For many of us across the Wikimedia movement, we are well familiar with the conferences, online discussions, and in-person meetups over the last few years where we have come together to talk about our future. For others of us, getting involved with the strategy process remains a new and exciting prospect. To both groups – hello!
My name is Rupika Sharma and I work as Community Strategy Liaison for the Hindi community. My role is to serve as a connector between the ongoing recommendations work by our nine working groups, and the Hindi and Indic language communities that are invested in the outcomes of the process. A lot of information about this process is already on the Meta page of Movement Strategy, but for the inner story of how I and the Strategy team have been working to support this process, stay tuned and keep reading!
Wikimedia 2030 Phase 2
A movement-wide discussion about “What do we want to build or achieve together by 2030?” started in 2017. As a result of these discussions, we agreed on a shared Strategic direction: 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.
The current stage (2018-20) of Wikimedia 2030 is about determining how the movement needs to update its programs and structures so we can ultimately meet the goals laid out in the Strategic Direction. This has been a focused two year project for the whole community to debate and decide our future as a movement. To support and understand the challenges and recommendations of Wikimedia community across multiple languages, the Strategy Liaison Team was designed.
In March 2019, the Community Strategy liaison team was created for 7 languages: French, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, German, Portugese and Mandarin. My role is as a liaison for Hindi community with supportive role of Indic and South Asian communities for facilitation of the community engagement with organized groups and affiliates.
South Asia Community Engagement
My work has been focused on engaging the Hindi speaking language community since March 2019. To discuss the obstacles, needed changes and possible strategies with the community, we did a community consultation process with different surveys of the respective thematic areas, one-on-one interviews, social media and on-wiki interactions (Village Pump of Hindi Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikiquotes, Wiktionary, Wikiversity, Wikivoyage and Wiktionary), strategy meetups, and outreach on different portals that the community frequents, including, the Hindi Wikimedians whatsapp group, Hindi Wikisource messenger group, and Telegram.
Among the participants, we had primarily Asian male and female members from India between the ages of 20 – 65 years. There was a diversity of active on-wiki contributors from Wikipedia, Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Media-wiki, Wikiversity, Wiktionary, Wikidata, volunteers contributing to GLAM partnership, outreach, and Wikimedia education program leaders. With myself in the role of facilitator and translator, the discussions on the nine thematic areas were opened with the community and the members were encouraged to be bold and open with their feedback for the strategy to help us better understand the local context behind their structural recommendations.
A strategy meetup was organized in mid-April in New Delhi, where the orientation for Movement Strategy 2018-20 process was done and as a result of that event, we got feedback in three different thematic areas – community health, capacity building, and resource allocation.
Some of the questions we covered in these channels include: how can community collaborate and help us in the strategic directions with their local contexts and needs? How do we use advocacy to turn adverse or unaware environments into enabling environments? What structures and bodies are needed to retain and promote and capacity, and who should maintain these? How might we allocate resources to secure innovation towards our 2030 goal? What are the next steps we should be talking about as a healthy community?
Community Responses: Resource Allocation
Communities make Wiki happen. In South Asia, we have over 20 emerging communities from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. These communities themselves represent a broad range of different cultures, languages, genders, projects and affiliates, both user groups and chapters. By leading discussions in these spaces, I unearthed many of the ways in which more Western practices that are dominant within the Wikimedia movement can differ from the context of South Asia.
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For example, one-on-one interviews with 7 members of the Hindi Wikimedians User Group revealed concerns about the current grantmaking and resource allocation structure processes in our movement. Many interviewees felt that while officially all communities are eligible for grants, there is a need for funds that are earmarked specifically for South Asia in order to meet the region’s needs more systematically. The participating members at a New Delhi Strategy meetup also concluded that focus should be brought along with the access. For example, in certain geographies, a certain percentage of funds should be allocated to create new structures and support new organizations so that there are new activities in that region. They believed that dedicating funds in this way would be an effective way to build greater equity in the movement.
The topic of grant management and resource distribution was also of importance to the smaller South Asian Wikimedia communities. It was mentioned that big grants like Simple Annual Plan Grants, are harder for emerging communities to secure, as the application and administration process requires larger local volunteer and organizational infrastructure which has not been possible for most Indic and South Asian communities. This is a systematic error of the current resource allocation model for grants. The current model has been proposed to be modified in a way that emerging communities can get more resources and bigger grants. It was concluded that issues that arise due to insufficient funding can be resolved with an updated grantmaking strategy.
Community Responses: Advocacy
One other challenge was noted about regional advocacy. To assist and facilitate South Asian Wikimedians in forming partnerships and executing local project, we should develop stronger regional advocacy as part of our 2030 vision. In the June community consultation with the Hindi Wikimedians User Group, 3 participants believed that the first step should be an increase in awareness about the Wikimedia with government bodies. For instance, national and state libraries have big archives but due to complex bureaucratic structure, advocacy is essential for forming any partnership.
The community members participating in the Rajbiraj Strategy salon in Nepal organized by Maithili Wikimedians User Group, also felt that the local organizations and government entities with shared goals around free knowledge should be targeted for partnerships and collaborations. The community members participating in Rajshahi strategy salon organized by Wikimedia Bangladesh felt the same, showing the overall importance to the South Asia community for regional advocacy. This would help address the issue of the lack of awareness of Wikimedia, especially in the global south and South Asia.
One of the main challenges we had in the community consultation process was the high level language used in the scoping documents. The original draft was found difficult to intercept by the community, so we had to change the technique and come up with brief summaries of the scoping documents. We provided the translated versions to make them easy and quick to read.
Another challenge was distinguishing between programmatic and structural input to recommendations. Although, the local context is needed, yet the solutions and strategy needs to be implemented on a movement wide-level. For better understanding of the community, we held sense making exercises and encouraged the community to organize strategy salons in order to foster local, in-person discussions.
Four strategy and youth salons were organized in Nepal, India and Bangladesh by the Maithili Wikimedians User Group, Wikipedia & Education User Group and Wikimedia Bangladesh. supported by movement strategy team where the community discussed and gave recommendations in three thematic areas – capacity building, advocacy and partnerships. For more details, refer to their meta report pages.
Feedback on Recommendations
After the initial consultation period and the strategy salons came the second consultation for the draft recommendations created by working groups.
The initial phase of this process started in Wikimania 2019 hosted in Stockholm, Sweden where the strategy space community members to directly meet with working group members and talk about the recommendations.
After Wikimania, we ran a second round of online community consultation in the months of August and September. Following that period, representative members of the working groups worked closely in the Harmonization Sprint in Tunisia to finalize the movement strategy recommendations. Analysis of the current draft recommendations is being done to create one unified set. The timeline may shift and we are looking into options for another round of community input.
Whats next ?
After the consultation, next steps will be focussed on the implementation of recommended changes. There will be room for prototyping each step with careful evaluation and analysis. This may take a shorter time for implementation of some recommendations while longer for more complex outcomes of the recommendations.
We will keep providing periodic updates of the process to the general Wikimedia movement. If you would like to get a background of the Movement Strategy Process from last year, please refer to the Meta-Wiki page.