Wikimedia Clinics/006/en

This is a digest (a processed, edited summary) of the online conference call Wikimedia Clinic #006, held on July 16th 2020, in Spanish. It sacrifices fidelity to people's exact words in favor of clarity, brevity, and digestibility. This is the English version of the digest. And here is the Spanish digest.

Except for the introduction, the topics are brought up by volunteers participating in the calls.

The call was attended by 7 members of Wikimedia Foundation staff and 10 volunteers.

Topic 1: IntroductionEdit

quick principlesEdit

  • listen with patience and respect
  • share your experience, but remember others' contexts are very diverse, and may not match yours.
  • be of service to other people on the call

These calls are a Friendly Space.

Purpose of Wikimedia ClinicsEdit

  • provide a channel to ask questions and collect feedback on one's own work and context
  • help direct people to appropriate resources across the Foundation and broader Wikimedia movement

If we can't answer your questions during the call, we (WMF) are committed to finding who can, and connecting you (this may happen after the call)

Examples of things the Clinics are not the place for:

  • complaints about interpersonal behavior - there are appropriate channels for this on-wiki, and there is the Trust and Safety team.
  • content or policy disputes on specific wikis. But it is okay to seek advice on how to better present one's positions.

Topic 2: Impact of the pandemic on affiliatesEdit

  • Claudia from Wikimedia Mexico:
    • Since March we have adapted everything to be online-only, and picked different formats and times to hold online events: our workshops are shorter now, but with more follow-up.
    • In Mexico, the pandemic is resurging and could go on for a long time. How do we keep running online events maintaining public interest and not tiring the communities?
    • Museums used to only offering in-person activities are now turning to us for ideas for online activities. We are experimenting.
  • a volunteer from Wikimujeres:
    • Before the pandemic we had weekly in-person meetings that were valuable. We worked with Geochicas to map the streets of Barcelona and Madrid and with the platform RIOT and JITSI to hold online calls. We were able to divide into groups. There are already a lot of virtual activities on offer -- I prefer to enhance the face-to-face meetings!
  • volunteer from Wikimedia Venezuela:
    • We had some "Suena Wiki" podcasts - as part of an agreement with a human rights organization. Each episode is an interview. It's a bit stalled.
    • We also worked with Wikimedia Argentina on ​​webinars on digital rights (videos), held in June 2020.
    • we are also building an online portal for the Wayuu community, an oral indigenous language with 400,000 speakers, and we are encouraging the creation of an encyclopedia in that language. We are collaborating on it with Wikimedia Colombia and Wikimedia Argentina. If successful, we hope it can be replicated with other indigenous languages.
  • a Catalan volunteer from Amical Wikimedia:

Question: How much support do you have to lead activities now?Edit

  • volunteer from Venezuela: We have more volunteers outside the country than inside it. We accept donations and they help us with expenses. In Venezuela we have 5 volunteers and 4 of them are members of the chapter's Board. Recurring discussion of where the volunteers are, and projects keep getting delayed. We are few but we are going to take advantage of opportunities.
  • Constanza from Wikimedia Argentina: I am part of the Wikimedia Argentina Community team. We are rethinking our projects in the new context. In this new stage, in Buenos Aires there's a 100 days of quarantine. What do we do with what we had planned? New ways of working and alliances emerged and we have been thinking about projects from other sides. New possibilities arose that go beyond editing and thinking about free knowledge in general and opening open spaces for dialogue and finding ourselves elsewhere:
    • The Education project, working with a University, on integrating Wikimedia into teaching and classroom work, and tools were provided to teachers to rethink their practices and how to teaching online. There is a strong need to train and have the tools.
      • We position ourselves as an open space to hear proposals including technical proposals. Webinars we hosted broadened our audience, and many people joined our networks.
      • We developed an "Open Resources" page where materials and tutorials are shared, in order to carry out work in classrooms.
    • We created "Covid", a dedicated meeting place for the educational community.
    • We found volunteers interested in helping out the health efforts, and they collaborated on mapping health centers in Argentina and held webinars with librarians.
    • We encountered a lot of fresh interest in learning about the Wikimedia projects. We held a number of general introductory sessions, for usually between 10 to 20 people. To avoid the meetings being a one-off, we sent follow-up e-mails, and held post-workshop follow-up meetings (two weeks later) to increase retention of new editors.
    • Regular meetings are important. Such meetings created a group focused on "Gender Gap in Wikipedia", a long-term training space, and experts offered training on how to build projects. We (Wikimedia Argentina) don't try to offer complete solutions, but to create spaces for reflection, and for expert volunteers to build projects in. About 25 to 30 people completed all 4 training meetings of that group.
    • The biggest challenge is how to "federalize", i.e. how to connect the strong groups created by face-to-face contact with other groups, across distance and in this time of no face-to-face contact. We learned the spaces that work (YouTube, Zoom, Jitsi) and are learning to manage those.

Topic #3: Needed support from the FoundationEdit

Quim (WMF): If you asked the Foundation for only one thing, what would it be? (as a game, out of curiosity - to clarify expectations :)


  • Catalan volunteer: rethink English as the only language of exchange.
    • Quim (WMF): this is a goal that has to start somewhere: The Community Relations team is working on a goal to make all official Foundation communications be available in these 7 languages: English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Mandarin, German and Russian. This imperfect collection of languages ​​comes close to representing the most known and spoken languages (including as a second language to many people who as a first language speak a language not included in these seven). Executing the Annual Plan has been delayed, but the team is still working towards this objective.
    • Sele (WMF): Acknowledging the issue is difficult, the Foundation is experimenting with spaces like this Clinic call, in different languages (reminder: this is an English-language digest of a conversation that was held entirely in Spanish --Ed.), ​​to bring us closer to communities. We have some other languages planned as well.We do hope to offer calls in at least Spanish, French, Russian and Arabic.
    • Melissa (WMF): In a recent initiative of the Education team -- revamping the Education space on Outreach wiki, we want to accommodate volunteers who are interested in getting involved but who don't speak English, and are looking for ways to involve them in the work through our own staff's language skills.
  • Volunteer from Venezuela: Not a "wish", but a request to change WMF practice: A call for volunteers for the Universal Code of Conduct drafting committee came out last week, and it seems to be uninclusive: A commitment of five unpaid hours a week is requested; in a pandemic, asking people from Latin America for that much volunteering is impractical.
    • Quim (WMF): it's true that these opportunities for involvement are suited to the rhythms of middle class volunteers. The text output of the UCoC drafting committee must be in English, so ability in English is a requirement in this case. If you want to participate but can't commit that much time, send us your availability and we will see if it can be accommodated.
    • Sele (WMF): In the Inclusion and Diversity team, we are thinking of creating categories for thinking about diversity. One category has been language.
      • volunteer: I brought it up as a recurring theme. I had hoped there would be a change with the 2030 Movement Strategy. I was part of a Strategy working group. We worked on the subject of time for years. Spending 5 hours a week on this one task is not feasible.
  • volunteer from Spain: I wish financing our (affiliate) work were easier. It takes a lot of time to prepare grant proposals and related administrative tasks, and it's difficult for us volunteers to devote that time. I want more support for this; ideally, for a person from the Foundation to be tasked with these procedures, to provide our affiliate with the funding it needs, rather than to have us have to work to make proposals.
    • Quim (WMF): will relay this message to the relevant person at the Foundation.
    • Sele (WMF): One effort by the Foundation to assist in working on grant and project proposals is IdeaLab. It is a space to brainstorm, recruit volunteers to collaborate with, and refine ideas to their best form before requesting funding. It would be interesting to learn whether that was considered by Wikimedia Spain, and if so, what the experience was like; if not, why not, what was deemed missing or impractical.
      • Anna (Wikimedia Argentina): We forget how relationships are built at the local level -- mostly through trust, through networks of friendship and acquaintance. The formality of having to go through Meta, having to have someone translate into English, is a long process. Personally I did not participate in IdeaLab.
  • Anna (Wikimedia Argentina): My wish is for there to be a thorough needs assessment. Community needs really differ according to context and capacity. The intention to address gaps can cause even more inequalities: the big affiliates keep growing and the little ones don't. We need to work more with the Foundation: they should not just be the organization that gives funds. For example, the Foundation knows how to pursue regional alliances, how to fundraise; why not do workshops on this? If we were clearer on what we need we could learn more from each other.
    • Quim (WMF): On identifying needs, I would like to help identify communication needs, specifically. Any need has to be communicated. If communication does not work there are problems. Global communications are de facto in English. "Loud voices" are not at fault for speaking. Here we return to the investment of time. In the case of Spanish, if you could have Meta discussions that go beyond the Ibercoop (i.e. regional) component - you have to create this place. Thinking about global conversations in Spanish - where would that be? What kind of space is needed?
    • Sele (WMF): would you like this type of meeting more often?
      • Anna (Wikimedia Argentina): I am happy to express myself in Spanish with the Foundation, considering the difficult times, and the tasks before us. Perhaps in future we can have some scheduled topics to talk about. A meeting space that allows us to speak in our language is valuable. I support maintaining it. There have been very few such opportunities.
    • volunteer from Venezuela: I support Anna's idea of ​​mapping needs.
    • Catalan volunteer: It is important to speak globally about important issues.
    • Anna (Wikimedia Argentina): Major things happened in our region. Last year was a very difficult year. But because the Foundation doesn't ask us how we are doing, what we may need, we feel a bit like we are at the edge of the world. I loved seeing the Hong Kong topic featured by the Foundation recently, something not coming from Europe or North America. I have personally had a good support network, but I know that there have been people who have felt very lonely. We have created these shared resources (in Spanish) with tutorials, re-usable presentations, and best practices.
    • Constanza (Wikimedia Argentina): We had some spaces in collaboration with Wikimedia Chile to support "communities in crisis", responding to the pandemic. People attended even from Spain, even at midnight, and there was a great need to meet and share. It was a pilot program, and it worked very well; we took turns sharing experiences, making introductions, and time flew. It is very valuable and we should continue maintaining such spaces.