Learning patterns/Wikimedian-in-residence mentorship model
What problem does this solve?Edit
It is widely understood within the Wikimedia movement that Wikimedian-in-Residence (WiR) positions are meant to be short-term, with the expectation that their time spent will build the infrastructure needed for ongoing engagement. Yet, a key aspect of successful volunteer engagement is understanding the shared goals of an external organization and Wikimedia and establishing trust with human-to-human connection; a vital role performed by the WiR during the duration of their position. Without the support of a human resource, many organizations/initiatives lose a critical point of contact to continue to establish motivated contributions to Wikimedia projects.
What is the solution?Edit
To create a system of sustainable volunteer engagement—past the WiR’s end date—it is valuable to establish a WiR-guided mentorship pathway for an emerging and interested participant base. A structured mentorship program addresses two major barriers to engaging a distinct organization’s or initiative’s contributors: (1) learning how to start contributing to high-impact Wikimedia-supported projects and (2) creating a participant-driven community where new and ongoing contributors can reach out to for questions, resources, and writing support. Having a point of contact both actively involved in the organization’s/initiative’s mission, as well as an understanding of how to contribute to Wikimedia projects provides the critical support needed after the completion of the WiR’s position.
Things to considerEdit
Develop ongoing and diverse community support structuresEdit
Mentees’ own experiences and connections will help bring in a diversity of potential new contributors with personal connections or shared ideologies to active and motivated participants in Wikimedia projects, establishing a strong foundation of trust and accountability. Training mentees on the best practices the WiR has learned in workshops, programs, and events will help them curate informational meetings with these groups. These meetings provide space for (1) learning more about Wikimedia projects as they relate to the community’s topics of interest and (2) setting up an ongoing meeting schedule for emergent projects (e.g. WikiProject assessment, tackling articles that need a lot of work, organizing an edit-a-thon). Mentees provide the glue needed to create ongoing systems of engagement that keep participants motivated and afford a diversity of new contributors.
Bring in community stakeholders as additional mentorsEdit
Establishing individual community stakeholders in your organization/initiative as additional mentors expands internal support structures geared specifically towards Wikimedia-oriented goals. There are three key benefits to incorporating this into the WiR mentorship model: (1) Curates a sense of professional responsibility, as well as excitement, for mentees to work under the guidance of an individual they admire, (2) Fosters a greater understanding of the importance of the Wikimedia movement in relation to the organization’s goals specifically to key stakeholders in the organization’s strategic direction, and (3) Collaborating with both stakeholders and mentees of varying levels of familiarity with the Wikimedia movement affords a greater understanding of the barriers blocking greater participation in the movement (leading to emergent solutions).
Support individual projects to foster intrinsic motivation and develop emergent solutionsEdit
A key way to foster intrinsic motivation is affording mentorship participants space to think critically about and expand upon the ways in which the organization is currently working with Wikimedia projects. Incorporating individual projects into the WiR mentorship model not only encourages both personal growth within the open knowledge community, but often fosters emergent solutions to ongoing problems the organization is currently facing (e.g. Engaging a diverse participant base, finding topics currently misrepresented within Wikimedia projects, exposing gaps in pre-existing resources and advice manuals).
When to useEdit
In organizations with already high participant labor—such as academic or professional organizations—who commit to their organization’s work as a labor of love amid their other service responsibilities, it is necessary to provide human systems of training and outreach to support ongoing understanding of the importance of Wikimedia’s relevance to the organization. It is unlikely that volunteers will assume the responsibilities of the WiR alongside their pre-existing unpaid labor for the organization/initiative. The WiR mentorship model helps to fill the gap, providing the Wikimedia-guided motivation and training needed to create a pipeline for future volunteer responsibilities to receive priority.