During this Wikimedia Conference 2015 there was a paradigm shift in the way
problems are expressed. It was highlighted that the wikimedia movement is
not only about gathering and sharing knowledge, but also about the people
behind it, about finding ways to enhance the togetherness that is created
by participating in our sites, no matter which ones they are in the
present, and no matter which they will be in the future.
There was a lot of blindness in the past from my side and from a lot of
people I met during the years. Our movement is not only a "knowledge
movement" or a "open movement", it is above a "social movement" which
depends very much on the strength of our social connections to advance and
thrive. The most obvious connection is between contributor and reader, it
is the most singular one which differentiates us from other platforms like
facebook, however it is far from being the only one.
Contributor-to-contributor is another key one which has been
underestimated, and it is the salt and pepper of the community.
There have been attempts to improve the atmosphere of those relationships,
however they have failed because humans are social creatures mostly in
person, and online relationships work best once you know the person you are
communicating with. With strangers it might work too, but there is a lot of
work to do at the personal level to improve the empathy, the goodwill, and
of course, to assume good faith.
I am not aware of any attempts to show contributors how they can be better
persons online with online strangers, perhaps it is something that can be
practiced and learned. There is the common tendency to think that the fault
is always in others, but very seldom one seeks to dig deep into oneself and
try to find inner peace. I believe that with a strong inner peace conflicts
would be less, the atmosphere would improve, and the so-called "editor
decline" would be a problem of the past.
That goodwill can be cultivated at upper levels too. Sometimes there are
decisions that must be taken to improve our sites, and some of them have
created a lot of drama which maybe could have been minimized by enabling
expression spaces, where there can be some real communication happening,
that is, bidirectional, and not to force any ideas, just to foster
In the wikimedia movement there is a serious lack of said expression
spaces. For instance, during the WMCON 15, it was the first time that user
groups representatives seated down together, also with some WMF employees,
to discuss user groups in an open manner. I think it is a big step forward
which paves the way in other areas too.
Problems of the past like VE deployment schedule, and the upcoming Commons
reform could profit of the "sit-and-talk" approach. It is costly, it takes
time, however in the end there are more smiles, less drama, and the general
feeling that besides of the you and me, there is a we, which is created
I would like to propose the creation of a user group for each area of
interest that we have problems with, so users can participate in the
problem solving approaches. That is of course only half the way, the other
half way is even more difficult which involves *using* those spaces
constructively, and also involving more and more users in this other kind
of "contribution" which is so radically different from the "click-and-type"
There is for instance the need to create roads for users to progress in the
movement, to bring users from "casual reader" to a "wise wikimedian"
status. Such a wise people already exist in our movement, it is a pity that
we don't enable more knowledge transfer between the "elders" and newcomers,
because when one of our wise wikimedian (digitally) dies, it leaves behind
a big gap which is very big to fill up again.
I dream of a movement like that, wise, and which enables people to grow to
the very best of their abilities. And not only that, I dream of growing
myself with all of you together and finding countless friends along the
way. What a good way to finish one's life that to have been able to do
every day what one loves with people who does the same. This is pure joy
and I want more of it :)
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: