Grants:PEG/Consumer Reports/Wikipedian in Residence

This submission to the Wikimedia Foundation Grants Program was funded in the fiscal year 2011-12. This is a grant to an organization.

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Legal name of organization or individual requesting this grant
Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.
For organizations: Are you a for-profit entity? No
For organizations: If non-profit (US) or equivalent (outside the US) status is available in your country, do you have or are you pursuing such status (please be specific): Yes
Grant contact name
Pete Forsyth
Grant contact username or email
Grant contact title (position)
Consultant to Consumer Reports
Project lead name
Tara Montgomery
Project lead title (position), if any
Director, Health Partnerships & Impact
Full project name
Wikipedian in Residence at Consumer Reports
Amount requested in USD or local currency (USD will be assumed if no other currency is specified)
Provisional target start date
April 2012
Provisional completion date
September 2012

Budget breakdown edit

$1000/month for two Wikipedian in Residence positions, each running for three months (consecutively), to supplement $3000/month to be supplied by Consumer Reports.

Total grant request is for $6,000

Assuming this grant is approved, the Wikipedians in Residence would each earn $4000/month for three months.

Project scope and list of activities edit

Consumer Reports will be recruiting two Wikipedians in Residence, to serve sequentially (one position from April to June, and a second from July to September).

Background edit

Please note, the core activities of the Wikipedians in Residence, described in this section, will have funding from Consumer Reports; this information is intended to provide context.

The resident's main purpose will be providing Wikipedia expertise within a Consumer Reports initiative built around the Choosing Wisely project. Choosing Wisely is independent of Wikipedia; its purpose is to evaluate scientific information and deliberate the best ways to present it on the web. It will engage medical experts and others, to evaluate the value of medical procedures that are heavily prescribed. It is an exploration of conflicts of interest within the medical field, and their impact on the information available to the general public. (This page, on one of the objectives of the funding organization for the broader project, may be useful in understanding Choosing Wisely: [1]) The project will engage a number (currently nine, perhaps more) of medical associations, whose members (doctors and researchers) are exploring the value of medical procedures. Each association will produce several reports (intended for a technical audience, and based in published, peer-reviewed research) specific to its field.

The primary objective of the Wikipedian in Residence will be to facilitate learning and collaboration between their stakeholders and Wikipedians: to help Wikipedians engage with the project and provide insights into presenting complex and useful information in ways that honor the Wikipedia policies and culture, and to help Consumer Reports and the medical associations' members learn from Wikipedians about processing complex information in a collaborative and open online working environment. The value and credibility of the project will hinge on its transparency: is the interpretation of relevant science accurate, fair, neutral? Properly disclosed? Wikipedians have important expertise and experience to share in this area.

The Wikipedian in Residence will work to connect the staff of Consumer Reports and the partner medical associations with Wikipedians, facilitating learning in both directions, and surfacing opportunities to add factual information to Wikipedia articles. This will involve the use of WikiProjects, but the Resident's opinions on how to go about that (what projects to engage) will be needed before we know exactly what WikiProject(s). The central purpose of the residency is to explore the interface between experts and Wikipedians in providing neutral, peer reviewed, encyclopedic information to the public.

Scope of activities to be funded by this grant edit

The Wikipedian in Residence position serving the Choosing Wisely program emerged from extensive discussions with Consumer Reports about the value of a Wikipedian in Residence in its many different departments. The Choosing Wisely program had the clearest fit, and the strongest buy-in among its staff. There are, however, other areas within the organization worthy of further exploration. Before Consumer Reports is able to commit resources (both staff time and money for a Resident) in any department, it will be essential to identify with more precision how engagement with Wikipedia will fit with that department's goals and workflow. Some of the areas that may have opportunities include:

  • Editorial franchises such as college choice (how does one evaluate a college?) or automotive (what is the history of how notable safety features came to be?) In these areas, a future Wikipedian in Residence could design programs that help Wikipedians and Consumer Reports staff learn from one another's experience and expertise.
  • Consumer Reports' archives covering the history of consumer advocacy, and its past collaboration with international organizations

The proposed $1000 would cover expanding the duties of the Wikipedian in Residence to include ongoing investigation into such opportunities within Consumer Reports, blogging about his/her work, and related activities. Pete Forsyth of Wiki Strategies, who developed the plan for the Wikipedian in Residence program, would guide this aspect of the Wikipedian in Residence's work, by providing background information, evaluating opportunities, identifying short-term goals, and building toward one or more Residencies that could be supported fully by Consumer Reports. In short, these activities would promote the sustainability of the Wikipedian in Residence model, both within Consumer Reports and more broadly (through blogging, reports and case studies on the Outreach Wiki or Meta, etc.)

This will cover 25% of the Wikipedian in Residences' time, or about 10 hours per week.

We believe that a higher stipend for the Wikipedian in Residence will substantially improve the applicant pool, and pave the way for a successful and sustainable engagement between Consumer Reports and Wikipedia.

Note: we hope to put out a call for applications by the end of February. It would be most helpful if a decision could be reached on this grant request in time to inform the announcement.

Project goal edit

The immediate goal of this project is to enable wider recruitment; longer term, recruiting the right applicant will support the development of the Wikipedian in Residence model within non-profit organizations like Consumer Reports.

Non-financial requirements edit

Wikipedia merchandise will likely be useful to the Wikipedian in Residence in the programs he or she leads at Consumer Reports. Specific items and quantities will be requested at a later date, when more specifics are known.

Fit to strategy edit

The portion for which funding is requested will help grow the Wikipedians in Residence model beyond the GLAM sector, supporting participation (primarily experts, but also likely gender balance) and quality. There may also be opportunities to increase reach, by building understanding of the Wikipedia production model within a respected and widely read traditional publication.

Among the editorial franchises at Consumer Reports are several with high readership and engagement by women, so we hope to develop opportunities that would address the gender gap as well.

The Wikipedian in Residence's main duties (related to the Choosing Wisely project, to be funded by Consumer Reports) align with the Wikimedia strategic goals because they aim to improve the quality of Wikipedia content, by providing opportunities for experts to engage with the improvement of the quality of Wikipedia content, and for the general public to improve Wikipedia quality as Wikipedians (by working alongside those experts in processing scientific literature for consumption by Wikipedia's audience). It is more specifically aligned with Wikipedia's Five Pillars, promoting the addition of verifiable content conforming to the neutral point of view. This portion, however, is to be funded by Consumer Reports, and is therefore not the main justification for the present funding request.

Other benefits edit

This project allows us to take advantage of a timely opportunity to build a strong Wikipedian in Residence program.

Measures of success edit

We will consider this project a success if we attract applicants with skills and interests relevant to continuing to build the Wikipedian in Residence model. Some of these skills, such as excellent written and verbal communication skills, will overlap well with the requirements for the Choosing Wisely project. Skills that are more specifically appropriate to the development of a future Wikipedian in Residence position include:

  • Ability to plan and conduct a meeting in which the primary objective is to understand a department's purpose and strategic objectives;
  • Ability to tell compelling stories in written form (blogs and case studies) based on one's personal experience;
  • Creative, outside-the-box thinking; ability to design projects that will meet both a department's goals and Wikipedia's goals; ability to communicate such proposed projects convincingly.

The writing elements (blogging and case study composition) will document the progress of the Choosing Wisely residency. The self-documentation of Wikipedians in Residence in the GLAM sector has been an important tool in building interest both within GLAMs and among Wikipedians in these sorts of projects; here is just one recent example of how a GLAM Wikipedian in Residence documented how an activity (applying the CC-BY-SA license to a photo) reflected and advanced trust between a museum and Wikipedians. By documenting a new type of residency, we expect this Wikipedian in Residence will similarly contribute to the opening of doors for further residencies within Consumer Reports and with similar public interest organizations.

The Wikipedian in Residence will not be alone in these activities, but will have the guidance of Consumer Reports and Wiki Strategies staff who have already begun these explorations. If we receive applications reflecting abilities and interests in these areas, we will consider this aspect of the residency recruitment a success. A more definitive and observable measure of success (but one that cannot be guaranteed) would be the emergence of at least one paid Wikipedian in Residence position, to be funded by Consumer Reports, by the end of these initial two residency periods.