As we collectively consider the way forward toward achieving Wikimedia's vision, the movement continues to have huge opportunities to connect to most of the world’s population and broaden as well as deepen the knowledge resources of the encyclopedia and other projects. Four priority opportunity areas have come to the fore in the work to date:
- China and India represent 40% of the world's population. While the majority of their population remains unconnected to the Internet, there are nonetheless ~370 million Internet users combined in these two countries. However, only a small percentage of them are connected to Wikimedia, less than 1% for China and between 8% and 20% for India (estimates vary depending the definition of internet user). By increasing its footprint in these countries, Wikimedia would make tremendous progress toward its goal of reaching "every single human being," but this will not be an easy task and would require overcoming major challenges such as community building, competition, censorship (in China), and a multitude of languages (in the case of India).
- There are 78 languages that are used daily by a population over 10 million in the world. While there are 271 Wikimedia languages in use, most of these do not yet have sufficient articles so that Wikimedia is not yet a critical resource (as it is in English, German, Spanish, French, Portugese, and other languages). There are many people who are not yet contributing to or using Wikimedia who could if it were more accessible in their native tongue. How could Wikimedia catalyze healthy growth across these many languages and overcome barriers where knowledge sources in that language are limited or where a second language for which there is already a robust Wikimedia project may dominate (e.g., English, French, Portugese in Sub-Saharan Africa).
- Beyond the approximately 1.7 billion people in the world who have Internet access are approximately 5 billion people who are unconnected and who have very limited access to alternative knowledge sources. While these numbers are ever-decreasing, extending the reach of Wikimedia projects to these people could have a tremendous positive social impact.  Wikimedia community members have experimented with a range of offline ideas and products; as Wikimedia considers its future direction, how much and what type of effort should it put into reaching the five billion people who have limited access to the Internet today?
- An equally important component of Wikimedia's vision is to enable everyone to freely share in the sum of all knowledge. Wikimedia has achieved a lot in eight years, and today there is a massive amount of knowledge available in a freely sharable format. Looking forward, there is exponentially more knowledge to make available both in terms of the type of content (e.g., encyclopedic, reference, news, educational curriculum), the field (e.g., sciences, arts, popular culture, health) and the format (e.g., text, audio, video, photographs). Wikimedia needs to consider which content types fit with the wiki platform (or where wikimedia might consider new tools?) and fit with the interests, passions and capabilities of the contributor community.
The movement also faces barriers to future success. As we’ve engaged community members, outside advisors, staff members and conducted data analysis, several barriers have emerged that warrant attention. Three in particular have come to the fore:
- There is rising concern surrounding the health of the contributor community within the Wikimedia movement. The best data we found on this suggests that less than 1 percent of readers are active contributors, and 10 percent of editors are making 90% of the edits on the projects,  and contributions have begun to plateau in some languages. Demographic data suggests that the contributor community is homogenous and there is strong anecdotal evidence that both insiders and outsiders experience both technical and bureaucratic barriers to contribution. It appears that cultural norms of communication inhibit diversity of contributors and may also create cross-cultural/language barriers to growth of Wikimedia in some cultures/regions.
- The perceptions and realities of “quality” have been and continue to be a major barrier to address. Wikimedia is now a vital source of information for millions of people a day around the world. To the extent to which it is understood, the quality of the content appears to be very high. However, actual quality is not well measured (aside from the fact that people use Wikimedia extensively) and popular perception appears to hinder usage, particularly in educational and other institutional environments. See Jimmy's recent blog on Huffington Post  on this question.
- A wide range of interviewees raised significant concerns about the sustainability of Wikimedia over the long term. Interviewees discussed the challenges of ensuring the technological platform can both support Wikimedia at one billion users per month and serve the needs of much more diverse (and much less tech savvy) contributor base. Others raised major concerns about financial sustainability given Wikimedia's lack of a renewable and reliable revenue source to support operations; and others suggested need for attention to the organizational model so that roles within the movement are more clear and the community is better able to coordinate efforts and accomplish its goals.
From opportunities and challenges to emerging strategic priorities
We have grouped the opportunities and challenges described above into emerging strategic priorities and identified task forces with narrow mandates under each of these. For a more in-depth description of each emerging strategic priority and associated task forces, please click on the links below:
Wikimedia is under-penetrated in China & India, two of the largest and fastest growing Internet regions of the world, this calls for our first emerging strategic priority to expand reach within large, well-connected populations.
To engage the rest of the world in using and contributing to Wikipedia, strategies will be needed to overcome some common challenges: lack of access to Wikipedias in individual's language of choice and lack of internet connectivity. This second emerging strategic priority is about finding solutions to these barriers expand reach within midsize and under-connected populations.
As an online reference resource, Wikipedia is impressive, yet unfinished. Expanding beyond core reference has the potential of furthering Wikimedia's mission. These two separate but linked issues are the third emerging emerging strategic priortiy to improve quality content.
There are warning signs that the existing Wikimedia community is in decline, and new contributors are not replacing those who are leaving the projects, which is our fourth (if not foremost) emerging strategic priority to strengthen the community.
Wikimedia needs to prioritize and align activities to ensure financial, organizational and technological sustainability, which is our fifth emerging strategic priority to optimize Wikimedia's operations.
Emerging strategic priorities and task forces
For a more in-depth description of each emerging strategic priority and associated task forces, please click on the links below:
- Expand reach within large, well-connected populations
- Expand reach within midsize and under-connected populations
- Improve quality content
- Strengthen the community
- Optimize Wikimedia's operations
- Jimmy Wales quote from foundation-l http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2005-March/020469.html
- International Telecommunication Union 2008, Internet indicators: subscribers, users and broadband subscribers, ICT Statistics Database, ITU, 2008
- Wikimedia Strategic Planning, Wikimedia_penetration_by_country, September 2009
- Ethnologue 2009 http://www.ethnologue.com/
- Internet Usage Stats 2009 http://internetworldstats.com/stats.htm/
- Participation/Participants_of_Wikimedia_projects#Contributors as a percentage of all visitors
- Wikistats. http://stats.wikimedia.org
- Jimmy Wales, What the MSM Gets Wrong About Wikipedia -- and Why, HuffingtonPost, September 21, 2009