Диалог на сдруженията/ Поглед отвътре/ Предизвикателства

This page is a translated version of the page Chapters Dialogue/Insights/Challenges and the translation is 53% complete.

Общуване

Движението Уикимедия е сложна и разнообразна система, предизвикателство за Фондация Уикимедия, и не се счита за безопасна територия от филиалите. Хората се опитват да направят възможно най-доброто, и винаги трябва да се изхожда от презумпцията за добросъвестност, но се правят и грешки.

Някои от грешките се превръщат в предположения, слухове и "Уики митове". Някои от тях са подсилени от други грешки. Те се тълкуват, обсъждат и понякога разширяват обхвата си. Нови действия се разглеждат в светлината на по-стари, което увеличава нарастването на усещането и митовете: докато някои от тях се превърнат в приети-за-даденост факти. Една и съща тема може да се разглежда от различни перспективи и често, това е проекция на собственото ни мнение върху поведението на някой друг, който предизвиква конфликти, недоверие и гняв.

Това, което прави нещата още по-сложни е, че по-голяма част от комуникацията в Уикимедия се осъществява онлайн и затова липсват емоционалните аспекти на личното общуване: изграждането на доверие, емпатията и четенето между редовете. Една система, която перфектно работи за създаване на знание, не винаги сработва при личните взаимоотношения. Често мнение в допитванията е: "Някои хора, които онлайн смятах за доста досадни, се оказаха страхотни, когато ги срещнах лице в лице". Тонът на онлайн дискусиите лесно се изостря и критикарството се появява много бързо. Обратно, когато разговорът е на живо, много от обвиненията могат да отпаднат още преди "да са се появили".

Международният характер на движението представлява още едно предизвикателство: обикновено се счита, че английският е езикът, говорен от повечето хора, и използван за цялата международна комуникация. Но не се взема под внимание, че има голям брой хора по света, които не говорят английски или не се чувстват достатъчно уверени в уменията си, за да се включват в сложни дискусии. И докато има почти 300 езикови версии на Уикипедия; текстовете и дискусиите, свързани с движението, почти не се превеждат на други езици.

Speaking of language, there is not only the issue of the English centered communication culture. Over the years, the Wikimedia communities have developed their own language and style of communication. The vocabulary has grown constantly, with excessive use of abbreviations and insider jokes helping to forming bonds among close peers. Newbies were given the feeling as if they were clueless outsiders, and not welcome.

Another issue that was mentioned frequently is the geographical and emotional distance between many organisations (WMF and Chapters as well as among different Chapters).

Interviewees from Chapters said that they wouldn’t dare to simply call the WMF and ask a question. What happens instead is “hiding behind screens”, shifting the necessary conversation to emailing and postings on Meta. WMF and WMDE in particular are both seen as very professional players where one “doesn’t just call and ask something”. Personal communication is restricted to meetings and conferences, but meeting once a year is often not enough to create a culture of trust and openness.

Предизвикателства за сдруженията

Много от интервюираните посочиха големия брой предизвикателства пред сдруженията. Кира се опита да ги обобщи, използвайки лепящи се листчета

Въпреки всички трудности и несигурност, съществува една мечта: уикипедианците и уикимедианците искат да променят обществото и да направят света по-добро място. За да успеят, хората най-често решават да се организират. Сред активните уикимедиански доброволци съществува силна тенденция да се сформират групи като хората с близки възгледи се свързват помежду си, за да създадат опора за желанието да постигнат повече от "простото редактиране".

Почти всички филиали на Уикимедия са създадени от доброволци, повечето от тях дългогодишни уикипедианци. Но да бъдете добри уикипедианци не означава непременно, че сте добри мениджъри и знаете как да създадете и развивате организация. И има много неща, с които е нужно да се справите, когато започвате официална организация: нужно е да разберете защо искате да бъде сдружение, какво искате да постигнете и как смятате да го постигнате. Трябва да постигнете стойностно предложение и право от мрежата на заинтересованите страни. Да обобщим: нуждаете се от стратегия и да разберете как най-добре да се възползвате от предварителните предимства да бъдеш на местно ниво. Трябва да умеете да се справяте с планиране, управление на проекти, отчетност, управление, комуникации, оценка и много други аспекти. В действителност, вече не изграждате енциклопедия, а създавате едно начало.

Много уикимедианци се впуснат в това пътуване. Те се опитват да се съобразят с всички правила и изисквания в екосистемата на Уикимедия, както и в собствената си страна. Административните задачи плюс текущата програмна работа бързо се натрупват и започват да тежат. Много от уикимедианците все още се опитват да продължат, да работят още по-усилено, за да успеят. Някои казаха в интервютата, че са били напълно изцедени, но все още са чувствали "морално задължение" да продължат работата си за сдружението. Много уикимедианци продължават да работят усилено, докато не пресекат границата на физическите възможности. Резултатите са безсилие, гняв, и в най-лошия случай, дори прегаряне.

Ако доброволците не могат да се справят с тези неща или не разполагат с необходимите умения и време за тях, те се нуждаят от професионална подкрепа.

За да получите професионална помощ - независимо в каква форма - са необходими средства. Но, за да кандидатства за финансиране, се изисква определено ниво на професионализъм за справяне с необходимите формуляри и процедури. За някои сдружения, това се превръща в проблема кокошката или яйцето.

Както е описано по-рано, създаването на сдружение идва заедно с голямо разнообразие от задължения и предизвикателства, които трябва да бъдат взети предвид. Следната информация не е пълен списък, но показва най-често срещаните елементи, които са споменати в интервютата. В зависимост от участващите и местната околна среда, те могат да се различават при отделните организации.

Стратегия

Учредителите на сдружения и Фондация Уикимедия са съгласни, че е необходимо да се определят следните въпроси при създаването на сдружение:

  • Защо искаме да създадем сдружение? Какъв е мотива, който ни подтиква?
  • Какво искаме да постигнем? Какво означава мисията на Уикимедия за нас?
  • Какви цели и дейности са полезни и значими в нашия местен контекст? От какви дейности се интересуват основателите на сдружението (и умеят)? Върху какви дейности искаме да се съсредоточим? Как да се възползваме от предварителните ползи от това да бъдем местно сдружение?
  • Какви ресурси са на разположение по отношение на работна сила, време и умения?

The deeper they dive into the whole topic, the greater the number of questions that need to be addressed:

  • What problem do we want to solve?
  • Which target group(s) (e.g. specific community, school teachers, museum directors) are we serving?
  • What value are we creating for them? What value are we creating for the “general public”?
  • How do we create this value? What activities are suitable in order to create this value?
  • Who are our stakeholders?
  • How do our activities influence the Wikimedia movement?

To sum up, they need to find out why they want to be a Chapter, what they want to achieve and how they plan to achieve it. They need a strategy. This is not trivial and as any start-up they have difficulties answering all these questions. Wikimedia Chapters face a challenging situation as they don’t know what they are expected to do, what they can do and what they should do. There is no secure basis as they proceed along the way.

Дейности и заинтересовани страни

Интервютата ни позволиха да отделим и групираме широк спектър от теми за работата на сдруженията. Отново повтаряме, тези списъци не целят да са изчерпателни, а по-скоро да илюстрират разнообразието и различието на организациите в движението.

Възможни дейности на сдруженията, според свързаните с тях страни

Фондация Уикимедия Комитети на движението Местна редакторска общност Офлайн институции Местна читателска общност
Обясняване и съветване на местните общности Създаване на модели за обучение Подкрепа на общността, например с грантове, техника, програми Освобождаване на съдържание Разпространяване на свободно съдържание
Осигуряване на глас и доверие на местните доброволци Съветване на други филиали Насърчаване на връзката между сдружението и общността Разясняване на Уикимедия и нейните проекти, пропагандиране на ценностите й Набиране на нови редактори, нови доброволци, нови членове
Подкрепа на проектите на ФУ на местно ниво Оказване на съдействие в дискусии Разясняване на ценностите, целите и дейностите на ФУ Политическо застъпничество Осигуряване на възможности за създаване на съдържание
Съвместно разработване на софтуер Съвместно разработване на софтуер Контакти с медиите и пресата Разясняване на Уикимедия и нейните проекти, пропагандиране на ценностите й
Набиране на нови членове, нови доброволци

Special issue: Target group “Community”

Most Chapters stated that they are adding value to the community. But when it comes to the following questions, answers are still rare or very divergent.

  • Do we actually know what the community wants and care about? How can we find out about it?
  • Does our community need representation? Do they want representation?
  • What do they need from us? What do they need from other stakeholders?
  • Do we want to pull people from the online world into offline activities?
  • Or do we want to help them to have a better editing experience?
  • What kind of volunteers do we need in the Chapter?
  • Do we want to “recruit” these volunteers from the editing community? Or elsewhere?
  • What can we offer so they have an incentive or reason to volunteer?
  • How can we enable and empower volunteers? What do we need to provide for them?
  • What do we want to do for them (rather than: What should they do for our organisation?)

Това са въпроси, с които всяко организирано движение (дори и ФУ!) трябва да се справи. За сдруженията дори е още по-трудно, тъй като много редактори дори не са наясно с предложените варианти.

Изграждане на организация

Съществуват установени процеси и документи, които са достъпни и в помощ на хората при изграждането на организацията им. Комитетът по присъединяването ги поддържа по пътя им да бъдат признати от ФУ. Някои сдружения следват Ръководството за създаване на сдружения, предоставено от Комитета, и в което се съдържат задължения като отчетност, управление и управление на проекти. Освен тези редовни задачи, анкетираните посочват следните предизвикателства:

  • Group dynamics among Chapter volunteers and resultant personal conflicts.
  • Finding consensus and agreement in relation to strategic questions might involve conflict and be very draining in terms of energy and motivation.
  • Splitting tasks and responsibilities so that these burdens are not borne by only a few people.
  • Clashes with the offline world, which has different habits, rules, settings.

Роли

When setting up and leading a chapter, the founders and/or the board consider to have people with different roles and skills in their team to be a key of success. We clustered the different descriptions in their narratives and defined the following roles of success:

  • “The Showmaster”: for outreach, press, acquisition of partners, funds etc.
  • “The Not-Afraid-of-Law-Paragraphs-One”: bylaws and all things legal
  • “The Juggling Queen/King”: master of organising things and multitasking – perfect for events, workshops, holds things together
  • “The Documentation Freak”: all things archive, track record, filing system etc.
  • “The Numbers Cruncher”: accounting, financial planning, budgets, reports, metrics
  • “The Teacher”: patiently explaining Wikipedia, teaching, sharing his knowledge

Revenue structure

В даден момент от пътя на развитие на сдружението, парите се превръщат в проблем, най-късно когато на доброволците им е омръзнало да плащат за дейности, пътни разходи или материали от собствените си джобове. За този момент се смята, че е от съществено значение за сдружението да определи:

  • Movement-related funding: Start-Up support by AffCom, Grants via the Wikimedia programmes: Annual Plan Grants (APG; FDC advises WMF Board), Project and Event Grants (PEG; GAC advises WMF staff), Individual Engagement Grants (IEG, IEG committee advises WMF staff), Participation and Travel Support (PTS; WMF, WMDE, WMCH staff decide). An overview of all WMF grants is available on the grants portal on Meta.
  • Direct donations: Collected by the Chapters themselves, either via the annual fundraiser (WMDE and WMCH) or via their own websites, during events etc.
  • Membership fees: Chapter members pay a certain annual fee.
  • Funding via external grants: Sponsoring through foundations, corporations or other associations.

A note on external money

External funding is considered to be an opportunity to win additional sources of income and to reach a higher level of professionalism. It could provide the desired stability and bring in additional control mechanisms. Chapters strive for independence and the WMF encourages them to diversify their sources of revenue.

What was brought to the table were the risks that go hand in hand with exposing a young organisation with a strong brand to outside players that the movement has hardly any control over. These players might want to influence the work of a Chapter, jeopardise its integrity and even do harm to the Wikimedia values if there are no established mechanisms to prevent it. Could an approach that should, at first sight, lower the risk, actually do more harm than good to the movement as a whole?

Персонал

Visual summary of the "The first employee" session at Wikimedia Conference 2011

The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Deutschland have both been an orientation point when it has come to the question of hiring staff. Both organisations have a considerable number of staff (WMF 180, WMDE 70) – and they are both perceived as professional and successful. Now younger organisations are aiming for the same. And in order to get along with the existing system it is thought to be essential to have staff. At the moment more than twelve Chapters employ at least one employee, ranging from one (e.g. Wikimedia Hungary) to seventeen (Wikimedia UK). Furthermore, at every Wikimedia Conference, training sessions about “The first employee” are remarkably popular.

There are different categories of reasons for hing staff:

  • Too many projects, need of support
  • Not enough volunteers, need of support
  • Lack of experience in certain areas
  • Staff is a status symbol in the movement

Предизвикателството да бъдеш работодател

But hiring and employing someone isn’t a trivial thing. The role of the founding team (board) changes dramatically. To hire and to employ someone requires experience. The amount of work may increase, because the board needs to communicate, to delegate, to explain. In fact, hiring and training can be more work than the paperwork the board wants to get rid off.

With staff comes responsibility. Chapter founders are not “only” volunteers and board members anymore, but they are employers and managers (besides being editors, photographers, committee members and having a job, university, family on top). They need to provide leadership, purpose and advice. From having an executive role and running all activities and administration, they are supposed to move towards more of a governance, strategy-driven role, supervising the staff without interfering in their daily business. This is a huge challenge and no small wonder that so many active board members struggle with over-working and burn-out.

Questions therefore need to be addressed: Are we ready for this? Do we really need staff? Why do we need staff? What do we expect from staff? Are we ready to take the responsibility?

Sometimes the situation requires even more sensitivity: when a board member becomes a staff member. For them, almost their entire life becomes centred around Wikimedia and Wikimedia: friends, boss, colleagues, projects. On top of that, conflict of interest issues need to be handled especially carefully and a “club of friends” might not always be the best and controllable basis for professional cooperation.

Type of staff

Not all Chapters start with hiring an Executive Director. To get the best-possible professional support, they need to work out what type of staff best meet their initial demands:

  • Office manager
  • Executive Director
  • Project manager
  • Community support
  • Consultant for financial issues or projects

It depends on the individual needs and goals of a Chapter and should be planned carefully.

One question which is quite common among Wikimedians is: “How many edits do you have?” It results in reflection upon whether external people are a good fit for Wikimedia organisations. But what if having experience in running a non-governmental organisation is more important for a specific challenge than being a long-standing editor? On the other hand, as a WMF staff member describes it: “Editing equals getting credit. My Wikipedia instinct helps me in my job. I know exactly what’s accepted and what not.”

The criticism is made that many Chapter boards are “too closed”, only approving members who are active editors. Some people claim that it would be a healthy balance to include external people with beneficial qualifications on the board. On the other hand, it requires good alignment of strategic goals and values to create a strong and smoothly working board.

How to attract the right talent? This is an issue for every organisation in the world and so it is for Chapters. In order to attract skilled people who fit with Wikimedia values, they need to know how to become self-aware, how to create an image of themselves and how to communicate it properly towards others.

What are the staff supposed to do?

Closely connected with the question about the role of employees is the question of the tasks they are going to be assigned. This is particularly tricky, as most of the work has previously been done by volunteers.

Some board members consider staff as a chance to “give away boring tasks and to free up precious volunteer time”. After all, volunteer time is the scarce resource of the movement and the biggest worry is the lack of volunteers. “For the cool stuff, volunteers will jump in and help. For the boring stuff, no one wants to do it.” On the other hand, employees need to have a purpose for their job and interesting tasks. Several questions arise:

  • Is there a risk that staff will take away the “cool stuff” from volunteers?
  • Which tasks can be better done by volunteers?
  • Which tasks need a professional approach and are better handled by staff?
  • What is the right approach: staff producing ideas and volunteers implementing them or volunteers producing ideas and staff implementing them/providing support?

If there are not enough volunteers and not enough activities, it can be helpful to hire a motivated person who creates some momentum and runs events or programmes that attract new volunteers. On the other hand, it is considered more valuable if volunteers create their own activities and programmes and staff are only used for administrative tasks.

Several Chapters also reported that they were confronted with the question: Volunteers are proud of having achieved so much with only volunteer-power, so why do you need paid staff now? Staff members even reported suspicion towards them when they first arrived in the Chapter.

Конфликти между съвет и служители

Many board members struggle with expectations management towards their (first) employee(s). They need to clearly split tasks and responsibilities:

  • “We want our employee to do all the administrative work.”
  • “Staff is for support. For tasks that no one else wants to do.”
  • “When you pay someone, you can tell them what to do and they have to do it.”
  • “You can’t demand things from a volunteer, but you can and have to demand things from staff.”

срещу:

  • “My board thought I’m an office manager. But I was hired as an Executive Director.”
  • “I don’t feel supported by my board.”

The transition is hard for many board members: Wikipedians of the project’s early days stated that it’s not easy for them to let go of their beloved tasks:

  • “We are involved in projects as we know what works and what not.”
  • “We are driving the projects, after all this has been created by us.”

срещу:

  • “My board lacks strategic thinking.”
  • “My board still wants to participate in the day-to-day business. But they are supposed to rather think about strategy and leaving the operational tasks to me.”
  • “I spend too much time developing my board.”
  • “Some board members can’t separate their personal from their professional views - it’s unprofessional.”

It’s a long process for boards to find their new role, to find a balance between control and trust and to establish a good information flow:

  • “I want to know exactly what’s going on.”
  • “My staff isn’t reporting quick enough.”

срещу:

  • “I need some space and freedom for the operative tasks.”
  • “I don’t have the capacity to report every single detail.”
  • “I have seven bosses.”

To sum this up, many people are quite frustrated with the internal controversies and power games and seem to be stuck in the established environments. When speaking to those interview partners who are also familiar with other movements or organisations, they all pointed out that these debates are not new or unique and that in the NGO world, the relations between paid staff and volunteers are always one of the most tricky issues.

Млади професионалисти

But then again, there are always two sides to the same coin: young organisations depend heavily on personalities, their characters and thematic preferences. But personal passion and the board’s interest might interfere with the essential first step of creating a comprehensive strategy. Accommodating individual characters into processes and the organisation is tricky. How can Chapters balance the motivation to do cool stuff while ensuring that the organisation is built up in a proper way, step by step?

When starting a Chapter, people are pulled into different activities and administrative tasks which leave them with no time “to stop the machine and think about strategy”. One way to reduce this risk is to follow the paths of the older organisations. But newcomers might want to try out new things and find their own ways. Should they go through all those challenges and be bold, or should they learn from other organisations’ mistakes and benefit from their experience?

It’s a delicate path: an organisation needs to go from being an independent, spontaneously formed and motivated group of people who want to follow their passion to being a solid organisation with a clear purpose, operating in a professional environment and thriving with programs and projects. How can a Chapter remain volunteer driven but become professional?

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