Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Cycle 1/Report



The strategy team analyzed written summaries for over 100 community discussions across 5 continents. Our analysis also included outputs from the 2017 Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, a major milestone for community discussions. Over 350 people from 70 countries, representatives of around 90 affiliates, organizations, committees and other groups attended.

Using Nvivo Plus software for analysis, we ran a Word Frequency query to identify the keywords that groups used most often. Based on the top 20-30 keywords, we used a cluster analysis and our judgment to create themes and sub-themes that would act as a common language for the manual tagging of all summary statements. The 13 themes and their respective sub-themes are listed below. All sources can be traced to the sub-themes and themes generated. You can read the methodology and see the spreadsheet.

Participant statistics

  • 106 source wiki pages
  • 1,846 summary statements
  • 1,392 participants (based on those who reported)
    • 33% of participants were from organized groups (Track A), 67% were contributors (Track B)

See graphs of related statistics.

Emerging themes & sub-themes


13 themes and affiliated sub-themes emerged from the summary statements shared from each discussion.

Here is an overview of those themes:

Notes: Not all items to scale. Width of the bar is proportionate to count of statements for most, but there is a minimum width for labels. If viewing a collapsed screen, or mobile view, they will also not be to scale with the upper label. Colors are for discrimination of underlying sub-themes.
Theme 0 100 200 300 400
Content Ease, accessibility, 58 Gaps, bias, 36 Neutrality, 80 Quality, 170 Reliability, credibility, 77 Other, 12
Community Engagement, support, 117 Health, 178
Collaboration Communication, 42 External, 78 Internal, 66 Partnerships, 51 Policy, advocacy, 49 Other, 3
Outreach, awareness Diversity, inclusion, 93 Gender, 20 Other Global Outreach, 135
Users, editors, contributors Engagement, 70 Experienced, 26 New, 81 Other, 17 Paid, incentivized, 29 Readers, 11
Features Features, 225
Innovation Adapting to technological context, 90 Automation, 35 Beyond Wikipedia, 39 Other medias, 39 Other, 6
Emerging communities Access, 38 Availability across languages, 91 Other, 58
Values Decentralization, 15 Free, 20 Mission, 50 Open source, 60 Other, 7
Organizational Foundation, 38 Funding, 32 Governance, 25 Other, 28 Staffing, 19
Education Educators, 7 Existing programs, 26 Institutions, 45 Other, 57
Knowledge Biases, 3 Gaps, 2 Other, 62
Sustainability, growth Sustainability, growth, 16

References categorized as ‘other’ were tagged with the top level theme, but did not cluster into any of the sub-themes

Reliable, neutral, high-quality content


Most of these statements expressed the belief that the content (primarily on Wikipedia) is what most people turn to Wikimedia for -- high-quality, neutral, and credible content. They believe that this encyclopedic value is what the world thinks of when they think of Wikimedia, and thus, this is the most important quality.

  • Quality: Many statements expressed the belief that maintaining the quality (and thus integrity) of Wikimedia’s core product, Wikipedia, is of the utmost importance.
    • “We should emphasi[ze] on increasing the content quality in all Wikimedia projects. To survive and thrive in future we need content which will be rich, unbiased, and reliable.”[1]
  • Reliability, Credibility: These comments often related the belief that, because Wikipedia’s content is crowd-sourced, that it is not reliable. Many of the people commenting on this made suggestions that Wikipedia incorporate experts as editors to increase the external credibility of the site’s content.
    • “Develop engagement tools that allow users to interact with the content and retain the knowledge so that it can be used as a successful education tool and break the perception of a non-academic knowledge source, without further excluding potential editors.”[2]
  • Neutrality: Many of these comments are related to remaining an unbiased source (by way of not accepting paid advertisements, etc.). The concern was that Wikimedia Foundation’s donors may influence the content by providing money and then wanting to promote their own content, which would reduce the integrity of the encyclopedic value.
    • “To survive in the information world, our commitment of providing more neutral information in various topics should be our main driving force in the next 15 years."[3]
  • Ease, Accessibility: The focus in this sub-theme is that the content on Wikipedia remain accessible (and readable) to the entire world; not just to experts with specialized knowledge.
    • “In Wikipedia, we should try and make use of a simple syntax, which is understood by the general public.”[4]
  • Gaps, Biases: This addresses where the content falls short -- which subject areas, geographies, and editor input are missing from the existing Wikipedia.
    • “Fight against the biases inherent in underrepresented communities or in certain categories of contributors.”[5]

Community health & support


This theme focused primarily on the enabling environment for the entire movement.

  • Health: These comments were very specific to the type of culture that has been created within the movement; it was often co-tagged with New Users. There seems to be wide recognition that the movement can’t grow or thrive without a more welcoming environment that supports new viewpoints and allows for failure.
    • “Community health is very important, especially that 1) new editors should be welcomed and helped, 2) disputes inside the community should be resolved in a cultured manner, and 3) conflict between editors should be solved before they have a negative effect on the community.”[6]
  • Engagement & Support: This is related to how the entire community can engage with one another, and how the movement can support itself to achieve its goals; suggestions ranged from community-wide events to better communication internally.
    • “Organize motivational meetings and educational programmes about community organising for experienced users.”[7]

Internal & external collaboration


People seem to believe that the existing connective tissue (internally within the Wikimedia movement and externally with like-minded partners) is poor. The consensus is to better network the entire ecosystem starting with basic things like improving the connection between existing Wikimedia projects and enhancing internal communication, and then engaging like-minded organizations, institutions, and governments.

  • External: This sub-theme was used whenever there wasn’t a specific actor or set of actors in mind (e.g., “we should make sure we talk to other like-minded organizations more often”).
    • “Affiliates should work together with expert organizations and educational and cultural institutions to integrate them into the work of the Wikimedia movement; these co-operations could take place on a local, regional, as well as continental level”[8]
  • Internal: This referred to connectivity within the movement, especially related to making sure that all community members know about existing projects / products and how to leverage what others have already created.
    • “Wikimedia projects should be more interconnected, in procedures, skills, data, and people”[9]
  • Partnerships: These comments referred to clear, defined partnerships with external actors.
    • “The Foundation should work on the relationship with the Chinese government, so that more people in the country can access the website”[10]
  • Communication: This is often co-tagged with Outreach. These comments are split into two categories: one related to internal communications within the movement and more narrowly across Wikimedia projects, and the second related to how the movement talks about itself when it is trying to recruit new members.
    • “There is a lack of connectivity in the community. People do not communicate with each other, and we should work on this issue, to get all people together”[11]
  • Policy, Advocacy: This is related to the movement’s overall involvement in lobbying for free and open content as the default in all geographies and settings.
    • “We need to better lobby to governments and organizations so they release their content under a free license. If it’s paid with public money, it should stay in public domain”[12]



This is a category of specific technical requests, project proposals, and immediate needs related to a specific project. Because such items are too narrow or short-term to apply to an overarching movement-wide strategy, they will instead be shared with the appropriate department at the Wikimedia Foundation so that they might be useful for design or user experience purposes.

  • “Improve the embedding feature of videos on Wikiversity because Commons does not accept the most common video formats like YouTube”[13]
  • “Catscan and Petscan have to be integrated into Wikipedia”[14]

Users, editors, & contributors


This category primarily relates to editors (new and experienced) with some attention given to readers.

  • New: The bulk of these comments are co-tagged with Community Health as they primarily refer to creating a healthy environment (and subsequent culture) that newcomers would want to join, instead of the combative ‘battleground’ that they categorize as present day.
    • “In Wikimedia projects, new contributors often think themselves as an outsider. In the next 15 years, if we want to survive and thrive, we have to come up with a workable solution so that those editors feel that they are also part of the movement”[15]
  • Engagement: These comments seem to be primarily from experienced editors who are suggesting capacity building opportunities to keep involvement high; this category also captures retention strategies to combat the editor drop-off problem.
    • “We should collect every idea related to our movement whether they are important or not and address them with care. Where contributors wanted to credit them for their idea(s), we should respect that. They will feel motivated this way”[16]
  • Paid, Incentivized: This set of comments refers to the idea of paying some editors for their content. On the whole, most of these are actually in favor of paying experts for their specialized knowledge to create high-quality content.
    • “Paid editing by recognized experts should be allowed, otherwise our mission to cover all human knowledge in reliable and trustworthy ways is impossible to accomplish”[17]
  • Experienced: Most of these comments are about keeping experienced users engaged and leveraging them to cultivate relationships with new users (e.g., suggestions like an ‘adopt-a-user’ mentorship program).
    • “Integrate the experienced users into the decision-making processes; protect and help them in every possible way”[18]
  • Readers: With a few exceptions, there appears to be little concern about continued readership; the assumption is seemingly that the use of Wikipedia is generally not a problem and that it will remain ubiquitous as a resource.
    • “Bring diverse new readers and editors into the movement by providing engaging and fun experiences across a wide variety of platforms and projects”[19]

Outreach, awareness, & promotion


This category relates to how the movement can be more inclusive and diverse as new people are brought in. There is a prevailing sense that the movement is still predominantly Western-focused (in content and representation). People are also thinking about creative ways to recruit new members to the movement.

“In the next 15 years, we should emphasi[ze] awareness building about Wikimedia projects”[20]

  • Diversity, Inclusion: This is often co-tagged with Content Bias. The general sentiment here is that the movement is still overwhelmed by a Western perspective and that must change in the coming years.
    • “The survival of the movement depends on its ability to become a global project and overcoming obstacles in incorporating diversity”[21]
  • Gender: There is wide recognition that the gender gap still exists, especially among contributors, and that future outreach efforts need to more expressly focus on involving women.
    • “Bridge the gender gap on Wikimedia projects no matter what”[22]



This category is related to how the movement adapts to the changing technological landscape. Many of the sub-themes listed below are co-tagged with Features, as they are technical.

  • Adapting to technological context: This sub-theme covers new ways that the internet will be consumed in the future (e.g., mobile, offline) and what is required of Wikimedia’s core projects to keep up with those trends.
    • “We need to think about expanding the functionality of mobile and mobile applications and finding effective ways to drive mobile users to edit”[23]
  • Beyond Wikipedia: This section advocates for Wikimedia to develop other core products beyond the encyclopedia. Most of these comments seem to come from people who are already involved in an existing project, and thus, there is more of a focus on programs other than Wikipedia that could be advanced.
    • “Distribute our focus among the sister projects, don’t invest too much into Wikipedia”[24]
  • Automation: This interpretation of automation is primarily related to using AI /machine learning for tools like catching vandalism, auto-translation, and upkeep of content quality (e.g., spelling and grammar).
    • “Focus on developing machine learning tools, which would augment human activity significantly”[25]
  • Other medias: These comments are advocating for other ways of capturing knowledge that move beyond text (e.g., auditory, visual, olfactory, etc.).
    • “In 2030, Wikimedia’s concept of knowledge does not only reflect academic knowledge and will no longer be accessible via text-only means”[26]

Funding, staffing, and other organizational needs


The focus of this theme is how the movement can be structured to better achieve its goals.

  • Foundation: These are comments specifically targeting the foundation and are related to changes that the foundation has the ability to make.
    • “Make the collaboration between WMF and the movement more transparent and horizontal”[27]
  • Funding: Some of these comments are quite general regarding a request for ‘resources.’ There is some conversation in this category related to how donations are used and who makes those decisions.
    • “Because the donations are generated by the work of the community, so the community should have a say in how the money is spent. That is important for the motivation of the community”[28]
  • Governance: These statements refer to representation in decision-making, broadly (at the overarching organizational level and at individual chapter levels).
    • “WMF Board of Trustees does not well represent the community”[29]
  • Staffing: General human resources requests or thoughts on downsizing existing staffed operations.
    • “It is necessary to have a staff member to empower local community members”[30]

Emerging communities


There was a fair amount of discussion about communities that aren’t yet using Wikipedia. Again, there is a consistent reminder that the communities that do use it hail from primarily developed countries, whereas those emerging communities are mostly from developing regions.

“Encourage contribution in areas where Wikipedia is less well-known by working with local actors: developing countries, least developed countries, etc.”[31]

  • Availability across languages: Some of these comments refer to general translation abilities (like a translator tool) related to the communities that already are present in the movement, whereas others are referring to language accessibility for emerging communities.
    • “It is necessary to develop the community in the other languages, not just in English”[32]
  • Access: Much of this sub-theme has to do with mobile accessibility or offline functionality for rural areas that will be hard to reach with current methods.
    • “Improve offline access in emerging communities”[33]

Advancing education


This category explores how Wikimedia (and Wikipedia especially) can become the center of the education world (whether as a content and curriculum hub, or as a well-networked player that can connect others). There is a heavy emphasis on engaging students early in their academic careers so they can become editors.

“Have our content well-used in external educational content”[34]

  • Institutions: Universities and libraries are the most common institutions referenced in this sub-theme.
    • “Set up partnerships with national libraries in order to easily gain access to huge document assets”[35]
  • Existing Programs: Major focus areas are GLAM and the Wikipedia Education Program, with a heavy focus on how to further advance those programs explicitly.
    • “Making the GLAM a real gateway for knowledge sharing with the territory and with the citizenry”[36]
  • Educators: There is some discussion about how to engage educators (especially lifelong academics) in a ‘train-the-trainer’ model (e.g., direct training of educators).
    • “We must encourage teachers to incorporate Wikimedia projects into the classroom as an excuse to develop other skills”[37]

Movement value


This theme is composed of comments related to staying connected to the core of what the movement is all about -- freedom of the sum of all knowledge.

  • Mission-alignment: These comments focus mostly on the accessibility of the sum of all knowledge.
    • “We should continue to spread free content all over the world, including to new audiences”[38]
  • Open Source: This sub-theme is often co-tagged with Policy, Advocacy. People feel strongly that Wikimedia should be leading the charge in lobbying for open source to become the default.
    • “Open source is the driving force for the future and it means all types of knowledge and not just software”[39]
  • Decentralization: These comments are often co-tagged with the Foundation and related to decentralizing the organization, especially for those who are proponents of organic growth and content management.
    • “Greater diffusion of the bases and foundations of the movement and its projects”[40]
  • Free: This refers to the lack of commercialization of knowledge and never putting a price tag on it.
    • “Free knowledge for everyone will always be the key aspect of our movement”[41]



After further analysis, this theme was merged with ‘Content,’ since both specifically address biases and gaps in the knowledge available on projects.

“We need to make Wikipedia the ‘hub’ of all knowledge”[42]

  • Biases: Covered mostly in Content Biases
    • “We should develop a less elitist and more inclusionary encyclopedia”[43]
  • Gaps: Covered mostly in Content Gaps
    • “Bridging the knowledge gaps requires strengthening the connection with educational institutions and academia”[44]

Sustainability & growth


These are higher-level thoughts on what the movement needs to do in order to survive and thrive over the next 15 years.

“The future of Wikimedia is in their communities, which must be more diverse and be the agents of cultural change in their localities”[45]


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