The Community Affairs Committee – a committee of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees – hosted a Conversation with the Trustees on 15 December from 12:00-13:30 UTC. These 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 was 90 minutes and consisted of updates as well as open Q&A and conversation.
Participants were encouraged to join directly in Zoom. All community members in good standing were able to participate there. Participants requested the Zoom link by emailing askcacwikimedia.org.
Submit your questions
Participants brought questions to ask live during the open Q&A, and submitted them ahead of time to askcacwikimedia.org.
This call had interpretation into Arabic.
- Board meeting updates and annual milestones
- Updates on the Foundation's current banner fundraising campaign
- Sound Logo
- Open Q&A
Board highlights, milestones 2022
- Hiring and onboarding Maryana Iskander, Wikimedia Foundation CEO
- Hiring and onboarding Selena Deckelmann, Wikimedia Foundation Chief Product and Technology Officer
- Universal Code of Conduct: Review and adjustment of text from the UCoC
- Wikimedia Summit: virtual attendance
- Work with the Elections Committee and Governance Committee on the elections, continuing to work together to improve the process. Increasing transparency in expectations for candidates
- Liaising with the Affiliations Committee and the Movement Charter Drafting Committee
- Request for Comment on English Wikipedia about fundraising banner language in November.
- Consensus amongst people who participated that the Foundation should change the language used on fundraising banners in English Wikipedia. RfC raised many other issues beyond the banners. Update today on the campaign itself, in January we will share a much larger update.
- Banner fundraising represents about half of the Foundation’s overall budget. Not just in English but in other languages as well.
- Messages were adapted the day after the RfC closed. Team has been working with the community to adapt almost on a daily basis, learning in real-time.
- New page on English Wikipedia to co-create messages with volunteers.
- Projections show that we will raise $15m of the $30m banner goal. Will keep trying with new messages every day, hope to make up some of this difference.
Question [not on fundraising]: What is the Foundation doing on the enforcement of the UCoC in communities?
- The Board approved the UCoC in 2020 and the Board has been working on the Enforcement Guidelines since then. Next step is to approve the guidelines and start implementing them.
Has the Foundation considered fundraising in new countries and new languages?
- Each country has to be assessed against a broad set of criteria. This is an ongoing process with Legal and other teams in the Foundation.
- Over the years we’ve opened up to new countries and the plan is to continue to do that.
- In 2021, a brand committee from the Board of Trustees published a strategy that focused on three branding elements: flexible taglines, updated brand guidelines, sound logo.
- Since then, staff and community members have been working together to put together a global competition to select a sound logo for Wikimedia.
- Over 3000 submissions from around the world. Set up a vote to select one.
- Sound logo a way to improve attribution on our projects and raise awareness about Wikimedia. A way to help people know when they are accessing content that comes from the Wikimedia projects.
- Volunteer screeners listened to all 3,000+ sound files. Each file had two screeners listen
Graham Pearce of WikiBlind listened to more than 2000 submissions.
- Close to 1500 votes. Voting open through December 19.
Why is the Foundation doing this now? Why is a sound logo important?
- Audio activated devices are everywhere. It’s a growing trend all over the world. Consuming knowledge and learning through audio is growing. A sound logo gives us a way to integrate Wikimedia attribution into this trend. It creates the ability for people to identify Wikimedia content on a whole range of devices. There is so much data used across platforms that comes from Wikimedia projects and this is a way to credit that consistently, raise awareness about where that data is coming from.
- This project has been in the making for a year and a half. We are wrapping up the vote this year, then there will be legal and copyright work that happens with the selected sound logo.
- This was a brand strategy for the Foundation. We wanted to do this work as quickly but as thoroughly as possible.
Comment: I read about this project on Diff and I read about the experience of the top screeners including the one who is visually impaired. For me one of the greatest things with this sound logo, the visually impaired would hear a sound to indicate to them that this information is Wikipedia or Wikimedia.
At the last call, trustees talked about the open letter on Wikimedia Commons. The letter asked product leadership to think big and consider a sustainable future for commons. What has happened and where can people stay up to date?
- Commons was identified as a priority during the Foundation’s Annual Plan for this year.
- Product team has been posting regular updates about progress on Commons
- Over the past months, the team was focused on upgrading infrastructure: Thumbor 7 and Python 3.
- In terms of thinking big: the team has been gathering and sharing more data about Commons to help us think big together. For example, pages on Wikimedia Commons do not get a lot of direct views but visibility and engagement of the content increases massively when the images are reused on Wikipedia. The team is exploring ways to support this reuse of content, for example, through image suggestions for Wikipedia editors and attribution guidelines for partners.
About the recent Trust and Safety action impacting the MENA region (ban of a number of users on arwiki). This doesn’t just impact the people who were banned, this impacts all of us. I trust the system I don’t need to know what happened, but the rest of our community deserves some empathy. Why did this take a year with no warning that something bad was going to happen? Take more time to investigate more on empathy with decisions like that.
- This is one of those things that makes these decisions extremely difficult. Especially when safety is involved and prevents any sort of pre-warning.
- We published a report on Monday on the Arabic Wikipedia Village Pump, which aims to identify improvements together that would help restore the ability of local community to collaborate together and with the Foundation in a manner that is less disruptive.
- In the future we hope to be able to work together on delicate issues. Because of safety and privacy reasons we can’t completely close the gap.
- One of the team whose work is most unknown is Trust and Safety. Their work is so delicate because they can’t share what they’re doing as it would put people at risk.
Has there been research done on IP range blocking and its effect on emerging countries?
- IP blocking has been shown to have a disproportionate impact on emerging communities.
- What are the technical signals that our communities need to govern themselves and collaborate effectively?
- Product looks at these two elements. Work aims to address these underlying problems structurally. Will not have a speedy resolution but work is ongoing.
What is the Board’s opinion on how the Product team has been working with people on New Page Patrol?
- New Page Patrol is the way in which the English Wikipedia community checks new articles for quality and vandalism.
- The New Page Patrollers on English Wikipedia are a small group of experienced, dedicated editors that rely on a piece of software called PageTriage to support their work. They had voiced concerns about the state of PageTriage and wanted the Foundation’s help in getting it to a more sustainable place.
- Product Team met with New Page Patrollers to identify and discuss pressing issues. The team is working with volunteers on patch review and has already reviewed and integrated dozens of patches into PageTriage.
- The Product Team is also working with volunteers on fixes that make it easier to maintain and manage PageTriage.
- The collaboration seems to be working well and we are looking forward to seeing how it continues to develop.
Can you talk a bit about the WMF Affiliates Strategy and where it is coming from? Where is this urgent need coming from right now? What problem are you trying to solve?
- Affiliate Strategy will be a document of a vision and shared understanding of what impact we want to have with limited resources in affiliate work.
- The Movement Charter Drafting Committee is working on the Movement Charter, it’s still years away from being actually implemented. We need a strategy to guide funding to affiliates in the meantime.
- How to coordinate and steer affiliate work toward our shared goals. We didn’t have a strategy before, seemed like something we should start working on now.
- We are trying to be not just reactive but proactive/strategic. CAC in the past six months has been trying to figure out what are some of the pain points, things that have not been working well over the years, so that we can incorporate them into the Annual Planning Process with the Foundation. Addressing things that haven’t had owners or been addressed in years.
- Work of the Affiliations Committee has been made difficult because we don’t have a clear strategy. We see that lack of strategy creating issues and volunteer/staff frustration. We have been liaising with affcom for three years now. Regardless of what the MCDC is doing, this could inform their work. Once we better define what the Foundation can do with its resources, that can be an input for the Movement Charter.
Can you expand on what you said about figuring out where to best invest our resources?
- We don’t have the answers yet because we don’t have the strategy yet. We need to discover what it means to have a good affiliations system where the impact can be evaluated? That the work can be organized in a way that affiliates understand what the foundation can support with and the Foundation can understand what to expect from affiliates. How that all feeds the mission.
In terms of the independence of Arabic Wikipedia in making governance decisions, why did the Foundation feel they had to intervene with the recent bans?
- Different communities have different levels of self-governance. For example, small communities often rely on international support from groups like stewards. Larger communities mostly self govern but some don’t have arbitration committees, like arwiki.
- That means, because of safety and legal responsibilities that the Foundation holds as the platform provider, we need to take on more responsibility where there is no local arbitration committee.
- Larger communities that have arbitration committees, and they have more agency. This is covered in the report from Monday.
- While there will always be some decisions that, for ethical or legal reasons, the Wikimedia Foundation needs to make as the platform provider, Arabic Wikipedia is invited to explore the possibility of an arbcom or other legal/trust and safety mechanisms that could give it an additional layer of agency.
- Having an arbitration committee or other mechanism normalizes collaboration between the Foundation and local community on sensitive issues.