Task force/Content scope/Project policy draft

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This page describes the vision of the Wikimedia movement, what the current projects are, what Wikimedia earlier has proved not to be, and what the future plans are. Listed are also a number of questions to be considered before a new project is accepted.

What Wikimedia is

Vision

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. 

This is the vision of the Wikimedia projects. For the last 10 years thousands of editors have worked to make this vision a reality. New projects should be approved if they help bring this vision closer to reality and old projects should be abandoned if they don't.

Means

The means we have used to achieve that goal till now are open collaboration of large numbers of anonymous editors using wiki software on the internet with our contributions available to be downloaded for free, by anyone with internet access. These means are not essential to our goal, however they are part of what has made the wikimedia projects uniquely successful and should not be lightly abandoned.

Previous and Current expansion

Over the years the Wikimedia projects have expanded in a number of ways from the original English language wikipedia. See projects, initiatives and chapters for a longer list, but here are the most significant:

  • Other languages
  • Other reference works: Wiktionary, Wikiquote
  • Archives: Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons
  • Software for online collaboration: Mediawiki
  • Original research: Wikinews, Wikimedia Commons
  • Educational materials: Wikibooks, Wikiversity

Projects which are currently in hand include:

  • Improved/simplified text editting
  • Improved support for languages which don't use the latin alphabet
  • Tools to improve quality monitoring: patrolled edits
  • Semantic tools to make information more useable by software tools
  • Mass membership organisation: chapters, Wikimania
  • Making information available in other forms: on CD, Wikireader, printed books, ebooks.
  • Collaboration: Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums; Universities and scientific conferences
  • Wikipedia on mobile phones
  • Integration of maps from Open Street Maps

Other projects which share our values to some extent with which we can collaborate or compete:

  • Knowledge collections: Open street maps, Omegawiki, Wikileaks, Project Gutenberg, Open Directory Project
  • Software development: translatewiki, video editting, Gnu/Linux
  • Advocacy: Creative Commons, Free software Foundation
  • Education: OpenCourseWare, One Laptop Per Child,

List of things that need to be free

On List of things that need to be free a number of content types that need to be free is listed. Some of these are currently supported by Wikimedia, while others provide concrete examples of in what directions Wikimedia could expand.

What Wikimedia is not

To understand what Wikimedia is, it is also important to understand what Wikimedia is not. Over the years wikimedia has rejected a number of proposals. Looking back at these gives some indication of what wikimedia should avoid in future.

  • Advertising
  • Private ownership (when it moved to a charitable foundation from Bomis)
  • Non-free licenses Strong push for open licensed content of Commons. While the license for the content has been migrated from GFDL to CC-BY-SA this was because CC-BY-SA was seen as a more effective free copyleft license. Wikinews uses the CC-BY license however this is generally presented as being more effective at contributing to Free Culture for the specific characteristics of the Wikinews content.
  • September 11 memorial
  • Fan cruft, Klingon Wikipedia(much of it moved to Wikia) rejected as containing too much original research
  • Nupedia rejected as being less effective than wikipedia.
  • Esperanza - this was a social networking group on en:Wikipedia and was deleted because it was felt it was starting to function as a faction - making consensus more difficult to achieve. See the deletion discussion on en:wikipedia.
  • Moldovan Wikipedia found to be a POV fork of the Romanian Wikipedia and frozen.

A number of projects have broken away because they did not agree with the way Wikipedia operates -

  • Conservapedia - broke away to create an encyclopedia with a pro-American point of view.
  • Citizendium broke away away because they felt that wikimedia editting was too open and that good editors were being discouraged by constant disputes. This is a disagreement on the means to be used rather than the ends. Examining the effect of their policy changes could provide useful information on the effectiveness of various proposed changes.
  • Enclopedia Libre - broke away when Wikipedia was discussing having advertising. Since then Wikimedia has come out against advertising.

Future growth

Following from what has happened over the last few years we can see some indications of the future growth of the free culture movement of which wikimedia is a part and the role that wikimedia might play in that movement in general and our specific goal.

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. 

Software tools

Wikimedia should continue to work with others to develop tools for:

  • Online collaborative editting of other media types: graphics, video, audio, sheet music, others?
  • Tools for sharing our information in new ways: APIs which our users and other publishers can use to take our content and use it any way they want.
  • Tools for gathering knowledge: (can't think of any examples).

Cultural projects

Wikimedia has made a start on describing and archiving human culture. Possible new directions:

  • Recording and archiving those parts of world culture which are not available in existing archives.

Popular movements

Free culture relates to a number of different issues. Free software advocates care about patents. Culture remixers care about fair use. Achieving wikimedias goal means we should prioritise projects which:

  • Improve access to and the quality of formal education: free text books
  • Improve and extend access to wikipedia and other sources of knowledge for those who don't have it: public libraries, terminals in public places etc.
  • Limit copyright period terms as these can lock up cultural works for so long they are lost

Questions to be asked before a project is accepted

There is a number of questions that need to be considered before starting a new project. These include:

Vision

  1. Will this extend access to more people?
  2. Will this improve the quality of access to our existing users?
  3. Will this help gather knowledge?
  4. Will this help organise knowledge?
  5. Will this help freely share knowledge?

Community

  1. Are our contributors interested in carrying out this project?
  2. Will this encourage existing contributors to stay?
  3. Will this divert contributors from more useful projects?
  4. Will this bring in more contributors?
  5. Would this be better done by another organisation?
  6. How can this be done in a way that will increase the number and quality of our contributors?

Wikimedia Foundation resources

  1. How much money will this cost?
    1. Legal costs?
    2. Technology costs
    3. Communication costs
    4. Administrative costs
    5. Inbound inquiries costs
  2. How much money will this bring in?
  3. How much staff time will this require?

Other Organizations

  1. Does the project take advantage of Wikimedia's unique capabilities, technology, and volunteers?
  2. What other sources (for-profit and non-profit) are making this kind of information available?
  3. How much informational value do these other sources generate?
  4. How accessible is the information on these other sources?
  5. Would Wikimedia be fulfilling an unmet need for information by taking on this project?
  6. Would it be more effective for Wikimedia to support the activities of a separate organization?

Feasibility

  1. What is the likelihood that the project will meet its goal, and advance Wikimedia's mission?
  2. How many volunteers are needed for this project to meet its goal?
  3. What skill level is needed for this project to meet its goal?
  4. What is the level of interest from qualified volunteers?
  5. Are qualified volunteers loyal to other organizations?
  6. Is the nature of the information suited to the wiki process?
  7. How will failures (e.g.: stagnation, inaccuracies) impact the Wikimedia brand?

See also

Task force/Content scope/Process for creating a new project