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Wikimedia Polska/Gap and Risk analysis

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Gap analysis and risk analysis for the Polish community of Wikimedians - as a foundation of the existence and activities of the Wikimedia Polska Association. Version 1.0 - May 2018.


Creator community is incredible: these people created the top encyclopediae in their languages - they wrote them, they manage them and they keep updating them. Yet, there are limits of what you can ask the online volunteers in the modern world - they are humans who have jobs, schools, families, and other responsibilities; they also have their needs and feelings. Thus, an institutional muscle supporting the volunteers was established.

Following [possibly compehensive] analysis presents: particular dimensions, identified gaps inherent for the modern online activity, connected risks, and possible solutions to the problems found.

The next step is: establishing priorities, matching metrics, monitoring if the gaps are filled in an anticipated matter, repeat!

Gaps, risks and solutions
# Dimension Gap Risk Solution
A1 Online-activity

Creators edit in their free time, using own resources.

Limited set of positive stimuli.

Lack of traditional positive feedback:

(monetary, career building, interpersonal contacts...)

Burn-out of existing volunteers

Difficulty with gaining and keeping new ones


Acts of recognition,
facilitating social part (online and offline)
and games/competitions

online e.g. Wikiwyzwanie,

off-line e.g. Winter meet-up, annual WMPL conference

A2 Distributed organization

Leadership is distributed.

pl wikis created their own rules, customs, hierarchies etc.

Management is outsourced to the volunteers.

Coordination requires effort of the whole community,

especially of self-emerging leaders.

Online debates sometimes visibly more difficult

and heated than offline.

Democratic/meritocratic process can get stalled.

High tension can build up, leading to burn-outs,

lost volunteers, splits etc.

Assistance with coordination

Meet-ups, workshops and conferences when needed

Additional venues of internal communication

A3 Community Health

Lack of direct personal contacts may lead

to elevated tensions among the users.

Lack of face to face contact.

Online disinhibition effect

Lowered empathy in Internet

Lowered quality of participation (arguments, impaired

communication) and lowered productivity leading to

burn-outs, lost time, quality and volunteers themselves.

Possibility of making to the media.

Searching for Human Side

Meet-ups, workshops and conferences when needed

(people who met show a better understanding

of each other, they also have a new venue

to discuss and (re)solve issues).

Appreciation and other good stimuli

e.g. Wikimarathons

B1 Overlapping generations

New generations enter wikiprojects and

need to onboard, oldcomers

remain or leave

WM base on free time: we keep high retention but

the volunteers move on with their lives.

WM UX and values are increasingly different than

modern Internet standards.

WM became increasingly complex and bureaucratic

Being a voice of one, slowly decaying Internet generation

(heavy users starting in late '90s, beginning of 200x).

Inability to attract new people, lost connection with readers

and partners, impaired relevance, lack of quality due to

low editor base and outdated tools, missed opportunities

Blending new communities into old crowds

Promoting and teaching Wikimedia in new demographies

(new generations of students, hobbysts, scholars...)

Promoting a better environment to keep the volunteers

Initiatives to keep old and newcomers together

B2 Values

Wikis have been found on particular

principles, including:

openness, free licences and equity

Contemporary Internet and IT revolve around different

values: privacy monetization, propretriary software,

disregard for copyright or highly tight "IP protection",

decreasing quality and a care about truth etc.

Newcomers not attracted to Wikiprojects

Difficulties to onboard

Tensions, competing projects

Negotiating values?

Values, needs and users deserve a good representation

Promoting wikivalues outside

Showing other trends and demographies inside

(conferences, blogs, trainings, outreach)

B3 Remaining relevant - UX

MediaWiki websites are more and more behind

a regular Internet experience.

UX Gaps: in terms of writing, handling multimedia,

discussion, database search, advanced tools...

Loss of volunteer time (potential volunteers, burden on

existing ones). Frustration.

We can't have nice things

More solutions needed

Passing the problem upstream

(community wishlists, WMF, partners etc.)

Upkeep of WMPL Toolserver

Trainings, handouts etc.

B4 Remaining relevant - personal reward

Over 1.25 mil articles on pl.wiki

Victims of own success? Low-hanging fruits collected:

articles created, quality standards increasing, entry

threshold gets steeper and steeper.

Personal satisfaction stemming from the

participation may decrease, necessary efforts

may increase with time leading to a shrinking volunteer base.

Keeping the Wikimedia rewarding

Novel forms of participation

New personal goals. Appreciation.

Easining participation

Communication of the importance of contribution.

E.g. photo contests (WLM, Wikiwakacje)

wp contests like Wikiwyzwanie, Zabawa edycyjna,

B5 Remaining relevant III

New editors less willing to join the association

Early editors found a need to "unionize" and create

the association. Later members may not feel this need.

Vast majority of the active WMPL members are

experienced Wikimedians (which is good in terms of

retention but a majority of new e.g. Wikipedians do

not respond to invitations.

WMPL increasingly detached from the volunteer base:

not representing their POV and not answering their needs.

Volunteers not using help and opportunities available.

Missing global contacts and context.

Reach out to Wikimedians

Internal communication (e.g. newsletter)

Meeting and listening to various communities

(e.g. Źródłosłów for Wiktionarians and Wikisourcers)

scholarships for WM events like Wikimania

C1 Quality gaps

Quality standards evolve and propagate slowly, unevenly

Many articles still do not include proper citations,

writing or a quality check, or remained stubs.

Multimedia quality highly uneven.

Major topics may not meet needs of e.g. pupils.

Substandard UX

Reputational risk, esp. in mass media, social media

Loss of readers/users, volunteers, partners, donors

Encourage targeted growth??

Support initiatives like WP:PopArt and WP:PANDA.

Support bug hunts like WP:BATUTA.

Reach out to partners; provide good PR.

Provide detailed quality gaps analyses?

C2 Content gaps

Grassroot encyclopedia lacks an editorial board.

Volunteers "scratch their itch"

Topics are covered "unevenly"/in a different manner

than in a traditional encyclopedia: function of

coolness, availability, current rules, community and

some luck => biases

Needs of readers are an afterthought. At best.

Wikiprojects don't meet significant needs of their users.

Stagnant/Declining readership. Limited relevance.

Targeted outreach and content acquisition

(edit-a-thons, messaging, contests, partnerships)

E.g. Wikipedia też jest kobietą (Wikipedia Is A

Woman Too), WMCEE Spring, GLAM editathons),

language gaps, geo gaps e.g. with Wikiexpeditions

pl.wikipedians provided their list of core articles but

ToDo: readers' needs survey would be nice to have

C3 Volunteer gaps

Not only only very few people edit, some demographies

(women, elders...) are even scarcer than others.

As in many other WM and Internet hobby projects,

participants are predominantly male, with a rather middle

class background, usually in the age of 2x - 4x.

[deeper research would be useful]

Many potential editors may be lost

Additional systemic bias and gaps in the content

may be introduced.

Partnerships or reinventing ourselves less probable

Targeted outreach and content acquisition

(edit-a-thons, messaging, contests, partnerships)

Also: Art + Feminism, gender gap outreach events

in Warsaw, university projects, age gap...

Drawback: students etc. tend to have low retention,

work with hobbysts might be more longlasting

D1 Content acquisition - org burden

Physical content acquisition is burdersome.

It requires more work with a strong offline

element, often extra costs (e.g. travel,

entrance, insurance, equipment), planning..

Wiki projects outsource the costs to the volunteers Content and quality gaps due to a major effort required Easing the burden

Help with financial, organisational etc. costs

e.g. Wikiexpeditions format,

microgrants programme

D2 Content acquisition - institutions

Quality content from the institutions usually requires

permissions and co-operation (e.g. even if you want

take pictures in a museum and its allowed, the regular

lighting etc. makes the quality highly impaired).

Volunteer time seldom available in particular cities, in office hours.

Institutions require a stability and a legal entity to partner.

The seek opportunities: publicity, reach, expertise, funds...

Important content permanently missing from Wikimedia

Low credibility, impaired quality and readership

Dedicated partnerships person(s)

Able to run several partnerships, leverage on it

(utilizing expertise, staff, content, venues, connections,

credibility etc. of our partners) as well as provide

proper service to the partners and

co-operate/co-ordinate the volunteers

GLAM conference in Poland, GLAM events, eg

D3 Content acquisition - process

Content needs to be integrated and used:

assessed, uploaded, described, verified, linked etc.

Media files are just a beginning.

Proper evaluation, description, upload and usage are

highly time consuming. The process is a big burden for

both the volunteers and the partners (like GLAMs).

Important content permanently missing from Wikimedia

Inability to use and show the media and data from both

individual and institutional collections

Content acquisition assistance

Matchmaking volunteers and partners.

Co-ordination and assistance.

Tech solutions, e.g. supporting PattyPan

E1 External world - lack of understanding

Wikimedia rationale and modus operandi

remain moderately understood by mass media, users, and institutions

Media Education is limited in Poland, and principles of

Wikimedia are seldom present.

General Public not fully aware of free licenses or models

of content creation we use and promote.

Missing out volunteers and partnerships.

Bad PR.

Public Relations

Reactive: spokesman actions (by a spokesman

or a volunteer sent)

Proactive messaging, e.g. WMPL Blog

E2 External world - lack of trust

Lack of understanding, quality gaps and missteps

should lead to suspicions and some bad press

Wikimedia are novel, esp. for institutions (GLAM, Academia)

and overzealous more traditional media.

People we need tend to mistrust things they do not understand.

Missing partnerships and users, content not uploaded,

not verified, and not used. Loss of relevance.

Public Relations

Also outreach actions, conferences, partnerships