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This post is related to the not so recent posts "Communications issues".
And especially now with the appointment of a communication manager this
The issue was raised that the communication is not so good. I would like
to explain the factors involved with the internal communication. And
some points where and how to improve it. This is my POV of things.
=== Our galaxy ===
Our community exist out over 700 wikis, 9 different projects and +/- 250
languages, +/- 70,000 people. Having real and full internal
communication in two directions is nearly impossible.
It is possible to get news to and from some of the projects in some of
Besides the community there is also the Foundation/chapters pillar and
the technical news.
=== Goal of internal communication ===
To make it possible for information to reach people on all levels of the
hierarchy including the editor on there home wiki actually doing the
work. And for information from all corners of the wikimedia digital
village to get to all other people.
The end result must be that who cares to be informed can be informed
about the most important issues that are relevant for the global
community. And also to keep the Wikimedia community together by sharing
some local information from different language community's. This to
share knowledge but also to keep the feeling of one Wikimedia family
that exceeds the different independent projects and languages.
=== Foundation level ===
News on the foundation level circulates often first in the internal
confidential channels. That is normal, not everything should be made
public or not directly. The problem is that sometimes news gets stuck at
this level and is not released even when it is not (longer) confidential.
But more often it is released but in a to late stadium so that there is
not enough time for the information to spread across the community.
Announcing something a day or two up to some hours in advance is better
then not. But it makes a wide downstream information flow nearly impossible.
In general is the information flow from this level is the best from all
levels. This is because it is the only level where any form of
=== Technical information level ===
The wikis, how those work and all supporting webbased services are after
the community the most important asset of the Wikimedia family. As a
virtual community the software and systems are our land, city's,
highways, towns and houses.
The system administrators are the ones who prevent the heavens from
failing down (wikidown). And also are working almost constantly on the
system to modify and improve the system. Some changes are noticeable for
the end users, some are not.
All changes who have a noticeable effect for the users of the system are
relevant news for the internal communications structures. Getting
(timely) information about planed changes is nearly impossible. Getting
information about implemented changes is not always easy.
Internal reporters know where to look and can find most changes done to
the systems. But from own experience I can tell that the information
found is sometimes cryptic. It is difficult to explain something if it
not clear to yourself how something works exactly.
And also a fair amount of luck is necessary to discover by accident some
changes. Not everything is listed where it is supposed to be listed.
Luckily the changes are mostly changes that are not extremely important
so it is not a disaster if its discovery is delayed.
The problem is that if there is something important that will change it
is very doubtful of the community will be informed timely. The because
of lack of information well in advance or even after the facts.
Better reporting or reporting at all of changes who have an impact for
the end users by the technical staff would be useful. And providing
information in advance for larger changes.
=== The community ===
This is the most difficult one. There is not one community. There are
language community's and those are divided in to different projects.
Even between one language the information does not flow good between the
different projects in those languages.
To get news from a wiki out to the wikimedia-community there are several
- - someone of those community's reports it to the internal media
- - someone who works for a internal news media (1) is active on that wiki
and so can notice it
In practice this goes very difficult. The internal news media staff is
very small and can only pick up news from a few wikis and languages.
Reports of news from the community's itself to the internal news media
are (very) rare.
The only way to improve the upstream information flow from the wikis is
if people from those wikis are interested in reporting news from there
People who especially can help with this are the ambassadors (2) of the
wikis who have them, (who until now are very inactive regarding this),
people from the chapters about the wikis who fall under there natural
field of interest. And the readers of the internal media publications
(in practice wikizine for now) who can report news about there home wiki.
=== Spreading the news ===
Finding news is one thing. Then the information must be filtered and
presented in a form suitable for distribution to the community. This can
take a written form like the Wikipedia Signpost (3) (wiki-based) and
Wikizine (4) (email/blog) or audio (WikipediaWeekly) (5).
Because of the editing process necessary to get a newsbuiliton ready
news must be known in advance to give time to be discovered and included
in a bulletin. Also the publication date is a factor. It is difficult to
spread news when there is just a news builiton send out.
When created the news builtion must try to reach as much of the
community as possible. Distribution can be done by posting the news on a
website/blog, reading by email or RSS/Atom-feed.
But first people must know of its existence. For Wikizine I have some
numbers about its audience; 590 email subscribers and 300 a 350 readers
weekly on the website. For the RSS feed it could be 1200 a week but I do
not trust those figures.
let assume the numbers are correct then there is an audience for
wikizine of 2140 readers weekly. There are +/- 70,000 active wikimedians
(at least 5 edits a month) and 10,000 very active (at least 100 edits a
This gives a reach of 21,4% of the very active wikimedians. Without the
RSS readers it drops to 9,4% of the very active wikimedians.
But the ethnic diversity is limited. A very large part of the email
subscribers come from the US and a large part of the visitors of the
website from Italy.
=== Babel ===
A major problem in internal communication are the language barriers. The
can stop or slow down communication. And can also created mistakes
because of translations mistakes or confusion.
Until now internal communication is done in English. This is the
language that gives the best hope of being useful as a bridge language
between many wikis. Nevertheless English is far from universal usable to
inform everybody. It excludes communication with large parts of the
Currently there is no multi-lingual internal communication channel
active. The only one "Wikimedia Quarto" (6) is long dead.
Several people have made attempts to create translations of Wikizine in
the last year. The all failed after a couple of weeks to continue the
translation work. Just today a new attempt is done to make a
translation. This time in German by [[w:de:Benutzer:Mbimmler]]. (7) If
it will fail or not will depend of the perseverance of this user and
(lack off) support from the DE community.
The only wiki where is a form of systematic translation of Wikizine is
the Italian Wikipedia. There is posted every time there is a new edition
of Wikizine a notice in there village pump about it with the translation
in Italian of the topic keywords and link to the English language
version. Even this minimalistic form of translation has a large impact
in exposure to the information according to the visitor stats.
Creating systematic and durable translations done by dedicated people is
probably the best hope to inform as many people as possible of the
global community. This will also increase the flow of upstream
information from those community's.
That is all.
Internal communications subcommitte
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