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Wikimedia Product/Perspectives/Culture

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In many ways, the theme of Culture synthesizes the movement’s strategic directions of Service and Equity. Knowledge as a service means enlisting allies and partners to make knowledge available outside the confines of Wikimedia - and that must include institutions and form factors in which the majority of the world’s knowledge still resides, un-digitized and unavailable to a public who might not even know it exists. This means we have to think outside the existing Wiki projects and begin acting as a platform for knowledge organization, dissemination and exchange, and as a catalyst for other organizations and institutions engaged in knowledge dissemination. This will require new cultural as well as technical competencies.

Knowledge equity means removing the barriers preventing anyone from sharing what they know, and encouraging “respectful collaboration” between people. However, it is not only historical “structures of power and privilege” that have prevented people from sharing knowledge via Wikimedia. Focusing on specific forms of diversity that come from mainly an American context is likely to hinder rather than help the movement's global inclusiveness. Rather, we need to meet people where they are - in both the literal and figurative senses. A coherent culture strategy must start with awareness, for both consumers and contributors. Research has indicated that awareness of Wikipedia is low in emerging markets,[1] and that the fact that it is editable might actually work against some of our other priorities in the short-term, such as engendering trust.[2] We need, therefore, to find an approach in underserved communities that works - not assuming that people in these communities share our values or that the movement, as it is, can smoothly be applied to new cultural contexts. It is not certain that new users from emerging markets will necessarily share in the movement’s goals right away, if ever. If we really mean all the world’s knowledge, that means stepping outside our comfort zone.

In addition to fulfilling our mission of making all the world’s knowledge available to everyone on our own projects, we also have the opportunity to make a lasting positive impact on the world's free culture by pursuing (or enabling others to pursue) other societal goals, such as the preservation of endangered languages.[3] Where we can identify areas our movement goals overlap with other free culture efforts, we should partner with the people and institutions pursuing them.




  • Content Translation
  • GLAM outreach and strategy
  • Structured Data on Commons

Areas of Impact

  • Most Wiki projects (but especially Wikipedia, Commons, Wiktionary, and Wikisource)
  • Community Relations
  • Communications
  • Mobile (both apps and mobile web)
  • Community policies and guidelines
  • Research
  • Disabled or Disenfranchised Communities

Key External Factors

  • Between 53%[4]  and 71%[5] of the world’s population will be online by 2030, with the growth mainly driven by emerging markets. The overall growth rate is slowing[6] due to saturation in developed markets.

White Paper