May 2019 work Summary and updatesEdit
During May 2019, work on strategy liaison continued with the Arabic speaking community. In this month, focus was on 4 themes that were the main themes of each week (Resource allocation, diversity, partnerships, capacity building), but feedback regarded all the 9 working group areas given the interest that a number of members had in discussing them. In this regard, I would like to thank the Strategy stars who had an extraordinary number of individual meetings (some wanted to have a meeting for each of the 9 areas) with me, and provided me with their valuable insight and incredible high-quality feedback. During May, I have tried to balance between feedback work, as it was on a good pace, and doing outreach to get new participants who might envision the process from different angles. For the moment, it is still the active leaders who enrich most of the discussion, either in community pages, or in individual interviews.
Participation Level (estimate)Edit
45 participants, between surveys, community discussion and individual interviews (7 people, some having up to 8 interviews). Broad geographic distribution from within and outside MENA. All participants are familiar with strategy and WMF projects. 70% of participants are male.
- 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.
In the month of June, we will first finalize the last targeted areas to make sure that basic feedback is provided about them, before concentrating on more outreach in order to make sure that no voices wishing to join the discussion were missing. This month will also be the occasion to collecting feedback from members who did not have the occasion to give it earlier for a number of reasons. Finally, and since a lot of feedback was received, June will be an occasion to reflect with the community on their earlier feedback, in order to find new points of reflection, so that not the same ideas are transmitted to the working groups in June report.
Key points per ThemeEdit
Context: Broad community inputEdit
- There should be more control and accountability in relation with resources. Some chapters are allocated big amounts without concrete results while communities in other regions struggle to get funded.
- Allocation money without clear activities, goals or milestones, just to ensure that every community receives money is not useful.
- WMF must provide human resources to targeted regions. Allocated resources for the region can help for many operations such as advocating Wikimedia and raising awareness about its positive role.
- There should be paid positions within the WMF for each region of the world. These roles should be taken by experts (such as experienced Wikipedians, admins) because they are the ones who know most both the region and the movement.
30 participants - 4 options - Multiple votes 1- WMF should hire experts/Wikimedians who travel around the world to empower the communities - (27 persons - 90%) 2- WMF should provide to the community a feeling of safety and trust so that they feel the belonging to the movement - (23 persons - 77% Agree) - This option was added by a community member. 3- WMF should allocate a clear and fixed fund for the growing communities - (10 persons - 33%) 4- Things should remain the same and those deserving funds will receive them - (3 persons - 10%)
Context: 1:1 individual interviewsEdit
- WMF should have a clear estimate of their yearly budget, so that they can plan accordingly activities and strategy. Is it this happening now?
- Reporting is very important to assess and know how much to give for each affiliate.
- Chapters should me more accountable on their finances by sending financial reports to the WMF.
- WMF should work more with contractuals from all countries (not americans/European of foreign origins) and different genders with specific knowledge about communities in order to support and target them better, and to ensure diversity and representativity.
- Each User group should have at least one person paid (even contractuals) to empower and motivate the community.
- WMF has also to hire people not speaking english but can be good with their communities.
- Use Artificial intelligence to attract/headhunt the best people.
- Provide translators if necessary, but knowledge of English should not a barrier for an international organization. Is there currently someone working at the foundation who doesn’t speak English?
- WMF should have a specific department to tackle down funding issues depending on the regions (can be merged with diversity department).
- It is not possible to have the same person working with funding marginalized communities (lacking devices, Internet), and also funding big and advanced projects in the west.
- WMF should create new flexible ideas aligned with the concept of rapid grant.
- Grants do not necessary have to go to affiliates, but to all (depending on profile/project).
- “Targeted” Wikimedians should be pushed and encouraged to demand grants.
- WMF should organize presentations, conferences, hire local people who can advocate this idea.
- Targeted refers to targeted region, gender, minority, etc.
- In many regions, all Wikimedians are volunteers. They have a time constraint and cannot allocate time to offline projects.
- Sometimes WMF allocates money for projects but nobody can perform them due to time constraints
- Suggestion: Include a “mini-salary” for volunteers to encourage them to accept organizing events and allocating more time for offline activities.
- WMF should make sure that resources are shared equally. Having a centralized WMF in USA does not allow that.
- Users from countries having bad relationships with USA cannot get grant from WMF, but can get from chapters nearby. WMF can use chapters as relays to finance countries with bad relations with USA (a solution that is currently refused by WMF). WMF is supposed to be international, not American, so why are these regions suffering from internal American political problems?
- Many countries cannot receive foreign money and therefore cannot be chapters or even host events. This means that members remain volunteers and have other full time work or commitments in their life. From another part, chapters have time, money, staff and lot of support. This is unfair.
- Giving resources to members in one country does usually affect in a bad way user in other neighbouring countries (examples: Strong and rich community in India Vs Pakistan, Chapter in Armenia Vs UG in Azerbaijan). The political American support is very visible in this, and this is another argument why WMF should be decentralized.
- Resource management is problematic in many regions
- Bad management
- Big amounts of money are problematic, and volunteers cannot manage them well.
- Suggestions to improve:
- WMF should offer guidance to these communities on how to manage the resources, how to do good project management, auditing, etc.
- WMF should prepare and make public templates on how resources are used: For example checklist for every event based on experiences of other countries/experienced wikimedians. Example: Template for education program / edit-a-thon, etc.
- When asking for grant in a new community, there should be proportionality between the experience of the affiliation/Group, and the amount given. More money can be allocated when the affiliate prove they can manage/use the resources better.
- WMF should plan milestones/steps - First have 100 USD Grant then 1000 USD etc.
12 participants - 4 options - Multiple votes 1- WMF can be funded from organizations with the same aims (8 persons - 67%) 2- WMF should allow advertisement (4 persons - 33%) 3- WMF can receive funding from companies after signing contracts (4 persons - 33%) 4- WMF can be funded by governments (1 person - 8%)
Context: Broad community conversationEdit
How do we ensure that donations are neutral? It might be that single individuals give donations and have their own agenda. The main source of resources should be partnerships with organizations with the same goals (free culture, neutral) and have donations as a secondary source of income.
Context: 1:1 InterviewEdit
Donations to WMF over 1 M$ (or any high amount) should be discussed with the community before being accepted (especially if coming from controversial/governmental sources).
19 participants - 5 options - Multiple votes 1- There should be specific projects or Wikipedias for specific minorities: Children - Blind people - etc. (15 persons - 79 %) 2- WMF should employ more people specialized in empowering minorities (for example a person specialized in breaching gender gap, another in empowering local languages, etc. ) (13 persons - 68 %) 3- WMF should give financial compensation and encouragements to those who dedicate a lot of their time to participate in the movement different activities. (9 persons - 47 %) 4- WMF should empower human rights (3 persons - 16%) 5- WMF should impose guidelines for diversity on all its affiliates (3 persons - 16%)
Context: 1:1 interviewsEdit
- The reality of the world is reflected on wikipedia. Interests of men are different than women’s interests. Maybe we should leave it like this?
- Languages depend on their locutors: If they are interested in being present in Wiki, they will.
- There should be a balance between quota and qualifications. If there is a quota for a specific role, but none of the participants have the qualifications, it is better not to follow the quota.
- WMF should empower and encourage women to remain on Wikipedia, by financial support of their initiatives.
- Media are not fair towards women, they write more about men than women. WMF should advocate and lobby in media to correct that. Media bias is reflected in Wikipedia.
- If WMF wants to support a language, they should prioritize locutors in the native environment, not the ones in Europe/West, who can have other agendas (political).
- To attract people from new communities, WMF can invite them to international events in order to empower them and make them involved in the community.
- Special scholarships can be awarded, because these people do not have the required level to receive the regular (and very competitive) scholarships.
- WM should follow-up with the growing communities to ensure that they are stronger and keep diversity in the movement.
- By hiring people for this specific task.
- By asking these communities to send regulars reports of their advancement.
- Growing communities still need further support - Need experts/follow-up. Affcom should be more careful when accepting affiliates. Some affiliates are not active while WMF think that they already guaranteed diversity in that region/minority by having the affiliate.
- Before considering strategy of diversity, scope of diversity should be very well defined. It is not the case now.
- Content empowerment is different than users empowerment. What are we seeking? The first or the second or both?
- Do we seek diversity in readers or editors?
- People are interested more in reading/finding content in their language not in creating it.
- Some identities are over-represented in the diversity discussion while others are absent.
- What are the criteria or creating User Groups in the name of diversity? Why is there an LGBT User Group but not a Shiaa User Group or Long haired people User Group?
- Is there a limitation for diversity? What is the scope of diversity? A single individual can also claim that he is diverse and unique. To what extent can we define a community/ identity that needs to be represented?
- Diversity is not only about content and encyclopedia, but also about the WMF (staff, Grants, conferences) and affcom. Not only geographically, but also diversity in gender and experiences.
- Diversity is not only a matter of resources.
- Different regions have different challenges. Did you segment the regions?
- We are talking about people who have other challenges - cannot even write and read, do not know what Wikipedia is. How can outreach be done to them?
- Why is awareness about Wikipedia low? Because we are all volunteers
- To organize events, organizers need to take vacation from their regular work, which is not convenient. The same applies to those who are present in the event.To go to universities and other cities, you need to spend a lot of time, you cannot do it as volunteer.
- Volunteering should be about writing articles, not organizing events and offline work.
- If only one person is hired in every country by WMF, there will be a big change in the diversity situation.
- If an area is not supported, of course it will not give the expected results in diversity
- We are not seeking more grants, but rather to be hired by WMF in our countries. It gives huge change in terms of time and involvement.
- Important announcements and events should be in all major languages
- Most of Meta is only in English.
- Board of trustees voting process is only in English.
- Trust and safety should be diverse in languages and aware of laws of all regions to be able to support all.
Context: 1:1 interviewsEdit
- To sign a legal document/contract with many partners, the affiliates/volunteers need to have a legal representation in their country/region. WMF needs to support with that.
- Affiliates (especially User Groups) do not have a legal status that allows them to be partners. Official partners ask the affiliates who they are? WMF should provide a status/documentation to all their affiliates, not only to chapter. For the moment, people go under other partner associations in their home countries.
- In the User Group contract it is written that we are not WMF representatives and cannot talk/work in the name of WMF. This is a huge limitation for partnerships.
- In many countries, If you are not a legal association, you can’t have partnerships. Volunteers are afraid to create associations because it is dangerous for them (they will be responsible of the content of wikipedia and can risk prison).
- A solution can be that WMF helps affiliates have a legal status (but also protect them legally).
- WMF should provide documentation/proofs for their affiliates to make it easier for them to show that they are official and can contact organisms.
- WMF should help volunteers/affiliates by building capacity (communication techniques/ legal counseling) since it is not the responsibility of regular volunteers to drive negotiations/contract work.
- Affiliates should be provided legal education/support about their country laws.
- WMF should ask to have a “partnerships” responsible in each affiliate and to empower them.
- WMF should prepare material and tutorials for partnerships to educate affiliates
- Explain different categories of partnerships.
- WMF should perform more advocacy work to improve Wikimedia image in order to be accepted as a partner.
- WMF should hire more people in different regions of the world to foster partnerships.
- Volunteers working with partnerships (and other offline work - conference preparation) should be paid. This work is very big and cannot be compared with volunteer editing.
- WMF should make sure that neutrality will be respected in partnerships. Even official organizations/partners have to be checked before being agreed to be partners.
- Controversial partners can affect the neutrality.
- Currently, partnership work with volunteers is happening independently from the WMF, so theoretically volunteers can partner with autocratic governments and receive funding to perform Wikimedia projects. How can this be controlled?
- Sometimes there are unilateral initiatives from governments (without partnerships) that can affect the content of the encyclopedia. How can WMF correct that? Is it a content problem or a bigger (political) one?
- How are partnerships with governments assessed?
- WikiGap is organized by Swedish embassies, Swedish state is thus allowed to be a partner, while UAE or Qatar are not allowed. Who decides on that and based on which criteria?
- WMF should help with material
- Concrete issues: Photographers were accepted from partner to take pictures. However, they were not allowed to take pictures if their material was not professional and the photos of quality.
- Scanners not available: Libraries were open to a Wikimedia UG but they couldn’t scan the documents because they didn’t have scanner. (overlaps with resource allocation).
- Chapters should help user groups with their experiences. Send people from chapter to be in residence in chapter to teach users, and vice-versa.
- People outside Wikimedia movement who have experience in digitalization for example can be employed as consultants to empower the affiliates.
- WMF should seek good relations with governments because it simplifies the partnerships. WMF should have a clear plan about how to reach the governments and partner with them.
- Avoid the political-historical work and mention that it is cultural (monuments etc.)
- Seek partnerships with the ministries of culture, education, which makes it much easier to organize events for the affiliates. Clarify to governments that they cannot expect to get something back and cannot have content edited the way they want.
- Many countries have official User Groups but the lack of contact with governmental bodies makes their work very limited.
Roles and ResponsibilitiesEdit
Context: 1:1 interviewsEdit
- WMF should be less americanized and be more decentralized and international
- The fact that WMF has ties with USA government makes it problematic to reach out to the whole world.
- WMF should strive not to give an image that this is an American institution, but rather international.
- WMF should be decentralized, by having offices/sub-branches in different regions, so that everyone can have access to funding and support.
- WMF and Affcom should consider limitations about number of chapters/User Groups in a country. One idea could be to have a mother-User Group in the country that can coordinate. Having separate/independent affiliates in one and same country creates problems.
- WMF should consider if User Group/Chapter is the best applicable model to represent our communities.
- Chapters are very independent from the WMF. They should come closer and be under the umbrella of the WMF.
- User Groups should send quarterly reports to the affcom.
- Not only the board of a User Group should be contacted (by WMF or others) but all mailing list, to increase transparency and democracy.
- In board of trustees elections, only the contact person is contacted.
- Local democracy in affiliates
- User Group members should be reassessed on regular basis, to make sure that they are active.
- User Groups should be supported by WMF and Affcom on how to enforce and control “local” democracy in their processes.
- It is unfair that “one” User Group representing many countries (and people) is seen the same way as a “small” User Group from a specific region or topic.
- There is a gap between “Wikipedia” and “Wikimedia”, between the online and the offline.
- The choice of admins is by vote from broad community while user groups have votes only from those who are aware (or made aware).
- There should be an obligation for User Groups to communicate more with the community, and provide regular reports and updates.
- User Groups should be more proactive in informing community members that they are welcome and accept memberships.
- There is a feeling that information is hidden (about User Groups, affcom) and not shared easily/spontaneously.
- Most of wikimedians are not aware about these instances even if they are experienced editors.
- There should be more accessible information about WMF institutions and advertised. This should be done proactively, not waiting for users to look for the information, but rather to share it with all and be public about it.
- There should be a requirement about editing Wikipedia and not only do offline Work when joining WMF or any affiliate.
- Work of board of trustees is not clear and transparent.
- Information might be available but very well hidden.
- Board of trustees should sent to User Groups/affiliates, monthly updates and reports of their work and activities.
- Board of trustee’s process should be more diverse
- Appointed members should come from various backgrounds.
- Who chooses the percentages/balance between those being appointed and those representing affiliates?
Context: 1:1 interviewEdit
- User Groups should be more proactive in informing community members that they are welcome and accept their memberships. This will prevent “dictatorships” in some affiliates.
- How can people be protected (legally) when they get harassed in their home affiliate?
- How can vandalizers be punished on a more serious way? What are the best punishments and who decides on them?
- WMF should have a clear procedure – Start by warning and then escalate.
- Last step can be to isolate/ignore the “bad” people.
- What measures can the WMF in relation with local authorities of the country where the harassment happened?
- Trust and safety should be diverse in languages/laws/regions to be able to support all.
20 participants - 5 options - Multiple votes 1- WMF should prepare/fund online courses/education material for that any wikimedian worldwide can watch/follow/take (similar to the Wiki Mooc projects) (15 persons - 75%) 2- Staff members of affiliates from developed countries should be encouraged to travel and live for a period in other areas (as part of their duty) where they can transmit their knowledge and experience to communities and affiliates in need of it (13 persons - 65%) 3- WMF should send material (computers, cameras, etc.) directly to users in need of it. ( 7 persons - 35%) 4- WMF should open a departement specific to capacity building that will accompany wikimedians and follow their needs and education (either online or physically) (4 persons - 20%) 5- WMF should employ external experts in specific areas (computer science, languages, project management) and send them across the globe to support Wikimedians. (3 persons - 15%)
Context: 1:1 Individual interviewsEdit
- Some countries have resources while others do not. WMF should oblige chapters to help User Groups and other affiliates by sending members to other countries to empower the community there.
- User Groups do not have neither financial means nor yearly plans to be able to work on capacity building.
- There should be more control about the work that is done by Wikimedians in residence, not that they came through friendships or just visit for tourism.
- In WMF there should be departement supporting minorities (both in advocating and capacity building).
- Identify people helping to build capacity in areas such as (Pakistan, Central Asia).
- Bridging the gap is related to advocacy and diversity, by bringing more members.
- Identify list of countries and languages where community is weak/needs support.
- WMF should hire specialists for countries/regions to empower them.
- WMF should employ people to teach Wikimedians and travel to visit them in events.
- Having regional WMF offices (decentralized) will help to build capacity in the whole world.
- Marginalized communities need special attention.
- Wikipedia is successful in some languages (German, Swedish, Norwegian) and can be a role model. What did they do to be successful, and how can we learn from them? A department created for Capacity building/research in WMF can work on answering these questions.
- Arguments of less internet penetration can be mitigated by working on visiting universities or areas that do not have this problem in the targeted countries.
- Try to adapt at least a percentage of the success factors, because others cannot be adapted (infrastructure, education level and quality, democracy..)
- Capacity building should take into consideration diversity.
- Donations and adequate material for people who do not speak good English.
- New ways of delivering capacity should be investigated (technologies and product)
- WMf should consider launching online courses and MOOCs about the different projects.
- Should be available 24/24 and in all languages.
Context: 1:1 interviewEdit
- Media are not fair towards women, they write more about men than women. WMF should advocate and lobby in media to correct that. Media bias is reflected in the encyclopedia, and created the gap that we are all aware about.
- This argument can be generalised to all minorities, not only gender.
- Currently, affiliates advocating Wikipedia do these activities at their own risk and without any support from WMF
- Affiliates should be provided legal education/support about their country laws by WMF.
- The name of the foundation should be changed to its most known project “Wikipedia” to make it easier for branding-recognition, and for advocacy work. Nobody knows Wikimedia, and it creates problems and extra work to explain to different partners.
Product and TechnologyEdit
Context: 1:1 InterviewEdit
What will be the users behaviour in the day governments will have information about everything related to us, and that we cannot be anonymous? Will people do self-censorships and will this affect the neutrality?