Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/2019 Community Conversations/Strategy Salons/Reports/Wikimedia South Africa

Date and location


2 August 2019 in Johannesburg ( Wits University) and the event in Cape town ( University of Cape Town) held on 3 August but due to poor attendance due to unrests at the time it was held again on 22 September.

Participant List


In Johannesburg

  • Bobbyshabangu (talk) 14:53, 3 October 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • Ludwick Ramalira
  • Phiwe Nameyi
  • Brittany Zoe Masters
  • Malusi King Madyaka
  • Mzwanele Tshishonga
  • Queen MOOI
  • Lewis Ckool
  • Paballo
  • Mark Lepoto
  • Thato Goanose
  • Rethabile Dladla
  • Bongani Boyd Mahlangu
  • Bonga Trolly
  • Phiwo Nameyi
  • Brittany Masters
  • Queen Mooi
  • Ludwig Pamalia
  • Sipho Moju Pye
  • Mzwanele Tshingise
  • Hemali Khosa
  • Faoud Asfour

In Cape Town

  • A3 Baard
  • Coenraad Loubser
  • Discott
  • Ingrid Thomson
  • Anneri van der Spuy
  • Michael Graaf

What happened


We held youth strategy salon in Johannesburg and in Cape Town on 2 and 3 August 2019 respectively. This Youth Salon Strategy comprised of people mostly from different institutions who are editors of Wikimedia and those who have registered an account but are not that active and those who are daily readers of Wikipedia. These two strategy session focused on the theme of Diversity and Capacity building. In Johannesburg, we first played this 2 minutes video to the whole group to give an overview of the history of Wikimedia, we proceeded to explain from a brief we've sent to them earlier on about the ongoing Movement Strategy discussions. We then divided the group into two, the first discussing Diversity and the second discussing Capacity Building. There were people who's main aim was to take notes in these two groups and there were those who were facilitating the talks. In Cape Town however, the group was not split because it was a small number of participants.

Summary of the discussion points


What do the participants understand about Capacity building?

  • Providing education
  • To improve one’s capability to the next level
  • Providing human tools and capacity
  • Physical and online access
  • Entails being taken seriously
  • Tools and resources that will help one document our own stories

What do participants feel needs to be improved regarding Capacity building in Wikimedia?

  • Do we really need to write everything down?
  • Have a mobile app that is intuitive that will encourage new users to edit on the go.
  • Have friendly spaces with old users that will encourage new users edit.
  • Instead of deleting entire articles for not meeting notability criterion, why don’t Wikimedia put those articles under user’s draft so they can improve them with time?
  • Revisit deletion policies and scholarship awarding policies to favour all climates/environments.
  • Support new users to attend Wikimedia’s conferences than have conferences dominated by experienced users. This is where newbies will be able to learn more and be capacitated.
  • Wikimedia and it's projects is about people not content, the content comes as a results of the people/editors. So the focus needs to be a A Movement Strategy that capacitate people on how to edit on Wikipedia and its sister projects.

Due to the low turn out at the initial Cape Town Youth Strategy Salon ( this was because of unrest that were happening at that time), the Chapter decided to host another session on 22 September 2019. However, due to the fact that draft recommendations had already been compiled, the working group team requested that we rather focus on reviewing the Draft Recommendations and giving feedback on it. As we had previously discussed Capacity Building and Diversity, we decided to remain focused on these topics. Due to time constraints on the day, we focused on items that had specific feedback on and established that we agreed with the remaining recommendations.

Cape Town, 03 August

The following TOPICS came up during the salon:

In communities, like the global south, diversity and capacity building are intertwined. By addressing the problem of diversity you can often solve the problem of capacity at the same time.

Communication (Capacity): When we communicate better, we affect people’s ability to become involved.


  • People don’t know that they can edit Wikipedia, never mind the fact that there are communication channels like Facebook and mailing lists.
  • Maintaining the diverse lists and communication channels become an administrative nightmare Chapter volunteers do not have the time capacity to do so
  • Mailing lists: Signing up to a Wikimedia mailing list can be hard and confusing.
  • There is no function to check to which lists you are subscribed.
  • Email is fast becoming an antiquated form of communication.

Local Recommendation:

  • Create capacity by paying someone to maintain the lists and make sure that all communication channels are used to advertise events.
  • Add a big “Join our Whatsapp Group” button to the Wikimedia site and use Whatsapp for Business to send out one way communication, instead of email.

Global recommendations:

  • Create one web page where users can check to which email lists they are subscribed. They should be able to subscribe or unsubscribe to any list.
  • Chapters can add lists to the page as and when new lists are created.
  • Create one web page where users can add themselves to WhatsApp groups.

Languages (Diversity): By highlighting small-language Wikis we increase Capacity in the local language Wiki and eventually Diversity in the larger language wikis.


  • People do not know that they can edit Wikipedia, never mind the fact that it’s available in their language.
  • Oral citations aren’t allowed as a source on English Wikipedia, but the biggest knowledge gaps exist in oral cultures
  • Recording indigenous knowledge is a UN Sustainable Goal which means that oral citations need to be made a priority.

Global Recommendations:

  • Educate the West on the need for oral citations and create Social Consensus on the use thereof aka in which context is oral citations allowable?
  • Educate Oral Cultures that they can use oral citations in their own language Wikipedia, by creating their own Chapter/Language rules.

Education (Diversity and Capacity): By getting kids involved from a young age, you can address Capacity and Diversity.

Global Recommendations: Schools

  • Create posters that can be posted in every school library and computer centre demonstrating to kids that they can edit Wikipedia in their language. These posters can specifically be written in minority languages of that country.
  • Use Banners and Badges to indicate where articles are a Work in Progress or created for school assignments so that the articles do not get flagged for immediate deletion.
  • Create a set of Banners on Wikipedia that targets users who aren’t logged in, stating, “Did you know that Wikipedia is also available in isiXhosa, siZulu, sePedi and Afrikaans?” (for South Africa) OR Did you know that Wikipedia is also available in Catalan? (for Spain). The person can then click on their desired language and be directed to that language Wikipedia.
  • The native language Wikipedia’s should then have a banner stating “Did you know that you can edit Wikipedia yourself? Find out more” and then be linked to a page that explains how editing Wikipedia works. Bonus points if these pages are NOT written in English. This is a very easy thing to implement and immediate results can be tracked.

Global Recommendations: Universities:

  • Champion development is needed at High Schools and Universities.
  • While there are many science related articles, there is a big gap in the Humanities. Team up with Universities and have students submit their papers directly to Wikipedia. The teacher can their serve as the editor/peer-review to review the work and correct use of citations.

Discrimination (Diversity): When we descriminate against a group we limit their contributions to Wikimedia.

Problem: There is systemic bias on certain knowledge categories. Example: If a person is notable in the East, but not in the West, the article often gets flagged for deletion as the “Western Editor” does not deem the person/subject as notable.

Global Recommendation: Amend “notability” to explain more around “notable to whom”. Notable to one person or culture, does not mean notable to all, but that doesn’t mean that the subject isn’t notable. The same is true for something like food. Certain food items hold Cultural Notability for certain groups, but a high level editor who does not agree can delete a page. If the creator of the page is not strong enough to fight for their opinion the knowledge stands the risk of disappearing.

Additional: A more Child-Friendly Wikipedia is needed as kids learn through touch, sound, smell, etc. Not just reading. A few of the participants spoke about how much they enjoyed using MS Encarta back in the day. Encarta is no longer live, but the knowledge still exists.

Melinda Gates said in her UN Digital Cooperation report “We call on the private sector, civil society, national governments, multilateral banks and the UN to adopt specific policies to support full digital inclusion and digital equality for women and traditionally marginalised groups. International organisations such as the World Bank and the UN should strengthen research and promote action on barriers women and marginalised groups face to digital inclusion and digital equality.”[1] We think that Wikimedia should challenge Microsoft to donate Encarta to Wikimedia for the free use by all children.

Cape Town, 22 September

The following TOPICS came up during the Salon
Capacity Building:

Recommendations in a Nutshell

Building Capacity for Capacity Building:

  • Overall we agree that this is important, especially to establish a "taxonomy of core capacities" as we are all from different languages/backgrounds and establishing that everyone is talking about the same thing in the same way often takes time and leads to misunderstandings.
  • "toolbox of methods to build them people trained": We like this, however, where data is expensive, people should have the option to do as much as possible offline.

Mentoring and Leadership Development

  • "Professionalization of officials in the movement": What does this mean? Is this referring to paid roles?
  • Is this admin staff? People that can train trainers?
  • Let's assume it's a paid role:
  • Risk: Corporatising Wikipedia - This is already happening in Wikimedia Germany.
  • Risk Mitigation: We can combat this by seperating admin roles (paid) from volunteers. The volunteers should always be the governace/descion makers/strategic visionaries.
  • Wikipedia must remain volunteer based. There can be a growth cycle however:
  • Maybe you start as a volunteer, then you feel strongly about editing or a specific area and you get paid to get it.
  • Volunteers can be party incentivised to become a paid member. There must be a revolving door, never a career.
  • However, if you are a Paid Member, you should not have a vote in your Chapter or Group.

Recognizing individuals

  • If you want to recognise an individual, you need to recognise their context as well. Not everyone has the means or the money to contribute as much as they want, but they often have the time. These contributors need to be nutured and supported.
  • Without support they can't deliver results ( by means of data, tech, knowledge, etc)
  • Create a standard package either that can be paid upfront (like a Chapter simcard that is prepaid by the Chapter) or reimbursement rules for data, travel costs. Mini-fellowships can be created within each chapter. Wikimedia sim card that is paid by the Chapter.
  • Upfront loans, with reimbursements.
  • Paid editing: We're using barnstars and points per article to rate someone's contribution, but this is also a form of paid editing

Capacity building unit :

  • We agree that the Foundation has a disproportionate amount of power and that this can be spread across units.
  • Having one unit to serve all the Chapters could become problematic however as there are a lot of people to serve.
  • Rather, each chapter should have a Capacity Champion that is connected to the Unit, either directly or through a Continental Point person.

Other suggestions that the Unit can implement across Chapters:

  • Welcome Wagon: Every time a new person signs up to Wikipedia in your country, they get a personalised email from the Welcome Wagon person with their local Chapter's contact email address. This will make people feel welcome and give them recourse when there is a edit person. This can be a paid position.
  • Training Bootcamps for new members. When there are enough people interested, you organise the bootcamp.

Recommendations in a Nutshell

Code of conduct:

  • Take the friendly space policy and extend to online
  • Include it as part of the New Member Onboarding Procedure

Diversity Metrics:

  • In the South African context we would measure Diversity in the Language Gap Reduction. e.g Articles on local language Wiki's.
  • "A language is a dialect with an army" - Someone. "These days the army can be an online army" - Michael

Body Quotas:

  • It is important to remember that the Quota is a target and we need to keep questioning, "why are we not there?".
  • Risk: What if the user group is a LGBT group or a minorty respresentative group, like Khoekhoegowab this would meant that they would probably be skewed in one gender and would not be able to meet the quota numbers?
  • Hiring for hiring sake, doesn't work, e.g. Having a person of a specific gender to make up the quota when they have no experience or qualifications. The necessary mentoring needs to be in place for these members.
  • Rather: User groups need representation on the Chapter and Foundation Governing Bodies. Representation should not be dictated by gender, but rahter by user groups.
  • Every user group should have a representative on the governing bodies.


  • Replace Ombudsperson with just "Ombud" as "Ombudsman" comes from the Swedish and they have now dropped the "man".
  • Just saying "Ombud" is more neutral and modern.


  • A big swing towards voice makes sense in this age of machine learning. We should note that commercial voice-interface "assistants" such as Alexa and Siri make extensive use of Wikidata; also that Google is deploying its voice "assistant" on cheap phones targetting communities previously marginalised from global discourse. Furthermore, we must also note that WMF is the only non-profit in a position to provide non-exploitative support for voice functionality. This is a challenge and an opportunity, even a responsibility. By 2030 Wikimedia could (should?) be the go-to provider of real-time translation, live captioning on video, and so on. All media on Commons should (already!) have captions that can be read by screen-reader tech used by visually challenged user.

Reflections from participants or partners


Participants felt it was very important for Wikimedia Foundation to initiate these community consultative conversations. They particularly liked the bottom up approach.

Photographs or videos

2030 Wikimedia Youth Salon Movement Strategy at Wits University in Johannesburg
2030 Wikimedia Youth Salon Movement Strategy at Wits University in Johannesburg
2030 Wikimedia Youth Salon Movement Strategy at Wits University in Johannesburg
2030 Wikimedia Youth Salon Movement Strategy at Wits University in Johannesburg
2030 Wikimedia Youth Salon Movement Strategy at Wits University in Johannesburg
2030 Wikimedia Youth Salon Movement Strategy at Wits University in Johannesburg
2030 Wikimedia Strategy Salon in Cape Town

Statement on your budget


We were granted 400 USD to run both events in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The grants were used in payment of ground travel, refreshments and Telkom costs (making calls for organising the event) for all the 3 events. We used all the grants and have no remaining grants.