Wikimedia Conference 2018/Program/40

40. Community Capacity Map workshop


Asaf Bartov (Wikimedia Foundation)

Length (min)


Audience / Targetgroup

attendees interested in capacity development

Session Format

presentation followed by workshop


The Wikimedia Foundation recently started a self-assessment exercise to map around 40 different capacities across all communities, user groups, and chapters. The map will inform decisions about capacity-building initiatives from WMF (and potentially by other organizations), including in-person trainings, curriculum development, and funding focuses.

This session will present the Community Capacity Map (CCM), share what has been learned so far, and proceed to a practical self-assessment workshop in which attendees would be encouraged to assess their communities’/groups’/organizations’ capacities, and to brainstorm what capacity-building initiatives would be most useful to develop those capacities.

Desired Outcome

  1. Participants are made aware of the CCM and see its benefit to their community, group, or organization.
  2. Participants take back that knowledge to their colleagues.
  3. Participants contribute some self-assessments (provisional, and to be reviewed by their colleagues after the event)
  4. Participants contribute ideas for capacity-building actions that would be most suitable for their contexts.
Next Steps and Milestones

Any contributions made to the CCM during and after the event would feed into the CCD program’s plans and activities. By Wikimania, I expect to be able to report on CCD activity based on CCM input, including this session’s input.


Community Capacity Development was a successful pilot. The hypothesis behind it is:

  • There are certain community capacities all thriving Wikimedia communities need developed.
  • Some Wikimedia communities have under-developed capacities, or plateaued and aren't developing a particular capacity.
  • WMF can usefully assist a particular community to build a specific capacity, and to "level up" or overcome an obstacle.

How it was done:

  • Conducted qualitative research (community interviews)
  • Selected (emerging) communities for pilots -- Brazil (communications); Tamil (on-wiki tech skills); Ukraine (conflict engagement)
  • Developed curriculum
  • Delivered in-person in-country training with experts
  • Evaluated
  • Wrote final report with recommended next steps
  • WMF did not make a decision following the pilot; defaulted to piloting some more, and acting on the recommendations within the pilot-level budget.

CCD works, and it has additional beneficial side-effects. This "high-touch" approach works: communities appreciate attention and customization to their context. Communities successfully "leveled up". In-person, in-language, in-country training is effective and engaging. hared across communities. Materials are significantly reusable. Needs are often shared across communities.

Some side effects:

  • Trainings developed for CCD were repeated at international conferences (Wikimania; Wikimedia Conference), regional conferences (CEE Meeting; Wiki Indaba) and national ones (India, Ukraine, Bulgaria).

Material is being re-used by others, e.g. the Wikidata training has been recorded at high-quality for online use; the Facilitation Skills training was delivered by a colleague here at Learning Day.

  • CCD does scale, but not like Visual Editor scales across communities, but across time. It sows seeds that keep on giving. It builds capacities that are then maintained by the active community. Effective capacity building "stays built".

Once the initial obstacle or lack of awareness/knowledge is overcome, the community continues organic growth.

Capacity-building is a high-investment activity (limited in time and specific in scope). But it is a good investment when effective. Crucially, it fulfils a need not met by any other process. Technological innovation cannot be the only tool deployed by WMF in support of the communities it serves, as it does not address the variety of needs and obstacles those communities face in their natural growth and activity.

2017 Recommendations are

  • Scale up (additional communities; additional capacities)
  • Develop "core curriculum" and track individual communities' progress in pursuing capacities toward mastery/comfort in curriculum. Plan training/help according to need and opportunity.
  • Identify already-effective trainers and knowledge diffusers; enhance their opportunities to share knowledge; train prospective trainers and empower successful trainee trainers.

The above implies increased resourcing (budget and staff time), as well as participation from additional teams. This current fiscal year (ending June) has not seen increased resourcing.

  1. We are exploring additional capacity-building with a few additional communities. (Ghana and Nigeria in May 2018)
  2. We're developing a community capacity map to invite communities and affiliates to self-assess their capacity (according to guiding criteria). The map will be used to track capacity development, and to identify opportunities for impactful capacity-building projects.
  3. Within the constraints of the pilot-level budget, we'll identify already-effective trainers and knowledge diffusers and enhance their opportunities to share knowledge.

Reasons for having CCM:

  • The pilot relied on personally observed needs and staff assessments. This cannot be comprehensive and equitable, long-term.
  • Self-assessment is inclusive, participatory, equitable, and potentially insightful, for both the orgs/groups and WMF.
  • Having an overview of strengths and needs across the movement allows WMF to allocate resources wisely and effectively (e.g. regionally)


  • Every org, group, or community is invited to self-assess on any number of Wikimedia capacities.
  • There are guidelines to assist in self-assessment
  • In addition to the current capacity, we are interested in the robustness of the capacity
  • Assessments can be done in meetings, online, all at once, or gradually.
  • Once enough information is collected, decisions about investment can be made.
  • Over time, capacity and robustness changes (growth and decline) can be tracked.


  • Wikimedia UK self-assessed their regular newbie-friendly in-person events capacity as high, with high robustness
  • A volunteer assessing Chinese Wikipedia [probably without consultation] considers that community's CentralNotice capacity as low, with low robustness.
  • The Wiki Education Foundation self-assessed their OTRS capacity as low – "My community relies on OTRS and refers the public to it, but we benefit from general queues maintained by people outside our community/organization, and aren't involved with providing OTRS service ourselves." – with high robustness. ;)

The participants then proceeded to work on self-assessing their communities according to the guidelines and sharing their assessments in groups, giving context or examples.