Being a Strategy Liaison for the Portuguese speaking community in 2019. What was it like?

Originally published at: https://space.wmflabs.org/2019/10/25/being-a-strategy-liaison-for-the-portuguese-speaking-community-in-2019-what-was-it-like/

Leia este artigo em português.

Team_touching_hands.jpg
Team touching hands.jpg by Teak Sato, PD.

Since the beginning of this year, I have been a Strategy Liaison on behalf of the Wikimedia movement strategy process for the Portuguese community on all Wikimedia projects. It’s been a great opportunity to learn different aspects about the community in which I have been a volunteer for years. Talking to the community about itself means having access to the many different points of view on the projects, and also to a large set of possible ways to work toward a better future.

The two preferred communication channels for my work were the Portuguese Wikipedia Village Pump and our recently created Telegram group for Portuguese speakers. Conversations were also held on other Portuguese projects, such as Wikimedia Commons, and over email. The topics of greatest interest to the community were “Roles & Responsibilities” and “Capacity Building”.

Among the community recommendations, many refer to improvements in interactions between affiliates and groups that coordinate them, such as AffCom, Trust & Safety, and others linked to the Wikimedia Foundation, in order to keep communication more broad and transparent. Most of the suggestions are in favor of a change in decision-making, recommending a more decentralized form of governance, although recognizing that for certain fields of action, such as server maintenance and fundraising, the ideal is to remain centralized. The community also believes that we should invest more in expanding users’ knowledge in the technical area (writing scripts, running bots, developing MediaWiki, and so on), which should be the focus of Capacity Building activities.

Despite Portuguese being one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, it has only one chapter and one user group that are recognized affiliates by the Wikimedia Foundation. Considering that most engagement usually comes from affiliates, it has shown to be an issue in our community. Still, the broad community is composed by passionate volunteers that have demonstrated a good level of interest when exposing their views, providing a wide range of ideas.

Brazil, for example, has a history of various attempts to create a chapter and user groups, and could mature over time with different forms of outreach, community interaction, and partnerships. Portugal has a solid chapter that has been increasing its activities recently. Both countries make up the majority of stakeholders in the conversations and have been able to contribute deeply with the experiences they carry. Volunteers from Wiki Movement Brazil User Group participated individually at community conversations usual discussion places. The same happened with Wikimedia Portugal members, who also were able to host a Strategy Salon in September.

Community conversations were also able to confirm what many Wikimedians already knew: the Portuguese speaking community is full of gaps. The lower presence of women among users is noticeable, but it is not its biggest deficiency. The least-seen groups in conversations are probably those with the most difficulty accessing the internet. Among other countries, Portuguese language is also spoken in the African countries Mozambique and Angola. Still, few users from the African continent participated in the process, which is also reflected in the low presence among the editor community. I attempted to overcome this obstacle by sending mass communications to communities from these two countries so that we are not left without the opinion of this group. The same happened with indigenous people from Brazil.

Bringing more diversity to our community is one of the things that makes the Strategy Process so important. We hope that by the end of the implementation of the Strategic Process, when our community becomes the essential infrastructure for the free knowledge ecosystem, these obstacles will be more easily surpassed and that is why we are striving to make the best of this work.

It is important to know that our community is currently thinking about many relevant issues, writing them up and bringing suggestions. No matter where the outcomes of the process lead us, it is something to celebrate that we are looking to become more inclusive, and give special considerations to those that have been left out. This work has brought relevant ideas and we are coming to the moment when we can implement what has been discussed. I am very excited to learn what is next, and hope that community remains involved in the process.

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Thanks Lucas for this perspective! I had completely forgotten that there are Portuguese speakers in Angola and Mozambique.
Just like you I really look forward to how this will turn out.

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Curious whether mass communications were successful in getting engagement from these groups in the strategy process. If you had to start engagement with these groups from scratch again, what would be the ideal scenario? What would you try? Or would you do it the same way?

Hi, Elena! Mass communication wasn’t too much successful on getting a large number of input from other countries than Brazil and Portugal, but I could receive some valid opinions. Like it would be for anyone with same internet access limitations, it is difficult for them to talk about the Strategy process as the understanding of Wikimedia Movement is superficial. Internet is expensive or inaccessible most of the time. So, for many of them it is just as clear as that: they want the basics; they want to feel free using internet and not forced to remain under the same social media circle depending on what is their mobile phone internet provider.
Not sure if would work, but I would try to engage them with surveys or “Yes or No” questions about topics that can be relatable not only for those that know Wikimedia. But the best scenario would be to have them editing and participating more without internet limitation as barrier.

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