Wikimedia Australia is currently part way through a funded Annual Plan that runs from 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019. The Committee met in Melbourne on 9–11 November 2018 to review progress against this Annual Plan and to commence the next round of strategic planning to inform a 2019-20 Annual Plan. This page records the weekend's schedule and notes.
- Asaf Bartov facilitated sessions of the workshop. Asaf is a program officer at the Wikimedia Foundation, and works in the Community Resources team, in a program called Community Capacity Development.
- Wikimedia Australia committee': Pru Mitchell, Gideon Digby, Tom Hogarth, Robert Myers, Caddie Brain, Sam Wilson, Steve Crossin
- Apologies: Julian Singh (attending remotely via Skype when possible)
Len Collard(could not make it in the end)
- New Zealand participants: Mike Dickison, Siobhan Leachman
Friday 9 November 2018
5.00pm Happy Hour and dinner at Coffeehead, Railway Parade, Camberwell.
7.30pm Session 1: Setting the scene
- Welcome, introductions and getting to know you
- What inspires you in terms of the movement?
- What are your goals for the weekend?
- What are your goals / priorities for your next 12 months work for Wikimedia?
- Short presentations and discussion
- WMAU (Pru)
- NZ (Mike)
- WMF (Asaf)
- Review of program.
Pru welcomed the committee and introduced Asaf, and acknowledged that we're meeting on Wurundjeri land. As not everyone was present yet, we decided to skip the extended individual introductions and do a quick round of the room and then plan the following day and the capacity plan.
- Three years on the Committee, ten in the movement.
Currently running a Wikipedia-based university course at Sydney Uni.
- It's pronounced 'Asaf'. Editing since 2001, Wikimedia Israel board member from 2007. In 2011 joined the WMF and since 2015 has been working in the area of community capacity building. Helping to move the WMF's conception of the 'global south' (a problematic term originating within UN development concepts) towards what we're now calling 'emerging communities'. This gives more weight to the on-the-ground realities of the Wikimedia community and not individual countries' economic status. In this light, Australia is an emerging community, despite not being in the global south. The reasons for this are varied, and are both objective (e.g. distances between contributors) and subjective (e.g. WMAU's history and functioning). WMF employees have not often visited (even more rare when visits have not been added on to other events such as conferences) so his visit here is more focused and explicit than has been the case previously. WMAU is on a good path and is getting better than we've previously been. He's here to help and facilitate, in whatever way is most useful to us, and has not got any pre-determined solutions. Ideas from other chapters may fit well here, but we may not have been exposed to them before.
- Has been with WMAU since before it existed. Has worked on outreach all over WA and the rest of Australia, and initiated things such as the Quality Images process on Commons.
- Been in NT for eight years. Got into Wikimedia via journalism and seeing the low coverage of NT topics on Wikipedia. Has run meetups in Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, etc. and these are ongoing and reasonably regular. Often people don't want to edit directly themselves, so has been acting as intermediary. Has also tried to work on coverage of indigenous topics, but it's hard. 2 years on committee.
- WMF coder. On the WMAU for year, to help with tech things.
- WMAU Secretary, coordinator of WikiClubWest. Wikimedian in Residence at Museum of Perth. We're never quite sure what WMAU's status is with the WMF (about funding, understanding, or acceptance), and our other big problem is the distances between community members in Australia.
- Newest Committee member. Sorry for not being in Melbourne; would like to be but is at a GovHack event. Been editing Wikipedia for 10 years, with a passion around open data and interconnections with Government (and how it can fit with Wikimedia). Lives in the ACT and is hoping to get more local things happening there. ACT has the right demographics, with unis, the NLA, etc. and it just needs someone to kick things off.
- (Excited about activities in the ACT. We're already on the Trove consultative committee, and more can be done there.) Current president of WMAU, and has a background as a teacher and librarian. Got into Wikimedia via Jimmy's visit in 2007 when she attended a breakfast with him as a representative of an education organisation. Been on the Committee for three years, two years as president. Been involved in WMAU for ten years and editing wikis regularly in the last few years. Keen to do more with WikiCite and work with educators around those topics. Wants to make things better for Committee members, especially new ones, as the process of learning WMAU can deter people sometimes.
The New Zealand contingent had not arrived yet so we passed on to discussion of the weekend's schedule: Strategic Planning/2018-19, and what each of us have our highest priorities.
NZ are coming because we've got a common context and have many similarities, so even when they're here we can still talk of Australia-centric things. Len Collard was going to be coming for Saturday, but was unable to in the end.
- Tom: Indigenous content and inclusion. Committee face-to-face is different this year.
- Sam: ICT, wikis, communication channels, etc. — is this something that benefits from Asaf's presence though?
Canada is in similar position to us. We might talk about some of this tonight, but probably not at all tomorrow.
- Caddie: good to get to know people. It's easy to get a bit lost in the Committee, hard to participate. Passion is community storytelling (not movement-internal stuff so much). Sometimes our purpose and goals are not very clear, and our organisation focus can be lacking.
- Tom: potential for Australian subject-level user groups has not been discussed enough.
- Asaf: the SWOT analysis of capacity etc. exposes some of these things; we'll knead these into a plan/direction for the chapter as a whole. Other things: what can we offer volunteer initiatives? The chapter can take on a few big projects, and help smaller volunteer initiatives get off the ground without having to be the main leader.
- Gideon: community's capacity. How to distribute activities etc. He's been fallback for most things for 5 years and wants to see others step up. It's a risk to rely on only one person for lots of things. If the usual suspects always do things then when they can't do them no one does. This has happened before, and it takes great energy to rebuild each time. We must get different people to chair meetings, build skills etc.
- Asaf: capacity is a strategic problem for Australia. Depends too much on single individuals, and no deputies are identified. Many core functions are only handled by one person. Institutional knowledge is lost when people leave (and take the keys with them). It's challenging to bring new people in, but more should be done to do so.
- Robert: build membership, and get more people engaged with WMAU. eg there used to be meetups in Sydney but are no longer. Other cities do not have so much activity. Do it in a way that doesn't depend on one person. Holding an event or running a project shouldn't be so fragile; new members will help with this.
[Your note-taker missed a few minutes here.]
- A paid person can help with some aspects of this. Some members are probably willing to contribute more, but we need to have better ways to integrate them, without them actually being on the Committee.
- Asaf: WMAU doesn't use the available advertising channels such as centralnotice, because we lack skills or just don't think of it. The skills can be learnt, and aren't overly technical. The greater art is in making good use of the channels. We wouldn't want to display more than one or two banners per year, to avoid "banner-blindness", but those one or two can be shown to "everyone who looks at Wikipedia in Australia". Other chapters do this, and we can talk to and learn from them; there's a big community of practice around this, but most of the members of that community don't think to share their knowledge with Australia. For example, the WMF does masses of work with banners as this is where most fundraising income comes from, and they perform extensive A/B testing in order to (among other things) show banners as little as possible. Even if the goal is not fundraising, the same science can help us. Another example is the Macedonian Wikipedia's use of a banner to 'like' their page on Facebook, and now they have 30,000 likes and can directly reach out to those people.
- Gideon: people on the Committee do often make connections with other organisations, both within and without the movement — but then leave the Committee and there's no trace of the connections. We need to future-proof things.
- Julian (remote): What's the purpose of the WMAU Committee and how will we measure our success over the next 12 months? Is it number of paid members? Number of edits in Australia? Number of events? Can we have some goals by the end of this weekend?
- Asaf: This is basically the strategy question! e.g. we don't know how many editors there are in Australia. The stats show editors per language, or edits per country, but editors per country is private and only available to WMF employees due to privacy concerns around data analysis. Perhaps one day will be made public, at least in some form. The WMAU Committee can get the annual numbers by requesting them (only at country level).
- Tom: We've previously tried to identify editors in Australia, and had little luck as it's always been based on self-identification.
Good start, and most we've covered tonight is already on tomorrow's schedule.
Discussion about tonight and tomorrow morning and how Julian can attend remotely (he may not be able to fully participate as he'll be on mobile).
Last thing for tonight: communication practices of the WMAU Committee.
Other parts of the movement handle this in varying ways:
- Not doing it well, even though many people in the organisation work remotely. Uses IRC, mainly with technical people, and non-technical people use Slack. Many people prefer facebook groups, whatsapp, etc., and the pragmatic view is that we should use whatever works; the goal, after all, is to communicate.
- Wikimedia Poland
- They have not had an in-person board meeting (aside from their AGMs) in four years. They use IRC, even with non-technical people. Weekly board meeting on IRC. Everything is public and logged. There are side channels for confidential stuff. It works for them. Maybe public and logged makes for better, more considered decisions? But maybe there's also a chilling effect on frank discussions, or talk of individual people. If WMAU wanted to do this sort of thing, we should first talk to WM Poland, to learn from them.
- Wikimedia Ukraine
- Have an ongoing Skype chat, open all the time, with no specific times for meetings. People interact when they're able; it's an asynchronous process.
- Wikimedia Canada
- Live teleconferences did work for Canada for a while.
There is value in IRL, face-to-face meetings and the WMF sees this and will help make it possible (financially), maybe up to 3 or 4 in-person meetings per year for WMAU.
Last year Tom flew around the country to Darwin, Brisbane, etc. to get a sense of what's going on everywhere, and perhaps that is a better model rather than flying everyone in to a single location.
Getting people, especially newbies, together in one place doesn't really build community. Most Wikimedians are "made on the wikis" (people find the sites, start editing, and stay to do more) rather than via events. This way of getting started accounts for more editors than any outreach programme. New people are editing all the time, but many have bad experiences and are driven away or not encouraged; this is where in-person events can help, because people feel more supported and understood (and understand things better).
We have four main options: face-to-face, regular online time, on-going chat channel. Rolling channel might not get anything done. At the moment we use email for this type of communication.
GovHack has had good experiences with using Slack for distributed teams and multiple teams (hundreds of people) attending events all one one day around the country. All volunteers (like us), and they're finding it very effective. If you've got time to interact, it works; if you don't then it can be harder to keep up.
(As an aside: there is great scope for WMAU to be more involved in GovHack; it's a good match of missions.)
The guiding principle should be to get the maximal amount of effective communication. Experiment with different things, give each some time, and then draw conclusions.
IRC is for some people a place for spiteful communication. Perhaps a hybrid model could alleviate this? Maybe a channel that can only be written to by the Committe but read by anyone. Keep in mind that when dealing with disruptive people, you're playing to the crowd (the other people in the channel) as much as to the distruptor. Other people must be able to see that bad behaviour is handled well.
Any changes should be communicated to the membership, and probably people who have been turned off from e.g. the email list in the past will consider coming back and giving us a second chance. It might seem that they're not paying attention, but they likely are, and we can welcome them in.
Saturday 10 November 2018
- 8:00 -08:45 the gathering at Coffeehead we'll meet up there in the morning
- 9:00am start. In this session we worked on establishing a baseline for each country against the Community Capacity Map with Asaf facilitating.
- Open 9:16AM.
- Attendance: Asaf, Robert, Steve, Gideon, Tom, Caddie, Sam, Siobhan, Mike.
Asaf recapped yesterday for new people, then we went around the room and everyone spoke to one thing they wanted discussed this weekend. Asaf will facilitate, but will not be involved in anything in an on-going basis. Additional people since Friday:
- 10 years involvement with Wikimedia, on the Committee for about 5 years, and president for 2 years. Wants to build capacity for programmes: we've done things well, but usually it's been Committee members leading things; it'd be good to get more non-Committee people engaged.
- Based in Wellington. Has been a Wikimedian since 2014. As Mike's role has been getting lots of media coverage and traction across New Zealand, has become most involved in that. There's no NZ user group or chapter, and so is here to learn how to set something up and hopefully move towards setting up a chapter. There's just her and Mike doing most things. It'd be good to learn more techniques for getting things rolling and especially for them to then be self-sustaining.
- Been editing for 9 years, and along with Siobhan is one of the most prominent editors in NZ. There are others who prefer to stay behind the scenes. Is the first Wikipedian At Large (anywhere), and has been spending 3-month stints at NZ GLAM institutions in Auckland, and elsewhere to come. Running public events and driving editor recruitment. There's a small user-base in NZ, but it's growing: the biggest issue is editor retention. Hopes to build groups in main cities, and get MWF funding to support these. Presented about his work at ESEAP this year (Tom says this was the most inspiring talk of the whole conferece).
- (Dialling in from the Hume Highway.) Believes in the power of crowds, and the power of 'open'. A frequent presenter in Canberra on Wikimedia topics and open data. Works in his day job with large scale IT systems in government; there are some parallels in the wiki world. Wants to get more involvment in the ACT and hopefully set up an ACT user group. One goal for our coming year could be to hold an event that occurs in every state of Australia on the one day.
Capacity building map
- Communications and media relations: Social Media
- AU: Low capacity -Medium robustness: the group has social media accounts, and regularly uses them both proactively and reactively. There is no communication plan from which communication is derived. Analytics are sometimes tracked.
- Communications and media relations: Press and broadcast media
- NZ: wouldn't take much to get to medium: Who do we want to get represented in the media? Don't make yourself the story, prep others to give interviews
- AU: low capacity (good in a limited few people) and low robustness, reactive/responsive. Media judo: pick up negative coverage and leverage it for positive coverage. Speed of response is crucial
- Community Health: Conflict Resolution
- AU: Low capacity Low robustness: Mechanisms in rules for mediation. People don't know what these mechanisms are
- Community Health: Abuse and Harassment Control
- AU: Medium capacity and low robustness. We are not responsible for on en-wiki abuse and harassment, Look at the engineering solution from WMF. No clear strategy on changing behaviour
- Community Health: Tools
- AU: Variable: High capacity but communication and training to newbies,
Community Health: Regular newbie-friendly in-person events
- AU: Medium Variable, newbies don't return
- Community Health: Help and tutorial resources
- AU: Low capacity Low robustness Directing people to the Wikipedia Plain and Simple
- Community Health: Recognition
- AU: Low capacity Low robustness
- Partnerships: Identifying & negotiating with prospective partners
- AU: Capacity: Medium Robustness: Low: Reputation risk, Statement, eg 'The chapter wants to empower all members to representative of the chapter, requires communication and reporting - we do want you to stay clear of committing the name and any financial risk on behalf of WMAU without first communicating with the committee/chapter/WMAU membership.' The air is not clear with all members of the community - increase trust and announce new policy
- Partnerships: Executing and evaluating partnerships
- AU: low capacity, low robustness
- Technical skills: Active Wikidata expertise
- AU: Capacity low-medium, Robustness: Need to make this a priority. Training capacity needed
- Technical skills: Keeping up with tech news
- AU: Idiot's guide Technical writers for the wonderful tools
- Technical skills: Templates
- AU: Who is prepared to share their skills on the Australian project page
- Technical skills: Bots
- Local capacity: partnerships with GLAM, data donations
RECOMMENDATION: Community survey: Qualtrics or Google Forms
- editorship: logged in users, at last 1,100+ active editors in Australia - 5 edits per month on en-wiki
- what are your needs? What support do you need? What tools do you need?
- what are your passions? interests? topics to work on
- optional: get in touch if you like, share special skills or contribute, location?
- 200 may respond to survey
- accommodate people who don't want to be identified, don't want to edit themselves, don't want to be outed, don't want to engage
- 10:30 morning tea
- 12:30 lunch
- 15:30 afternoon tea
Rethinking priorities for 2018-2019 based on discussions at this meeting
- 0. Draft and publish a WMAU Statement of Principles regarding indigenous communities
- 0.5. Figure out which conference to pursue
- 1. Capacity audit + plan (CCM)
- 2. Survey of editors -- assessing needs, interests/passions, and optionally usernames, special skills, etc.
- design survey goals, create questions, review and vet widely
- run the survey, attracting respondents using CentralNotice for logged-in users
- 3. Resource kit on working with indigenous communities and knowledge -- collaboration with the New Zealand Wikimedians and possibly with Whose Knowledge?
- start conversations in coming months
- ideally have the kit ready some time in late 2019
- announce, launch event, press releases etc., inform partners, share across movement
- 4. Conference/s
- host national Wikiconference?
- host ESEAP?
- Wikimania? (2020? 2021?)
- 5. Based on survey results + capacity mapping, revise plan or prepare next year's plan
- 6. Skill training
- obtain more skills
- create opportunities to diffuse those skills
- Creating a NZ UG
- Capacity survey and contributing to the CCM
- NZ toolkit prep by engaging with Maori
- Editor survey in NZ like in AU
- Organise a small Wikiconference ("hobbit-sized")
- 6.00pm Dinner
- After dinner: WMAU committee meeting - cancelled.
Items for discussion:
- Followup and thoughts from Asaf regarding the current activities
- meta:Community Capacity Map
- Prioritising and Planning
- Indigenous languages and cultural knowledge sharing
- Len to speak about the Noongarpedia experience
- Mike & Siobhan for insights on the Maori project
- Asaf on the WMF plans and lexicographic developments
- Reporting and infrastructure discussion and demos
- Sam & Asaf on tools available through the WMF
- Robert to answer any questions on WMAU account tools
- Deciding, doing, documenting, and communicating
Sunday 11 November 2018 Remembrance Day
- 8:30 am continue the discussions
- 10:00 head to Shrine of Rememberance for 11am service
- 12.30pm Meetup and lunch ACMI Cafe, Federation Square Melbourne
- 2.00pm Session 4: (Ross House, Mezzanine room at 247-251 Flinders Lane Melbourne) - SESSION OPEN TO PUBLIC
- ** WikiCite presentation (Siobhan)
- ** Technical walk through (Sam)
- ** Critter of the week Museums work (Mike)
- ** Indigenous languages (Len)
- ** Asaf presentation
- 4.00pm Close