Movement Strategy/Community discussions - english

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Discussion on NL Wikipedia

January 25 - February 13

In De Kroeg (Village Pump) of the Dutch-language Wikipedia, there was a discussion about the recommendations . 11 Wikipedians participated.

A number of points came back a number of times:


Annoyance about language use in the document. Too much fashionable jargon. Vagueness - it is often unclear what exactly is meant

Fear of loss of autonomy

There is concern about a loss of community autonomy, in particular regarding internal work procedures and the content of the encyclopedia Some see the recommendations as a power seizure by WMF, while in their perception WMF should be supportive.

Organization structure

The role of the Global Governance Body is unclear and it is also unclear how this body will be established.


Some see a desire to shift from objective and neutral writing to activism


to what extent is Wikipedia already inclusive? How does the difference arise between inclusiveness in theory (everyone can participate) and in practice (who participates?). To what extent is inclusiveness relevant (much disagreement about this)


concern about stretching criteria to be able to include previously excluded knowledge. It is important to fill gaps but essential to monitor encyclopedic value and reliability


there is some room for activism on Wikipedia.; it can be a way to create new content. However: Wikipedia is primarily an encyclopedia; neutrality, verifiability, etc. are core principles on which the identity, image and influence of Wikipedia is based. Too much activism undermines this.

Communitydiscussion at WMNL office - 8 February 2020

11 Wikimedians participated - there was no overlap with the participants in the discussion in the Village Pump of NLWP.


The text of the recommendations is complex. For many Wikimedians, it is not immediately clear what is meant, certainly because understanding of the strategy process within the community is limited. The process is seen by some as an attempt by WMF to impose top-down changes.

It is clear that the recommendations can have an impact on three levels: individual, local and worldwide. How does decision-making take this into account?

Decision-making within the movement

So far, there is only one body that can really make and implement decisions for the entire international Wikimedia movement: the WMF board. The experience is that too much power is concentrated at WMF. As a result, the perspective within the movement is now very 'American'. Examples: indifference about the impact of the GDPR on the Wikimedia projects, incomprehension about differences in internet use and traditions of cooperation with governments. The friendly space policy is inspired by American standards and does not fully take cultural differences into account. Decentralization of decision-making could help remedy this..

The strategy wants to organize a 'counterbalance' in movement power and organisational structures by establishing a Global Governance Body and a Movement charter. Compared to earlier versions of the recommendations, it is no longer clear what the proposed powers of the Global Governance Body are and what impact the Movement Charter will have. Is the GGB the legislature, comparable to the General Assembly of a chapter? This would mean that the GGB has control over the Movement Charter, approves annual plans, budgets and annual reports of the WMF and plays a role in the appointment of members of the WMF board. Or is it just an advisory body of the WMF board - the latter is not desirable. It is also unclear who elects or appoints members of the Global Governance Body. The possibility of introducing individual or organizational membership of WMF should be explored. This could be the basis for democratization and more bottom-up input.


Decentralization should be the standard, unless it is clearly unwise. Although there are questions about whether all communities / affiliates can handle greater powers responsibly, the guiding principle must be to have faith in communities. Criteria for decentralization must be developed. Are we talking about decentralization based on geography, language, project? Should technology also be decentralized?

Support for centralizing certain issues must also be developed at a decentralized level. You can very well delegate decision-making power to individual editors and individual communities and, for example, let them decide first to organize the servers centrally; the advantage of this is that they are involved in advance. Communities of editors must support the decision to introduce a Global Governance Body.

The proposal for hubs talks about regional cooperation on activities and regional financing. That is positive. However, it is not yet clear who will decide on the distribution of the money between the various hubs, ie whether this is a genuine decentralization of powers.

Oral history

Currently, the use of oral history as a source does not fit the narrow definition of encyclopedicity. This excludes a lot of knowledge from Wikipedia and that is a pity. This mainly concerns knowledge of groups that are already traditionally excluded. Our job is to represent reality, not the truth. The question should not be whether we want to be able to use sources of this kind, but how we will make that possible while maintaining reliability and neutrality. To explore the possibilities of oral history within the Wikimedia projects, it is best to start a new sister project. The step to integrate this in one go in Wikipedia is too big. The aim is also to develop criteria for oral history. What do you use oral history for, where do you record it, what are the rules? The license used will also have to be considered.

Cultural changes

The Wikimedia community tends to be conservative and can be dominated by a fairly small (verbally) active group. A trade-off must be made between centralization of power (for example through a Universal Code of Conduct) and the risk of central power abuse, versus the risk of local power abuse by dominant persons or groups within a community. The Movement Charter must provide an anchor point for the culture that we pursue within the movement. There must be some form of democratic control over the implementation of central power. If we see WMF as an executive, and a possible Global Governance Body as a legislature, the question is who the judiciary is. Who decides on disputes? That should be an independent body. At what level: Regional / central / per project? Or there must be different judicial authorities for different types of conflict. There must also be a possibility for testing excessive bureaucracy. Anonymity and confidentiality are important.