Wikimedia Conference 2018/Documentation/Movement Strategy track/Day 1

WMCON 2018 Core Conference Program Fringe Events Registration & Participants
Reports, Reviews

of the Movement Strategy track,
 » flow of activities (and this report)
» You don't have time to read everything? Check the summary of it!
Day 1
 » The Big Picture,
» The Possibilities,
» The Challenges
Day 2
» The Way Forward,
 » Preparing to work,
 » Thematic Inputs & Conversations
Day 3
» Working groups,
 » Wrapping up
» Input documents for the working groups,
 » Micro-inputs on possibilities

Friday, April 20th

D1.01 / The Big Picture

Once again, the conference opened with a few welcome notes from the organisers and hosts of the event. Below is the list of speakers and some elements of their messages
The Big Picture

The opening of the conference brought together all Wikimedia Conference participants. It started with official welcome notes, and was followed by a brief explanation of the strategy development process and the expected outcomes of the conference. The purpose of the session was to offer all participants “the Big Picture” in terms of the work that has been done so far, and the challenges ahead. After this session, participants then headed to the track that they were most interested in contributing to, and learning from.

01 . Welcoming Words

Cornelius Kibelka (Program and Engagement Coordinator) & Nicole Ebber (Adviser on International Relations), Wikimedia Deutschland.
  On behalf of Wikimedia Deutschland, Cornelius and Nicole welcomed all participants to the Wikimedia Conference, joking that they were not sure whether it was the 11th or 12th edition. They emphasised that participants are the ones who will make this event special, gathered around the shared belief: That every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

Cornelius pointed out that not everyone made it to the conference due to visa denial, reflecting that the room only made up a small, and relatively privileged, part of the whole Wikimedia Movement. An important encouragement for those present to be aware and always consider the voices that might be missing in conversations about the future of the movement. The three thematic tracks were explained. The Capacity Building and Partnerships tracks function like a “buffet”, where participants are welcome to pick and choose according to needs, while the Movement Strategy was designed more like a set menu, from appetizers to dessert. Cornelius and Nicole finished by highlighting that we are at a turning point. One that can lead to real change for the Wikimedia Movement.

Christophe Henner (Chair of Board of Trustees), Wikimedia Foundation
  Christophe let everyone know how much he loves the Wikimedia Conference, and how the constant conversations he has had with the diverse group of people attending has made him realise how little he knew about the world.

Speaking about the Movement Strategy process, he made a distinction between Phase 1, which was about finding direction and alignment, and Phase 2, which is about HOW we achieve what we set out to achieve. “It becomes very practical” — he said - asking question such as: How do we change our movement so that every voice is heard? How do we make sure the knowledges that has been ignored is cared for too? How de we make sure, we all work as a global community in the same direction, and at the same time make sure every community is able to take that direction in its own way?

He encouraged everyone to participate in the Strategy track, saying “If you are wondering whether you should go to the Strategic Track, than you should go there. It means at some point you felt left out of that discussion, and this is exactly why you need to be part of it.” He emphasised the commitment to make sure everyone is feeling included.

Christophe also talked about making mistakes in the past, and the importance of learning from mistakes. He also highlighted the importance of making room for those who might not always voice their perspective, mentioning that the board of trustees had a particular role in engaging in the discussions and supporting everyone in participating.

He pointed out how the current state of the movement is not fit for its defined direction, saying: “We need to make changes, we need to be bold. Challenge everything and don’t take anything for granted. Everything is on the table. Don’t think that there is a question that is not worth bringing up, or that it might cause resistance, or not gain support from the board. The board is committed to make changes.” He acknowledged the fact that the conference was in English, and stated his wish that one day Wikimedia conference might be truly multilingual. With this note he invited everyone to let go of concerns regarding their competence in English language.

Christophe also announced a change in the program concerning the usual “questions to the board” session. To allow more people to contribute than those who feel comfortable expressing themselves in front of a big group, questions ought to be written on meta, to then be answered by the board during the “thematic inputs and conversations session” on Day 2.

Christophe ended with the following message: “ We have a mountain to climb. To achieve knowledge equity and make knowledge a service accessible to everyone. This is a very very very tall mountain to climb and some might say an impossible one to climb. But, that is what they said when we wanted to create a multilingual repository of human knowledges. So I do know for a fact, that if we all work together, listen to each other, learn from each other, and build together... well to us, no mountain will be high enough.”

Katherine Maher (Executive Director), Wikimedia Foundation
  Katherine expressed her happiness for being back among so many old and new friends. She encouraged everyone to say ‘hi’ to someone they did not know saying “in an entire hotel full of Wikimedians, chances are there is someone that loves free knowledge.” She continued explaining how the conference has always been important to the movement, but in recent years it has taken on a new dimension - not only learning from each other but planning for our future.

Katherine referred to when Wikimedia turned 15 in 2016, the board tasked the foundation with developing a plan for the future. “We looked at our beginnings - a world in which every single human can freely share the sum of all knowledge.” This was the beginning of a remarkable, impossible idea which brought together a powerful community. So powerful it grew around the globe, bringing us together from Chile to Australia to Korea.  Mentioning how far the movement has come by having a vision statement, she reminded us that there is a lot to be done - and more people to join.

Katherine confessed that when the process started she had a “secret goal”: to cultivate shared identity. She continued: “What was more important was to come together, to re-imagine ourselves as a global movement, and if nothing else, we were successful in that. The most important was to have a shared sense of purpose and commitment, we reinvigorated ourselves in our commitment towards the future.”

70 countries, 20 languages, 1000s of participants, 100s of organizations and institutions, WMCON, Wikimania, Regional events — All in dialogue about things that shape our future like: Demographics — Who is in the world in 2030; How will people around the world be using communications technologies to find, create, and share information?; Misinformation — What is the truth?; Literacy — What do we need to know?; Open Knowledge... “From this dialogue came a vision, but it does not mean we have to do it alone. It’s ups to us to figure out what that means for ourselves, and our organisations. And it’s up to you - by stepping into this room you have decided to join us in this journey.” “Go out there, enjoy. Meet someone new. Follow the friendly space policy. Be a wikimedian!”

02 . Connecting — to each other and the strategic direction


Following the welcome words, Rob and  Bhavesh led a session which mixed discussion and movement in space to help participants connect with themselves, and have more clarity about where they wanted to put their energy during the conference, but also connect to others and to the strategic direction.

The room was emptied of chairs, and a big structure with a flag saying “strategic direction” was placed in the center. Rob invited everyone to look around in silent, recognising all the faces that are completely new, or someone with whom they might have had interesting conversations.

After reading the strategic direction in different languages, everyone was invited to place themselves in relation to the big structure, representing how connected they feel with the current strategy, to then exchange with someone in a different place why they were there.

By 2030, Wikimedia will become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge, and anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us.

We, the Wikimedia contributors, communities, and organizations, will advance our world by collecting knowledge that fully represents human diversity, and by building the services and structures that enable others to do the same. We will carry on our mission of developing content as we have done in the past, and we will go further.

Knowledge as a service: To serve our users, we will become a platform that serves open knowledge to the world across interfaces and communities. We will build tools for allies and partners to organize and exchange free knowledge beyond Wikimedia. Our infrastructure will enable us and others to collect and use different forms of free, trusted knowledge.

Knowledge equity: As a social movement, we will focus our efforts on the knowledge and communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege. We will welcome people from every background to build strong and diverse communities. We will break down the social, political, and technical barriers preventing people from accessing and contributing to free knowledge.

03 . Contextualising the Strategic Direction


In small groups of 3, participants shared their perspective on what “knowledge as a service” and “knowledge equity” means for their respective organisations, groups or communities and how this will impact their future activities. In other words, how they believe the Wikimedia Movement might look in 2030 in their own context.

These are some of the comments shared by participants:

  • Criticism that the strategy was too vague - especially the first phase - but its very practical because it gives you purpose (equity) and means (service)
  • The very concepts of knowledge equity and service are untranslatable to some languages
  • Strategy has a big picture but maybe too big picture - in the context of our community it is a risk.
  • We hope in 2030 to have half of our editors being women (WikiWomen).
  • That the Wikimedia Movement becomes worldwide, using all our languages and not be so English based
  • “Knowledge as service” — if it’s consumed and able to reach the communities that have not had access to Wikimedia
  • To achieve the strategic direction, we should reach more diversity in content and participation
  • If knowledge is a service, we wonder who is serving, and who is receiving the service.
  • We should be all over the government!
  • Knowledge as a service: I don’t know exactly where it will take us.
  • In the future, with global trends I expect bigger representation of those who are not yet in the movement.

Closing the session, Rob invited all participants to the challenge of producing an “upgraded version” of the mannequin challenge done in 2017. This time mission was to represent the Wikimedia movement towards the Strategic Direction. This is the result:

Click the video to see what this is all about.

04. Facilitation Team

Bhavesh introduced the Movement Strategy track facilitation team, composed by people with different roles and a variety of skill-sets aimed at offering a rich working experience.
  • Anna Lena lead the graphic facilitation. Bhavesh called her “the fly with the eye”, because she is the only one that can eavesdrop, as a way to capture visually both the high level statements, but also the more implicit messages.
  • Sabeth and Hişar lead the haptic facilitation, by creating and assembling structures that offer the necessary support for the various types of collaboration, and to make sure that the intellectual outputs are always accessible and visible.
  • Luís, together with Anne and Olha, lead the “harvesting”, collecting and treating all the knowledge that is produced by the track in a report that will be made available on Meta-wiki.
  • Rob and Bhavesh lead the design and facilitation of the movement strategy track. In Bhavesh’s words: “We’re here to make everyone work”.

D1.02 / The Possibilities


References: “The Possibilities” Session Slides

After introducing the Big Picture, participants headed to their respective conference tracks. Approximately 60 people remained in the Strategy track and started exploring what possibilities there are for the Wikimedia Movement in 3 to 5 years within the context of the current Strategic Direction. Before getting to work, Nicole gave a brief overview of the status of development of the Movement Strategy, followed by Bhavesh that gave the overview of the Movement Strategy track.

01 . The Strategy Development process: Past, Present, Future


Nicole Ebber explained where the Movement is in the process of developing and implementing the strategy. Phase 1 (2017-2018) was about defining the strategic direction: Understanding where we have been, where the world is going, and where we can go as a movement. Now that we have established where we want to be in 2030, we need time in Phase 2 (2018-2019) to understand what needs change, and what we want to change, so that we can then can start implementing the changes in Phase 3 (2019-2020).

The Possibilities
Roadmap: The image emphasises the focus on structural questions.

These 3 days of the Wikimedia Conference 2018, and more specifically the Movement Strategy Track, mark the beginning of Phase 2 of the Movement Strategy process. Nicole explained why we should in fact abandon the term “strategy process” but rather call it a change process that operates at several levels. These levels are described below:

  • Conceptual: Constant and stable change process for the next two years, guiding the Wikimedia Movement towards becoming the essential infrastructure for free knowledge; a journey towards cultural change, ensuring inclusivity, openness and clarity
  • Structural (meta): Discourse around roles, resources and responsibilities - the three big Rs. These raise questions about what we need to move forward, for instance, how to obtain and distribute resources within our ecosystem? The result will be recommendations as well as agreement and a process for implementation
  • Programmatic: Contextualizing of the direction and the creation of goals and plans on organizational levels, incl. support, coordination and innovation across the Movement. This is exciting because it might be lived differently by different actors, which generates creativity but also potential conflict. This will require courage to overcome fear of failure, because there is learning in failure.
  • Tactical: Project and community oriented processes, and development guided by the key organizations’ departments. These often have a technical nature, and are based on research from phase 1, for which development is already on their way (see product and program recommendations from phase 1).

The focus of the Movement Strategy track is therefore mainly on the Structural level. What needs to change in terms of roles, resources and responsibilities? This will necessarily lead to conversations about power and money within the movement, which are crucial to address as we move forward.

Placing the four levels of change on a time-line, Nicole illustrated the role of the Strategy Core Team in leading the conceptual and structural levels of change, while informing or monitoring the programmatic and tactic levels. The same image also points out how the annual Wikimedia Conference represents important milestones for the Movement in terms of calibrating the different levels and the different phases of change in the process.

02 . Exploring Possibilities within the next 3 to 5 years


Movement exercise

In pairs, one person would symbolise the relationship between their current work and the strategy right now; the other person would repeat the same gesture and from there move in a way that represents how that situation might evolve 3 to 5 years into the future. The exercise is about exploring possibilities, in a creative way, with the support of others.

A few comments from comments from participants:

  • “Interesting to witness how someone naturally takes over something you have been paying so much attention to. A wonderful way of communicating in physical reality,”
  • “I was doing one thing, and the person I was paired with didn’t just provide one solution, but three solutions, and it was kind of expanding the vision, so the person was an excellent partner.”

Emerging possibilities


The process involved an iterative part where small groups would produce a series of possibilities that then got clustered in overarching themes. The participants were invited to imagine how the strategy could change their work in the next 3 years in terms of opportunities that might be grasped. You can access the photos of the handwritten clusters by clicking on each photo thumbnail below. The individual inputs from each participant can be found in Annex B

A. Economical resources are accessible within the movement
  • No funding problems ever!
  • Resources meeting our ambitions
  • Economical resources are accessible to everyone
  • 10-20% of project funding to Africa (in proportion to the population)
  • Effective support in Wikimedia Movement
B. More diverse and global content
  • Closing the content gap
  • More content in marginalised languages
  • More volume of knowledge
  • Readers find and can access information that they care about
  • Eliminate geographical gaps
  • Bridge the knowledge gaps
  • Possibility to find content in your own language
  • New forms of understanding information
  • Knowledge equity includes ORAL knowledge
  • Integrated oral and local knowledge (on current major projects)
  • Notability and reliability account for locally relevant content
  • Reliable + reusable content
  • Every consumer will find quality information
C. Accessibility and case of use (technology)
  • Better infrastructure to access Wikimedia
  • Experiments with new formats of existing knowledge (complexity, visual VS audio/textual)
  • Use of up-to-date technology
  • A technology platform to support more forms of knowledge, in more formats
  • Wikimedia is providing better technological solutions for access to knowledge
  • Broad, reliable offline access
  • Intuitive presentation + compartmentalized knowledge
D. Movement decisions are widely respected
  • Movement decisions made transparently, on evidence, by a diverse constituency.
  • Clear communication within the Wikimedia Movement
  • Decentralised finance, decision-making, and organisational infrastructure
  • Focus on topics, not languages and countries, decentralise.
E. Truly user-friendly
  • Ease of use in every way, shape, and form
  • New people want to contribute to Wikipedia because it’s fun, easy and rewarding
  • The Wikimedia Movement is open to more diverse ways to contribute
  • A Movement that trains and inspires the next generation of Wikimedians
  • Wikiprojects user-friendly for non-programmers
  • “Other forms of knowledge are integrated”
  • As easy to use as Instagram or Twitter
F. No censorship
  • Wikipedia cannot be stopped (no censorship)
  • Wikimedia projects are immune to censorship
G. Wikimedia as a Network
  • Participation, cooperation, inclusion are common and rewarded
  • Wikimedia working as a network
  • A decentralised global community that is more connected and democratic
H. Wikimedia movement is a model for “The Big Open”
  • The Wikimedia movement is a part of the “Big Open”
  • Wikimedia is ally to other social movements
  • Open environment for information
  • The movement is a model of collaboration between distributed multi-lingual organisations
I. Nurture the Wiki culture
  • Wikimedia - the kindest and most respectful place on the internet
  • Active sharing of successful Wiki models + culture W/the world
  • A more welcoming and encouraging Wiki culture
  • A more inclusive, diverse, welcoming Wikipedia
  • Better trust and communication in the movement
  • Shared identity as Wikimedians
  • A movement that trains and inspires the next generation of Wikimedians
J. Wikimedia movement leads global change
  • The movement has captured the public imagination and is influencing global politics
  • Awareness about WM projects
K. Diversity and Inclusion
  • Diversity: new and missing communities in the movement
  • No gender gap
  • Attracting talent + Increasing under-represented groups*
  • Active Editors increases 50% more young people
L. The Rest
  • Larger and more accessible international developer community
  • Become a leader in technology

D1.03 / The Challenges


References: “The Challenges” Session Slides

The Challenges

To identify the challenges that might block the Movement from moving forward, about 60 people were divided into 3 facilitated groups, who brainstormed and discussed in which concrete areas change is needed, and what needs to be resolved around roles, resources and responsibilities, in order to move forward. The purpose of discussing challenges, after surfacing possibilities, is to make the make the implementation of the strategy more realistic, and to prepare the ground for defining practical actions.

The results were first clustered and titled within each of the three groups, and then brought all together on a big wall, to be clustered again according to commonality. To complete the process, each participant was given 3 dots to give weight to the challenges they believe deserves particular attention or represent higher leverage for the movement.

The final “challenge clusters” are tagged below with a few keywords. The count of the dot voting is also indicated at the end of each “challenge cluster”. You can see the original photos by clicking on each thumbnail photo below.

1–4 5–6 7–8 9–10 11

(1) #internet-infrastructure #technology

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
1 Access to infrastructure limits contribution to the same group of contributors
  • Infrastructure & internet access
1 Current Wikimedia software doesn’t support modern technology thus disallowing wider participation
  • Actual technology doesn’t allow a larger participation
  • Technical infrastructure
1 Lack of modern user experience* discourages new participants (* content quality and diversity, technology)
  • Ad hoc resources + documentation that are hard to find
  • No curated journey for contributors
  • Implementation of speech technology
  • Today’s young people have different expectations of how to consume our products
  • People’s knowledge needs change quickly. We don’t.
  • Text-centralised culture  
  • [Loose] Complexity of the interface blocks contribution by new editors

(2) #power #centralization

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
2 Entrenched, concentrated power is blocking innovation and equity
  • Concentrated power in certain groups
  • Power: current status is comfortable and works for some. Not everyone understand why change is needed.
  • Maintaining the status-quo is blocking the injection of new ideas
  • Current centralisation of power & money is blocking the equity of the moment
2 Centralized power + decision-making inhibits robustness + diversity
  • Resources [perspective] exchange [WMF <-> Africa] -> find/fund projects
  • Centralized power makes us vulnerable

(3) #fragmentation #communication

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
3 Insulation is blocking communication within and outside the movement!
  • Working in Silos:
    • Community
    • Technology
  • Split between communities and organisations
  • Insularity blocks outside viewpoints + partnerships

(4) #turnover #institutional-memory

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
4 Turnover of volunteers and staff doesn’t allow a proper training on values and strategy blocking transmission of institutional knowledge
  • Policies, processes + valued contributors are hostile to new users
  • Policies + positions entrench status quo -> working against new knowledge + people
  • Minority of editors blocks positive change

(5) #cultural-bias

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
5 Systemic Anglo-centrism prevents diversity + inclusion
  • Language barriers
5 Our Western understanding of knowledge prevents us from capturing the sum of all knowledge
  • Bias against Multimedia usage
  • Western-centered Academia POV for definition of knowledge
  • Opening for not literatical/intelectual information picture/film/cartoons, etc.
  • Integration of non-written [oral,sign] traditional knowledge

(6) #political #censorship

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
6 Political restrictions affect/block content
  • Restrictive governments
  • Political censorship in contents
6 World’s existing power structures (e.g. censorship, gender issues, lack of education) block us in our work towards knowledge equity
  • Transmission of institutional knowledge
  • Inadequate community communications capabilities
  • Volunteers rotating staff -> slower unprofessional turnover.
  • Training around values and strategy.

(7) #consensus-culture

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
7 Inertia and our culture of consensus slow down decisions and priorities
  • Difficulty of choosing priorities
  • Consensus making [lacking of]
  • Unclear power structures and decision making
  • No clarity about who is agents of change
  • Decision making cultures could be an obstacle for power sharing.
7 Too many priorities freeze us from being faster
  • Too many priorities
  • Struggling to understand the process of change
  • Lack of urgency [Take forever]
  • Resistance to change
  • Frozen mindsets
7 History and habits reflect aversion to change which limits growth in contributors and of movement in general
  • Poor marketing pitch for the value of contributing
  • Editors write what they are interested in -> content gaps
  • Software is hard to change. It's hard for developers to adapt to new movement
  • Background & baggage [movement history & tech]
  • Generic aversion to change - in the face of change underway

(8) #governance #decision-making

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
8 Lack of access and clarity of the governance process and short term funding models stifles strategic planning and long term impact!
  • A governance structure that inhibits our ability to make strategic choices or changes
  • Attachment to power
  • Resources distribution does not create feeling of empowerment or sustainability in smaller affiliates
  • Unclear decision making process
  • [Loose]    Missing long term financial structures limits ability to deliver ambitious projects
  • [Loose] Unrealistic belief in future monetary support

(9) #participation

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
9 The movement doesn’t invite, empower, or support people or organisations to participate
  • People feeling uncomfortable participation
  • Gender imbalance blocks contribution by female editors
  • Support for new organisations within our movement
  • Agency of the individual
9 Lack of understanding others inhibits their participation / contribution
  • Poor understanding of the needs of our readers and potential readers
  • Not prioritizing user experience + ease of use
  • We do not support enough NGO; not understanding their needs [as partners and users]
9 The existing community have developed systems that make it challenging and confusing for new and diverse people to contribute content and take part in community processes 2
9 Structures we have adopted to work at global scale can also limit or exclude participation
  • Limited ability to empathise with challenges and needs of people you don’t know
  • Focus on national and geographical identities can clash with the idea of borderless/global community  

(10) #gender-equality

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
10 Actual gender roles limit women content creation in the project
  • Gender roles: some cultures prohibit or limit women’s ability to contribute/own knowledge
  • Gender roles: “manipulating” tendency empowers men, alienate women, others.

(11) #insular-mindset #self-centeredness

Cluster Challenge statement Dots
11 An insular mindset is preventing us from leveraging influence beyond projects
  • Not leveraging our influence [in policy and politics]
  • Governments with authoritarian tendencies block knowledge equity
  • Inward looking rather than outward looking [paywalls]
11 Insular (isolated/inward) thinking prevents us from having bigger and sustained impact
  • Inability to recognize solutions from outside
  • “Come to us” thinking in a “go to them” world
  • Strengthen “Open access partnerships”
  • Inward focus [not connected to larger/other movements]
  • Our movement is unrepresentative of the world around us
11 Self-centeredness and desire for independence consume resources (i.e. energy, human, financial) that could be used for cooperation (and coordination across movement)
  • Self-centeredness
  • Desire for independence is blocking cooperation
  • Coordination across broad scope of movement activity is a challenge
  • Not a player on a global stage [eg.influencing policy on global access]
  • Sharing content vs.conflicting community norms
  • It’s difficult to make decentralised movement efficient


  • Unreliable communication infrastructure within the Wikimedia Movement
  • Accuracy of sourcing (loss of trust)
of the Movement Strategy track,
 » flow of activities (and this report)
» You don't have time to read everything? Check the summary of it!
Day 1
 » The Big Picture,
» The Possibilities,
» The Challenges
Day 2
» The Way Forward,
 » Preparing to work,
 » Thematic Inputs & Conversations
Day 3
» Working groups,
 » Wrapping up
» Input documents for the working groups,
 » Micro-inputs on possibilities