Talk:Wikimania Committee

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Discussion Kick Start[edit]

I think that it is about time to get discussion on this off the ground.

My thoughts on the committee:

  • Wikimania has and always should be a communitee organised event. I nor does anyone I have spoken to think that this committee should change that.
  • Wikimania has always had institutionalised knowledge passed on from year to year by people like Cary Bass, James Forrester and Phoebe Ayers. The purpose behind this committee is to give organising teams a unified front from which to seek advice and to point people in the right direction. Many of the regulars have differing expertise and single body to approach cuts down on wasted time trying to track down the right person.
  • The Bidding process has year on year something that gets thrown together at the last minute due to no one persons fault. Responsibility has been inherited for this role by people like Phoebe and Cary. Unfortunately this often results in the bidding occuring later than planned, eating into precious planning time. A medium sized conference like Wikimania needs substantial planning time, even when organised professionally, and this is even more so the case when organised by the community who rarely have large event planning experience. I believe this committee should be responsible for putting together a jury and overseeing the bidding process to ensure its smooth running.
  • In terms of how this committee is structured I think that there needs to be a core group of people, responsible for overseeing Wikimania and the bidding process. Then there needs to be a larger group of previous Wikimania Organisers, Foundation Staff and external experts who can be pointed to for advice.
  • Membership should be fluid with no fixed terms. The only requirement for someone to stay on the committee should be the ability to be active in its roles.
  • I do not believe there needs to be a huge level bureaucracy surrounding this committee. Just enough to ensure that Wikimania can be orgnised successfully with as little heart ache as possible as has been experienced with previous conferences.

I encourage all to put their views on this committee to get discussion rolling.

Seddon 05:15, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Absolutely, I agree. Its about time that there was a committee for Wikimania oversight. The bidding process always seems to sneak in without the majority of people noticing. Not to mention, that a core group experienced in dealing with common issues would be indispensable to the entire process. --Theo10011 06:55, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
Where can I sign up? :) Mstislavl 10:44, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
Pretty much agree. :-) Cbrown1023 talk 00:03, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
A good kick start! Minimal bureaucracy, responsible for a good jury process. Also for ensuring decent communication (about the process and how to get involved) and public reports (about conference progress). Perhaps even in place in time to help with the jury and bid process for 2012... SJ · talk | translate 01:05, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

There has been a lot of talk and discussion about the formation of such a committee, and I agree in the merit and think a committee of volunteers and maybe one WMF representative would be a useful tool to Wikimania bidding and organizing teams. The problem seems however that such a committee with take a lot of drive and dedication to not only form but also maintain. My observation has been that those who are most interested and who have the most amount of historical knowledge are also some of the community members who have the lest amount of time to commit due to their other Wikimedia related activities. For me the issue and question is not if we need a committee it is how can we create a committee and ensure the group is successful. An additional question would be the role of the Wikimania Committee vs. the role of the Wikimania Jury. Would the committee create the criteria the for Wikimania selection and allow the jury to select based on the criteria, or would the jury simply no longer exist and the committee would hold the responsibility of Wikimania selection and development? I can see reasons for both situations and maybe this is something a committee would decide. Even if we do not kick of a committee in the next few months I think it would be good if we can find someone who might want to open a call for participation for the 2012 jury. It seems the past few years have been a little rushed maybe having a jury in place by late October or early November would elevate some of the normal time-line issues during the bidding process. I would also like to suggest finding a way to promote the value of hosting Wikimania. Creating the conference is a lot of work and I would love if we could find a better way to support those who create the bids and organize the conference. Let me know how I can help. I hope to get some more free time come November. James Owen 04:23, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

My first impulse was that Committee would set the overall criteria and "shape" of the conferences, but would appoint (with appropriate input from the community) the Jury include all or most of the Committee but also some additional people each time to ensure that the Committee didn't purely engage in group-think or become dissociated from the community. But I agree, of the four community volunteers I think should clearly be on the Committee, two are now on the WMF Board. :-)
James F. (talk) 06:14, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
A different thought - might be quite nice to keep this group and the jury completely separate so that bid teams have a knowledgeable group to approach for advice that they aren't also being judged by. EdSaperia (talk) 20:11, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

From the POV of a Wikimania local team[edit]

As a member of the Haifa local team, I think we can already clearly see what we, as a local team, need and what we don't need.

What we need (or needed, in our case) is a kind of "Wikimania Book" that will cover most of what's to know about organizing Wikimania (see partial list below, in no particular order). That book needs to be written (once) and updated periodically. Of course it can never cover anything and there are always special local issues that need to be addressed. (I now see that we have a draft under Wikimania/Handbook - that's the kind of thing I wanted).

What we also need is a few (one, two or three) people either on the foundation staff or among the wikimania experts who can either answer most questions themselves (and will be committed to doing so) or find for the local team the people who can answer them.

What we don't need is a formal committee to have turf wars with over the execution of each wikimania, or to just serve as some general oversight function without real substance (another mailing list!).

Here's the list, use it somewhere please :) Harel 06:58, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

  • Overall timeline/schedules of milestones to achieve before the conference
  • Sponsorships
    • How to raise them
    • How to build a sponsorship file
    • How much to expect from sponsors
  • Registration
    • How to set up the registration site, what can be reused from previous years'
    • Localizing the registration site
    • What kind of information to collect
    • How to secure the information collected
  • Communication channels, "foreign affairs"
    • Creating a dedicated mailing list for the core local team
    • Forming a presence on the existing mailing lists (wikimania-*-l)
    • Creating accounts on wikimaniateam.wikimedia.org
    • OTRS wikimania queues and how to run them
    • How to set up wikimania 20XX.wikimedia.org
    • Centralnotice translations
    • Getting to know the relevant Foundation staff
    • Attending the preceding Wikimania and using it to meet previous years' organizers and other relevant people
  • Accommodation
    • Requirements for foundation staff
    • What other attendees need
    • How many rooms/beds to order in advance
    • Payment terms for bulk orders with hotels, what deals to close with hotels
  • Transportation
    • Between airport(s) and venue
    • Inside host city
  • Visa issues
    • What to ask of people who need visa assistance
    • Setting up relations with local government
  • Scholarships
    • Who runs the scholarships process
    • How to set up the scholarship application site
  • Program
    • Drafting a CfP and how to circulate it
    • What keynote speakers to invite, how to decide, how to invite
    • How to collect submissions from the wide public
    • How to judge the submissions
  • Venue
    • A list of equipment that's needed
    • What should be in the war room
    • What should be in each lecture room
    • WiFi (can't stress this enough)
    • Open space
    • Security
    • Cleaning
    • Insurance
  • Catering
    • Special dietary needs
    • What to serve at each meal and between meals
  • Entertainment program
    • What to offer that will meet most peoples' expectations
    • Sponsors dinner (VIP party)
  • Swag bags
  • Budget
    • What part the Foundation finances, when is the money transferred
    • Getting short-term loans from the Foundation
    • How much is reasonable for registration fees, early-bird fees
  • Getting along (IMPORTANT!)
    • How to make it to Wikimania without constant infighting inside the local team
    • How to make it to Wikimania without the local team falling apart
    • How to manage and motivate a group of volunteers on such a demanding project

Comments[edit]

With regards to the risk of "turf wars", the idea is that if a organisation team were being very organised and on top of everything then the committee simply sits by and does nothing. However if an organisation team is struggling which has happened in the past then it falls to the committee to support the organisation team in achieving a successful wikimania. Difficulties are unpredictable and sometimes unavoidable.
The committee wont be there to rule over Wikimania. It will always fall on the local organisers to be responsible for the running and operation of wikimania.
The other responsibility is to oversee the Bidding. There has been talk about reviewing the bid requirements, reviewing the bidding timescale and the creation of a Wikimania handbook. But much of this has been talk for years, some things have started such as the Wikimania Handbook but all are a long way off from being finished. I would envisage this committee being responsible for these. User:Seddon 10:23, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
There are two separate issues - first the biding (which is handled by the jury) - and second the second is the oversight of the building of the conference.
I do not think there is a problem with the Jury work (apart from the fact that it needs to publish the result on time), and the committee should not interfere with the jury work.
Furthermore, the committee should not oversee every aspect that the local team handles. It should give advices from their experience (such as 7:00 AM is too early to start the day; most people will not register before April), answer questions (example for such questions: how many people are expected to attend the hacking days) but should not impose opinions (example: it will not say that "you should not distribute hats").
It should be a tool for the international wiki community to assist the local team in creating the event. Deror avi 10:47, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
I totally agree with everything you have said here deror. Indeed the only real issues with the jury is the selection and the timeline. I also fully agree that the committee should not impose its opinion on the conference organisers. The committee fills two roles:
a)Firstly facilitation. The committee should be there to offer advice, to help direct organisers to the right people and to guide them when the team asks for it.
b)Secondly a safety net. Teams can come into great difficulties and may not know how to progress or they may suffer from a lack of volunteer support which makes running a conference difficult. This has happened before and it wouldn't be a surprise if it happened again.
Seddon 18:23, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
As someone involved with the NYC 2011 bid, I think that a "Wikimania Advisory Group" will be able to prove its usefulness not only in the period after selection, but also in the shaping and facilitation of the bidding process itself.--Pharos 13:19, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

Harel, Wikimania Oversight should be a community process, just like the Langcom or the chapcom. You are going to accumulate a good bit of experience for that 'Wikimania Handbook', wouldn't it make sense to pass down that knowledge to the next organizers. Wikimania is becoming larger and more complex every year, and so are the problems from Travel to technical to event-management related issues, not to mention the number of attendees will also keep increasing every year. A committee can act as a conduit to pass on that experience and offer help and I do stress "offer" here, I dont think the intention here is to incite a turf war of any sort. what you said you need is exactly what this committee will offer a couple of people either staff members or community members who will specialize in helping with the conference, to answer your questions and act as liaisons. Your concern about the committee interfering and micro-managing any aspect of the conference seems a bit premature at this stage. A committee will accumulate experience with every conference, any lesson you learn can be passed on to the next organizers. I think its better to have a committee and not need it then to not have it at all this year or the next.--Theo10011 11:49, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

If the goal is to have some sort of institutionalized memory so the organizers can tap into the experience of the previous teams, maybe Wikimania Advisory Board would be a better name? --Tgr 19:44, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Yes that might be a good suggestion. It removes the essence of bureaucracy that the word committee carries. Seddon 23:26, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
Or "Wikimania Advisory Group", to get away from the "board" model and that implicit bureaucracy?
James F. (talk) 06:36, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Endorsed proposed name. (I hope to input to more substantial things too, but now a bit occupied ...) --Aphaia 15:37, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Lesson learn and best practice[edit]

Hi, this is probably off topic but I'm going to say it anyway. Isn't it should be a lesson learn and best practice gathered from the previous Wikimania, lesson learn is why a location is doing, say succeed very well, and while other location not get picked and why? Harel list upstairs is good and it fit beautifully as a "to - do - list" inside. Also, how many people attended every year? What is the goal? Getting (potential) leaders from all over the world through scholarship, media coverage, or just a very expensive reunion? Serenity.id 13:51, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Wikimedia Committee Vs. Jury[edit]

I am wondering what the issue is there to avoid. As I see it, the Jury and the committee would be composed of the same structure in terms of a mix of community members and permanent staff positions like any other committee. The jury's job would end with the selection of a host and the committee's job would begin after it. The responsibilities involved with Wikimania are getting complicated every year- there are already travel related issues for next year, a committee with experience in Event management, Visa policies, Volunteer organization etc. would be invaluable to have around. What is the biggest concern about such a committee? --Theo10011 13:40, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

The handbook[edit]

I was wondering what had already been done with regards to the handbook. Has it ever been started somewhere ? If not, what is the reason it was not started yet ? As much as I can understand the potential worries related to a Wikimania advisory committee (yeah, more bureaucracy and so on), I see not what prevents anyone just quickstarting the book and filling it little by little. One step at a time. It may be that it will take over a year to write, and then the committee can jump in to make sure it is complete, accurate, up to date and so on. But what prevents starting it ? Anthere

Wikimania/Handbook--Theo10011 14:31, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
eh, that's a start ! Anthere
its been at a start-level for a while.--Theo10011 16:00, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

Reports after each Wikimania[edit]

A template for how to conduct aftermath report might be appropriate. Also, some sort of poll that past wikimania leads could fill out, even now some time after the fact, would be quite helpful in adding to the handbook. SJ talk  01:59, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

An idea whose time has come[edit]

I love this idea, and if done well this could take much of the ambiguity and pressure off of the process of running the event. In the past two years we have had many very new people get excited about Wikimania and become part of the process, from being jurors to joining someone else's bid team; that's a good spirit to build on. SJ talk  01:59, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

I agree with SJ on this. Its time has come and I am willing to join others in helping make it a reality, if there is indeed that interest. I think the continuity I've seen between the Wikimania Programme and Scholarship Committees has been good, but there are some actions which could delay things which I believe this advisory board could address. I agree with HK Team that we do not want two feuding groups, and the "power" should remain with the host/organizing team. However, I also think it would be valuable to assign a few responsibilities to the group, such as setting a consistent friendly space policy, the main tracks (with the organizing team adding others they feel are helpful), etc. In general, if these things are discussed as an "advisory board" rather than a governing board, I think all of this could be negotiated with the first 1-2 organizing teams and set a pattern for future years that folks find agreeable.

--Varnent (talk)(COI) 17:57, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

Ideas a created Wikimania Advisory Group might consider[edit]

This is not to say that we should do this, just that these are some ideas we've heard over the years that might be good for the WAG if it comes into existence to consider; feel free to expand this list! Probably best not to try to discuss them yet, though. James F. (talk) 17:36, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

  • Encouraging runner-up bids to run a smaller event (perhaps a regional Wikimedia conference).
  • Wikimania might move to have a global conference in the (Northern hemisphere's) Summer, with a set of regional ones in the Winter/Spring.
  • Wikimania might move to have a global conference every other year, with a set of regional ones alternate years.
  • Some clear branding ideas - is "Wikimania" just the global annual conference, or do we go down the route of TED, having "Wikimania x Europe" etc.?
  • We could abandon the bidding process and instead just nominate and appoint cities directly.
  • If we keep the bidding system in some fashion, the WAG could define a region ahead of bids (e.g. "West Coast of North America" or "Sub-Saharan Africa" or …).
  • Should the WAG adopt a formal system of rotation of locations - e.g. <Europe, East Asia, North America, MENA, Europe, South Asia/Oceania, North America, South America, repeat>?
  • Perhaps the WAG (or one/two representatives) could do in-person site visits to candidate cities before making a decision.
  • Should cities have a clear 2 years before their event (so the declaration for the winning location for Wikimania 2016 should be made by end-July 2014)?
  • Creating a couple of Wikimania policies that carry between events - such as safe space and sponsorship policies. Perhaps with an annual review so each organizing team can also provide input?
  • Standardizing some elements of the program - such as 2-3 tracks that remain consistent, that each Wikimania has a Hackathon, and maybe a few other things which have become "tradition" but seem to be debated each year anyway.
  • Completing and maintaing a "guide" for each organizing team - basically a group to make sure reports are entered in and that relevant info is summarized appropriately. Leaving this to the organizing teams seems to add an additional burden that is sometimes overlooked due to higher priorities.
  • Ways for Wikimania teams to communicate/volunteer with the previous year's chosen team in the lead up to and during their event.
  • Creating guidelines and requirements initial bids should review before submitting, specifically related to things like:
    • Fundraising potential
    • Ability to protect attendees (this in light of the discussion of one bid city this year not being able to legally protect LGBT attendees)
    • Accessibility for differently-abled (no wheelchair access would be a huge problem)
    • Availability of visas (if there are active countries unable to get one - then again that would be a problem)
    • Travel accommodation availability (no airport within say 2-4 hours could be a problem)

Continuity of social media[edit]

Also: no need to reinvent social media handlers every year, starting with 0 followers each time. I know, weak relation with the topic here but before creating anything Wikimania'14 please remember these lines.--Qgil (talk) 05:54, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

Why should WMF "create" the committee?[edit]

I was a bit surprised by the resolution of the WMF Board about the authorisation of creating a Wikimania committee; I don’t understand the rationale behind this. I’m not very knowledgeable about the organization of Wikimanias, but I have not the feeling WMF is more legitimate as any other entity in the movement to authorise (or not) the creation of such a committee.

After, if WMF or other entities recognize afterwards the creation of such a committee by the movement and decide to delegate it attribution of grants to the organizing local/global team (as the FDC is delegated by WMF), or delegate it attribution of scholarships, or delegate it a staffer, why not? it’s their own money but I don’t understand why WMF/WMFR/WMDE/etc should authorise a priori the creation of the committee.

~ Seb35 [^_^] 09:15, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Continuity of events. As said above, most of our volunteers resource are disposed year after year. We should be able to reuse sponsors, committees, and other resources; and not wasting our energy to start everything on starch every year. --Simon Shek (talk) 14:21, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
I completely aggree such a committee is useful; I just don’t understand why should authorize the creation of this committee and why this committee could not be create as it, by the community (i.e. by the heavily-involved people and other interested people). ~ Seb35 [^_^] 22:59, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
I think this is mostly a community-originated committee, however the board of the WMF is asked to confirm it. I think this makes sense, as the trademarks lie with the Wikimedia Foundation, and in that way the WMF is the only organization that could forbid the "International Wikimedia Conference" and thus the only organization that could potentially enforce the decisions of such a committee, if any. Also, there are likely some resources required: some budget and staff resources to work effectively. All that is perhaps not impossible without, but certainly a lot easier with formal board approval. Effeietsanders (talk) 10:34, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
I agree - I think there is value in this group having a charter approved by the board to give it some ease of use of recommending trademark approvals, etc. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 01:31, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

The idea behind a number of committees started with the community - the LangCom is another example - and simply had confirmation of status via the Board. I agree that there should be some other body -- a projects-focused community council perhaps, representing the contributors, rather than the Board representing the Foundation and the legal/financial/administrative side of the projects. If we had such a group, that would be the right body to approve committee charters. Until such a body exists, the WMF Board fills has in the past filled in. SJ talk  23:20, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

Update: On discussion, the Board doesn't think that we (or the WMF/WM<chapter> should authorise the creation of community committees, or approve their charters. For the reasons Seb notes above, and for simplicity: community groups should be as free as possible to self-organize. I think that groups of community members should feel free to start everything from wikiprojects to workgroups and committees without fanfare or elections or large RfCs : if the result of the group is useful, then great! And if not, then some other system is clearly needed. That's how wikimania juries, WLM teams, and the like have been formed since the wikis started. Please see the letter below from some of the current Trustees, after a discussion about this at Wikimania. SJ talk  20:59, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

Moved from the page[edit]

Some of this is covered in the current charter draft; others need to be worked out or deduped with work already specified by pages on Meta.

Possible policies[edit]

Ideas for some policies the committee might want to set.
Wikimania concept

Narrowing-down what "Wikimania" is (and is not) and what we're doing it for.

Selection criteria

The current criteria for selecting bids are fairly stable, and should be summarised and clarified.

Selection process

The current process for selecting bids could do with some significant re-work to better bring in the community and make things rather more transparent.

Selection timeline

The current timeline for bids gives less than a year to organise a major conference. Ideally, there should be more time planned for this.

Rotation policy

Useful to have a discussion about whether adopting an explicit rotation policy in selection for the first time (and what it might be), to help potential bids decide what year to target.


Response to the proposed WMF resolution[edit]

Wikimania is a major community undertaking, and we recognize the effort involved in bidding, selecting and organizing the event. We also recognize that many issues would benefit from more sustained annual coordination.

This proposal to create a Wikimania committee was suggested as a resolution for the WMF Board to consider. The Board discussed the proposal at its meeting in Hong Kong, and was generally supportive of the idea, but did not think this needs a Board decision. The WMF supports but does not oversee Wikimania planning, nor is Board approval required to create community committees.

Our understanding is that this is to be a community-led committee, which does not make regular recommendations to the Board. The community is empowered to create and structure such a committee as it sees fit. We would be pleased to see a Wikimania committee develop. Sue has also indicated that she would be happy to support such a committee, and that support may be requested via the staff Wikimania liaison.

The committee has already developed its charter on Meta; reports can be published there as well. The audience should not be the Board, but rather the community of Wikimania planners and participants, of which the Board is a small but enthusiastic part.

Thank you to everyone supporting Wikimania, for your efforts and dedication to making this a great conference for all of us every year.

Regards, Sam, Phoebe, Patricio, Jan-Bart

Initial committee & timeline for others[edit]

For those of us who won't be on the committee but are interested in promoting the wikimania timeline, how is that going to be determined this year?