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Task force/Recommendations/Advocacy

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Task force/Recommendations/Advocacy

Proposal: Wikimedia’s Advocacy Stance on the Problem of Net Neutrality

On the Need to Be Prudently Cautious with Wikimedia Foundation Advocacy In General

Wikipedia, in less than 8 years, turned into one of the most important sources of publicly available information, and the only non-for-profit site from the top 10 most visited Web Site globally[1]. The social phenomena which contributed to this success is still not completely understood. However, it is widely recognized [2][3] that a major driving factor to its success is the established culture among Wikipedians of seeking, and finding, a consensus on a topic.

Further supporting this observation, topics where consensus was very hard to reach, have always appeared to be points of contention for Wikipedia. As a strong example, one needs to just remember the fate of the topic “Scientology” [4]. In fact, certain members of the public seem to be always vigilant and vocal about any perceived Wikipedia advocacy bias, whether real or imagined [5].

Perhaps in recognition of this, the Wikipedia rules on seeking consensus are very firmly defined [2]. In particular, it is stated that “Consensus develops from agreement of the parties involved.” Guidelines given as a matter of policy are said to be limited to “copyright, legal issues, or server load” or in some cases “certain types of material about living persons”. In particular, the article seems to firmly rule out that any hypothetical advocacy agenda of Wikimedia Foundation or Wikipedia should be considered. And this is where the primary danger of pursuing an advocacy agenda lies. There is no need to advocate on points where a consensus can be easily reached. Advocacy, by definition, zooms in on the rifts between tectonic plates of opposing opinion, and aims to sway opinion to one or the other side. Advocacy is the very antithesis of seeking consensus. It aims to support one particular opinion, rather than to converge opinions. For a consensus-based phenomenon like Wikipedia, to pursue any advocacy agenda would undermine one of the very principles its success is built upon.

One may try to answer this assertion by stating “but Wikimedia Foundation is separate from Wikipedia”. Nevertheless, in the public eye, the two are strongly connected. Due to the existence and prevalence of confirmation bias [6], there does not need to be a real Wikimedia Foundation advocacy impact onto Wikipedia articles, for interested members of the public to find, claim and advertise that there is one. And Wikipedia can ill afford to lose its spirit of consensus and fairness of content building.

We conclude that for the Wikimedia Foundation, pursuing advocacy on most topics would be equivalent to cutting the proverbial branch the Foundation is sitting on.

We are not aiming with this to state here that no advocacy has to ever be carried out by the Wikimedia Foundation. Rather, we are arguing that such advocacy topics should be few and far between. They are best reserved for cases where a particular issue or trend, by its virtue, presents a significant threat to Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation, and by advocacy the Foundation is choosing “the lesser of two evils”. One such issue, with tremendous potential for impact on the Foundation , is Net Neutrality.

The Principle of Net Neutrality (Background)

Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for user access networks participating in the Internet that advocates no restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as communication that is not unreasonably degraded by other traffic. [7]

The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for a given level of access, that the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access. In particular, it asserts that “last mile” internet connection providers should not impose restrictions or provide privileges to one type of content reaching the end user over another.

Net Neutrality is presently a highly contested topic, with legislatures such as the ones of US and EU on the brink of adopting pro-net neutrality laws, and other legislatures e.g. UK drifting in the opposite direction [17]. It appears that key, precedent-setting legislation in the area will be firming up in 2010 [15][16], therefore right now is the right time to exercise advocacy efforts, if these are desired.

Proposed Wikimedia Foundation Advocacy Position: For Net Neutrality

Our proposed advocacy position is that the Wikimedia Foundation should strongly speak out for the principle of net neutrality, and should direct attention and attitudes towards adopting pro-net neutrality laws where the Foundation or its Chapters can reach or influence public opinion.

At the same time, Wikipedia as a site could counter the threat to its perceived consensus culture, by announcing a specific “neutrality” policy on the encyclopedia articles related to net neutrality, and – if necessary – establishing an editorial watchdog to enforce such neutrality.

Why Should Wikimedia Foundation Support Net Neutrality?

If Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are allowed to prioritize one type or source of Interned content over another, this could result in at least four behaviors jeopardizing the existence of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects over the medium to long run:

  1. ISPs blocking content presumably because of financial considerations. For example, T-Mobile announced that they are blocking Skype over GSM networks in Germany[8]. Comcast have been observed to block P-2-P bit torrent data transfers over their networks [9][10]. In the case of Wikipedia, this could be an issue if an ISP has an interest in a hypothetical paid online encyclopedia, and throttles or blocks access to Wikipedia in an attempt to promote such a commercial offering.
  2. ISPs censoring “on the fly” content over political, moral or ethical considerations, and therefore enforcing these considerations to the end user. In a much touted example, AT&T recently decided to censor some sections of a Pearl Jam concert streamed over the web [11]. While this is not, per se, an example of a “last mile” censorship, certainly the technology exists to filter and monitor content delivered to end users. Another key example, featuring Wikipedia, was the blocking of the “virgin killer” article and, incidentally, much of Wikipedia, in the UK, over concerns of child pornography [12]. In the case of Wikipedia, any such filtering or blocking of content could interfere with Wikipedia’s objective of free access to knowledge. While this will not be a major concern in the US and parts of EU, with their long tradition of live speech, it could have more severe impact in certain other countries, particularly where ISP corporations could pursue censorship agendas, either their own, or in cooperation with governments.
  3. Commercial web sites could either pay to ISPs, or invest in ISP infrastructure, in order to achieve greater bandwidth to the end users than competing users. A very visible example of this is Google’s edge caching strategy to “install equipment that will bypass the public Internet and ensure that their content, e.g. YouTube, will be delivered to ISP customers faster and more reliably than competing services […] that depend on the public Internet for delivery.” [13]. For Wikipedia, this will be a particularly major threat, if a hypothetical commercial web encyclopedia invests in ISPs to ensure advantage in speed of access over Wikipedia. As a secondary concern, such investment could lead to ISPs having the commercial interest to apply the 1st strategy above, and throttle or outright block Wikipedia access to limit competition.
  4. ISPs could charge web sites for premium bandwidth access to end users, or, in an extreme case, simply in order to allow the web site content to be delivered to end users at all. ISPs could implement a tiered model, where web sites that pay are granted higher access. Something like this can be seen in the recently communicated desire by BT to charge YouTube for access to its end users [14]. Being one of the most accessed sites on the Internet, Wikipedia could conceivably fall into the next tier of sites to be asked to pay for end-user access. Being non-for-profit, it is not likely to be able to afford to pay for such access to end users.

Who holds similar views as well as views that differ to the ones proposed?

For this question, the Wikipedia community has done already a formidable research, and therefore at this initial stage we simply copy the text from the Wikipedia article on Network Neutrality [7]: Proponents of net neutrality include consumer advocates, online companies and some technology companies. Many major Internet application companies are advocates of neutrality, including Google, Yahoo!, Vonage, Ebay, Amazon, IAC/InterActiveCorp. Software giant Microsoft, along with many other companies, has also taken a stance in support of neutrality regulation. Cogent Communications, an international Internet service provider, has made an announcement in favor of certain net neutrality policies. According to Google: Network neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet. The Internet has operated according to this neutrality principle since its earliest days... Fundamentally, net neutrality is about equal access to the Internet. In our view, the broadband carriers should not be permitted to use their market power to discriminate against competing applications or content. Just as telephone companies are not permitted to tell consumers who they can call or what they can say, broadband carriers should not be allowed to use their market power to control activity online.

Guide to Net Neutrality for Google Users

Individuals who support net neutrality include Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf, Lawrence Lessig, Robert W. McChesney, Steve Wozniak, Susan P. Crawford, and David Reed, and President Barack Obama.

A number of net neutrality interest groups have emerged, including SaveTheInternet.com which frames net neutrality as follows: Net Neutrality means no discrimination. Net Neutrality prevents Internet providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.

Opponents of net neutrality include large hardware companies and members of the cable and telecommunications industries. Network neutrality regulations are opposed by some noted Internet engineers, such as professor David Farber and TCP inventor Bob Kahn.

Robert Pepper is senior managing director, global advanced technology policy, at Cisco Systems, and is the former FCC chief of policy development. He says: "The supporters of net neutrality regulation believe that more rules are necessary. In their view, without greater regulation, service providers might parcel out bandwidth or services, creating a bifurcated world in which the wealthy enjoy first-class Internet access, while everyone else is left with slow connections and degraded content. That scenario, however, is a false paradigm. Such an all-or-nothing world doesn't exist today, nor will it exist in the future. Without additional regulation, service providers are likely to continue doing what they are doing. They will continue to offer a variety of broadband service plans at a variety of price points to suit every type of consumer." Bob Kahn, one of the fathers of the Internet, has said net neutrality is a slogan that would freeze innovation in the core of the Internet. Dave Farber, Michael Katz, Christopher Yoo, and Gerald Faulhaber — Farber, known as the 'grandfather of the Internet' because he taught many of its chief designers, has written and spoken strongly in favor of continued research and development on core Internet protocols. He joined academic colleagues Michael Katz, Chris Yoo, and Gerald Faulhaber in an Op-Ed for the Washington Post strongly critical of network neutrality, stating, "The Internet needs a makeover. Unfortunately, congressional initiatives aimed at preserving the best of the old Internet threaten to stifle the emergence of the new one."

Opposition also comes from think tanks such as the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The Goldwater Institute and Americans for Tax Reform have also suggested that this principle may violate the First Amendment.

A number of these opponents have created a website called Hands Off The Internet to explain their arguments against net neutrality. Principal financial support for the website comes from AT&T, and members include technology firms such as Alcatel, 3M and pro-market advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste. Corporate astroturfing is alleged.

Who is needed to support the proposed policy stances (e.g., Wikimedia Foundation, chapters, individual volunteers, external partners), and what do they need to do?

At this stage, it appears that the issue of Net Neutrality will be decided, at least in the US and the EU, on the legislative arena, where two critical precedent-setting pieces of legislation are ongoing:

  • In US, the FCC has issued an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) for a Network Neutrality law, on which comments are due by March 5th, 2010. [15]
  • In the European Union, Net Neutrality is addressed as part of the Telecoms Reform package [16], which has been agreed between the negotiators of the European Parliament, the Council of Telecoms Ministers and the Commission on 5 November, 2009. However this package has to be approved in each of the member states’ parliaments throughout 2010, and since it is bundled together with some quite fundamental reforms (basically the consolidation of the EU Telecom market) the speed of its passing is uncertain. 

One concern of the European legislation is that it seems to permit ISPs at national level to offer internet packages that only allow access to certain web sites (if true, this would be in violent contradiction to the rule of net neutrality). It appears that national legislation can limit their ability to offer such limited-access packages.

Research of the legislation status in remaining countries still has to be done.

In terms of supporting the pro-Net Neutrality policy stance, our recommendation is to:

  • Come out with an open communication to the Wikimedia Chapters, highlighting the importance of Network Neutrality for the organization, and highlighting the Chapters’ role in investigating and steering local legislation to this effect
  • Leave the issue to the individual chapters to push (as it will be driven through the local legislation primarily)
  • Central Wikimedia Foundation help to sign up the voice and participation of key influential supporters of Network Neutrality (as listed in the previous section) helping chapters to promote the cause of Net Neutrality locally.
  • In view of the above issue with the European legislation, actual lobby-work in the EU should have to take place at national level. Chapters, as far as we perceive lack the legal knowledge to oversee these issues. In our view this advice cannot be provided by one person. That's why a recommend an essay contest to involve students (see proposal by Esther Hoorn). Further, this is a topic on which the EDRi [18] could do proactive lobby-work, which is labor-intensive, and share outcomes to a forum within the Wikimedia community to generate public involvement.
  • Formation of policy stance could work somewhat like the letters to the court law students were encouraged to write in IP-cases, that lead to the extension of copyright. In the U.S. Involvement of students might lead to a written body of knowledge on the legal and polical aspects, that can help to get a shared sense of urgency (as alternative for consensus) within the Wikimedia community.
  • In addition, a limited list of topics and a clear position paper of the WMF board would be required before pursuing any policy stance.


  1. Wikipedia article on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia
  2. Wikipedia:Consensus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Consensus
  3. A Google search on ‘Wikipedia Consensus’ will return thousands of similar articles, one of which is provided for illustration here http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2007/08/wikipedia_conse_1.html
  4. CNN ”Wikipedia bans the church of Scientology [from editing the site]” - http://scitech.blogs.cnn.com/2009/05/29/wikipedia-bans-church-of-scientology/
  5. Alleged list of “biased” topics in Wikipedia http://www.conservapedia.com/Bias_in_Wikipedia
  6. Confirmation bias - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias
  7. Wikipedia – Net Neutrality http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality
  8. T-mobile blocking Skype in Germany http://moconews.net/article/419-german-carrier-t-mobile-blocking-skype/
  9. Thanks to BitTorrent, Net Neutrality debate reignites – Cnet News http://news.cnet.com/Thanks-to-BitTorrrent,-Net-neutrality-debate-reignites/2100-1034_3-6216750.html
  10. FCC investigating P-2-P trottling on Comcast http://government.zdnet.com/?p=3606
  11. AT&T Censoring a Pearl Jam concert over live streaming http://arstechnica.com/old/content/
  12. Scorpions Virgin Killer album – see section on Internet Censorship http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Killer
  13. Google edge caching strategy - http://futureoftheinternet.org/edge-caching-and-why-it-violates-net-neutrality
  14. British Telecom plans to charge iPlayer and YouTube for access to its end users http://www.utalkmarketing.com/pages/Article.aspx?ArticleID=14279&title=BT_says_BBC_iPlayer,_YouTube_enjoy_broadband_'free_ride'_
  15. FCC releases Net Neutrality NPRM http://www.mobiletechnews.com/info/2009/10/23/124359.html
  16. EU Telecoms Reform Press Release: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?aged=0&format=HTML&guiLanguage=en&language=EN&reference=MEMO/09/513
  17. UK regulators “relaxed” on Net Neutrality http://news.zdnet.co.uk/communications/0,1000000085,39286400,00.htm
  18. EDRi web site http://www.edri.org/

The Voice of Wikimedia
Recommendation for the strategic planning process of the Wikimedia Foundation on behalf of the advocacy taskforce


The Wikimedia community has a powerful voice that it could bring to bear on issues that touch the mission of the collaborative activities undertaken by volunteers. To date the Wikimedia Foundation, chapters, volunteers are not engaged in any major efforts in a coordinated fashion. The goal of this recommendation is to suggest an approach to involve Wikipedians and students to define the roles Wikimedia could play to ensure its strong voice is used to help influence unimpeded global access to free information online.

Why is it not already done?

‘Be bold’ is one of the recommendations volunteers get to engage in writing the encyclopedia. So why do members of the Wikimedia community shy away from statements, like, as a member of the Wikimedia community, I defend this policy stance? Why Wikipedia works is to a great extend still a miracle. Clear is that Wikipedia is a valuable example for hybrid economies, in which active participation of users is key (Lessig, Benkler, Zittrain). The whole effort depends on the diverse motivations of volunteers. So, one can suppose that the fact that there is not yet a solid coördination of advocacy efforts has good reasons. Most likely a radical change in which some volunteers supported by the Foundation should define an approach to advocacy will not be welcomed by the community.

Yet, in writing the encyclopedia the community has shown an amazing power to make implicit ideas about collaboration on the web and access to information explicit. With this drive a great contribution to engage in policy discussions about regulation of the web can help to voice the interest of unimpeded global access to free information. With the quick pace of technological innovation, the Wikimedia community has a mature voice, pointing at the essential public interests that are at stake and the easy way to engage in fostering these interests. The success of Wikipedia needs to be shared in discussions on the regulation of the web.

Apart from to influencing regulation and policy measures that effect the work of the community, there are also more practical reasons to engage in advocacy: to engage new volunteers, to make insights on policy explicit to facilitate collaboration, to generate funding for the collaborative enterprise through collaboration with similar groups with a similar mission. In line with the style of Wikipedia so far advocacy has been reactive. For instance: the community voiced its views against censorship only after the IWF made editing pages on the English Wikipedia impossible when they tried to remove an illustration of an album cover of the German rock band, The Scorpions. It will need an extra effort to set up an approach to advocacy with a more proactive attitude.

Why not do it in the wiki-way?

We would like people to engage in developing an advocacy approach in a wikiway. Our recommendation is to set up some sort of an essay-contest to explore outlines of an approach to advocacy. Should it not be possible to get together small teams, consisting of an experienced Wikipedian and a student in law or political science, guided perhaps by volunteers of organisations that share the same objective as the team would like to elaborate? For instance a digital rights organisation or a copyright officer of a university library? The assignment should contain a practical aspect, like improving a page on a related subject and a more scholarly analysis. The contest will also provide an opportunity to strengthen alliances with academia and organisations with similar objectives. It would generate a body of knowledge and a network of people on an issue that has no neutral point of view, but seeks to describe diverse perspectives adapted to local and topical dimension of the issue.

For drafting the essaycompetition these examples of regular competions may be helpful: http://www.elsaessaycompetition.org/ http://www.essaycompetition.org/


The kind of questions that can be taken as starting point of the essay competition should have to do with the roles of the WMF, chapters and volunteers in advocacy on policy issues.

This is a list of questions that came up in the work of the advocacy taskforce over the last months.

  1. On themes that are relevant for the mission of the WMF policy in the European Union is developed at a European level. At present are organized in relation to the languages in which the Wikipedia is written. Would it be recommendable to set up a European chapter?
  2. In the same line: There is no U.S. chapter. Would it be recommendable to set up a U.S. Chapter?
  3. The WMF started in the U.S., how can themes that are more important in other parts of the world be voiced? For example: Under the free license there is a great potential to re-use content in different languages. Within Europe policy fosters a diversity of languages. It would be valuable to highlight the assets of Wikipedia in this field. How can this be done?
  4. The German chapter seems very successful in fundraising and contact with the press at a local level. There is even a paid staff. What lessons can be learned from this chapter?
  5. The Wikimedia Foundation is a charitable organization under U.S. tax law (section 501 (c) (3)). Therefore the WMF cannot engage in substantial legislative activity. Make an explanatory page on this topic. Do the limitations on lobbying also affect policy stances outside the U.S.?
  6. Given the limited possibilities of law enforcement on the web, Internet Service Providers are forced to collaborate to set standards to comply with legal norms (soft law, self regulation), f.i. to respect privacy on social network sites. How can Wikipedia participate in these kind of initiatives? Is that desirable?
  7. The strategic planning process will result in recommendations on policy for the coming five years. Is a clear policy stance by the board of the Foundation needed to back up volunteers that want to engage in advocacy? For example: Is a page needed with the announcement: Wikimedia supports Open Access advisable?
  8. Whereas Europe has a small body of civil-servants, preparation in the development of regulation is done through groups of volunteers (comitology). For instance Google and telecomproviders have employees in these expert-groups. What is needed to let the voice of Wikipedia be heard?

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.

Our task force felt that net neutrality, censorship, copyright, digital divide, and environmentalism were all issues worth considering (with privacy as a subordinate, less strategic concern).

As appropriate, we can influence policy and opinion through the following stakeholder groups:

1. Wikimedia
- Direct
- Through Jimmy
- Through strategic partners

2. Wikimedia core community
- Chapters
- Editors
- New groups that we create (e.g., a new European super-chapter or US chapter)

3. General public
- On-platform engagement
- Off-platform engagement

Each of these stakeholder groups is capable of specific kind of leverage, and requires a different level of consensus in order to succeed.

As an extension of our original mandate, our task force was asked whether and how Wikimedia might include environmentalism in its advocacy efforts, and how Wikimedia generally should approach environmental issues so that we select strategies and tactics with the highest impact.

Our recommended conceptual approach for pursuing environmental strategies and tactics is below.

Internalizing the situation

A prudent first step that many organizations have not taken is to internalize the conservative consensus of the scientific community as to how climate change will affect life and economies in the 21st century.

The expected and best case scenarios predicted by the IPCC are considerably worse than what many imagine to be the worst case. Some specific and predictable climate change impacts are significant to any organization that is socially minded, long-term focused, and/or particularly dependent on energy or natural resources.

Assertion: If we internalize the realities of climate change now, we will make different and better choices.

Note: Although there are many excellent resources available on climate change, the second half of Shaun Chamberlin's The Transition Timeline is a particularly accessible and well-annotated summary of the conservative, global scientific consensus on the subject.

Applying the right filters

Organizations that aren’t themselves specifically focused on environmental issues tend to approach environmentalism and climate change in one of three ways:

(a) reducing impact —trying to do incrementally "less bad"

(b) adopting business practices that ensure the longevity of the organization while reducing negative environmental impacts to zero

(c) creating systems—human, technical, social, economic—that can survive predictable shocks and spontaneously generate new order

We could label these different approaches or mindsets as green, sustainable, or resilient.

NOTE: These terms are not universally or consistently understood; the distinctions above are meant to facilitate useful conversation, not disparage good work that others might be doing under any of these three banners.


Efforts to make our business practices "greener” or incrementally "less bad" are worth pursuing, in the sense that every bit of positive effort counts. However, these "less-bad" behaviors don't necessarily lead to "all-good” if we are indeed serious about avoiding the worst effects of global climate change. The latest scientific evidence suggests unambiguously that a concerted, communal re-booting of civilization's energy, agriculture, and transportation infrastructure is needed to avoid an unlivable climate. In other words, many small incremental steps won't make enough of a difference over the relevant time scales.

We can and should purse small, incremental opportunities—recycling, etc.—provided that they don't distract us from potentially bigger opportunities. Also, we must be aware that in the current business climate, small, incremental steps have become status quo, and thus have no PR value. (Many organizations have brought on negative publicity when they’ve trumpeted their small environmental accomplishments too loudly.)

"Green" choices are fundamentally reactive and tactical.


The idea of a zero-footprint or triple-bottom-line organization is a noble one, and "sustainability" as opposed to "green" is a more powerful frame for organizations seeking to reduce their negative ecological impact.

Examples of “sustainability” include proactive shifts to greener energy choices (as WMF has already begun) or the re-writing of corporate by-laws to include ecological mandates (e.g., “B Corporations”). Sustainability is a worthy filter for Wikimedia's long-term business planning and major capital investments.

"Sustainable" choices are fundamentally proactive and strategic.


The limit of "sustainability" as a mindset or a vision is implicit in the name itself—in that it connotes stasis, e.g. technical and biological nutrients replenishing themselves endlessly in closed loops, or financial, human and ecological capitals balancing themselves perfectly in a ledger. The reality is that human, economic, and ecological systems are highly dynamic. Many businesses that get high marks for “sustainability” are not in fact set up to survive shocks like peak oil, the emigration of millions of environmental refugees, or the collapse/reinvention of basic infrastructures we take for granted.

The term "resilience" is gaining traction as an alternative to "green" and "sustainable" thinking. Resilience embraces the uncertainty and dynamic nature of complex systems, and asks how human systems can model the survival strategies of forests, which can respond to system shocks (e.g., fires) and spontaneously generate new order afterwards. Redundancy, inefficiency (as opposed to efficiency), de-industrialization, and re-localization are key themes. The post-Industrial and post-WWII global economies have not been designed for long-term resilience, so most resilient choices involve designing systems that haven’t been seen before.

"Resilient" choices are fundamentally creative and visionary.

The filters in practice

Business strategy:

As a business, Wikimedia should choose a mix of green, sustainable, and resilient activities as appropriate, aligning these activities to our strategic priorities.

For example, using "resilience" as a conceptual frame/filter, we might ask how we can use what we know about climate disruption in the coming decades to help define our Expanding Content initiatives, perhaps with an emphasis on local community knowledge and self-sufficiency.

Or we might ask how we can apply insights from our Offline programs in the next few years to prepare for and then serve environmental refugees as a core audience.


Wikimedia, as successfully disruptive social and technical experiment, has an opportunity to model how to be a 21st century enterprise, and incorporate green, sustainable, and resilient values and behaviors into its DNA. Along with the other issues we care about, we can engage our community and partners around these causes.

Selecting advocacy positions and activities:

A suggested exercise: The first half of Shaun Chamberlin's The Transition Timeline depicts some specific (albeit debatable) scenarios for what the ecological, social, and political world might look like mid-century. What is the role of Wikimedia in each of these future-world scenarios? How can we leverage the power and potential of Wikimedia to ensure that the most positive and vibrant scenarios come to pass?

A suggested exercise: Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Discipline—another excellent resource—sets four global priorities for the next century (urbanization, nuclear energy, biotechnology, and agriculture). What is Wikimedia's relationship to and opinion on each of these priorities? How can we use advocacy as a tool to further the best possible outcomes related to each?

Advocacy against extension of copyright and in favour of a strong public domain.

1. There is much uncertainty about copyright both in general as well as in the wikimedia community. This causes several problems.

  • Sometimes opinions on copyright lead to wikilawyering that demotivate contributors.
  • The view that only the CC-licenses lead to free content shuts of the Wikimedia community from broader discussions on public rights in copyright. This restricts possibilities to collaborate with institutions and efforts to engage in collaborative projects.
  • In Continental-European copyright systems there are limitations that cover similar forms of re-use as are allowed under the fair-use exception. Yet, not many chapters take the risk of accepting an EDP to allow this kind of re-use, for example of making a quote of an image under a low resolution. European chapters can demonstrate their needs to contribute to free content, when working on an inventory of allowed re-use in their legal system. At the same time this inventory can lead to an imput on new copyright legislation at a European level. The need for this new regulation is broadly recognised.

2. Scholars point at the lessons that can be learned from Wikimedia community to regulate collaboration under a free license. An important point made by Jonathan Zittrain in a chapter The lessons of Wikipedia of his book 'The future of the Internet and how to stop it.' is the merit of open negotiations. Starting with the example of the Dutch city of Drachten that uses the concept of a shared space for traffic he leads the reader to the conclusion that more communication occurs when the principle "there are no rules' is applied. (The book is online: http://futureoftheinternet.org/static/ZittrainTheFutureoftheInternet.pdf). Communication can be valued as negotiation over content that enables diverse perspectives and broader participation.

Benkler (The wealth of networks, also available online) identifies a shared set of social norms as a requirement for collaborate peer production. For the wikimedia community a unique twist of personal motivations and shared values is a driving force. This should align with a perspective on legal knowledge dissemination about copyright.

An approach, that builds on the work of James Boyle about the enclosure of the Public Domain ( book available online), to take advocacy on the public domain as a starting point, and to integrate ideas on the use of free licenses with regulation to foster public interests, that are embedded in copyright law.

3. The recommendation is to form alliances with groups that do advocacy for a strong public domain in copyright.

There are elaborated proposals that take the perspective of possibilities for re-use and sharing within copyright law:

  • Somewhat less specific: Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge, Citizens’ and artists’ Human Rights in the digital age http://fcforum.net/

4. This approach would benefit advocacy and outreach, legal risk assessment and internal moderation processes.

Further we think it would be a good strategy for advocacy to work with universities, involved in Open Access and Open Science, and cultural heritage institutions involved in digitisation projects on learning materials based on this perspective.

5. This argumentation also leads to the conclusion that the Wikimedia Foundation should stimulate discussions within chapters to adopt an Exempton Doctrine Policies.

See for the present policy: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Licensing_policy

Example of an Exemption Doctrine Policy for the English Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Non-free_content