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Grants:Conference/Diversity Conference 2017/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Conference Grant approved in FY 2017-18 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • To read the approved grant submission describing the plan for this project, please visit Grants:Conference/Diversity Conference 2017.
  • You may still comment on this report on its discussion page, or visit the discussion page to read the discussion about this report.
  • You are welcome to Email conferencegrants at wikimedia dot org at any time if you have questions or concerns about this report.


Did you meet your goals?

Target outcome Achieved outcome Explanation
A total of 70 participants, for at least one of the days 81 participants engaged in a two day conference.
50 % female participants 60 % female participants These are statistics based on the application forms of all participants.
At least 2 representatives from emerging communities 39 representatives from emerging communities We have looked at conference participants who come from countries listen on Community Engagement/Defining Emerging Communities, knowing that some may have represented emergent communities other than those defined by their country of residence. Two more participants representing emerging communities were denied visa at the last minute. We made a conscious decision to achieve a higher outcome than originally planned in terms of reaching members of emergent communities. This was decided after initial feedback was given to the team from community members.
20 % of participants present at or moderate sessions 39 % of participants presented or moderated sessions The interactive format of the conference meant this target was exceeded. 10 lightning talks, the three skill sharing sessions had groups of about 4 leading each session. Another 5 presented and then also facilitation was supported by 4 participants. If the format for the conference had been decided when this target was set, it would have made much more sense to aim for a higher target.
75 % response rate for the post-event survey, with an 80 % approval rating 78 % response rate. 100 % approval rate 61% of the respondents rated the conference “excellent” and the remaining part rated it as “good”.
2 new projects/partnerships initiated Examples of projects include (from follow up survey):
  1. Wikiwomen meetup at WMCON policy working group
  2. implementing 'friendly space' policies in my Wikimedia community
  3. WikiGap
  4. Wikipedia Asian Month in my country
  5. Co-authored and submitted an academic paper with another participant
  6. Joint application with another chapter
60 % of the respondents in the follow up survey agree or strongly agree that they started or joined an initiative with other participants. Tracking a complete list of projects coming out of the conference is difficult, we would recommend to measure this outcome by how many participants indicate that they joined or started a project or partnership.
1 new tool or communication channel created to better coordinate work amongst participants and the greater community. 1 channel is the Wikimedia Diversity group on the Wikimedia Resource center. 27 participants from the conference joined the group which currently has 43 members. There was suggestions to open up the conference Facebook group after the conference, but the decision was made to keep it closed for participants under the same conditions as when participants and conference volunteers had joined. Other channels include the talk page for Diversity conversation which is part of the conference portal.
Information about the improvements of the Tea House has reached at least 25 people N/A Due to staff changes we could not offer help with activating Tea House on other Wikimedia projects, hence we did not focus on informing about this possibility.
Information about Wikispeech has reached at least 25 people 81 Printed information was provided to all participants as part of the conference package. The project was also discussed in person with a number of people.
1 new sponsor supports Wikimedia Sverige's activities 1 sponsor supported the conference The facilitator of the conference offered her services free of charge which meant we could add more of the budget on funding travel for participants.
2 external organizations, or media outlets, report about the event 0 With media outlets, we prioritized communication efforts connected to Katherine Maher’s participation, however, at the very end the scheduling of interviews fell through due to double booking.
1 internal report about the lessons learnt when organizing an international event will be produced 1 report produced In understanding the impact of the conference, surveying participants has been essential. There was a post-event survey sent out to all participants the day following the conference. After 6 months, there was a very short follow-up survey sent to all participants.

Next steps[edit]

Please share a brief update about the status projects, important discussions and/or capacity building that took place at the event.

Activities during the conference 2 months after the conference 6 months after the conference
Strategic Discussions:

Were any significant issues your community discussed at the conference?

  • The WikiCafé was the main activity which allowed for strategic discussions in a big group dialogue, involving all 80 conference participants. The dialogue focused on the Strategic direction and prompted participants to think about questions such as: "How would this direction change your work in the context of diversity?" and "What would you need in order to implement the direction in your own community, project or affiliate?"
  • A summary statement was drafted on day 2 based on the WikiCafé discussions. It was presented to the conference and participants could provide input, see Conversation notes.
One month after the conference, the summary statement was presented in a blog post on the Wikimedia blog. At the same time the on-wiki Diversity conversation was launched calling participants and other Wikimedians to take part and comment on some of the outcomes of the strategy discussions. The summary statement was presented at Wikimedia Conference 2018, as part of the strategy conversation. The documented output was added to the on-wiki conversation.
Capacity Development: Please list capacity building sessions or workshops. The conference had three parallel skill sharing sessions:
  1. Reaching diversity through technology
  2. Scaling diversity campaigns and programs
  3. Accessing resources to increase diversity

Other capacity building sessions for all participants were:

100% of participants, who took the 6 months follow up survey in May, either agree or strongly agree that they have used the skills and knowledge acquired at the conference.
Projects or Working Groups:

What are the most important projects that were started or improved during the conference?

The Way forward session, participants self organized into 10 small groups to discuss specific challenges, such as
  • Minority languages
  • LGBT issues
  • Diversity & Governance
  • Decolonizing knowledge
  • Metrics for diversity
  • In January, the network of diversity leaders was central in forming the WikiGap campaign and several conference participants helped support local events or connecting affiliates with partnerships for the campaign of 50+ events.
60% of participants, who answered the follow up survey in May, either agree or strongly agree that they have started or joined an initiative with Wikimedians they met at the conference.


Conferences and events do not always go according to plan. Sharing what you learned can help you and others plan similar projects in the future. Help the movement learn from your experience by answering the following questions:

  • What worked well at the event?
A participatory event.

The organizing team was able to do some consulting with program committee members and other Wikimedians during Wikimania 2017. From these discussions, it was clear that the kind of conference that many wanted to see should avoid parallel tracks featured in more traditional conference program made up of back-to-back presentations. Instead, there was an agreement that the format should foster networking and discussions between participants and that participants would be highly active during the conference sessions. We recommend that future thematic events are planned well in advance and take advantage of other Wikimedia events. We suggest that this should be reflected in the grant application process as we believe this to be more crucial for a successful Wikimedia event, than to limit the evaluations of the grant applications to online endorsements or community surveys.

Conference facilitation.

With this format in mind, we approached a professional facilitator with experience from organizing participatory events on diversity topics. She helped design big group activities such as the World Café for strategic discussions and Marketplace for next steps discussions. The outside expertise that she offered was monumental for the success of the conference format. The conference facilitation had a 98% approval rate. We recommend that WMF compile a pool of international facilitators and shared their contact details as part of the planning process for the events, along with recommendations for how to use their expertise for a conference.

Planning for a non-traditional conference format meant that the program committee needed to find new ways to develop programmatic content. For this, we realized that a framework to support the planning was in part missing. The unconventional aspect of this type of conference format is that it is participant driven rather than solely relying on a program to structure the scope, meaning that the program has less emphasis. Instead, the main mechanism for the success of the conference is preparing participants to be self-organizing as a big group. The conference facilitator could offer support for how to think about the conference flow from start to finish and propose activities suited to the different stages of the conference and the number of participants. We realized we should try to organize the program committee work with a change in focus from one on quality of content to quality in participation. We developed material to support engagement in the activities (see for example the WikiCafe kit) and also invested time in fine tuning the three questions that the strategic discussions hinged on. Base camps was another concept we used to allow room for recurrent organized small group discussions and reflection, activities which may be overlooked in organizing a program but we believe this format benefited from them and help participants connect and network. We recommend others who wish to organize a less conventional conference similar to WikiDivCon to communicate the design to participants at an early stage to set expectations that the program will be highly intense, yet not open for submissions in the way other conferences may be. Communication should take into account that prior experience from a similar format may vary a lot between interested participants, and conference volunteers, which is a reason to invest time and effort into it as soon as possible.

Applicants represented 51 countries.

The selection process by the Scholarship committee was also an important cornerstone for this, as the conference only had capacity to invite a group of 80 participants. This number came out of budget planning, logistics capacity of the venue, and managing the intimate and highly interactive type of event we wanted to achieve. 93 % of the participants were satisfied or very satisfied with the number of participants. We had 153 highly qualified applicants from 51 countries, which was much more than we expected. Sadly, two participants were denied visa. However, overall we are very happy that our intense work around visa applications paid off and that 89,5 percent of the visa applications were approved. This was very positive for the quality of the event and the diversity of participants. Based on the applications and the discussions we had with participants we believe that this was due to the theme of the conference – diversity. However, it also meant that many dedicated people could not participate. Some people said in the Feedback survey that more people should be able to take part in this kind of conference. There were also comments that a conference of this kind should take three days as there are many important topics to cover. In order to harness the large interest from Wikimedians to act for increased diversity on Wikimedia projects, we recommend that Wikimedia diversity conferences are organized regularly.

What are the three benefits of attending Wikimedia Diversity Conference?

For a participatory event it is important to vet participants for knowledge about the topic and valuable lessons to share. A rather comprehensive application process was developed with a number of questions being answered by the potential attendees. This helped ensure a diverse group of participants. The fact that all participants were offered a scholarship seem to have been an important factor to create interest to finalize the substantial application, despite the time needed. Based on the experience we believe that the scholarships often are a somewhat underutilized tool to activate participants of the event and would recommend a clearer set of expectations for the participants receiving the scholarships for a Wikimedia event.

To build participants’ capacity to work with diversity in Wikimedia, three skill sharing sessions were organized. These session were parallel and limited to one hour, and the only session in the program to have parallel activities in three separate rooms. Some people said in the Feedback survey that they would have liked more time for this session and we also had feedback that preparing in teams for leading a session added value. The topics were taken from interests expressed in the applications and leaders were approached by the program committee based on assumptions that they had the capacity to lead the session with a diversity lens.

The program committee also actively worked with the session leaders to support the activities and encourage a team effort on each skill sharing session. Preparing participation in this way is another example of how the program was prepared with at focus on participation and based on who attended the conference. In terms of time and effort, we believe these preparations can match those of submission selections and they can be improved as we gain more experience from them. The program committee had the following asks of skill sharing session leaders:

  • Leaders are responsible for running their session with a diversity lense. This can include gender gap considerations, but must also include other aspects of diversity and examples of gaps we have less knowledge about.
    One example of this may be to consider tools and skill sets from the point of view how they can be used to increase diversity, inclusive actions, or privilege minorities in Wikimedia.
  • Leaders include diverse participation and diverse examples in their session. The committee advice to organize and prepare the session as a team effort, inviting other participants with relevant examples and perspectives to co-facilitate the session.
    One example can be to discuss and analyze one case from the point of view of different needs in various communities and contexts.
  • Leaders allow for participants in the session to discuss diversity of roles and responsibilities and how access to resources can be different or unequal.
    One such question can be about which roles are and are not considered part of Wikimedia, and by whom, and what are the implications.
  • What did not work so well?
  • Organizing the travels for the participants took up a lot of staff time. It was costly to not find the right support at the right time. We received support for the visa application process from WMDE which helped us execute it successfully. However, this was still a time consuming and stressful endeavor when none in the team had worked with supporting visa applications previously. There was an extra burden on the team as participants missed their flights. Based on the experience from the conference we have established a B2B partnership with a travel agency working to support NGOs.
  • When planning for the conference we wanted to ensure a diverse participation with the diversity leaders from across the world. We did not want someone not applying because they could not cover their own costs. Therefore scholarships were offered to all participants being accepted for the conference. However, when receiving applications we realized that a group of around 15 participants could actually cover their own costs and were also willing to pay a conference fee to allow more people to receive scholarships. We had not planned for this possibility, even though in hindsight it seem pretty obvious which created confusion in our communication.
  • Wikimedia Sverige has not previously invested resources in attracting corporate sponsorships and took the opportunity with this event to start working on different tools and methods to find sponsors. It was something we deemed worthwhile as we intended to apply to host Wikimania in 2019 and the material and network could then be reused. We did learn many valuable lessons but quickly realized that this kind of movement internal event was very hard to attract sponsors to.

  • What would you do differently next time?
Report from Feedback survey and 6 months follow up survey.
  • Since the application form became such an integral tool in developing several aspects of the conference, it can be vastly improved with that in mind for next time.
  • Communicate to participants better how the program is being designed to mitigate expectations on submitting proposals but explain how participants will be able to contribute with their experience and projects. Offering poster sessions at the venue is one way to cater for that. The topic of diversity is multi faceted and some people said that the scope of the conference was weighed too heavily on the gender gap, and some expressed that they would have liked to have something similar to tracks depending on areas of interests in diversity issues. There is certainly a balance to strike between engaging a big group in single track activities without leaving discussions too generic.
  • Regarding travels we strongly believe that further support from WMF would offer significant cost savings for the movement as a whole, rather than having each affiliate handle the work. For future events we therefore would recommend one of the following approaches, depending on available budget: (1) the most cost effective way for the movement would probably be that WMF’s travel team handle all the bookings, as they have experience and established methods; (2) if this is not possible, the organizing affiliate should be supported by WMF’s travel team in the early planning stage to establish sane practices regarding travel; or (3) WMF gives hands-on support to the affiliate with identifying a local travel agency that can handle bookings and payments.
  • Division of organizational responsibilities between involved affiliates and WMF presented both opportunities and challenges. WMF, with it’s experience and large amount of resources can complement and support the organizing teams with valuable inputs to the conference. However, worth nothing is that at this conference organizers and participants expressed concerns over some of the interactions and difficulties in voicing opinions on equal footing (this was done both in person and in the Feedback survey – anonymised quotes can be provided upon request). We recommend that in future events, with a large presence coming from WMF or from any other single affiliate, the team should assign a person with a coordinating role. This coordinator should be tasked with having an active dialogue with the organizing team in the early stages of planning, and clarify the roles and responsibilities during the conference. Furthermore, we believe that scheduling a meeting for all organizers, (affiliates, committees and WMF), after the conference to discuss what worked and what could be improved, would have been valuable. Such a meeting would complement this report, which in its very nature should be on a meta level analysis.

Financial documentation[edit]

This section describes the grant's use of funds

Budget table

Please list all project expenses in a table here, with descriptions. Review the instructions here. These expenses should be listed in the same format as the budget table in your approved submission so that anyone reading this report may be able to easily compare budgeted vs. actual expenses.

Budgeted total

The column with budgeted total includes the three WMF grants that funded the conference.

Number Category Item description Unit Number of units Actual cost per unit Actual total Budgeted total Currency Notes
1 Scholarships for conference participation, accommodation and travel This was Scholarship 3 Person 33 12,138.99 SEK 406,016.82 SEK 284,169.00 SEK SEK The budget for Scholarship 1 is based on 20,714 USD WMF grant 1 , and 10,000 USD WMF grant 2, and 2,811 USD WMF grant 3
2 Scholarships for conference participation and accommodation This was Scholarship 2 Person 19 4,042.38 SEK 77, 913.30 SEK 70,120.00 SEK SEK Long distance travelling participants with scholarship 3 were given extra nights to fit with scheduled flights adding around 12,000 SEK to the total cost for accommodation, which is part of the overall increased costs for accommodation affecting scholarship 2.
3 Scholarship for conference participation This was Scholarship 1 Person 25 2,182.38 SEK 57,361.25 SEK 53,900.00 SEK SEK
4 Museum tour Costs for venue of social event Venue 1 2,400.00 SEK 2,400.00 SEK 10,000.00 SEK SEK The venue for the social event was provided in-kind and was free of charge. The cost was for security at the venue.
5 T-shirts 0.00 SEK 0.00 SEK 0.00 SEK SEK T-shirts were not approved so not budgeted for.
6 Merchandise & stationery Swag, badges, lanyards Conference package 81 212.36 SEK 17,200.88 SEK 12,000 SEK SEK The Swag Wiki kit was funded by WMSE KÖK of 12,369 SEK.
7 Administrative support Staff worktime Days 103 2,500 SEK 257,541.15 SEK 58,441.76 SEK SEK
8 Facilitator at conference - Days 2 0 SEK 0 SEK 20,000 SEK SEK The facilitator volunteered and the budgeted costs were moved to travel scholarships.
9 10% unforeseen expenses 42,562.00 SEK SEK 10 % of WMF grant 1) 425,620 SEK.
  • Currency exchange: 1 USD is SEK is 8.68635 SEK (from grants application)
Summary of funding

Total project budget (from your approved grant submission):

63,455.05 USD (The three WMF grants; grant 1) 48,998.72USD, grant 2) 9,181.07 USD and grant 3) 2,811.20 USD.)

Total amount requested from WMF (from your approved grant submission):

63,455.05 USD (The three WMF grants; grant 1) 48,998-72 USD, grant 2 9,181.07 USD and grant 3) 2,811.20 USD.)

Total amount spent on this project (this total should be the total calculated from the table above):

818,433.40 SEK/ 94 220,63USD

Total amount of WMF grant funds spent on this project:

63,455.05 USD (The three WMF grants; grant 1) 48,998.72 USD, grant 2) 9,181.07 USD and grant 3) 2,811.20 USD.)

Are there additional sources of revenue that funded any part of this project? List them here.

Source of funding SEK USD
WMNO grant 9,270.00 SEK 1,067.19 USD
WMNO scholarships 18,299.00 SEK 2,106.64 USD
WMSE KÖK 12,369.00 SEK 1,423.96 USD
WMSE Wikispeech 13,168.75 SEK 1,516.03 USD
WMSE FDC 235,537.61 SEK 27,115.83 USD

Remaining funds

Are there any grant funds remaining?

Answer YES or NO.

Please list the total amount (specify currency) remaining here. (This is the amount you did not use, or the amount you still have after completing your grant.)


Anything else[edit]

Is there anything else you want to share about the conference or event?

Comments on the budget[edit]

What is your overall rating of the conference?

The approved budget from WMF for the conference was adjusted three times with funds added. During the preparations of the events, funds were added from two external grants and from our Annual Planning Grant. Additionally, Wikimedia Norge supported the conference with funds and worktime. The added funds allowed us to reach even further with the execution of the conference and create a legacy from it.

As we increased the goal for inviting Wikimedians from emergent communities the cost for scholarships also increased. The staff time needed to offer visa and travel support significantly increased due to this decision. We had some unexpected increase in working costs due to three participants missing their long distance flights. A low number of participants were sadly not approved visa in the last minute which adds to the overall travel spending without the opportunity for the conference to benefit from the participation of these Wikimedians.

We believe that the value gained from investing more resources into the conference was significant to our chapter. The investments in the conference were all within the framework of the the chapter's planned budget for 2018. It helped us prepare for our upcoming international events Wikimedia Northern Europe Meeting in 2018 and Wikimania in 2019 as it gave us experience with logistics, improved our capabilities with sponsorships, evaluation, B2B and reporting etc. The added funds also made it possible to communicate further around our development work around Wikispeech. For our first major conference, we had high ambitions and we are proud to achieve a 100% approval rate, and we acknowledge that the extra work came at a cost.