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Task force/Advocacy Agenda/2009-12-28

From Strategic Planning

December 28, 2009 Skype Call


  • Mark Gibson
  • Steven Walling (via Skype and IRC)
  • Asparuh
  • Jimmy Wales
  • User:Eekim
  • Esther Hoorn (via IRC)

Focusing on the fourth mandate question: How Wikimedia as a movement might be helpful in advocacy efforts?

Who are these entities? How do they work? Are they funded?

When first got started, had no need to deal with press, which these days is a big part of advocacy. Advocacy was person-to-person.

One reason Chapters evolved was to engage with press, universities, etc. First (and most successful) was German Chapter. Taken a large advocacy role within German-speaking part of the world. Originator of Wikipedia Academy (with Frank Schulenberg leading it). Press person. German press admires Wikipedia. Also strong sense that academia there has more favorable view, in large part because Chapter has played a big role in outreach and advocacy.

User-to-user support. German community meets often.

In terms of other Chapters, varies widely. Press contacts who are not necessarily part of the Chapters, although they tend to be the same people.

Role as global movement. The Foundation is unable to deal with press crisis in Romania. Local community will get organized to respond. As they mature, Chapters can handle this well.

Steven: Happens similarly in Oregon, even though no Chapter here.

Contributors don't necessarily value the people doing advocacy or Chapter work. Struggle: Make sure that people doing advocacy are respected by active editors.

Press contact list: When first started getting interest from press both in U.S. and worldwide, realized needed communications function. Created Communications Committee. Also had people who became press contacts in different parts of the world. People said they needed title so they could talk to press.

People on Communications Committee mailing list are press contacts listed as regional contacts on Foundation site.

Share news. Discuss messaging. Jay and Moka try to make sure people are apprised of Foundation's official position. Lots of Chapters people doing great job of getting message out.

Tends to be reactive, not proactive.

Long time since we've had a big picture, philosophical discussion about the Communications Committee. More about day-to-day mechanics of working with the press rather than broad agenda.

Communication between Chapters and Foundation? To what extent do they set their own agenda? To what extent can you delegate activities?

Communication is mostly through Chapters list. Doesn't work very well. Many cases in the past where we would have hurt feelings because Chapters would not hear about something from the Foundation until they saw it in the news. Occasions when Chapter put out statement that wasn't in line with desire of broader movement to not be political. Nothing too tragic, but communication hasn't been as good as it could be.

If we put out an agenda, would we be able to push it out to the Chapters and get their support? Jimmy thinks so. A lot of it should be obvious to everyone. For example, communicating the idea that Wikipedia wants to be high-quality. A bit like herding cats.

Advocacy outside of Chapters and Foundation? Normally, the same person interested in advocacy are the people interested in Chapter-type activities. Interested in being press contacts, face-to-face. Lot of overlap. Thomas in Brazil has done a lot of advocacy work. When Jimmy was in Brazil, Thomas arranged for a PR firm to help pro bono. Rep for two days. Went with translator and did some advocacy. They don't have a Chapter, but Thomas led an effort to be a Chapter, but wasn't successful. Understanding of what happened was faced a lot of distrust from editors.

Esther: In Brussels, Chapters feel like they need strong position from Foundation.

Chapter meetings annually. Have all been in Europe. Have been constructive overall. People meet f2f. Ancient history, had problem, as Chapters forming, they wanted to deal with Foundation, but Foundation basically didn't exist. No capacity. Now handled better.

Kinds of hiccups have been failures of communication. Process whereby Chapters named two Foundation board members. When we made that change to the bylaws, had some pushback from the editing community, who felt some power was being taken away. Meant to empower the Chapters as part of the community. Still a bit of an unsettled constitutional question.

Would be valuable to talk to German Chapter about issues between Chapter and editors. Sometimes it's irrational considerations. People who think Chapters are trying to make money off of editors' work. How can so-and-so- be president of a Chapter when elected by people who don't edit Wikipedia? Not sure these concerns are grounded in reality. One thing that happens is, when you become president of a Chapter, you may not have time editing Wikipedia. Probably shouldn't be. By that process, you'll become a bit distant from the community.

Want to emphasize that Jimmy has unusual perspective on everything. Gets to meet and talk to more than most. At same time, just one person with opinions.

Who should Chapters talk to at Foundation? Press -> Jay. Academy -> Frank. Biz relationship -> Kul and Mike. Lot of different people.

Jimmy: Views my role as saying the same thing over and over again a couple of thousand times a month. Remind us of our core values. What we're trying to accomplish in the long run. Wikimedia Norway found sponsor so that Jimmy could come. Jimmy being there enabled them to get press coverage.

How do we get buy-in? Don't want people to just set these things to the side?

Wikipedia as a platform for advocacy

AI: Following up with German Chapter

AI: Following up with Sue

next call: January 4, same time