Opinion on the Inspire Campaign

Article by Carles Paredes (User:KRLS) and User:Barcelona

We have been following with great interest the Inspire Campaign, because reducing gender gap is one of the focus highlighted by our activities plan. Due to huge amount of ideas presented, we have waited for the final resolution of the committee in order to be able to better analyze the proposals and make a detailed comment about them.

We recognize as really positive the Wikimedia Foundation’s effort to carry on an open and collaborative process to decide where should the money be distributed. We also consider that this is a good methodology: it makes possible to empower communities, as they can create new ways to approach the gender gap issue from their knowledge of what can work in their respective projects.

It is important, however, to be critic about the final grantees and their plannings since this campaign is one of the main lines of global WMF budget. The fact that all the other programs have been almost canceled implies that we must be sure about the real output of the different initiatives of Inspire Campaign.

And here we want to express some concerns: we cannot clearly see the benefit arisen from some of these ideas, specially considering the big amount of money devoted to them. Besides that, we are a bit surprised to realize that most of the grantees or their partners come from or live in USA, which goes against the repeatedly announced WMF interest to fight against systemic geographical bias.

We cannot understand why committee gives grants to people who develop their programs in an area where there is a chapter which may host this kind of activities or which include in their budgets a prevision to develop projects to reduce gender gap. It seems to us a way to duplicate the efforts; chapters or community groups should support those users who want to work in this field. An example that could show our point is the idea called “Let’s fill the gender gap Workshops”, which will be hosted in Switzerland region.

Several initiatives are related to preliminary studies to detect possible content gaps or lack of gender perspective in Wikipedia articles. We think that’s great, because the first step to solve a problem is to be aware of its existence and with the missing topics or biased articles lists, users will be able to improve the visibility of women in Wikipedia. But, still, we must express some doubts, too, related to time efficiency (a whole year to detect such problems?) or total cost (27,100$?). A Wikipedian in Residence with a full position should be able not only to prepare the work for future volunteers but also to encourage them to edit and organize the projects that may make it happen.

There are several approved grants which are aligned with Amical’s model, however, they do not address specifically the aim of this WMF campaign, because they are trying to solve other important problems of Wikimedia movement, as social gap or newbies harassment. For example, a survey about editor’s experience and the reasons that might prevent engagement of new users is quite useful, but it does not belong to Inspire but to global mission of WMF.

At last but not least, we would like to know why are some external associations among the grantees. We think all the money from WMF should go to improve Wikipedia and its sister projects or to promote community projects, not to external agents, even if they share our goals or philosophy. Again, it might lead to duplicate funding, since these groups receive donations from their partners or sponsors. Without a decision from the project communities, not a single dollar should go away from the place where donors thought it would be when they decided to help us. Ada’s initiative, for instance, has its own resources and does not need to be included in this campaign, whatever useful advise they can give to us.

We would like to emphasize what we believe to be the coolest idea: “Wikineedgirls”. It reunites what we regard as the key indicators of what a good Inspire Campaign proposal should include. First of all, the budget is well balanced between the needs and the requirements, and manages to justify everything. Secondly, it addresses gender gap in a region outside USA and takes into account multilingual reality, so it escapes the general anglocentric bias of most of other proposals. Moreover, it goes to high schools, a priority target for us, and in a scenario where many women struggle to get an education which allows them to be independent and improve their future. Finally, it is logical to ask for money in this campaign, because there is no local Wikimedia movement association to help these grantees.

In conclusion, in spite of the positive impact that these projects can cause, we want to reclaim more carefulness when dealing with donors’ money, and be sure that all the ideas respond to ethical, diversity and effectiveness criteria.

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