Wikimedia Movement Strategic Plan Summary/The Role of the Wikimedia Chapters

From Strategic Planning

The role of Wikimedia chapters

Wikimedia chapters first emerged out of a desire among volunteers to create organizations that could serve the Wikimedia movement on a local level. As of 2011, 30 chapters have formed, with extensive coverage within Europe and more limited coverage in Asia and South America. Most chapters are still small, entirely volunteer organizations.

Chapters are independent organizations founded to support and promote the Wikimedia projects within a geographic region. Like the Foundation, they aim to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally."

My hunch is that people are not using the [smaller language versions of] Wikipedia because of a vicious cycle: People don’t want to create the content because no one is reading, and no one is reading because there is no content. Lova Rakotomalala, editor, Global Voices Online

Chapters are engaged in a range of activities in support of Wikimedia's vision:

  • Outreach activities to expand and add diversity to the community of volunteers contributing to Wikimedia projects.
  • Communications to improve the understanding of Wikimedia and engage with and respond to media and other stakeholder inquiries.
  • Advocacy on behalf of free knowledge.
  • Community-building activities to help reinforce social bonds.
  • Knowledge-creation projects to add valuable resources to Wikimedia projects.
  • Partnerships development with cultural and knowledge institutions to help make knowledge free, and to help institutions contribute to Wikimedia.
  • Fundraising to support the Wikimedia Foundation's global activities and to fund the activities of the chapter and the local community.

The five movement priorities hold specific opportunities and challenges for chapters:

  1. Stabilize infrastructure: Chapters provide important capacity for the movement's work, however most are still young. The chapters will need to improve their capacity to serve their communities at a greater scale of impact.
  2. Increase Participation: Chapters will continue to play an active role in organizing and funding in-person community gatherings and in conducting outreach programs to bring new, diverse groups to Wikimedia's projects.
  3. Improve quality: Chapters will continue to support the work of editors and pursue opportunities to free knowledge in their geographies for use in the projects. They also have an important role in creating content partnerships with cultural institutions in their geographic area.
  4. Increase reach: Chapters provide the local expertise, infrastructure and passion that can help to spur project growth. As the movement focuses more energy on the Global South, it will be valuable to build chapters in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East & North Africa, and Latin America.
  5. Encourage innovation: Chapters should encourage innovation among the communities they serve and experiment with new approaches to their work.

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