Thomas_UK: Solstag, while we wait for the other participants, could you say something about the project you have just requested funds for?
solstag: I met this photographer in 2010, he attended some meetings about free culture I was organizing in a culture centre here in São Paulo. His name is Felipe, and besides photography and free culture, he's also very interested and involved in the bicycle movement in the city. So he decided to go on a trip to spread these three passions of his throughout the country, and at the same time making a record of how bicycle culture exists around it. He is already freeing(-as-in-freedom) up a decent part of the content he'll produce, and that was before I approached him about the grant. And he just got his project funded through crowdfunding, but on a very tight budget. The money is mostly for a team that will assist him remotely while he travels, also keeping a website and helping the discoveries he makes throughout the country resonate online. I talked to him and if he could have a little more resources, he would love to take more time to teach people about free knowledge along the way, making sure the teaches local photographers and cyclists how to contribute to Wikimedia Commons, and to include images in Wikipedia. His current total budget is around R$20k , which equals US$10k, to travel for about 15 months. Or, better said, to have a production team help him deliver the message for 15 months. He's not going to use that money to travel, for the trip he'll rely on local hospitality and a little money he has saved by himself. I perhaps failed to mention that it is a bicycle trip. He's going to cycle 17 thousand kilometers from south to north, east to west of Brazil. so with flow funding I could improve his support budget from 10k to 11,5k USD, and that would buy him and his team time to focus more on the free culture aspects of this trip. He sets off on June 1st, only to return on August 2014.
Thomas_UK: Can you give examples of tangible outcomes do you expect from this initiative to benefit the Wikimedia movement?
solstag: Yes, like I mentioned in the recommendation, he's going through many different cities and roads, and will be talking to photographers, cyclists and people in general. That gives him the opportunity to show people, in areas underrepresented on WMCommons, how to contribute. So the outcome, besides his own photos which he was going to upload anyway, is many cyclists and photographers throughout the country learning how to make wikipedia visually richer - and perhaps audiovisually as well. Wherever he stops, he can show people what happened to the articles about the previous cities he was in. How they became richers with pictures taken by locals, or by himself. That is a good motivator for people to learn - seeing how nearby cities look better than theirs ; ) Another outcome is that the project is getting some press attention, even before it starts. So the wikimedia vision would get carried along in interviews and news pieces about the project. And another outcome is that this opens a channel to these socially minded photography and cyclist communities, both of which have great potential to contribute to wikimedia projects and propose new projects. So this familiarity with the wikimedia movement makes them more likely to consider applying to the usual grants system. Felipe himself already asked me if his team could later propose a grant through the usual system for other activities or to enhance some specific action during the trip. He guessed I was coming to that before I did, which indicates this familiarity effect is very real. Worth noting that, having attended some free culture meetings I organized in the past, he knew about the WM Grants system, but never really considered applying for that.
Thomas_UK: Is Felipe already a wikimedian himself ? Can you give details about how the existing wikimedia community is expected to directly participate in this project?
solstag: Felipe is not what we usually call a 'wikimedian'. He has made some contributions to wikimedia projects, mostly Commons and Wikiversity. But not too many or consistently. He barely has his own computer. He recently got a laptop as a donation for this trip, but he doesn't yet have a battery. That makes a bit hard for him to contribute during his normal days. But he has attended many meetings and some workshops, during which he successfully contributed, he knows the processes of Commons and image inclusion in Wikipedia. I think the community will receive this well, the inclusion of audio and visual material is much less complex and controversial. And there are many gaps that just need to be filled in. (I mean the commons/pedia community in that previous sentece) the project obviously offers possibilities for wikitravel as well, though I haven't considered that yet.
Thomas_UK: Have you considered any possibility to previously engage the wikimedia community so that they are aware of the initiative and can help/support Felipe before and during the expedition, both online and in the cities he is going to visit ?
solstag: That would have been nice, but I didn't have the time. I just mentioned it personally to a few people and they though it was a good idea. I also did not foresee any conflicts, since as I mentioned above the project is about audio and visual material....and the people I talked to did not see much of a problem as well. Also there was some but not total guarantee the grant is going through, so it could seem like a diversion to approach it before, unless it was some worries about conflict.
Thomas_UK: Ok, I suggest we move now to another topic to iscuss in today's irc chat: the evaluation (so far) of the flow funding experience. In less than two months the pilot project is expected to end. So far, in your opinion what has been positive and negative about this flow funding experiment?
solstag: My opinion about the experiment is quite positive, although some things like the amount limits, specially the lower limit, conflicted with people's actual needs. But also it was quite hard to get people involved even having resources to contribute to their projects. Wikimedia's vision is easy to grasp, but fundamental details of its mission are quite hermetic. So the lower limit would stop me from helping people with very simple needs, that did not require dealing with details of the wikimedia movement, or when those people were already familiar. While the upper limit would make it harder to motivate people with larger projects to understand the intricacies of free culture and wiki collaboration.
Thomas_UK: Can you elaborate about the upper limit. I am not sure I understood what you meant.
solstag: Often wikifying a project means overhauling it. So you can't just approach people with 10% of their resource needs, you have to be a major sponsor to get the idea through. Having only 2k USD for the whole period, which could not be spent in chunks of less than 500, was very limiting in both these senses.
Thomas_UK: From your experience, how would you describe the profile of a ideal wikiemdia flow funder? What kind of wikimedian volunteer would do a great job as a flow funder, in case the project is expanded?
solstag: I think it must be people who understand very well what it means, and how it happens, that the wikimedia mission is not to produce content, but to enable people to collaborate in its production. During this flowfunding experience I was often tempted (not by others, by my own will) to offer resources for projects that were free culture related, sometimes perfect free culture examples, but not within the scope of the Wikimedia mission. So a flowfunder must be very knowledgeable and judicious about the mission. But he also must be inserted in a rich context. Because he has to go after the projects, they won't come to him that easily. It's a hunting game, where you must make sure you're shooting at the right prey.
Thomas_UK: Great. Thanks. We are about to end this IRC meeting. Is there anything else you would like to share?
solstag it's been a pleasure. Ni!
Thomas_UK: Thank you very much for participating and for sharing your insights. Good luck with the project!
solstag: thank you! good luck for us! for all flowfunding projects!