Wikimedia Foundation Community Affairs Committee/2022-07-14 Conversation with Trustees
The Community Affairs Committee – a committee of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees – hosted a Conversation with the Trustees on 14 July from 18:00 - 19:30 UTC. These bimonthly conversations are an opportunity for community members to speak directly with the trustees about their work. The Board of Trustees is a volunteer body of movement leaders and external experts in charge of guiding the Wikimedia Foundation and ensuring its accountability.
How to participate
This conversation was held on Zoom with a live YouTube stream. The call lasted 90 minutes and consisted of updates as well as open Q&A and conversation.
Participants requested the Zoom link by emailing askcacwikimedia.org.
Submit your questions
Community members brought questions to ask live during the open Q&A, and submitted them ahead of time to askcacwikimedia.org.
This call had live interpretation into Spanish and Portuguese.
- Organizational updates from the Foundation: this year's Annual Plan
- Board elections
- Grants update: lessons learned from round 1 of new grants strategy
- Wikimedia Enterprise
- Regional hubs: 1, 2, 3
- Human rights
Quick updates - Nataliia Tymkiv & Shani Evenstein Sigalov
- Board meeting to discuss the Annual Plan of the Foundation, which will be covered in this meeting. We also heard updates about some of the Foundation's projects like the Universal Code of Conduct, environmental sustainability work.
- Nat and I are part of the MCDC (Movement Charter Drafting Committee), we were able to join them in person recently in Berlin. We worked with them, that was the first time that MCDC members were invited to our Board meeting. This is all part of the Board being more transparent and visible to the rest of the community.
Foundation’s Annual Plan - Maryana Iskander
- We shared external trends - what the world needs from us now, focused on how to invest more in the movement and our communities
- We want to ground it in the Movement Strategy and have identified the need to look at a multi year approach
- Focus on Commons, Wikidata and regional and thematic hubs
- We had 12k page views of the Annual Plan draft, multiple language engagement, some 750 community members joined the calls
- We will continue to provide more engagement and feedback in the months ahead and please add thoughts to the Meta page or reach out directly to me on email
- Most significant new addition is our new Head of Product and Tech
Hiring Selena Deckelmann - Luis Bitencourt-Emilio
- Board of trustees has been focused on the search - Selena will be joining from Mozilla in August. Long history in working in open source with a history of inclusion and consistent results, required to help solve our ongoing puzzles
Board Elections - Vicki Doronina
- Update on the elections, 12 candidates, they answered 15 questions on meta, reviews happening and voting ends tomorrow, there will then be a shortlist of 6 candidates and then the community will vote
- The candidates will make videos where they will answer 6 community selected questions
- I encourage everyone to vote in the elections
Grants - Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight and Veronica Thamaini
- Grants team launched a new system last year, have been evaluating their new strategy
- Two key main things - regional funding committees and 3 new funds with the goal of better and more equitable funding across regions
- We found that under the new strategy, the funds were distributed with more equity, have given out more funds than the previous fiscal year
- Aggregate info on what programs and groups are working on
- Overall in evaluation is that we are going in the right direction, and need to continue to foster a partnership mindset, with empathy and clear communication
- More information is in the executive summary and we will apply learning in the updates to the next rounds of funding
Enterprise - Liam Wyatt and Lorenzo Losa
- In June Enterprise announced its first set of customers, which is a big milestone, for people to more easily find and reuse information from Wikimedia sites
- Not a surprise, there have been rounds over the last 18 months of community conversations, want to make this announcement as it pays off on what we said we wanted to do 18 months ago, this is the first customers, Google and the Internet Archive. The service being a high speed high fidelity interface - as an organsiation you can plug into every change Wikipedia is making and with the associated services that you would normally receive with a business service.
- Dedicated customer support, contractual agreements of support, important that they are paid for not by donors but by companies that are using the services. Best metaphor - this is the same water but a different pipe delivering the same content.
- Payments revenue model is based on volume and speed of usage, so higher for most uses like academic research, but if there is a mission aligned for high speed, high fidelity access, can also be provided for free. Meeting access to knowledge, catering for those coming from third party service providers.
Q&A on Enterprise
- Is Google ‘paying’ for content? What is it exactly they are paying for?
- The content is the same, but available in one neat package for all the sister projects except commons and wikidata for now. They are paying for high speed high volume usage, rather than going across various API’s, is an SLA, if this stops working, then there is a repayment for instance.
- Different customers all receive the same information through the API’s - there is no difference or special deals. So builds a level playing field for smaller organisations for access to this info.
- Follow up - what is the uptime?
- Very small but unsure on specifics.
- Is there a board resolution around income and expenses for this?
- The Board has an expected income and expenses for Enterprise, though it is not precise as we are in new territory. They are not public, not because we don’t want the community to know, more because we don’t want the customers to know. In any case we will not be anywhere near the 30% of income from this for the foreseeable future.
- Does the community need a contract to use Enterprise?
- The community can access this for free.
Hubs - Nataliia Tymkiv and Kaarel Vaidla
- Hubs are envisioned as entities that can be grouped by regions or topics, they will fill several roles, legal, comms, capacity support.
- Help with local decision making and cross community coordination.
- Key update is that in June 2022 we published minimum criteria for pilots, end of June we hosted 3 online events that focused on discussing the hubs. One of the things that was emphasized was a principal of subsidiarity and self management - people want to have their say on how the hubs are managed. Expectation is they will be supported.
- In the conversations there was a feeling of certain dismissiveness as some of these ideas have been around for a long time - we are now trying to bring structure and better capacity rather than informal work. The next step is to bring structural support and awareness into what is going on with hubs - the criteria.
- 5 criteria reached as core criteria - we can look at them as guidelines so they won’t stop organic growth that is already happening.
Human Rights - Esra’a Al-Shafei and Rebecca MacKinnon
- The team has published a report Human Rights Impact assessment — most recent step to the Foundation protecting our volunteers. Article One advisors conducted the report, an external agency, to understand the human rights risks to volunteers, projects and how we can protect people to the best extent possible.
- 5 key areas identified and we have made progress on all:
- Developing a Universal Code of Conduct;
- Investing in greater human rights expertise at the Foundation, including the creation of a Human Rights team;
- Strengthening human rights resources and best practices available to the movement;
- Approving a Human Rights Policy
- Mitigating the impacts of disinformation on Wikimedia projects.
- We invite you to participate in Global Advocacy’s upcoming community conversation hours on July 28 at 12:00 and 21:00 UTC.
Q&A on Human Rights
- How does this affect our relationship with volunteers and community members?
- We know different people face different risks if you get involved or what you write - so we want to help your understanding and provide support and make sure we are having a conversation to learn from the community.
- This will be an interactive effort, we know things move and change but for us to do that effectively we need community participation so we at the Foundation have these issues brought to our attention.
- I encourage everyone to read the policy, how human rights issues are raised from our work and how creating knowledge is also impacted by human rights, it’s important for us to hear from the community on your needs and challenges.
Any other business - Open Q&A
- For the minimum criteria to become a hub, what is this criteria looking like?
- Some of the criteria might make sense in one place but not in another, so we are trying to follow a principle of contextualisation. We also came to an agreement that there are criteria that we think are essential, two thirds shared ideas around needs assessment, public documentation, and a clear plan about what is being done.
- What is the Foundation doing to protect New Pages Patrol / Articles for Creation from system overload and AI/bot-generated articles spamming the system?
- The Board aren’t involved in day to day or specific projects, we are involved in high-level strategic guidance. That said, I know this issue is urgent to who is asking, so even though not in the boards remit, but I can say a few things. There are concerns for backlogs on moderating content on English Wikipedia. There has been some support from the Foundation’s Product Department for New Page Patrol in the past, like in the 2019 NPP project. These types of issues are really good candidates for the Community Wishlist survey–we encourage people to take these kinds of concerns to the Community Wishlist when it opens.
- Question around tools and surveillance and security on tools such as Zoom?
- For bigger events, like Wikimania, there have been some limitations to try to accommodate as many people as possible securely. But there are teams that use end to end encryption. This is top of mind and has been discussed in the Product and Technology committee on how we can be privacy conscious and how we can invest in this.
- How are we thinking about the tension between anonymity and sock puppets in our ongoing human rights work?
- There is never one perfect solution that is good for all actors with no downsides. We are exploring in the context of IP editing and masking, what is the best way forward, there is an impact assessment between balancing protecting from abuse and protecting privacy. You have to do it thoughtfully, we are always working to do our due diligence because there are complex implications for any step that is taken.
These are valid concerns that have been discussed at the Board level, with communities, and with the Product and Tech committee collaborating with the Trust and Safety team.