The Centre for Internet and Society's Access to Knowledge Program has for a number of years been the Wikimedia Foundation's primary mover and shaker on the Indian subcontinent. This week they published a promotional blog post to the Wikimedia Blog highlighting the heritage of the center's creation of a train the trainer program. The program hosts a yearly event where the organization invites experienced editors from various distant places in the country and brings them to the center's location in Bangalore for several days' of community engagement and leadership training. The idea is that by training experienced Wikipedians in editor engagement and basic project management, the center can encourage a large population of supportive editors to organize and assist "first-generation" editors both locally and online, helping to extend the reach and the impact of the movement.
Signpost coverage of this years' event containing more information on its particularities can be found here. It is worth pointing out that this editor engagement model aligns well with the engagement paradigm currently being pursued by the WMF's, Funds Dissemination Committee and some affiliated chapters, and so the CIS-A2K event seems to have become an increasingly popular template for other events of the same type elsewhere around the world. The general comments published by the FDC this year ahead of community review of the second biannual funding round reflect this fact, containing a few words from the committee regard 'TTT' programs, reproduced below:
|In this round, we noticed a focus on Train the Trainer (TTT) approaches, which builds on the interest from Round 1. With a TTT approach, organizations target and train a group of participants on specific topic areas so they may in turn train others. If designed and implemented well, this program approach may have potential to expand reach in the movement and improve relevant skills beyond an organization’s direct sphere of influence.
This approach, which takes significant resources and organizational focus, requires more clearly articulated strategies, documented/centralized resources, and measurement and evaluation of the results. Most organizations are not yet evaluating skills developed, results of trainings after the original trainings, or attitudinal shifts, and so it is difficult to understand the impact of these programs. Furthermore, we are concerned not to see plans for sustaining engagement with these trainees after trainings.
We encourage organizations to document results and resources invested in these programs. We also encourage organizations to develop engagement plans before new training programs are implemented. Finally, we also encourage organizations start small before making the decision to invest in programs more significantly.
In related news, the WMF Board of Trustees this week approved the FDC's recommendations for the second annual round of annual plan grants. Funds have now been disbursed to Wikimedia Armenia, Wikimedia Italy, Wikimedia Norway, Wikimedia France, and the Center for Internet and Society.
Vice president of engineering Damon Sicore leaves the Foundation
The unusually widespread and high-level suspension of the accounts of Wikimedian vice president of engineering Damon Sicore in mid-June prompted discussion on the mailing list which at the time did not lead to anywhere in particular. Community advocate James Alexander explained at the time that "We adjust the rights of, or access to, staff accounts for many different reasons ... sometimes we can't disclose reasons prior to taking an action, or discuss them immediately." Community member Liam Wyatt clarified the issue by stating that the response he had received from several Foundation staffers was that "Damon is on two weeks leave", but also stated that this was an official statement given to all WMF staffers but were instructed not to state as such in print, only orally: "as a non-WMF employee who has asked WMF-employees for info, and have received the official response, I am sharing the official response here in writing because they are not allowed to: Damon is on two weeks leave." Although Alexander cited the account suspension as temporary, Wyatt correctly stated that per the block logs, WMF-wiki accounts are only ever permanently suspended when an employee leaves the Foundation; if they are rehired, the block is lifted as a part of the on-boarding.
Whatever the issue was at the time, the two weeks have now passed; executive director Lila Tretikov posted on the mailing list that Sicore is indeed leaving the Foundation. Not quite illuminating the reason for the sudden departure. Tretikov said: "Damon's departure is a personnel issue, so we are not able to comment on it." In the interim, teams will directly report to Tretikov and/or to chief operating officer Terence Gibley—Sicore was in charge of the engineering and product department, employing the lion's share of the WMF's funds, so this is a significant executive shortfall to fill.
The Foundation is thus now accepting applications for three new executive positions. Two were planned more in advance: the first position is the VP of staff experiences (a modern term for HR); the hiring form indicates the future creation of a new department called "Staff Experience". The WMF has not had a chief HR person since chief talent and cultural officer Gayle Karen Young left the organization in March; current (then incoming) COO Gilbey has already been overseeing those responsibilities in the meantime. The WMF also put out forms for a chief technology officer (a position that is, in fact, already set up but blank at the WMF's internal staff and contractors page). This hiring is consistent with a letter from executive director Lila Tretikov to the community posted on the mailing lists in April. A new vice president of engineering will now need to be hired, but only afterwards—Tretikov indicated that filling the CTO role would be the first priority.