User:ASedrati (WMF)/Monthly Reports/June/EN

June 2019 work Summary and updatesEdit

June 2019 is the last month fully dedicated to gathering feedback regarding the strategic process from the wikimedia Arabic speaking community. During this month focus was on 3 themes that were the main themes of each week (Community Health, Product and Technology, Advocacy), but feedback regarded all the 9 working group areas given the interest that a number of members had in discussing them, and given that this was the last opportunity to discuss any of the nine strategic themes. This month was the occasion to reach out to a maximum of participants, especially the missing voices, and to gather feedback and opinions about anything related to strategy from all community members. I would like to thank the members who facilitated this effort and introduced other users to me, making these discussions possible. I would also like to mention my appreciation for members who were flexible enough and accepted to have a meeting with each other and discuss their opinions with my presence.

Participation Level (estimate)Edit

50 participants, between surveys, community discussion and individual interviews (some interviews were with more than a person, some were in person, during my visit to Tunisia). Broad geographic distribution from within and MENA (no member living outside MENA participated in this month’s discussion). All participants are familiar with strategy and WMF projects. 70% of participants are male.

Discussion ChannelsEdit

Facebook Group: Gathering all the active editors in Arabic Wikipedia. It has 6000+ members. Local Facebook Groups: Groups for specific communities (User Groups, country based Groups) Whatsapp Group: A Whatsapp group gathering people who expressed their interest in discussing strategy at a deeper level, and wanted 1:1 discussions or to discuss more with each other. Individual discussions: 1:1 discussions with members who expressed their interest in having these discussions. Meta/Village pump: Almost no engagement.

ThemesEdit

All.

Looking AheadEdit

June has been the month finalizing the last targeted areas to make sure that basic feedback is provided from all community members who wished to do so. In July, the focus will be to support local strategy salons in different areas of the world, where strategy will be discussed by affiliates in “in-person” meetings. Strategy liaisons are supporting this effort and working closely with different affiliates from their respective regions and languages. This work will be the main task for July and August 2019.

Key points per ThemeEdit

Revenue StreamsEdit

Context: 1:1 individual interviewsEdit

  • WMF should encourage local affiliates to build financial partnerships with local partners (universities - official governmental bodies) to fund them directly without having WMF involved in the process
  • WMF can guide affiliates on how to help each other.
  • Some countries can be used as references and share their knowledge.
  • This suggestion helps to solve problems of receiving grants from WMF (American/external funding not possible in many countries).
  • WMF should develop a code of conduct/guidelines explaining to its donors what will happen with their donation and that they cannot affect the neutrality of the encyclopedia.
  • It should be clarified for the community members that the revenues are an ethical question (donors' money), and that they should be very careful when using these funds and optimize their usage.
  • WMF should have blacklist about whom money is not accepted from (both globally and locally, for example authoritarian governments or controversial people).
  • WMF should be more public and transparent by explaining the usage of the donation money that it receives.
  • WMF should target partners who share the same views and values and seek funding from them (example of Mozilla).
  • WMF should also investigate the possibility of getting funds from Facebook, Google and other platforms that use Wikipedia content for their profit.


Resource AllocationEdit

Context: 1:1 individual interviewsEdit

  • WMF should ask for “guarantee” before sending grants.
  • Many users misuse grant money in their home countries. Some take grant money and disappear without any accountability mechanisms or tracing from WMF.
  • American law cannot be enforced over these people, and blacklisting will not get the money back.
  • WMF should allocate regional budgets for specific targeted areas and groups that it wants to empower.

DiversityEdit

Context: 1:1 individual interviewsEdit

  • Before implementing diversification strategy, there should be a clear scoping and definition of diversity.
  • Diversity is an ambiguous concept, and has different definitions in the world.
  • Who decides on what identities deserve a User Group and which ones are not?
  • Diversity does not mean that there should be Wikis in dialects, because an Encyclopedia is by definition elitist.
  • Who decides what is dialect and what is language? Maltese is a language and Tunisian is a dialect. There are political decisions, but what is our take in the movement?
  • What are the metrics quantifying that diversity strategy has succeeded? Having one article in a “minority language” is considered as a success, or 1000 articles? What is the limit to claim “success”?
  • There should be clear targets related to time, as well as milestones.
  • Diversity is a complex area and has a lot of overlapping. Support given for minorities goes to specific groups while they can go to all with a focus on that theme.
  • Instead of having specific LGBT group being financed separately, help can go to already existing User Groups, and encourage/empower them to work on that subject.
  • Support should be tied with result. There cannot be money spent for minorities without accountability just to claim that diversity is “covered”.
  • When talking about diversity, one should be realistic, Arabic content cannot be as big as English in this era.
  • Diversity enhances neutrality by making content exposed to all.
  • However, big languages will always be more neutral given their diversity, while small communities will be more biased.
  • Question: By advocating diversity, we advocate also that small wikipedias (mostly will not be neutral) will flourish, how to tackle that?
  • There should be processes to make sure that these wikis will be working well and neutral, and that they represent the wiki spirit.


PartnershipsEdit

Context: 1:1 individual interviewsEdit

  • There should be legal support from WMF for volunteers when signing contracts with partners.
  • First by helping them have legal status in their countries.
  • Currently there is an enormous dependency from User Groups towards associations (which have legal status and act as fiscal sponsors).
  • If the association has a problem or barrier then the events organized by the UG will also face problems or be canceled.
  • Second by giving them guidance about their local laws (or hire lawyers to support them) so that they can sign the contracts comfortably.
  • Empower the volunteers and educate them about negotiation techniques (overlaps with capacity building).
  • WMF should be more flexible in letting volunteers sign partnerships on behalf of the WMF.
  • Or have/hire local representatives of WMF worldwide to take care of these partnerships.
  • User Groups in some countries should be allowed to call their affiliates in names which does not include the “Wikimedia” name to protect their members.

Community HealthEdit

Context: Broad community inputEdit

  • There should be research and statistics investigating the reasons of low participation in certain communities. The reasons differ from one region to another (in terms of culture and specifics), so each region and area should have a specific targeted research and strategy.
  • WMF should not communicate in the same way (or give directions/strategies) with all the communities/affiliates. Each culture has its red lines and prohibitions. The approach to advocate some themes should take into consideration these limitations and should be more gentle to encourage the communities to integrate these concepts gradually.
  • Elements from local culture can be used for example to make the ideas closer to the community, instead of one “western” way of advocating and marketing ideas.
  • Pushing hard to integrate some ideas/themes results on making even experienced members of the community wanting to leave the movement, which is of course not the result that is sought.
  • Onboarding of new members should be done in a better way, by trying to involve them in the less controversial articles, so that they can learn “comfortably” and not be exposed to edit wars that will not make them appreciate continuing this adventure.
  • There should be more efforts to encourage physical meetings between members, as it helps to melt the ice, improves relations and enhances cooperation (either in the same country or internationally)
  • Organize more conferences, especially in areas lacking them now.
  • WMF should make it clear that the behaviour of some Wikimedians should not be interpreted as representative of the movement. How can this be done?

Context: SurveyEdit

37 participants - 5 options - Multiple votes

1- WMF should Oblige their affiliates worldwide to write regular reports about their status, either regarding the local democracy of the affiliate, or in terms of inclusiveness and acceptance of new members (31 people - 84 %). 2- Oblige all the administrators in all languages to take an exam/education of communication and good behavior with the users (especially the new ones) before becoming administrators (17 people - 46 %). 3- Provide support and advice regarding the “addiction” to the Wikimedia projects for some users, and the psychological consequences of it (9 people - 24 %) - Option added by a community member. 4- WMF should provide legal support and lawyers for the users in need of it. There should be a legal consequence of harassment in the Wikimedia projects (4 people - 11 %). 5- Any one who participates in harassment of users should see their account closed immediately (2 people - 5 %).

Context: 1:1 individual interviewsEdit

  • Black listing users is not enough to stop harassment.
  • The account of harassers should have a general block, after issuing a warning in relation with this behaviour.
  • Trust and safety team is not known by the broad community
  • They should do more outreach in different languages and for different communities.
  • Many people receive threats but do not dare to talk about them (for different reasons, especially in authoritarian countries). How can WMF support them?
  • First by advertising more Trust and safety team.
  • But also by encouraging people to report to threats and harassment.
  • Also by asking the affiliates to have a regular check on their members.
  • WMF should have a regular check on affiliates, on their local democracy, feeling of their members, etc.
  • Community health is not only about the community, but also about the government and environment Wikimedians live in
  • Governments target people who write articles opposing them (neutrality and facts are seen as dangerous in these countries). These people need to be defended.
  • Example: A Wikimedian was killed in Syria by the government.
  • Should we wait until more people are killed?
  • WMF should act faster and more efficiently to protect Wikimedians.
  • WMF should support Wikimedians in danger, help them to seek asylum in other countries, offer legal counseling and support.


  • Is providing a lawyer in your home country by WMF enough as solution?
  • Local lawyers are not powerful in their countries, especially in authoritarian countries.
  • WMF should investigate other paths.
  • Partner with powerful instances helping Wikimedians such as foreign embassies.
  • Foster more contacts with human rights organizations, and democratic governments that can intervene in case of problem.
  • Social media and sites of affiliates should be managed by professional people.
  • They represent the community and they should reflect good values.
  • Neutrality of users/content.
  • Local affiliates should be encouraged to bring different users representing different points of view, not only the dominant ideologies.
  • WMF should control this aspect and ask affiliates to report on it.

Product and TechnologyEdit

Context: Broad community inputEdit

  • Wikimedia Foundation should already consider new policies and guidelines to be adopted and aligned with the new technologies.
  • The example of the monkey selfie copyright dispute is a good reference to areas that should be anticipated.
  • Wikimedia Foundation should use more technologies in explaining the rules, guidelines and policies, or WMF governance structure for the community members
  • Currently most of the rules and policies are very long texts in Meta (mostly in Enlgish) that the large majority of the community does not/not want to read.
  • Making these policies in a more interactive way, using new technologies will certainly make this information more spread, and seen and understood by far more people than today.

Context: SurveyEdit

12 participants - 2 options - Multiple votes

1- Wikimedia Foundation should organize trainings for the Wikimedians to teach them new products and technologies, and even programming in the new languages. (11 people - 92 %). 2- Wikimedia Foundation should hire skilled developers and provide them competitive salaries to encourage them to work with WMF. (5 people - 42 %).

Context: 1:1 individual interviewsEdit

  • WMF should improve the smartphone version for editors.
  • Many tools are very hard to use when users are on their phone
  • Many people (especially in developing countries) make most of their edits on phone and are limited.
  • More and more people in the future will use phones (or other devices) to edits.
  • This observation should be extended to all future technologies, not only phone.
  • In 2030, automatic translation can/will be so good that articles can be written only in one language and be translated automatically to all others
  • How can this be dealt with?
  • Are current editors doing double work by writing the same article in every language?
  • WMF should have a group specialized in following the trends and adapting the encyclopedia to them.
  • Audio and video are the future of the internet.
  • There should be more investigation in this area, especially the possibility of having articles in video format.
  • WMF should provide capacity building for volunteers who wish to learn video editing/graphics so that they can use that capacity for the benefit of the encyclopedia.
  • And in general support/provide capacity building for the new technologies (work with AI, big data, etc.).
  • There should be a department in WMF to educate and teach users about technical advancement and new technologies related to the encyclopedia (overlaps with Capacity building)
  • Target volunteers from different regions and languages to make sure that these solutions will be implemented everywhere.
  • Technology levels and adoption are different in the world
  • While the west are very advanced and have access to the most developed technologies, other countries still struggle with devices or connectivity.
  • WMF should take this into consideration and shape different strategies so that nobody is left behind.
  • Employing developers with high salaries
  • Should WMF compete with the big IT companies? Is it its mission?
  • It is better to hire developers sharing our values, not seeking the highest salary.
  • WMF should fund/grant skilled Wikimedians with good technical background to travel and educate other users in the other regions of the world.
  • Wikimedia should keep its initial aim (delivering free knowledge) and not divert to other purposes (such as selling products).

AdvocacyEdit

Context: SurveyEdit

5 participants - 4 options - Multiple votes

1- Wikimedia Foundation should provide different toolkits and materials depending on what profiles are targeted by the advocacy (University professors Vs politicians Vs citizens etc.) (4 people - 80 %) 2- Wikimedia Foundation should provide legal support and lawyers to defend advocates having trouble in their home countries. (3 people - 60 %) 3- Wikimedia Foundation should consult the community before entering in partnerships/contact with political entities or organizations. (2 people - 40 %) 4- Wikimedia Foundation should work on diversifying the profiles of its advocates, because currently most of the profiles are similar (advocating for free knowledge is an ideology itself).(1 person - 20 %)

Context: 1:1 individual interviewsEdit

  • WMF should try to foster their relations with human rights defenders in every country, as well as with a group of lawyers in every country, so that they are ready to help in case of a problem for a user in that country.
  • This can be done with the support of the local affiliate.
  • WMF must be aware that there exist people that encounter risks in their countries by being involved in the movement.
  • WMF should provide basic legal counseling for members in their local affiliates.
  • WMF should have a contract with local lawyers in each country to be available to defend/being consulted by users in case of need.
  • WMF should strive to have more alliances and join powerful groups defending free knowledge.
  • Encourage local affiliates to collaborate with partners (example of Amnesty International with Wikimedia Algeria), on some specific days. However this should be clearly defined and scope clarified (even signature of contract) - overlaps with Partnerships.
  • WMF and its affiliates should seek more partnerships such as Wikigap as it advocates Wikimedia and Women rights and gives good relations with states.
  • Should WMF work on advocacy depending on the “weight” of the country in the Internet world?
  • Some countries are very powerful and influential in shaping online laws (EU, USA) while others barely have discussions on international level.
  • Should the advocates target these countries when lobbying? And not consider the others at all?
  • WMF should have more (and better) relations with Media worldwide so that its image is more communicated
  • Invite affiliates to appear more on media if they can.
  • WMF should have regular interviews with media and do more outreach.
  • WMF should hire “journalists” who can represent the encyclopedia and work professionally with Media instead of leaving this work to volunteers in their own countries.
  • WMF’s mission is advocacy, it should own the process
  • Volunteers can support, but the strategy and guidelines should be decided by WMF.
  • WMF should create a department about advocacy/marketing.
  • Only some countries are targeted by WMF advocacy campaigns (in Africa it is only Nigeria and Egypt)
  • What is the hinder preventing having this in all the countries (because it should be the case), is it resources?
  • WMF should implement a strategy clustered by countries/regions (for example MENA countries have the same situation - same for sub-Saharan).
  • In some countries, governments and states are not willing/interested in Wikimedia advocates. How can this be changed?
  • Organizing conferences in a given country helps in advocating Wikimedia in that country and boost its community. Conferences should be encouraged as much as possible.
  • There should be more events such as Wikigap but for other items (such as organizing events in universities where student volunteers make presentations for professors to make wikimiedia’s image better)

Roles and ResponsibilitiesEdit

Context: 1:1 individual interviewsEdit

AffiliatesEdit
  • WMF should leave the chapters independent, while monitoring should be closer for User Groups and emerging communities.
  • Chapters have bank account and are more professional and have staff who have legal responsibilities.
  • Affiliates from emerging communities should provide more financial reports and fulfill democracy requirements in their local governance.
  • User Groups
  • Current status: There is no clarity about internal policies, no control, no bylaws, no escalation path for members.
  • User Groups are not legal entities in most countries, and are always looking for fiscal sponsors. They should be designed as associations in every country to avoid problems.
  • Associations provide more accountability and organization.
  • However. legal status for each country should be assessed separately.
  • In some countries it can be a problem to create an association about free knowledge, in others it is the opposite.
  • There should be a clear hierarchy in local groups, with clear escalation paths, and clear decision making and bylaws
  • Clarity and transparency are important. There should be more policies for enhancing transparency and clarity on different levels in the User Groups
  • There should be specific bylaws for affiliates depending on their age
  • New groups can have flexibility, to have time to learn.
  • While older groups can have more requirements and more reporting, etc.
  • User Groups should have at least one yearly physical meeting that will be supported by the WMF.
WMF should be decentralizedEdit
  • It is an international organisation not an American one.
  • We should have WMF offices in the different continents and parts of the world.
  • Each affiliate can then be attached to the closest local office.
  • Example of regional offices – North Africa / Gulf region.
  • Decentralization will not solve all problems
  • A number of affiliates have problems to receive grants from 95% of the world countries, not only fromUSA.
  • WMF should hire more contractors and representatives from different regions (at least 2 per continent) who live in these regions.
  • Ideally, these employees should be emerging from the community. Hiring people from outside of the movement can be very risky as they do not work for the movement’s ideals, but rather for money or other benefits.
  • Affcom and some WMF departments are overlapping. There should be a clear boundary and clarity for the scope of each.
  • Is affcom independent? Its status is unclear and it is not known if it is managed by WMF or board of trustees.
  • Affcom has more roles than it should be. There is a need for a new committee.
  • Affcom is working more on conflicts resolution than on the role it was designed to have.
  • It is the role of the legal team and trust and safety.
  • Conflict resolution should be a separate work, not related with Affcom.
  • WMF should provide more material about Wikimedia governance and different instances (Affcom, board of trustees etc.)
  • Information should be available in all languages and in simpler format (not in Meta, but rather videos)
  • Translation in Meta should be easier to perform (now requiring translation admin).
Content AdministrationEdit
  • Admins should go on mandatory training before taking their duty.
  • There should be a balance (in terms of ideology) especially for administrators. They should not all have the same opinion or ideology.


Capacity BuildingEdit

Context: 1:1 individual interviewsEdit

  • There should be a harmonization and organization of the on-boarding process in local affiliates (WMF should make sure that the same process is followed in all the countries)
  • One “trusted” person in the affiliate should be responsible for this process.
  • There should be a standard training for new users and explain to them that the reason to join the movement is Free knowledge and not free trips for instance.
  • There should be more reporting and accountability in affiliates
  • Sometimes there is competition about Wikimedians who do not help each other, they want to be the only ones who know (to attend conferences, be the only expert) - Overlaps with community health.
  • WMF should bring experts to given countries/regions to train people about missing capacities (Wiki Data/ media Wiki)
  • WMF should help/tain affiliates about conflict resolution and management skills
  • First by providing training for the group boards in management skills such as conflict resolution and communication.
  • Second by providing an escalation path that the groups can use in case of problems.