A Word from the President
More people than ever before visited Wikipedia in 2020. Access to free knowledge was especially important this year when the world was hit by a pandemic and misinformation online was rampant. The community in Switzerland and worldwide worked hard to make accurate, reliable information about COVID-19 available through Wikipedia and its sister projects. Once more, Wikipedia demonstrated its role as an essential global infrastructure.
At Wikimedia CH, 2020 was a year of both individual and collective challenge and opportunity. Thanks to our team and our community’s agility, creativity and mutual support, we were able to deliver excellence and adopt new ways of collaborating that will certainly serve us even after the pandemic.
For the first time ever, Wikimedia CH held its strategy workshop and, in particular, its ordinary General Assembly remotely. During this assembly, Matthias Nepfer – head of innovation and information management with the Swiss National Library – was elected as a new board member and has since enriched the association with his sharp mind and brilliant ideas.
Jenny Ebermann, our executive director, guided Wikimedia CH smoothly through this rough year. She and the team managed to position Wikimedia CH as financially independent and immensely strong on all levels, continuously professionalising our outreach efforts, ramping up the infrastructure and improving our tech set-up. Systems and tools were put in place that allow Wikimedia CH to be even more agile and efficient. As a result, our small team can spend its time on activities that add real value, have more impact, fully focus on our stakeholders and position the chapter as a leader and renowned partner in free knowledge throughout Switzerland and beyond.
Despite having an exceptionally difficult year behind us, I’m beyond pleased with where we are today with Wikimedia CH. I want to thank each and every one of you who contributed and participated!
With immense gratitude and excitement,
Wikimedia CH Board President
A Word from the Executive Director
Like many organisations in 2020, Wikimedia CH had to adapt operations to the global health crisis. Despite the online nature of Wikimedia projects, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted our face-to-face activities. However, as our team already works virtually under “normal” circumstances, Wikimedia CH was able to swiftly move into a totally virtual world, accompanying partners and stakeholders on their digitisation and remote-working journeys and sometimes even providing consultation to them. Our chapter’s agile, adaptable and creative nature allowed us to turn many challenges into opportunities and learnings that we will take with us into 2021.
Outside the pandemic, we continued to reduce administrative costs while also working towards greater financial sustainability and stability with the hire of a Fundraising and Grant Manager at 90%. In terms of our organisation, our focus in 2020 was on strategy, specifically making progress on Wikimedia CH’s new five-year strategic plan, which will align with the Wikimedia Movement’s 2030 Strategy. We are using new and unconventional approaches to develop the plan, which we hope will help inform our way forward in the best possible way. Unfortunately, our work on the strategy could not be finalised due to the pandemic in 2020 and will only be finalised in 2021. What is more, we have been involved in global conversations around the Movement’s 2030 Strategy.
At a programmatic level, the pandemic created both challenges and opportunities. In Programme GLAM, for example, the #GLAMhack 2020 was moved online, which posed the challenge of maintaining collaboration in a virtual event. Working with event organisers and partners, we found creative solutions that not only led to a successful event but also set a record in terms of gender parity and international participation. While Programme Education activities were quite limited, it provided the opportunity to focus on important building blocks for strategic activities, including openedu.ch, an open education platform that provides teachers, trainers and students with a knowledge management system based on Wikimedia projects. Programme Community also delivered many successful activities, including events around knowledge equity as it relates to women and minorities, including the Women for Wikipedia edit-a-thon and work with Noircir Wikipedia to increase articles about Black people and culture. We also moved forward on the WikiDroitsHumains project in collaboration with the French and Argentinian chapters as well as the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. In terms of Partnerships and Outreach, our work focused on supporting communications around COVID-19 tracking and pandemic readiness, as well as professionalising our outreach activities with a new communications and outreach strategy to support our efforts. Finally, we drafted a new donor strategy to support fundraising.
While not always easy, our team continuously adapted and adjusted, finding new and creative ways to keep our important work going throughout the crisis. I am exceedingly proud of our team’s hard work and resilience in 2020 and the progress made at every level. We have built a strong foundation that will serve us well in 2021.
Executive Director Wikimedia CH
Facts & Figures
Wikipedia is the 4th most frequently visited website in Switzerland and worldwide (Source: Alexa)
1.5 million+ people reached in Switzerland
275 newly registered users among 1,930 total participants
47,000+ content pages created or improved across all Wikimedia projects
19,000+ items of content reused by other Wikimedia projects, showing we focused on quality impacts over mass uploading
Strategic Direction at a Glance
The image of a house represents Wikimedia CH’s impact directions for the 2017-2020 strategic period. The house itself is made up of our three impact directions – Education, GLAM and Community – and the roof symbolises our mission of curating and disseminating free knowledge.
Communication, Diversity and Technology/Know-how are enablers that support the impact directions. They equip us to evaluate whether a project or activity should be integrated into our annual plan or not.
The walls of the house represent Wikimedia CH’s tools, processes (policies, financial, guidelines, ICT, etc.) and soft skills (human resources, people development). The house’s windows are transparent, indicating good governance. There are no hidden closets or pitfalls.
Finally, the foundation is a solid legal background that allows the house to rest securely and sustainably within our community. Outside of the house, our neighbours are like-minded organisations, other chapters, the Wikiverse and, of course, the Wikimedia Foundation.
(Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums)
Introduction & Strategy
Despite the difficult circumstances of the pandemic, Programme GLAM saw a highly successful year. Thanks to our ability to quickly adapt to the situation and move our activities to online formats, we delivered almost our entire plan and, in some cases, went above and beyond our objectives. The only projects that were postponed completely were the two GLAM on Tour events and an event with the Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF) Archives that required on-site organisation and in-person exchange.
Moving many of our activities to a virtual format created new challenges but also new opportunities that led to exceptional results. For example, the virtual Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon (#GLAMhack 2020) event ended up attracting participants from all over the world who may not have been able to attend in person. Meanwhile, International Museums Day (IMD) presented an opportunity to collaborate closely with chapters in Austria, Germany, France and Italy to launch a cross-border IMD2020 and organise a Wikidata Contest.
Throughout the year, our projects were aligned with our goals of awareness-building among GLAM institutions to position Wikimedia CH as a trusted partner to GLAM, as well as cross-border collaboration to work more closely with other chapters. As part of these efforts, we finalised and delivered two major projects: the Wikidata Project for the MJF Archives and the GLAM Statistical Tool, including a new statistical dashboard that was approved by our GLAM Partner Network. With our focus area of Digital Competence & Technology, we also improved the functionalities and expanded the scope of the WMCH Map Service to continue to meet the needs of our GLAM partners and community members. In the case of the map service, the expansion of the map to neighbouring countries was an important step forward for both our cross-chapter collaboration and our role as an international partner to GLAM institutions.
Last, we strengthened our relationships with important institutions, such as the MJF Archives, SBB Historic, the Swiss National Library and the Library of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich), which built continuity and trust as a proven resource in an uncertain time.
Libraries & Archives
In 2020, we created new partnerships with libraries and archives while strengthening existing ones. A key achievement in this realm was the delivery of the Wikidata integration project with the MJF Archives. The project enriches the Wikidata knowledge base with quality information while enriching the MJF authority file, enabling a flow of information from Wikidata to the MJF Archives.
In terms of new partnerships, we worked with the Cantonal Administration Appenzell Ausserrhoden to launch the WikiProjekt Appenzellerland. The project marked the first time a cantonal administration implemented a Wiki-related project largely by themselves.
Projects with existing partners included work with SBB Historic to add content and images to Wikimedia Commons and organise a virtual Wikipedia Studio; a project with the Swiss National Library to archive Wikipedia articles related to Switzerland; activities with the ETH Library in Zurich to enrich Wikipedia articles on 2,212 Swiss municipalities with aerial photos by the Swiss aerial pioneer Walter Mittelholzer and his successor Werner Friedli; and two workshops with the Vevey Library aimed at creating articles about Swiss women. We also supported a Wikipedian in Residence at the Iron Library, a long-time GLAM partner with which we hosted a GLAM on Tour event in 2019, as well as Wikipedia Workshops in previous years.
What’s more, we strengthened the collaboration with Programme Education on activities aimed at developing knowledge and skills among both GLAM employees and the GLAM community. These included a series of WikiArchives webinars to help GLAM professionals use Wikimedia projects to preserve and share cultural heritage, as well as five virtual workshops through WikiNeocomensia to train future museum personnel to edit Wikipedia and share the results of their research. We also organised a training session for archivists at the Cinémathèque Suisse to teach them to edit Wikipedia articles about cinema.
Museum & Galleries
While we delivered on the vast majority of our plan, two initiatives – the GLAM on Tour event in collaboration with the Neues Museum Biel and a guided visit of the Bauhaus in Biel – were unable to take place.
That said, the year’s uncertainty also created opportunities, as seen in IMD2020. For the first time ever, we collaborated with all of Switzerland’s neighbouring chapters to help bring museum content online. As the project initiator and leading chapter, we led activities such as an online awareness campaign in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France and Italy; an expanded geographic map visualising the museum landscape in those same countries; and a Wikidata Contest to improve data about museums in the participating countries. Also, for the first time ever, we worked closely with the International Council of Museums (ICOM) at the international level – a first for any chapter. Our collaboration included an article about Wikipedia, Wikidata and IMD2020 on the ICOM website.
We also organised workshops in partnership with the Museum of Communications in Bern, as well as the Museum of Underground Mills. Last, we were contacted by SIKART, a Swiss dictionary for art, which was seeking support in creating templates to use their dictionary as a reference on Wikipedia.
With the aim of protecting cultural heritage, we supported the Transnational Conference of Open Data and Open Maps for Heritage Protection, an event that highlighted the importance of digitalising cultural content to protect it from the effects of natural disasters, especially those linked to climate change. Climate change was also the focus of a call to action we signed urging the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to set a global standard to protect GLAM sites and other cultural heritage institutions from the devastating effects of natural disasters.
National & International GLAM Outreach
To strengthen cross-border collaboration with neighbouring chapters and foster common projects, we participated in two workshop events with the GLAM DACH Network, one regarding the Kulturbotschafter (cultural ambassador) programme and one with GLAM representatives of the Swiss, German and Austrian chapters to discuss and share ways of working, especially during the pandemic. We are also exploring the WikiLibrary Manifest, a programme run by the German chapter, to connect libraries and Wikimedia with Swiss GLAM partners.
As a result of successful projects around audio and audiovisual content with the Swiss National Sound Archives and the MJF Archives, Wikimedia CH was invited to participate in a working group organised by the largest media house in Switzerland, SRG SSR, to discuss the opening of their audio and audiovisual archives. We also brought our experience around GLAM in the time of COVID-19 to the first-ever Cultural Innovation Open Lab, hosted by the University of Lausanne and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). These initiatives are not only an avenue for us to learn and provide guidance but also a great opportunity to position Wikimedia CH as an important partner among key contacts at GLAM institutions throughout Switzerland.
Another opportunity for networking and knowledge-sharing was Wikimedia CH’s participation at Cultura Suisse, a trade show for museums, monument preservation and cultural heritage in Bern. We also participated in the Creative Commons Global Summit and the Rethinking Culture and Science event organised by the German National Library.
Finally, we were happy to welcome new members to the GLAM Wiki Network: the Cantonal Administration Appenzell Ausserrhoden, the Swiss Archives of Performing Arts and the Association of Swiss Archivists.
Digital Competence & Technology
Due to the pandemic, the 2020 edition of the #GLAMhack was held virtually, presenting a unique challenge on how to maintain the engagement and collaboration necessary for a hackathon. But it also created opportunities. Sixty-eight participants (nearly half of them women) from 18 countries joined and shared – a new record for the hackathon both in terms of gender parity and international participation. This year also marked the fifth anniversary of the event. To celebrate this milestone, around 40 participants gathered for a day of inspiration, exchange and brainstorming at the Swiss National Library.
In terms of digital tools, the first half of the year saw the release of the WMCH Map Service, while the GLAM Statistical Tool was delivered in two rounds, the second of which included the first prototype of a statistical dashboard. An optimised and newly designed version of the WMCH Map Service was released for IMD2020, which features a new library that is compatible with the tool’s functionalities and design and delivers the required response time for launching larger projects like IMD2020. It also includes a historical database and a feature to explore how the map and content change over time. Meanwhile, the final version of the GLAM Statistical Tool significantly improves its usability with a new dashboard and functionalities, like search features for media files, a statistical drill-down by image category, category-related statistics and analyses of unused media on a statistical level. For a global roll-out, in 2021 we will work on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that needs to be signed by every chapter adopting the GLAM Statistical Tool “Cassandra” developed by Wikimedia CH.
Introduction & Strategy
Programme Education delivers and collaborates on educational programmes that advance learning at every level, from children to adults. Our work supports lifelong learning, as well as teachers and professors at schools, universities and other institutions of higher education. We use the word “education” as proposed by the Swiss and European programmes and in alignment with the Movement’s 2030 Strategy, applying the term not only to schools or universities but also to the learning and development of every person at every age.
In the early months of 2020, we carried out Programme Education as planned. But with the closure of schools and universities due to the pandemic, we changed course, focusing instead on organisational projects to face the future with more effective and useful tools. The main achievement was developing and launching Openedu.ch, a project to organise the material available through Wikimedia projects for schools, universities and continuous training. Although currently in its beta version, openedu.ch is already receiving good feedback from potential partners and other chapters.
Our approach for 2020 primarily aimed to offer professional services – and tools, methodologies and case studies – to the main actors in the field of education, namely teachers, educators, cantonal departments, universities, etc. To satisfy the increasing number of requests for content and activities, we played more of a supporting role instead of becoming a main player. By doing so, we aim to enable important actors already active within Switzerland’s education field to become motivators and mentors. This approach will ultimately allow education programmes to be replicated within all cantons while increasing our partnerships and visibility. In our view, this closely aligns with the overall Wikimedia 2030 Strategy, specifically tackling the concept of “knowledge as a service”.
(primary and lower secondary levels)
The year 2020 was an opportunity to take time and resources to look at ways to support schools and students, both during and after the pandemic. As mentioned, chief among these efforts was launching the beta version of openedu.ch, which aims to create a more usable, accessible format of the content found on Wikimedia projects for teachers, educators and education departments. While the project proposes tools and experiences related more closely to teaching, pedagogy and current school curricula, it also incorporates the broader, more inclusive concept of lifelong education. The platform and related resources focus on inclusivity and equity: closing the digital gap, facilitating access to learning, creating connections across curricula, increasing representation, democratising knowledge and promoting neutrality in information.
We have also been working on strengthening partnerships in this area. For example, we looked at how to better support Dicoado, a dictionary for and written by students that is present in Switzerland’s French linguistic area. Similarly, we strengthened our long-time partnership with Wikimini, an online encyclopedia for and by kids that receives around 200,000 pageviews per month. In December, we helped migrate it to a new server in a more reliable data centre. We also began planning improvements to the platform as it expands to other languages.
Moreover, we have started a collaboration with Chinderzytig, an association of teachers that publishes a newspaper for young people. We are also discussing a potential collaboration with Klexikon, a Wikipedia for young people and a very widespread project in the German linguistic area. Last, we supported a project to simplify the Italian Wikipedia with the aim of making it more accessible to students by following the Txikipedia model in the Basque community.
We also started the new season of #theLab, a series of laboratories in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland. Unfortunately, we had to stop them at the end of February due to the pandemic.
These projects align with the goal of changing the school programme in Switzerland, where digital skills have been introduced in schools starting at the primary level and where Wikimedia projects can play an important role.
Universities & High Schools
Much of our work with universities and high schools continued in 2020 despite the pandemic.
A key activity in this area was the 2020 Wiki Science Competition, an international online photo contest to encourage the creation and, especially, the free sharing of scientific imagery. In 2020, we organised the national event and the year’s edition of the photo contest, and also hosted an awards ceremony for the 2019 Swiss winners of the competition. For the first time, we joined the international organisation team and supported all international activities in collaboration with Wikimedia Estonia. One of our Wiki Science Competition photographs, taken by Dr Hans Stuessi, was featured in Figure 1A, a scientific image exhibition organised each year in Lausanne.
We also had a significant collaboration with Science et Cité concerning the project “Dr Edith Wicki”, which focuses on outreach in universities’ scientific departments. The goal of the collaboration was to inform universities about the potential to publish scientific content on Wikipedia.
While our planned hackathons with some major universities were pushed back to 2021, we were able to organise an important edit-a-thon with ETH Zurich and 500 Women Scientists in celebration of International Women’s Day. The objective of the event was to increase the representation of women on Wikipedia.
Additionally, the WikiNeocomensia project continued throughout 2020 with seminars for 18 students who were studying the humanities at the University of Neuchâtel. Also as part of the WikiNeocomensia project, Adrien Wyssbrod, PhD, University of Cambridge, and Amandine Cabrio, PhD student, University of Neuchâtel, gave a class to a group of doctoral students from the universities of Geneva, Lausanne, Fribourg and Neuchâtel to teach them why and how to share their research on Wikipedia as part of the objectives of science divulgation recommended by the Swiss confederation.
Last, we began collaborating with Franklin University, one of the oldest American institutions of higher education in Europe and the first to be established in Switzerland. Together, we organised a webinar about fake news, which included a presentation by Leila Zia, Principal Research Scientist and Head of Research at Wikimedia Foundation. Later in the year, we were invited to present during a webinar entitled “What makes information ‘reliable,’ and what does it mean for you? A conversation with the Wikimedia Team”.
Lifelong learning was one of the pillars of our 2020 plan, but due to the pandemic, we postponed much of it to 2021. Instead, we focused on the openedu.ch initiative, which includes a lifelong learning component. We also planned and prepared the lifelong-learning platform for 2021, as well as built partnerships.
We did, however, successfully complete a few activities, which were all online. One of these encompassed the virtual Wikicamps we organised this year in collaboration with Service Civil International (SCI). This year included two virtual camps: the annual Wikipedia for Peace Camp and a special camp celebrating SCI’s 100th anniversary. The first, Wikipedia for Peace Online: No More War, was a huge success in terms of representation and diversity, with more than half of the 15 participants comprising women or students and with two Wikipedians from Wikimedia Armenia. The theme of the second virtual camp was “Writing about SCI History”.
The virtual Wikicamps served as a model that helped us build a format we have started proposing to larger institutions and partners to train on Wikimedia projects while encouraging team building. For example, we have proposed this format to the International Federation of the Red Cross.
For the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), we made progress around creating a framework, while the agreements for a MOOC led us to the first meetings with SwissMOOC for a possible collaboration.
Reorganization & Diversity
The pandemic was an opportunity to reconsider Programme Education’s organisation, including ways to improve communication and distribute responsibilities better.
The creation of the first Swiss-wide project (openedu.ch) in a country where education is managed by canton and decentralised helped us learn how to approach schools and institutions and consider how to better organise the programme to be more efficient.
We also improved our communication materials, updated our strategy and extended the team to include experts and teachers. We have also considered continuing in that direction by creating a scientific committee that can help improve the programme.
Introduction & Strategy
Like the other programmes, many of our Programme Community activities were impacted by the pandemic. That said, one of our 2020 goals was to revitalise online projects. As the pandemic pushed several of the usual in-person events online, it was a good opportunity to test new formats for existing initiatives.
In doing so, we saw both challenges and opportunities. For example, most of the Noircir Wikipedia workshops – a series of events that aim to increase the representation of Black people and issues on Wikipedia – took place online, which allowed participants from Africa and the Caribbean to join for the first time. Another example was this year’s itWikiCon 2020, which was held entirely online. We were part of the organisation team and were very involved in the preparation, which allowed us to learn from the experience and take those learnings forward with us for future events.
What’s more, we made significant strides towards more effective Community communication, both through dedicated email lists and because of our more general communications efforts. Events are now easier to find on the website, while the newsletter and social media outreach make them more visible to potential participants. Given that many of our community activities were moved online, we also refreshed our Respectful Behavior Space Policy for virtual events. The General Assemblies were all online, and we also provided licenses for video conference tools.
Core to our Community strategy is the idea of “knowledge equity”, particularly among women and minorities, who are less represented both in our community and in Wikimedia project content. As such, 2020 saw several events aimed at increasing representation on Wikipedia and diversifying our community of editors. These initiatives also allow participants to edit based on topics that interest them, which has proven to increase engagement and support community retention.
Last, we continued collaborating with other chapters to share knowledge and cross-promote events. In particular, we made significant progress on WikiDroitsHumains, which seeks to use Wikimedia projects to help Wikipedia users understand and champion human rights.
Community health focuses on supporting long-standing chapter members.
Two of the ways we support our community are by financing their projects with grants and promoting them through our network. Wikimedia CH Grants fund Wikimedia community members – individuals, groups or organisations contributing to Wikimedia projects, such as Wikipedia or Commons – to organise projects or activities throughout the year with a budget from CHF 1,001. To make it easier for Wikipedians to request financial support, we reviewed and formalised our grant process in 2020. Our Wikimedia CH team worked together to adapt best practices from around the Movement to the Swiss context to create a clear, streamlined grant process, which was then approved by the board.
Another way we promote community health is by providing ways for Wikipedians to spend time together and build comradery as a community. While many of these events were cancelled or moved online, we still managed to have a few in-person activities. As in past years, we hosted New Year’s events and summer Wiknics across the country to give community members – who often only know each other online – valuable time for face-to-face networking. We also supported the Insubria group, which brings together members from the cross-border areas of Italy and Switzerland and which organised two editing events for the In the Steps of Carlo Amoretti project, mixing activities on Wikidata, Wikipedia, Wikivoyage and OpenStreetMap. Last, we organised a visit to an exhibit at the Nidwalden Museum for our German-speaking community members.
Community building refers to activities that make newly acquired community members feel welcome.
To improve gender equity in both our community and our content, we supported several initiatives that encourage women to contribute to Wikipedia. The Women for Wikipedia edit-a-thon series, a collaboration with Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) and Ringier AG, brings together female journalists to write biographies of notable women that are missing on Wikipedia. We supported two online edit-a-thons that were highly successful despite a new format.
Similarly, the Wikipedia workshop “Who writes his_tory” was held in cooperation with the Solothurn Film Festival as part of the Art+Feminism campaign. The editing workshop focused on women in cinema and invited both newcomers and long-time Wikipedians to write articles about female directors and other women in film. What’s more, the collaboration with the film festival helped pave the way towards a new relationship with the fine arts institution.
We also continued our long-standing support of Les sans pagEs, which aims to increase the representation of women on Wikipedia, including a weekend of editing and organising. In addition, the group, along with Noircir Wikipedia, was featured on the inclusive news outlet AJ+ Francais in a video showcasing their work and its importance to the wider feminism movement.
With the international outcry over systemic racism against the Black community throughout the year, our support of Noircir Wikipedia was especially important. The project joined the campaign #visiblewikiwomenofcolors to increase the visibility of women of colour on Wikipedia and created a new Wikidata page to gauge content gaps relevant to their project. The year 2020 saw 12 workshops, including an online workshop held in collaboration with a museum in France, Magasin des Horizons, and another partnered with the Musée d’Ethnographie in Geneva. Both allowed participants to join from both Switzerland and France but also from Benin, Guadeloupe, French Guinea and Haïti.
Recruitment is closely aligned with community building. Engaging new volunteers (community building) can inspire them to become long-term members and invite their friends (community recruitment). We therefore focus on building ongoing series of events around themes that spark their interests.
For example, Castles Dossier is a collaboration with OpenStreetMap to improve the representation of Swiss castles and palaces on Wikipedia by supplementing the Wiki content with geographic information from OpenStreetMap while populating OpenStreetMap with Wikimedia information (data, articles and photos). As part of the project, 25 Swiss castles opened their gates and drawbridges to the public on the 4th of October to celebrate the 5th National Castles Day. The celebration included a photo challenge to participants to upload photos of the castles missing from the map or in Wikimedia Commons, as well as a four-language writing contest to create articles in the Swiss castles and palaces categories.
Other projects to engage new community members around specific topics included WikiProject Switzerland to improve Wikipedia’s articles related to the country and the European Water Project, a collaboration with OpenStreetMap to map water fountains throughout Switzerland and Europe. We also led workshops at Gymnasium Muttenz, where students in the self-led study programme wrote scientific articles for Wikipedia.
For 2020, we organised Wiki Loves Switzerland, the 10th Wiki Loves contest we’ve supported. Participants could choose to take pictures depicting the Swiss “soul” and upload them to Wikimedia Commons, or they could translate or modify articles about Swiss castles.
Another way we hope to recruit new members is through the Wikipedia Studios series, which invites new and experienced Wikipedians to learn about editing Wikipedia and work on articles about specific topics. Pairing an introductory session with an edit-a-thon allows newcomers to put what they learned directly into practice. In addition to virtual workshops, in 2020, we supported in-person workshops in collaboration with the Bildwechsel in Basel, the Winterthur Library, doku-zug.ch (which garnered regional media attention, including an article in the Luzerner Zeitung), the Communication Museum in Bern and SBB Historic in Olten.
As a linguistically diverse country with a large international population, Switzerland is uniquely placed to collaborate with other countries. For this reason, we routinely work with the chapters of border countries on joint initiatives and cross-promote events together.
Sometimes this collaboration goes even further than border countries, as in the case of the project WikiDroitsHumains, which involves Wikimedia Argentina, Wikimedia France, the Wikimedia Foundation and the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR). The project aligns with #WikiforHumanRights, the Foundation’s partnership with OHCHR to improve content about human rights issues on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. WikiDroitsHumains pairs Wikipedians with human rights activists to bring fresh knowledge on relevant topics. In 2020, it included a launch meeting and a series of workshops to train human rights activists and improve articles on Wikipedia. The focus was on intersex rights in France and Switzerland in collaboration with the French Collectif Intersexes et Allié.e.s and the Swiss InterAction Suisse.
Another way we’re collaborating with other chapters is through the Volunteer Supporters Network, which aims to improve volunteer and community support in the Wikimedia Movement by developing, growing and maintaining collaboration and by exchanging expertise, ideas and resources. We meet at least once a month and are currently discussing the impact of the new 2030 Strategy on our activities.
In normal years, we support WikiCons for the German-, French- and Italian-speaking communities. Due to COVID-19, the German and French chapters had to make the difficult decision to cancel their respective WikiCons for 2020. Meanwhile, itWikiCon 2020 was held entirely online. We were part of the organisation team and were very involved in the preparation. While we look forward to the next in-person itWikiCon, the virtual format was a good learning experience for everyone involved. The success of the event, which had up to 150 attendees in the main sessions, moved us to create a committee to define guidelines, as well as a handbook to support future organisers.
Partnerships & Outreach
Introduction & Strategy
Our Partnerships & Outreach efforts focus on international and national public relations, whereby we use our influence and expertise to promote issues around free knowledge. In Switzerland and at the European level, we are seen as a trusted partner when it comes to topics related to the digital world.
Despite a challenging year for in-person relationship-building, we maintained strong contact with partners and potential partners and saw more requests for support and partnership than in previous years. This demonstrates how we are increasingly becoming known as a key player in digital and knowledge topics.
Our outreach work at the national level focused on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Switzerland and the digital tools to help combat it. We joined forces with the Alliance Digitale, an association of civil society organisations that advocate digital change for the benefit of society as a whole. Meanwhile, a new focus on climate change is opening up a wealth of potential new partnerships and projects, which we will continue to explore going forward. What’s more, we leveraged the upcoming 20th anniversary of Wikipedia as a reason to reach out to past, present and potential stakeholders. Thanks to these efforts, we are well on our way in planning key events in 2021.
Supporting our goal of remaining top-of-mind among stakeholders is our new multichannel communications strategy. While Communications is not an official strategic direction, it supports all our programmatic activities by engaging stakeholders, partners and members through our website, social media, a monthly newsletter, press outreach and partnerships. The newsletter, in particular, has been key to staying top of mind and sharing our activities. It has been completely revamped and now goes out to nearly 20,000 recipients and garners an open rate of over 40% – well above the industry average. By focusing on professionalising our communications and outreach, we are poised to better explain who we are, what we stand for and why volunteers and partners might want to join our community.
Another area of focus in 2020 was fundraising. A new Fundraising and Grant Manager joined our team in August and spent the remaining months working on developing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, including the development of a new donor approach and two fundraising campaigns. On top of that, the further development of our online fundraising tools helped keep our efforts on track: despite the pandemic and thanks to the generosity of our donors, total funds raised grew compared to past years. This is a clear sign that our donors and society in general highly value our work around free and reliable knowledge, especially in a year marked by misinformation around the pandemic and other global topics.
Collaboration with other chapters and organisations continued to be a priority in 2020. While the pandemic slowed down some of these activities, we still saw close cooperation with other chapters on projects across all strategic impact areas.
Despite the cancellation of 2020’s German-speaking and French-speaking WikiCons, we continued our collaboration with neighbouring chapters to implement our programmatic activities. As mentioned in the other programme sections, we supported or led several international initiatives, including itWikiCon and IMD2020. We also worked closely with other chapters on work concerning the 2030 Strategy as well as the organisation of various strategy groups.
We continued to be one of the driving actors for WikiFranca, the partnership between francophone Wikimedia chapters and affiliated working groups. While we had supported the initiative financially in the past, all partners agreed that it would be more effective to establish a more formal association to better support French-speaking countries. We have the opportunity to take on an even greater role, as the association might likely be based in Switzerland with an antenna in Côte d’Ivoire. As discussions continue and plans for the future of the partnership solidify, we will see our involvement expand.
As mentioned in the GLAM section, we signed a call to action urging WIPO to set a global standard to protect cultural heritage institutions from the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Considering the pandemic and its devastating impact on GLAM institutions, an international response is critical.
Our national outreach activities aim to make an impact on Swiss policies that affect open and free knowledge.
In 2020, we continued our work with Parldigi, the Swiss Parliamentary Group on Digital Sustainability, focusing on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed many vulnerabilities and gaps in Switzerland’s digital transformation. We contributed to developing a call-to-action letter, which suggested necessary measures to take, including the need for digital tools to both mitigate the current pandemic and help prevent new outbreaks. As such, we supported Parldigi on their statement endorsing the SwissCovid app, a COVID-19 tracing app adopted by the Federal Office of Public Health to combat the pandemic, as well as the virtual open hearing about the app, by sharing Parldigi’s position through our communications channels.
Through Parldigi, we were introduced to and subsequently joined the Alliance Digitale, an association of civil society organisations that advocate digital change for the benefit of society. A key initiative of the Alliance is SwissCovid App Facts, a website where readers can get answers to the most common questions about the app and ask questions that haven’t already been answered. As an alliance member, we supported an awareness campaign for the app through our communications channels.
We also supported DINAcon, a conference on digital sustainability that is usually held in Bern but ended up being a virtual event in 2020. Muriel Staub, the president of our chapter, and Diego Hättenschwiler, a long-time Wikipedian, hosted a workshop entitled “Wikipedia: Global knowledge also in the global south?” We also supported the event by encouraging community members to attend and contribute.
Last, we attended an event organised by Swiss Ladies Drive, the largest organiser of events for entrepreneurs, networkers and career women in Switzerland. We’re exploring similar events for women in digital and tech, where there might be opportunities to join a speakers’ panel or be a keynote speaker.
Collaboration with Like-Minded Organizations
Building partnerships with like-minded organisations allows Wikimedia CH to make a greater impact by amplifying our message to new, sympathetic audiences. As such, we aim to collaborate with other advocates of free knowledge in Switzerland. In 2020, we saw an increased demand for support from our partners, which shows both the need for collaboration and the fact that we are building our reputation as a key player in this space.
Meanwhile, we increasingly see climate change as an area where Wikimedia can help make a difference. In Switzerland and abroad, organisations focusing on the environment abound but often struggle to share their important messages. We have therefore started initial discussions with Swiss-based environmental organisations to see how we might use Wikimedia projects to support their missions. For example, we are exploring a collaboration with the European Forum on Urban Forestry on how to use digital tools like OpenStreetMap to protect and encourage investment in urban green spaces. The project would include mapping urban forests on OpenStreetMap and using our communications channels for an awareness campaign.
We also continued our support of Kiwix, an offline reader for online content like Wikipedia. The year 2020 was big for the project: the Android app hit one million installs, Kiwix was named a Falling Walls winner in the Digital Education category for “breaking the wall of connectivity”, and the source code is now included in the GitHub Arctic Code Vault. The project also released an updated version of Wikipedia in English.
In 2021, we will build on the progress made and lessons learned in 2020, while also launching a new strategy that will lead to new projects and ways of working.
The year 2021 will be a big one for Wikimedia CH, both at the chapter level and in the wider Wikiverse. With the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Switzerland falling on the same year as Wikipedia’s 20th birthday, we will have many outreach opportunities with current and new stakeholders. We’ve clearly identified the need to connect most of our activities in 2021 to these two themes to further strengthen our image in Switzerland.
What’s more, we will carry on working on both the chapter’s five-year strategy and our contributions to the implementation of the Movement’s 2030 Strategy. In 2021, we have several planning events already scheduled for both.
At a programmatic level, we will continue our work on knowledge as a service, especially in the areas of GLAM and Education. For GLAM in particular, we will keep our focus on continuity and diversity while collaborating, expanding and sharing our knowledge. Lifelong learning and digital tools will remain a focus, as well as continued alignment between all of our strategic directions. We will also further promote knowledge equity, particularly as it relates to gender, disability and racial diversity, both in our community and in the content of our projects. Cross-chapter collaboration will remain a priority to co-organise activities and cross-promote events.
In terms of communications and outreach, we will develop a content calendar for social media, strengthen our relationships with the press and further refine our website. For fundraising, we will draw on feedback from donors and lessons learned during 2020’s fundraising campaigns to improve our approach going forward, as well as look into new and better-suited tools for email marketing. We are also refining our outreach messaging as an organisation.
Last, we will continue discussions with like-minded organisations, both with those with whom we have existing relationships and with potential new partners. A particular focus will be around climate change and the crossroads of environmental and digital issues. Regardless of the topic of focus, these partnerships allow us to combine our goals with those of other organisations, helping maximise our reach and impact and connect with new audiences and potential authors and contributors.
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