Talk:Community Engagement/Leadership Development Dialogue

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Please respond to any of the discussion prompts to share your ideas about how we can design the peer academy.

There are many ways to participate. Share a new idea, add to or comment on an existing idea, ask a question, or vote on words and labels.

Part 1: How should we design the peer academy? edit

Which ideas seem best for deciding who should participate in the in-person trainings organized by WMF, to ensure that participants share what they learn with a broad selection of Wikimedia communities? edit

Click here to read more about the challenges of an inclusive selection process.

One big challenge with current training opportunities offered by the Wikimedia Foundation is the WMF must limit the number of participants at in-person events such as Learning Days, and organize these trainings alongside other major movement events in order to save on costs. This means that not all potential attendees are able to attend these events, and that the group of potential attendees is often limited to those who are already participating in major movement events and may have had access to trainings and leadership opportunities in the past. These limitations make reaching a broader group of participants that can bring more skills back to Wikimedia communities more challenging. We need a process for selecting applicants for these trainings that will bring real benefits back to a broad selection Wikimedia communities.

Some of the ideas we have:

1. Select based on evidence of sharing and mentoring in Wikimedia communities - applicants will be selected based on how much they share and mentor in Wikimedia communities. edit
  • This is a good idea. I think once your community is benefiting from your input and can attest to your ability to share and mentor, you're a good candidate Sandiooses (talk) 21:13, 20 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • A candidates leadership skills can be assessed based on their ability to mentor their own community. So, I think this one is a good idea.tahmina.tithi (talk) 07:46, 21 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Very good idea.Depending upon number of persons mentored by someone and improvement in their performance as well as feedback from all the persons leader mentored will give true feedback about actually the way leader had mentored them and by SWAT analysis, weakness can be converted to strength. Sumita Roy Dutta (talk) 06:31, 22 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • This idea sounds good, logical, but I fear it becoming a little bit of the self-fulfilling prophecy of promoting those already on-track to be leaders to more opportunities, without a mechanism for bringing in new talent, perspectives, under-represented groups. Some people are probably very prepared to get involved in training/leadership, but may feel they've never had the chance as all leadership spots in their local group are "crowded/taken," for example. This selection method is a good element to take into consideration, to promote leaders in-house, but I don't think it should be the only determinant of selection, and am in more in-favor to a blended application process. Thanks!--Pineapples100 (talk) 16:25, 6 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
I agree - maybe we can also engage people who have no any leadership position at the moment in Wikimedia World, but have some leadership experience in other communities and sound interest in our movement in general. Polimerek (talk) 20:43, 6 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I also agree with comments from Pineapples100 and Polimerek. So many people outside Community share their passion about Wikipedia, and they promote also Wikipedia as relevant, so those people also need to be include. Maybe all communities can help with public announcements or using social media, where they can try to find different people (even outside Community). --Ehrlich91 (talk) 19:49, 8 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Ideas for other selection criteria to take into consideration (people could self report I guess?): reputation built (perhaps created by being proactive in the past), ability - skills or knowledge that could be shared and help others, firm sense of goals, positive communication, being focused on optimistic future. Daria Cybulska (WMUK) (talk) 14:29, 10 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I am not against it, but I think this selecting method has its weakness, which is it focuses on the past. Evidence means a prove of quality, but the proven leader may have been involved for some time with the community, and his/her tiring period can be happening sooner (than the newer recruits, which maybe implies the future of the community). XoXo (talk) 10:18, 11 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Agree with this. We should focus on two groups: allow people with leading positions in the community to develop themselves, but also give new people the chance to get into this kind of leading positions. MADe (talk) 16:25, 13 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
Yes, the issue with the first is that it can be used to perpetuate a clique of individuals who invested with a position will choose those who agree with them and not allow in fresh thoughts or people outside of their good graces. This reminds me of the senior leadership selection boards used by the U.S. Navy. The entire saying of Chiefs choose their own.
An alternative pathway should be provided to allow active users in good standing and a long history of positive editing (eve with a hiccup or two (we as people are fallible after all)) to try to mentor and support other user/editors.
That said either way, we need to implement safeguards that these groups, while well meaning, don't become offline tools to support meatpuppetry and a forum to target users who don't share a groups POV, editing style, or part of that clique. One way to ensure that this positive attempt doesn't devolve into that is to be open and transparent about as much as we can.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 00:36, 19 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Broadly agree. People who are starting to do this kind of thing are the best candidates to do more of it. Though I would suggest that there should also be a path for people who have this kind of skill from outside the Wikiworld to take part, as Polimerek notes. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk)
Though it can also be argued that those most seeking to lead, or to have power, are those who ahould be least trusted to have it.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 00:36, 19 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Compared to others, I like this better. Rehman 02:23, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I like this idea of selecting based on merits. Even though i like the idea I concur with several comments on why we should look beyond just current program and community leaders within the community, but search both within and outside of the movement for people who have or share a keen interest in the movement and want to lead by helping others. I strongly believe its an opportunity to groom leaders who can in turn grow the number of leaders back in their community or country who did not have the same opportunity to be trained as not everybody can be called on for such a training.--Flixtey (talk) 21:59, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I support this idea and I think it is perfect leaders should be selected based on their merits and their contributions.If this is done we can be sure that what leaders learn will be very useful to their communities since at the end of the day they will in turn impact their communities--Rberchie (talk) 13:31, 20 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • This criterium is tricky as it is based on the current activity, rather than potential. What would be most important, is to see whether the basic needs to take a leadership role are present - not to determine if they are already taking this role. In a merit-based community like Wikimedia, this typically requires that the person in question has at least a field where they are considered to be an expert of sorts, and take some level of initiative. Sharing experiences however may feel irrelevant when those lessons are already out there, are considered obvious or if the person exactly needs this kind of training. Effeietsanders (talk) 19:41, 22 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  •   Includes community members who have showcased their commitment to Wikimedia mission and proven their ability to take ownership, i.e. people prepared to carry the weight of a leading role.
  Gives additional competence and motivation to existing leaders, hopefully pushing them even further.
  Excludes people who have not yet engaged with Wikimedia movement on a leading level, but who actually have experience and skills from their action outside Wikimedia movement or natural potential.
  It is hard to compare sharing and mentoring activities over different projects and different languages, but as well in on-wiki and off-wiki activities. It seems that it ought to be based on rather qualitative assessment than quantitative, but this makes it even harder and more subjective.
  Generally it seems rational to integrate proven track record in the selection process, even if it is only one of criterias in certain (experienced) cases.
--Kaarel Vaidla (WM EE) (talk) 20:17, 23 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
2. Select based on progress toward goals set at previous trainings - applicants will be selected based on proven track records of achieving intended results. edit
  • This can be considered along with idea no. 1 tahmina.tithi (talk) 07:46, 21 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • For this selection approach, I think online modules would go a long way here! I know there are many warm-up activities that occur during the first day/segments of Learning Day, but how great would it be if participants were already warmed-up and ready to take it to the next level on the actual day! Pre-learning day modules online could even help to determine work groups for the actual in-person activities based on skill set and interest, and participants could take steps to work together and get to know one another before-hand, without having to do that all at the same time during the conference and probably suffering a bit of Jet Lag, haha. At least with physical results/metrics from a few activities/modules online, real interest could be gauged on topics and participation, and really help to tailor the best physical learning sessions possible. Hope things work out, I look forward to seeing the developments!--Pineapples100 (talk) 16:18, 6 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • The best community leaders are those who can practically help and motivate others to undertake initiatives or accomplish goals. It would be very effective if persons with proven track record are selected, as they are someone who can truly assure us to take ahead the tasks they've undertaken. I support this method. Tanweer (talk) 14:16, 9 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • It can be one of the selecting factors, but it should not be too dominant that the majority of the selected ones will be from the same-old-already-high-performanced communities/groups. There should be a different difficulty levels of goals achieved between "advanced" communities/groups and "weaker/less resourced" ones. XoXo (talk) 10:34, 11 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • this is logic.. But how will we select new people to the programme? People without previous trainings to base our selection on? MADe (talk) 16:27, 13 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • For a good community leaders its need to select based on track records of achieving. This idea may considered with Idea 1. Hasivetalk 09:47, 15 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Not really. Most potential recruits have never done any sort of structured "previous trainings" - only a tiny minority of Wikipedians have. Johnbod (talk) 20:49, 15 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • It look like a burocratic process and could work, howerer, not for every leader. --The Photographer (talk) 02:19, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • To kinda echo the other comments above, I think this should be considered together with #1. We want to grow the number of community leaders and we can't do that without new blood. By definition, new blood won't have a proven track record. I think what this #2 criterion really wants to achieve is to give negative consideration to people who really fail, to put it bluntly. —seav (talk) 07:51, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • This suggests that this criterium can only be applied after following at least one training. I can see how achieving commitments makes sense as a criterium (unless an explanation is offered). However, achieving goals as a measure would be harder, because that would primarily stimulate low goals to be set, goals that are certain to be met. Also, when you want leaders to exchange experiences, you need some people who are failing in meeting goals, even though they're trying hard, and people who didn't need many goals. Therefore, the criterium is imho very vague and unsatisfying. It depends a lot on the content of the actual workshops, and what is considered realistic. First thing I would ask myself, is whether there would be a benefit to keep the group the same over a series of workshops, and whether that would add value to the conversations. Effeietsanders (talk) 19:45, 22 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  •   Helps to select achievers to the program and thus support it's effectivity and increase probability of achieving set goals.
  Participants have gone successfully through prior training and therefore are probably capable to make the most from new trainings.
  Progress towards set training goals is probably easy to follow and also a good base for comparisons.
  Excludes people who have not yet engaged with Wikimedia movement on a leading level, but who actually have experience and skills from their action outside Wikimedia movement or natural potential. Also excludes people who have not yet gone through training in Wikimedia.
  People may have attended trainings that did not suit their needs, skillset and interest. This may hinder people to improve their skills on the field they are interested in and actually are active on.
  Although this selection criteria will probably involve people who will succeed in leadership, it seems perhaps too exclusive. Could be used for new people enrolled in some type of leadership training and to decide if it makes sense to engage them in further activities.
--Kaarel Vaidla (WM EE) (talk) 20:30, 23 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
3. Select based on first-come-first-served system, with a limit of no more than one person per group. edit
This is not a practical way and not enough pragmatic. Tanweer (talk) 14:18, 9 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • It is not a good idea, since people are selected based on access/timing rather than their potential impacts. XoXo (talk) 10:22, 11 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • sounds not a good idea. We should be inclusive. This proposal is not. MADe (talk) 16:30, 13 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Totally disagree with this idea. Its not a good idea. Hasivetalk 09:49, 15 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Not good at all. --Dyolf77 (talk) 12:50, 15 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • If this limit result on more participation of small groups, maybe it could be a good idea --The Photographer (talk) 02:22, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Not a good idea. Since we are investing time and resources to train and cultivate people, it makes sense that we select the most promising candidates instead of relying on chance. —seav (talk) 07:25, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Certainly not a good idea.This will make it a random selection process which is not the best way to goRberchie (talk) 13:34, 20 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I think this may be better than the alternatives. If you select multiple people from a group (depending on how you define 'group' of course) who have a very similar background, that makes interactions much less valuable. And if you accept that, the question comes up how to choose between two interested people. If you make a selection based on anything objective, the cost of rejection may be larger than what the workshop brings - a feeling of rejection can set back volunteers in their level of enthusiasm a lot. Letting them compete might wreck up the group. I would prefer to run parallel programs over time, and that both persons, if both suitable, can join separately. I hope others have better ideas than first come, first serve though! In the opinions stated above I don't find many alternatives. Effeietsanders (talk) 19:49, 22 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  •   Includes people who are interested in training and take action.
  Makes it possible for people who are not yet involved in Wikimedia leader- and mentorship, as well as training events to get on board.
  Limiting number of participants to one per group makes the group rather diverse and also leaves room for groups where information about trainings is processed and spread later.
  Excludes people who are thorough and investigate before taking action. Thinking before applying maybe actually a good trait in leadership development.
  One participant per group rule may create thick blood on local level in some occasions.
  Although this method has to be used with care, especially getting the information across to suitable target group, this may acctually be a good model to engage new people with Wikimedia leadership by using their active stance and giving them a taste. This can be combined with proposed criteria nr. 2 by following their track record in meeting set goals from the first training before making any further time or resource investment.
--Kaarel Vaidla (WM EE) (talk) 20:41, 23 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
4. Select based on an application that includes recommendations or on-wiki nominations. edit
  • Application will be necessary as one should be able to communicate their intentions. However on-wiki nominations is a no-no. Users who may come to vote/nominate may not know the persons as well as their local communities. (Unless on-wiki nominations are meant for local community members) Sandiooses (talk) 21:13, 20 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • This is also a good idea as candidates popularity and leadership skills can be judged based on the recommendations. tahmina.tithi (talk) 07:46, 21 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Tahmina hit the nail on the head here but I see it as a negative as this would also morph into a popularity contest or worse favours for mates. It would also hit those isolated more than those where we have strong communities. Gnangarra (talk) 01:20, 6 October 2016 (UTC) Reply
  • Maybe it could be used as one of the selection factors - but necessarily the most important one. Polimerek (talk) 20:46, 6 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I agree that this should be one of the important factor, because of course the community will know better who has the potential to give impact on their works. As for underrepresented groups, a certain quota can be allocated for them. XoXo (talk) 09:56, 11 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • this could be a great way of selecting the right people. Watch out for cultural differences though .. Some cultures will look down on people that want to take leadership positions. Others might select only the older (read: experienced) members.. MADe (talk) 16:29, 13 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Could certainly include this, though I wouldn't suggest making plentiful on-wiki endorsements a necessary criterion. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 17:07, 13 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • It is essential to consider the opinion of the community. But I think this should not be the only criterion to select candidates. On-wiki recommendations lack of real and "human" contact and only a virtual assessment could even be dangerous. --Dyolf77 (talk) 12:45, 15 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • The mechanism should be well structured and doing this could result in more disadvantages than benefits, however, we must find a way to involve the community. A good practice could be ask it to the community :) --The Photographer (talk) 02:27, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Please also see my disclaimer below; if this approach is balanced between development and empowerment, a combination of 1 and 4 makes sense to me. Half of the seats could be appointed to those who already share and mentor within the movement; the other half to those who are nominated by their own groups, affiliates or communities. Nominations can follow recommendations and suggestions for selecting the delegates who will be able to contribute to and benefit from the trainings and are also well connected to their peers at home (e.g. see “how to select the delegates for WMCON”). Nominations should be done offline, to make sure they do not become a popularity contest. An interesting learning from the WMDE support programme is that we rarely see new people applying for support, and this might apply to the broader movement, too. In a grass root movement like ours, the groups of participants should come from a broader range of groups and people and be inclusive to those who are under-represented. --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 19:06, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • This is a very good idea and justifies the work of the leader in the community. It also even gives room for volunteers to actually recommend a great leader irrespective of whether they are within or outside the movement --Flixtey (talk) 22:07, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • In some groups, this could work well, but in other groups it could turn into a competitive style that would wreck up the group if multiple people with similar backgrounds apply. Be careful with it. Rather, find experts yourself, and ask their feedback. This is a bit more work, but helps to select people who are more shy about putting their network at work for their personal benefits. Effeietsanders (talk) 19:52, 22 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  •   Writing an application and letter of motivation seems like a good idea in selecting right people, but also in shaping the training to fit the expectations of trainees, if needed.
  Recommendations are a good way to determine actual role and leadership of a person or one's potential.
  On-wiki voting is a public and transparent way to decide.
  Writing an application or motivation letter may seem too bureaucratic for some Wikimedians who actually have good leadership potential.
  On-wiki voting may become popularity voting, which is not the same as actual leadership. Also some people may not want to participate on such public voting due to climate of the project or cultural background.
  I do believe that application is needed in the process and recommendations may not be too bad in evaluation of candidates. This could work extremely well for bringing people on board who are experienced leaders in other communities, but have not yet excelled in Wikimedia movement. I would rather not go for on-wiki voting, unless it is done in some quiet corner on met.
--Kaarel Vaidla (WM EE) (talk) 20:56, 23 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
5. Other ideas! edit
  • (Add your comment here) (Don't forget to add your signature)
  • Excessive bureaucracy.
WMF has been annihilating leaders from some time, demanding more paper than things really tangible. Who are working with the foundation projects need urgent help and not not a huge waste of time in reports and banal things. Some people who have enough time working here need to be supported, for example, there are some users who has been victims of theft to his photography camera and others who simply do not have money to buy one. They have shown long they have been doing a good job, a little help is always welcome. For example, a mechanism of camera donation from WMF directly that encourages participation, giving priority to poor countries and women. --The Photographer (talk) 02:54, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Woman protection.
I can not say why this is so, however, the Wikimedia community is too masculine. Many women leaders have been threatened with death and rape. WMF must find a mechanism for participation of women leaders protecting them.--The Photographer (talk) 02:54, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Consider the potential contributions of leaders who are critical of the Wikimedia movement's flaws.
There are an ample number of critics of the Wikimedia movement's various mistakes, controversial decisions, and priorities. Some of these critics have thoughtfully organized their thoughts in blog posts, news stories, and statements on message boards. The movement should do more to bring those people into the leadership conversation, else how do we ever learn from our mistakes? - Thekohser (talk) 13:20, 21 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
Every organization has room for improvement, if they are willing to listen. To often well thought out criticism is not listened to based on being within an echo chamber of like minded people. It can also be uncomfortable listening to others truths based on their perception of what we may view as a positive action. However, we shall only improve if we have the fortitude to be critical about ourselves and the shortcomings of the movement.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 00:48, 19 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • In-person workshops and top-down hierarchical models are generally inefficient
Large Wikipedia Education teams all over the world have long learned that in-person learning is fairly inefficient. Wikimedia Conference is an especially exclusive event where mostly leaders of affiliated organizations (such as board members) gather so organizing learning days there has limited potential. These people are concerned with the overall vision, strategy and funding. Not many have time for efficient sharing the learnings from workshops to their community. All the successful initiatives in the 21st century are based on networking and not top-down hierarchy. All efforts aimed at developing community skills must use a clever and attractive P2P system that enables to group a "mentor" with an appropriate "mentee" and bring satisfaction to both.--Vojtěch Dostál (talk) 21:14, 21 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
Although I do not fully agree with Vojtěch on the negative assessment of in-person trainings, I really support the idea of a P2P online mentoring network. In a not very systematic way, we are already doing this, but so far people have to be lucky enough to find each other (often in the context of in person events btw ;-) )/ know somebody they can turn to. Promoting a central platform where people can pair up would make this approach work for a broader group (inlcuding people not being very well networked in the movement yet) and could lead to even better results concerning finding the best person for the skills and experiences needed. In person meetings (e.g. during big regional or global wiki events) can complement this approach, because getting to know each other in real life often makes a trustful online cooperation easier. From my experience volunteer leaders, but also staff of affiliates can contribute a lot to such an approach. However, it would also require a movement culture where it is actually appreciated when some of the available (staff) resources are spent on such work and also a broader perspective on what serving a community means (i.e. that it can expand well beyond your geographical community). --CDG (WMAT staff) (talk) 09:09, 4 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
I would also support Vojtěch's and Claudia's ideas. I also can't fully agree with Vojtěch regarding in-person training as such trainings are very motivating and inspiring for people who want to set up new projects. However, we have little to offer so far for people who already run programmes and are experienced programme leaders and are now seeking to improve these programmes. I can think of Volunteer Supporters Network and Education where there have been more or less successful attempts to build such P2P networks, but we have way more to learn from each other. Each time you are facing a challenge with a Wikimedia-related programme (whatever programme, be it promoting Wikipedia via social networks or organising a GLAM cooperation), you will most likely be able to find a person who already faced this challenge somewhere else in the world. We should indeed capitalise on this and build a platform to develop such P2P networks — NickK (talk) 07:17, 6 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
Conferences shouldn't only be for the in-clique but a way to build social bonds and improve online relationships. That there is a view that conferences are primarily for a certain group to rub elbows shows that there is a need for improvement.
Perhaps hangouts of multiple editors, utilizing open source programs, maybe a way to build those relationships without needing to travel (as travel is not within the fiscal or political realm of all editors).--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 00:48, 19 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
+1 - online mentoring should be used in a more effective way and people ought to be remembered that this possibility exists. I do believe that face-to-face meetings are inspirational from time to time, but on a quotidian basis online peer-to-peer mentoring is the most effective option. --Kaarel Vaidla (WM EE) (talk) 21:01, 23 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I differ here in that I have both benefited from in-person contact(Wikimania) and been successful in building activity from workshops. I first attened a wikimania in 2012 in Washington from there I heard about Monmouth and started two wikitowns in Western Australia. In 2014 I attended the WMUK training before Wikimania that gave me the more skills on presentations and the development of presentations. Since then I have helped to create a language project, presented to a number of organisations, run wle for the first time in Australia, and have 4 Universities here using the creation of Wikipedia content as part of the course work. In person and Wikimania conference do empower people the failings of these arent in the concept but in the execution of aspects of these. Gnangarra (talk) 01:38, 6 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I think we should be aiming for both in-person and online/distributed training and support. I think it's worth thinking about the reasons why in-person is usually easier, as it also highlights some of the barriers to doing it at distance. (I don't claim any huge expertise in this area, just based on my experience of running in-person workshops and participating in online learning)
  • In person events have way higher completion rates.. It is often easier to get someone to actually attend a 2-day workshop than to get them to actually complete 16 hours of online learning. And it is almost always easier to get someone to lead a 3 hours of workshop session than it is to get the same person to actually provide 3 hours of mentoring or what have you over Skype. I think this is because: a) the time commitment for in-person events is much better defined and more focused, b) there is social reinforcement of what you are doing, and c) there are more opportunities for feedback (both ways). Effective distance learning uses tools to replicate or overcome all of these issues, which comes on to:
  • Effective online learning has high setup costs. For an in-person event you need: a room, a facilitator, a flip-chart, and a common understanding of what you're doing. Everything else you can work out on the spot (not recommended, but possible). For online/distributed learning you need far more infrastructure, far more content up front, and a much much more detailed plan of the methodology you are going to use - what is self-directed learning, what is Moodle-style online learning, what is Skype calls, and so on.
Given that we currently don't do much of this organisational development work at all, I would suggest that the first step should be making the in-person provision broader and better. Once that's starting to work, then is the time to build online learning. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 17:00, 13 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Facilitate skill development, and leadership will emerge: I'm not sure if leadership is best served by dedicated 'leadership' trainings. Especially because leadership is a very diverse concept, and may meet different needs across the board. Rather, I would support a series of trainings/workshops/activities that focus on specific skills (communication, PR, mentorship, mediation, project management etc) that are sometimes qualities that would help the leaders you're looking to support, but sometimes just help specific volunteers who want to be better at it. It would help you to focus, avoid the leadership label (not sure if leadership is helped by people being labeled as 'leaders', rather to the contrary), help with the selection criteria and lower the threshold. It would also enable people that are a bit more shy about themselves to apply, who don't necessarily consider themselves as 'leaders' (even if some of the community members would consider them as such). Effeietsanders (talk) 20:00, 22 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Thinking about affiliates, peer mentors, and other kinds of community leaders, what kinds of events, tools, or resources would most help leaders reach their goals? edit

Click here to read more about the difference between peer mentoring events and existing trainings.

Peer mentoring events will not replace Learning Days. We want in-person trainings like Learning Days to be one part of WMF's strategy for supporting healthy communities. We think that there are opportunities for many kinds of support. We need your help, to understand how you think we should provide this support.

The goals of the peer academy:

  • Increase transparency, inclusiveness, and equitability through leadership development opportunities
  • Increase learning and collaboration across the movement
  • Make it less difficult for community leaders to find people, resources, and development opportunities
  • Streamline communication to empower people across regions and programs to share knowledge
  • Increase accountability for those who receive support

James Salsman, who recently completed mentoring a Google Summer of Code Project for accuracy review of the wikipedias recommends the review system architecture be expanded to accommodate a general peer learning content development, execution, and speaking skills intelligibility remediation system. -James Salsman
  • Training in the Gordon-model of communication, for example the Leader Effectiveness Training (L.E.T.) program. I'm about to start the first module of three to become a certificated communications trainer for this model. My employer reimburses this first module. I'm thinking about applying for an IEG for the next two modules and delivering a L.E.T. or W.E.T. (Wikimedian Effectiveness Training) program to a selected group of Wikimedian leaders. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 19:59, 20 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
A draft proposal for a project grant.
  • One resource can be helping people e.g. representatives of user groups understand what user group contracts imply. And also helping them communicate that to their communities. Sandiooses (talk) 21:18, 20 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Set up a "required reading" list, and make sure it includes commentary that doesn't fall lock-step into the WMF talking points. For example, Wikipedia has an excellent article, List of Wikipedia controversies. Any leader should have a good understanding of how and when Wikipedia backfires, so that similar mistakes are not repeated. - Thekohser (talk) 13:28, 21 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • There needs to be more sharing of power. Right now, the infrastructure tends to concentrate power in a few places and it is not obvious who is holding the power or how they got it. One way to share more power is to encourage the uplift of more leaders, and a good way to do this is to lower the barriers for anyone to attempt to share their ideas and recruit their own collaborators. A practical way to do this is give more people a platform to share their ideas in new channels, and a highly attractive channel is video. Neither the Wikimedia community nor the Wikimedia Foundation has taken much interest in video, as neither of those communities has any stable video publishing channel or following. I would like for there to be dependable investment in getting a video booth at every major Wikimedia event in which a stable camera is put in a quiet room and many people have the opportunity to make short videos on whatever topic they like. This seems trivial, but actually, making 2-4 minute talking head videos is complicated for individuals in wealthy places and nearly impossible for people who are not surrounded by video production culture. A step beyond this could be having a recording booth for 10-minute prepared presentations. Wikimania presentation videos are consistently poor quality, but these talks could be captured by inviting presenters to give their talk a second time at any conference in a private recording booth where they are properly mic'd, videoed, and where their slides can be seen clearly instead of incidentally captured in the background of a broad camera shot. If we invest in giving more people the opportunity to capture their thoughts in media and give them a higher quality media file that they can circulate and promote themselves, then that will create a flow of more leaders soliciting feedback and support for their ideas and more churn in the relevant ideas versus the outdated ones. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:01, 21 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
I like the idea of more video for knowledge transfer within the movement und think that explainer videos can complement the approach outlined by Blue Rasberry above. The cooperation with the simpleshow foundation could be one starting point for creating such online resources.--CDG (WMAT staff) (talk) 10:02, 4 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Peer-to-Peer Training / Alum Network
At the moment I'm not currently in contact (or have the ability to easily) with the alumni from previous rounds of Learning Day, apart from representatives I already knew. It's a shame to lose momentum generated from in-person sessions, and why should we stop teaching one another just because Wikimania has finished? :) Optimally, through modules or workshops online, chat channel (like Slack)/meetup group, etc. previous participants would be able to mentor one another as well as help new participants grow into their own leadership style and /or fill knowledge gaps in teams. Many business teams continually train through Udemy/Treehouse/Lynda, perhaps Learning Day alumni could have access to classes like these online, or presentations, worksheets, etc. Thanks!--Pineapples100 (talk) 16:36, 6 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Train the Trainers, like the one WMUK runs? The idea is to train people not in how to do things directly, but how to teach others. This allows for scale. Daria Cybulska (WMUK) (talk) 14:33, 10 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • +1 to Daria’s mention of Train the Trainers. Developing the training skills that are best suited for one’s own (personal and professional) development and then becoming a trainer oneself can be a huge motivation to participate.
One thing that offers room for improvement is the issue of scalability. Movement resources are finite and we will (most probably) never be able to invite everyone who actually needs such trainings/learning days. Our wish here is that Wikimedia trainings strive for creating more skills and material that allow for follow-up trainings with people in one’s home community, group or organisation. Transferring newly acquired skills to one’s fellows at home (or virtually/online) who are keen to learn about new ideas can create a lot of motivation and inspiration in oneself. What we consider essential for this process is a well functioning network of peers who have already attended such trainings. If the focus is offline knowledge transfer, regional or national proximity might be a factor to consider here, for example in the selection process. For WMCON, we are working with speakers to create more engagement and sustainability, and are keen on learning more about possible methods and materials to make the program design even more effective.
What can also help is the careful creation of social offline networking. Creating moments of sharing and leaving enough space for social interaction at an event helps people to better connect and can improve sustainability of networks.--Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 19:10, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

In what ways might individuals, groups, and organizations in the Wikimedia movement encourage others in the movement to develop leadership skills? edit

Click here to learn more about specific skills.

During our consultations we discovered interest in skills for:

  • Cultivating inclusive environments
  • Empowering others to act
  • Sustaining leadership through development
  • Engaging people in the Wikimedia movement
  • Supporting and growing the cooperation and collaboration

Specific skills that were named as important included:

  • For cultivating more inclusive environments that help individuals empower fellow Wikimedians to achieve more, skills related to: empathy, patience, emotional intelligence, positive reinforcement of successes, and humor.
  • For empowering others to achieve results in Wikimedia communities, skills related to: training and educational leadership, coaching, mentoring, persuasion, and the ability to connect others to learning materials.
  • For sustaining leadership roles in Wikimedia communities, skills related to: delegating, burnout prevention, educating replacements leaders, finding sustainability for the community processes, etc.
  • For sustained engaging new people and activating existing people in the movement, skills related to: communicating, understanding and empathy for the motivations of external communities, etc.
  • For growing cooperation and collaboration across communities, skills related to: encouraging equity in opportunities and rewards, designating appropriate titles and assignments of authority, valuing community consensus, etc.

  • (Add your comment here) (Don't forget to add your signature)
  • Wikimedia affiliates (i.e. chapters, thematic Orgs) might organize some programs especially tailored for the community leaders, where they would get the chance to interact and exchange ideas. And those affiliates may reward and recognize the leaders for their contributions. Tanweer (talk) 14:32, 9 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • It is very difficult to give proper credit for accomplishments in the Wikimedia community, especially accomplishments related to leadership. A person might have the respect of their colleagues, but there is no obvious way for colleagues to demonstrate thanks and respect in a way that seems authentic and meaningful and which can be seen by the online Wikimedia community or offline external partners. Give thanks is especially important with Wikimedia contributors who are primarily outside the Wikimedia community, including students who organize Wikimedia activities at schools, STEM/GLAM organizational partners who bring Wikimedia to their institutions, or organizers of events for the Wikimedia community (contrary to popular belief, Wikimedia events are usually organized with major support from non-Wikimedia contributors). I would like for the Wikimedia community to invest in recognition infrastructure, including verifiable certifications, participation records, and other gamification tools which create records of recognition for people who do things that are not reflected in Wikimedia project edit logs. One requested tool is a certification system for students and other groups who need to complete community service hours, and who are willing to organize Wikimedia events if their participation can be recognized in a way that appears "official". Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:50, 21 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
A huge amount of leadership in our primarily online projects occurs purely online. There are many ways to provide support and resources online. Are there efforts to explore online opportunities, in parallel with/in addition to offline interventions like Learning Days? -Pete F (talk) 06:25, 7 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Part 2: How should we describe leadership in the Wikimedia movement? edit

Click here to learn more about the language we use to describe leadership in the Wikimedia movement

In general, our community has a shared understanding of what it means to to guide communities or programs, and to support others through teaching and coaching. Language used to describe “leadership qualities” in the Wikimedia movement:

Emergent -- having developed skills responsively to timely opportunities or needs, based on the situation in the community
Demonstrated experience -- having skills defined by historical actions and achievements, not through a formal process
Invitational -- having skills to call upon other individuals or groups to participate in activities, in a decentralized way
Empowering -- having skills to support other individuals to develop and interact with individuals and groups to develop leadership

Despite this shared understanding, we have not identified a shared term to describe this form of leadership. The word “leader” doesn’t translate well among communities and cultures, but we discovered some other words that could be used to describe this role in our movement.

Language discovered in consultation to describe “leadership” varies and included, Wikimedia/Wiki:

  • Leaders
  • Guides
  • Mentors
  • Liaisons
  • Facilitators
  • Builders
  • Organizers

Please help to decide what language we use moving forward. edit

Click here to vote on the language to describe community and program leadership in our movement

We plan to use the ideas we gather to help set our course for developing the peer academy, if you want to pursue an idea you have shared, or you would like to start more conversation about your idea with the Wikimedia communities, please add it to IdeaLab.

Comments about labels

  • Terms: Guide / Builder
A huge +1 to these terms! I think there is some language fatigue in reference to some terms like organizer, leader, etc. and in general people are much more skeptical of those trying to denote power or status through their 'title.' With guide and builder, it is a claim to possess knowledge, but only in the capacity to make or help someone else do something physical/concrete. I like the idea of signalling that Wiki volunteers-participants are "do-ers" and the name for a future mentor shouldn't get in the way of that. Thanks!--Pineapples100 (talk) 16:59, 6 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Is it possible to provide one or two example sentences, to indicate how terms like these might be used? E.g., "Alicia helped Bobby understand wiki formatting, and guided him through the process of writing his first Wikipedia article. When she was done, she added to her user page: "I am a Wiki Organizer." Or...something else? I think examples would make it easier to understand what you're aiming at, and would inform better votes. -Pete F (talk) 22:23, 6 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I don't like the term "guide". In the context of Wikipedia/Wikimedia, this makes me think of a document or guidelines. I generally agree that "leader" carries too much baggage so alternate terms would be better. In the context of people who help organize events and projects, I think "facilitator" or "organizer" are good terms. In the context of people who help other people learn stuff (like editing in Wikidata or uploading to Commons), I think "mentor" is a really good term. —seav (talk) 07:45, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Other Questions or Comments edit

Please feel free to share:

Any other questions or comments you have about developing leadership in our movement:

  • (Add your comment here) (Don't forget to add your signature)
  • I'm not clear as to what problem we are trying to solve here. What are we seeking leaders to do? What things aren't happening that leaders could help make happen? I'm having a hard time responding to the questions raised in this consultation without a clearer idea of what we want leaders for.--ArnoldReinhold (talk) 21:12, 19 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I'm glad to see that the Wikimedia Foundation is pursuing leadership recognition/cultivation, something that in hindsight really should have been addressed in the 2010 Strategic Plan. But it's important to recognize leadership that is politically complex, as well as the (highly deserving but) politically safe examples in the blog post. I've just published a recap of the leadership exhibited in the 2011 ACTRIAL proposal, a story too little known in the Wikimedia world. The WMF should take a sufficiently broad view that such examples are included. I expect to do some followup blogging and explore some additional examples (e.g., the Spanish Fork, VisualEditor), so feedback/input is most welcome. Pinging Qgil-WMF, this connects to some of our recent discussion about Superprotect. -Pete F (talk) 06:15, 5 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Continue to work towards self management in all the communities. Take a holistic view and use an evolutionary approach. Continue to communicate our mission, our vision, our common goals and objectives, our values. Allow our volunteers, our editors, our contributors to develop themselves towards self realization. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 07:48, 28 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • A couple of points:
  • To reiterate a point made by Salvador Alcántar at in his talk at Wikimania 2015 that Wikimedia Foundation and chapters are investing funds in projects with project outcomes e.g number of bytes added but much less in skills development unless the people are employees. Wikimedia UK has done some work on this with Midas, however this was around presentation skills. The fundamental point for me is many leadership skills are soft skills which are very difficult to measure meaning it does not fit well within Wikimedia reporting requirements for funding.
  • There are many organisations who offer leadership development courses, I am a volunteer for WYSE International who run values based youth leadership courses, I would love to see more Wikimedians going on such courses funded through Wikimedia organisations. Additionally they would be very knowledgable about how to develop resources for Wikimedia.
Thanks --John Cummings (talk) 19:44, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Any other comments or feedback regarding the format or function of this consultation

  • (Add your comment here) (Don't forget to add your signature)
  • General best practice for this kind of consultation is to have each question on a separate subpage. The toppage can transclude all subpages to provide an easy readable overview. The separate subpages provide ease of editing. Plus as bonus a separate subpage has its own talk page, so a meta discussion about a question has its proper place. I'm almost tempted to do it now myself. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 19:52, 20 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • In my view, a lot of effort is being spent on a fairly abstract Leadership Development Dialogue and this page sometimes feels like a sociological essay. I wonder if "selecting the correct language" and "sustainable foundation for leadership development support" is a problem that many Wikipedians/Wikimedians will feel attracted to. I.e. this may be an important discussion but maybe many people don't know what it is all about and hence will not be willing to participate. I guess a much shorter page with just core practical information would be more helpful :-). --Vojtěch Dostál (talk) 21:01, 21 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
    • @Vojtěch Dostál: Thanks for the feedback. We want to get to that next step too: but we have also learned, that a lot of people are noticing the need for more leadership development, but think they are the only ones noticing. Our next step, is to develop the practical information :) Without a baseline "we know that our assumptions about leadership to be broadly acceptable", its been hard to build a shared practice -- for example, though many people talk about volunteer burnout, we haven't spent much time explicitly training folks in such strategies -- a set of tools that needs to be available among many of our leaders. Astinson (WMF) (talk) 14:51, 26 September 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • WMF always ask us to spend an enormous time in consultations and suggestions, however, WMF make decisions without really taking into account our opinions. It would be better to place the WMF plan on the table and ask us what we think. --The Photographer (talk) 03:02, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Diverse forms of leadership edit

The leaders of this discussion have had some difficulty defining "what is leadership?" That's because leadership means different things to different people, in different cultures, and in different situations. We need at least two definitions of leadership, and they should be supported in different ways. Note that we do need leadership in many countries and in many languages, but that is not what I'm addressing here.

There is an academic field called "leadership", in particular "leadership in business". I haven't followed the literature much at all and think that they tend to be confused in much the same way as other folks. Probably the first teaching of leadership on any scale was at the US Military Academy at West Point. What they want in leadership is many lieutenants and captains who will lead the troops "over the top" and out of the trenches where half of the troops will be mowed down by the enemy. We don't want that type of leadership in general, but some of the attribute or things that they teach might be useful, e.g. the ability to communicate and show confidence.

There's another type of leadership called "transformational leadership" which is perhaps more what we'd like, but looking at the details might show that we don't want too much of it. First, in business it generally only applies to the CEO or the heads of large groups, e.g. it's about how to change the culture of the whole business. Since it's about leading change, I'd think that whistleblowers might fit in here too, e.g. Daniel Ellsburg (of the Pentagon Papers fame) or Edward Snowden might fit in here. Change-makers are almost by definition out of power, unless a major environmental change convinces somebody that is currently in power to radically change his or her own ways. Or perhaps somebody like Teddy Roosevelt comes along almost by accident.

I'll propose 2 types of leadership that we need that are related to these:

  • Community coordinators - folks who have the ability to communicate and inspire confidence to get people working together for the common good. They should also be able to listen and gather people's ideas together, rather than imposing their own views. (This last sentence avoids some of the "military problem" described above.) Many of the leaders of our successful chapters are probably this type of leader.
  • Constructive change-makers - folks who can lead by example, showing others how to make real transformational change, and then organizing the effort. This requires high energy and passion among other things. In some ways we might have too many of these folks now - newbies on the project who want to tell the entire community what they have to do, who end up insulting a lot of editors and sometimes getting banned. But we do need these some of these folks, e.g. the Women in Red folks, the original GLAMers like Liam Wyatt, and probably the original WLM folks like Multichill. Wouldn't it be nice if we could train people on how to do this correctly?

Very likely, these two types of leaders have very different needs, different handling, and different training. There may be other types of leaders as well who would need different types of training. Smallbones (talk) 15:27, 22 September 2016 (UTC)Reply

Thats a really good commentary @Smallbones:. We think we can encourage and acknowledge both sets of leadership, with similar tools, but you are right: the skills are very different and the precise tools for implementing, are quite different. Part of the reason that the Learning Days supported by WMF so far, have been fairly successful: its that they offer a variety of different skills focused workshops, that run in multiple tracks: so folks pick their focus area, and get upskilled. The trick is providing broad enough and deep definitions of leadership, that allow us to use one set of language across our community: right now, there is frequent misunderstanding about the word "leader" and what model we should use to grow the capacity among our communities for "leadership". Astinson (WMF) (talk) 13:53, 26 September 2016 (UTC)Reply

Leadership is indeed a very wide-ranging topic. I would also pay attention to technical and thought leadership: people who are driving forward innovation and research in the movement by personal example, by collaboration, by formal teaching and presentations in technical workshops and discussions and by informal mentoring and coaching. Such people may not be especially interested in generic leadership training, and indeed are, in my experience, more likely to be repelled than attracted by it. But given the right, carefully targetted and crafted development opportunities such leadership can be transformative. Indeed, I suggest that it is both essential and lacking at the moment. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:34, 23 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Leadership styles edit

There is an over reliance on adversive directive leadership which cannot and will not work. rather you must use democratic, or coaching. see also [1]

You should be training any volunteer in a position of responsibility, and employee of the WMF.

Given the success of GLAM camp, you should roll out among all interested editors. we have a dire shortage of editors to interact with GLAMs. you should also train those editors who are public facing, to stop being directive and start being concierges.

There is no leadership about civility. (for every problem there should be a quality circle with an appointed leader) see also User:Slowking4/Leadership in Wikimedia

Given the recent coaching failure, the WMF should communicate the training plan in the annual plan, with all the training undertaken by the board and the C suite. And also roll out a training plan to develop leadership from within. Slowking4 (talk) 10:48, 28 September 2016 (UTC)Reply

Reading list edit

Wikipedia is a prime example of online collaboration, co-creation, based on radical decentralization, and primarily self management. Several authors have heralded Wikipedia in this regard:

Beckstrom compares Wikipedia to a starfish: you can cut off a leg without harm to the whole organism due to its radically decentralized nature, i.e. individuals from around the world who contribute from hom.
Laloux emphasizes the self management of Wikipedia. In the model of 'teal' organizations Laloux describes there are *no* managers. There will be a single leader or CEO. All coworkers are equal and manage themselves. Or, all editors lead their own life. Or, all long term trusted editors are leaders. In 'teal' organizations there is no hierarchy. Introducing the concept of leaders within the Wikipedia community comes at the risk of creating a hierarchy.
What is the emergent future of Wikipedia and Wikimedia. What should we let go and let come? Otto Scharmer describes a model of listening at four levels, and the deepest level is generative listening, to listen with an open will, after you already listened with an open mind and open heart. -- Ad Huikeshoven

Leadership is a sub-discipline of human resource management, that is taught in any business school. here are some good books to form a curriculum:

Business schools around the world have short courses in leadership - see also

Others -

The word "leader" can create discomfort edit

leader is the nomenclature in the literature, or you could insist on Alinsky "community organizer". the ideology of "leaderless" movements, as Jo Freeman explained is part of a power structure. "leaderless" means in practice an opaque leader structure that works out of sight, scrutiny or feedback. we already have a class structure at wikipedia, it must be so unconfortable to discuss it openly, i.e. it is not the word. it is the false conscienceness. Slowking4 (talk) 10:48, 28 September 2016 (UTC)Reply

Contradictions are good (?) edit

I'm sure there are many ways to lead that haven't been mentioned so far. I'd suggest in your training to make sure that you cover many types of leadership, and let participants know ahead of time that the "answers" they'll be given will be contradictory. Different strokes for different folks. A couple of leadership that I've thought of since my comments above.

  • the fill-in or emergency leader. Leaders often fail, there are sometimes scandals within our movement, there are lots of young people involved who might be expected to just flat fall on their faces from time-to-time (happens to old folks too). But somebody comes in and picks up after them if they really mess-up. These folks are often mid-level administrators in organizations who know the inner workings, do the hard grunge work, and then are called to lead in the worst possible situations. These folks are really important.
  • followers - leaders are followers? I guess that most good leaders have been, and need to know what motivates followers, and besides we also need good followers. People will be shocked if you give leadership training that teaches how to be a follower. Good.
  • Quaker leadership - I'll just add this because I heard (very briefly) that @Sue Gardner: had taken a class in Quaker leadership. And it does strike me that she displayed this type of leadership very well. I'll define it in short as: Quaker leadership is when people feel that nobody except the folks in the meeting as a whole are organizing the meeting. That person standing near the front is just moving things along. I google "Quaker leadership" to find examples of what I'm talking about here and really didn't find much. But ' "students and sometimes faculty would get upset that something wasn’t “done in a Quaker way,” by which they were saying something like “I didn’t know that this was going to be done and I don’t like it-so it must be wrong because we do everything by consensus.” ' That's us to a T, as well as the students and faculty at Earlham College see here. Sue, perhaps you can help?

Smallbones (talk) 16:07, 26 September 2016 (UTC)Reply

A couple of questions.... edit

Hello! Thanks for this, I'm really pleased to see WMF taking more of an interest in this subject and for inviting input on it! A couple of questions which I don't think I could see answers to in obvious places...

  1. When you're talking about "leaders" (or whatever term we end up with) are we talking about on-wiki leadership, as well as leadership within movement organisations/programmes? Am pretty sure the answer is "yes" but just wanted to clarify.
  2. Is there any existing thinking about how this work could be extended beyond in-person learning days? Is developing online methods of doing this kind of thing explicitly part of what you're trying to achieve, or is it perhaps a "maybe"?

Many thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 14:05, 3 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Hello Chris, thanks for asking for clarification. For your first question, yes, while we have some questions specific to Learning Days, and, of course, those are focused on affiliate and program leader development, we are asking more generally about how to best develop movement leadership both online and off, in order to build better support peer mentoring and leadership. While we also realize the Learning Days format and function do not fit all development needs, we have the ability to start adjusting there more immediately and want to have a more broad conversation about how we might better support peer-to-peer leadership development in different spaces and along different pathways moving forward.
For your second question, we are definitely interested in online methods. The Learning & Evaluation team has tried various online methods in the past from monthly virtual meet-ups with staff and community presenters and small groups of people, we have recorded these and seen them get reasonable viewing, created short tutorial videos, learning modules, toolkits, resource pages, and other learning resources for specific tools and training needs. These have been met with variable success,however, they have not yet had as much reach and influence as Learning Days have. As so many teams are now focused on similar approaches, here we are looking for idea generation as well as perhaps some tips for how to make those methods more successful avenues of support. Thanks - JAnstee (WMF) (talk) 15:53, 5 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Development vs. empowerment edit

When starting to discuss the questions above with my colleagues from our partnerships & development department, we felt that there is another question that would have to be answered beforehand and be more clear in the questionnaire set-up: Does WMF understand itself as a developer or as a facilitator/enabler? Does WMF train people to further share the learnings the WMF has developed, or does it enable people to develop their own trainings and learnings together? We would wish for an answer to this question before going further into detail. We think that it is necessary that there is a balanced approach between development and empowerment. The approach should be inclusive, a peer exchange where peers are involved in the entire process of designing the program.

We were also wondering how this conversation here relates to the discussions about emerging communities. How do we create cultural awareness about at what stage the groups and affiliates are? Sometimes there are only one or two people who do all the work in their group alone. How can these – sometimes very small – communities be supported in an ideal way?

In the end, p2p learning requires a culture, formats and an approach that might differ from current set-ups at certain points. We think it is essential that the different people (affiliates, community members and groups) are thoroughly involved in choice and shape of the trainings. Again, the question remains how we – and this goes for course also for WMDE's programmes – can best support people to facilitate and share their knowledge with their peers. --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 19:01, 16 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

+1 - I would also like to address the question regarding development/empowerment and their relation in shaping training program. Sometimes on conferences WMF pre-made training packages have not clicked because they were not tailored to meet the needs and expectations of participants. Also participation in creation of training agenda increases ownership of training participants, which should lead to qualitative increase in attentive participation and learning, creating better results from training. This may make it more difficult to create the training program itself and also entails modification of training agenda each and every time, but it seems that such qualitative approach probably increases the value of training itself, which should become visible in long-term outcomes through sustainability of the program and leader retention and expansion. --Kaarel Vaidla (WM EE) (talk) 21:12, 23 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
I would hope that any organisation would undertake a very thorough and honest self-scrutiny before regarding itself as in a position to develop leadership in others. No doubt the WMF is doing that, and this conversation will be part of that process of self-scrutiny. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:39, 23 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

The Wikimedia MOVEMENT is one thing, the Wikimedia FOUNDATION is another edit

I am happy that this discussion has been extended, as when the invitation to participate was initially launched I had no concrete input to offer. I am also pleased that there is a Wikimedia FOUNDATION employee behind driving the intiative to useful conclusions for the Wikimedia MOVEMENT.

A decision was finally reached on the harassment complaint I filed against a fellow Wikimedian after being shouted at by him in Malpensa Airport right after Wikimania 2016. The investigation by the S&S team - a member of which was present at the incident - resulted in a thoroughly disappointing verdict, as although they acknowledged that all the semantics of harassment were in place, no action need be taken against the offender. For me it just doesn't work that way: you just can't have your pie and eat it. The end result was that I have cut all ties with WMF-funded activities.

I really can't perceive how the WMF wants "leaders" (I too am rather uncomfortable with the word, perhaps "pioneers" is better? I'll explain further down) to be actively engaged in online and offline activities when they don't feel safe that Wikimedia is a space for people - as opposed to numbers - making a difference. The ubiquitous, number-crunching corporate approach has made its way into the Wikimedia Foundation and this recent experience of mine only pays testimony to that fact. But I don't want to get into spending more time on wikifying this paragraph with links to the reports, grants, grant proposals etc. for background to my input as this is already a long discussion and time is a valuable resource for all of us: anyone interested in learning the story behind my frustration can just have a look at my recent contribs here on Meta and they will get the picture.

That said, I remain eternally faithful to the Wikimedia MOVEMENT: words cannot describe how amazingly useful the Wikimedia projects have been in helping people make meaningful improvements to their lives. Enriching Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects in general is not my ultimate goal: enriching my students' learning experience by getting them to participate in WEP activities is. As is empowering the mentally ill by guiding them to contribute to minor Wikimedia projects, with maximum impact on their lives: giving them an "occupation", inspiring them, making them feel important and valuable in a society that doesn't really believe that they are capable of accomplishing much. Wikipedia (in the synecdoche sense) has emerged time and time again as THE most versatile tool for my teaching at secondary education level in Greece and more recently, for therapy to disadvantaged/ill/unemployed etc. population groups.

BUT - there is a big BUT here. When a new editor grows to become passionate about Wikipedia, the next step is for him to share this passion with like-minded individuals. Which means, to get involved in the Wikimedia movement. Which means engaging in online and offline activities with the Wikimedia community. Which means interacting with other editors and potentially getting involved in conflict with them. And the WMF has drawn up some really nice policies to protect Wikimedians when the conflict gets out of hand! But the bottom line is that these policies are merely a storefront decoration, a nice banner saying "hey, we really respect and value you. You can feel SAFE with us". Because when it comes down to putting numbers vs. people-value on the WMF scales, be certain that numbers will win.

So the question for me is this: How does the WMF define a "leader"? Is it someone who inspires? Who brings value to people's lives, especially if these people are desperately in need of value and self-esteem? Or is it someone who keeps the stats pouring in? It is a question of morale and ethics, and I would love to see it addressed in depth.

And now for my opinion on language, please forgive me for writing here and not in the relevant section of this dialogue as I believe it is directly linked to the arguments I have offered above. I am NOT a leader; I never in my life sought out leadership status, and I will most certainly not start now. I do however consider myself a pioneer, in that I just happened to have a strike of inspiration at the right time and place to start something that no-one had thought of before. I was appointed as a teacher in 2006 and had a flash thought - "hey, why not get my pupils to write articles on Wikipedia???" - I introduced Wikipedia editing to my classroom in 2007. This was way before the WEP even started. Does that make me a leader? Of course not! Much more robust and successful WEP activities than my own have been held all over the world! In 2015 I had another flash of inspiration: "why not get patients to edit Wikipedia???" (I have no medical training but I have YEARS of experience and sensitivity in dealing with illness as a caregiver to family members with very serious health problems). So I drafted up a proposal in the IdeaLab session at Wikimania 2015 in Mexico, then with the help of Marti Johnson expanded it into a grant proposal, earned funding, worked with a group of mentally ill individuals for six months, talked about my Wikitherapy project at Wikimania 2016, met Andrea - a mental health professional - who loved the idea and drafted up a grant of her own for Wikiquote editing at a mental health hospital in Argentina, Andrea got funding for her proposal and now Wikitherapy has crossed the Atlantic and is making a meaningful difference in people's lives in South America, and if I find alternative funding (i.e. non-WMF for the reasons mentioned above) I will present my concept at a mental health conference in Buenos Aires in 2017. I think many Wikimedians will have an amazing experience like this to share, i.e. Vasia started #100Wikidays and I'm certain that she didn't do it to be acknlowledged as a leader! She is however a pioneer, as no-one had thought of that exciting challenge before her, and many have followed! So, my proposal for wording is this: pioneers (and an amusing wordplay that just came to me: "pioneers" [minus] "ion" [equals]... PEERS! And THAT is what we all are:-) --Saintfevrier (talk) 07:51, 18 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Some comment edit

This community engagement request is kind of a mystery: in spite of a background section on the content page, there is actually very little background to this discussion. One can imagine the previous discussions either took place behind closed doors with people who are already well-placed to have their views known, or did not take place at all. Yet it is clear this is a budget item, perhaps a legacy proposal from Lila's tenure, that has already been funded and will go forward, even if those who originally proposed it are not here to explain. But why not? Open-ended questions can yield interesting answers.

Leadership edit

So, what is leadership? Classic leadership theory tells us (depending on what course you take) that there are four leadership types, authoritarian, useful for emergency situations like warfare or medicine, democratic, useful for everything else, laissez faire, useful for nothing, and transformative, which has no measurable influence, but can leave people with the feeling they have experienced something profound. None of these seems particularly pertinent to a volunteer collaborative editing project, where people must figure out each other's skills and how to dovetail their own skill set into the mix.

But the specific question was about mentoring newcomers, so maybe "leadership" was not at all what was meant, but something more along the lines of "learning the ropes". My experience as a newcomer was that I had to mentor myself, by identifying users I thought were experienced or skilled and watching what they did. I had to earn to edit by looking for a particular page format that I wanted, then taking apart the code to see how it was constructed. I also saw that every time a group of users were able to start working together as a cohesive unit, they were destroyed by the arbitration committee, for no apparent reason.

So this is the first problem, that the current admin corps does not support the emergence of new leadership, even when those leaders have no intention of taking on admin functions but simply act as content collaborators in a particular subject area. If every time a new content group emerges, they get torn down by the established users, then you cannot look to new users for your leadership training. You will have to train the current admins, as they are elected, and the closest thing to leaders that Wikipedia has. There is a secondary leadership exercised by patrollers and article deletion groups, since these are the first people that new users usually interact with, and are usually the least experienced and least knowledgeable of Wikipedia's users. This tendency to shoot first and ask questions later, and its devastating effect on newcomers, is nothing new--it was identified by Sue Gardner in her "death spiral" speech to Wikimedia UK in 2011.

How to design opportunities that are inclusive edit

Measure it. Tie it to budget decisions. Make a road map with a timeline and measurable outcomes.

The World Health Organization has an interesting gender assessment tool. Such tools could easily be adapted for Wikipedia.

How to help leaders develop skills edit

Develop criteria for what skills are needed. Measure the current skills. Teach/develop training materials for the missing skills.

If you are going to train current admins and patrollers, they are online and mostly anonymous, your training will have to be online and anonymous. A study guide and pretest would help individuals know when they are ready to take the actual test. Something formatted like this or this.

Tools for developing training: The 5 Rules of Textbook Development, based on wikibooks. See the infographic at the end.

Here is a structure for evaluating textbooks, criteria, scoring etc. Here is a simpler one.

Here is a more formal-looking tool for comparing diversity programs with each other.

Culture training edit

Many of the groups the WMF is trying to recruit, like librarians, work under civil rights or anti-discrimination requirements like Title IX. How many admins and arbitrators and other volunteer functionaries understand this? How many know how to interact with professionals under the rules they must follow? How many have received even a rudimentary HR-type training in diversity or harassment? This is extremely basic and extremely simple to learn, and yet it is an underlying cause of a huge amount of disruption within the projects. Wikipedia needs to stop antagonizing librarians. This is where you need to start.

Neotarf (talk) 00:49, 24 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Return to "Community Engagement/Leadership Development Dialogue" page.