Our Shared Future: Planning Ahead with Regional Communities (Part 2)

Translate this post
Wikimania 2023 Core Organizing Team

Welcome to Part 2 of our regional quarterly update for the Wikimedia movement, where we’re looking ahead to what Wikimedia communities have planned for this next fiscal year (July 2023-June 2024). In Part 1, we discussed updates from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Next up, let’s look at what communities are up to in East and Southeast Asia (ESEAP), South Asia, North and West Europe, and finally North America.

East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific (ESEAP)

Next month, the ESEAP region will be celebrating a huge milestone with Wikimania 2023. The event will be held in Singapore and volunteers from the conference’s Core Organizing Team (COT), as well as Wikimedia Foundation staff recently completed another in-person planning visit and expect to release programming decisions and open registration in the coming weeks. The regional community also hopes to formalize the creation of a regional hub by Wikimania, and have been working on draft documentation around shared values, roles, and responsibilities with support from a Wikimedia Foundation movement strategy implementation grant. 

Grants are increasingly becoming an important tool for growing newcomers and content contribution in the ESEAP region, where several trends are emerging. First, the Wikimedia Foundation and the ESEAP regional grant committee have seen an increase in interest and overall applications from indigenous communities in the region, particularly in Taiwan, following the work of national chapters to improve outreach to those communities (i.e. Seediq; Amis; Taiwanese; Sakizaya). Peer recommendation is playing an important role in this increase, and while new applicants face a steep learning curve, peer support and support from the Foundation during the grant cycle is helping to increase overall numbers of return applicants, particularly in Japan and Myanmar.

Second, rapid fund grants from the Wikimedia Foundation are being used alongside micro-grants offered by affiliates to support collaboration among volunteers in a given country. For example, a recent grant in Indonesia brings together 5 communities (Medan, Bali, Bandung, Surabaya and Manokwari) to receive copyright law training and contribute to Wikisource manuscripts. There is also overall growth in applications to the Alliances Fund in the region, offering an important avenue to connect with new audiences. This includes a budding partnership in Singapore through My community to build a community archive powered by local volunteer networks using Wikidata and Wikibase.

South Asia

In South Asia, India recently hosted the much awaited WikiConference India. The event was celebrated and attended by community members not only from India but from across the region. The conference theme was Strengthening the Bonds, and true to this intention, attracted over 180 Wikimedians from over 7 different projects and over 15 language communities. During the course of the 3 days attendees not only participated in workshops, sessions and discussions, but also hosted smaller meetups on the sidelines of the conference to share their plans and find collaborative touchpoints with other communities in the region.

Since the completion of the conference, South Asian volunteers have demonstrated an eagerness to continue the social momentum developed at the conference by establishing a shared Telegram group for mutual support, information, sharing and coordination. The group already has 140 members, and is further supported by monthly community calls that are being hosted to bring regional voices together. One area of recent collaboration is the June editathon that was hosted by the Hindi community. This event resulted in over 900 new published articles, with more still in development. Similarly, the Telugu community is working on a partnership with the Department of Language and Culture to make their cultural and heritage content available on our projects. Deoband Community Wikimedia has initiated a 4 month Leadership Development and Skills Infrastructure project that aims to produce leadership and skills infrastructure in line with the Movement Strategy Initiatives for the communities’ long term planning. Finally, the Odia community is working towards increasing their outreach and engagement activities in educational institutions and libraries. 

Many Indic-language wikipedias are now celebrating their 20th birthdays and content milestones, such as Punjabi Wikipedia crossing 50,000 articles. Contributors like Meenakshi Nandhidni work tirelessly on increasing content, contributing to technology and work as community organisers. 

North and West Europe

Across North and Western Europe, policy advocacy remains a top priority for regional affiliates. The recently formed Wikimedia Europe association (WMEU; formerly the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU) has increased its capacity to lead the public policy work in the region and support its members in their own national advocacy efforts. The Wikimedia Foundation’s new obligations under the European Digital Services Act (DSA) have received a lot of attention after the European Commission designated Wikipedia as a “Very Large Online Platform (VLOP)”—other similarly designated platforms include Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Google Search, and YouTube. Nearby in the UK, the Foundation is working closely with Wikimedia UK to advocate changes to the draft Online Safety Bill, another important piece of upcoming regulation around content moderation on technology platforms, to ensure that the law does not negatively impact Wikimedia’s values and governance model. 

Regional affiliates are also focused on the topic of fundraising, both independently and alongside the Wikimedia Foundation. Wikimedia Europe is adding a fundraising role to its team. Within Europe, communities have also created an informal, regional peer to peer fundraising group, which during the past quarter added Poland and Portugal to its members. This work takes place alongside the Foundation’s annual fundraising campaigns across the world. In the past quarter, the Foundation had a banner and email campaign in Sweden, and leading up to this campaign they engaged with the community more proactively via a community engagement page and a community call. The Foundation also held a first-ever fundraising campaign in the Czech Republic, which also included a community engagement page and community calls. Both the campaigns in Sweden and Czech Republic benefited from the close relationship between the Foundation and the local affiliates who provided input and help with community outreach as well as with fundraising messaging.   

North America

In North America, GLAM partnerships continue to take center stage as a focus point for regional collaboration. In March, Wikimedia Foundation CEO Maryana Iskander presented at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas alongside Wikimedians Kelly Doyle Kim and Andrew Lih, and Becky Kobberod, head of the Smithsonian’s Office of Digital Transformation, highlighting the shared work of the Wikimedia movement and the Smithsonian institution in addressing the gender gap. Kelly Doyle Kim, Open Knowledge Coordinator for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, has been extended for another year to continue this work as the groundwork is laid for the new Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. The new museum has launched with a digital-first mission, and will be at the vanguard of integrating Wikimedia as a cornerstone of the Smithsonian’s digital strategy. 

Like in North and Western Europe, partnerships in North America are also heavily focused on policy advocacy, namely through ongoing collaboration between the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia DC. Most recently, author and Wikimedia strategist Andrew Lih, Wikimedia Foundation’s Vice President of Global Advocacy Rebeccca MacKinnon, and Greg Cram of the New York Public LIbrary led a briefing to US congressional staff about how section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects editor rights to set and enforce rules without Foundation interference. Wikimedia DC and the Foundation are also in discussions about leading a series of teach-ins on Capitol Hill later this year, as well as a series of editathons with policy and open data organizations. 

Finally, there remains a persistent open question among volunteers and affiliates around finding a sustainable community infrastructure at a regional level to continue to support such promising initiatives. Wikimedia DC has recently received a movement strategy implementation grant through the Wikimedia Foundation to advance research on this topic, with a hopeful tie into discussions at WikiConference North America, which will take place in Toronto in November 2023. 

There are common themes across the work of Wikimedia communities in each of these eight regions, around skills development, capacity planning and welcoming newcomers. In addition, each region brings with it distinctive differences that benefit from a more tailored approach and regional support. 

Can you help us translate this article?

In order for this article to reach as many people as possible we would like your help. Can you translate this article to get the message out?

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

… the first Wikimania ever to take place in Asia …

No. Taiwan 2007, Israel 2011, Hong Kong 2013.

Great catch! I’ve adjusted the language.

Also should be on the ESEAP section: WikiConference Indonesia, attended by participants from dozens language groups of Indonesia.

Thanks for sharing! 😉