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Wikimedia Foundation elections/2021/Candidates/CandidateQ&A/Question5

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What is your opinion on rebranding from Wikimedia to Wikipedia?

Question received from a community member on Meta

Gerard Meijssen (GerardM)

Rebranding Wikimedia is hugely problematic. It ligitimises the existing bias for English and Wikipedia. It detracts from the mission of the Wikimedia Foundation and it will prevent us from “sharing in the sum of all knowledge”. My platform is to provide more equity to other languages and other platforms that can provide a service to a public. Commons is supposed to be multi lingual and Wikisource has books ready to read waiting for an audience.

Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)

I think it is an excellent example of how our internal and external needs may be different. "Wikipedia" is a brand everyone recognizes, wants to support and likes, while "Wikimedia" is on occasion confused with "WikiLeaks". So in theory, it would make perfect sense to rebrand: easier fundraising, less confusion, everyone is happy. However, our volunteers have strong project identities. Renaming even just the Foundation would likely lead to a situation where the communities of projects other than Wikipedia would feel abandoned and treated unfairly. I personally think that in situations like this, listening to the community at large is crucial. It should be done early, and a genuine dialog is key - with an open mind, both sides. In the branding discussion, I think that the Foundation tried to do too much, too quickly. Also, the boundary condition of listening to the community's decision was not fully explicit from the beginning. I believe that the tools and modalities for aggregated feedback, which I describe in my statement, could help in figuring out the community's view better. Additionally, I think that the affiliates and the Global Council could (and should) be involved in any major branding discussions in the future. Pundit (talk) 11:38, 7 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Lionel Scheepmans (Lionel Scheepmans)

I gave my opinion about the rebranding of the foundation in the call for comments. Currently, RFCs are in my opinion the best way within the movement to get a general opinion on important issues like this. This procedure should be used and improved by the foundation to invite people to participate while translating what is written.

Reda Kerbouche (Reda Kerbouche)

It's not a bad idea but to make a transformation like this requires a lot of discussions. for me I prefer to leave Wikipedia as Wikipedia and Wikimedia as Wikimedia. for all projects/product can be added as for example Facebook does with Instagram and WhatsApp at the bottom after the name of the platform (From Facebook).

Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight (Rosiestep)

I think it is unfortunate that the 2030 Movement Brand Project forked away from Movement Strategy after the ratification of the Movement Direction in 2017. I think that any future renaming discussions should occur only after the establishment of the Global Council (Initiative 24) and be in alignment with other Movement Strategy initiatives (see, for example: Initiative 5, Coordinate Across Stakeholders).

I have an MBA, so I recognize that it makes good business sense for organizations to continuously address branding strategies (see, for example: Recommendation 10, Evaluate, Iterate, and Adapt). It is reasonable for the Board and the Wikimedia Foundation to consider renaming from Wikimedia to Wikipedia because of the potential to increase awareness about the Wikimedia Movement and how it might benefit fundraising, but engaging in renaming efforts outside of Movement Strategy has been viewed unfavorably by the community. I didn’t sign the Community open letter on renaming (2020) because, as the Chair of the Affiliations Committee, I didn't want to tilt the scale; however, I agree with the shortcomings raised and with the ask for the Board and the Wikimedia Foundation to pause or stop renaming activities. --Rosiestep (talk) 21:07, 9 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Mike Peel (Mike Peel)

Everyone knows what Wikipedia is, no-one knows what Wikimedia is—so you always have to explain it to them. I've long wanted to see some sort of rebranding process to try to make things simpler for the general public to understand, and in the RfC I was one of those supporting it. However, any change has to be with the community's endorsement—which the branding proposals that were presented clearly did not have. So I think we need to keep thinking and have a continuing discussion about naming to see if there is something that will get community consensus in the future (and it should *only* be applied if there is explicit community consensus). Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:44, 8 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Adam Wight (Adamw)

"Wikimedia Foundation" has always been a confusing and inaccurate name. My biggest concern is actually that we aren't a foundation as commonly understood: less than 8% of last year's revenue was distributed to affiliates (excluding the Endowment and the Knowledge Equity Fund). But the WMF is not "Wikipedia" and I will continue to oppose any attempt to rebrand using this name. My preference would be something more self-descriptive such as "Collaborative Knowledge Infrastructure", but shorter and less awkward.

Vinicius Siqueira (Vini 175)

I Oppose Oppose renaming the Wikimedia Foundation to the Wikipedia Foundation. As a member of the Wiki Movimento Brasil board, I have been directly involved in the decision of our affiliate to ratify the Community open letter on renaming. Nonetheless, my understanding is that rebranding is not just renaming. With renaming off the table we might want to focus on other more relevant aspects of rebranding, as this could lead to better outward communication strategies. Having said that: any discussion on rebranding should be participatory, in a process of meaningful interaction between the WMF and the community. --Vinicius Siqueira (talk) 17:48, 7 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Yao Eliane Dominique (Yasield)

Our movement is in a permanent development dynamic. For my part, if we have maintained this dynamic for more than 15 years, it is because the Foundation is presented to the world not only as a non-governmental organization whose actions have a positive impact on the sharing of free knowledge, but also as an entity governing a whole community deployed throughout the world. I prefer that the WMF entity be maintained at its current status. No need to make it a "commercial brand".

Douglas Ian Scott (Discott)

I don't have a strong opinion on this matter. I can see why the re-branding would be good for the Foundation and many affiliates as Wikipedia is more widely recognisable than Wikimedia. However I can also see why it might not be a good idea (distracts from the core mission, less inclusive of other Wiki projects, etc). Ultimately I feel it is a decision that needs to be approved or not-approved by the community through a democratic process.--Discott (talk) 13:17, 19 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Pascale Camus-Walter (Waltercolor)

A rebranding is a big change in the life of an organization, it’s heavy and expensive and it must be justified. I have followed with great interest the first proceedings of the rebranding. However, it happened that this process failed. So I just wanted to make following remarks : When working with an agency, it’s crucial to give them an in-depth briefing, otherwise they’ll serve you the same soup as to other clients and this will not fit into such a special project as Wikipedia. When attending a workshop, I immediately realized that the agency didn’t know a lot about the Wikimedia community and didn’t in fact meet people or immerse them in the project to understand which type of space it is. This led to unrealistic and stereotypical propositions to a community that has a far better knowledge about the image of the movement and the projects that a hired agency did. One important side-effect, if there is a rebranding of Wikimedia in Wikipedia, is that it will prevent the Wikimedia Foundation from playing the very role it has to play in the movement. I explain : Wikipedia is a long term project which works. It has proven its efficiency, it is well known and successful. It’s a temptation to appropriate its fame for any purpose. What I expect from the Foundation (and I’m ready to work on it together), is rather to take risks and enlarge our perimeter on the field of free knowledge. I strongly believe we must do more than support existing projects. We have to create new ones from scratch and revive in the 20’s the spirit of the creation ex nihilo from Wikipedia in the 2000’s. Be bold. If you rebrand Wikimedia in Wikipedia, it will make from the entire movement a single project’s movement and you’ll not be able to shift to another big project after the rebranding. --Waltercolor (talk) 10:20, 9 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Iván Martínez (ProtoplasmaKid)

While I understand the branding reasons behind it, it seems to me that in some countries around the world where there have been legal threats', the difference between being Wikimedia and not being Wikipedia has been an appropriate way to explain to the courts that we, as affiliates, have no say in Wikipedia's content and decisions. Furthermore, as part of a Wikimedia project like Wikinews I feel that putting Wikipedia first in renaming does not respect our community spirit' which, as in many other examples, prioritizes building on what already exists rather than making everything from scratch. For these reasons I supported at the time the community letter in opposition to this.

Victoria Doronina (Victoria)

On the one hand, Wikipedia/Wikimedia creates confusion among the general public. Every time I talk about Wikipedia, I need to tell people that Wikipedia is not synonymous with the movement in general and the WMF in particular. On the other hand, rebranding will make all the rest of our projects feeling even more neglected. In the end, any rebranding will cost money, which is better spent on developing Wikiprojects. We are not a corporation that can waste monies on rebranding.--Victoria (talk) 06:02, 7 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)

From a legal point of view, the Wikimedia trademarks are owned by the Wikimedia Foundation, and therefore under the authority of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. However, morally I believe that the community has the shared ownership of those trademarks. Any mayor change in branding, like switching from a Wikimedia-based brand to a Wikipedia-based brand, requires a deep discussion among the community, and should not happen unless there is support in the community.

I welcome a serious discussion about our branding. I think that no topic should be taboo, and that our current brand has indeed many issues and it is confusing, and this is not the first time that some changes are proposed. What we have seen in recent years with the brand project, however, has not been a good way of discussing this issue. The voices from the community were misrepresented, claiming a support that wasn't there (this was corrected, but too late). I am not assuming bad faith, but mistakes were made.

In September 2020 the Board of Trustees has suspended the rebranding process, with the goal of restarting it in 2021. I think this is a step in the right direction, provided that the new process will correct past mistakes. In particular:

  • Changing the names of the Wikimedia Foundation, and changing the names of the affiliates, is a huge change. We should do it only if there is support across the movement. I think that a community-wide vote could be appropriate.
  • In any survey or vote, there must always be a way to say "no, I want to keep things as they are".
  • Any change should be coordinated across the movement, because we are one movement. Saying that, for instance, switching from "Wikimedia" to "Wikipedia" is totally voluntary and only the entities that want to do it will do it, does not solve any problem: any change in a movement entity has an impact on all the other movement entities and on the community.

Raavi Mohanty (Raavimohantydelhi)

Even though there is confusion among the people regarding Wikipedia/ Wikimedia and it's getting linked with the "Wikileaks." I feel it would a colossal waste of resources to rebrand the WMF.  Not to mention the effects it would have on our sister organizations. As far as the confusion on being affiliated with "Wikileaks", it has in no terms sullied the name of the organization. "Wikileaks", was generally seen as a movement for free speech and transparency, and by and large a positive campaign. Therefore, in my opinion, it would be unwise to take any major step in haste. I believe every cent should go towards augmenting the reach of WMF throughout the world.

Raavi Mohanty [[Raavimohantydelhi (talk) 09:55, 8 July 2021 (UTC)]][reply]

Ashwin Baindur (AshLin)

Rebranding would need to be done if the previous brand was found to be injurious to the movement and brought negative connotations to the mind. In my opinion that’s not the case. The movement isn’t suffering because it is named Wikimedia and not Wikipedia.

Rebranding could also be done if the Community asked for it, but its obvious that that’s not the case either. The Community is definitely not unanimous about the idea, nor has any consensus developed. If anything, projects aside from Wikipedia appear to fear further side-lining in name and identity, in a situation where they already don’t figure equitably in the share of attention, say, resources, and facilities.

The idea appears to have emerged in the Foundation from established practices in commercial industry. In industry, rebranding has connotations on its profits and economics. WMF is a non-profit, has sufficient access to resources, has a favourable outlook as regards funding in the near future, and is reportedly on its way to securing its financial future.

As such, it has also not been adequately shown that rebranding is beneficial to the movement in a very significant way than the status quo. The rebranding is also not in conjunction with an overhaul of the system that greatly improves accessibility, equity, new technology, or better social environment for both users and readers.

Had the rebranding signified and heralded a move towards good and advantageous improvements, a case could be made for rebranding to accompany the restructuring. In that case, the Community would need to be involved ab initio, and not asked to go along with a previously decide brand renaming, as has happened.

In my view, rebranding in the current situation is not useful or meaningful. Sadly, a very large sum of money and unjustified amount of effort has gone towards this misguided venture.

Had the change in branding meant large beneficial changes in the way the WMF works with the community and large allocations of attention. inclusion and resources to communities and projects that are disadvantaged in these respects , I may have gone along with it. But since it does not, I am against this initiative.

Pavan Santhosh Surampudi (Pavan santhosh.s)

Improving brand identity and perception is very important for any global brand. But, despite all the importance it holds, our rebranding process happened with several shortcomings. Community consultation and collecting feedback happened hastily which resulted in a severe repercussion. Especially regarding proposed change "Wikimedia to Wikipedia", there are several genuine concerns. For an example, several affiliates expressed concern that changing affiliate name from Wikimedia to Wikipedia increases risk of unnecessary legal battles coming their way. Another concern is from various sister projects, that new entity would undermine their value. All of these are genuine questions and Rebranding effort should start answering these questions .

Ravishankar Ayyakkannu (Ravidreams)

I support the rebranding exercise. Most popular web properties like Google retain their brand name while offering various services. For example, Google Maps, Meet, etc., It makes sense to have individual brand names when they are equally popular. For example, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook are all owned by the same entity and yet have unique brands. But that is not the case with Wikimedia sister projects. As a community member having extensively worked in outreach, I have felt the pain and confusion explaining our projects to GLAM institutions, media, and the government.

Farah Jack Mustaklem (Fjmustak)

I believe the intentions behind the rebranding drive were noble, and can understand it from a marketing perspective. I do not see that the renaming of the foundation as problematic as Wikipedia is the brand that's most widely recognizable. On the other hand, the community that has contributed to Wikimedia projects throughout the years should have a say in any rebranding endeavors. The success of the WMF stems from the participatory nature of decision-making. On the Board, I will push for transparency and more community engagement. Our collective wisdom is immense, and should be utilized in any future rebranding attempts. --Fjmustak (talk) 23:33, 31 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]