Volunteer Supporters Network/Hub Report 2022/B

Volunteer Supporters Network

Hub Report 2022: Activities – input


Global skill-sharing activities

The skills and leadership development of people working in the field of community support was accelerated and amplified by 11 virtual meetings/workshops, each lasting about 60–90 minutes. A special focus was on community health issues and technical skills including Wikidata. In addition, a 2-days virtual “annual conference” held in November intensified the skill-sharing activities.

Regular skill-sharing meetings


Wikimedia affiliates provided their knowledge and skills related to community support during virtual VSN workshops. In order to motivate them to do this, the initial idea was to pay them for their effort of organizing and hosting.

Financial data: regular skill-share meetings
Paid Planned number
of meetings
Planned costs
(in USD)
Final number
of meetings
Final costs
(in USD)
to organizing VSN affiliate 12 1400 1 114.28
directly to external organizer/expert 0 0 2 285.72
directly for technical tool 0 0 1 285.72
nobody (provided pro bono) 0 0 7 0
SUM 12 1400 11 685.73

It turned out that most affiliates were willing to share their knowledge for free.

Key learning: Wikimedia affiliates like to share their knowledge and skills within the organizational framework of a Hub.

However most affiliates didn’t want to do any organizational work like general coordination, invitations or technical hosting. This needed to be done in addition by the VSN and by paying freelancers respectively.

Key learning: Using a Hub for skill-sharing activities does not work in a self-organized way, it needs a permanently maintained infrastructure and people who take care of it on a regular basis.
Overview of regular skill-share meetings
Topic Date Affiliates*
Events and campaigns around gender gap 7 April 2022 7
Banner campaigns 21 April 2022 3
Wikidata para principiantes 3 May 2022 2
Wikidata for beginners 9 May 2022 2
Tools for Wikidata competitions 12 May 2022 2
Writing LGBTIQ+ biographies in Wikipedia: tips and strategies to overcome barriers 28 June 2022 3
Wikimania 2022 session 13 August 2022 6
Designing and evaluating community surveys 15 September 2022 1
How communities address the issue of user retention 27 October 2022 5
Universal Code of Conduct – feedback and question session 19 October 2022 2
Let’s Connect 23 November 2022 2

* actively involved by providing expertise and/or administrative support

Skill-sharing at annual conference


All participants of the VSN’s annual conference were invited to suggest topics for skill-sharing with them as experts. The conference organizers selected the final topics, prepared by six Wikimedia affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation. They also added an extra session by an external expert.

The speakers from Wikimedia organizations offered their service pro bono. The external expert was paid out of the project budget.

Overview of skill-sharing at annual conference
Topic Speaker Duration
Engagement: How to handle difficult communication and tools to dynamise meetings Christine Oymann (external expert) 90 min
GapFinder Carla Toro (WMCL) 25 min
GLAMorous Ivana Madžarević (WMSR) 25 min
PetScan Constanza Verón (WMAR) 25 min
Post-activities surveys Jessica Stephenson (WMF), Rubén Ojeda (WMES) 25 min
What can we measure about people? Raimund Liebert (WMAT) 25 min

→ See also: OUTCOME: Global skill-sharing activities

Peer group support

Peer group networking culminated in the 2-days virtual “annual conference” in November. Throughout the year, several internal communications channels were established or reorganized.
Financial data: VSN annual conference (in USD)
Planned costs Final costs
2300.00 4515.27

The VSN’s annual conference was held online on 3 and 4 November 2022. Besides skill-sharing the main focus was on strengthening the peer group as such.

Resources from and for the organizing team

The organizing team consisted of VSN members from Wikimedia Argentina, Wikimedia Chile, Wikimedia Colombia, Wikimedia España, Wikimedia México and Wikimedistas de Uruguay. As intended, the organizing role was handed over from Central European chapters to other (and smaller) Wikimedia affiliates. Thereby learnings should be provided from a new perspective.

The budget was not paid directly to the organizing affiliates as planned but covered the expenses on behalf of the organizing affiliates. The costs for (external) facilitation were higher than expected. Unfortunately none of the organizing affiliates benefited directly in terms of financial recompensation for organizational work.

Participation as an investment of time resources

21 people participated in the 2-days annual conference: 16 VSN members on Day 1 and Day 2 and 5 VSN liaisons on Day 2. At the time of the event, the VSN had employees from 18 different Wikimedia affiliates as members. Most of these affiliates (78 %) sent one or more members to the conference. The VSN members from Wiki Movement Brazil User Group, Wikimedia CH, Wikimédia France and Wikimedia Norge did not participate (22 %).

VSN annual conference: participants according to their affiliation
Affiliation of annual conference participants
Region # participants
per region
Organization # participants
per organization
Type of
United States and Canada 3 Wikimedia Foundation 3 VSN liaison
Middle East and Africa 2 Wikimedia Community User Group Kenya 1 VSN liaison
none (Wikimedian from Ghana) 1 VSN liaison
Latin America (LATAM) and The Caribbean 6 Wikimedia Argentina 2 VSN member
Wikimedia Chile 1 VSN member
Wikimedia Colombia 1 VSN member
Wikimedia México 1 VSN member
Wikimedistas de Uruguay 1 VSN member
Northern and Western Europe 7 Wikimedia Deutschland 3 VSN member
Wikimedia España 1 VSN member
Wikimedia Italia 1 VSN member
Wikimedia Österreich 1 VSN member
Wikimedia UK 1 VSN member
Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Central Asia 3 Wikimedia Czech Republic 1 VSN member
Wikimedia Polska 1 VSN member
Wikimedia Serbia 1 VSN member

Working towards the future

One of the important aims was to plan for the future meetings. Connecting with others seems to be an important factor of belonging, and, according to the survey conducted among the VSN online meeting participants, there is a higher preference towards a hybrid (60%) or in-person (30%) meeting than to the online one (25%). But the increasingly global nature of the VSN brings more challenges to the future in-person or hybrid meetings.

The members identified a group of barriers that would need to be overcome in order to assure participation in an in-person conference. The most widely shared being the environmental footprint of such an event (45%), budget (40%), accessibility (30%), and language barriers (15%). They also identified other obstacles, such as visa issues and problems related to longtime traveling.

Planning for an inclusive event

In order to plan a truly inclusive and accessible in-person or hybrid meeting, the participants identified a group of solutions that help to achieve those goals:

Locations Date Timezone Language Integration of new voices
Easy accessible, not expensive, with little visa requirements, that could prevent people from some parts of the globe from participating. The date should be well composed into the annual event calendar of the Wikimedia movement, not to overlap with other regional or global events. It should also be announced as early as possible, making it easier in terms of budget planning and working with visa requirements. In case of a hybrid event, the event should accommodate different time zones, with some parts of the event happening more than once. Which would help not to limit online participation from different places of the globe. The organizers should actively seek ways which would lower language barriers. Translations would be one of the solutions here. Actively work on inviting new voices from the movement to help emerging community leaders in gaining new skills. This includes prior work to invite more liaisons to the network. The program should consist of capacity building and workshops, fun and recreation and mentorship and networking.

Communication channels

Several communication channels for VSN members and liaisons were created and enhanced. The new mailing list structure is described in the Administration and organizational development section of this report. In addition, the already existing VSN Telegram group was restructured regarding its ownership and membership and the Volunteer Supporters Network pages on Meta were redesigned.

→ See also: OUTCOME: Peer group support

Global community competition

As an example of how to support a global community contest, the VSN contributed to the International Museum Day Wikidata Competition in May. The VSN served as a multiplier and expertise provider in order to engage Wikimedia affiliates as local organizers and to ensure high participation and free content numbers.

Activation of affiliates

Wikidata competition: participating countries and regions

The International Museum Day Wikidata Competition in May 2022 was divided into local competitions, each with a Wikimedia affiliate as a local organizer. The VSN supported the global rollout with a focus on underrepresented communities and served as a multiplier and expertise provider. Due to its experimental character the competition aimed to have a flexible number of between 7 to 50 contributing affiliates.

Chapters participating in the competition:

  • Wikimedia Argentina
  • Wikimedia Armenia*
  • Wikimedia CH
  • Wikimedia Chile
  • Wikimedia Deutschland
  • Wikimédia France
  • Wikimedia Hungary
  • Wikimedia Italia
  • Wikimedia Nederland
  • Wikimedia Österreich
  • Wikimedia Polska
  • Wikimedia Serbia
  • Wikimedia Sverige
  • Wikimedia Ukraine
  • Wikimedia UK

User Groups participating in the competition:

  • Wikimédiens du Bénin UG
  • Wikimedia UG Botswana
  • Wikimedians of DR Congo UG
  • Wikimedia UG Guinea Conakry
  • Wikimedia Community UG Malta
  • Wikimedia User Group Nigeria
  • Wikimedia UG Rwanda
  • Wikimedia UG Tchad
  • Wikimedia UG Uganda
  • Wikimedistas de Uruguay
  • West Bengal Wikimedians UG
*became inactive during the project

In the end, 26 Wikimedia affiliates participated in the project: 15 Chapters with paid staff, mostly from Europe, and 11 User Groups without paid staff, mostly from Africa. This division allowed us to draw conclusions between these two groups which are different both in terms of organizational structure and geographical location.

Different strategies were tested to activate Wikimedia affiliates to participating in the project: individual invitations, communication within the VSN and general invitations on Wikimedia mailing lists.

Key learning: For activating Wikimedia affiliates to contribute to a global project like an international competition, communicating the project in discussions within the Hub and individual invitations complement one another; both strategies are more successful than general announcements.
How were you initially informed about the Museum Day project?
Results of the survey among the participating affiliates (n=18)
All Chapters User Groups
We already participated last year. 5 (28%) 4 (31%) 1 (20%)
We received an email by one of the organizers (Manfred, Raimund or Ulrich). 5 (28%) 2 (15%) 3 (60%)
By the Volunteer Supporters Network. 5 (28%) 5 (38%) 0 (0%)
On the affiliates’ mailing list. 1 (6%) 1 (8%) 0 (0%)
Other. 2 (11%) 1 (8%) 1 (20%)

Technical infrastructure, translations, prizes


Some parts of the project had to be prepared by the participating affiliates as local organizers, other major parts were provided by the general project team. This made the project rather complex and explaining it was sometimes challenging. Nevertheless, the competition got good ratings from most participating affiliates.

I didn't understand the competition at the beginning, but it changed when I saw it in action.

— from the survey among the participating affiliates

How do you rate the Wikidata Competition?
Results of the survey among the participating affiliates
All Chapters User Groups
excellent 8 (44%) 7 (54%) 1 (20%)
good for the most part 8 (44%) 4 (31%) 4 (80%)
would need some major improvements 2 (11%) 2 (15%) 0 (0%)
we don’t know / it was not important for us 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)

Technical infrastructure

The technical infrastructure for participating affiliates included pages on Meta and Wikidata (at first only in English), Program & Events Dashboards for tracking the local competitions, several InteGraality tables, prepared SPARQL queries, a Central Notice campaign in different languages, key visuals for outreach, a mailing list for local organizers etc. How to set up such a Wikidata competition on the technical side was explained to interested Wikimedia staff and community leaders at one of the VSN’s regular skill-sharing meetings.

Having said that, the participating affiliates were asked to translate the texts of the competition pages into their local languages. As these pages had an elaborate source code, the translated texts were integrated into the pages by the general project team and not by the local organizers themselves. For details about the translations, please see Redistribution of movement resources in the Outcome section of this report.

How do you rate the Museum Day pages on Meta and Wikidata?
Results of the survey among the participating affiliates
All Chapters User Groups
excellent 13 (72%) 10 (77%) 3 (60%)
good for the most part 4 (22%) 2 (15%) 2 (40%)
would need some major improvements 1 (6%) 1 (8%) 0 (0%)
we don’t know / it was not important for us 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
Who paid for the prizes of the Wikidata Competition?

Prizes for the competition winners

The prizes for every local competition were worth 450 Euros each. There were three options for the participating affiliates:

  1. to pay for the prizes for their local competition themselves,
  2. to pay for the prizes for their local competition themselves and, in addition, to sponsor one or more other local competitions, or
  3. to let the VSN (through the WMF grant) or other sponsoring affiliates pay for the prizes for their local competition.

The affiliates which paid for prizes also had to do organizational work from communicating with the winners to ordering (and shipping) the prizes.

60 % of the chapters and only 18 % of the user groups could pay for and organize their own prizes. Overall, 42 % of the participating affiliates did not use the provided financial support.

How many additional prize packages for other affiliates
were donated by which organizations?
Organization Prize
(in USD)
Volunteer Supporters Network (WMF grant) 5 3056
Wikimedia Deutschland 4 ≈ 2057
Wikimedia CH 2 ≈ 1029
Wikimedia Österreich 2 ≈ 1029
Wikimédia France 1 ≈ 514
Wikimedia Italia 1 ≈ 514

Amount of work for affiliates in general

Most participating Wikimedia affiliates agreed afterwards that they had to invest just as much work as they had expected before. More workload than expected was the case for four chapters (mostly the ones with the most sponsored prizes) but not for any of the user groups.

How was the workload you had to provide for the Museum Day project?
Results of the survey among the participating affiliates
All Chapters User Groups
more than expected 4 (22%) 4 (31%) 0 (0%)
just as expected 11 (61%) 7 (54%) 4 (80%)
less than expected 3 (17%) 2 (15%) 1 (20%)

→ See also: OUTCOME: Global community competition

Published resources

The VSN published several resources that can inspire and be adapted by others in the Movement. The resources include a concept for “Wikipedia Ambassadors”, different policies and resources related to skill-sharing.

The development of a Wikipedia Ambassadors concept that can be used and adapted by Wikimedia affiliates was done in several steps. During the German-language GLAM meeting on 26 March 2022 the pilot phase of the local Wikipedia-Kulturbotschafter*innen (“Wikipedia cultural ambassadors”) program started. This program was conceived by German-language community members, Wikimedia Deutschland, Wikimedia CH and Wikimedia Österreich. On 5 October 2022, the first draft of the VSN’s own global Wikipedia Ambassadors concept was presented to the VSN members. In the weeks that followed, this concept was refined with comments in a shared document and by direct email communication. On 28 November 2022, the final Wikipedia Ambassadors concept was published on Meta.

Policies for internal purposes were developed in processes lasting several months. These include the VSN’s internal regulations (“bylaws”), the terms of use for the VSN mailing list and the VSN’s safe space policy for video conferences. The processes are detailed in the Administration and organizational development section of this report.

Some of the experts speaking at the global skill-sharing activities also invested their time in publishing their presentations and other resources.

→ See also: OUTCOME: Published resources

Movement conversations

The VSN participated in and initiated conversations relevant to Hub topics, in order to bring the learnings to a wider audience and to learn from other Hub-makers in the Movement.

The conversations around Movement Strategy implementation attracted only a few VSN members. That in itself was not a disadvantage, but the commitment required noteworthy time resources from the actual participants instead of being carried on more shoulders.

Input to movement conversations
Event/platform # of VSN participants
Hubs Dialogue 2
Pre-Summit Hubs meeting (1 September 2022) 2
Wikimedia Summit (9-11 September 2022) 3
Movement Strategy Forum 2
Key learning: Because Hubs are an integral part of the Movement Strategy implementation, at least some people from the Hub should specialize in participating in relevant movement-wide discussions.

→ See also: OUTCOME: Movement conversations