment here

2. Define what are the needs that should be addressed in order to work for diversity in your context.

Tell us more about the specific needs to advance your work.


Comment here

3. What resources are relevant to tend to those needs?

Thinking about the needs you defined on the previous question, what specific resources would address those needs?


Comment here

What the draft is based on[edit]

The draft statement is based on the results from the WikiCafé activity held at Wikimedia Diversity Conference 2017. It is based on questions with regards to the strategic direction.

Problems identified[edit]

  • Lack of resources (e.g. infrastructure, access, capacity, time, people) (Solution: 2, 4, 5) [21 mentions]


  • Knowledge Gap - Need to embrace communities with other forms of knowledge (e.g. Oral History) (Solution: 6) [10 mentions]


  • How to measure activity on Wikimedia projects (current key metrics don’t align, edit count as an issue of power), placing value on volunteer time (Solution: 8 & 9) [6 mentions]


  • What is the perception from outside? Wikimedia as a “closed shop”? Breaking barriers/misconceptions of movement before bringing people in [6 mentions]


  • How to deal with those who don’t embrace change (Solution: 3) [4 mentions]


  • Government Censorship - can be good partners, or total blockers. Real dangers to activism in some countries / spaces [4 mentions]


  • Smaller communities don’t have the people power [4 mentions]


  • Links to other user groups -Having similar problems but not connecting to solve. Knowledge sharing is a challenge for smaller affiliates/volunteer groups [3 mentions]


  • Communications - Support for multilingualism (Solution: 1)[3 mentions]


  • How to escape/present backlash - Moving margin to centre adjusts/reduces dominant group’s power [3 mentions]


  • WP administrators -diversity content deletion [2 mentions]


  • How to translate abstract concepts from a culture with the language to one without [2 mentions]


  • Engaging wider audience without being paternalistic [1 mention]


  • Space - Physical + Online space to do the work (Solution: 8 & 9) [1 mention]


  • Collaboration [1 mention]


  • Misconceptions about entering the movement [1 mention]


  • To be more flexible when it comes to agreement [1 mention]


  • Cultural differences [1 mention]


  • Integration of humanity and technology


  • Lack of guideline/Rule of Direction


  • The perception of voluntary work as free labour


  • Lack of digital skills due to age, etc.


  • Relationship between Wikimedia Foundation and the users (Centralization)


  • Power imbalance: rich people with resources speak English, while people who need non-English do not have resources.


  • Lack of Neutral Point of View


  • Lack of the sense of unity/Value


  • More volunteers = more responsibilities


  • Volunteer burnout

Solutions identified[edit]

  1. Providing more resources in a sustainable way (Money, Support, spaces to meet) and distribute them more equally [14 mentions]
  2. Communication: educate, advocate, raise awareness, translate. [11 mentions]
  3. New skills development and knowledge sharing - resilience training, listening skills, unconscious bias, conflict resolution [8 mentions]
  4. Video + audio support (focus on non-latin language) [7 mentions]
  5. Global Coordination and systematic approaches / protocols for outreach + engagement [5 mentions]
  6. Collaboration with organizations (not just editing!) [5 mentions]
  7. More understanding (different cultures in our movement) [4 mentions]
  8. Provide local face-to-face opportunities to connect and recognize diverse forms of contributing and communicating. [3 mentions]
  9. More accessible technology [3 mentions]
  10. Cross community collaboration - sharing resources [3 mentions]
  11. Be more inclusive (for newcomers). Create support pathways for new groups coming in, especially if they have been marginalized [3 mentions]
  12. Differentiating diversity of content vs diversity of contributors. [2 mentions]
  13. Research facts + new indicators + create metrics that measure diversity [2 mentions]
  14. Build a stronger power among different countries.
  15. Access to reliable sources [2 mentions]
  16. Acknowledging the diversity (Language) [2 mentions]
  17. Education about power and privilege [2 mentions]
  18. To be more open (internal/external) - Transparency [2 mentions]
  19. Solutions that require minimal budget. [1 mention]
  20. Find common ground, but with flexibility [1 mention]
  21. Methods to scale down direction
  22. New policies that are representative of underrepresented groups [1 mention]
  23. Decentralization of Wikimedia Foundation (Power/Money) [1 mention]
  24. Working outside of our comfort zone (Reaching out for partnership) [1 mention]
  25. A broader spectrum of voices [1 mention]
  26. Promotion the idea of equity [1 mention]
  27. Embrace failure as a consequence of innovation [1 mention]
  28. Tech tools: more visibility, good documentation, adaptable. [1 mention]
  29. Translation (reaching out as much as we can) [1 mention]
  30. Allowing freedom from metrics - setting your own goals, more experimentation, change in policy/attitudes/organisations [1 mention]
  31. We need to create a shared understanding of what we mean by diversity - a common ground to start from.
  32. Small, intimate safe spaces - a social safety net
  33. Make people realize how they are part of the problem, and how they can change.
  34. Possibility to systematically tackle the underlying problems, not only the symptoms.
  35. Reflect on sources of inequity and how to change them.
  36. Accommodating different educational levels, i.e., the same topic for different levels.
  37. Guideline for communication / dealing with difficulties
  38. Set of rules to achieve diversity, the execution of which is rewarded.
  39. Danger: losing focus - solution: commitment!
  40. Partnering with more developers
  41. Wikispeech (support illiterate audiences, minority languages, dialects, those with disabilities)
  42. Oralpedia (for recording oral histories/traditions, including diversity of language and dialects)

Summary and statements[edit]

  • The ability to volunteer is a privilege (“I also want to eat”) - Recruiting new volunteers from diverse/under-represented groups (non-binary, LGBT, indigenous people) How do we include people that don’t have free time? How to reach those who under-represented? [4 mentions]
  • With broad direction we have lack of focus. Flexible Direction: It’s up to us to adapt the direction to the local needs. However, The wording of the direction didn’t invite to discuss in some cultures (direction=no discussion) [3 mentions]
  • Should we incorporate initiatives together? Several different local groups? A combination of both.
  • Make diversity priority
  • Incorporating education trends
  • Accessible language use→ education level diversity
  • Folks still struggling with language of the strategy planning, seeing a lot of their work as translating it into meaningful calls to action
  • 2 stakeholders: Existing communities/Newcomers
    • For Existing communities: we will inform them in advance that there will be newcomers and encourage them to engage or provide constructive opinions towards them.
    • For newcomers: we will help them to learn the community culture and invite them to contribute their field of expertise through a whole journey of user. (e.g. not only provide English training module, but also create the whole package of training, such as Train the trainer camps)
  • Scale of needed change in some cases is huge + will take a lot of time and support
  • Embrace new communities and new knowledge
  • Gap in starting point - some have further to grow.
  • Transformation as an ongoing process
  • Communities can have different problems and require different/unique solutions
  • Scale of the direction if too big? Direction of Foundation versus direction of local communities
  • Machine translation versus new information (English as a power structure) +1
  • Why is it that women don’t edit Wikipedia? How can we help? Share this knowledge.
  • We need to be proactive instead of responsive/reactive
  • Wikimedia needs new models, new tools - adapt to survive
  • Many discussion were still much centred around Wikipedia
  • Language as a challenge/barrier in terms of content (On projects and communication)
  • Not having women in the conversation but talking about them
  • Learn from other open knowledge communities. Working across different groups→ collaboration between people who work with different diversity issues and make it matter to people who don’t get it. Collaboration and communication. Solidity networks (provide help, support, emotional backup, soft skills)
  • Promoting language diversity both inside and outside the project
  • Putting marginalized group in the centre
  • Having everyone in the conversation on diversity adds “noise”
  • What is the connection between diversity and equity?
  • Really strong ownership - still as WMF for infrastructure
  • Less seeing own role - is this being imposed? Is this a foundation thing?
  • Setting the frame for the conversation use. More context, more resource, bring people’s conversation to a strategic level
  • Get people to think outside of the box. Think bigger! Not more of the same, but for where no one have ever gone before.
  • How can everyone/every group/community provide and piece in the puzzle towards knowledge equity?
  • Local knowledge that does not get to Wikimedia
  • Fail early and often → create a better culture for failure. Reframe concept of failure
  • Equity: we don’t practice what we preach (Power structure)
  • Validation of existing work/programs initiatives in the strategic direction framework (backlash)
  • Smaller, focused recruitment (training)
  • Equity is our governance structure


Most critical next steps[edit]

Q:What is the most critical next step in order to move in this direction?

Identified clusters and themes

Here are themes identified from the submitted responses, and the table displays which theme is detected in the responses.

Collaborate to support the different needs of different communities (e.g language), by sharing resources in an equitable way. Change can happen in the local communities. Change our culture and priorities if we want to achieve knowledge equity. Establish new ways to contribute and connect between non-Wikimedia and Wikimedia. Form partnerships Build technology
Responses 17 8 7 6 5 4
More modes to socially connect people, facilitated by suitable by networking, technologies (probably not wiki pages ;)) 1 1 1 1
When inviting in a new group, actively prioritize understanding what underlying assumptions might be in place that work against inclusion. 1 1 1
Collaboration between people who work in different diversity issues, and make it matter to people who don't... yet. 1 1
To learn from other open knowledge communities 1 1 1
Bring more people to the movement, not just editing Wikipedia 1
Learning from each other-> from community to community and increasing confidence 1 1 1
Cultivate an environment where failure is acceptable. 1
Encourage everyone to participate. 1
Isolation is a problem. Before we can build for the strategic direction, we need to first be connected with the WMF and with each other. 1 1 1
1. Common ground and systematic, light weight solutions that require minimal budget - allow flexibility 2. Video/Audio support for reach 1 1
Do self-reflective work on how we are part of the problem and what we can change 1 1
Overcoming hierarchical cultural norms 1
Any direction affecting technology and policies change must continue under consensus model but include all existing diverse profiles. 1 1
Create connections between different groups. 1
Decipher what the strategy means for each community and support each one 1 1
Divide the strategy into sections that are relevant to different audience groups, in order to make it more accessible. 1 1
Secure sustainability for emerging communities, ex funding. 1
Share and transmit the knowledge from the conference to our local communities 1 1
1. Language of direction is problematic 2. Support translation of strategy to ensure participation in phase two. 3. Infrastructure is key :) 1
Bring the strategies to the communities 1
Bring the strategies to the strategies, while bringing communities to the communities. 1
Educate people & governments about open culture, Wikipedia, Wikimedia. 1
get clear on what is needed and then make clear what is available (from WMF & affiliates & others) 1
Implement Wikimedia School 1 1
Understand local communities and include them in the strategic vision. 1 1
WMF to partner with UNESCO or govt bodies to promote cooperation with education system (schools) 1 1
we need more coffee

Other discussion sessions at the conference[edit]

  • The Way Forward session -- In this session, we broke into groups to discuss how to continue working for diversity in different areas of work.