Learnings from VSN’s Hub experiment in 2022


The Volunteer Supporters Network (VSN) is an open network of Wikimedians supporting Wikimedia volunteers. As a Hub-like structure, the VSN provided an experimental field for future Hubs. The project was conducted from March 2022 to December 2022 and was supported by a Movement Strategy Implementation Grant.

A detailed report aims at a better understanding of (thematic) Hubs based on practical experience: Volunteer Supporters Network/Hub Report 2022 - Meta


thanks for this post, @Raimund_Liebert_WMAT .

is there any way that any of us could perhaps volunteer for an active effort, like the one described above? this sounds like it might worthwhile to participate in. thanks.

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@ShahajadaSJ7 completed some vsn trainings and received certificates too. @ShahajadaSJ7, would you please provide more context to @Sm8900 so that he can also contribute to this?

@Mrb_Rafi thanks for referring me :slight_smile:
@Sm8900 to be honest I do not have in-depth knowledge about VSN except things I learned from the sessions via let’s connect. I will give you a description and maybe provide you with the session recording if possible. I am a bit sick I will try to get to you soon. Sorry for your inconvenience :cry:.

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Thank you for your question! There are several ongoing Hub projects at the moment, perhaps you can find one in this forum which is interesting for you? The VSN won’t continue any Hub-related activities in 2023. Related to Movement Strategy, an important focus will be on skill transfer activities (once again), which will be announced on Volunteer Supporters Network/Meetings - Meta.

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this is good to know. i will take a look. thanks!

Thanks Raimund for posting the summaries. I think the key points are worth discussing further, especially when it comes to the feasibility of some of things that we’re trying to attempt:

  • Be time-zone inclusive. And remember that people have different roles. - Having experienced trying to take part in CEE Hub meetings while staying in Southeast Asia, I doubt that time-zone inclusivity is a reasonable approach. Surely you can by mindful of other people’s timezones, there is a practical limit though as to how far removed you can be from the main group of the discussion without impairing everyone’s work experience? Instead of trying to introduce a global topical hub, wouldn’t it be more feasible to establish several smaller hubs that are based on the same topic, but are managed by people within a certain geographical or timezone area?
  • Build on what you already have. - is this really feasible for most hub projects who don’t have previous structures to rely on? How do you actually build upon something for a topic or a region where there are no underlying structures yet. How to convince communities you’re trying to reach to participate in your endeavour? Why would your project be more important than the other hubs asking for community’s attention?
  • Wikimedia affiliates like to share their knowledge and skills within the organizational framework of a Hub. - that’s the case for most conferences I’ve been to in the last 10 years. In my opinion for a hub to work the more important quality is to listen what people are saying or not saying?
  • How much curation did the skill-sharing part require? Is that something that would almost require a dedicated staff member to run effectively if it ever reached a bigger scope?
  • Hubs can play an important role in a more equitable redistribution of financial and other resources of the Movement: not only in terms of resources managed centrally at the Wikimedia Foundation or the Hub, but also in terms of direct rebalancing between unequally positioned Wikimedia affiliates. - I think this needs to be rephrased. Are you saying centrally managed funds by the Wikimedia Foundation or Hub are a good thing? Or the other way round? And what is being rebalanced between unequally positioned Wikimedia affiliates?
  • Because Hubs are an integral part of the Movement Strategy implementation, at least some people from the Hub should specialize in participating in relevant movement-wide discussions. - that would first require a definition of what a hub even is. Right now the self-identifcation of projects as being a hub might have been beneficial to get attention, but how integral those projects actually are to the movement strategy is debatable. There is also a fundamental question of top-down approaches to hubs fulfilling key requirements of the Movement Strategy linked to subsidiarity, equal access and equity among communities. Concerning the VSN one main question would be the empowerment of communities and affiliates to participate in the activities of the VSN (or even become a member with voting rights) and how the VSN can support to rectify the imbalance in access to funds and staff (which add a lot to the rightly identified valuable good called “time”).

I think your report is a great way to get discussions going on some points that have been an issue for most hub projects, so thank you for taking the time to write down your thoughts about what has happened so far :slight_smile:


Trago uma atualização; acabei de ler uma publicação sobre a experiência da Volunteer Supporters Network no Diff, publicada por @Natalia_Szafran-Kozakowska_WMPL e @Raimund_Liebert_WMAT, destacando 7 lições aprendidas pela rede. Seguem abaixo, em inglês:

  1. Know and publish your participation and decision-making structure as early as possible.
  2. Aim for inclusion based on equity: participatory consultation processes when necessary, centralized administration, communication and infrastructure decisions when possible.
  3. Build on what you already have.
  4. Complex multi-stakeholder projects implemented by a Hub can and should meet a wide variety of stakeholder needs.
  5. Be time-zone inclusive. And remember that people have different roles.
  6. Be aware that it takes time. Quite a lot of it!
  7. …share responsibilities!

Publicação completa no Diff: Are you working on building global cooperation? Here are seven things you can learn from the Volunteer Supporters Network! – Diff

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thanks for this great summary. however, is the translation icon still available? tagging @TCappelletto_WMF , @Qgil-WMF

@Sm8900 Maybe it’s not available because I’ve mixed two languages in the same post? (Portuguese and English). In any case, I was just highlighting the lessons lerlarned by VSN.

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