[Foundation-l] More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Sue Gardner sgardner at wikimedia.org
Sat May 2 15:43:35 UTC 2009

Hi folks,

I wrote here earlier about the process we're imagining for this
project; I'm going to take a minute now to write about the substance
of the work.  This isn't a direct response to any of the comments made
here thus far, but I hope it'll indirectly speak to some of the issues
you've brought up.

As always, I would love your input. The goal here is to work towards a
small number of sharply-focused highest-priority questions, so we can
explore each one deeply, and come up with actionable priorities.

Currently, I'm imagining three major Working Groups, each of which
will have various Sub-Groups helping them with specific pieces of
their scope. The three Working Groups, I am imagining right now, would
focus on Reach, Quality and Participation.

First, let me note that Lennart Guldbrandsson and others have pointed
out to me that Participation is itself a sub-set of Quality. I agree:
the purpose of participation is to increase quality.  (We are here to
create good informational/educational materials: we are not here to be
a fun club. Although it's essential for people to have some fun, so
they will stick around and help :-)  Nonetheless, I think encouraging
participation is important enough, and difficult enough, to warrant
its own Working Group.

1. Reach. Currently our projects reach more than 325 million people
around the world every month. That's pretty good, but it means there
are still lots of people we're not yet reaching.  The goal of the
"Reach" Working Group will be to make sure our materials are available
to as many people as possible.  Some Sub-Group mandates might include:

* How can we reach the people who currently have access to our
projects, but don't use them? (For example, our reach among Internet
users is lowest in Asia.)
* What should we do to ensure our materials are available to people
who don't yet have internet access, or who may never have internet
* What should we do to ensure our materials are available to people
whose governments impede access to them?
* What should we do to ensure our materials are available to the
growing number of people who access the internet only through mobile
* How do we ensure our materials are protected and preserved in usable
form, so they continue to be available forever?

2. Quality. The quality of information provided by our projects is in
general good, and is continually improving.  Nonetheless, we need to
do everything we can to ensure what we're offering people is
consistently excellent.  The goal of the "Quality" Working Group will
be to make sure our materials are as high-quality as possible. Some
Sub-Group mandates might include:

* How can we effectively and scalably work with institutions that
control the copyright for educational/informational materials, to
encourage them to release those materials under a free license?
* How can we effectively and scalably work with academic institutions
and other organizations with subject-matter-expertise, to encourage
them to help improve the quality of the material we provide?
* How can we better prevent editing that hurts quality (e.g.,
vandalism and malicious edits), and fix it when it occurs?
* How can we encourage readers to help us identify poor quality
material, and once it is reported, how can we best get it assessed and

3. Participation.  The value in the Wikimedia projects is created
entirely by volunteers, who are typically young, educated, intelligent
and tech-comfortable.  We need to retain those core volunteers, while
also reaching out to new participants who can help us sustain and grow
our social impact.  The goal of the "Participation' Working Group will
be to maximize our ability to recruit and retain productive
participants. Some Sub-Group mandates might include:

* What can we do to retain, support and encourage the core volunteers
who work on the projects today?
* How can we encourage the participation of new people who share our
values and can make a strong contribution?
* How can we make MediaWiki transformatively easier to use, and keep
it easy to use?
* How can we support participation by people who don't have easy
Internet access?

This is a beginning framework for developing strategic priorities. It
doesn't address everything, and it does nothing to address a set of
subsequent necessary questions -- the ones about how we would measure
progress and success, how we would structure ourselves to achieve our
priorities, or how we would pay for whatever costs we'll need to

But it's a start -- please jump in :-)


Sue Gardner
Executive Director
Wikimedia Foundation

415 839 6885 office

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in
the sum of all knowledge.  Help us make it a reality!


More information about the foundation-l mailing list