I agree with Galder's and Camelia's thoughts and believe we should slow
down to think about this issue as a whole. We cannot, and should not,
consider this purely a "branding" exercise because the internal and
external risks go well beyond this. We need to carefully take them into

At the Berlin Wikimedia Summit, I was asked by Zack McCune and Heather
Walls about the branding issue. We talked about this at length so here is a
summary of what I expressed to them:

- Outside view: I respect the work the comms/branding team has done, but
let's remember that the recommendations are from an outside consultancy
that focuses on only one dimension of this issue. Their work does not
consider our internal community and movement dynamics as a whole. So the
recommendation should be seen as just one data point.

- Unproven causality: While it's true that familiarity of the "Wikimedia"
brand is low, the case has not been made that unifying our identity under
"Wikipedia" is a solution for the particular markets in question. There are
many other factors regarding adoption and recognition of any brand, not
just Wikimedia, including the commercial context of mobile/Internet users
and default consumer entry points to the information landscape (ie. search
engine settings, starting home page, financial incentives and
partnerships). Other factors are: first mover advantages (e.g. Korea, with
Naver.com's dominance over Wikipedia), or government regulation (e.g.
China, Turkey censorship) that affect any brand footprint. Remaking our
whole identity for the possibility that we *might* get better recognition
in certain markets needs much more careful study.

- That was then, this is now: If this was 10 years ago, I would
enthusiastically embrace the idea of putting everything under the Wikipedia
umbrella. In 2003, before the WMF had staff and resources, I was one of the
primary volunteer contacts for almost all press inquiries about Wikipedia.
I know the headaches of having to explain what "Wikimedia" is to
journalists and the public. The book I wrote in 2009 was titled "The
Wikipedia Revolution" for name recognition, even though I knew "Wikimedia"
would be more accurate. But that was then. We are a whole lot more than
Wikipedia today.

- We stand on three legs (and more): If there was ever a time that
Wikimedia was more than Wikipedia, it is now. The trio of Wikipedia,
Commons and Wikidata is the bedrock of open knowledge sharing in a way that
was not true even 3 years ago. Wikimedia Commons is a community of its own
with users of its content who never touch Wikipedia. See the many news
outlets and publications that use now use CC licensed Commons images to use
as visuals for their stories and products. Wikidata has quickly emerged as
the de facto way for libraries, archives and museums to connect their
metadata to each other. They are adopting it as their global crosswalk
database that has been proven to be more scalable and highly available than
anything in the information landscape. Wikidata is now regularly
incorporated into conferences outside of our own Wikimedia community, and
has the largest museum and library groups (Europeana, AAC, OCLC, IFLA-WLIC,
et al) working with it.

Many times, I've had librarians and curators tell me the equivalent of: "I
never engaged with Wikipedia, because 'article writing' is not what we do.
But metadata and authority control records on Wikidata coincide with what I
do every day." I just had a phone call with a prominent museum collections
manager who said her goal was to eliminate their own local metadata
vocabulary in favor of using all Wikidata Q numbers instead. We are
reaching a new public with Commons and Wikidata that many Wikipedians, and
WMF employees, may not be aware of.

- Wikipedia has a systemic bias: The biggest problem with Wikipedia is that
you have to know how to read. This sounds ridiculously obvious but
consider: in developing countries, we're often looking at a maximum 70%
literacy rate. That's a big hurdle for our strategic goal of knowledge
equity. We have yet to tap into video, multimedia, interactive and audio
content as a major mode of knowledge sharing. What of oral histories or
nontraditional/non-academic forms of human knowledge? The Wikipedia
community has been neglectful or outright hostile to the addition and use
of video and multimedia content in these areas. (I know this first-hand,
having headed video initiatives or having students consistently reverted
when adding multimedia.) Like it or not, there is an ingrained culture of
text-heavy articles being the dominant mode for acceptable encyclopedic
content which stands as a blocker for our evolution.

What does this have to do with the branding exercise? The internal risk is
that by promoting "Wikipedia" as not just the flagship project but the
dominant overarching identity of our work, multimedia initiatives and new
forms of knowledge will be even more suppressed within the movement and
de-prioritized. We know Youtube is the number one how-to site on the
Internet with people learning by watching and listening, without even
needing to know how to read. Indicating that the written mode of knowledge
is the dominant thrust of the movement is antithetical to all we know about
what is going on with mobiles, video content and visual learning. It risks
being the wrong message at the wrong time.

- Should Wikipedia culture be the movement's culture? Rebranding everything
as "Wikipedia" would effectively do this, so we need to think carefully.
Already there is an underground war regarding Wikidata use in Wikipedia
information boxes, and whether "control" of that data should be ceded from
a language-specific Wikipedia edition to the language-neutral, but emerging
Wikidata project. There is also an underground war about short descriptions
in English Wikipedia versus using the collaboratively edited descriptions
in Wikidata. The risk is that adopting "Wikipedia" as the unified brand
could very well undermine our community spirit of coming together for
solutions by, intentionally or not, blessing an entrenched approach above
all others.

I don't claim to have the answer, but I'm worried by the lack of thoughtful
consideration that a re-branding would have on our movement internally.
Much of this is because our own community communications channels have
broken down, and we don't have great ways for deliberation. I hope we have
more considered conversation and not rush into any decisions on this.


On Wed, Apr 10, 2019 at 5:14 AM Galder Gonzalez Larrañaga <
galder...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> I also think that there are some branding issues, but let me focus just in
> the opposite way: Wikimedia is not a bug, is a feature. When you say you
> represent WikiMedia, then someone asks about why an M ad not a P and gives
> you the opportunity to talk about our free knowledge ecosystem, that is not
> about an Encyclopedia, is much more. So deleting the M from the equation
> would vanish even more our sister projects.
> On the other hand, think that maybe in 2022 (for example) we could create
> a new project based entirely on videos with free content from Wikipedia and
> Commons, that could be the best project by 2030... and we call it
> Wikivideo. Would still be a good idea to be called Wikivideo, a project by
> the Wikipedia Foundation, or would we start thinking on calling ourselves
> The Wikivideo Foundation? I think that being Wikimedia gives us better
> opportunities to make better decisions on our products than identifying
> totally with one of the products.
> And I think there are branding issues, yes, but this are not on the name,
> but on the product and the logo families.
> ________________________________
> From: Wikimedia-l <wikimedia-l-boun...@lists.wikimedia.org> on behalf of
> Strainu <strain...@gmail.com>
> Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 10:56 AM
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List
> Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Reviewing our brand system for our 2030 goals
> Pe marți, 9 aprilie 2019, Chris Keating <chriskeatingw...@gmail.com> a
> scris:
> > > At the occasion, we should also reconsider the expressions "chapter"
> > > and "user group".
> > > "Chapter" is more suitable for local divisions of a national
> > > association. And "user group" sounds just like some group. We also
> > > already have "user group" as a technical term in MediaWiki.
> > >
> >
> > You may be aware that the movement strategy process is thinking about
> this
> > issue, albeit at a broader level :)
> >
> > For instance one of the questions the Roles and Responsibilities group is
> > looking at is "What governance and organizational structures do we need
> to
> > support the delivery of the strategic direction?"(1)
> One would hope that both that group as well as others will be informed and
> will take into account the results of the study, which confirm anecdotic
> data that almost anyone doing outreach knows.
> This is not a matter to be left at  the foundation's sole discretion
> (although I personally approve the proposals to various degrees).
> Strainu
> >
> > You will notice that there is no mention of chapters, user groups or
> indeed
> > the WMF in this question. That's because there is no presumption that any
> > of those bodies (or types of bodies) will continue to exist in their
> > current form - the changes from the strategy process may well be much
> more
> > profound than finessing the names of categories of entity that currently
> > exist.
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> > Chris
> >
> >
> >
> > (1)
> >
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20/2019_
> > Community_Conversations/Roles_%26_Responsibilities#Scoping_questions
> > _______________________________________________
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-Andrew Lih
Author of The Wikipedia Revolution
US National Archives Citizen Archivist of the Year (2016)
Knight Foundation grant recipient - Wikipedia Space (2015)
Wikimedia DC - Outreach and GLAM
Previously: professor of journalism and communications, American
University, Columbia University, USC
Email: and...@andrewlih.com
WEB: https://muckrack.com/fuzheado
PROJECT: Wikipedia Space: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:WPSPACE
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