Annual Report 2023/Fail fest: Trying to Find Ways to Provide Support, but There Are Challenges with a Reactive Helpdesk

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In this fail fest, we outline the learnings from our work with the Content Partnerships Hub Helpdesk. While we managed to respond to a number of requests, at the same time we became aware of our limitations and now need to develop a clearer form of the concept that makes more effective use of our resources.

A central part of the hub that Wikimedia Sweden is building, with a focus on international support for content partnerships, is the so-called Helpdesk. The ambition of this initiative is to provide support to other actors in the Wikimedia movement, such as associations and volunteers, who want to develop and strengthen their content partnership work. This may involve practical tasks, such as uploading material from GLAM organizations to Wikimedia Commons, but also more strategic support and guidance on copyright, communication or community engagement. Through the Helpdesk, we want to create a structure where the many experts in the Wikimedia movement who have years of experience working with content partnerships do not keep their lessons to themselves, but can contribute in a structured way to solving problems and contributing to capacity building for more organizations and individuals in the Wikimedia movement!

In 2023, we worked on developing the concept and were able to provide both practical support and guidance on several occasions. At the same time, we realized that not everything is perfect. We have limited resources, both in terms of staff and knowledge, so we cannot be as helpful as we would like.

It has become clear that we lack agreed forms of cooperation and an understanding from all the parties involved on what is possible. Several times we have realized that a one-off effort is not enough, but requires follow-up and long-term, more strategic work from both parties. An upload project on Wikimedia Commons, for example, does not end when the files have been uploaded. We want the community to see and use them, which requires good categorization, communication and efforts aimed at raising engagmenet - which often cannot be done by us, as they require language and subject-specific skills. Unfortunately, we have few resources to maintain and care for projects in the longer term, compared to making a one-off upload. This is exacerbated by the lack of long-term funding, as our work is currently based on project funding.

It has also been hard for us to deal with complex requests that come to the Helpdesk late, where the requesters expect a quick response but it turns out that the task is much more complex than they expected; for example, it may require large amounts of data to be processed by someone who knows the subject matter well, and there's no one in the Helpdesk team can do that. We need to invest in developing and communicating the processes required to handle such requests more effectively.

Communication is the main thing we need to get better at. We have to be clear about what the Helpdesk is able to achieve given our limited resources, and we need to be better at discussing and defining the division of labour between the Helpdesk and the requester at an early stage. This to ensure that the community has a better understanding of the role of the Helpdesk and also to avoid situations where we have to turn down well formulated and thoughtful requests that we lack the capacity to handle. Furthermore, we need to develop possibilities and structures for more experts in the Wikimedia movement to help answer the requests that come to the Helpdesk and then make them aware of this opportunity.