This is a summary of the discussion around the Roles and Responsibilities Working Group Scoping Document on day 3 of the 2019 Wikimedia Summit.
Please note that this page is a summary of the discussion that occurred at the summit, not the views or recommendations of the Working Group.
Which responsibilities are placed at a global, regional, local or thematic level; which should be centralized and which decentralized?
One model: Many issues are best addressed locally, with a global thematic body providing support, training, development. What are the limits of this model?
Do we need a global “wikicongress” for global governance and oversight, that any future Board is selected by? Could this be quicker to reach decisions and more representative?
How should conflict management and resolution be structured across the the movement?
Summary/Overall consensus: the movement needs an entity (independent of WMF) that is dedicated to mediating, managing, and resolving conflict across the movement.
Scope of the entity should include prevention of conflicts (addressing conflicts in their infancy before they blow up). Mandate may also include providing conflict resolution consultative support to other movement entities and communities (e.g. support an Admin in mediating an ongoing conflict). Entity needs to be resourced and empowered to fulfil its mandate (have a dedicated budget that may include line item for training - cover costs of external experts to deliver trainings for those within the movement that participate in conflict resolution) Entity’s staff need to be trained in conflict mediation, management, and resolution. Consider setting up a system with different teams/chambers that manages and resolves conflicts between entities/organizations and individual editors one team/chamber that oversees conflicts between or at the organizational level one team/chamber that oversee conflicts between or at the individual editor level Consider reviewing the causes of past conflicts to help predict future conflicts and determine fit-for-purpose processes for management and resolution (current inventory shows conflicts were due to money, personalities, power/governance issues, staff vs. volunteer perspectives etc.)
What is the optimal composition of the conflict resolution body? Who or how should this be determined? Should there be a division of “power”, i.e., one group that develops the rules and process (including consequences/judgements) for conflict resolution, and another group that executes conflict resolution based on the process? Should there be a definition of conflict that informs the process adopted for resolution, e.g. “internal”/within an organization conflicts have a particular definition and process, and external/between organizations conflicts have their own definition and process?
How can we be strategic about ensuring relevance as we scale, while still supporting the existing editing community?
Summary Relevance = Content: to be relevant, we have to have content in formats that users want to consume. The question should be rephrased to “How can we be strategic about ensuring relevance as we scale?”
This question is relevant but difficult to answer. Consider developing tools to help editors/contributors know what users are searching for and not finding - “red links”. Be open to providing incentives for contributing, bearing in mind that as a movement we have to be open to and flexible about working in different ways in different contexts. For example, paid contributing in certain contexts taking into account socio-economic status in specific geographies. Also discussed gradually making changes to the layout of Wikipedia and incorporating audio/video/other format capabilities, and being more intentional about integrating into the broader free/open knowledge ecosystem.
Summary No clear summary for this one
The group struggled with this question, initially pointing out current/existing problems. After redirection, discussion focused on how the movement can proactively engage in anticipating change and preparing to respond to it. Should the movement have an entity whose mandate includes regularly assessing the movement’s ability to and effectiveness in responding to changes in the ecosystem? What does the movement need to adapt to change - a clear process that outlines how to adapt; resources [software, training/capacity building etc.] Consider having an entity that does “horizon prospecting” and assessment for likely social, tech, and political changes and designing processes/strategies for the movement to adapt and respond
What is the best way to understand the contributions and capabilities of the nodes in our future network?
Conclusion: We need a structure that enables us to “know who is doing what (well)” and to share this knowledge as well as a structure to connect and assist different nodes.
We need to have a structure (not people!) which is responsible for “knowing” our people (the “smallest units” in the network), and for documenting and sharing the information about their capabilities and contributions, so other people and structures can connect with them and don’t have to “reinvent the wheel”. For this to work we need more nodes and we need flexibility to support the nodes. NB: Such nodes do not need to be within the Movement.
What governance and organizational structures do we need to support the delivery of the strategic direction?
Conclusion: create a “Movement Hub” structure responsible for making the decisions of the movement at a governance level elected by the affiliates. WMF + Regional Hubs in charge of providing support to the work on the ground leaded by the affiliates.
Structures identified by the majority of the participants: chapter, UG, WMF, thematic organizations + movement’s committees. Build/create a Movement Hub as a governance structure in charge of making the movement’s decisions + defines the strategy (per example). Above the WMF, affiliates or other structures built by members elected by the affiliates and that represent the regional nodes. Build/create a new structure “Regional Hubs” between the Movement Hub and the Affiliates. Tentatively in charge of “reviewing the fulfillment of the strategy” and how to allocate resources (see with RA WG). The regional hubs could be at the same level of the WMF. Its role is to support the work of the affiliates. WMF: body to provide support on the ground. Empowers the strategy. Accounts to the “Movement Hub” too. Affiliates: chapters + UG + Thematic organizations: share the same role and responsibilities. Choose the Movement Hub’s board and the Regional Hubs representatives. In charge of the operational work with WMF & RH’s help. Committees: Would be great to have an onboarding committee that can help new affiliates grow. Body/Committee focus on provide support to left out communities. Body/Committee focus on reviewing the SD.
How and to whom should movement roles and structures be accountable?
Conclusion: While “hard” accountability (towards members/grant makers) is usually clearly structured, “soft” accountability (towards the community, donors, the public) is more unclear and ambiguous. How do we know what these groups expect, how can we measure that we live up to their expectations, and what are the consequences if we are not?
For user groups the questions of accountability can be particularly challenging, as in contrast to chapters they do not have to have a certain organisational set-up (by-laws, general assemblies etc.). Having an easy and clear checklist or template would help to create the necessary roles in this young orgs early on and also help to get a better global overview on the activities/structures of our affiliates (for statistics etc). Currently most accountability mostly goes towards the WMF or WMF committees, but for many the accountability towards the wider movement/community is even more important. How can this accountability be better reflected in our future structures? Generally accountability should not be a one-way-road, but an ongoing conversation. The ways to prove accountability that are easy to enforce, are often not the most useful ones (e.g. written reports). Tools might help to get more transparency and accountability in the future (where receipts etc can be shared publicly etc.).
How might we integrate the Wikimedia Movement with the greater free knowledge ecosystem?
Conclusion: Common values, people and resources (e.g. data) are the bridges to other parts of the free knowledge ecosystem - currently we are lacking clarity on our core values and in some parts of the world also credibility. We are also missing a global map of our current ecosystem.
In some parts of the world, the reliability of our content can be a hurdle for people to contribute. But who is responsible for the reliability of our content and are expert / academic groups reviewing our content an infrastructure that is currently missing? Or would the be in conflict with the self-perception of parts of our community, as Wikipedia has always been created not mainly by experts but by everyone. The UG Wikijournal of Science/Medicine/Humanities already works on this issue. Content partnerships (GLAMs etc) can also be helpful in increasing our credibility. Some communities already have structures that support a wider free knowledge ecosystem (e.g. in Italy the chapter supports Open Street Maps, Open Software and Wikimedia). Usually this is based on shared values and an overlap of people/community members. In future, shared resources (e.g. open data on Wikidata) is something, that might bring people/communities/organisations together. Currently we lack an overview of the relations of the various entities (relations to other orgs, communities etc on a local level) Having clear, agreed upon common values that Wikimedia stands for will help to have a clearer understanding of where and how to expand the network / our place in the ecosystem in relation to others => more clarity on our core values is needed.
Feedback from other groups
Partnerships team: the way of phrasing this scoping question may be too restrictive, as we might need to collaborate with other players, not only with “greater free knowledge ecosystem” or “Big Open”. “Free culture” and “Commercial use allowed” may be not clearly good for a lot of possible partners, especially among underrepresented regions. The Movement is “lacking the interface” - it is usually difficult for other parties to know how they can help us, partner with us. We seem to need a structure “connecting” external partners with internal partners (Note: and that is connected to the question on capabilities and contributions of the nodes in our future network). There is lack of clarity as to who is responsible for what in the Movement (also around Partnerships). We need a structure documenting what we learned, to be able to share the knowledge we have. The group has not discussed if “internal” nodes are in their scope (at the moment it is more about possible external partners)
What structures, processes, and behaviours will enable us to include all voices in our decision making
Conclusion: In order to involve a broader more diverse group of people into decision making - especially those who usually don’t speak up - we need new tools (e.g. anonymous polls) and probably a more decentralised approach (so that not only the biggest communities “win”).
How can we get people interested in participating in decision making in first place? Do we really mean ALL voices? And what does that mean in terms of efficiency of decision making processes? Technical wishlist as a good way to involve community but also an examples for flaws (usually wishes of the bigger projects have the most votes).