Future of the Wikimedia Conference
Following the previous discussions (on chapters-l; during past events) about the future of the Wikimedia Conference, I have started collecting questions, thoughts and ideas that we may discuss openly within the movement. The overall question is if the Wikimedia conference as we know it still fits to our needs and what we can do together to make it a successful and sustainable event. Feel free to add your views and suggestions here. All input is appreciated. Best, --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 23:07, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Goals of the Wikimedia Conference
Chapters/Affiliates goals, roles and needs
Major issues, hot topics we need to work on
Next year and/or also in the future...
What outcomes do we expect?
How do we measure the success of the conference?
This can be decided upon as soon as we have sorted out what we want to achieve. Whom do we need on site to make it a success?
Other movement or like-minded/befriended entities from outside the movement
Number of representatives
Do we stick to the 2 representatives per entity “rule”?
Do we differentiate between the kinds of entities regarding the number of representatives?
I disagree with the current differentiation between the kinds of entities regarding the number of representatives and think this particular rule should be looked into again. My observation from my first ever participation at the WMCON15 was that, this particular rule disallows representatives (1 from each USERGROUP) to make the best of the opportunity given and even defeats the purpose of the conference which I believe is to learn and share. There were so many instances I had to sacrifice other equally important sessions that I believe would have benefitted my community upon my return, but just had to make a choice as these sometimes happened concurrently.Flixtey (talk) 08:26, 4 October 2015 (UTC)
Setting, surroundings, attach to other events
This can be decided upon as soon as we have sorted out what we want to achieve and whom we would like to attend.
Do we need a three day conference?
Does it make sense to combine the meeting with Wikimania or other events?
I don' think that Wikimedia Conference should be combined with Wikimania. What makes Wikimedia Conference effective is the participation from every Wikimedia movement entities, making direct exchange of experiences and engagement in discussion, arguments by the Wikimedians. This is not ensured by Wikimania or other global Wikimedia programs. In Wikimedia Conference, every chapters, thematic organization and user group is represented, thus they get the chance to interact with each other or even with WMF personnel, AffCom members, FDC members. This is necessary in a sense that the lively discussion foster further engagement of the Wikimedians in the movement and helps the entities gather experiences. So Wikimedia Conference should be held with direct participation from the WMF Board to Wikimedians in chapters or user groups. Tanweer (talk) 11:20, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
I don’t like a lot the idea of combining the Wikimedia Conference with Wikimania, for many small reasons: the latter is a "fun" event at the contrary of the former which is a "serious" event; the topics are quite different (general vs highly-focused); Wikimania is a party and people don’t sleep a lot (so not a problem for a few days, but it could impact in a 6-7-day-long conference); a separate WMCon gives a chance of meeting entities colleagues/friends a second time in the year (to discuss the entities affairs); it would be more difficult to organise a bigger/longer event, etc. The only advantage I see for a combined event is to reduce the transport costs (although Wikimania is exactly during the northern-hemisphere summer, when a lot of people travel, and consequently higher transport tickets and accommodation costs), but this a minor point counterbalanced by many other points. ~ Seb35 [^_^] 08:11, 20 September 2014 (UTC)
What makes the Wikimedia Conference so different from Wikimania?
- I think one of the defining characteristic of the Wikimedia Conference is that it gets all chapters (and in the future, hopefully others) into the same place, which is not at all guaranteed with Wikimania and is usually not the case with Wikimania. (I think it is very important for the movement entities to be on the same page and participate in the shaping of the movement's future - they need to participate in the discussions, but we as a movement need to invest into building the capacity of every entity. It needs to be understood that every time a new entity is approved, it will cost the movement on average a few thousand dollars a year to get them into the same room with the others.)
- Theoretically it should be possible to change the attendance rules for Wikimania, but in practice it is a very full and demanding event already that might overwhelm people if the whole Wikimedia Conference was merged into it (with the added meetings, training sessions, and the dedicated focused discussions [the latter of which might be something the conference does better than Wikimania]) –Bence (talk) 14:32, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
- I think the Wikimedia Conference is a convention of the representations from the foundation and foundations affiliates to discuss and shape the future of the movement. Bringing to light hurdles encountered, suggested best practices and realignment of affiliates to the ultimate goals of the movement. This is more of internal discussions or things that matter to steer the future activities of the movement unlike Wikimania.
- Wikimania to me, is more of an opportunity to enforce cohesion in the movement, commending exceptional volunteers, helping to make the faces behind the names and drawing inspiration or motivation from other experienced volunteers. For me its a perfect yearly event to say thank you for been a volunteer for the movement, such participants may or may not necessarily be affiliated with a foundations affiliate but edit because they want to just volunteer their time to something meaningful. Such people would not have an interest to participate in an event such as the Wikimedia Conference.Flixtey (talk) 08:42, 4 October 2015 (UTC)
Which format suits our needs best?
BarCamps, Open Space, regular conference, workshops, a lot of space and free time to chat and mingle...
Suggestion: Split the responsibilities into three parts. This makes sure that no chapter is totally overextended with the big bunch of tasks, but shows that we live our values of sharing also in the way we organise things. It also makes sure that all tasks are really taken care of. The teams do not need to be very big and the whole process should be as easy and unbureaucratic as possible, but needs clear responsibilities.
Each responsible team can be a single chapter, or a committee formed by staff and volunteers.
Venue, Logistics, Travel, Visa
How about finding the best place via a bidding process? This should not be as big as the Wikimania process, of course. After having decided upon the general requirements, we can ask every entity that is interested in hosting the event to post a short “application” with a rough budget and presentation of the plans, with pros and cons, on Meta. Make it an open voting process or form a small committee to decide upon it in the end.
One criteria should be the total travel costs for all attendees, no matter if they need a scholarship or pay it from their own grants or FDC money. Since all money we spent is movement money, we should aim for one of the cheaper options here.
Idea: Decide not only upon one year but for like the next three years to make the whole process more efficient in the end. It can be very attractive to have a fixed location then to rotate and start again from the scratch year after year.
Programme and Documentation
The programme team can facilitate a brainstorming process on-wiki to collect the topics that need to be discussed according to the overall goals. The earlier it starts working together with the event’s facilitators, the better. Then they draft the agenda and find suitable speakers for all topics and finalise the programme early. This helps chapters/entities to decide whom to send to the event.
Budget and evaluation
Once we know what exactly this conference is for, and what we would like to reach, we can start thinking about how much it is worth.
By “budget” it is not meant that this group is responsible for paying all the costs, but for finding out how much do we as a movement want to invest into this conference.
The budget must include scholarships. All chapters (plus all the entities we decide we need on site to make the event successful) should be able to sent the respective number of representatives. Be it via their own budget or via the general scholarship pool. It is all movement money that is going to be spent, so every entity should have equal chances to attend.
There are movement entities capable and willing to pay the costs. The WMF and several chapters can surely be addressed with a grant or support application.
How can we make sure that the outcomes/results/actions are transferred back to ALL chapters afterwards? What about the evaluation six months later?
It is important to make the conference as a whole more sustainable. We need follow-ups after the conference, to see how the things that we started there develop. And there should be a connection between the different years to make sure that all knowledge (logistics AND outcomes) is transferred and that we tie in with the results of the previous years.
- Kick-off the discussion
- Agree upon goals and needs
- Agree upon measures of success
- Agree upon attendees
- Agree upon responsibilities
- Agree upon a date (may relate to the annual spring WMF board meeting)
- Draft the Budget
- Start finding a venue, take care of all the logistics
- Start drafting the programme
- Define evaluation and documentation process
These issues should be discussed not only on Meta but also during Wikimania, on the pre-conference days, it is already on the schedule.