Published by Camilla on 15 Feb 2012 at 11:30 am
If you are an active member of WiserEarth, you may have been involved in some interesting discussions over the past 4 months about WiserEarth’s name. After nearly 70 posts on various discussion boards and a round of editor voting which took place in January, WiserEarth’s name will be shortened to just Wiser.org. However, the name of the nonprofit that runs the Wiser website will remain as WiserEarth.
For those of you who were involved with the launch of WiserEarth in the early days, a name shortening may seem like a return to our roots since the platform created to host WiserEarth was originally called WISER. It stood for “The World Index of Social & Environmental Responsibility”. Yes, it was a bit of a mouthful to communicate!
Here is a recap of the process that led up to this decision.
Discussions Kicked off at Annual Editor meeting
Discussions with editors about a potential name change began in October 2011 at WiserEarth’s annual editor meeting. However, the question was initially brought up more than one year ago by community managers in Brazil, France and Mexico who were trying to spread the word about the work of the WiserEarth community, but were struggling to do so in their native languages. It was found that it is very hard for non-English speakers to pronounce the ‘earth’ word and this issue was likely to increase as WiserEarth spread to non-English speaking countries.
The solution chosen was to do more research around this question and to ask WiserEarth’s community whether we should:
- Change or modify our name?
- And if so, should the site be renamed WE or Wiser or another name?
Discussions in the WiserEarth Editors community pointed to the fact that there was an overall liking for ‘Wiser’. Discussions in the WiserConnections community (one of the most popular groups on WiserEarth) showed a preference for WE.
However, while many members like ‘WE’ (it has become a lovely, familiar shorthand for many of us when describing WiserEarth), we found an organization who works in a very similar area who is already using WE (we.net). It is led by Desmond Tutu (do check out their inspiring work if you get the chance). We also felt that WE is quite hard to communicate online as it’s such a common word.
After weighing up the results of all of the discussions, the WiserEarth team asked for permission from the board of directors and editors to create some logo options using the Wiser name. A selection of identities were put to a vote using SurveyMonkey.
The vote was open to editors, staff and board members. The main reason for this was that WiserEarth’s small staff team of 5 people didn’t feel that it had the capacity to manage voting among 65,000 members (the time and cost of doing so and making sure everyone heard about the vote and got involved would have been challenging to manage). It was also felt that editors have a very good understanding of what WiserEarth is all about as they spend so much time on the site and so are in a good position to decide on a new identity.
The majority of editors community voted for a evolution from the current name and identity (19 out of 25 editors voted for 1 of the 3 options presented). Editors were able to abstain if they didn’t like any of the identities that were presented to them (just 6 out of 25 editors abstained)
New Identity Focuses on the Concept of Quilting
The new logo is based on the concept of quilting – we invite you to read more about why this concept was chosen.
Take a look at a preview of the proposed identity which won the editor community vote.
What does this all mean?
Well it means that WiserEarth will be slowly taking on a new identity over the coming year starting around April which is when WiserEarth will be celebrating its 5th birthday. However, we are sure that the site will continue to be referred to as WE or WiserEarth for some time to come and that’s great too!
At the end of the day, neither the name nor the logo will be the central factor in creating the change we all seek, but instead how we go about strengthening the bonds that we create between each other and between our communities who are truly coming together to create real change in the world.
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