How do you envision changes to our technological infrastructure that will improve access and participation from underdeveloped communities to our projects in the next five years?
This is one of the Affiliate questions selected for the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees election 2022. Only candidates can post their replies here. You can read these answers on Meta.
To bring down the infrastructure technical barriers will help and will make easier the contributing to Wikimedia projects. Some editors may have the desire and willingness to make their contributions, but sometimes find technical constraints to contribute. In order then to improve the access and participation from underdeveloped communities to our project in the next five years, we have to ensure an easier access considering the technical barriers that the underdeveloped communities encounter within their contributions. To help and empower the underdeveloped communities to access the projects in their local languages is one among the barriers to try to take out to facilitate them to contribute.
There are already various efforts in that direction, but the thing I’m looking for most is the development of more “micro contributions” in our different apps, a bit like the Wikidata games, but for editing. Again, teams are already working on things like that, but I’d like to see it widely deployed, and becoming an inherent part of how we work, and how we welcome newcomers to the movement.
I would also really like to see us tackle the issue of videos in our platforms. This will allow new communities and generations to actively participate in our projects
Without discounting the human factor, improved machine translations and better integration into the infrastructure should help make the projects more accessible to more communities with less developed content in the local language. Anyone with an Internet connection should be able to get any information available in the language of their choice.
Reply by Mike Peel (Mike Peel)
Wikidata will have a huge impact here, since it is intrinsically multilingual and can be used to quickly expand coverage through automatic infoboxes and article creation (e.g., Mbabel). I hope that the introduction of these into Commons categories will have a long-term impact on making that project more accessible for underdeveloped communities. I also think that we should enable underdeveloped communities to contribute directly to our infrastructure, to bring their experiences to it - which requires local affiliates with sufficient capacity to support a local development community.
Although projects like Kiwix can provide offline access to knowledge, access to good-quality internet seems to be the key issue in underdeveloped communities. I’m not sure how we can address this: perhaps by partnering with government agencies or business organizations (e.g. the Wikipedia Zero project in South Africa)?
To encourage access and participation from underdeveloped communities, I will advise we build the technical skills of more people from these communities. Technology built by the people and for the people will encourage more participation. An example is what the Wikimedia Deutschland is doing with Wikimedia Indonesia and Igbo Wikimedians User Group where the communities are given the opportunities to develop softwares and programs their communities need while also using them in the different communities.
In the next 5 years, I do see WMF creating tools that will improve access and participation from underrepresented communities specifically tools that will support offline contributions or tools that will require less internet connectivity in other to contribute to Wikimedia projects and creating awareness for these tools specifically in regions that do have underrepresented communities. Just like how google drive works.
Technology is continually improving, We will
- Increased standardization and off-site construction.
- Improve information sharing platforms.
- Helps increase automation and robotic use…
- Best building material for development.
- New caching datacenters to provide better connectivity in targeted regions (e.g. new “drmrs” cluster helps Middle East and Africa)
- Bring logged-in user performance on par with logged-out readers, don’t force contributors to suffer penalties for doing so
- Eliminate the mobile domain, treat mobile as equal to desktop by having a responsive and fully featured interface
- Improve support for real-time collaborative editing for people who lack the “WP:BOLD” confidence to make edits and want someone to look over them before committing to “Publish changes”. In the same vein, real sugested edits.
- Support offline edits for contributors who lack consistent internet access. We have a decent story around offline reading, need to invest in offline editing.
Honestly I could go on for quite a while, listing out ideas that have been well-discussed previously, it just requires priorization and resourcing to make them happen.
The technical issue are not only in our infrastructure but also in Internet provider infrastructure. In the hand of the Wikimedia movement all we can do is to make the system lighter than possible to decrease the cost of participation through price of data exchange. When people don’t have access to the web, they can’t edit our projects. Also, the wikimedia website are not really helping people how want to print project contain. For teacher or persons interested in bringing knowledge in a village, that could be a real problem.