The Grantsmaking Community has defined
for their use a working interim definition of emerging communities as: the set of projects, languages, and countries where:
- there is great potential for increase in quantity and quality of Wikimedia work, and where there is, locally, insufficient capacity to realize that potential, and where there is an existing active core of self-motivated volunteers, which therefore WMF could effectively devote some proactive resources to support and nurture.
In my view, this definition is adequate but not sufficient, because of its lower bound, because of which already challenged communities could get discriminated due to subjective interpretation of whether they satisfy these criteria of emerging communities or not.
In my view of the Global South, any language community, any project community, any part of humanity which has to overcome additional challenges in any form to access the knowledge that the Wikimedia global community creates, needs supporting. How and when this happens, and priority/forms of support and intervention needs to be done after careful study and analysis, not by rough and ready subjective criteria. Otherwise, we would be creating a class of communities and projects which don't get supported just because we are interested in economic efficiency.
That aside, once emerging communities are defined, how should the Foundation help? The means and forms of support should be examined in detail, and in consultation with community, a detailed, deliberate, well thought out programme of support should be devised tailor-made to the conditions and requirements of the community. Emerging communities need various kinds of help - access to funds and resources, help with MediaWiki and stewardship/administrative advice, skill development, help in recruiting volunteers, access to knowledge resources and academic expertise, etc.
WMF help to communities should come about in two clear ways, in my opinion. The first is where, an emerging community identifies a critical need and approaches WMF for help, which it would consider whether and how to help. The other should involve community engagement where WMF staff help emerging communities to get to a firm footing, and where by engagement and consensus, a program of help would be agreed upon and carried out.
The procedure for help requests from any emerging community should be easy and without barriers. WMF should be sympathetic and attentive to the communities, especially as there is large asymmetry between the power and resources of the Foundation and the requesting emergent community.
A significant part of WMF's reputation depends upon the way it interacts with those who are in positions of lesser advantage to them and it's really important that the WMF be friendly and accommodative and be seen to be so, as well.
It would take time for the Global Council and hubs (which would be given a budget) to come about. Once that happens, emerging communities would have structures within the Community itself to approach. Till that happens, however, emerging communities would be looking for WMF to engage with emerging communities in a holistic manner, without bias or prejudice, and with consideration and equity.