Hi - just wanted to introduce myself. I'm a member of the Bridgespan team that's been supporting the strategic planning process. I'm going to be posting content that relates to the Wikimedia Foundation's business plan, since that's been my focus for the last few months, and you may also notice me on other pages - specifically I've spent a little time the last couple of days pulling together content to fill in the background/context section
I rendered Wikimedia's draft strategy in Strategy Markup Language (StratML) format for inclusion in our collection at http://xml.gov/stratml/drybridge/index.htm#WST
The purposes of the StratML standard (ANSI/AIIM 21:2009) are outlined at http://xml.gov/stratml/index.htm#DefinitionPurposes
I look forward to seeing the final plan and to exploring opportunities to incorporate the StratML standard into Wikimedia.
Just a quick note to encourage people here to pay attention to Village pump, as there are some conversations there that might be of interest to folks here. In particular, I'd like to know how many people are planning on coming to Wikimania 2010. Please sign up on that page if you are!
We've spent the past nine months exploring the questions, "Where are we now?", "Where do we want to go?", and "How do we get there?" Along the way, there has been a ton of great research, analysis, and discussion on this wiki. I feel like there's good convergence on where we want to go in the next five years, and I've taken a first pass at articulating it at Strategic Plan/Goals. I'm planning on spending some more time writing there, but in the meantime, please take a look at those five movement goals and offer feedback and refinement.
In addition to these goals, there have been many recommendations and proposals. One of our next steps is tying these recommendations to the goals. Because the goals emerged from the recommendation discussions as well as the research, I don't think there will be any problems with this. The important thing is that the prioritized goals will help us evaluate recommendations and determine whether or not to devote significant energy there.
I'll be posting some more thoughts on these topics this week. In the meantime, would really like to hear people's thoughts and questions.
I like these five goals. Some things I noticed:
- "Stabilize the Infrastructure": You write "Our current infrastructure is not as stable as it could be" Maybe my understanding of the word "stable" is wrong. I understand this sentence in such a way that the wikimedia projects are off-line. Well, in the Netherlands some weeks ago our data-center went off-line, but I would say: although the infrastructure is rather stable, we need more redundancy ...
- "Encourage Innovation" Do you mean only technical innovations? If not, maybe you can add something about innovations concerning the content. For example, Wikinews and Wikiversity have to innovate. Editors from India, China, etc. will have an influence on the content and the way it will be shown to the readers. For example, if the readers from these countries will use Wikipedia mainly by mobile devices than shorter articles will be better articles. Another point is that video or even 3-dimensional graphics/video might change the way we present our content. As far as I understand, the point "economic recession" belongs to innovation in financing Wikimedia, so that, for example, more chapters have to help finance Wikimedia. Well, I don´t know how to write all that in one sentence. I hope you do.
I think these points are both correct. "Reliable" is probably a better word than "stable," per your first point.
Would you be willing to add these points to the goals statement? We can refine and edit from there. Thanks!
I like these goals. But almost all of them are outcome oriented. More readers, more diversity, more capacity, more interface updates. What about process? The process goals are the backbone of the outcome goals. The closest thing we have to that is creating a stronger growth path. But I think we could dig in a little bit more.
Some of that can be done by integrating the current goals -- making sure the goals all line up and help each other. Improved interface could mean improved diversity. But I think we need to add a few more things to help us get where we need to go.
- Behind increased capacity, there's a need for increased financing.
- Behind increased diversty and growth, there's a need to reduce community conflict.
- Behind increased readership, there's a need to improve article quality.
Just brainstorming at this point.
I´ve changed as little as possible. Please correct my changes, because I can read and write only intermediate English. Thanks,
I am surprised that increasing the content quality is not a goal in a situation when people are laughing about the quality of articles. It also does not fit into any other goals as far as I see.
I've integrated some of the remaining feedback into Strategic Plan/Movement Priorities. Today, we're going to post a CentralNotice to try and recruit much more feedback around these priorities. I suspect there will be lots of discussion, both positive and negative.
Because the people in this group have been more engaged in the process and in the research than anyone else, I'd like to ask that you stay very active in these discussions for the next few weeks, and that you engage constructively and help bring people up to speed. In keeping with what we want with the Wikimedia community as a whole, let's be civil, respectful, and welcoming.
The goal is to have a final draft that we can post widely by the end of May.
Still having a hard time trying to figure out how the discussions goes! (And trying hard to not sign my posts…)
My impression is that there are active and passive chapter members and the big task (similar to the task at the Wikimedia projects) is to activate the chapter members. The question that has prevented me from becoming a member is that to donate money you don´t have to be a member. What is the benefit of becoming a chapter member? I´don´t know. If the chapters organize the active Wikimedians, than the number of active or very active contributors are the limit. But there could be other reasons to be a chapter member.
By the way, maybe soon there will be a discussion about Movement roles. And of course there will be a discussion what the role of the new offices in Brazil and India will be.
See also: Meetups/Chapters (November 2009)
I just read that Facebook has more visitors than google. We get most of our readers from Google, are we getting some readers from Facebook too? Is there an application for Facebook (en:Facebook Platform)? And what would Facebook-users want from Wikimedia? I must say, I have no idea because I don´t use facebook and friends.
I don't know the answer to your question about referrals, although I'll ping Erik Z. to see if he knows.
As for Facebook apps, there are a few Facebook apps that use Wikipedia -- mostly quiz-like games that draw from Wikipedia content. It's definitely an interesting question; can we potentially leverage Facebook to reach more readers?
According to  from Google we receive 120 million page requests and 6 million image requests daily. (ignore google requests from the crawler page quoted above for facebook, those google requests are for spidering our content)
I think one thing that can be attractive to Facebook users is an app for browsing commons and sharing this material with friends, much like YouTube clips are shared on Facebook today. Another thing is a Wikinews app where facebook users can share and discuss news.
Wikipedia definitely has a reputation for being anti-social. Or at least for not being social. That limits its audience. Finding better ways to tie into facebook would be a good idea. ... assuming that people who join on Facebook aren't viciously attacked by the anti-social anonymous types.
You're getting cynical on us. :-) I want to see happy, optimistic Randomran!
LOL I'll try not to sound so cynical. I think we put together some good recommendations on the community health side, so it's really about turning it into something actionable.
The Facebook idea is good. But it can do a lot of harm if we don't cure the root problems in the community.
A big difference between Facebook and Wikipedia is that each edit is welcome at Facebook whereas a lot of articles and edits are deleted at Wikipedia. Each deletion is like a slap in the face, which is limiting the feel good factor of Wikipedia. At the de:Wikipedia today a lot of articles are moved outside Wikimedia into Wikis at Wikia, while the request for deletion is taking place. So far this is not an official policy and I don´t know if this is changing the bad mood, but it is a remarkable change.
I think there is a strategic question in it too. Today Wikipedia is the only encyclopedic Wiki the public know but maybe Wikipedia will move into the Encyclopedia of higher knowledge. For example Wikia is today the relevant Wiki for fanwikis and there are a lot of Citywikis. Maybe there will be more focused Wikis in the future?
Back to the problems in the community. I don´t know if deleting edits and articles is a software problem (which might be solved one day) or it is a structural problem, because there is only one page for each topic (unlike knol). Another point is that these questions are questions belonging to the editors view on Wikipedia. The readers view is different. Therefore maybe we should not push editing Wikipedia, but reading or for example using commons at Facebook and friends.
For example I have got on my Windows 7 desktop a slide show for some of my own pictures. I don´t know if this is possible, but a slide show of commons-pictures as a Facebook-application might be appealing and if those pictures are saved at Facebook we could save some traffic too.
I think this is a great idea, as wikiteen I think this would appeal to many people. You can put featured articles on this and other stuff, and maybe try to get people to edit Wikimedia projects.
Facebook Introduces New ‘Community Pages’: "Currently, Community Pages have three different tabs: the first is called “Info” and contains a brief summary from Wikipedia; the second tab is named “Related Posts” and it features posts created by Facebook members; and the last tab called “Wikipedia” has the full article about the subject."
Link to foundation-I where this topic is discussed.
It seems that the Info-page is the lead section of an article.
Arte Johnson reaction here.
If the article changes are made on Facebook, it appears at first glance that WP can not utilize the changes -- this may well be a net negative for WP as such (unless, of course, we break the convention that an article history must be full and complete on WP). The concept that the changes will be by "experts" further distances the new articles from WP, and may place WP in the position of the old Britannica. The term "learning experience" is possibly all too apt.
In any case, alea iacta est.
The article changes will not be made on Facebook - the "Wikipedia" tab actually launches Wikipedia. There is no ability to edit from Facebook.
Reassuring a bit -- but it looked in the release like Facebook was getting folks who are "experts" to propose changes - how will WP cope with an influx of such? Is there a rough estimate of how many new folks will arrive? I recall when AOL provided an influx of users onto Usenet (yes, I am that old) and the chemical reactions between the old-guard and the AOLers.
You know, I'm not from Facebook, and I wasn't directly involved in the negotiations on our end - I'm just supporting it. But I really don't agree with your "experts" characterization. For instance, let's take my favorite example: if you have "home improvement" on your Facebook profile, you'll be linked to that community page. That doesn't mean you're an expert in it, any more than if you went to that page on our wikis. It just means it's an interest for you.
So I guess I just disagree with your basic premise, which prevents me from speaking to the next points. :)
The list of recommendations by China TF.
- Promote the Wikimedia movement and involve the public at large
- Re-invigorate the community
- Before 2006, Wikimedians in many cities of China often held meet-ups. But after the government blocked Wikipedia, these meetings were not organized any more. We need to re-invigorate the community both online and offline.
- Increase public relations activities
- Hold annual conferences for Chinese Wikimedia in Mainland China
- Increase media coverage on Wikipedia via news, interviews, reviews, etc
- Wikipedians reach out and give talks in universities and IT/education-related conferences/gatherings
- Form partnership with popular websites in China
- Improve the SEO result in Google.cn and Baidu.com
- Re-invigorate the community
- Lift the obstacles for participation
- Help students and teachers in universities to access Wikipedia
- Chinese universities and academic institutions use the CERNET (wikipedia:China Education and Research Network) to connect to Internet and have limited data allowance for international traffic. Setting up a mirror inside China for Wikipedia would be a solution but it must deal with the censorship problem.
- Improve usability of the user interface, especially on the editing interface
- Improve the mobile version of Wikimedia
- Be more friendly to newcomers; encourage and help them participating
- Maintain and expand the link with the Chinese government for better communication and mutual understanding
- Help students and teachers in universities to access Wikipedia
- Improve content quality and expand coverage on local topics
- Using the high-quality content from English Wikipedia and other languages is an opportunity.
- Expand coverage on topics more relevant to Chinese users, such as Chinese people, Chinese culture, Chinese geographic, etc
- Lots of works in public domain may be used to expand the coverage in a systematic way
- Project to enhance geographic entries with semantic format support
- Build online and offline partnerships
- Build partnerships with relevant websites and online communities
- Build partnerships offline with groups such as teachers
- Supporting facts:
- Hudong partners with teachers from primary and secondary schools
- Hudong partners with websites of various museums
In the recommendation, we said to re-invigorate the community both online and offline. As part of the efforts to execute the recommendation, Chinese Wikipedians in Mainland China had set up a group blog( http://www.bloki.org ) recently. And we planed to host meetups in cities also.
What about a project focused on reviewing the social and other tools that Hudong and Baidu provide (in addition to their outreach efforts mentioned above), and assessing which ones should be tried out on Wikipedia? This would have a major impact on non-chinese Wikis as well.
Sorry for the late reply, Sj. Hudong's activity mainly recorded in the page of Xinzhishe(New Knowledge Groups), including:
- about 30 public speech by invited scientist, professionals or activist;
- about 40 events or gatherings for different purpose
- a special project for teachers to promote the usage of Wiki in education
These activity were taken during the past two years. Also they sponsor many volunteer groups or NGO in China on exchange to promote Hudong by simply using their logo, I know these from my friends.
Hudong's offline activities are impressive, I think we can borrow some experience from them.
Last edit: 06:24, 16 March 2010
So we got a LOT of great feedback here about the "What we agree on" threads. We should begin to review the comments here about the threads, and start to consolidate them onto wikipages. Maybe we can hash out some of the disagreements that way, too?
The goal here is to synthesize the feedback, not simply list it. It may be that we need to hash through some disagreements. That's okay. :)
-Philippe (who fails at logging in)
I started several days ago with the CH on the corresponding thread, and managed even to generate some feedback, but I was travelling the whole week and could not continue. If everything goes fine I may continue tonight.
I copied the summaries of the recommendations over to that page, but I have not included any feedback. There is a big difference in how detailed the summaries are for the different Task Forces. At the moment I think it looks like a table of content for all the recommendations.
I put some of the analysis to Task force/Strategy/What we agree on (two points for community health); I will try to cover the community health and quality Taskforces in a couple of days. It would be good if someone would (i) start making similar analysis (I used the format earlier suggested by SJ) and (ii) cross-check that I did not write any bullshit.
Philippe made me do this :-P
I still dream of an online learning environment that is: fully virtual, with large active learning communities in anny topic unde rthe sun, with real-time interaction with those communities, with access to all knowledge in any form: written text, multimedia, sound files, interactive games, avatars, quizzes, self-designed exercises, flash cards, notes, oral narratives from past generations, interactive whiteboards.. and a bunch of stuff we haven't even conceived of yet. All knowledge accessible to all people (and contributed by all people) is so much more than even the best digital encyclopedia. That's why the other projects are so important; without them we won't realize this vision. I don't want to have to go to sit in a school classroom and listen to lectures, then go home and do exercises from a textbook and call that "learning". That's very limited and imperfect access to (some) knowledge. I really do want it *all*. How do we get there?
Right now, Wx is primarily "static pages" - that is, pages rendered through HTML which just sit there while you read them, as a rule. Making them more interactive is an interesting suggestion -- possibly having automatic pop-ups for images, sounds, news etc. for any given article would make sense (not limited to those, by the way).
Alas - "exercises" are how our brains manage to store patterns about information - in the same way that a bowler gains "muscle memory" by practicing, so our brains gain "logic memory" from doing calculus exercises, etc. Wx can not change that, as far as I know <g>.
I want to try to explain how the goals came about and how they're connected to the Task Force work, because they are very much connected. I hope this will also help us move forward in refining these goals and also identifying the opportunities to achieve them.
Let's take the Wikipedia Quality Task Force as an example, because there's been a lot of followup conversations to those recommendations. Philippe has summarized the feedback, but I'll briefly restate here. There were three recommendations:
- Global (Wikimedia-wide) thematic projects.
- Senior editor status.
- Re-emphasize core values on the different Wikipedia projects.
I'll discuss these in reverse. Regarding the third recommendation, there seems to be consensus that making these core values easy to find is a good thing. There were some questions about whether or not the values are the correct ones (specifically "verifiability" vs "truth"), but that's a project-specific discussion and less relevant for a Wikimedia-wide strategic discussion.
Regarding the second recommendation, there were two concerns. First, what would be the details for picking senior editors, and would they be afforded special privileges? Second, would having a senior editor status encourage content kings?
There are a few important things to note for our purposes. I think there's consensus that there are different roles in the Wikimedia movement, and that we need to treat these roles differently. Active, experienced editors play a critical role. We need to find a way to get more active, experienced editors (goal #3). So this recommendation is one potential path to get there.
Will the basic idea work? Obviously, a lot of details need to be fleshed out, but I think the important thing to note is that we won't know for certain unless we try it. That's the point of goal #5. We need to be able to test ideas and learn from them. Otherwise, we're going to suffer from "analysis-paralysis."
Regarding the first recommendation: We don't have a goal that targets content. Part of that is because content quality is covered in the theory of change: getting better contributors will have a large-scale systemic effect on content quality. Another reason for this is that it's hard to come up with good, Wikimedia-wide metrics for quality. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, it just means it felt premature to make this a high-level goal at this point.
I think that Wikimedia-wide wikiprojects maps closest to goal #5: innovation and experimentation. The feedback suggests that wikiprojects aren't very useful right now, so Wikimedia-wide wikiprojects may not work well either. I think there's a further conversation that has to be explored about why wikiprojects don't work as well as they should, and how they could be improved. From the standpoint of movement-wide goals, I think it's fair to say that it's possible to improve them, and it's possible that global wikiprojects would have an even greater effect, and so we should have the mechanism to test this idea. (You could even argue that Task Forces on this wiki are the equivalent to global wikiprojects.)
We can go through this same exercise with all of the recommendations and show how they map to the goals. I'd encourage people to help with this at: Task force/Strategy/What we agree on. Thoughts welcome.
That's a lot to chew on, but connecting these recommendations to the goals is very important.
- 3 might seem easy. But we already have a bunch of easy value-statements: "imagine a world where something something something", "Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit", and so on. This recommendation only generates value if we have something a little more specific. Otherwise we're just inviting editors to continue bickering and pushing against each other. Re-emphasizing core values is important only if it can actually get people to find a common direction.
- 2 is tricky. Community health discussed this too. But since I took an easy recommendation and made it hard, I'm gonna take a hard recommendation and make it easy: will we let the perfect be the enemy of the good? If so, then let's scrap it. But if we understand that this is an important way to retain editors and create a more harmonious experience, then let's find the best scheme we can, and let editors refine it over time.
- On #1, I agree that we ought to focus more on improving Wikiprojects first. I'm not sure about quality. But in terms of community health, they've been almost universally helpful. There's a lot of scholarship that shows editors are more likely to stick around if they're part of a Wikiproject. That lines up with my experience too. There's a few instances where projects have been hijacked by people with a bias, and they're very hard to remove (Esparanza is the only one, as far as I can remember. But the real issue is getting more people to join.
Hope that helps.
I posted some thoughts on expanding content earlier this week at Thread:Talk:Task_force/Expanding Content/Technical and policy needs for expanding to new projects. There are both tehnical and policy questions to address -- what sorts of techincal tools can we build, which defines what projects we can support in the near future? And what sorts of policy changes can we make to incorporate existing communities and projects; or to allow for the creation of new projects? (For example, wikinews isn't compatible with NOR. Some other potential Projects might not be compatible with the policy Pillars of the major-language Wikipedias.)
Actually, I think, the principal question is: What are the maim principles which must be shared by any existing and future WMF project? NPOV and V?
Wikisource accepts content that isn't from a neutral point of view.
Wikinews has original reporting that isn't verifiable.
How projects achieve fairness and avoid misleading users is something for each project to consider.
I would express our main principal as follows
The foundation on which the pillars of wikipedia and all other projects stand is this: Gather together all of human culture and knowledge. Make it available to everybody, everywhere, forever.
This sticks with the architectural/structural metaphor. The hat tip to Asimov doesn't bother me in the least.
In WP, I have opined on the category of "advocacy articles" - that is, article which, by their very nature, have a tendency to move to one POV or another, much like a seesaw with a heavy person on one side does not reach any equilibrium, but goes entirely to that side. There I suggested that the concept of NPOV is intrinsically impossible to reach, and that therefore we ought to have "paired articles" allowing readers to view each side as it best presents itself (adhering to reliable sources etc. of course).
And the concept of defining "knowledge" has still not been addressed as a matter of long-term strategy. w:wp:Josh Billings applies. Especially where matters relating to religion, politics and economics are found.
Rather -- why not "The foundation of all the projects is to gather together what is known or discussed in a modern Library of Alexandria." Metaphor intact.
How Wikipedia best manages balance (within an article or between paired articles) is a question for wikipedia, not for this strategy wiki.
Defining knowledge is about drawing a line between what is and what is not knowledge. Until we arrive at such a definition there will be a grey area of items which might or might not be suitable for coverage by wikimedia. In my opinion, the best way to deal with this grey area is on a case by case basis.
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
Now there is a foundation I can build on.
The "sum of all knowledge" is, alas, exactly where the advocacy problem hits us square in the back -- not just in WP. Even in WV, a lot of material is shown from specific points of view.
Further, what is "knowledge" in any event other than what someone states is true?
In short - this is precisely an issue of "strategy" if, by strategy, we seek to state where WX will be or ought to be in the next n years, rather than seeking to micro-manage each individual step in reaching such goals. .
In the China TF recommandations, we gave an advice:
- Expand coverage on topics more relevant to Chinese users, such as Chinese people, Chinese culture, Chinese geographic, etc
- Lots of works in public domain may be used to expand the coverage in a systematic way
- Project to enhance geographic entries with semantic format support
China enjoy a long history for thousands of years, and hence lots of Chinese books or other resources available in public domain. Digitize them into Chinese Wikisource or Chinese Wikipedia is an option to enhance our Chinese content, but we should select some books or resources elaborately first, and then put our limited resource on this area.
I can see several advantage for this:
- improve our position in the competition with Baidu and Hudong, Baidu and Hudong enhance their repository systematically bu inputing copy-righted resources.
- if we elaborately select some valuable resources, and present them in good format finally, we can attract more academia people into our projects, and to form a healthy ecosystem.
- benefit all readers
On the tech side of this idea, we can try various OCR tools or digitize them by human, the price of human resources in China is relative low.
We had discuss these ideas in Chinese community, but one of our questions is that:
- Could this plan be supported by the WMF formally? and even some financial support?
Would substantial political issues be raised by some of the material? With Google's relationship with China predicate problems of any sort? How would Wx ensure that international copyright standards be upheld (positing that some material in Chinese may violate international copyright law)?
And with come older books containing characters not readily understood by modern readers, how would they be presented?
As a "strategic" issue, I think you are saying that "increasing material from China" is a specific goal to be presented?
Sorry, maybe I should put this thread into the discussion page for China TF, I only want to track the progress of the recommandations by China TF recent days.
For your questions, I put my answer below:
- Would substantial political issues be raised by some of the material? With Google's relationship with China predicate problems of any sort? How would Wx ensure that international copyright standards be upheld (positing that some material in Chinese may violate international copyright law)?
- I don't think these materials could cause any political or legal issues, because the author of them all died hundreds or even thousands of years ago. These knowledge are belong to all humankind.
- And with come older books containing characters not readily understood by modern readers, how would they be presented?
- Unicode support most of the Chinese characters, in fact Unicode pick these characters from Kangxi Dictionary which compiled hundreds of years ago
- The Chinese characters are stable for thousands of years, well-educated users, esp. from Hong Kong and Taiwan can recognize most of them without any difficulty.
- Some classic books are published by modern publisher, they had already normalized these books and no special characters are there.
- Some material, esp. from oracle bone, bronze ware are not supported by Unicode, we may not digitize them right now.
Why don´t you ask the Board Ting Chen (Board of Trustees or)?
It seems that the Wikilink to the Chinese userpage doesn´t show, but the preview does show. That´s odd.
Speaking only for myself, I think the Foundation would absolutely consider giving a grant to support this kind of content partnership. This would be possible now through WMF Chapter grants (perhaps through Wikimedia HK?), and I know that User:Eloquence would like to eventually open up the grants process beyond Wikimedia Chapters.
I suggest the grant would have to be quite major, indeed. Say on the order of $50 million to begin such a substantial project, making it a large capital expense.
Given that the WMF's projected operating budget for this year is about $14 million, this will not happen. :-) The whole grants process is for small grants: on the order of thousands, not millions.
But, you raise a good point. The next step, Mountain, would be to actually put together a proposal and pitch it. You should rope Yu-yu into the conversation. The application deadline is coming soon, so now would be a good time to start thinking about it.
I rather thought so. The key, however, is the issue of "commercial sponsorships." I would suggest that, even before the strategy package is over, that WMF, on its own volition, and quite speedily, contact Amazon or Google (each of which has vast experience in digitizing books - though with mixed legal results) to ascertain if either would provide seed-money for what are posited to be Chinese books well out of copyright. The amount of money is within either of their budgets, and would likely make world-wide news.
I'd strongly encourage you to read Wikimedia Foundation/Feb 2010 Letter to the Board. I think it's a great idea to pursue these kinds of partnerships, but it's not the role of the Foundation. One of the conversations that didn't happen as successfully as it might have on this wiki is around movement roles: understanding whose role it is to pursue different things. Perhaps this discussion (as well as Michael Snow's recent email to foundation-l) can be a kick-off to have this discussion here.
For example, de:wikisource is getting each year 2000 Euro from the german chapter for digitising. Each digitising project costs between 30 Euro and 100 Euro. Source
I have tried to pick out the main themes of the feedback in the "What we agree on: ..."-threads.
Advocacy Task Force
- Prioritize public domain advocacy over net neutrality advocacy, because although both are worthy causes, there are already many powerful voices on the net neutrality effort. What about Wikimedia simply publically voicing its support of net neutrality (release a statement, allow net neutrality campaigners to list Wikimedia as official supporters with appropriate use of [a perhaps modified] Wikipedia logo to put on relevant websites) but not actually devoting any funding or resources to it?
- I hope the environmental strategies and tactics continues to emphasize telecommuting Foundation employees when possible and reducing the per-employee carbon footprint.
- Some discussion about why Advocacy not will be a priority of the Wikimedia Foundation, but that the foundation would be happy to see advocacy on a more local level through chapters. But in any way, the Wikimedia Foundation intends to strengthen its relationships with international organizations that share many or all of our values, and we will join them in advocacy work, judiciously, where & when we think our voice can add some value.
- Some discussion about the role of the Foundations and the Board.
- The advocacy recommendations are strongly Internet oriented and Wikimedia scope is broader. Because of that and according to our goals and our strategy, I would suggest that we should add preserving cultural heritage inside of our advocacy goals.
- Have a page where advocacy agenda is being built at a high level? A page where the 10-15 key policy issues are listed, and our position summarized in say ~100 words for each? It would be a real service to the Wikimedia movement to develop such a statement of position.
China Task Force
- As part of the efforts to execute the recommendation, Chinese Wikipedians in Mainland China had set up a group blog (http://www.bloki.org) recently. And we planed to host meetups in cities also.
- What about a project focused on reviewing the social and other tools that Hudong and Baidu provide (in addition to their outreach efforts mentioned above), and assessing which ones should be tried out on Wikipedia?
Community Health task Force
- Some worry about whether the senior editor thing is elitist and potentially more divisive than figuring out a way to treat or hire low-income volunteers.
- A summary of the Volunteer recognition recommendations in a broader context
- Implementation: only by communities themselves with encouragement from WMF. Does basically not need to be put on vote etc.
- Resources: some criteria needed for each project plus a small group per project; may be can be kept Wikimedia-wide, then only one group is needed and some effort to count edits etc (via toolserver?).
- Opportunities: to prevent/postpone the leave and disappointment of volunteers.
- Risks: do not see any. In the worst case, it will be a dead initiative.
- Duration: presumably the effect will be steady, for both short-term and long-term after the initial phase to establish the rules.
- Time-frame: couple of months to establish the guidelines and form the initiative groups.
- Necessity: we assume that without this strategy the volunteers woul leave sooner, but they would leave anyway, with or without the strategy.
- Some discussion about the actuall implementation, and about other recognition methods than barnstars. For example Physical recognitions such as certificates, sticker, mugs, etc., as well as vitual recognitions such as virtual certificates, thank you emails, etc.
Local Language Task Force
- There is not only a lack of content but also a lack of reliable sources in local languages, especially for local topics. It would perhaps be useful if we had a breakdown of exactly how we think this might be implemented differently for countries where there is a relative lack of reliable sources
- Is there anything the foundation can do to increase the amount of reliable sources in small languages, for example to promote and foster scientific research and publishing in small languages. And could voice recordings be collected and used as sources.
- There has been some more ideas around automatic collection of information about what people wants to read. If such a list of topics is produced, editors could either specify in their profile what their areas of education, occupation and interests are, so that they can be given directed tips about how they can contribute. Or there could be a form where even anonymous user can fill in these questions and be given such tips.
- Some discussion about the "reliable source policy".
- There are languages which have orthography, but they aren't supported by either widespread fonts or by Unicode itself. If there are not letters, there are no Wikimedia projects. Wikimedia -- both, Foundation and movement -- should work on this issue.
- Many languages don't have written forms or it is difficult or impossible to write them. Wikimedia should help to those language communities.
Offline Task Force
- The 'Use of cellphones' recommendation seems to me to be one that could have a huge impact.
Movement roles Task Force
- Chapters and real life events might be a better way to reach out to underrepresented groups, such as women.
- We might want to move more toward a 'Wikimedia Network', making sure that the WMF is integrated with the chapters.
- No comments
There has also been complaints about that the summaries of the recommendations are to brief to provide details about how the goals actually should be achieved.
It would be nice if more of this were actually strategy related and not just "we think this is a good idea" material.
Advocacy is not a "strategy" in itself. "Carbon footprint" is nicely correct, but also not "strategy."
The issues about how to handle "local language" material (which also relate to the broad "China question") and how to address such broad issues, do impact strategy, and are, IMHO, the most salient of the "agreed upon" material above.
I agree. There is not much of the material that realy leads to additions to the recommendations. But I think the following points in advocay agenda are strategy related at least.
- Prioritize public domain advocacy over net neutrality advocacy
- The foundation would be happy to see advocacy on a more local level
- The Wikimedia Foundation intends to strengthen its relationships with international organizations that share many or all of our values
- Have a page where advocacy agenda is being built at a high level.
I also have an additional comment to the Local Language Recommendations. In what way will the usability initiative affect the bandwidth and prestanda requirements of the editors connections and computers?
As far as I can tell, "net neutrality" only applies in areas where competition for internet service exists -- which is not the entire world. On the other hand, public domain advocacy does not apply to areas with unitary control over the internet either. How can WX actually affect either?
With regard to international organizations - would any benefits reslt which can be measured in any way? I do not regard "getting more money" to be a valid goal in itself <g>.
And I agree that the Local Language part is of notable importance - though in what way can Wx affect bandwidth requirements etc.? Ought WX seek means of compressing material so that the user's computers "reconstitute" condensed material? As articles approach larger and larger sizes, some compaction is certainly feasible, and might represent a strategic goal.
(I use "WX" to mean each single component of the wikiverse, as well as the coordinated acts of such entities)
The bandwidth requirements will not be affected when the monobook skin is changed to the usability skin, Vector, and other usability improvements such as the new toolbar is offered as default interface. Users may experience slowness when they use the new interface for the first time, but it will be faster as the program and image files will be stored in the browser cache. --Shuhari 07:18, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Last edit: 08:31, 5 April 2010
I tried using prototype.wikimedia.org with firebug activated. It seemed like loading the editing environment for the first time required about 770kb of data to be loaded. On a 56kbps connection that means about 2 minutes at full speed. I am a bit worried that such an amount of data to be loaded at the first edit is likely to discourage new editors, especially in region where GPRS and other connections with similar speeds are likely to dominate. The rest of the editing seemed to be perfectly fine, with most of the time less than 1kb of data being loaded upon interaction with the interface.
Apart from this concern I liked the editing environment very much!
Posted by Dafer45
One of this task force's most important tasks is to articulate the movement-wide goals based on the considerable work already done on this wiki. We had a great discussion about this during last night's office hours, and we need to move this forward.
I've proposed a set of guidelines for what makes a good goal. I'd love feedback and thoughts on that.
On that page, I also propose a way to move forward. There are already some draft goals at Strategic Plan/Goals that we should discuss. We should also discuss what goals emerge from the Task force/Recommendations and subsequent discussion.
We need to converge on a set of goals by the end of April.
Last edit: 21:17, 31 March 2010
I added the first comment at Talk:Strategic_Plan/Goals. I'll think more tomorrow.
--Millosh 21:17, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
You write: "The purpose of this Task Force is to be the central gathering point for further discussion and to write the draft five-year plan by April 30, 2010." Are you talking about this: Strategic Plan 2010-2015?
I´ve remembered the page strategic plan. I´ve read the sample strategic plans from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Should our plan look similar to that? By the way, there is the page Implemented proposals.
I plan on working on summarizing that discussion later today, but could use some help, so if you get a chance, please help create a summary in Task force/Content scope/Discussion summary. Thanks!
I am listing here alphabetically the first set of recommendations for discussion: Advocacy.
- Need to Be Prudently Cautious with Wikimedia Foundation Advocacy In General.
- Proposed Wikimedia Foundation Advocacy Position: For Net Neutrality
- The Voice of Wikimedia
- If Wikimedia chooses to engage in advocacy, we should take on issues that are critical to our long-term growth, since this is where we will have the most passion, insight, and leverage.
- Pursuing environmental strategies and tactics
- Advocacy against extension of copyright and in favour of a strong public domain.
I would like to suggest that we prioritize public domain advocacy over net neutrality advocacy, because although both are worthy causes, there are already many powerful voices (major corporations, etc) on the net neutrality effort, but there is unfortunately only a rather meager push for the public domain, a cause which does not have the natural business allies that net neutrality has.
I hope the environmental strategies and tactics continues to emphasize telecommuting Foundation employees when possible and reducing the per-employee carbon footprint. I am sad that is opposed to being able to sponsor travel expenses for Wikimanias, which is probably important to community health.
The Wikimedia movement is in an excellent position to be an effective global advocate, not only for niche areas that are special to us, but also to define significant drives in favor of self-directed learning, education in general, and the benefits of open collaboration.
As to Pharos's comment about public domain, I agree: encouraging this and encouraging government policies that mandate sharing national treasures and collections would make good high-visibility initiatives. (The two overlap, but have different focus.) People already working in those spaces (such as resource.org) tend to love Wikimedia and could help us build a network of support.
Philippe mentioned that we could search for some low-hanging fruit at this stage in the process. With regard to net neutrality, as Pharos says, there's already some major players on board. So what about Wikimedia simply publically voicing its support of net neutrality (release a statement, allow net neutrality campaigners to list Wikimedia as official supporters with appropriate use of [a perhaps modified] Wikipedia logo to put on relevant websites) but not actually devoting any funding or resources to it? That seems valuable, easily accomplished and something that needn't take up much time.
I agree with Pharos that the public domain should be a higher priority. It has a direct and profound impact on Wikimedia projects and although there are campaigners the movement could really do with a high profile voice.
Unfortunately I seem to recall that Sue Gardner's letter/memo has already stated that Wikimedia are not going to prioritise advocacy, which I think is a grave shame. Wikimedia now has such a profile that it could really make a difference in certain campaigns.
Environmentalism has always been anathema to me, I'm afraid. I don't know why; it is, after all, about saving the planet. I've just never been drawn to the issues.
Yes, the Wikimedia Foundation isn't going to prioritize advocacy in the immediate future. Here's how I would like to see "advocacy" play out for Wikimedia:
- Advocacy is mostly engaged in on a geographical basis, since generally it's an attempt to influence public policy. So, I believe the natural main advocates will be the chapters. I think the Dutch chapter has been beginning to lead some advocacy work inside the EU, and I applaud that: I think it makes sense and they are well-suited to do it. As I've said elsewhere, this is an argument for accelerating chapter development in countries where chapters don't yet exist.
- The Wikimedia Foundation does not intend to direct any particular resources towards advocacy inside the United States, for two primary reasons: 1) Because the Wikimedia Foundation is international in scope, and any energy it directs towards Washington is energy it doesn't have for international work, and 2) because there are lots of organizations which share many of our beliefs and interests inside the United States, and which have large lobbying divisions that will protect our ability to do our work as well as their own. That doesn't mean we will never engage in advocacy inside the United States: it just means that it's not a high priority for us. Meaning, unlike many top internet properties, we will not begin hiring a phalanx of lawyers to work in DC.
- The Wikimedia Foundation intends to strengthen its relationships with international organizations that share many or all of our values, and we will join them in advocacy work, judiciously, where & when we think our voice can add some value. We have all kinds of friends and partners who will help us decide when to do that -- e.g., chapters, industry partners such as Google, civil liberties groups such as the EFF, and individual volunteers around the world.
- It's worth pointing out that there is very little documentation of Wikimedia's core beliefs. Some of the work here is a good start (e.g., on net neutrality), and I would love to see volunteers collaboratively develop a large set of core position statements -- ending up with something like this, from eBay: http://www.ebaymainstreet.com/policy-papers. eBay's general counsel has told me that eBay's goal with its Main Street initiative is is to equip ordinary people (i.e., eBay buyers and sellers) with information and arguments to help them advocate in their own self-interest. I think it would be a service to Wikimedia project readers, to provide them with something similar. It is not easy for people to find accessible, non-industry-perspective information about a whole range of internet-related issues including e.g., privacy, censorship, copyright, etc. --- in my view to develop and offer it would be a huge public service. And it's something Wikimedia editors are perhaps uniquely well-positioned to do :-)
There are a number of different parties in the wiki movement and they have different roles.
The national chapters are organised within particular legal jurisdictions and so it makes sense they should take the lead in advocacy. The lack of a USA chapter could lead to some confusion here but I really would not like to see the Foundation acting as a surrogate US chapter. On the other hand I don't want a US chapter acting as a surrogate Wikimedia board either.
Beside the chapters are the projects, organised by language and by topic (Encyclopedia, dictionary, Source document archive etc.) The projects editors are more inward looking, concentrating on improving that project.
The Foundation has two sides The Trustees represent the editors in the chapters and projects. The need to be the public face of Wikipedia to the world but they also act as the users interface to the staff deciding the long term direction and core objectives towards which we are working.
The staff role is more technical, keeping the wheels oiled and the train rolling.
For core beliefs I think a good start is to look at where we are and what we are doing. See my comment on Milosh's post just below.
I agree with most of what you say here, but there is one piece that I disagree with. And I think it's an important issue, and that a lot of people share your view --- so I'd like to take this opportunity to argue for a different perspective that I think is more correct.
I don't believe the Foundation has "two sides," and I don't believe that the Board's role is to represent the interests of editors to the staff. The Board's job is governance: it is supposed to oversee the work of the staff, ensure the sustainability of the organization, and maintain a sharp focus on the advancement of the mission. That's its fiduciary responsibility: it's a moral commitment and a legal obligation.
That's because the Wikimedia Foundation is not a professional association, nor a union, nor a membership organization. Like all mission-driven organizations, we have a responsibility to the recipients/beneficiaries of the mission, which in our case are the readers of the Wikimedia projects, as well as prospective readers. Essentially, serving information seekers is why we exist.
I should also explicitly state the obvious: the staff of the Wikimedia Foundation focuses a large proportion of its energy on supporting and facilitating the work of editors. That is only reasonable and correct, because editors are the people who create educational materials for readers. In other words, the Wikimedia Foundation is here to serve readers, and we do that largely by supporting editors.
So, upshot, our world looks like this: we are all here to serve readers. The editors do that by creating educational materials. The staff does that by maintaining the platform, helping ensure readers' needs get met, and that the editing community is appropriately supported so it can do its work. The Board does it by overseeing the work of the staff and keeping everyone focused on the mission that we all share.
Our mission is to empower and engage people to organize and develop information in an educational way, and then to distribute it to every person in the world. The second part -- distributing it to everyone -- is a daunting but known problem; if we don't manage to get it to everyone, the nature of the licenses we use empowers the rest of the world to carry knowledge the last hundred kilometers. It is the first part of the mission, empowering and engaging creators and organizers, that we do better than anyone else -- but that is still a bit of a mystery.
As a Trustee, my fiduciary responsibility is to the advancement of the mission, which in our case means not losing sight of what we do best: expanding our community of creators, organizers, and developers; empowering them and amplifying their work where possible. It also means improving how we serve information seekers, but that task is better-distributed: there are dozens of major reusers and redistributers of Wikimedia content who are helping us serve information seekers, innovating interfaces and visualizations, providing read-only mobile versions of Wikipedia.
If we fail to effectively understand and support and expand our editing community (which should ideally grow to encompass every reader -- the hundreds of millions of facebook users could all just as easily have made a few dozen edits and image uploads to articles they care about), noone else will do it, and our Projects will fail. We are all hear to serve not readers but creators, and to make every reader into a creator, to remind the world that everyone has something to teach.
Sue is right that it is the Board's job to keep everyone focused on the mission that we share; and we need to restore our traditional focus on what matters most: making resources that everyone can edit.
Very interesting. The board are (mostly) elected by editors but are there to protect the aims of the Foundation and the interests of the readers and the future readers - the beneficiaries of the foundation projects - rather than the editors and staff - the foundation's paid and unpaid helpers. The corollary of this is that the board have a duty to close down any group of editors who try and steer a project in a direction which does not serve the aims of the foundation.
The other side of the mission of the board, as I saw it, was an outward facing role, representing the foundation to the rest of the world, including future readers. This is a role that, till now, has largely been carried out by Jimmy Wales. Thinking about it in the light of the comment above maybe public relations/publicity isn't a different role after all but is rather just another aspect of the general work of the Foundation to be shared by the board, the chapters, the staff and others who share our aim but never have a formal connection to the foundation; different from editing the content but as important to achievement of the the foundation's aim. We need to bring the strategy proposals back to that aim:
- To make all of human knowledge
- available to everyone.
The current and future editors (including all of the readers who would make excellent editors but don't currently see themselves that way) are a primary beneficiary of the Foundation and its mission.
"The sum of all knowledge" is a synthesized summary that does not exist in the void, to be gathered and distributed. One of our major successes has been sketching a scope for that summation, and starting to fill in the details. This would not be possible without a diverse, motivated, and talented community driving the Projects forward, and to the extent that we have not yet succeeded, it is often a reflection of imbalance or incompleteness in our editing community.
I would say that advocacy recommendations are strongly Internet oriented and Wikimedia scope is broader. Because of that and according to our goals and our strategy, I would suggest that we should add preserving cultural heritage inside of our advocacy goals.
The wikimedia projects are about human culture, not about technology. The tech is just the means.
My guess is that for a number of 'minor' languages their wikipedia and wiki source is already the most important website in that language. Over the next few years this will become true for more languages.
Personally I think this is where Wikimedia should be expanding - more wikisource, a Wikimedia project to make new field recordings - interviews of eyewitnesses to history before they die - and putting all the existing field recordings from the Smithsonian, the BBC, etc. online.
A question for Millosh or Filceolaire --- is there a page on this wiki where the advocacy agenda is being built at a high level? By which I mean, is there a page where the 10-15 key policy issues are listed, and our position summarized in say ~100 words for each? Because I'll say again, I think it would be a real service to the Wikimedia movement to develop such a statement of position.
Because basically, when it comes to advocacy, Wikimedia keeps reminding me of the old story about blind people describing an elephant. For some people, our elephant is free software / free culture. For others, it's open educational resources. For others, it's about unimpeded access to information and the transformative power of technology. Etc. I don't think it's necessary for everyone to believe in the exact same elephant --- in fact I think there's great strength in people owning and being passionate about their individual vision. But nonetheless, I think it would be terrific for us to agree that the elephant is a mammal, and is large, and has a trunk :-)
In other words, I think that documenting the commonalities would be useful for everyone. I think it would support a sense of shared purpose, and might also expose some of us to new and powerful ideas.
If there is no such page, let's start one. Wikimedia's advocacy agenda will I think take months to build out properly: I would love to see the work begin.
well, a lot of social science and political science research results - at least since gamsons:"the strategy of social protest" - show us that heterogeneous movements like wikimedia (btw: highly simplified model) are depending on programmatic blur.
in other words: if you describe this core of advocacy as: (mammal; big ears; herbivore; social animal) all stakeholder prefering: (mammal; big ears; carnivore; lone wolf) were puzzled and we are - maybe - risking disintegration. on the other side: if you say (mammal; big ears) other stakeholder will complain that`s a vague and useless advocacy.
it seems more practicable to create partial tasks of advocacy for concrete units like the foundation and WMF staff, chapter, committees and so on without writing a strong statement for the big question. but the partial solution depends on a nonexistent consensus of movement tasks for all regular manageable stakeholders
Yes, Jan eissfeldt, I hear you and I totally agree. Having said that, at this point in the development of the movement, I think I would settle for (mammal; big ears) :-)
Last edit: 13:58, 13 March 2010
the next (theoretical) opportunity to make a substantial step forward for a partial solution is the meeting in berlin next month. maybe it would help to discuss and clarify the foundation-chapter-committee relations - related to the strategy process - there. which upcomming tasks are new for chapters and committees, which benchmarks are important in the different perspectives, who should host the - up-bottom or bottom-up - review process of ideas from the community, sharing responsibility or exclusive areas for specific core themes (beside trademarks, etc.), who and how to deal with non-offical forms of organization and so on.
de facto it`s the metalevel of Arnes proposal, differentiated and oriented on the - mid april available - strategy process results of advocacy tasks and how to achieve them.
that`s maybe a way to create a concret advocacy labor-agenda for regular controllable units without a damaged mirror of unbound stakeholder expectations and projections.
--Jan eissfeldt 13:58, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd like to take a step back for a moment and hear some personal stories. Why do you care about Wikimedia? What brought you to these projects, and what keeps you here? What impact do you think we're having on the world, and what impact would you like to have?
Why I care? I don't know, I really couldn't put it in so many words :). What brought me? "Curiosity". What keeps me here? The conviction that we can change certain rules, that knowledge can be free for all. What impact? A tremendous responsibility about the way knowledge, education of another kind are brought to people. What impact I would like Wikimedia to have? I hope that Wikimedia manages to change the rules about "freedom" and "dsitribution of knowledge" while respecting differences and cultures (may they be national corporate, social, personal...).
Well, I am not sure whether it is of any interest, but I am a professor in one of the world-leading universities (physics/nanoscience). I am mostly interested in Wikimedia projects since I can write articles about some stuff others do not know so much (it is mostly my side-interests, not so much my research interest) and since I apparently can be useful in resolving conflicts and creating strategy at least fro Russian Wikipedia. Frankly speaking, I believe that currently the Wikimedia projects are badly-structured mess (though without any doubts much better than even a couple years ago), and I expect that they become less messy and more structured. The major possible impact on the world would be that people stop using rumors instead of the information, and start digesting information.
- Why do you care about Wikimedia?
For me, that has changed over time. At first I just found it a moderately useful reference and often I would turn to it with the thought "I wonder if they have an article on...?" I rarely think that any more. Now, when I'm using Wikipedia as a reference, I assume there will be an article and just wonder if I'm going to find the specific fact I have in mind either confirmed or denied (and what the quality of the citation addressing it is).
Often I'm not using Wikipedia as a reference, though, I'm actively working on it. A big part of the reason I do this is that - due to health reasons - I am limited in what I can do in terms of how much time I can spend outdoors and things that involve working with people face-to-face. As such, Wikimedia projects give me a way of volunteering in a community in a way that fits in with my limitations. My early days of working on WP were simply bits here and there that I knew something about and thought I could add something (citations were not deemed essential back then, so I could just edit based on personal knowledge). For the most part I no longer add paragraphs of content to WP any more; I patrol changes to my watchlist, get involved in discussions and now I have "gone meta" by being involved here and am due to contribute to the Bookshelf Project over on the Outreach wiki.
I seem to have gone off on a tangent...
I care for several reasons:
1. Education is important.
2. Even if it wasn't important, I'm a heavy reader anyway and WP is often a good (and free!) read.
3. I'm impressed that something that should never have worked is now a top 5 website. I guess I have great affection for Wikipedia because it should really have been an underdog. I like helping it along.
4. I agree with its mission statement and, in general, I like the direction of movement.
5. I like instant feedback; it's gratifying to be able to press submit and see my words right there.
6. There is a social aspect. This could be much improved. But it is there and I enjoy that.
7. There's an overall sense of being part of something good and doing valuable work.
- What brought you to these projects, and what keeps you here.
There's a bit of push and pull. As I say, I am limited in what I can do in my life so to that extent I am pushed towards something internet-based. But I am pulled in by the core mission. I guess I keep coming back because things seem to always be improving or there is at least something novel going on that sustains my interest. I have gone through long periods of my life where I couldn't honestly say I was contributing much to anything; I like being able to tell people I'm involved with this and talking about it. I don't think everyone is convinced this is a worthwhile way to spend my time but I'm convinced and I can cope with other people's disregard because I'm confident I'm right and that they just don't know much about the projects.
- What impact do you think we're having on the world, and what impact would you like to have?
I wouldn't want to try and quantify what impact we're having on the world. Other people have done some research along those lines and would be able to provide some data. For me, being a top ten website is one metric that I dote on and I would feel gutted if we fall out of that chart.
It would be great if the projects eventually gained massive penetration in third world countries and had a tangible effect on deprivation, productivity and incomes. But I recognise that the projects can't do that alone; it will require an expanded base of technology and access.
I'm not sure whether you're asking - in the final clause of your questions - what impact I, personally, would like to have (on the world!) or whether you mean what impact would I like to see the projects have. I guess I've answered the latter. In terms of my own influence, I tend to just take it one edit at a time, although I have suggested - in some detail - social innovations which would have quite some impact on Wikipedia if implemented. But mostly I just keep looking at my watchlist and recent changes and chipping in; either I have an idea in relation to something someone's said, or I need clarification to know what someone's getting at and try to find out more before chiming in. I see my impact as being mostly a janitor on en:wp. With regards to Strategy, I'm not sure what I am...
My contact with Wikimedia up until the planning process started was only as a user of Wikipedia. I had therefore no intentions to join as a Task Force member to begin with, but only to follow the process to see how things worked. As one of the Task Forces I cared most for, the Local Language projects, didn't take of I was however drawn into this process.
- What brought you to these projects, and what keeps you here?
I have for a long time used internet and in the latest years, to a high degree, Wikipedia as a source of information. I have through this usage realized the enormous power this can bring to my thought process. Especially Wikipedias in-text hyperlinking between articles is very useful, because it allows my mind to flow as free as it wants to do. Therefore I often find Wikipedia even better than much literature on the subject. Not because the quality of a single article necessarily is better than other literature, but because Wikipedia provides background information on every concept I don't understand, by a single click on the mouse. I do use Wikipedia mostly in my education, and I have realized that fifteen years ago I would have had to go to the library to search for additional information whenever my course literature didn't give me an explanation I understood. Today I can look up an alternative explanation in seconds and then move on, back then it could have taken me a couple of days before I actually visited the library. So for me Wikipedia is education at the speed of thought!
- Why do you care about Wikimedia?
- What impact do you think we're having on the world, and what impact would you like to have?
I think that not only Wikipedia and internet, but technology in general has greatly enhanced my life experience to this day. Not because I am especially interested in gadgets and the like, but because I have learned from early on how to use it to simplify my everyday life. To me technology is a friend.
I do also see that the development of society and technology follow each other hand in hand. At the same time as technology drives changes in the society, society requires new technological development to sustain the transformed society. In a long perspective technology is the reason that the human race has been able to grow so plentiful, but this plentifulness has created an enormous need to address environmental issues, handle political conflicts, carefully plan food production and so on. Whether the development is good or bad in general can be discussed, but even if one takes the later viewpoint it is impossible to stop development. What one can do is to try to make development happen in those areas that one hopes has positive effects.
One problem I see in the evolving society is that those who are well equiped, have access to knowledge, and so on, has an enormous advantage. If you where the one who knew how to operate a computer twenty years ago, you could replace a vast amount of other personal in any bussiness, leaving you with a high salary, and the others unemploymed. A mining company in a western country can use modern equipment while in a developing country a hoe might be used. In the later case you either stop mining, or accept a lower payment which in turn makes you even less able to catch up with the developed world. I think that technology at the same time as it increases the overall welfare, it also increases these kinds of gaps. Here I do believe that Wikimedia, and other developments alike, can play an essential role in forming a more equal world. Because the difference between being able to adapt to an evolving society is largely dependent on the ability to access the information that drives the change.
I am not able to judge what impact the Wikimedia movement alone can and will have, but I am convinced that it is a step in the right direction!
I'm a bit of an idealist who believes that Wikipedia can shine the light on untruths, and settle long-standing disputes or misinformation. Not that Wikipedia can resolve every dispute, but that one-by-one certain disputes come to stabilize, where all reasonable viewpoints are represented on their own merits.
And the collaboration process is a key part of that. "This article is not neutral" tells me that someone believes that a viewpoint has not been represented fairly (or maybe not represented at all). "This article is unreferenced" tells me that the article might be just one person's personal observations, while "this article needs references from third-party sources" tells me that the article might just be a soapbox with no independent oversight. That's why it's really great when an article gets that little star beside it. Not because it shows that the article is the God-given truth, but because it shows me that the article a fair enough representation of the topic that readers will be able to make up their own minds. And making up your mind doesn't stop at the edges of the article. You follow those wikilinks, to cross-reference the topic... and yeah, you might find another article that's in dispute, which tells you what the real point of disagreement is. That gives you a better understanding of what people are really disagreeing about.
And those disputes are also a huge opportunity for contributions. My first edits as an IP were because I saw articles tagged as non-neutral, and I tried to clean them up. As you get more involved, you realize these disputes are resolved through collaboration, not unilateral changes.
So yeah, I think there is huge value in Wikipedia. It's a ridiculous goal, but I think Wikipedia can strive to settle disputes for readers, by bringing together different volunteers to hash out those disputes edit-by-edit. I think Wikipedia can be an authoritative source that is sometimes better than reading a scholarly essay, because it exposes you to all dimensions of the debate -- not just a single idea.
All three questions (Why do you care about Wikimedia? What brought you to these projects, and what keeps you here? What impact do you think we're having on the world, and what impact would you like to have?) seem to me like one and answers to one are answers to other questions as well...
- Our impact is very significant.
- The history from WWII to our days will be summarized in the next list: Cold War, Green Revolution, space exploration, Internet, Wikipedia. There will be some important achievements in the near future, but this is the list up to the present day. For a couple of years Wikipedia is already having enormous cultural impact to the world. If everything is going regularly, significance of Wikimedia movement will be soon comparable with significance of major international movements and organizations.
- In other words, our impact to humanity is already significant and it will be just more and more significant. The main reason why do I think that our impact will raise is strategic planning itself. Before SP, we had just a lot of potentials, but we didn't work on them in organized way.
- I am content with the current processes.
- In comparison with previous years, I am very happy with current processes. The question before us is not are we willing to have some kind of impact, but are we willing to work in organized way. If we are working in organized way, our impact will be raising. If we are not working in organized way, Wikimedia community will collapse. We are far from the equilibrium. We have zillions of projects at the waiting list and we "just" need to articulate them. And we are doing it now.
- We are close to encircling the knowledge-building processes.
- Some future analysis of the Wikimedia movement will note for sure that we are now, in 2009-2010, inside of the final stage of the "phase 0". Our primary structural goal is to encircle knowledge-building processes and we are very close to it. (The number of the phase is 0 because it is our primary goal. Without this, there is no any kind of Wikipedia or Wikimedia.)
- By "encircling the knowledge-building processes" I mean that we have almost all significant tools for active work on enlarging knowledge corpus, as well as almost all significant tools for active work on the knowledge-building processes themselves. We already know how to build collaborative encyclopedia and other collaborative forms of knowledge. Many of non-encyclopedic areas are in the early stages, but we are able to see how to manage their development.
- We already had encircled those processes for Wikipedia in ~2006. From 2006 to 2009 our gliding was inertial and we didn't work actively on encircling other projects in organized way, as well as we didn't articulated our thoughts in relation to the future of Wikimedia. (To be more precise, it is already obvious that the most important point in the Wikimedia's contemporary times -- is employing Sue as ED.) Strategic planning process (in conjunction with some particular initiatives: GLAM, WM DE projects) addressed those issues.
- Our job is far from finished.
- "Phase 0" in the narrow sense will never finish. We will always work on enlarging knowledge, as well as we have to always work on analyzing and improving our knowledge-building processes. However, structurally, "phase 0" is around to be finished. At the time when we have clear clue how those processes are working, we will be able to say that [structurally] nothing need to be add there.
- The next phase, "phase 1", is related to building our movement. The first decade of Wikimedia passed in the knowledge managing and the second will pass in the community building. It is well addressed inside of the task forces structure: 10 of 14 task forces are almost strictly related to the community building.
- However, it should be noted that the "phase 1" didn't start with Strategy planning. It didn't start even with creation of chapters or WMF. It started at the first day of Wikipedia. Community is building Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects and thoughts about Wikip/media community existed from the first days, for sure.
- Thinking about the impact
- The next phase is about "how do we want to impact the world". Just with solved two previous phases, we would be able to work on our ideas about the future of the humankind. It, of course, doesn't mean that we shouldn't think about it. Actually, we need and we have to think about it now. But, we need to be realistic about strength. While the impact to the world by Wikimedia projects is very significant and mature, our movement is weak and in the early childhood.
- Presently, our impact to the world is designed by what do we do. After the "phase 2", our impact will be designed by what do we want. When our impact becomes significantly designed by what do we want, it will be the time when Wikimedia movement will become one of the major leading forces of humankind.
- As with the start of the "phase 1", the "phase 2" started during the first days of Wikipedia. "What is our goal?" -- is the question which probably all Wikipedians and Wikimedians asked themselves at some point of time.
- Because of all of the previous related to the "phase 2", the question -- "What impact would you like to have?" -- is the question for the whole community for the next years. During the next years we will be building our movement. And we should add into agenda of every Wikimedian group to ask its members to constantly think about the answers to this question.
- Advocacy task force is the only one which purpose is clearly related to the "phase 2". And it is normally that our advocacy goals are closely related to our needs and to some big present questions. However, I think that this part of our strategic planning should be opened for extensions more than any other.
- Out of our needs (for example, public domain and net neutrality issues; maybe some other which are not mentioned), articulation of what do we want should be a task which should be done by much more Wikimedians. Analysis of what do Wikimedians want according to their on-project work should be also added to the constant process of the issues which should be advocated.
- Probably, it would be a good idea to ask chapters and communities around the projects to try to articulate their wishlist of Wikimedia impacts to the world.
- Why I am here
- After two years of knowing for Wikipedia, but without precise clue of its characteristics, I finally realized what it is during the first half of 2004. Building knowledge corpus collaboratively is really inspiring for me.
- The first goal was to show that we are able to build important source of knowledge. We reached it quickly. The second was to show that we are able to build the largest source of knowledge in the history. We reached it quickly, too.
- Then, it was about our impact to the world. Wikipedia became the tool of the contemporary enlightenment. Articles on Wikipedia don't have good style often; they are often too poor in comparison to the articles in other major encyclopedias, but English Wikipedia has around 50 times more articles than Britannica. Major areas are covered in Wikipedia (not just the English one) much better than in any other encyclopedia. Wikipedia's nominal standards are much higher than standards of any other encyclopedia... It is safe to say that we reached our primary goals in 2006.
- But, what next? Wikipedia and Wikimedia showed that our main product is not the knowledge corpus which we are building, but us, the community which is building that corpus. It is the first time in the history that so many humans are constructively working on the same project, for the same goal. From 2006 the main example of the epochal project built by large amount of humans are not Egyptian pyramids, but Wikipedia. We are still not quite conscious about the dimensions of what has we built and what we are building.
- Changing the world by what do we do is inspiring. It is comparable with the forces of nature. They are doing something and they are changing the world. But, we decided not to stop there. This is why I am still here.
I've always enjoyed encyclopedias and learning information, no matter the subject. As a kid my sister and I had a study hour. I'd do my homework early to read the encyclopedia.
When I got to college and a T1 internet in 2000, there was nothing as a central point of reference for random stuff I wanted to look up. Considering I thought having instant high speed internet would bring me answers at my fingertips, it was disappointing. Snopes worked okay, as well as the Straight Dope Message Boards. Around late 2002~2003, Wikipedia started showing up as a reference to questions asked on that message board. I read casually based on the links, but I'm computer dumb and navigation-while so simple-eluded me. Once MediaWiki was updated in 2004 with .css I figured out how to edit to fix minor things and poke around in articles. I had no idea about any project space other than namespace.
In October of 2005, I noticed an issue with the Main Page Featured article, History of Alaska. I figured I should have an account to complain on the talk page out of courtesy. I received a quick reply and the article was corrected. This impressed me to the responsiveness of other editors. By March of 2006 I had learned how to contact other users and start to work on the quality of content, whether it be vandalism or talk page discussions about inclusion. I passed my Request for Adminship in August of 2006, and wandered around the wiki. I took most of 2008 off because of offline circumstances, and a bit of a lack of desire to edit. I still read articles for hours every day, as well as following noticeboards.
When I started to care is when I noticed the substantial increase in Wikipedia's popularity. I don't think we intended it to be this way, but we had to adapt to it. It is a fantastic reference for a website. Why I started to care is because of both internal and external misinterpretations of the goal of the Wikimedia projects. The outside made it seem as though it was controlled by an editorial board that ignored ill-willed contributions. Internally, we had a crop of core contributors that had insulated the editing community. This part, I think, has been rectified to a reasonable extent.
That concept is what captured my focus, it's a website that anyone can edit. It's a household name. There should be an understanding of the natural difference between Wikimedia projects and the rest of the web, even blogs. Its holistic approach to defining what knowledge entails is fascinating to me, as well as the societal structure that individual projects set up. I have found and always find this extremely compelling, and it fuels my desire to read more than just articles, but the talk pages that shape the articles. The noticeboards that discuss content and contributors. The email that we receive about our content or structure. Quite fascinating, really.
The other part is the altruistic notion of free knowledge, software, and content to aid these means. There is a big difference between theory and practice, but the theory of a collaborative effort to provide knowledge is an admirable thing, and one that should be fostered. In theory we can change the world. In practice, we might or might not. Or halfway. Who knows. The principle doesn't change, and neither does the desire to use volunteer time amidst a full time job to find a rewarding experience as a whole. There's a thing about it that you either get or you don't, it can't be adequately explained.