During 2019, Wikimedia volunteer communities have been discussing the future of our movement in the second stage of the Wikimedia 2030 movement strategy process. In the case of the Spanish speaking community, about 80 volunteers joined a Telegram group, one of the many channels available.
Over more than three months, from late-March to June, the community focused on sharing feedback in online conversations about what structural changes they would like to see to support the future of our movement.
But, what does our community actually want? In this post, I offer a short summary of the most central ideas shared over this period. These ideas are relevant for actors across the movement, including affiliates, online editing communities, the Wikimedia Foundation, and other groups. To be successful in this change, we will all have to work together to bring these ideas to fruition, both within and beyond the strategy process.
How should be our movement organized?
For the past several years, the Spanish speaking Wikimedia community has called for a more decentralized, less rigid movement. During the movement strategy discussions in 2019, this issue was prioritized yet again, and is seen as directly related to how power and resources are distributed across the Wikimedia movement. Volunteers explicitly referenced the text of the Carta de Santiago from the most recent Iberoconf, which is seen to be very important to how we move forward as a global community.
Among the proposals in this document, the Spanish speaking community is interested in some measures that create more structure and regulation. One frequently popular proposal is to increase the power and importance of Chapters within the movement, while centrally enforcing stricter rules on the number of accepted User Groups.
Non-English Language Inclusion
The Spanish speaking community firmly believes that in order for our movement to be more diverse, we need to build better systems and practices to enable participation from non-English speaking volunteers in movement-wide discussions and activities. One heavily referenced example is Wikimania 2015, which was hosted in Mexico, and serves as a positive example of how translators were used to involve speakers of other languages in global dialogue.
Gender and Indigenous Equity
Also on the topic of diversity, the Spanish speaking community is eager to see greater equity across gender lines and for indigenous communities in practices across our movement. This includes rules about governance; there is also strong support for gender equity across affiliate boards, including proposals from users for the establishment of a REACT model to reduce the gender gap among editors. Contributors also called for improved utilization of the knowledge and experience of indigenous communities, who are often excluded from more formal forms of knowledge production and academia.
One interesting suggestion around gender and indigenous equity was the creation of a set of principles that enshrine our shared values as a global movement. This document would be approved widely across the movement, and prioritize ideas like commitment to the concept of free knowledge.
Prioritize Commitment to Free Knowledge
“Free knowledge” means a lot of different things in our movement- freedom of ideas from political interference, freedom for everyone to contribute, freedom from cost, etc. All of these ideas are deeply valued in the Spanish speaking community, here are some ways that this group would like to see them preserved:
- The community heavily values the fact that Wikimedia projects are free from speech limitations or political interference, and believes that these values should be more obvious in our advocacy and external communication. Iberocoop members also believe that too many partners and the general public only understand Wikimedia projects as “free” in terms of not costing anything to access.
- The Iberocoop community was also frustrated that the Spanish Wikipedia community rejected a proposal to join the blackout protest against the European Union copyright reform as an example of how the movement in fact should play a greater advocacy role in support of free knowledge.
- The community strongly supports the continued enforcement of rules against paid editing. Some individuals are in favor of paid editing, but the main sentiment in the Iberocoop group is that paying volunteers to create content is not desirable.
Improving the platform is improving Wikipedia
When it comes to product and technology, a high number of users in the Spanish speaking Wikimedia community want greater priority placed on key areas of platform improvement as a way of supporting the continued growth of project work. Several community suggestions also touched on the issue of community health, which was specifically signaled as a place where product improvements could be helpful. Prioritized changes include:
- Increased support of the android APP
- a restructuring of Wikimedia Commons
- an Alexa-like software based on Wikidata
- the Word Clip-like tutorial
- An anti-harassment button
- improvements in the sandbox to make it a safe newbie area
Diverse, friendly and stronger
The Spanish speaking community highlighted other areas where they are eager for improvements in community health. Many Wikimedians find it hard to remain truly anonymous online, which affects their freedom to edit without harassment or media exposure. There is also concern about harassment outside Wikipedia and media exposure of our volunteers, which has occurred recently in places like Argentina. As a result, there is a desire for greater protective action to be taken, but the community is unsure specifically what this would look like or who is best to lead.
There is also great concern about the issue of unfriendly patrollers in es.wikipedia. In this example, the online community conversations actually led the community to take action itself: instituting friendly patrollers. Now, some users are coordinating to check content and address users in a friendly way. There remains community observation and concern that there are fewer female editors than male editors, and those that do exist tend to only be those who have high qualifications in their field (which is not true of male editors.)
Capacity Building and Partnerships
Smaller affiliates, as well as those operating in difficult contexts, expressed the desire for greater mentoring or sponsorship from more established Wikimedia groups. This is of interest because in the past, partners have found attractive some activities made under the umbrella of a stronger ally, be a more stable affiliate or the WMF. In any case, partnerships with entities that are public institutions or NGO are preferred over partnerships with businesses. All partnerships with for-profit entities, if done, should be carefully monitored.
This is a short example of many issues to improve or develop in our community that has been pointed out by our members. Wikimedia projects are alive and we have a strong responsibility in our goal to reach that all the sum of human knowledge has to be available for everyone, free, and in every language in the world, and also in our Strategy 2030 goal of being the fundamental infrastructure of free knowledge.