Please note that as of 10 September 2020, the COVID-19 Risk Assessment protocol for in-person gatherings is available for affiliates and individual organizers. This protocol is designed to be sensitive to the constantly changing circumstances around this pandemic, and will allow potential grantees and community members to assess their own ability to safely host events and activities. Continue reading this page for more information.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing pandemic which was first reported in December 2019 and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020. Organized groups within the Wikimedia movement have been monitoring the situation since early 2020 and have taken a number of measures to help slow the spread of the pandemic.
The Wikimedia Foundation has created this page to publicly share our ongoing response to the pandemic, offer related resources, and help our volunteer communities report, track, and monitor its impact across the movement. Please join the Foundation in adding information on how your Wikimedia communities, affiliates, and other organized groups are responding to this situation. For media inquiries, please contact presswikimedia.org.
As of 10 September 2020, the Wikimedia movement has taken the following operational actions, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Offline public events (in-person) may currently be funded through Wikimedia Foundation grant programs, provided that applicants complete the COVID-19 Risk Assessment protocol to determine that the overall level of risk associated with the funded activities is sufficiently low.
- Wikimedia Foundation's office locations are closed until further notice.
- All Wikimedia Foundation staff are working remotely, as much as is possible.
- Office locations are being sanitized by professional cleaning crews.
- Wikimedia Foundation has shifted to a reduced work–week.
- Some staff may continue to work their usual schedules; However, current expectations are, that staff may work 20 hours a week, if necessary.
- All staff will be paid according to their usual work schedules.
- Normal sick–time requirements and limitations are being waived; Staff members who are ill, or are caring for ill family, may take the time–off as is necessary, to tend to themselves or their families.
- Members of our communities continue to actively update, maintain, and translate information relating to the pandemic, across each of our projects and in dozens of languages.
Global resources and information
Working and meeting remotely
Helpful steps to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus
- Sanitize yourself by cleaning your hands often, by either using soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds, or using a hand sanitizer consisting of 80% alcohol.
- Always cover your mouth when you sneeze, cough and yawn. Viruses can likely be spread elsewhere from little droplets of cough/sneeze.
- Maintain a safe and secure distance from other people, at least 2 meters (6 feet) from others.
- Refrain from touching parts of your body and your face and any other objects surrounding you.
- Everyone is encouraged to stay at home, you should only go when something is important to you. If you either have illnesses, such as fever, cough, headache and diarrhea, or have symptoms of COVID-19, you should immediately head to the nearest hospital if possible.
- If you have an essential task, and must leave your home to go somewhere, don't forget to bring a face mask or any type of face shield with you, and wear it.
- Maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle, by exercising and doing yoga on a regular basis, and also eating and drinking healthy meals, such as fruits, vegetables and vitamin-C.
- Sanitize your home by cleaning the floor and other surfaces on a regular basis using disinfecting tissues.
Please post any information on how Wikimedia projects are responding or how outside efforts are utilizing information from Wikimedia.
- Phabricator: COVID-19 tag
- English Wikipedia
- Macedonian Wikipedia
- Initiative: #ОстаниДома и уредувај ја Википедија!
- Article: COVID-19 pandemic
Utilizing Wikimedia data
- Google's map of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Utilizing English Wikipedia's 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic article
Wikimedia Foundation messages
As of 24 March 2020, the Wikimedia Foundation has publicly shared these messages regarding the COVID-19 pandemic:
- 10 September 2020: Introducing a new risk assessment tool and guidelines for in person gatherings
- 24 March 2020: Update on Wikimedia conference grants
- 18 March 2020: Postponing Wikimania Bangkok until 2021
- 15 March 2020: People First: Wikimedia’s Response to COVID-19
- 14 March 2020: Lightening the load and preparing for the future
- 12 March 2020: Wikimedia Foundation Grants for public events
- 12 March 2020: Joint Statement of the ESEAP Wikimania Organizing Team and Wikimania Steering Committee on COVID-19
- 6 March 2020: Wikimedia Foundation will close San Francisco office and encourage remote work for March 2020 amidst COVID-19 concerns
- Education team's response to COVID-19
- Wikimedia Foundation joins the Education Global Coalition
Information from movement affiliates and organized groups
Please post any announcements or information from Wikimedia movement affiliates or recognized groups.
- West Bengal Wikimedians User Group: All offline activities and projects organized and/or supported by the user group were suspended, effective from March 13, 2020 until September 15, 2020 (or until further notice).
- Wikimedia Bangladesh: To prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the health and safety of the members of the Wikimedia community, all offline activities (meetups, workshops, seminars) and in-person public events related to Wikimedia Bangladesh and its sub-regional communities have been suspended until further notice, effective from March 14, 2020. Simultaneously, the Bangla Wikipedia Annual Conference which was scheduled next April has been canceled.
- Hong Kong: All offline activities and projects organized by the user group were suspended, effective from 3 February, 2020 until further notice. Supported activities would be under discretion of the organizer. WikiEDU in HK is unaffected. Local organizers will contact respective organizations for updates related to WikiEDU in HK.
- Wikimedia España: All offline activities, including our annual assembly, are cancelled or postponed from 10 March 2020 until further notice, due to COVID-19 crisis in Spain. Volunteers, staff and broader community are encouraged to stay home, take care of themselves and edit Wikipedia or any of their sister projects through this Wikipedia page.
- Wikimedians of the Levant: All offline activities are suspended effectively from 20 March 2020 and until further notice. Editing workshops will be conducted online, while Education Program celebrations will be reduced to certificiate awards. The Annual Grant Plan will be revised in March through April to accommodate funding that is more relevant to the current circumstances (e.g. internet stipends). Online meetings will be held regularly on a monthly basis.
- Wikimedia Norge: Wikimedia Norge cancelled all travels, events and physical meetings effective from 12 March 2020. Online wiki meetups for volunteers will be held monthly. Wikimedia Norge’s employees will work from home for as long as Norwegian health authorities recommend it.
- Wikimédia France: All offline activities and projects organized and/or supported by the chapter are suspended until September 15, 2020.
We encourage you to use this page's talk page to discuss what you and your affiliate or organized group needs during this time. Information on potential assistance for needs identified in those discussions will be shared here.
Frequently asked questions
What is being done about Wikimania?
Wikimania Bangkok is postponed until 2021. The hotel and venue will remain the same. There are no plans by the 2020 Wikimania hosts to organize a virtual, online event.
It was decided that Wikimania 2021 was to be held virtually. This took place on the 14th to 17th of August. The program can be seen here.
Are there recommendations extending beyond grant recipients?
The Wikimedia Foundation encourages everyone in the Wikimedia movement to consider how their planned activities, especially events, may impact the potential spread of COVID-19. While we are requiring that grant funds not be used for these events, we are strongly encouraging all affiliates and organized groups to similarly cancel or postpone any events they have scheduled between now and 15 September 2020 until the World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 pandemic over.
What about planned Wikimedia Foundation events?
All Wikimedia Foundation travel has been suspended until at least 1 June 2020. All events, off-sites, and in-person gatherings scheduled before 15 September 2020 for Wikimedia Foundation staff and contractors, Board, and fundraising have been postponed or cancelled.
What is happening with the Wikimedia Foundation's current programs and plans?
The Wikimedia Foundation Leadership Team is reviewing all work for the Wikimedia Foundation and attempting to postpone or put on hold all non-essential work pending further assessment of the situation. We are aware that the needs and obligations of the Foundation may shift dramatically in the coming weeks and potentially months. We are taking this step in order to free up capacity and provide the necessary flexibility to address whatever demands may arise and ensure the public has access to the knowledge that can help everyone in these uncertain times. We are not abandoning any longterm commitments or goals. We will return to them and adjust our timelines accordingly as soon as the current situation allows.
How will the Wikimedia Foundation working 20 hours a week work?
We are only asking people to commit to working 50 percent of their normal hours. This is not a holiday. If people are able to work more normal hours, our mission needs them. But we are not tracking their time. We trust that people will give the time they can.
Why? We knew schools would be closing around the world, and a childcare stipend will not help when caregivers are unable to leave their homes. It is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect someone to be fully present, eight hours a day, when they have a three-year-old with crayons drawing on the wall, or an elderly parent who needs help navigating the stairs. We all have loved ones who need care, groceries that need purchasing, doctor’s appointments to keep, neighbors who need a phone call. And you know what? We trust our colleagues. People will work when they can, and when they can not, we trust they will be right.
What is the Wikimedia Foundation currently doing to support the community?
In addition to providing support to our affiliates and organized groups receiving grant funding, we are also looking at ways we can support the additional online coordination which may be required to supplement our usual in-person efforts.
The work of the Wikimedia movement is perhaps more important now than ever before. However, our full potential in supporting the world during this time can only be achieved and maintained by a healthy and vibrant community. That will not happen if we do not all take into consideration what is necessary to support both ourselves and each other as individuals. While this good faith approach to communal support has always been a goal of our movement, the current circumstances require us all to make an even more intentional effort at self and community care.
What is the Wikimedia Foundation currently doing to support its staff and contractors?
The Wikimedia Foundation takes the responsibility of care for its over 375 staff and contractors very seriously. It has been a core value of the organization since our founding over fifteen years ago. Additionally, as an organization we have a responsibility to keep Wikipedia online and available for the world, especially in moments of crisis. A world that is changing requires changing how we work. In order to care for our staff and contractors as well as adapt to change as needed in the weeks and months ahead, we have taken a series of steps:
- We are accepting that we must adapt to evolving circumstances. The old normal is gone, and trying to make reality conform to last week or last month is not helpful or productive. We are filing away our careful annual planning, OKRs, and roadmaps. Trying to keep up with them is a recipe for stress and uncertainty, none of which help right now.
- We are focusing on the most mission-critical work. Wikipedia is a website, but Wikimedia is a community. There’s a saying, “come for the articles, stay for the people.” We thrive on meeting in person, haggling over our future, hugging it out, and closing down every social venue in sight. We have cancelled all near-term, in-person gatherings until WHO declares this pandemic over. These were painful decisions, but essential for public health and to give everyone certainty and clarity. No need to worry if that Hyderabad summit will be on in four months, and what visa needs people might have — we can all focus on more immediate concerns.
- We are protecting our health. The Foundation has been a distributed-work organization for years, with 70 percent of our colleagues working outside of our main office in San Francisco. As soon as we became aware of community transmission in California, we instituted a full work-from-home protocol. Our Washington, DC, office followed within a week. Our goal was to reduce staff exposure and improve health outcomes for the communities in which we work and live.
- We are lightening the load. Work is not the only thing on people’s minds right now. Their families, their bills, childcare and school closures, the economy… we are all trying to manage a lot. We want to reduce the cognitive strain on our colleagues so that people could take care of themselves and stay healthy. To do that:
- We are guaranteeing all contract and hourly workers full compensation for planned hours worked.
- We are waiving all sick days, so staff do not have to count or use PTO.
- We have moved to a halftime work expectation.
How long will the Wikimedia Foundation offices remain closed?
Wikimedia Foundation's San Francisco and Washington, DC offices are closed through at least 30 June 2020. We will be reviewing that decision towards the end of June and determining then if it should be extended.
How long will the Wikimedia Foundation's travel be suspended?
The Wikimedia Foundation had previously suspended all travel until at least 1 June 2020.
On 30 November 2021, it was announced by the Foundation that travel and convening could commence again, for staff, board members and volunteers, who would all be expected to adhere to the COVID-19 Travel & Expense Policy.
- "Introducing a new risk assessment tool and guidelines for in person gatherings", 10 September 2020.
- "Wikimedia Foundation Grants for public events", 12 March 2020
- "Postponing Wikimania Bangkok until 2021", 18 March 2020
- "Lightening the load and preparing for the future" (e-mail to all Wikimedia Foundation staff and contractors), 14 March 2020
- Announcement on community mailing list of Indian Wikimedians, 13 March 2020
- Announcement on Wikimedia Bangladesh blog, 15 March 2020
- Wikimedia Community User Group Hong Kong Facebook announcement, 3 February 2020
- Announcement on Wikimedia España blog, 13 March 2020
- Announcement and activity changes on Wikimedia Levant mailing list.
- Announcement on Wikimedia Norge blog, 12 March 2020