Support Knowledge Equity
Strengthen Equity in Decision-Making via Movement governance and Movement Charter. Empower and engage the Movement, support regional and thematic strategies, and help close knowledge gaps.
Equity in Governance: Charter, Council, and Hubs
One of the Movement's top goals in achieving its 2030 Strategic Direction is equity. We deeply believe that to succeed, we must focus on the knowledge and communities that structures of power and privilege have left out. We cannot serve as the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge for the world without the people of the world working together to assemble and distribute information resources that have value for all. To achieve our vision, we must also raise awareness and build trust with people who we need to help us close our equity gaps.
The Movement Strategy recognizes that by sharing accountability, as well as ensuring equitable opportunities for participation in decision-making and resource allocation, we will empower and represent all Movement stakeholders and have mechanisms to ensure all decisions that affect them are legitimate.
In this second year of the Foundation anchoring its annual plan in Movement Strategy, we are coordinating Movement Strategy implementation more centrally through the office of the CEO, with special emphasis on supporting the success of the Movement Charter. The charter is intended to finally provide more clarity on roles, responsibilities, and equitable decision-making, possibly through new collaborative structures like hubs and a Global Council. We believe it is essential that this document has a solid evidence base, and are committed to collaborating with the Movement Charter Drafting Committee (MCDC) to share information and data, as well as the Foundation's experience with the centralization and decentralization of various Movement roles. We believe this will help the Committee to create a charter that can build more trust and coordination between stakeholders to support the greatest possible impact for our collective goals.
As this work is ongoing, we will continue to support the piloting of Hubs and documenting what we are learning from those pilots. The Foundation does not stand in the way of organic efforts to explore these structures, nor does it intend to pre-empt the role of the MCDC in recording and defining Hubs in the Movement Charter. Rather, our goal is to ensure that communities have equitable opportunity to engage in such exploration, and to help Movement organizers understand what is working well in these pilots and what is not in considering future approaches.
Knowledge Equity: Co-creating regional and thematic approaches
In 2022, the Wikimedia Foundation formalized the organization of some of its activities in eight regions. This follows the principles of subsidiarity and contextualization, and seeks to enable the empowerment of local communities. This year, we will build on what we learned, formalizing an organization-wide regionalization strategy.
Taking a regional approach enables us to center perspectives that have historically been marginalized and to support more localized needs, counteracting structural inequalities and ensuring an equitable representation of knowledge and people in our Movement. Our Movement Strategy calls on us to prioritize communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege. As such, while we will continue to work in all regions of the world and support mature affiliates who are actively engaged in strengthening the Movement globally, we will put special attention on regions that have been underrepresented in our Movement. We will continue to strategically grow grantmaking to these regions and prioritize staff for regional and global teams in these geographies.
Engaging in collaborative learning and planning with our Movement, we have identified the following strategic priorities in each of our eight regions, and will be working jointly with affiliates and partners in the Movement to plan, learn, and adapt throughout the year:
Sub-Saharan Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in the Movement, and grantmaking to the region has grown significantly in recent years. We will grow grantmaking in the region this year as we continue to shift funds to historically underfunded regions, though at a slower rate than previous years. A primary focus this year will be to continue transitioning rapid fund grantees towards general support funding to enable sustainability and longer-term planning. A key challenge to programmatic growth in the region has been the difficulty of retaining African editors on Wikimedia projects, driven by both on-wiki policy barriers (e.g. Wikipedia notability policies) and technical challenges (e.g. IP blocking). This year, the Foundation is proposing to work with communities to jointly address the editor retention challenge through social and technical interventions. Finally, we will build on the programmatic successes of previous years by expanding the Movement's engagement with strategic partners in the region, including the African Library and Information Association (AfLIA) and the African Union.
South Asia: In 2022, the Wikimedia Foundation and South Asian communities identified community building and reconnection as a core need for the region following years of disconnection exacerbated more recently by COVID and reduced Foundation engagement due to legal barriers impeding direct funding of communities. The April 2023 WikiConference India (WCI), the first of its kind in nearly 7 years, marks a turning point for the region. This year, we will build on the momentum of WCI, working with South Asian communities to support them − through resourcing, partnerships, communication and facilitation − to host local and regional gatherings (e.g. WikiWomen Camp) to continue to build the connective tissue within the region and revitalize their communities. We will also work with strategic partners to unblock access to funding in the region, and as a result, expect to be able to grow our support in the region significantly. Programmatically, our focus will be on continuing to support communities on culture and heritage preservation on Commons and Wikisource and partnering with third-party reusers of Wikimedia content (e.g. Jio) to increase exposure to this growing local content.
Central & Eastern Europe & Central Asia (CEE): Our focus this year will be on supporting the CEE Hub as it continues into its second year of piloting. We will use this as an opportunity to work with the region and the Movement Charter Drafting Committee (MCDC) to continue to define the Foundation's roles and responsibilities vis-à-vis hub structures, and jointly document what we learn from the work. In addition to funding the pilot hub, we will be growing our grantmaking in the region, though at a slower rate than last fiscal year, and will continue to engage in shared learning spaces with affiliates in the region. Within Education and GLAM, which continue to be affiliates' top programmatic areas of work, we have seen particular momentum in the library space. Having hired a new Program Officer for Libraries in January 2023, the Foundation will invest in supporting the region in this field through capacity building and ad hoc programmatic support.
Latin America & Caribbean: The affiliates of the Latin America and Caribbean region were some of the first to explore intentional regional collaboration with the creation of the Iberocoop network in 2010. Thirteen years later, following Iberoconf 2023, the region is undergoing a major conversation about its future. The Foundation will continue to support Education and Culture & Heritage in the region, including supporting the 2023 GLAM conference taking place in Montevideo, Uruguay in November 2023. Grantmaking support to affiliates will grow over last year, though at a slower rate, as we continue to support affiliates with strategic plans to transition to multi-year grants. Programmatically, we will explore our role as a backbone organization by working with affiliates to identify the Foundation's roles and responsibilities in thematic areas, working closely with those, including Wikimedia Colombia and Wikimedistas de Uruguay, that have requested more direct partnership support. For example, we are exploring a new version of the Reading Wikipedia in the Classroom Training of Trainers Program with an affiliate and a Ministry of Education in the region and advising on a Climate Change and Citizenship course (in the context of our continuing partnership with the InterAmerican Development Bank) to support regional capacity building around climate and sustainability as "topics for impact."
Middle East & North Africa (MENA): The MENA region has faced particularly challenging technical and policy challenges in recent years, such as IP blocks that restrict certain individuals or regions from editing, government restrictions that make it difficult to receive grants from the Foundation, and difficulty engaging more than a small, core group of Wikimedians in the region. This year, building on the 2022 WikiArabia conference, the Foundation will continue to support affiliates in the region through grantmaking, which is anticipated to grow over last year, though at a more modest scale, strategic partnerships (e.g. evaluating an expansion of the Ideas Beyond Borders project to universities beyond Iraq) and programmatic support for the region's Education and Culture & Heritage priorities.
East, Southeast Asia, & Pacific (ESEAP): 2023 marks a momentous occasion for the ESEAP region, as it prepares to host the first-ever regionally-organized Wikimania in Singapore, building on the 2022 ESEAP conference hosted by Wikimedia Australia. The region has identified this as a way to begin to prototype the strategy, planning, and activities of a potential ESEAP hub. In addition to supporting these efforts, the Foundation will continue to support growth in the region with a modest increase in grantmaking. Programmatically, we will continue to support the region's education and culture & heritage preservation goals, through community-led programs and partnerships (e.g. Wikisource Loves Manuscripts). Given the tightening legal and policy restrictions in a number of countries in the region, the Foundation will also prioritize countering legal and policy challenges to our projects and collaborate with local communities to ensure they can engage in their work freely.
Northern & Western Europe (NWE): Historically, NWE has played − and continues to play − an outsized role in the Wikimedia Movement, with more than 30% of Wikimedia contributors coming from this region. Indicative of this scale and organizational maturity, in 2022, the region established Wikimedia Europe, an organized network of regional affiliates, primarily to facilitate European-level engagement in policy and legal discussions. From a funding perspective, last year saw an increase in smaller affiliates in the region seeking funding, with a particular focus on closing the gender gap. As in previous years, this year the Foundation will continue to increase funding to affiliates in the region, but in accordance with Movement Strategy guidance, will prioritize greater funding increases in traditionally underrepresented regions. We will provide resources for affiliates who are interested in developing their fundraising skills and capacities.
North America (US & Canada): The US/Canada region hosts an incredible range of Wikimedia organizations, community projects, and partnerships, but also struggles with coordination challenges and capacity gaps across this vast geography. This year, the Foundation will continue to engage in community-led research and conversations exploring the possibility of a more sustainable collaboration model for the region, and will continue to advise large, technically advanced GLAM partners like the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum, following all the work done in prior years with collaborations with leading institutions. In particular, we will prioritize support to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which is developing a large-scale contribution pipeline to Wikimedia Commons for thousands of cultural institutions, and organizing a Wikimedia working group to strengthen Wikimedia practices in the library and archives fields. As in other long-established communities, we will increase our grantmaking in the region over last year, but at a slower rate, and continue to invest in strategic multi-year funding partners including Wiki Education Foundation and Art+Feminism.
While continuing to develop a regionalized approach, the Foundation will strengthen its efforts to coordinate across stakeholders and ensure equity in decision-making around three global organizing themes: Education, Culture and Heritage, and Gender. Historically, these Movement outreach spaces have built bridges to new contributors and partners, addressed critical knowledge gaps, and improved Wikimedia's reputation and brand. But for too long, their full strategic potential has been limited by a lack of global coordination, enduring technical and infrastructure gaps, and a need for more training and skill development. This is particularly true in the gender organizing space, where these challenges have continued across the Movement for years. To bolster the work of the Movement in Education, Culture and Heritage, and Gender this year we will begin to develop more consistent backbone support for these cornerstone thematics through shared metrics, thematic convening, capacity building, and better alignment of social and technical support.
This year, we will support key affiliates and the broader EduWiki network to unite around a 2030 vision for Wikimedia and Education, collaborating on community-led research and experimentation to inform:
- A common Movement agenda for Education and a shared system for measuring impact
- A plan for a new collaboration model to support mutually reinforcing activities at Movement scale
- A clearly articulated backbone support role for the Foundation (anticipating the forthcoming Movement Charter)
Concurrently, we will explore how the Foundation-initiated program Reading Wikipedia in the Classroom can continue to become more regionalized and community-owned, testing lighter-touch approaches to training with affiliates, and evaluating the program's place in the broader Movement agenda. We will also continue to support the EduWiki Outreach Collaborators (EWOC) peer network and explore how to integrate it with other support spaces in the Movement.
Culture & Heritage
This year, we will continue to focus on Commons and Wikisource, which are so important to this network, and build our strategic alliances with museums and archives to fill visual knowledge gaps and diversify information sources in local and indigenous languages.
- Last year, we supported OpenRefine to develop a Commons batch upload service with structured data that could meet the needs of large institutions. This year, in response to community calls for a simpler contribution experience for photographers and small institutions, we're partnering with the Flickr Foundation on an integrated upload experience.
- To equip our communities and partners to understand and evidence the impact of their contributions to Commons, we will coordinate across the Movement to define the metrics that matter for GLAMs and work with the Product team to start delivering them.
- Responding to interest from communities in ESEAP, South Asia, and Africa, we will open the Wikisource Loves Manuscripts initiative to a broader cohort of learning partners, providing support through our grant programs, technical partnerships, and links to institutions that hold relevant collections.
- We will strengthen the culture and heritage network through improved support for thematic user groups; a coordinated engagement with museums at the triennial conference of the International Council of Museums; continue to support global conversations about a potential Language Diversity Hub, and support to the Movement's first global community convening in five years, GLAM Wiki: The Culture, Heritage and Wikimedia Conference.
The Movement's engagement with libraries is at a more developed stage. We will continue to collaborate with key partners and user groups to evaluate our library programs and develop a plan for sustainable support in the Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and CEE regions where we see the most momentum. We will also proactively support the next global Wikimedia + Libraries convention, anticipated in 2024.
This year, the Foundation will prioritize co-creating a shared agenda for gender organizers across the Movement looking to access targeted capacity building, technical support, and improved coordination with peer contributors and allies. Following initial consultations with Movement actors and Foundation staff, aspirations for closing the gender gap include:
- More frequent, curated and facilitated convening spaces to share work, strategies, and priorities (such as through annual gender gap conferences and year-long active gender campaigning across regions).
- Enhanced technical support for established gender organizers, including for centralized list-building and more efficient messaging support to reach interested contributors.
- More inclusive, gender-equitable and safe spaces to contribute intersectional content on women's biographies and material that women want to read, including the need for facilitated processes with contributors and editors with extended rights to onboard gender equitable norms and practices into the volunteer experience.
Building upon these insights, this year we will explore ways to make closing the gender gap a more nimble experience for contributors, through both social and technological solutions to identified priorities. We will undertake research and learning with Movement actors to map how they envision the Foundation proactively supporting their work, resulting in a co-created strategy that captures our shared priorities for finally closing the gender gap.
The Wikimedia Foundation will continue to support the Equity Fund, which was established in 2020 to specifically advance knowledge and racial equity goals, recognizing the need to create additional pathways and collaboration opportunities for people working on these issues to contribute to our Movement. Last year, the committee that oversees the Equity Fund expanded to include additional community volunteers, with an open call for grant nominations from communities. The remaining funds for this initiative will be transferred from Tides back to the Wikimedia Foundation to simplify and clarify accountabilities, and future rounds of grants will be given by the Foundation until the funds are spent. A report of the first round of grantmaking is available.
The Foundation's ability to work effectively as part of the larger Wikimedia Movement relies on forging equitable connections across the Movement. Next year, we will strengthen collaboration with the Movement by building consistency in how all parts of the Foundation communicate and engage. This will involve bringing together all the staff that engage with the Movement.
In 2021, the Movement Communications team carried out research work to help inform plans to better connect the Movement. The insights included recommendations to build a better front door; use humans; speak human; balance "broadcast" with "on-demand"; coordinate, then communicate; and clarify, connect and reflect. This year we will continue to implement these recommendations by connecting the dots across the Foundation and being intentionally inclusive about how we engage and communicate. Most of this work will happen behind the scenes in service of the Foundation's overarching goals around Infrastructure, Equity, Safety & Inclusion, and Effectiveness.
Regional connections: We will also deepen our multicultural, multilingual communications to build two-way conversations informed by local knowledge. Our regional specialists will build and maintain personal relationships in order to cultivate collaboration and shared understanding with local communities. They will continue to listen and amplify local community stories, help coordinate local and regional gatherings, triage any local support requests, and localize the Foundation's messaging and communications approach. Most importantly, we will work to connect the local to the global by plugging into regional community structures.
Build a better front door: Strengthening our presence on Meta we will build a "better front door" for information, support, and resources available from the Foundation. We will aim to offer Movement members across the world a better user experience when contacting us and partnering with us. We will also work to maintain the momentum with Diff, the Movement blog. With almost a thousand subscribers, publishing just over a blog and half per day, and growing readership traffic, Diff will reach further parts of the Movement.
Celebrate and connect through Wikimania, Wikimedian of the year and more: Research showed us that our Movement wants stories that draw the connections between projects and initiatives and Movement Strategy, and that link local work to the global Movement. And they want stories that reflect the community back to themselves with a big emphasis on celebrating unsung heroes, strengthening a sense of connection and belonging in the Wikimedia Movement.
Wikimania 2023 will be a collaboration between volunteers, chapters, and user groups of the Wikimedia East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific region (ESEAP) with the theme of Diversity. Collaboration. Future. The Wikimedian of the Year program will continue its journey of expanding from celebrating a single individual to celebrating multiple Wikimedians. Further, we will explore more ways of celebrating work by the Movement, from Barnstars to storytelling. This work will look to make every contribution count.
Invest in Skills and Leadership Development:
Our Community Development team will also continue to invest in skills and leadership development of the Movement:
- Skill Development: Growing the WikiLearn platform, including launching a "design your own curriculum" suite of templates, trainings and resources for new curriculum developers and trainers; cross-publication of Affiliate campus on WikiLearn; deploying governance structure and administrator training (anti-abuse); and supporting peer-learning through Let's Connect.
- Leadership Development: We will build on our work with volunteers in previous years to define effective leadership in the Wikimedia Movement and support volunteers to identify their own leadership roles, capacities and aspirations. We will do this by launching a skills self-assessment, discussion guides, a WikiLearn module, and visual diagrams, informed by a Movement leadership development plan and supporting Affiliate and AffCom partnerships. We will ensure that volunteers can access leadership development opportunities enabling them to grow in their capacities to lead effectively. We will do this by issuing leadership development growth grants to encourage people to build resources or develop as leaders themselves (e.g. host learning sessions, translate resources, create trainings). We will also design and implement a leadership development learning pathway.