Movement roles/Roles Matrix

The technique used to define roles in our movement: each participant was given a number of papers on which they'd identify the existing (or prospective) roles within Wikimedia. These were then put up on a board and clustered by topic. We then used the clusters in our Y axis.

The group then came up with a list of existing players, which constituted our X axis.

The final step was to define which roles were fulfilled by whom (or should be fulfilled by whom). We wanted to start off with simply putting x's where relevant, but felt this was not enough to convey the nature of the roles and how the players were/should be fulfilling those roles. So we added colors, which were to represent "yes" (green), "no" (red) and "maybe" (yellow), and described the roles and circumstances in the appropriate cells. The original matrix can be found on the raw notes page.

The idea is to put out a matrix and ask for participation as to what should be in it. We need more input, more discussion, more ideas. Use the talk page to discuss, ask questions and answer them, have a crack at reordering, revisiting the matrix etc.

Why a matrix?

Well, let's face it, it's all nice and good to want to talk about "movement roles", but the first question one needs to ask is "what are the existing roles to be fulfilled?", which of course is followed right away by "and who fulfills these roles today?". This was the starting point of the discussion in Frankfurt. The idea shaped up unto using a matrix model to try and cross reference roles and players.

In a global movement like Wikimedia, there are many individuals and organizations who play an active part through collaboration and co-ordination of efforts at varying levels. The purpose of this Matrix is to clarify the general roles and responsibilities of organizations and individuals with activity categories, and to define roles, responsibilities and relationships between groups. The ability to gain clarity is vital for the matrix to be effective. It must reflect Wikimedia active participants' aspirations and expectations.

Primary comments and thoughts


During the meeting, a lot of discussion occurred. Some disagreements were expressed as to what content the roles matrix should have. Some were ironed out after explanation, others stayed as disagreements. Here is a list of the disagreements/comments made at the time, which we hope will be added to. We need more challenging opinions, questions and ideas to make this go forward and hope that the matrix reflects well the scope of organisational roles within Wikimedia.


  • The Y axis topics was centered on organisational roles. The result of that is that some topics (roles) were naturally left out of the brainstorming session. Those came later on as obvious roles that are out there but which we did not specifically or at least not naturally assign to the "organisational structure".


  • The term groups on the Y axis was one of the most criticized. Some thought it was too vague, others thought it was too restrictive, others thought it made no sense as such etc. A number of potential sub-definitions for this "groups" label was thought about, which were recorded in the raw notes.
    • groups=official groups (as officially recognized by Wikimedia)
    • groups=unofficial groups (as loose groups which have no formal association with Wikimedia)
    • groups=legal entities (as in like-minded organisations, support organisations that are not chapters)
    • groups=loose entities (as in groups which are not legally recognized in any country)
    • groups=committees (groups which have been created by an official resolution from the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees)
    • groups=groups of interest (people loosely associated around a specific interest)
    • etc.

Colors (Yes, No, Maybe)


In the original matrix, the group discussed the colors at length. After lots of discussion, many a line became completely green, meaning basically that a specific role would be potentially fulfilled by all players. This was then criticized at the end as failing to be bold and trying to make everyone happy. In short, sticking to the idea that everyone can do everything was seen as a soft consensus kind of way, which did not help challenging ideas and roles altogether.

Roles matrix


This is a matrix which we want you to torture, reshape, change, alter, complete etc., we're keeping it separate from the one above just so we have a point of comparison that's easily visualised. This one is yours, change it, move it around, make it THE MATRIX. :)

Taking the draft matrix from the January workshop as a starting point, develop it to make sure that it reflects all roles and responsibilities, while capturing in the best possible way what we (collectively, as a movement) think is the best way to assign those roles and responsibilities among the different actors in the movement.

The Matrix

  Fully engaged in this role, responsible for it.   Partly engaged in part of this role, supporting.   Engaged in this role only in specific cases.   Not engaged in this role.

Foundation All chapters Some chapters Groups Individuals Comments
Increase participation Research Outreach Broadly shared. (Footnote on groups of editors)
Public Relations Decides whether to continue rehiring the Clinton Foundation CCO's company (Minassian Media) to head public relations or not. Decides when it is high time to find a new bouki talespinner. Degree of coordination with WMF in-house staff who are nominally in charge of PR? Degree of coordination with local groups? In coordination globally When the focus of a story; as with individuals Active contributors by region (esp with no active PR group) Q: How should global/local coordination work?
Editing community support Systems and tools that enable editors; research/learning about community dynamics; design support programs Organize social activites/meetups/conferences; provide access to resources (e.g., books) that help editors This is support for individuals and groups. (Footnote on groups of editors)
Trademark/brand use (excluding business partnerships) Set global standards for use of marks and brand dev; global merchandise; defend marks Merchandise design, manufacture and distribution limited use (i.e. for events) Q: should commercial usages be permitted more within the movement?
Reader relations Set standards worldwide; create tools; support as needed Set local standards, support volunteers as needed Maintain, participate in OTRS Q: is this an indiv/group issue as with OTRS? (Footnote on groups of editors)
Legal issues Defend content; protect WMF; prosecute copyright/trademark vios. Global legal strategy Most legal issues within their country; Protect community/chapter members. National/ regional legal strategy. Provide support on legal issues Copyright enforcement Q: can we make this more specific?
Institutional partnerships Not a primary goal, but can happen in some countries Yes, definitely. Local knowledge and local presence eases institutional partnerships. Q: what is the overlap b/t WMF and chapters?
Business partnerships Globally Q: what is the overlap b/t WMF and chapters? (as above)
Technical infrastructure primary responsibility Via partnerships at many levels?
Strategic and organizational development Support global strategy development, programs with global value Drive local strategy/org dev; participate in global Design and execute initiatives that support global/regional development/capacity building Active role in strategy dev wherever it happens Q: What are the roles of individuals + groups? Historically strategy has been driven by individuals and groups. (Footnote on groups of editors)
Advocacy/Lobbying Some advocacy, not lobbying - Some cannot (due to restrictions in their non-profit status, for ex.), some may choose not to Support groups? Traditionally on forefront of advocacy and lobbying by expressing opinions to and making requests of officials, other wikimedians, and the public; and as part of other organizations, e.g. FSF, EFF, Creative Commons As above: revisit meaning of groups and individuals here.
Events (meetups, conferences) funding? Meetups, conferences Mania, meetups, conferences Meetups Q: What is the role of the foundation? Different views proposed. (Footnote on groups of editors)
Fundraising Global Regional Support Support
Software development Primary responsibility? Yes May supplement capacity and take on some priorities Much innovation starts with groups... ...and individuals Q: How does everyone collaborate? (Footnote on groups of editors)
Supporting innovation and research Research, data provision, funding new initiatives As above, diversity As with software development much innovation starts here
Decisions on allocation of money Broadly shared. More specifics needed.
Language/translation Broadly shared. More specifics needed
Volunteer skill building Develop global understanding; Design programs that can be implemented globally Support as above (by region) This is support for individuals and groups. (Footnote on groups of editors)
Quality of content Q: Is this an organizational role? Isn't there an entire separate infrastructure with 'editing role' of community members? (Footnote on groups of editors)
Project atmosphere/ community health Broadly shared. More specifics needed.