Annual Report 2021/Story: Experimenting with different types of corporate partnerships

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In this Story, we are focusing on the new types of partnerships Wikimedia Sverige has been developing. We believe that commercial actors has the potential to make positive contributions to the Wikimedia platforms and help our organization in other ways and has started to pilot a few different approaches.

The API workshop that we organized for Trackuback was an open event, with a dozen members of the Swedish Wikimedia and open source communities participating.

Through its history, Wikimedia Sverige has been collaborating with various types of actors, from schools to GLAM institutions to public agencies. But they are not the only ones with a keen interest in the Wikimedia platforms. Ever since Wikipedia has become a household name, commercial actors have been eager to get involved, to the chagrin of many Wikipedians. After all, it looks like a perfect – and free! – advertising platform.

The line between objective, well-sourced information and advertising is indeed thin, but it does not mean that commercial actors are inherently unable to stand on the right side of it. Quite the opposite, many are genuinely interested in learning more about the Wikimedia platforms and contributing to them in a constructive way. That's why Wikimedia Sverige has been dipping its toes in different types of corporate partnerships.

One of them was the project Unique Historical Kalmar County (Unika historiska Kalmar län), which was organized by the Kalmar County Museum and aimed at local businesses and associations in the tourism and cultural heritage sectors. Those actors have a lot of expert knowledge about local history and culture and are eager to contribute to Wikipedia in a constructive way. Wikimedia Sverige provided them with a workshop series where we went through everything they needed to know – from the basics of how Wikipedia works, to writing, editing and publishing articles. All with the hope that they can become full-fledged Wikipedians, writing well-sourced, informative articles about the local tourist attractions.

Another commercial actor we worked with 2021 was Trackuback, a young Swedish company developing a web application for genealogists with a focus on maps and visualizations. Sweden has well-maintained public records going long back in time, so genealogy is a popular hobby. Many people, young and old, are interested in their roots, and there's plenty of resources and software available to them. Some of them are also Wikipedians. Others are possible future Wikipedians; they have excellent skills in researching historical material, handling sources and summarizing their findings. WMSE has long been aware of the potential this group has for the Wikimedia platforms.

The goal of our partnership was to support Trackuback in including data from Wikidata in their platforms. We provided a Wikimedian in Residence-type service, with one staff member acting as a contact person throughout the year, teaching the Trackuback team about the Wikimedia ecosystem and Wikidata, answering questions as they came along and assisting with technical issues like developing SPARQL queries. As a result, the Trackuback team gained the necessary skills to work with data from Wikidata on their own. In order to promote the use of open data in software, we also held a workshop about the Wikimedia API's and Wikidata, which was open to the public, and attracted participants from outside of the Wikimedia community. We also created a set of instructional videos about editing Wikidata that the Trackuback team will include in their materials, to encourage the users of their platform who, after seeing how much data from Wikidata it uses, might want to take the step to becoming Wikimedians themselves and improving it.

2021 was the second year we worked together with Deloitte, a professional services network. Every year, Deloitte organizes an Impact Day, when their workers spend the day volunteering for NGOs in their community. During the 2020 Impact Day, they worked, among other things, on our visibility and communication plan. In 2021, the Impact Day took place in October. Together, we set up a structure for a climate impact report, as well as translated a large number of software messages on Translatewiki from English to Swedish and policy documents on Wikipedia from Swedish to English. We are excited to have had this opportunity again; bringing in an external pair (or a dozen!) of eyes is not only about solving the concrete task at hand, but also enables us to look at our organization from a fresh perspective.

Corporate partnerships are a new area for us, but it is also one that is worth exploring. Commercial actors are going to edit Wikipedia no matter what, but with our assistance, they can learn to do it in a responsible way. We are going to evaluate this partnership model to see whether it's something we want to pursue more actively.