[Foundation-l] Proposal: Wikimedia Outreach

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Sat Jan 6 17:32:15 UTC 2007

I'd like to propose the setup of a central, multilingual portal at
outreach.wikimedia.org. Similar to efforts like spreadfirefox.com, the
purpose of this portal would be to allow Wikimedians to come together
and discuss ways to
- inform the general public about Wikimedia projects
- pursue more specific outreach efforts, such as schools, libraries and academia
- maintain a list of speakers about Wikimedia-related topics
- address concerns and questions
- generally think of clever ideas for marketing and promotion.

This portal, like spreadfirefox.com, would emphatically _not_ be aimed
at the general public, but at Wikimedians eager to help raise
awareness and spread ideas. We would make a whitelist of actions that
can be performed without permission (such as offering to visit a
school or university to talk about Wikipedia), and a process for
requesting permissions when needed (such as broader use of the logo or

Requests for permissions would generally go to the ED for now, but
we'd probably want to delegate this to the Marketing subcommittee if
we deem it sufficiently functional. The chapters, in the long run,
could perhaps also give permission for certain uses.

I see a very strong role of the chapters when it comes to coordinating
speakers for events, and other regional actions. While
outreach.wikimedia.org would be a public database of such speakers
where anyone can offer to talk, the chapters would maintain their own
private database of speakers they trust. The interface for third
parties to request a speaker would be, first and foremost, with the
chapters, not with outreach.wikimedia.org.

The advantage of this approach is that we get a large number of
volunteers, but at the same time each chapter can come up with its own
strategy to identify trusted individuals. Insofar as private databases
are maintained for this, sharing code and data across chapters should
of course be encouraged.

Time for some Q&A:

Q: What's a typical outreach effort exactly?

One of the most important feats we must accomplish is getting
traditional institutions of education to understand how our projects
work, and how they can make responsible use of them. Visiting a school
and giving a workshop about Wikipedia is an example.

Q: Why not just use meta.wikimedia.org?

A: Like we don't just use one wiki for educational content, I don't
think it makes sense to have only one wiki for Wikimedia-related
activities and information. Having a dedicated wiki allows us to
promote this effort independently, to structure it in a more
user-friendly way, to monitor changes more systematically, and so on.
It makes it more likely that a dedicated community will arise
specifically for Wikimedia Outreach.

Q: Won't this just encourage random people to abuse our trademarks and
do things in Wikimedia's name?

A: Actually, hopefully it will accomplish the opposite: the
development of a standard framework of pages and policies for people
to pursue activities that are clearly beneficial to us. Things might
be a bit chaotic initially, which is why we should make it clear
(perhaps even in the sitenotice) that everything requires explicit
permission from the ED for now.

Q: What would be the relation between the marketing committee and this effort?

A: In my view, committees are given explicit organizational authority
to act with in their given scope. They are the source of "official"
activities from the Foundation, and as such, they are highly
restricted in terms of membership. But unless and until an effort is
official, there is really no need for it to be limited to a committee.

Q: I still don't see why we should open this up to the chaotic wiki
process -- an organization is not a wiki!

A: There are literally thousands of groups we want to work with in our
global strategy to spread free knowledge. This cannot be handled by a
small committee or the staff of a chapter; it needs the support of a
global community of volunteers. If these volunteers are restrained
clearly in their actions, and must pursue proper processes of
authorization for certain projects, then hopefully, the activities
that result from this will be well coordinated with chapters and the

Peace & Love,

DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.

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