For me, “Knowledge Equity” means that everyone has equal access to reliable and unbiased knowledge that is relevant to them, in their context and for their lives. It also means that everyone has a say in which knowledge is presented on the Wikimedia-projects, and how. For the Netherlands in particular that knowledge held here, but very relevant for people in other parts of the world, is made accessible.
For us working on the Indonesian Wikimedia projects, Knowledge Equity means you can share your knowledge in your mother language without being afraid of any restrictions. It also is about getting the same opportunities to access and being able to share knowledge like the privileged world languages (e.g. English or Mandarin) in your own native language.
In the Chilean context, Wikimedia Chile has assumed the axe “Knowledge Equity” as a tool to achieve something greater: We want that the knowledge we produce for and from Wikimedia projects could contribute to equity of recognition among different users; and to do, we seek that more and more actors and communities participate in the consumption and in the production of free and collaborative knowledge, especially those users who have been historically underrepresented in the media and content creation spaces.
This year’s Wikimedia CEE Meeting saw a return to the place where it all began seven years ago. Belgrade has become the first city to host the Wikimedia CEE Meeting for a second time. A crowd of about 90 people from more than 30 communities and affiliates gathered from 10-13 October at Hotel M to share their ideas and learning. Capacity building was identified as focus area after it had been previously assigned highest priority by the majority of communities in a survey earlier this year.
Wikimedia CEE Meeting through years
After several back and forths, the first Wikimedia CEE Meeting finally took place in October 2012, marking the beginning of an annually recurring event for communities from the loosely defined CEE partnership. A modest conference with relatively poor representation of communities and thematic reach, it has eventually grown in size and impact to become a major event within the movement. Over the years, the gap in community representation has been reduced, the programme has gradually expanded to reflect community needs and priorities, and there has been a substantial number of newcomers every year.
Despite the eminent growth and increased community orientation, the event is still struggling with low community responsiveness and irregular participation by some communities. In that light, the organisers of this year’s conference faced the necessity to allow extension of deadlines because of the low initial interest and last-minute changes to the schedule and, at the end, there were still no representatives from the Bulgarian and Croatian communities.
What was new at this year’s event?
The creative work done by the organising and programme teams resulted in a couple of novelties being introduced. Firstly, this was the first Wikimedia CEE Meeting whose focus area was promoted under a specific slogan. Having capacity building already known, “Broaden Your Capacity!” was selected out of the pool as a pun that best illustrates the focus area. Secondly, sessions appropriate for newbies were identified and marked in the schedule. This practice was implemented at Wikimania 2019 in Stockholm two months earlier and was deemed a particularly useful guidance. Thirdly, all sessions that took place in two of the three halls were livestreamed so that people unable to attend the conference could follow the talks. Apart from these technical novelties, the event has also seen innovation in its thematic scope and, among other things, surfaced the culture of experimentation as an idea.
A brief recap of the conference
The conference kicked off with a Learning Day on 10 October and followed by the main part from 11-13 October. The programme consisted of sessions covering a number of talks on various themes formatted as lectures, workshops, panels, lightning talks, roundtables and brainstorming discussions, and distributed across three halls – the Atrium, Forum and Belgrade – allowing three different talks to be held at a time. There were also two brainstorming discussions on the future of Wikimedia CEE and the Wikimedia CEE Meeting. On-site documentation for all talks was carried out by volunteers on etherpads. The meeting was enriched with thematic posters displayed in the venue that were handed over to organisers after they had been exhibited during Wikimania 2019. After the end of the daily schedule, people at the conference could organise meetups in the conference halls.
By and large, speakers and facilitators were experienced members from the CEE communities, who mainly shared their good practices while providing attendees with how-to-do guidelines. A substantial number of speakers, however, came outside the region, including people from other Wikimedia affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation, to present and gain input about ongoing global activities such as the development of a Universal Code of Conduct, the form and substance of the strategic recommendations, and the introduction of Wikimedia Space. The brainstorming discussions on the future were also fruitful, ending up with the idea of establishing a CEE council as a body for securing regional community health and mediating towards increased decentralisation in the relations with the Wikimedia Foundation, as well as the selection of Ohrid as host city for Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2020.
Yet the conference abounded with variety of topics and session formats, the part with the social events did not disappoint either. There was a guided bus tour throughout the city’s centre in the evening of the penultimate day with a mid-stop at Church of Saint Sava and final stop at the Old Palace followed by a stroll to Terazije Square, Knez MIhailova Street, Republic Square and Skadarlija. After the tour, the group had a dinner in a restaurant on Skadarlija with traditional Serbian food and live music.
What comes next for CEE partnership?
The period after the meeting usually involves articulation of the main insights with the local communities. Of the ideas raised during the conference, community discussions on the proposed introduction of CEE council and bringing the mutual collaboration beyond Wikimedia CEE Spring are expected to take place in the next couple of months. With regards to Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2020, an organising team was assembled and the dates for the conference were set to 18-20 September. The rest of the preparatory work will expectedly intensify from the beginning of the next year.
As a Wikimedia affiliate, we have little to no influence on Wikipedia and the other projects, so it is hard for us to improve the conditions for marginalized groups and topics there. We can recruit new and diverse people, train them, give them a great start and we try to do that, don’t get me wrong, but if they are getting burned on the projects afterwards – because their contributions are questioned or because they are put off by the way discussions are led – there is little we can do. So I decided to put a focus on the things we actually can influence but haven’t really done systematically across the movement: Making our organisations welcoming and safe spaces and creating the culture “offline” that we would love to see online.
My name is Chia-Yi Meng and I am from Taiwan. Knowledge Equity in our context means a diverse, tolerant and friendly society for Wikimedia Taiwan’s current project “South East Asia language Wikibooks”.
First of all, I will briefly introduce the background. Taiwanese new immigrants mainly come from Mainland China 63%, Vietnam 19%, Indonesia 6%, Hong Kong & Macau 3%, Philippine 2%, Thailand 2% and others 5%. Of them, 90% are female except for immigrants from Thailand, so the number of Taiwanese immigrants of a second generation is growing constantly. Recently, the Taiwanese government changed the principles and rules around school textbooks. Before, texts had to be authorized by the government in order to create an official version. Now, after the change of law, they are inviting people to get involved in writing and editing textbooks for high school students (grade 7 to 9).
For Wikimedia Norge the strategic direction with its priority of “Knowledge Equity” has guided our work to focus on two main topics: The first is the gender gap on the wiki projects. The second is increasing and improving the coverage of Sámi topics on Wikimedia projects in general and increasing the activity on the Northern Sámi Wikipedia in particular.
Sámi knowledge and Sámi communities have been left out by structures of power and privilege in Norway. The Sámi, a group of indigenous people, have lived in the far northern regions of modern-day Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia for thousands of years. For much of that time, the Sámi have faced discrimination from those who have sought to control their lands and the problems inherent in working across the national boundaries of four different countries.
My name is Bojan Cvetanović and I am a queer fetishist. I am aware that I have “traditional” male appearance and related privileges because of that. Nevertheless, I consider myself an agender person. In 2015, I started working as Office Manager at Wikimedia Serbia, but was not further involved. Over time, I learned to edit Wikipedia by myself. I wrote my first article in 2017 (“Demisexuality” on Serbian Wikipedia) and that was a game-changing moment for me.
I’m delighted to pre-announce a small communication initiative called “Knowledge Equity Calendar” for the upcoming weeks:
Back in 2017, the Wikimedia Movement agreed on its Strategic Direction with its core goal to be the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge until 2030. One priority to achieve this goal is called “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.). But what does that mean in your context? What are others already doing to translate “Knowledge Equity” from the strategic to the programmatic level?