Diversity Conference brings Wikimedians to Berlin

Documenting Diversity Conference

This November, Wikimedia Deutschland hosted over 80 Wikimedians in Berlin for the first ever Wikimedia Diversity Conference. For two days, we talked about the need, challenges and solutions for bringing more diversity – in terms of gender, geography, and beyond – to our community and to our content, in order to fulfill our vision of sharing the sum of all human knowledge with the world.

We left with a hopeful sense that there are lots of enthusiastic people concerned about diversity in our movement, and that interesting initiatives aimed at broadening our community are cropping up all over, even while being reminded that we don’t yet have a blueprint for how to accomplish these goals.

Netha Hussain discussed some of the barriers involved in engaging more women to edit in India, where only 3 percent of Wikipedians are female, and she shared outreach methods and support systems that they’ve been using in order to encourage more women’s participation. Regular in-person gatherings for women to edit Wikipedia together were a common theme in several talks. Silvia Stieneker talked about gathering women in a computer school in Berlin for monthly “women edit” meetings, and Emily Temple-Wood discussed holding regular edit-a-thons in American universities to create biographies of women scientists.

Participants gather

In talks ranging beyond Wikipedia’s gender gap, Dumisani Ndubane discussed what’s working and what’s not with efforts to build editor communities in Africa. Gregory Varnum shared strategies for LGBT outreach, and Katie Chan called upon the community to better educate itself about transgender issues both to improve content related to transgender topics and to be more inclusive of transgender participants in our movement. Tim Moritz Hector reviewed a German effort to internationalize the Wikipedia Teahouse to enable more Wikipedia communities to provide better help and support to a wider set of new contributors.

The Ada Initiative’s Valerie Aurora and Alyssa Wright from OpenStreetMap each shared information from other open source communities they’ve participated in, calling upon participants to lend and borrow strategies across communities grappling with similar issues. Many attendees agreed that proactively inviting diverse groups of contributors and then providing social support to encourage participation can be a meaningful way to foster increased diversity in our communities. This theme was explicitly raised in a presentation by Jake Orlowitz and Siko Bouterse, and it reverberated in several other conversations and initiatives discussed throughout the conference.

Session notes

Participants have begun capturing key findings from past initiatives as Learning Patterns. Six new patterns were generated at Diversity Conference and we expect to see more diversity-related learnings in the future. Working groups at the conference also generated nine ideas for new projects in IdeaLab, including a Wikiproject to support the community in dealing with mental health issues and a global user group aimed at closing the gender gap. We hope you’ll help grow these plans for future collaborations into actionable initiatives in the coming weeks and months!

IdeaLab working group

The conference ended with participants creating actions items for four areas of diversity-focused work: women, LGBT, geographic diversity, and technology. We also started a Diversity page on Meta-wiki to better communicate the importance of diversity in the Wikimedia movement and to collectively imagine how we will get to a more diverse future together. Improvements to this new page are welcome.

What still seems missing among these various discrete points of learning and action, though, is a concrete sense that we have an overarching strategy for increasing diversity in our community, and a common set of tools to draw upon. This was the first global Wikimedia gathering specifically focused on diversity. As we continue the conversation, can we begin to weave these various findings, ideas and tools into a strategic plan for the future?

You can watch videos from conference participants on Wikimedia Commons here. Complete conference documentation is available on Meta-wiki. Many thanks to our wonderful hosts at Wikimedia Deutschland in Berlin for a well-organized event, and to all participants for sharing their knowledge and experiences at this conference. We look forward to continuing this conversation in the coming months.

Siko Bouterse, Head of Individual Engagement Grants, Wikimedia Foundation

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4 Comments on Diversity Conference brings Wikimedians to Berlin

Julia Kloppenburg (WMDE) 1 year

Thank you for this blog post Siko! It’s been a real pleasure hosting this conference and seeing people throughout the movement participating and dedicating their time to this important topic. Diversity continues to be an important and relevant topic for Wikimedia Deutschland in upcoming months and years, in terms of research as well as in the practical dimension. We are now at a point where we collected a lot of information about what diversity means, why it is important and what has to be done in order to enhance diversity. However, it is important not to remain on this meta level but to move from theory to practice. Thus, the next step now is to put theory and ideas into action by identifying specific fields of action. Wikimedia Deutschland ist planning to publish a “diversity compass” in early 2014 that will identify several important fields of action related to diversity such as more appreciation or a sustainable welcoming culture and implement specific project proposals for each field. We are looking forward to take ideas to the next level.

Lane Rasberry 1 year

Hans, who is the “you” that is skipping half of the world’s population? Can you identify anyone who would like to promote Wikipedia to an older demographic? I expect there would be a lot of support for that person joining the Wikipedia community as an activist when that person appears.

Tell anyone who find to propose a talk for Wikimania, the next diversity conference, to relevant Wikipedia community boards, and to https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:IdeaLab.

Thanks for raising the issue; I hope that you continue to promote it.

Hans 1 year

‘The conference ended with participants creating actions items for four areas of diversity-focused work: women, LGBT, geographic diversity, and technology.’

Nice, and what about age? Guessing from the pictures here, everyone is at maximum in their early 30s. So you care about LGBT and technology, but skip half of the worlds population?

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