Case Study

Design & Advisory for Open Knowledge

How to engage marginalized people through an inclusive approach—and elevate a global movement.

map_2018.05_wmf

Wikipedia is one of the most prominent and often-used websites in the world. But the community that drives Wikipedia—also known as the “Wikimedia Movement”—understands the limits to its own reach and relevance. It still struggles to serve regions where the internet has been less accessible, as well as people who are traditionally marginalized. For a major strategy process that began in 2017, finding new ways to reach these underserved audiences was a top priority. That’s why Reboot was asked to join; we served as the external lead on one of four “tracks” of the overall strategy process, with a focus on reaching the Global South. We delivered strategic recommendations, based on primary qualitative research in Brazil and Indonesia, and were asked to serve on the core Movement Strategy Drafting Committee based on the strength of our analysis. Our expertise in movement building and system design supported the resulting “2017 Movement Strategy,” intended to serve as a global guide for the next 15 years of work. The strategy has since been widely endorsed and is being implemented across the Wikimedia Movement.

IMG_0567

Wikipedia—the largest free knowledge resource in human history—exists because of a global movement of advocates for open knowledge, the majority of whom are volunteers. Over the past two decades, the Wikimedia Movement has grown from a small group of editors into a diverse, global community, but it remains united by a common vision: “A world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.” To reach this vision, and to fulfill its core value of inclusivity, the Movement must push its current boundaries—the community remains dominated by members in relatively wealthy countries, contributing to the systemic bias in content and other well-studied factors. The 2017 Movement Strategy Process represented a significant opportunity to address this issue.

Driven by the Wikimedia Foundation, which is the nonprofit that runs Wikipedia, the strategy process was intended to set the course for the next 15 years of work. It prioritized input from the diverse global community of affiliates, partners, and contributors who already engage with Wikipedia and other projects. But it also prioritized input from new voices—and sought new ways to put that input at the fore of its forward strategy. The Foundation engaged Reboot to serve as the external lead on one of four priority tracks within the strategy process, with the mandate to determine how the Movement could better serve audiences in the Global South, especially traditionally underserved and marginalized people.