Hubs/Implementation/Regional Hubs Draft Plan/Interview 2

This page is part of the Implementation Report for Regional Hubs. It regards specifically Interview 2.

BackgroundEdit

  • Date: June 28, 2021
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Profile: Wikipedia Editor - User Group Leader (active online and offline)
  • Region: North Africa
  • Gender: Man
  • Interview language: Arabic

Questions and answersEdit

1. In an ideal world, how would a regional hub look like in your region by 2030?Edit

  • Our region is called North Africa and Middle East, meaning that it is two regions, with their specificities in terms of culture and geopolitics. Either we want it or not, the region is big, and North Africa has its specificities from the Middle East. I do not see both regions going together giving the big diversity in the communities and interests. They cannot be put together in one group. You can already see in the Arabic Wikipedia that there is an unbalance, where power and decision goes only to one region/group. Even if there is only one regional hub, it should be split into two departments, one for North Africa, and another for the Middle East. Ideally, each department would have its own manager respecting the specificities of the region.
  • I have a feeling that the WMF does not want to engage too much in the implementation of the hub creation, and that they want to leave the work to the community to figure it out. Even the definition of hub is still not clear. Do we mean hub like for airports? or for computer science, or e-commerce? Will the grant regional committees have anything to do with the hubs? Many questions are not answered and need to be tackled. But, by whom?
  • My vision is that the hub is like a dwell, full of water (resource). Every group or community needs to get its part in an equitable manner. It is important to take into consideration the limitations. However, there are many challenges in our region that hinders us from having a hub now, such as the absence of legal status for our affiliates. When the WMF asks us to do all the hub creation work alone without support, it is almost like a stop because we are blocked already at the first step (legal barrier) without any support. Affiliates in the west do not have this problem as they have a legal status and funding since many years.
  • When you have a community where there are problems and conflicts, this community needs help and guidance from the WMF. While the WMF says that you (as a community) need to sort out everything by yourself (solving the problems first, and creating the hub second), then you will never advance. This seems like an infinite loop that goes in a negative side.
  • Another reason why there needs to be two hubs is that a number of contributors have ideologies that are excluding all other parts that are not about classical Arabic. Of course, everyone is encouraged to write in the language they want (including Arabic), but those wanting to write in other languages should not feel marginalized if a hub is created and led by those not supporting them. Therefore, I strongly believe that there shall be a monitoring from the WMF, in order to have an entity ensuring that rules are followed, and that there is a sort of accountability and respect of basic rights. Moreover, if it is the WMF that will provide resources to the hub, it is more than natural that some reporting shall be made regularly to the WMF.

2. What are the roles and responsibilities that you would like to see in the hub?Edit

  • People who should be recruited to be working in the hub should come from the community. The question is is they are going to support projects only in Arabic or in other languages well? This problem appears especially in areas such as Africa where there is a big diversity.
  • If a number of community members have an ideology against some local projects or dialects, it can be problematic to leave the hub fully at the hands of these people, as they will not support fully all the projects. It is important to have the WMF monitor how this work is advancing. In fact, if the hub works only for one group or ideology, it will create several problems and challenges. We are very aware about the problems, but it is the solution that is still hanging and needs to be found.
  • The hubs are part of the strategy. They can be implemented in several ways, but which one will be chosen? And by whom? Why would one hub be for all the Arabic speaking region? Why not 2 as I suggest for example? We need to clarify who makes these decisions and why. It cannot be left to the hands of the community especially if the community has different opinions, and can create serious conflicts on the middle-term.

3. How will the implementation of the hub that you imagine be done?Edit

(Complementary question: What concrete actions need to be done by the WMF(as you see them as responsible)? Should they for example hire few people from the region and assign roles to each?)

  • The first question to ask is: What are the problems that this hub is solving? Why do we need to have a hub? Is it that the Arabic-speaking community is not well represented in the global movement? - Another question to ask is: What is the Arabic-speaking community? Is it the user groups? Or the online community writing on the Arabic Wikipedia. I fear that there is a rivalry between both. Sometimes the administrators of Wikipedia would not allow some projects if they are not aligned with their ideas. This is there are a number of risks related to who will be creating and managing this hub. The right people need to be chosen, and it is the WMF that should make it, or with the Global Council and the ratification of the movement charter. It is true that hubs are a priority, but this aspect deserves a good amount of time to make a well-thought plan.
  • For the moment, it seems to me that there is a blockage somewhere, and that no stakeholder dares to take the initiative, as they don't know who is the "owner" of the process.

4.There are different communities in the world. Do they all need to have hubs? In the same way?Edit

  • There should be a hub when there is a will and traffic (activity) in the community. Indeed, a hub in general is created to organize, when there is a lot to be organized. From this, we can say that the areas and region where there are activities all deserve a hub. I can see the examples of the Arabic speaking world, WikiFranca, Iberocoop and ESEAP. However, these communities cannot be left to themselves and asked to create a hub themselves if they want a hub. Each region has its own specificities, and among them that some need more support than others. The particularity of our region is the great project of the "Arabic Wikipedia" that has more than one million articles and is read in so many countries.
  • This said, even within the same region there are disparities. As I mentioned in the beginning, maybe North Africa and Middle East should be separate entities, so that none of them overshadows the others. The main question is: Will the hub solve these conflicts? What tools will be used by the hub to mediate? And who will be working on shaping these tools? This is why I think the WMF should be involved, and I humbly ask them to step up take this responsibility.

5. Who should take the responsibility over the implementation of the hub?Edit

  • As I can see, WMF wants to implement its strategy, but is very careful, and not taking too many steps forward. This is why we see that not much is happening. I can understand this approach because WMF does not want to be in the front and maybe take an action that will be heavily criticized (such as the branding). I see the work that you (Anass) are doing, and that is supported by the WMF as a good next step, because with this initiative, WMF is not in the front, but still something is done and discussions to clarify are happening. More actors should be engaged, maybe through external consultants of universities, but something needs to be done by the WMF to move forward.
  • Another question that I have is that we are very limited as volunteers. On the same time, I write in Wikipedia, I lead a user group, and I am also expected to drive the work to build a hub. This is not sustainable. What will happen most probably is that I will burn out and leave the movement, or work on the hub questions and neglect my user group. In both cases, this is not beneficial, no?
  • Finally, the main question for me is: In case we need a hub, what are the clear pathways of support that will be provided to us?

Key TakeawaysEdit

  • There needs to be a clear separation between North Africa and the Middle East.
  • There needs to be a clarification about who needs to clarify questions about the hubs. Is it the WMF? Is it movement charter? Is it the communities creating the hubs themselves?
  • Communities wanting to implement hubs but lacking resources (either financial or administrative or skills) need to receive support from WMF. Clear pathways and processes for this support should be implemented so that communities can reach out.
  • It is the WMF that should create and drive hubs in our region. If you give the initiative to some communities without monitoring, they can create problems and not be democratic in their work.
  • WMF should support move initiatives for the implementation, especially in communities that want to do things but are limited by the fact that they are volunteers, have legal barriers, or lack other resources.