Wikimedia UK Strategy 2019–22
Wikimedia UK is working to the following strategic framework for 2019 - 2022, which was developed in late 2018/early 2019 through consultation with staff, board and community stakeholders. Whilst the strategy builds on our achievements and learning from 2016 to 2019 and represents a new iteration rather than a complete change of direction, there is a greater emphasis on Wikimedia UK’s role as a facilitator and enabler of open knowledge, rather than as an organisation focused on project delivery.
2. Summary of 2016 - 19 - achievements and implications for the next strategy
Earlier this year we commissioned a report (link to report) on Wikimedia UK’s delivery during the period 2016 to 2019. The report aimed to summarise progress against our quantitative indicators, pull together the qualitative highlights of our programmes and provide an overall analysis of how our programme activities delivered on our 2016 - 2019 strategic framework and the short to intermediate outcomes identified in our logic models.
The report shows that we were overwhelmingly successful both in meeting our annual quantitative targets and in achieving both our short and intermediate outcomes. It draws on our very wide range of programme activities to illustrate the different approaches that we have taken, the many ways in which volunteers are involved in the delivery of our programme, and the different types of partnerships that have been developed.
The report explores some of the key achievements and innovations facilitated by the chapter during the past three years, such as the appointment of the first ever Wikidata Visiting Scholar, the launch of the first minority languages community conference, the achievement of gender parity in biographies on the Welsh Wikipedia and the creation of a digital literacy framework for Wikimedia. It also highlights the fact that a number of our Wikimedians in Residence - initially, by their nature, fixed term projects - have been so highly valued by their host institutions that the post has been made permanent.
Some of the numbers included in the report which don’t currently form part of our formal quantitative indicators include the 17 project grants awarded to volunteers, 82 community events and meetups, 195 Wikipedia editing events and 31 Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons training sessions, with activities organised in 98 different places across the UK. This extensive offline work with the Wikimedia UK community translated into significant online impact, with 2 million Wikimedia articles added or improved as a direct result of our programme over the three years under review.
3. Summary of External Environment
As part of the development of any strategy it’s imperative to consider how our activities, reach and impact will be influenced and informed by environmental factors - including political and economic issues, legislative changes, social and cultural issues as well as advances in science and technology. However, it’s not always possible to know what is around the corner and to plan for it. At the time of writing our 2016 - 2019 plan we could not have known the result of the EU Referendum in June 2016, the outcome of the Presidential election later that year, or that the #MeToo movement would gain such momentum. Similarly, when we reviewed the landscape as part of our development work for the creation of our 2019 - 2022 strategic framework, we did not imagine that 2020 would be dominated by a global pandemic, environmental catastrophes on an unprecedented scale, and worldwide protests about racism - underpinned, in the UK at least, by the ugly dual legacies of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade. Given these developments, we decided to review and refresh this section of our three year strategy in Autumn 2020, roughly halfway through our current three year plan, to acknowledge these issues and to begin to explore how we can respond to them through our programmes.
Within the original framing of our three year strategy from 2019 - 2022, we stated that the global open knowledge movement stands for fundamental principles of equality, intellectual freedom and freedom of expression, and stands against discrimination, hate speech, censorship and the enclosure of knowledge. Worldwide, we said, we must be prepared to defend these principles against the rising tide of the politics of inequality, separation, exclusion and polarisation – and our strategy set out how Wikimedia UK would play our role in this global defence of our shared values. We weren’t to know, of course, that a global pandemic was about to play out that would deepen inequalities and increase misinformation; or that the murder of George Floyd and other instances of police brutality would shine a light on systemic racism everywhere, and serve to propel the Black Lives Matter movement into the mainstream consciousness. Within this context, Wikimedia UK’s commitment to knowledge equity becomes even more important, as is the need to develop this work in a way that is genuinely inclusive and explicitly anti-racist. Our work with partners and allies to help combat misinformation and develop media and information literacy skills has also become more urgent.
In 2019, we noted the increased likelihood of a global economic downturn, with contributing factors including the fallout from Brexit and the trade war between the US and China. In reality, we are living through the worst economic catastrophe in living memory, the recovery from which will be long and painful. The impact of this on our partners, funders, supporters and volunteers is not yet fully known but is likely to be very significant, and funding pressures within our own organisation and the wider voluntary sector are likely to become ever more acute over the next few years. This makes the ability to articulate what Wikimedia UK is for, and the need that we are meeting, even more imperative.
Of course, even without the events highlighted above, the past couple of years have already been marked by political turmoil, with Brexit proving to be a highly divisive and intractable issue that has dominated the political and cultural conversation. The UK’s exit from the EU will have far reaching implications for the country's economy, international influence, society and legislative agenda for decades, as well as for the integrity of the Union itself. Of particular interest and concern for Wikimedia UK is what happens in terms of copyright, particularly following the government’s decision not to transpose the EU Copyright Directive into UK law. More broadly, we are seeing increased censorship and the re-enclosure of information from both government and market forces in the UK and world-wide. In a world that is lurching towards the marketisation of knowledge, Wikimedia’s role as a bastion for open knowledge is critical.
Conversely, and much more positively, during 2020 we have seen an increasing awareness of the value of open knowledge, with many cultural and educational institutions making digital content available for free in response to the shutdown. Crucially, several major funders in the UK have made significant moves to support the sharing of research and other outputs this year, with the National Lottery Heritage Fund announcing a new Open Licensing Policy in September 2020 and UK Research and Innovation due to launch its new Open Access Policy in November. The shift to remote working prompted by the pandemic has created opportunities for Wikimedia UK to connect with new audiences and participants, and increased the accessibility of our programme. But digital exclusion remains an issue both at a global level and more locally within the UK. Despite the use of digital technologies becoming even more of a necessity within the context of Covid-19, millions of people still don’t have internet access, with the elderly and disabled most likely to be excluded. For those who are online, there are still barriers to accessing free and open knowledge and information, with UNESCO’s sustainable development goal on education underlining the continued need for Open Educational Resources. There is a significant role for Wikimedia in addressing these sociocultural challenges, and in supporting schools in the UK and beyond to deliver high quality blended and online learning.
Given all of the above, the Wikimedia movement’s role in opening up knowledge is more important than ever before. However, it’s essential that issues of diversity, equality and representation feature highly when prioritising the creation of new content on Wikimedia. The drive towards knowledge equity within the global movement strategy resonates with an increasing awareness amongst UK content holders of the need to represent diverse stories and histories. In our work with world-leading cultural and educational institutions - who are often the gatekeepers of this knowledge - we have a crucial role to play in opening up and sharing content, and in supporting the decolonisation of collections and curricula. We also need to recognise and address our own blind spots in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion, and ensure that we are facilitating participatory and inclusive approaches to the creation and sharing of the sum of all knowledge.
4. Strategic Framework for 2019–2022
VISION, MISSION AND VALUES
Wikimedia UK believes that open access to knowledge is a fundamental right, and a driver for social, educational and economic development. We work with the Wikimedia Projects such as Wikipedia to enable people and organisations to contribute to a shared understanding of the world through the democratic creation, distribution and consumption of knowledge. We are committed to the ideal of a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge, and believe that here in the UK, we can play a unique and important role in realising that vision.
Wikimedia UK’s strategy is informed by and supports the strategic direction of the global Wikimedia movement. Our work will focus on the knowledge and communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege; breaking down the barriers that prevent people and organisations from accessing and contributing to free knowledge, and supporting the development of technical solutions to help eradicate inequality and bias on the Wikimedia projects.
Our vision is of a more tolerant, informed and democratic society.
Our mission is to be the platform which enables the long-term sustainable development and use of open knowledge in the UK.
Our activities are based upon the following principles, which reflect a key set of values:
- We are transparent in our operations
- We promote the provision of high quality open knowledge to all
- We promote the use of free licences, formats and sources that support open knowledge
- We encourage, involve and recognise the contribution of our volunteer community
- We support, encourage and promote diversity within our community
- We are an independent UK charity that engages actively with the global movement
- We learn from and openly share our learning with the international Wikimedia movement
AIMS, OBJECTIVES AND OUTCOMES
Wikimedia UK is working towards the following long-term outcomes:
- Our work has significantly increased free, online access to knowledge and information
- Wikimedia reflects our diverse society and is free from systemic bias
- Learners in the UK are able to understand and effectively engage with open knowledge
- High levels of information literacy have strengthened civil society and democratic processes
- Wikimedia UK is recognised as a leading organisation for open knowledge
Our strategic aims for 2019 - 2022 are to:
1. Increase engagement with and representation of marginalised people and subjects
2. Work with partners to develop digital, data and information literacy through Wikimedia
3. Create changes in policy and practice that enable open knowledge to flourish
4. Develop our capacity and profile as a leading organisation for open knowledge
Our delivery model is based on the cross-cutting strategic priorities of partnerships, community and technology, which are an essential element of all our activities.
Our three year objectives for each of our strategic aims are as follows:
Aim 1. Increase the engagement and representation of marginalised people and subjects
- Develop partnerships that increase access to underrepresented cultural heritage
- Support the development of minority and indigenous language Wikipedias
- Encourage new and existing partners to help tackle the gender gap on Wikimedia
- Identify other areas of inequality and bias and create partnerships to help address these
- Engage with volunteers and partners across the UK, widening the charity’s geographic reach
- Diversify content producers by recruiting new editors from under-represented communities
- Support the development of a more inclusive culture across the Wikimedia projects
- Ensure that Wikimedia UK’s own policies and practices support diversity and inclusion
Aim 2: Work with partners to develop digital, data and information literacy through Wikimedia
- Support the education sector’s engagement with Wikimedia as a digital literacy tool
- Facilitate Wikimedia-based digital, data and information literacy projects with other partners
- Create content and resources for learners and educators
- Advocate for the inclusion of Wikimedia in curriculum, syllabus and course development
- Collaborate with the civil society sector and other partners to combat misinformation
Aim 3: Create changes in policy and practice that enable open knowledge to flourish
- Support and enable individual organisations to adopt more open policies and practice
- Promote and facilitate sector-level change towards open knowledge
- Work with national and international partners to build the case for free knowledge
- Advocate for open knowledge within the UK’s public policy and legislative arena
- Contribute to international advocacy activities and programmes as appropriate
Aim 4. Develop our capacity and profile as a leading organisation for open knowledge
- Increase public awareness and understanding of open knowledge
- Develop Wikimedia UK’s community of contributors, volunteers and members
- Support technical innovation that helps to deliver on our strategic aims
- Develop our role as a key player and ally within the UK’s openness movement
- Make a significant contribution to the global work of the Wikimedia movement
- Establish a sustainable business model underpinned by diverse and stable funding
Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting
Monitoring and evaluating our charitable activities is essential in order for us to understand and communicate the reach and impact of our work; reflecting on and learning from our experiences, identifying and sharing learning patterns, modifying future delivery and ensuring accountability to our funders and stakeholders. We report on our work in a number of ways including Quarterly Performance Reports which are shared and discussed at quarterly board meetings, and reports to the Wikimedia Foundation which are currently required halfway through the year (Progress Report) and following the end of our financial year (Impact Report). These are available to view here for the previous and current financial year: