What will be our Taj Mahal of text?

Script from the Koran adorns much of the Taj Mahal. Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, licensed CC BY 2.0

Script from the Koran adorns much of the Taj Mahal. Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, licensed CC BY 2.0

A slide flashed on the screen—the Taj Mahal. The audience was initially taken by its physical beauty.  But upon closer inspection, we were told, one would find much of the text of the Koran chiseled into this wonder  of the ancient world.

What a brilliant way to preserve text against the ravages of time. Carve the most  important words into the stone of a marvelous structure.

Text—its physical structure, its preservation, its manipulation, interpretation and cultural transformation—was the topic of the sixth Future of Text Symposium on the Google campus in late August.

Frode Hegland introduces the Symposium.

Frode Hegland introduces the Symposium. Event photos by Dan Cook, licensed CC BY-SA 4.0.

For the second year, Wiki Strategies founder Pete Forsyth was among the speakers, who each had 10 minutes to describe a particular personal text passion, followed by five minutes for questions and discussion. Wiki Strategies co-sponsored the symposium.

The symposium exists because Frode Hegland cares deeply about text and had been searching for a vehicle to bring together kindred spirits to probe text’s evolution. As he has said in explaining the need for such a gathering, “The written word is a fundamental unit of knowledge and as such is of universal importance.”

Hegland, a teacher, lecturer, software developer and author, hosted the first Future of Text symposium in London six years ago. He intentionally keeps the crowd small, intimate and engaged; expanding to a three-day conference in a hotel ballroom is not his idea of  thought leadership.

Eileen Clegg presenting. Event photos by Dan Cook, licensed CC BY 4.0.

Eileen Clegg presenting.

His co-organizer is Houria Iderkou—without whom, he says, the symposium would not be possible. Houria is an e-commerce entrepreneur who flawlessly manages the many details of hosting a symposium.

This year they again brought together leading thinkers in the various disciplines that are united by text. Among the two dozen presenters: Google hosts and innovators Vint Cerf and Peter Norvig; Ted Nelson (via Skype); Robert Scoble; Jane Yellowlees Douglas; Livia Polanyi; and Adam Hyde. The full roster can be more thoroughly appreciated here.

The passions unleashed and the intellectual exchanges that occurred that day in Mountain View paid tribute to text’s contributions to human culture. For one day, the written word was celebrated as the miraculous gift to mankind that it truly is. Frode admitted to being a bit discouraged at day’s end–not by the discussions that took place, but by the weight of responsibility mankind has to hand text along from generation to generation, and to use it to its full potential to support the human endeavor.

Jim Strahorn, Pete Forsyth, and Bonnie DeVarco dig into the technicalities of text.

Jim Strahorn, Pete Forsyth, and Bonnie DeVarco dig into the technicalities of text.

It is, after all, the accounting and preservation of the human experience, as well as an essential ingredient of that experience. When one considers what has been irrevocably lost of the experiences of humans who did not have a written language to pass their tales on to those who came after them, then perhaps Frode’s anxieties come sharply into focus. The responsibility is on us to preserve in text what we have learned, what we have seen and heard and touched and felt and smelled.

So perhaps we should ask: What will be our Taj Mahal?

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Future of Text Symposium talk

Pete Forsyth, photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen, licensed CC BY-SA.

Pete Forsyth, photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen, licensed CC BY-SA.

Wikipedia is important to the future, and important to text.

Future of Text 2016 slides

  • Text-based, honors the legacy of text
  • Collaborative: Hundreds of thousands of volunteers
  • Preserves values of journalism, academia
  • Journalists & academics resist the pull – to a point

Forsyth Criteria for collaborative software


Flawed engine of knowledge

Its problems are different  from those of commercial and traditional institutions and projects

How does Wikipedia cover your field? How’s that changing?





Posted in events, governance, history, journalism, wiki, Wikipedia, Wikipedia and education, Wikipedian in Residence | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Future of Text is almost now

Howard Rheingold and Pascal Zachary at the Future of Text Symposium, 2015.

Futurists are fond of predicting that, one day, humans will communicate telepathically, thus drastically reducing the need for the written and spoken word. Until that day arrives, however, mere mortals must continue to communicate primarily with text,  a vehicle fraught with pitfalls but loaded with  potential.

It is the latter that will be the focus of a fast-paced, one-day symposium in the Bay Area August 25. The Future of Text Symposium is most certainly becoming one of the most esoteric intellectual endeavors of our time.

And while it has been steadily evolving since first presented in 2011 at the British Library in London, the concept remains the same: Brilliant minds gather to share their most cogent thoughts on where text has been, where it is and where it’s going–and they do it within a interactive structure that keeps the idea stream rushing along in a  torrent.

We must say with considerable pride that Wiki Strategies is both a sponsor of this year’s FOT, and, through founder Pete Forsyth, a participant. Pete, like the others on the panel, will have his 15  minutes of, if not fame, foment–10 minutes to present his most critical thoughts on text, and what lessons about its future may be drawn from 15 years of Wikipedia, followed by 5 minutes of discussion.

He’ll be sharing the stage with, among others, the following luminaries:

  • Peter Norvig, director of research for Google.
  • Ted Nelson, thinker, poet, philosopher, coiner of the word “hypertext.”
  • Bruce Horn, Chief Scientist for Smart Devices, Intel and creator of Macintosh Finder.
  • Marc Canter, tech evangelist known as the “godfather of multimedia”
  • Livia Polanyi, consulting professor of linguistics, Stanford University. Formerly principal researcher for Microsoft, focusing on natural language processing.
  • Heather Gold, stand-up comedian and champion of interactive, online shows.

The symposium is presided over by Frode Hegland, self-described as the developer of “the powerful OS X utility Liquid | Flow and Liquid | Author, a new perspective in word processing. He is collaborating on The Time Browser project and is part of the Knowledge Federation.

His co-host is Houria Iderkou, founder and owner of skin care company Néfertari. She and Frode have worked together on various projects for more than  a decade, and have nurtured FOT along  since its inception.

We’d love to have everyone come to  Mountain View on the 25th to join in the repartee, but, unfortunately, the event is already  maxed out capacity wise. You see, the in crowd in the text world avidly awaits the announcement of upcoming symposia and seats disappear quickly. But we intend to do a bit of filming while we’re there, and we’ll be writing about the event in this space. So stay tuned and we’ll bring you the highlights–in text and video, and, hopefully, so robustly communicated that you will feel as though you were there in person.

These organizations are cosponsors of the Symposium:

Posted in events, journalism, Open Access, open educational resources, wiki, Wikipedia | Leave a comment

Open Innovation Communities (for AOM)

Some thoughts and links about Wikipedia, to support the Professional Development Workshop led by Joe Cox at the 2016 Academy of Management annual meeting.

What is Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is the largest, and most widely read, publication in history; but perhaps more significantly, it has been built by hundreds of thousands of disparate volunteers, making it arguably the most extensive and impactful collaborative project in history.

It’s based on wiki software, invented in 1995. Wikipedia was launched in 2001, initially as an experiment. The policy framework and the social norms are as vital to Wikipedia’s identity as the software; basic principles were articulated early on, and each language edition’s volunteer community writes its own more specific policies.

See: Books about Wikipedia

Why do people contribute to Wikipedia?

Essentially: “I like the idea of sharing knowledge and want to contribute to it,” and “I saw an error I wanted to fix.”

My personal experience: Being part of a learning and teaching community, meeting smart, passionate, and knowledgeable people. This perspective is somewhat “taboo”; strong sense that “we are not Facebook.”

So, what does contributing look like?

How do professionals work alongside volunteers?

  • Cultural institutions (GLAM-Wiki): Wikipedians in Residence, content donations/uploads, edit-a-thons.
  • Companies: Conflict of interest is an important concern. Employees must disclose their connection to the company, per tradition and, since 2014, per Terms of Use. (See various approaches compared.)

What has been tried to further engage volunteers?

Number of editors, diversity of editors, expertise of editors are all considered priorities. Here are a few things that have been successful, to some degree, at increasing participation:

Software, policies, and cultural evolution: We have to make it easy.

  • Software: Pete Forsyth, presentation at the Future of Text Symposium (2015): Seven principles that support effective collaboration
  • Policies: Broad community input is necessary, and messy; process of developing/refining policy could use work.
  • Cultural evolution: Focus has often been on remedial issues (dealing with harassment, vandalism, etc.); focus on promoting what works well is needed.


Posted in governance, paid editing, wiki, Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia, Wikipedia and education | Leave a comment

Baseball in a Wikidojo

A dojo is a great place to prepare to write a wiki page! Photo licensed CC BY 2.0, Flickr user "superwebdeveloper".

A dojo is a great place to prepare to write a wiki page! Photo by Flickr user “superwebdeveloper”, licensed CC BY 2.0.

When we started the monthly Bay Area WikiSalon meetups a few months back, I was eager to try out a newly-invented way for a group to build a wiki page together. The purpose of a Wikidojo, as the event is called, is twofold. Of course, it’s a way to quickly build a page. But much more importantly to me, and to the purpose of the WikiSalon series, is that everybody involved learns something from seeing how other people approach the task. How does an experienced editor add a footnote? Where does a new editor stumble? How do you add a photo? What’s up with categories and talk pages, anyway? Watching somebody at work, and hearing them describe what they’re doing and why, can be tremendously informative and inspiring.

So at our June event, I proposed that we try out a Wikidojo, and write a Wikipedia article together. It was a delightful experience, though as you’ll see below, it didn’t go exactly as I had expected!

Eugene and Ben got the article started.

Eugene and Ben got the article started. If you look closely in the background, you can see the article growing…

Peter and Andrea continue the fun...

…Peter and Andrea continued the fun…

...Wayne, an experienced Wikimedian, showed Mike how to add a photo to the article. Photos by Pax Ahimsa Gethen, licensed CC BY-SA.

…Wayne, an experienced Wikimedian, showed Mike how to add a photo to the article. Photos by Pax Ahimsa Gethen, licensed CC BY-SA.

I offered the group a few suggested topics, and was pleased that they preferred my first pick. We wrote about the Ghost Town Royals, a little league baseball team (and league) founded a decade ago in Oakland, with the aim of offering kids an alternative to the street life all too many get drawn into. It’s a topic close to my heart: the league is in my neighborhood, and presents opportunities to kids with big needs. The topic passes Wikipedia’s rigorous notability standard, in that it’s been covered in several news articles; but it’s something most people would have a hard time learning about even if they knew what they were looking for, because much of the news coverage doesn’t easily show up in a web search. (You can see the results of our work at the link above.)

The Wikidojo model was invented by Nikola Kalchev, inspired by  Vassia Atanassova’s 2014 talk about educational approaches with wiki; and it has been conducted in many places around the world. I learned about it from my friend Asaf Bartov, and was immediately drawn to the seductively simple idea: everybody takes a seven minute turn at building a wiki page, as the “pilot.” Every pilot has a “copilot,” who engages them in discussion during their shift. And everybody else gets to listen and absorb what’s going on.

Asaf (and various online writeups and videos) had warned me of the common pitfalls. Above all, I was supposed to be rigid on one point…ensure that the audience keeps quiet! That’s necessary, I was assured, to permit the “magic” to develop between the pilot and the copilot, and to permit each team to approach the task in their own way without too much interference or distraction.

Well, there’s only one thing to say on that point: I failed. After the very first round, I was seduced by an eager participant to mix it up. Our second copilot wanted to act as a facilitator, moving around the room with the microphone, to take suggestions and comments from the audience. To be honest, I didn’t want to do that — I knew this was just the thing Asaf had warned me about. But I’m a sucker for enthusiasm, and our copilot had it in spades. So we gave that a shot. To my eye, it made it more difficult for the pilot, who had a cacophony of ideas coming from multiple sources, making it difficult to chart his own course — which is the main thing Wikidojo is designed to showcase. It was also difficult to get back to the original format, as the audience enthusiasm for voicing suggestions lasted into the later rounds. But, my preferences aside, a show of hands afterward (9 to 7 vote?) indicated it was actually the preferred approach. So, this might be a variant to be explored further. As I see it, there’s so much experimentation built into the activity to begin with, that changing the format midstream is disorienting. I’d advise anyone trying a Wikidojo for the first time to be clear about the rules from the beginning (one way or another), and stick with them throughout the event.

This photo was already stored on Wikimedia Commons, making it accessible for inclusion in an article. Photo by Flickr user "wildernice," licensed CC BY 2.0.

This photo was already stored on Wikimedia Commons, making it accessible for inclusion in an article. Photo by Flickr user “wildernice,” licensed CC BY 2.0.

Another factor that made it tough to stick to the original format was…me. I wasn’t so great at following my own rules! Several times, I jumped in with suggestions for the pilot and copilot. I tried to restrain myself, but in some cases I think it was the right thing to do. For instance, the topic we had chosen has only sparse media coverage, and because I had researched it prior to the event, I knew some approaches to searching that would prove to be time-consuming dead ends. I didn’t think having a team take up most of their seven minutes in a fruitless search would be very satisfying, so I intervened. And at another point, a new wiki editor suggested adding an image to the article. He wasn’t worried about it being perfect for the article, as he was mainly interested in learning the process; the pair seemed poised to run a time-consuming search for an image which, at best, would have yielded a photo under copyright, and complications that couldn’t be resolved in the allotted time. I again jumped in, to suggest adding an unrelated photo of a child playing baseball. I think it was a good suggestion, as it permitted them to successfully post a picture in the time allotted.

Overall, I had a lot of fun, and am looking forward to trying it out again. Before encountering the Wikidojo model, I have often wanted to engage a larger group in improving an article in person, but I didn’t see any effective way to do it. Edit-a-thons tend to follow a less formal structure than Wikidojo; at an edit-a-thon, smaller groups typically form. That’s a great approach too, but can limit cross-pollination of ideas. Wikidojo is much better suited to a shared experience and shared learning.

The informal feedback I heard was positive; participants enjoyed watching each other work, and a number of people learned new wiki skills. There were some good suggestions, as well; I have collected more detailed notes and feedback on this wiki page. The next time I do it, I think I’d choose a less esoteric topic, that’s easier to research, and that the audience already knows to some degree. But even with a few unexpected twists and turns, it was a lot of fun, and it stimulated some great discussion about how different people approach wiki.

Our June event also featured an informative and fun presentation by staff of the San Francisco Public Library and OCLC; watch the video here. And this month, we look forward to a meetup at San Francisco hacker space Noisebridge, in which we’ll focus on the Wikipedia article on basic income.

Posted in Beginner how-to, edit-a-thon, events, How-to, wiki, Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia, Wikipedia and education | Leave a comment

We create Wikipedia editors, not Wikipedia articles


Posted in conflict of interest, How-to, paid editing, Terms of Use, wiki, Wikipedia | Leave a comment

French Wikipedians discuss conflict of interest, paid editing

Editor’s note: Readers of this blog may be familiar with the ongoing controversies around paid editing on the English language Wikipedia. (See here for our past writings on the topic.) Wikipedia editors struggle with a number of issues around paid editing: conflict of interest, maintaining neutrality in our writing, tensions between volunteers committed to Wikipedia’s success and those primarily focused on their company’s interests, etc. These issues are of course not confined to the English language edition, or to the USA; but parallel discussions taking place across the ocean and in other languages can be difficult to track.

It was recently revealed that Racosh Sàrl, a public relations agency engaged in undisclosed and ethically questionable Wikipedia editing, was closely linked to the Swiss chapter of Wikimedia. In this post, we are pleased to present Gabriel Thullen, a Swiss Wikipedian who contributes primarily to the French language edition of Wikipedia, and one of the Wikimedia Switzerland board members who is not involved with the paid editing agency. Here, he describes the discussions among French Wikipedians that resulted brought the paid editing out into the open. Readers may also be interested in Gariel’s op-ed piece in the English Wikipedia’s Signpost.

French-speaking readers interested in the topic may wish to participate in a vote that is currently underway on the French Wikipedia.

Discussions on the French Wikipedia

by Gabriel Thullen

Gabriel Thullen, Swiss Wikipedian and board member of Wikimedia Switzerland. Photo CC BY-SA, Ludovic Péron.

Gabriel Thullen, Swiss Wikipedian and board member of Wikimedia Switzerland. Photo CC BY-SA, Ludovic Péron.

In February 2016, Jules78120 (an administrator on the French language Wikipedia) learned from a fellow Wikipedian, Nattes à chat, about the paid editing activities of a trio of experienced Swiss contributors operating through the PR company Racosch Sàrl. Their web site states: Continue reading

Posted in Administrator, conflict of interest, governance, paid editing, Statements of Ethics, Terms of Use, wiki, Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia, Wikipedian in Residence | Leave a comment

Public relations for Wikipedia

How to move the dial to “notable”

Companies often want to put something on Wikipedia that has no independent, reliable sources to back it up. For Wikipedia, that’s a non-starter; no matter how many press releases or social media posts you issue, Wikipedia policy is unmoved. Sources must be independent to carry weight; and no, publishing a story on a content farm like Business Insider or the Examiner won’t work any better. So if there is important information about your company that you want covered, you need to do exactly what you would have done before the Internet existed: persuade qualified news reporters that it’s important enough to cover.

Executing a public relations campaign to support an article on Wikipedia is a very different practice from most current public relations strategies. Today, the field relies heavily on a social media componentmentions on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, relevant blogs and so on. Yet social media “mentions” are of little use when attempting to meet the notability standards of Wikipedia, either to begin a new article on Wikipedia or to add information to an existing one. Wikipedia standards demand that information to be included in an article must be published by third party, noteworthy media.  In a sense, the strategy is a back-to-basics public relations plan that targets newspapers, magazines and television networks.

One would assume that start-up ventures would have the most difficulty meeting notability standards. While that is often the case, we  have worked with clients who have been successfully operating a business for a decade or more, and whose significance is well established, but have nevertheless had their attempts at creating  a Wikipedia article rebuffed by volunteer editors who tell them they are “not notable.”  When they ask us how that can be, we do a media audit of the coverage the company has received. Inevitably, our research shows that these companies have earned little coverage in traditional, respected media outlets. As far as Wikipedia is concerned, they are not notable, no matter how many millions of widgets they have sold, or how many scores of satisfied customers have sung their praises.

These companies have had the Wikipedia “Ah-HA! moment.” In their early days, earning media coverage was a low priority; they understood their niche, and successfully built their business accordingly. They were succeeding without earned media. But once years have passed, thin media coverage becomes a problem; a more mature company has a legitimate interest in having a lasting record of its impact. Difficulty in getting a comprehensive Wikipedia article can be the most significant manifestation of this deeper problem, and can be what brings it to light. If your business isn’t on Wikipedia, customers, staff, potential investors and business partners may wonder what is wrong with the company. Certain businesses can get away with ignoring earned media for a while, but over time, it becomes a problem.

To move the dial from “not notable” to “notable,” a company must earn media coverage of  a certain type. Wikipedia public relations is not slick, and not particularly excitingbut it’s important. If a company has already made an impact, it may be time to get started generating news coverage:

  • Determine what basic information a Wikipedia entry would ideally include. For a corporation, this might include headquarters and satellite office locations, year founded, key events in company history, current leadership, and products and services offered.
  • Ensure that those bits of information are liberally scattered throughout all company content: press releases, videos, speeches by executives, website content, etc. Following this practice consistently will tend to lead to those facts being included in news coverage.
  • Ensure that the written materials, and the way key executives talk about the company, its products, services and mission, are consistent and include, whenever possible, the basic information to be found in a good Wikipedia article.

The time-honored press release offers an excellent platform for working on consistent Wikipedia article supporting messaging. Here are some press release basics for supporting a Wikipedia article:

  • It must be written in AP style and crafted so that when a reporter copies and pastes portions of it, the content can stand alone as a story as though a reporter had written it. It must have a strong lead paragraph, followed by the important information that it is intended to impart, and it must include quotes from one or two high-level company executives.
  • Quotes from company executives must say something that adds to the content. No throw-away quotes; make sure they advance the article.
  • The quotes should also include specific, relevant details about the company. For instance: “As an employer of 500 people that provides medical care, we are concerned about the pending legislation.” This quote, if a news outlet fact-checks it and includes it in an article, will offer a potential Wikipedia citation for the company’s size, number of employees and industry segment.
  • The press release needs a boilerplate description at the bottom with the subhead: About [company name]. It should explain, in layman’s terms, what the company does again, including specific facts. If this is too jargony, the reporter will not use it.
  • International, national, and local, and industry-specific versions: If the news release includes information intended for various regional audiences, the releases should include different information  and quotes in order to maximize the amount of information that a single piece of news can generate toward citations for a Wikipedia article.

A Wikipedia public relations campaign is, in a way, nothing newit’s basic Public Relations. A press release needs to include the “who what when where and how” that reporters were once mercilessly schooled on by grizzled editors. In this day of high-tech PR fueled by the latest social media platforms designed to make something out of nothing, basic PR techniques are often skipped. But Wikipedia’s unbending and shamelessly old-school standards keep the techniques relevant. If you want something on Wikipedia, it must first be in traditional media.

So if it’s notability you lack, and notability you want, you could do worse than follow the rigid discipline of TV’s fictional police detective, Sgt. Friday. In each episode of Dragnet, the poker-faced Friday would advise a potential witness, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” The facts are what you need to establish, if you want to move the dial to “notable” and get your business mentioned on Wikipedia.

Posted in Beginner how-to, conflict of interest, core, How-to, journalism, Terms of Use, wiki, Wikipedia | Leave a comment

Wikipedia edit-a-thon at Nueva School in San Mateo

Jan Patton is the research librarian for the Nueva Upper School, a high school in San Mateo, California.

Jan Patton is the research librarian for the Nueva Upper School, a high school in San Mateo, California.

This April, Nueva Upper School will host a Wikipedia edit-a-thon – a first for Nueva, and one of the first such events for any high school. Students will create original articles or improve existing entries in Wikipedia, the world’s largest, free-content, online encyclopedia.

I have planned the event with the help of Pete Forsyth of Wiki Strategies, a Wikipedia expert who specializes in using the site as a teaching tool in universities. I saw an opportunity to engage our students, who are extraordinary researchers, fully engaged in verifying sources and information at a level far beyond their years. While edit-a-thons have become increasingly popular among adults, Nueva will launch the first full-fledged edit-a-thon for high-school students. Nueva’s focus on communal, participatory learning makes our students extremely well-suited for this event. We’re excited to contribute our voices and our research to Wikipedia.

In the weeks ahead, students will propose themes they’d like to focus on during the edit-a-thon. During the event, Forsyth will bring colleagues to demonstrate the process, teaching the team how to use Wikipedia’s system and finding specific pages to update. Will the students tackle Wikipedia articles on economics, snails, or young adult novels? Stay tuned…

Are high school students at your school working with Wikipedia? Please let us know in the comments below!

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Wikipedia: Six hopes for the next 15 years

This post was originally published on Medium.com.

Wikipedia is an unheralded crown jewel of the Internet. And today, it turns 15!

Founded before current titans like Facebook and YouTube (and even before predecessors like MySpace and Friendster), Wikipedia has shown remarkable staying power. It is the most extensive compendium of knowledge ever, and the most widely read. But it’s more than a big, popular encyclopedia — it’s also the biggest collaborative project in history. Every month, more than 100,000 people pitch in, contributing to its ever-evolving, ever-expanding collection of knowledge. What are the important things we, as Wikipedians, should focus on as we look to the future? Here are some ideas:

  1. Form a strategy. The five year strategic plan 1,000 of its volunteers created in 2010 expired last year. There is currently no plan to build a new one. A strategic plan can help hundreds of thousands of individuals, as well as a growing stable of organizations, stay organized and aligned. It’s the best way to maximize our impact on the big issues. We need a new strategic plan, drawing from broad and deep input from our enormous and talented community. The items below could be part of such a strategy.
  2. Embrace our connections with age-old institutions. In many ways, Wikipedia’s goals and values overlap with what museums, universities, libraries, news organizations, non-profits, government, and other institutions have done for centuries or millennia. In our first 15 years, we shook those institutions up. In our next 15, we should help them evolve their practices to better serve an increasingly online world. We should also allow ourselves to grow and evolve with their input, as Wikipedia is not the first institution to try to change the world for the better. Wikipedia should be the nexus of how a grassroots movement can interact with structured institutions, to make the world a better place.
  3. Broadly invite the world to engage. Although we Wikipedians say the right words consistently, we have not attracted participation at the level we should. We count our volunteer base in the tens or hundreds of thousands, while those who give money number in the millions. But money isn’t what Wikipedia needs to thrive. When we invite people to contribute, we should focus on their time and good will, not just their bank accounts.
  4. Be better at collaboration. When people engage with Wikipedia, they should come away proud and inspired. We should strive to truly become the “encyclopedia anyone can edit.” If you look closely at the dynamics among Wikipedia editors, you’ll find great inspiration in some places — and utterly intractable, nasty debates in others. The problems have both external and internal causes: the inherent controversies in the topics we cover; nasty dynamics all over the Internet and society; and, notably, Wikipedia’s own policies and processes. We shouldn’t blame ourselves for what’s outside our control. But we should always seek ways to improve the collegiality of our policies and processes.
  5. Instill our values in the organization that represents us. The Wikimedia Foundation does much good for Wikipedia, but in many ways it has lost track of Wikipedia’s founding principles. Its board has grown increasingly secretive; its deliberations and objectives are often opaque. But the results are sometimes shocking: in just the last month, the Wikimedia Foundation has made not one, but two shocking decisions about its own membership. It has largely forgotten that its volunteers aim to serve the world’s readers, and claims exclusive ownership of that passion in many ways. There is a glimmer of hope for one value (financial transparency), but still much work to be done regarding values like operational transparency, inclusion, good governance, and healthy communication.
  6. Define and share our expertise. Wikipedians know a great deal about collaboration (big and small, online and offline), encyclopedia creation, copyright freedom, free content/open source values, and how to run a massive web site without a massive corporate sponsor. We should make the wisdom and knowledge we have accumulated more accessible, so it can inform other great new ideas — both within the Wikimedia movement and beyond. When somebody thinks, “who can help me think about massive collaboration?” the obvious — and fruitful — answer should be, “Wikipedians.”
Posted in core, governance, history, journalism, wiki, Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia, Wikipedia and education | 1 Comment