Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Sources/Cycle 3/Wikimedia District of Columbia/Partner salons (July 28-31, 2017)


What group or community is this source coming from?

name of group Wikimedia District of Columbia
virtual location (page-link) or physical location (city/state/country) Washington D.C., US
Location type (e.g. local wiki, Facebook, in-person discussion, telephone conference) in-person
# of participants in this discussion (a rough count) 15

General overviewEdit

In July 2018, Wikimedia District of Columbia (WMDC) met with media, international democracy, and GLAM experts in Washington, D.C., US. There were 15 participants, including the two organizers. The salons -each lasting approximately three hours- included lunches, presentations, handouts, and discussions. They centered on the challenges and opportunities Wikimedia will be facing during the next 15 years, and how we, as a movement and as partners, might address these issues. After reviewing what we've done so far and what we've learned so far (Cycle 2 themes; Cycle 3 findings), there was a period for reflection, before attendees ranked the five Cycle 2 themes. Discussion ensued regarding: (a) the reflections (b) the rankings, and (c) how do we move forward together. There were three handouts (Reflection 1; Reflection 2; Ranking document), but we retained the attendees' hand-written notes regarding ranking.

Handout 1 - Reflection 1 - Engaging with New Voices. Indonesia & Brazil Design Research (by Reboot).
  • Establishing Trust: There is less of a role for neutral reporting, and the trustworthiness of a piece of information (or its source) doesn’t necessarily determine its utility.
  • Broader Awareness: Wikipedia must do a better job of communicating its values and how those fit into its model.
  • Knowledge Trends: Information-seeking is increasingly task- and search-led, less discovery- and browsing-oriented.
  • Technology Trends: Visual, real-time, and social are the characteristics of content platforms young people increasingly prefer.
  • Developing Partnerships: Wikimedia should consider attracting and investing in allies and community members in the forums and channels they like to learn.
Handout 2 - Reflection 2 - Engaging with New Voices. Research on Major Trends (by Dot Connector Studio and Lutman & Associates).
  • Misinformation, Verification, and Propaganda: The Wikimedia movement will need to remain vigilant and to develop new methods of verification that match new technological capabilities.
  • Technology Trends: As people continue to adopt mobile devices and turn away from traditional text and toward creating and sharing video, audio, and visual multimedia content, pressure is growing on technology platforms to evolve.
  • Emerging Platforms and Content Types: New content types and platforms can serve as competition for the attention and time of Wikimedia project users, as content or topics for Wikimedia projects, as potential opportunities for distributing Wikimedia projects’ content, or as vehicles for spreading the ethos of open editing and sharing of content.
  • Demographics: Wikimedia pageviews by country correlate strongly with a country’s economic strength.
Handout 3 - Reflection 3 and ranking of Cycle 2 themes
  • Healthy, inclusive communities: By 2030, the Wikimedia volunteer culture will be fun, rewarding, and inclusive for both existing contributors and newcomers.
  • The augmented age (advancing with technology): By 2030, the Wikimedia movement will actively use technological innovations to help volunteers be much more creative and productive.
  • A truly global movement: By 2030, we will be a truly global movement. In particular, we will turn our attention toward regions we have not yet served well enough: Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
  • The most respected source of knowledge: We will work toward ever more accurate and verifiable content. *Engaging the knowledge ecosystem: We will build relationships with a wide variety of organizations dedicated to the ideals of free knowledge.


July 28, 2017Edit

On July 28, 2017, Wikimedia District of Columbia (WMDC) met for lunch with representatives from the Women's Media Center and National Democratic Institute at the Women's Media Center offices.

  • Attendees:
  • Julie Burton, President, Women’s Media Center
  • Cristal Williams Chancellor, Communications Director, Women’s Media Center
  • Soraya Chemaly, Director, feminist writer, Women’s Media Center
  • Tiffany Nguyen, Program Associate, Women’s Media Center
  • Sandra Pepera, Director, National Democratic Institute
  • Organizer/Notetaker: Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, Wikipedia Visiting Scholar, Northeastern University (WMDC Board member)
  • Organizer/Notetaker: Kelly Doyle, Wikipedian in Residence for Gender Diversity at West Virginia University Libraries (WMDC Board member)

July 31, 2017Edit

On July 31, 2017, Wikimedia District of Columbia (WMDC) met for lunch with representatives from the Smithsonian Institute at the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

  • Attendees:
  • Deron Burba, Chief Information Officer, Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Effie Kapsalis, Chief of Content & Communications Strategy, Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Anne Van Camp, Director, Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Diane Zorich, Director, Digitization Program Office, Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Diane Shaw, Librarian, Smithsonian Institution Libraries (WMDC Board member)
  • Sara Snyder, Chief, Media & Technology Office, Smithsonian American Art Museum (WMDC member)
  • Andrew Lih, Associate professor of journalism, American University (WMDC member)
  • Notetaker: Ariel Cetrone (WMDC Institutional Partnerships Manager)
  • Organizer: Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, Wikipedia Visiting Scholar, Northeastern University (WMDC Board member)
  • Organizer: Kelly Doyle, Wikipedian in Residence for Gender Diversity at West Virginia University Libraries (WMDC Board member)


Theme key
  1. Healthy, inclusive communities
  2. The augmented age
  3. A truly global movement
  4. The most trusted source of knowledge
  5. Engaging in the knowledge ecosystem
Attendee statements
  • At some point, there will be strategic third party alliances to have information across platforms and these may discriminate against vulnerable women and marginalized populations. For example, if Wikipedia has contributors login via Facebook, you’re reproducing the structural inequalities of Facebook or other sites.
  • Another point touches but doesn’t explicitly reflect or point to epistemic systems of injustice; philosophers might have insights that the WMF could tap into.
  • If we rank these 5 themes and thinking about them in terms of how to focus resources, we’re not ranking quality. We are ranking and making choices regarding implementation and operations. So these 5 things in Cycle 3 are more about principles and mission driven (soft issues) whereas the New Voices points could fit under the five Cycle 2 themes. It all come back to the middle ground around these 5 things.
  • Is Wikipedia blocked in some countries? Yes. This is a consideration for moving forward withthis strategy and for global growth: that we have censorship. Does Wikipedia become a human rights issue through editing and expressing facts? Think of these issues awhile considering the focus of the future.
  • There's such a dynamic interplay between these things, but if we go forward we might create damage for the most vulnerable. The most powerless should inform structure first and foremost!
  • First and foremost, Wikipedia is about knowledge, so the global piece is more important than the knowledge aspect. Acknowledging and respecting all forms of knowledge is a more targeted point than the global movement piece because if we do the knowledge piece you will get to a global movement. The first thing you have to do is ensure you’re the sum of all human knowledge and if you do that, then you will be global.
  • Infrastructure, security and accuracy, and old voices (ancient knowledge that has to be brought in) they’re here in infrastructure, which is technology.
  • Regarding notability, gender, etc., what are you going to do about it? It’s one thing to have policy pages about inclusivity, yet women’s biographies are taken down because of "non-notability". The responsibility of WMF, as an institution, should be to call this out. At some point, there has to be the recognition that “no rules” actually are rules that favor the powerful.
  • Wikipedia is facing the same problem as Reddit, Facebook and others. WMF needs to form partnerships with these organizations. The overlap is where more problems will occur.
  • The #1 most critical theme is, “most respected source of knowledge”. Without that, everything falls short. If the knowledge that is available on Wikipedia isn't credible, it won’t withstand the future. This is the plumbing for Wikipedia. Rank “Truly global” as #2 because too much of media is too insular so including the rest of the world is important. Rank Technology as #3; ecosystems as #4; healthy inclusive as #5. The #5 ranking is more about: if all those other pieces are taken care of and are in place, then it helps create a community that is healthy because it’s an outcome of the others.
  • Global Movement should be #1. Representation is a challenge. We run into that with events and working with the community. It takes resources. Engaging the knowledge ecosystem is important because of our work with other institutions. We have a hurdle getting our staff and non-WM volunteers into the movement. Wikipedia is an intimidating space. If an organization invests a lot of time, how can we work seamlessly? We need tools and the works needs to be translated.
  • Ecosystems are #1, and Source of Knowledge is #2. Can’t have #2 without #1. Augmented age is #3. There’s so much happening with technology as knowledge is being captured. There are richer opportunities to enhance experience. Global Movement and Inclusive Communities go hand in hand. There’s a limit to the input you can make in that as far as how many institutions can advance this over time.
  • We need to accept things that have restrictions as eventually things might be more accessible. Verifiable content and building relationships are important. Sometimes institutions are encumbered. Is it in the realm of consideration to accept things that might have some restrictions?, such as patent encumbered formats? Organizations are complex but what is the balance which can be struck?
  • Engaging ecosystem is most important; it’s easy because there are engaged members. #2 should be Source of knowledge, as organizations are already the respected repository of knowledge. Build on the respect of these institutions; build on that as the cornerstone going forward. Global Movement should be #3 as if organizations are in place, you’ll be able to go global as a trusted source of knowledge. The #4 should be Developing inclusive communities; building them. Using technology isn't #5 as it is a parallel track as opposed to have it by itself.
  • Global Movement should be ranked #1. Have global audiences contribute. They will increase the source of knowledge. The #2 ranking is Technology. Make use of the technology as people want mobile, video. If people want to engage, we need to have live updates via mobile. The #3 should be Healthy inclusive communities. People can get turned off quickly if they try to edit in good faith and they are jumped on. Knowledge and inclusivity are tied. It’s not hard to have institutions buy in. It will be a challenge in this age to establish an authoritative voice.
  • Respected source of knowledge is of utmost importance in this era. Engaging partners will increase credibility with schools. If you want to be truly global, augmented technologies will help in Africa, for example. Inclusivity needs to be part of the strategy to keep the community going and to improve the ecosystem.
  • Inclusivity is #1 importance ranking to attract new members. If it’s not worth their time, they won’t participate. Unless the community is healthy, the encyclopedia won’t be healthy. Ranking #2, Augmented technology is present to keep community members productive. If we don’t know how to pivot, we will be passed by. Why wouldn’t users run to a new encyclopedia platform if one arises? Ranking #3, Engaging ecosystem. Institutional partners are essential. Ranking #4, Global movement. Ranking #5, Source of Knowledge. The latter seems like a given, but perhaps strategical.
  • Inclusive communities. Wikipedia has not advanced much as far as uses of technology. Community is not excited about tools like video. Youtube is the number one ‘how to’ site, but that is not the case with Wikipedia. Wikidata provides some tools, but it’s still minor league. Patents are not the only reason for slow adoption of tools. Accuracy should be a hallmark. The community is on laptops, but not contributing while thinking that the information will be mostly on mobiles. Smart Wikipedians seems to be closed and not thinking about how Wikipedia is consumed.
  • A lot of potential volunteer time is wasted by not making mobile editing more accessible and adding wiki into the workflow of apps visited on mobile devices (waiting for buses, on the metro, etc,).

How do we move forward together?Edit

  • Wikipedian in Residence initiatives at institutions. A commitment by the WMF to more Wikipedian in Residence positions could help institutionalize these practices in various professions.
  • Getting institutions to encourage and promote incorporating Wikipedia into workflow. It’s up to organizational staff to do this. People spend time doing research or getting money for research. If they have something of significance, if they spend time to contribute, it’s got to motivate organizations.
  • Culture change within professions so that Wikipedia is embraced in various industries: “commit and make Wikipedia / Wikimedia engagement part of organizations positions”.
  • From where our organizations sits in the movement strategy architecture, we're the outside baseball team, and we need to understand where we sit. We seem to be the tiny overlap in the center of a graph, where an alliance would sit. Are we really on the fringe? If we are, that’s scary.
  • Google, Facebook, Twitter have been having in-depth conversations for several years about similar challenges. The organizations respond not thru cooperation but through shaming. They trod out women's groups and others like it, and it makes them look good and they check off their boxes but they continue to hire who they hire and build boards the way they want and change isn't happening. Yet their PR people promote this strategy. We must play inside ball, show up and talk. Pain makes needles move and gets change. We need to strategize and say if we pick a fight, what will it be? What is the pain point we can bring? Only then, if the WMF strategy is genuine, will real steps be taken towards fixing things.
  • The goal should be to hold people accountable. Is that the Wikimedia goal? It takes long time to change, even a small shift, but it makes conversation. Making noise does this!
  • Fight internal change barriers in these 15 years. Put more structure in place. Ultimately, the quest for democracy or fight back against it will be a central part of the human condition. We should be more agile about where the threats and opportunities are. Tight now, it’s information that’s a barrier, and misinformation.
  • The opportunity in the next years is restructuring systems to influence the restructure that builds on systems of democracy. Partners are needed; there is no other way. Do more with civic tech groups. Strengthen credibility. Work on social and cultural environments. Worry about people wanting to put everything online because of rhetoric around “we’re a connected world”.
  • Education is the only way to make socio-cultural change that enables girls to feel comfortable speaking out loud wherever they are. There is an opportunity to use a backdoor approach with girls: “We’re going to teach you this really cool way to write (technology)”.
  • There should be a worry about the assumptions that people are making regarding access to digital.
  • The younger generation will not save us. Millennials are much more gender conservative than GenX.
  • Our socio-economic construct, and the constraints around jobs, and social status are linked. We have to do better than we have in the past on gender equality, which is not about equality; it’s about equity. Even in a theoretical best case scenario, 84% of ENWP editors are men.
  • There is a challenge with credibility vs. inclusivity. Be less inclusive if you want to be truly credible.
  • Open doors to oral history.
  • Other organizations are going through movement strategy challenges. There is a discussion of “We are all equal.”. But this is not true because of interpretation of the norms. There must be the realization: “we have been doing a bad job; we are losing people.”
  • Recognize that professional women don’t want to be trolled, and don’t want to deal with, “your scholarly research isn’t acceptable.”
  • Understand identity politics. The default assumption needs to be ripped up. Wikipedia can’t solve the issue alone.
  • The Wikimedia board needs experts regarding how to build things out. Someone who is thinking about knowledge will be key, especially when you talk about inclusivity, globalization, and justice.
  • Bring in new people on their terms, not western terms, not colonialism.
  • Consensus is a crock.


Attendees were concerned with tech and community issues, with “most respected form of knowledge” as resulting when the other factors are successfully ramped up. There was a concern about tech uses and potential partnerships resulting in avenues for increased harassment and exclusion from Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. There was a concern with Wikipedia’s need to increase and keep up with technology trends to capture all potential users and knowledge; for example, increasing video embedment in Wikipedia articles and creating more mobile friendly apps as most individuals view content on mobile devices. There was a worry that if Wikipedia doesn't keep up with digital trends, a new website will come in quickly and replace it, and Wikipedia won’t exist in it’s current form as the go-to encyclopedia. There was a caution that tech development needs to happen carefully and in a calculated way so as not to inadvertently create more safety issues and exclusionary practices that keep groups from participating.

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