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Wikimedians for software freedom

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Welcome in the Wikimedians for software freedom User Group.

Imagine a world where Free and Open Source Software is an explicit direction in the Wikimedia Movement and Wikimedia Organizations. That's our commitment.

Join the Wikimedians for software freedom and sustain the right to use, study, modify and share software in the Wikimedia movement, also during official Wikimedia online events and online meetings.

This page is a request for comments (started in 27, July 2022).

Feel free to join and discuss the title of this user group and its goals!


We have strong digital barriers inside Wikimedia. We are the cause.

Who donate to Wikimedia Foundation do so because we promise to deliver contents and freedoms. Who donate certainly don't expect their money to be used to enforce digital barriers, remote control or active tracking. Volunteers do not expect to be left out of events because, to participate, they have to execute proprietary software on their smartphone and computer.

These problems happen because the same "popular" technologies someone use in private, the same technology is enforced over Wikimedia volunteers, and this must not acceptable anymore if this technology try to control the users.

From smartphone apps to websites, from file sharing to videocalls, from video platforms to live videos, there are different levels of severity and different levels of action we can do to improve the situation and avoid mistakes.

Official Wikimedia Foundation documents supporting Libre and Open Source[edit]

Digital barriers and proprietary mass surveillance must be stopped to protect the Wikimedia Movement, Wikimedia events, and protect Wikimedia activists and minorities.

These are all the known official Wikimedia Foundation documents supporting Libre and Open Source:

From the 2030 Movement Strategy:

  • «Censorship, surveillance, and the increased commercialization of knowledge endanger Wikimedia's existence»
  • «the obstacles to participation for underrepresented groups persist»

From the Movement Strategy's Principles:

  • «structures must address for them to be empowered and able to contribute free from barriers»
  • «adopting policies and providing technology, resources, and infrastructures to protect the privacy and security of our Movement participants»
  • «Inclusivity is at the root of the development of processes, practices, and structures for the Wikimedia Movement»
  • «Structures and platforms need to be adaptable to not only empower those who are already in our Movement, but to embrace those yet to join and others who were previously excluded or overlooked»
  • «addressing existing privileges as well as barriers to participation»

From the m:Movement Charter/Content/Values & Principles:

  • We represent a fact-based, open, and inclusive approach to knowledge
  • We share, in the spirit of free knowledge, all of our content, all our software, all our platforms with the world

From the Movement Strategy Recommendations+:[1]

  • «directly address the barriers and circumstances that prevent people from utilizing or participating in our Movement.
  • «Support compliance with the most advanced accessibility guidelines using free and open-source software»

From the Wikimedia Tech Cloud Services Terms of use (also applying to Toolforge), point 4.3:

«Do not use, host, or install any software on WMCS unless the software is licensed under an Open Source license»

From the Wikimedia Global Advocacy Team:

«To protect the people in our community, we advocate for privacy rights and against mass surveillance.»

From the Wikimedia Foundation Technology page:

  • «we design and build the open-source technology that powers Wikimedia projects»

From the Wikimedia Foundation documentation:

  • «Free and open-source software from Wikimedia»

From the Wikimedia Technical blog:

  • «Open Source for open knowledge»

Additional resources[edit]

Community resources:

High priority concerns[edit]

This is a non-exhaustive list of high priority concerns that are not compatible against the section #What we want. Possibly with some background, some recent info, and what we can do next to fix the problem.

Thanks for adding new concerns to the top ❤️

Google Suite[edit]

In Wikimedia, please help us to avoid "Google Meet", "Google Docs", "Google Forms", "Google Calendar", and whatever other proprietary product from Google.

It's not a secret that the Google Suite is in use by Wikimedia Foundation and other parts not only as internal tool but also as primary/default tool to reach community members. This is wrong.

To understand why the Google Suite is a critical issue when it's the primary way to reach the community, explore the section #What we want.

Google Suite Context
Some Wikimedia Foundation staff teams use intensively the Google Suite for example starting from Google Calendar to plan community meeting etc. and that tool easily promotes Google Meet links; then obtaining documents on Google Docs and surveys on Google Forms etc.; it's not a surprise that every piece is connected to each other and promotes the others. Nobody is surprised to see how is widespread this tool. But, many organizations adopted Free/Libre collaboration platforms and successfully avoided the Google Suite, and Wikimedia Foundations and Wikimedia Chapters deserve that to align their tools with their strategy.
How to abandon the Google Suite individually
Every staff member can already use something else Open/Libre if they want to reach the community (some teams already avoids proprietary Google products - especially opinionated technical teams when they reach technical volunteers). So this is do-able right now even without any massive migration. If you are already helping in this point, thanks! ❤️ Quick hints to avoid Google proprietary software: Google Form → LimeSurvey (lot of features, somehow advanced, available to WMF), CryptPad Forms (easy, no account needed) (https://cryptpad.fr/), Nextcloud Forms
Google Docs → CryptPad (simple, no account needed), Nextcloud and Collabora (maximum compatibility with old documents): Google Meeet → Jitsi Meeting, EduMeet, BigBlueButton, ..., Nextcloud Talk: Google Calendar → Nextcloud Calendar (simple and complete)
How to abandon the Google Suite for your organization
  1. Organization statement: help your organization to prepare a clear statement about proprietary software and user control. So, that proprietary software cannot be the primary (and/or unique) tool to reach the Wikimedia community.
  2. If you are WMF: thanks for #Official Wikimedia Foundation documents supporting Libre and Open Source but it seems that - at the moment - none of these clearly states #What we want.
  3. Organization transparency: It would be useful to share how much the organization is investing for the Google Suite every year. Maybe there is also a chance to save money by offering a better product, and not just better data protection.
  4. Organization budget: The organization can dedicate a budget to be invested proactively in this area to Free the organization. Often we are really talking about "small" amounts (e.g. 50-200 USD/month for professional support - not millions...) to get help from professional providers of a complete Free/Libre suite like NextCloud+BigBlueButton or similar well-known Free/Libre solutions widely supported by many independent providers around. The next step is to get quotes from these already-existing nice providers, and compare them. Bonus point: get nice training to staff, get migration support, etc.
Status in WMF about the Google Suite
  • 2023: the CTO confirmed the situation. No B plan in action.


YouTube.com has the same problem of the #Google Suite. In addition to that:

  • YouTube does not support the Creative Commons BY-SA License, so, if we don't put explicit credit in the video description, this can be a copyright violation of volunteers' contents shown during the video.
  • YouTube has technical restrictions ("Digital rights management") for example to impede users to download the video, even if it's shared under a Free license. This is again explicitly not compatible with the Creative Commons BY-SA license.

Premising that YouTube may be acceptable to reach new persons that are not generally interested in software freedom; it's a critical problem when YouTube is the only announced tool to host an event. Wikimedians should not become Google customers to join their Movement; and should not execute proprietary Google software to join their Movement.

Read #What we want for further details.

What could be done to avoid YouTube as primary platform
  • Verify old YouTube videos so that there is no copyright infringement. If the YouTube video does not explicitly mention CC BY-SA, it may already be a problem.
  • YouTube, if used, should only be used only as a secondary platform. Announcing something else free as primary.
  • In any case, if YouTube cannot be avoided in an event, highlight that YouTube is a proprietary platform and has DRM, to raise awareness, and not to make YouTube seem like a desirable technology partner.
    • After the event is over, upload the video to Wikimedia Commons.
  • Help in finding Free primary platforms. There are many of them. Be bold. For example, PeerTube also supports easy live streams (with peer-2-peer, or also without that). If you are not able to implement it by yourself, get quotes from professional support.

Wikimania online[edit]

During the pandemic, Wikimania was implemented with some online platforms that left no room at the entrance without using proprietary software. The situation is improving year by year. Thanks 💕

Talks and Showcases proprietary environments[edit]

Sometime in events like Wikimania or Wikimedia Hackaton we present 50+ showcases. Often, the organization shares a single specific laptop, and all the people uses that. If the operating system is proprietary (like macOS, or Microsoft Windows) or if most of the prominent software are proprietary software (like Google Chrome, ecc.) this creates various problems:

  1. the records will contain lot of trademarked icons, causing well-known problem with the Wikimedia Commons community. Further info in c:Commons:Non-copyright restrictions#Trademark law.
  2. we indirectly promote specific proprietary products and related companies. People may think that companies producing proprietary software are our partners. People may think that proprietary software itself is welcomed, established or recommended. For a real-life example, it's a bit like having on the desk a big "Coca-Cola®" bottle, alongside a set of well-known brand of cigarettes, very visible in the recordings. It's something easily avoidable.
  3. side note, it requires the presenters to approve the macOS or Microsoft Windows Terms of Use. Becoming a macOS or Microsoft Windows customer, even for a few seconds, should certainly not be a requirement for joining the movement.
How to avoid showcases with proprietary environments individually
  1. Come on :D Just ask for help from other organizers to have another neutral laptop without macOS and without Microsoft Windows and without ChromeOS or anything so deeply proprietary!
  2. Cover proprietary logos on the laptop (e.g. "Apple" logo) with temporary stickers, or using generous amount of tape.
How to avoid showcases with proprietary environments for your organization

Add in your organizer guidelines this additional recommendation or a similar one:

  1. for a shared computer: ask for help to avoid at all costs a laptop with a proprietary operating system, during a shared showcase. Somebody would be happy to share their GNU/Linux laptop. Be sure to choose somebody who likes user interfaces :)
  2. from presenters with their computer: propose to folks to, if possible, present with a "neutral" computer, with, possibly, less proprietary parts as possible. Example: we don't expect you uninstall macOS, but we expect you put your presentation in full-screen immediately (before attaching the external monitor), to reduce alien proprietary graphics at zero, or bare minimum. Or, ask a friend, for a neutral computer.


Slack.com is a proprietary chat, also widely adopted in Wikimedia Foundation staff teams, and by other Wikimedia Chapters (like WMDE) to reach WMF.

Slack.com is mainly an internal issue, since this tool is not used as general community contact. But, requiring employees to become a Slack.com customers and run proprietary software in order to join their workplace, is still a problem for the Wikimedia Movement. To understand this kind of general problems, explore the section #What we want.

How to abandon Slack individually
  1. Inform your coworkers that you don't want to use Slack.com - ignore messages from that platform.
    1. Set a status message with alternative contacts (Matrix.org, email, IRC, what you want)
How to abandon Slack for your organization
  1. Do not punish employees who do not want to use Slack.com (on the contrary, reward them)
  2. Help your organization to share a clear statement against proprietary platform chats like Slack.com
    1. Example: Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com) not only announced that Slack.com is not their primary platform anymore in long-terms, but they donated 5 million dollars to a Matrix component. Indeed a clear and strong statement, with an excellent image relapse.[2]
  3. ask for help, in public, to migrate away from Slack.com - for example, proposing Matrix.org that is multi-room, with threads, federated, public/private rooms, strong encryption by default, message reactions, native bridging to IRC, easy bridging with Telegram, modern and fast clients for all platforms, etc. - and libre indeed.
  4. Allocate more than 1 dollar a month, for help with this chat migration.
How to abandon Slack in WMF
  1. See the above section. WMF is not so special :)
  2. We can maybe clarify who is the administrator of the Slack.com platform in Wikimedia Foundation. Knowing that information could help to discuss other solutions with the part who decided this. Also to get more background.
  3. The current status and what was tried before today is unclear. However, some WMF employees, even now, ignore Slack.com messages, and we encourage them to do so, to protect their digital freedoms.
  4. Thanks for sharing info editing this section 💕


"Zoom" is a proprietary video-conference tool widely adopted in official Wikimedia Foundation conversations with volunteers.

To understand why "Zoom" is a bug in the Wikimedia Movement, read #What we want.

How to abandon Zoom
  • Even if you require "Zoom" for some reasons (?), we must avoid at all costs the "Zoom" watermark on official Wikimedia video. In no way Zoom should be somehow promoted as Wikimedia technology partner.
  • Nowadays, Zoom can be easily replaced. Lot of organizations has done this step. There are other ethical tools (one random: Jitsi Meeting) that easily support live streams on other platforms with one click. Before complaining that an Open Source solution "doesn't work", it would be optimal to pay for Open Source support and get better support. It's not fair to compare a gratis Open Source random demo, with a paid proprietary service. It's not even fair to try to pull an Open service at home yourself, and compare that with Zoom. Thanks for your help in this direction.

Figma, Canva…[edit]

Figma.com and Canva.com are proprietary collaborative design tools widely used by the Wikimedia Foundation and some affiliates for design work.

To understand why Figma.com and Canva.com are a problem, explore the section #What we want.

In particular, both Figma.com and Canva.com require the execution of proprietary JavaScript on your devices.

How to abandon Figma and Canva

The free software project Penpot is a lovely collaborative design tool that can replace design tools in many of their known usages. Try it please.

You can use your position in your organization to request an official adoption of Penpot (as usual, with various solutions, with or without assistance, in or out your infrastructure, etc.). If you try the demo and you discover that something is not immediately covered by Penpot, please resist, and report your specific need, and help your organization to allocate a small budget to donate / invest in abandoning the Figma/Canva proprietary software in long-terms (or at least, share constructive feedback to Penpot, instead of just using Figma and Canva forever). Thanks for your help.


GitHub.com is a proprietary platform (based on the Free Software tool "git"). Note that GitHub.com was acquired by Microsoft for 7.5 billion USD stocks in 2016. Further details on Wikipedia: GitHub.

For contributing to a Wikimedia project, it should not be required to execute proprietary software, and being a Microsoft customer. Read more about this kind of issues in the section #What we want.

If you are reading and you are Microsoft: at minimum, please release all JavaScript of GitHub.com, as Free Software.[3]

How to abandon GitHub

You can easily escape from GitHub.com. Just adopt Wikimedia GitLab. Or, if you like it more, Gerrit.

You can announce this change in advance, so people can help you.

If you need to use GitHub.com only as mirror, it's probably OK, to give some backward-compatibility. But the GitHub.com account should clearly help people to understand that GitHub.com is deprecated / archived.

Suggested inspirational readings[edit]

What we want[edit]

But first of all, we would like to say thank you to the Free Software and to the Open Source movements!
Censorship, surveillance, and the increased commercialization of knowledge endanger Wikimedia's existence
2030 Movement Strategy, first page

Here a list of requirements promoted by the Wikimedians for software freedom User group:

Plus an additional list of partially-related things that would be nice as well:

In case of any doubt see the #Glossary.


Any event or product, adopted or designed or actively supported by Wikimedia Foundation and involving volunteers (e.g. projects meeting, Wikimania, etc.) SHOULD be designed with Free software in mind as primary and default solution, MUST clearly indicate if any part of that tool is proprietary and, anyway, MUST NOT impede, exclude or discriminate who feel unsafe with proprietary software.

Status: not yet received.
Example: Google Meet or Zoom, even if they can be useful in your personal life, and even if you maybe already have a Google account, should not be used to invite Wikimedians: volunteers should never need to execute proprietary software and should not need a Google/XYZ account to join their movement, and should not need to send their data to an oversea company. Moreover, these links are shared everywhere (mailing list, Meta-wiki, ...) and Google or Zoom should not look like a "spammy proprietary Wikimedia sponsor". Please, start specifying right now, under every Google Meet / Zoom, that this is proprietary and that a standard phone call it's possible to join without proprietary software + instructions. Anyway, we think the reasons for not using Jitsi Meeting or BigBlueButton or FLOSS are futile in 2022 so, thank you for just adopting FLOSS and deprecating Google Meet and Zoom, etc.
Legal note: lot of proprietary services have been widely criticized by governments in Europe and other parts of the world, and sometime they are even illegal in Europe.
Example: YouTube can be used but only as a secondary tool, not as default requirement. The primary tool must be a Free software, like PeerTube or whatever does not require proprietary software on end-users.
Example: software executed on-the-fly from websites must be taken in consideration as well. So, a website with proprietary JavaScript like Google Forms cannot be an accepted as primary solution.
Tip: sometime is not needed to find a completely new platform. You can also simply ask the vendor to receive a Freely licensed copy of the software executed on client-side. Often, people's core business is not in having a black-box software, but in having a reliable service, and so they sometime understand our needs. Just try asking.


Any event designed or actively supported by Wikimedia Foundation must not to require any Digital Restriction Management on Wikimedia contents, as default.

Status: not yet received.
Example: sometime YouTube is useful to share videos destinated to the community, but YouTube cannot be used as default and primary way to do so, since YouTube tries to stop people from downloading copies (even if they are in CC-BY!) and this is a form of DRM. Please, do not rely on YouTube and do not promote YouTube in a way that seems our default platform. Also, please never embed YouTube videos in WMF websites for security reasons (e.g. on Blog Diff)) and remember: Wikimedia Commons is not bad.


In the rare cases where #REQ-FREEDOM and/or #REQ-DRM cannot be fulfilled (for example because in that use case is not possible to adopt any Free software) this must be treated like a bug, and Wikimedia Foundation should help organizational team in allocating similar or greater funds to fix this this bug.

Status: not yet received.


In case it is not clear whether a solution is Free or proprietary, the default assumption must be "proprietary", unless you have sufficient evidence or the opinion from a technical committee.

The Wikimedians for software freedom User group is available for clarifications in this triage process.

Status: not yet received.

What should be also nice to have[edit]


Any online event designed or actively promoted by Wikimedia Foundation must not to require physical recognition (real first name, real last name) and in any case must not ask sensitive data (sexual preference, etc.) in order to participate as default. Moreover, this data must not be related to the username in any way, unless the owner of the username wants so or unless there is a very good reason.

Example of bad reasons: platform limitations (just change platform), statistical requirements (just do an anonymous survey not connected in any way with the username), etc.
Example of very good reasons: specific legislative obligation (for example related to voting), etc.
Status: not yet received.


Here some terms and their definition. Note that this glossary is limited to the scope of this document.

Free software (and Open Source)
A software allowing to use it, study, edit and share without restrictions. See Free software on Wikipedia.
Tip: all Wikimedia Foundation's production infrastructure is designed with Free software, starting from MediaWiki.
The "Digital rights management" are technical restrictions designed to deny users from copying or sharing a content. See Digital Restriction Management on Wikipedia.
Tip: Wikipedia contents are proudly not restricted by any DRM.
Tip: The Creative Commons BY-SA license (in use in Wikipedia) also expressly prohibit the use of DRM.

How to join[edit]

You can add yourself in the Wikimedians for software freedom as long as you accepted the Wikimedia User Group Code of Conduct:

  • ...


  1. File:Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy Recommendations in English.pdf
  2. The WordPress community heavily relied on Slack.com - in this context, Automattic (company behind WordPress) donated 5 million USD to a Free software component, part of the Matrix chat - https://matrix.org/blog/2020/05/21/welcoming-automattic-to-matrix/
  3. https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.html

External links[edit]