Recommendation I (principles): Include knowledge consumers
We shall dedicate resources to reader/knowledge consumer experience and engagement, especially for those who are new. This can include ongoing research, well funded global campaigns to make people aware of Wikipedia, and research to continually understand the needs of new and existing knowledge consumers. We will dedicate resources to the broader knowledge ecosystem, going where knowledge consumers are and understand their needs so we can provide a better service to them.
Without readers or knowledge consumers (for the sake of clarity we avoid here the word “user”, which has a specific meaning in our movement) of our projects and knowledge services, we are irrelevant. Novel ways of providing knowledge, different needs of the new audiences and the changing expectations of the current ones, even automation, may make our services irrelevant very soon. We need to consider what services people and institutions in their different contexts need from our projects, and how we can provide them. Potentially, we also want to consider including readers eventually as a stakeholder in decision-making.
As shown by ‘New Voices’ research, future internet users have different information needs, which are not necessarily addressed by the current state of Wikimedia projects. Furthermore, the existing users may drift away to novel, non-free services provided by e.g. commercial entities. To stay relevant and function in the knowledge ecosystem, we need to be aware of and address these new needs and changes in the knowledge market.
We are using knowledge consumers as a broader term than readers. There is an expectation of providing a service and people having different experiences with the different products – we want to enhance the positive ones and diminish the negative ones.
We have to bring the knowledge consumer experience into the equation, especially the newer ones. Currently, it is an afterthought. Knowledge is created and we don’t consider what service is needed.
Knowledge consumer experience relies on the quality of content, intermediating software and other possible services we provide. In the past, we have utilized our position providing a constant inflow of readers, creators and activists. Technological and cultural changes may block us from reaching new audiences and keeping existing ones. If we understand knowledge as a service, we need to understand the needs of the people we serve so we can accommodate them. That will allow as to build a better, more targeted product, and succeed in our mission.
(Example: Wikidata currently operates under the assumption that people will learn SPARQL to operate it. The reality is that most people in academic institutions do not have the time to learn SPARQL, and so cannot use the data. This is a missed opportunity in education.)
From Community conversations:
- Spanish speaking community: “People are willing to donate more than if we sell a product. The best way to continue doing this is to improve the product”
- Staying relevant – still providing a needed service in the world.
- Getting more knowledge consumers (and potentially creators).
- Better infrastructure will support content production, consumption and further re-use.
WM decision makers - as the perspective and needs of the content users (e.g. readers) will be needed to be taken under consideration in a more explicit manner.
- Editors could revolt if their needs/desires are in opposition to knowledge consumers.
- The reader variable is conflated with editors or developers and the like (who also read the projects, but are not primarily readers). Wrong conclusions may be drawn.
- Research is not adequately communicated to the relevant communities.
- Research/consultation/… is done poorly, e.g. in a tiny/strongly non-representative/… subgroup of content users, and all the major groups or users are not identified and researched.
- Participatory research on readers with analysis may provide better, context-informed results. Close co-operation with creators, developers etc. should increase the probability of proper changes.
- Promote reader point of view. Inclusion of the point of view of content users will be a cultural change for many communities.
- Research/consultation/… takes into account the existence of different important audiences, recognizes them after research (e.g. institutional partners, school students, hobbyists, elderly readers) in particular (language, thematic) projects, and checks with them further.
- Increase spending on tools and programmes focused on readers, including new potential readers (this includes research).
- Make closer connections with content creators to implement lessons learned.
- Pave the path for readers as stakeholders with potentially a role in decision-making.
This recommendation could benefit from decentralization and stronger local structures, as the users’ experience may be highly culture and context specific.
It adds the readership angle to the question Q3 What is the purpose of a movement wide resource allocation system?
It also very broadly addresses the Knowledge as a service part of the strategic direction
May be connected with:
- Product and technology
- Community health (tangentially)
- Revenue streams (addressing needs of users and donors)