This page describes the staffing plan for 2018 of Wikimedia Belgium (WMBE). This staffing plan is created to clarify and better execute the first hiring process of Wikimedia Belgium. This staffing plan is a prerequisite for the grant application at the Wikimedia Foundation and to have a solid plan for 2018. It is part of the first Simple APG grant for WMBE.
In November 2014 we started with the project Wiki Loves Art. We learned at that time that institutions in Belgium were not much open to new ideas like collaborating with Wikipedia and also are constrained by a large bureaucracy. Because of the unique materials (e.g. winners of 2016 edition) Belgian institutions have, we wanted to get a foot in the door to have them donate some of these materials to illustrate Wikipedia articles about the rich cultural heritage of Belgium.
Together with our partners we designed a long-term strategy to get that foot in the door by organising the photo contest Wiki Loves Art. In this project museums and heritage libraries open up their doors for volunteers who take photos of artworks in these institutions. These volunteers then uploaded these photos to Wikimedia Commons and could win a prize.
The photo contest was a great success: 13 collection institutions participated and thousands of photos were uploaded, but the more important long-term goal was to show to the many institutions that collaboration with Wikipedia/Wikimedia is possible and Wiki Loves Art served as a invitation for them to think about collaboration.
Because we invited those dozens of institutions, many of them showed interest to participate with the photo contest and/or in collaborating in general with Wikipedia. We were overwhelmed by the amount of interest, the amount of bureaucracy and negotiations, and amount of work to handle all the communication with these institutions. Luckily, one of our partners got the unique opportunity to temporary hire a staff person and devoted this staff person fully to the project and took care of most of the communication.
The strategy worked, the project was a success, and was even followed by a seminar about how institutions could collaborate with Wikipedia and why that is so beneficial. The project has led to a still lasting grow of interest of hundreds of people from many organisations to collaborate with us.
The lesson we learned is that the collaboration with knowledge institutions and their bureaucracy takes much time and would benefit from a staff person that provides support and keeps an overview on the collaborations, to make the most of collaborative opportunities and this already successful initiative
A major part of the bureaucracy we have to deal with when collaborating with various partners relates to the different official languages in Belgium and the way how it is organised, which makes Belgium unique in the world.
Belgium is a multilingual country. Dutch, French and German are the 3 official languages. Dutch and French are the two most spoken languages. German is only spoken in the eastern region.
As a consequence the country consists of four language areas.
- In the capital every institution and other organisations are supposed to be bilingual (Dutch and French). Most people speak French and very limited Dutch. Some speak Dutch, and there is a group of people who speak no French nor Dutch, but only English (or even a multitude of other languages).
- In the northern part of the country Dutch is the main language. French is not officially spoken. People in the northern part often prefer English over French.
- In the southern part of the country French is the main language. Dutch is not officially spoken. People in the southern part sometimes prefer English over Dutch (but a lot do not even understand English).
- People in the eastern part speak (native) German and French.
People are proud on their language and expect to be addressed (properly) in their own language.
Wikimedia Belgium is a national chapter covering the whole territory of Belgium. People and organisations from the French and Dutch speaking parts of Belgium expect that we address them in their own language, as a matter of respect. So we must communicate in at least two of the official languages. We have to strictly adhere to legal requirements regarding the languages, as well as the practical adoption of this policy in the many institutions, including all of our current partners
There is also a group of people only speaking English (not necessarily their native language) often working for one of the international organisations with their headquarters based in Brussels, including the European Commission, European Parliament, NATO and various other international institutions.
When we have contacts with the regional press, radio, or television we are supposed to properly deliver a press release in the various languages.
Over the past years we have learned as a chapter that in order to carry our responsibilities as a national Wikimedia chapter and take advantage of partnerships opportunities, as well as be successful in general outreach, we are required to communicate in at least three languages with sufficient quality.
We have published some brochures in 3 languages, with a lot of help from volunteers (even from the Netherlands, Germany, and France!).
As our volunteers have a job, study, have other interests and a family life, the need for translations and communication in different languages caused a high drain on the available (time of our) volunteers and has increased the risk of burnout among more active volunteers. In the past periods we have tried to solve this by expanding our volunteer base and to find a large group of volunteers that are able to provide translations of sufficient quality. Our volunteer base has grown, but the expectation to find enough volunteers that are willing to provide translations every month has failed.
We have also tried to use Google translate. But this is not sufficient, both for the French translations as for Dutch translations. A lot of post-processing is required. Sometimes the translation is even completely wrong. Also the communication with institutions has to be personalized and therefore it would be best, if the communication will actually be managed by someone competent in all of required languages.
Too often complaints about bad translations have reached us. This is evidently hindering the growth capacity of, as well as possible partnerships projects to be managed by Wikimedia Belgium. After having tried to find other ways to solve this issue, we do not see any other possibility, as to grow as an organisation. In 2017 we have seen that we reached the limits of what we could do without staff support and in order to sustain our current work with partners, increase general Wikimedia awareness and grow in numbers of volunteers, we need to onboard a competent part-time communication specialist, who is fluent in required languages, to manage partnerships and outreach efforts.
- Position: Communication and outreach specialist
- Work-time: 0.2 FTE (i.e. 8 h/week)
- Managed by: board (reporting directly to the president and treasurer)
The basic principles for our staffing plan are:
- Staff person will provide support in areas of best growth potential (partnerships, outreach)
- Volunteers can continue their work on their favorite projects, but their administrative obligations will be reduced with staff support
- (Wikimedia) Content creation can't be and will not be done by staff.
- Because of the complexity of (Belgian) law, we do not start with hiring someone, but we will use services of a freelance as a contractor .
Contractor to be hired will carry out following tasks:
- Take care of communication and administration related to projects with partner institutions.
- Support multilingual media relations.
- Enlarge our presence at social media (Facebook, Instagram, and others).
- Keep our website up-to-date and have our newsletter written and published.
- Provide translations for our website, newsletters, invitations, and (general) communication, in order to establish better contact with different language communities.
- Ensures that all documentation stays up-to-date and people are actively asked to deliver information for this.
We expect that our staff support will:
- Learn and respect the methods of work inside the Wikimedia and Wikipedia community and comply with these to avoid demotivation of the volunteer community, which is the biggest asset that our organisation has.
- Communicate with external subjects on a professional level, corresponding with the good practice, experience and brand of the Wikimedia movement and Wikimedia projects.
Competences we look for in the staff person:
- Good communication skills
- Fluency in Dutch, French and German
- Experience in working with knowledge institutions
- Experience in working with media and social media
- Documentation skills
As having staff support is new for Wikimedia Belgium, we would like to try this out first for a period of three months. During this period we would like to have a freelance person for 8 hours a week. After this period an evaluation follows to see if it was successful, and providing enough quality. After evaluation it will be decided if we continue, and if so how we would do so (less/more hours, different freelance, etc). If possible, peers from other Wikimedia chapters who have experiences with staffing will be consulted during this process. Working with staff will probably also an item in board training activities in year 2018.
Based on the following websites we have estimated that we could expect between 35 and 50 euro an hour for freelance.
An employment policy will be in place for hiring staff. We have the commitment to draft and implement an employment policy prior to hiring staff.