Dear Fellow-Wikipedians/Wikimedians,

Could the German Federal Press Conferences serve as a model to improve 
communications between WMF officials/bodies and the community (and the public 
at large)?

Unlike in other countries, where governments face the press at their own will, 
choosing topics and interlocutors as they please, in Germany the 
press-conference takes place three times a week, according to a regular 
schedule, and is hosted and moderated by an independent association. 
Participants on the government side are usually a spoke-person of the 
Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt, roughly equivalent with a Prime Minister's 
Office) and of all the ministries. On the other side, the press-conference is 
open to journalists based in Berlin who regularly cover German federal 
politics. Since last year (?) the entire press-conferences are video-taped and 
made available on Youtube by a team of journalists for everyone to watch [1].

I wonder whether this might be a viable approach to improve communications by 
the WMF BoT and management with regard to various stakeholder groups.

The ingredients would be:

-          Regular information and Q&A sessions with the participation of 
official spoke-persons of the WMF BoT and WMF Management (i.e. professional 
communicators) on the one hand and a number of more or less regular 
participants acting as multipliers with regard to the community as well as 
journalists regularly covering WM-related issues on the other hand.

-          Interval: to be decided. Every two weeks might be reasonable. It 
seems important that these information and Q&A sessions take place on a regular 
basis at the same interval, no matter how many burning issues are around at any 
given time. As the information and Q&A sessions have a clear time limit, this 
obliges everyone to focus on the most burning issues at any given time.

-          The information and Q&A sessions are hosted and moderated by an 
independent entity according to a pre-established set of rules.

-          The spoke-persons have to respond to every question asked, choosing 
between three options: answer the question directly if they can; explain why 
they aren't able or willing to answer the question; send the answer later by 
email to the participants if specific information needs to be gathered first.

-          If the answer is deemed insufficient or too imprecise by the person 
who asked the question, they are allowed to dig deeper by asking a further 

-          The Q&A sessions are recorded, so that everyone interested is able 
to keep up with the main issues raised within the movement and the official 
stance taken by the BoT and/or WMF management as well as the critical questions 
raised by those closely following the issues.
Personally, I believe that this might smoothen out communications with the 
community and have some potential to scale - even with regard to 
non-English-speaking communities thanks to multipliers. Drama might not be 
avoided, but at least it would be given a clear frame and be somewhat detached 
from individuals by focusing more on roles. Furthermore, transparency and 
accountability would be increased, serious problems may be spotted earlier, and 
misunderstandings would more easily surface.

Any thoughts about pros and cons?



Beat Estermann
Coordinator OpenGLAM CH Working Group<>
Berne University of Applied Sciences
E-Government Institute
Br├╝ckenstrasse 73
CH-3005 Bern<>

Phone +41 31 848 34 38

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