Thank you Katherine for this update,
I'm much looking forward to a more nuanced policy. I think it is clear that
the standing policy (no in-person activities of any size, around the world)
is past its expiration date and can't realistically be maintained any
longer in its broad interpretation. With the current policy, we're risking
people just ignoring it when they feel no legal obligation to follow it.
I hope that we can have an updated policy to provide a little more
flexibility sooner than later, even if that means that it is a first phase
of making things more nuanced. For example, we could carve out exceptions
for countries where there is a clear 'safe' situation (even if we all know
this is a very relative thing). Wiki Loves Monuments is about to start, and
it would be nice if we could make sure that updates can be considered in
the planning as much as possible - especially as this is happening in many
different countries, and traditionally mostly outdoors anyway.
It looks like your email was written to include a place where you want to
gather this feedback. Did a link go missing?
For what it's worth, I do have some thoughts about such an updated policy,
from the viewpoint as someone who would have to comply. I'm assuming we're
talking only about local events of limited size (probably a different risk
profile applies for larger and/or travel-involved activities). I'm
obviously no epidemiologist or public health policy expert, and I suspect
many of these are already front and center in your thinking:
- As an organizer, it is nice to have clarity where possible. Crisp
definitions that translate well, are very helpful.
- Given how different the public health situations are around the world, I
can't imagine an identical set of constraints to apply across countries.
- Acceptance is important. For example, I know there are a large number of
countries where the wearing of masks is considered an accepted good
practice, while there are other countries where this is seen as counter
productive (with a heavier reliance on distance, for example). I know this
is a touchy subject in the US
- I wouldn't expect the WMF to interpret each country's public health
policy, at the risk of being always behind. Carving out exceptions for
countries that are notorious for not developing responsible policy, seems
fair though (although that seems an interesting problem for the
- Reduce bureaucracy to a minimum. Some may be needed to help people
through the thinking process, but it's also a deterrent to actually follow
The balance between simplicity and nuance seems a hard one to strike. A
bright line would be great, but that most likely conflicts with the
As so many governments are experiencing, it must be terribly complex to
strike a right balance between requiring all recommendations to be followed
and actually get people to endorse and support such requirements. The WMF
only has limited leverage, and I would hate it to see people actively
looking for loopholes. Because we both know that if anyone can find them,
it's a Wikimedian. I would strongly recommend that the policy is such, that
people will want to follow it, even if they don't have to.
I can appreciate the underlying thought pattern that seems to underpin your
mentioned focus: help people assess, inform about best practices and
suggest alternatives. Those feel like helpful building blocks. I hope that
the various communities will share many responsible ways as they get
creative with organizing within those guidelines. I'm confident that you
already reached out to many affiliates to get their input ealy on.
(member of the Wiki Loves Monuments international team, but responding in a
On Fri, Aug 7, 2020 at 2:31 PM Katherine Maher <kmaher(a)wikimedia.org> wrote:
If this were a more predictable year, Wikimedians from around the world
would be together this weekend at Wikimania Bangkok 2020, in the warm
hospitality of our remarkable Wikimedia ESEAP hosts. We’d be preparing for
a weekend of inspiring presentations, serendipitous meetings, and
fascinating conversations with Wikimedians from dozens of projects,
languages, and communities.
I miss these moments of togetherness, and seeing people in person. Even
though we’re mostly known as an online community, in-person events have
always been part of the fabric of the Wikimedia movement. They are how we
have built working partnerships, friendships, and the skills that support
these remarkable projects over the years.
In March, I sent messages out to the movement, asking grantees to postpone
or cancel their in-person events until the World Health Organization
declares the COVID-19 pandemic over. Today, that seems wistfully optimistic
-- that we’d have this all wrapped up in six months! As we enter August the
COVID-19 pandemic is still with us and seems likely to be part of our lives
for some time to come.
*== Safer events guidance ==*
As we all learn to adapt and live with this new reality, we at the
Foundation want to offer more adaptable support for Wikimedia convenings.
We're already improving support for online events, but as different
countries and regions start to offer more flexible guidance for in-person
gatherings and travel, we expect to see more community interest for
resuming in-person meetings (with appropriate precautions). We want to
respond to this interest with tools and resources to help you assess your
options, including whether your community can more safely host an in-person
We are developing some tools to support your decision-making process,
including a risk assessment calculator, to help you evaluate your own
situation. *Importantly, this will also include guidance on when not to
hold an event.* This tool is developed in a way that should be flexible to
use for all community members, regardless of your country and the size of
We’re also creating a checklist of precautions, including resources with
tips and suggestions for how to prepare, evaluate, and follow up on any
event. Finally, we’re working to create a list of suggested types of
events, such as walking tours, photo hunts, and community picnics, all of
which can help meet the demand for safer in-person gatherings.
*== Your feedback ==*
Living through a global pandemic of this scale is new for all of us -- and
the best way to navigate this change is with the support of your community.
In that spirit, the events team will start reaching out to affiliate
leaders and potential grantees next week for their feedback and advice on
these proposed resources. We’re asking for your help shaping these tools to
make them as useful as possible for our diverse global community, with all
the varied contexts our movement works in.
I look forward to sharing more about these tools, as well as additional
information about event support and grants toward the end of August.
Until then, please stay safe and take care -- I look forward to the next
time we see each other again.
Katherine Maher (she/her)
Wikimedia Foundation <https://wikimediafoundation.org/>
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