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This Wikimedia Foundation grant has a fiscal sponsor. Wikimedia DC administered the grant on behalf of WikiConference North America.

WCNA/WikiConference North America 2018
A grant for the annual WikiConference North America conference. This year's event takes place in October in Columbus, Ohio, in collaboration with the Ohio State University Libaries.
targetMostly English language Wikimedia Foundation projects; also French and Spanish projects
strategic priorityIncreasing Participation
event dates18 October 2018 - 21 October 2018
amount-local$60,000 $44,000
amount$60,000 $44,000
nonprofitYes, through a non-profit fiscal sponsor (Wikimedia DC)
contact• info(_AT_)wikiconference.org• kevinpayravi(_AT_)gmail.com, pharosofalexandria(_AT_)gmail.com

Event overview[edit]

Purpose and vision

WikiConference North America is the annual conference of Wikimedia enthusiasts and volunteers from throughout the continent, providing a meaningful setting for Wikimedia-related discussions and activities. The conference also invites non-Wikipedians, such as academics, students, and activists, to engage with the Wikimedia movement through conference programming, collaborative events, cultural initiatives, discussions, and more. The conference nurtures grassroots Wikimedia communities, addresses long-standing online and local community issues, spurs the creation of new content, and facilitates partnerships with cultural and educational institutions.

Our previous events are linked below. As of November 2016, the conference has been represented by the WikiConference North America user group.


This year's conference takes place in Columbus, Ohio, United States. We have partnered with the Ohio State University Libraries, who is graciously providing space for free will be hosting the majority of the event. The Ohio State University is one of the largest research universities in North America, and presents a great opportunity to partner with their librarians, special collection, and network.

Ohio is currently home to an active user group (Ohio Wikimedians User Group), which includes an active student organization (Wikipedia Connection) at the Ohio State University.

Columbus presents a great location for our conference, especially from an academic and librarianship standpoint. In 2016, Columbus hosted the IFLA World Library and Information Congress, which drew over 3,000 people from around the world. Columbus is also home to over a dozen colleges and universities, as well as OCLC, who has formed valuable partnerships with the Wikimedia community. Finally, Columbus' central location makes it fairly accessible to people on either coast of the United States, as well as to people in Canada and Mexico.


  • Hackathon on Thursday: A place for people to get together, brainstorm, and develop technical tools for the Wikimedia community.
  • Culture Crawl on Friday: Our popular day-long event where we partner with various local cultural institutions to provide tours and events. This year in Columbus, we are forming partnerships with the Ohio State University Libraries special collection, as well as various art museums and galleries located downtown. Culture Crawl activities often include "backstage" tours, as well as collaborative events such as edit-a-thons and scan-a-thons. The day ends in a reception. The Culture Crawl provides a unique opportunity for conference-goers to experience some of the local city and culture, as well as the opportunity to build collaborations with local institutions who become exposed to the Wikimedia movement.
  • Programming on Saturday and Sunday: Two days of presentations, panels, discussions, technical demos, and more. These are scheduled days of programming submitted by conference attendees, which provide a great way for community members to present their recent projects, discuss research findings, brainstorm ways to solve problems in the community, and more. In addition to the more formal programming sessions, we will also be providing unconferencing sessions as well as lightning talks for anyone to present on content that might not be part of the formal program schedule.

Important details

Please add key information to the table below. The dates, location and number of participants can be estimates and do not need to be finalized at this time.

Proposed date(s) October 18 - 21, 2018
Proposed location Columbus, Ohio, United States
  • Primary Host: The Ohio State University Libraries
  • Secondary Hosts: Partner institutions in Columbus
Number of participants 200
Event page WikiConference.org
Primary contact person SuperHamster (Kevin Payravi) re. the grant


Community input[edit]

After discussion with the Wikimedia Foundation, our community engagement survey has been split into two parts:

  • Part I, January 27 - February 15: The standard community engagement survey sent out to a curated list of community leaders throughout North America. The purpose of this survey was to identify what North American leaders view as the most important topics and goals to focus the conference on. The details of this survey are below.
  • Part II, February 21 - March 25 (on-going): A new, more concise survey constructed in collaboration with the Foundation to be sent to the broader North Americans Wikimedia community. The survey was tailored based on the results of Part I, and is used to identify the top 2-3 topics that the community wants to focus on for the conference.
Part I Summary
Description Priority
Strategic discussions:

What are the top issues affecting your community that need to be discussed in person?

Harassment / Civility / Safety and Recruiting Editors were virtually tied in importance by North American community leaders. In order of importance based on responses:
  • Harassment / Civility / Safety
  • Recruiting
  • Inclusion & Diversity
  • Tech & Tools
Capacity development:

Are there important skills that many people in your community need to learn?

The clear priority expressed by respondents was effective organizing and outreach. In relation to Recruiting from the previous row, the skills to do effective organizing and outreach were relayed as important by North American community leaders. With a board geographical base and over a dozen North American Wikimedia affiliates, having people with effective organizing and outreach is important for sustained community building and growth.
Working groups:

Are there joint projects that need to be planned in person?

Training and relationship building are the big in-person projects people desire from a conference. In order of importance based on responses:
  • Training people on new features and tools
    • Of note, Wikidata and Structured Data on Commons
  • Relationship building
  • GLAM
Community building:

Are there other in-person activities are important for community building?

There are many activities people expressed interest in, which can be tied into the above priorities. Some responses included:
  • Learn about activities in different regions
  • Keep discussions active and moving forward
  • Interact with people who have yet to contribute
  • Meet and understand challenges in academia
  • Determine common goals and interests
  • Share best practices
  • Strategize for moving forward
Part II Summary
Survey was sent to over 400 individuals, including all previous WikiConference North America + WikiConference USA registrants, as well as various North American mailing lists. We received 53 responses.
Question: What topic is most important to be covered at WikiConference North America?
Relationship Building & Support, 30.2%
Editor Recruitment & Retention, 22.6%
Inclusion and Diversity, 15.1%
Harassment / Civility / Safety, 15.1%
Tech & Tools, 11.3%
Custom responses:
Paid editing, 3.8%
Better metrics, 1.9%
Question: What topic is second-most important to be covered at WikiConference North America?
Editor Recruitment & Retention, 24.5%
Inclusion and Diversity, 22.6%
Tech & Tools, 20.8%
Harassment / Civility / Safety, 17%
Relationship Building & Support, 15.1%
Programming would people like to see for Harassment, Civility, & Safety:
Tools to combat harassment, 76.5%
Guidance for dealing with harassment, 70.6%
Brainstorming session, 41.2%
Research on the topic, 35.3%
Safety considerations at events, 29.4%
Custom responses:
Protecting victims, 5.9%
Programming would people like to see for Editor Recruitment & Retention:
Guidance on better online outreach, 64%
Case studies (Teahouse, Bobo.03, past events, results, etc.), 56%
Guidance on organizing effective offline events, 52%
Research on the topic, 44%
Brainstorming sessions, 32%
Custom responses:
Keeping people from quitting after harassment, 4%
Civility enforcement towards public-facing leaders, 4%
Preventing newbie-biting and allowing for new tool adoption, 4%
Programming would people like to see for Inclusion & Diversity:
Tools to identify content gaps, 70%
Research on the topic, 65%
Guidance on organizing inclusive projects and events, 65%
Case studies (Women in Red, etc.), 35%
Brainstorming session, 25%
Custom responses:
Wiki Ed (as a program that diversifies editor base and content)
Inclusion and diversity of ideas and perspectives, outside the Wikipedia "mainstream" (political and cultural orthodoxy)
Effective outreach to ethnic and linguistic minorities
Programming would people like to see for Tech & Tools:
Integrating Wikidata with other projects, 64.7%
Tools to edit Wikipedia, 58.8%
Tools to contribute to Wikidata, 52.9%
Tools for Wikimedia Commons contributing, 47%
Tools in development, 41.2%
Tools for offline events, 35.3%
Brainstorming sessions, 17.6%
Programming would people like to see for Relationship Building & Support:
Building partnerships with organizations, 70.8%
Building partnerships with GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums), 66.7%
Building and sustaining Wikimedia affiliates, 50%
Building partnerships with teachers, 25%
Guidance on WMF grants, 20.83%
Custom responses:
Building+maintaining partnerships between North American affiliates and people
Other topics people identified as important:
Assuring science is a better resource indicator
Commercial use of Wikipedia to advertise (and enforcement)
Community response to upholding standards
The projects people are interested in learning more about (in order):
GLAM, 64.2%
Diversity initiatives, 54.7%
Wikidata, 52.8%
WikiEdu + other education initiatives, 39.6%
Wikimedia movement strategy, 34%
Wiki Loves "X" online events, 32.1%
Wikipedia + Medicine, 17%
Custom responses:
Enforcement of Wikipedia's guidelines/policies
Supported isolated editors (low population regions)
Local wikis

Survey analysis:

  1. How many people did you send the survey to? How many people responded to the survey?
Part I of the survey was sent to 40 individuals and received 18 responses.
Part II was sent to over 400 individuals, including all previous WikiConference North America + WikiConference USA registrants, as well as various North American mailing lists. We received 53 responses.
  1. Did you see consensus around shared goals that this community wants to focus on in the next 12 months? What were the top 2 goals?
From the first survey, Harassment / Civility / Safety, as well as Recruiting Editors, were two goals and themes the community leaders we sent the survey too very much wants to work towards improving and solving.
The respondents to Part II from the broader Wikimedia community seem to prioritize Relationship Building & Support and Editor Recruitment & Retention. Some respondents took the time to mention that it was difficult to pick just two top topics, and that all were important.
  1. Based on survey responses, what are the most important things your community should do at the conference to achieve those goals?
A major response topic was having discussions on how to solve these issues, and come up with actual actionable items. Oftentimes we might discuss issues, but fail to follow through with action items.


It is helpful to get an understanding of why this event is important to your community, and what experiences you have had in the past. Please answer the applicable questions below.

1. What inspired your community to begin planning this event?
The first WikiConference USA (the precursor to WikiConference North America) took place in 2014 in New York City, due to the demand for the geographically spread-out United States Wikimedia community to have the opportunity to have a cohesive in-person conference. In 2016, the conference was expanded to be WikiConference North America due to the event taking place in San Diego, and presenting a great opportunity for Wikimedians in Mexico to attend.
WikiConference North America 2018 is a continuation of the annual conference. Each year we see hundreds of individuals showing up to share, collaborate, learn, and network, so there is a demand for this event. We believe this conference results in both a more cohesive North American community, as well as tangible results in terms of contributions, new projects, and motivated editors.
2. How does this event relate to other activities that your community is working on?
WikiConference North America presents an opportunity for attendees from around the continenet to present on the activities and projects that they have been working on. The conference also provides brainstorming sessions for new projects to come to fruition, as well as a hackathon, for technical projects to be started and completed. Finally, the conference also provides great networking opportunities; individuals make connections to projects they may be interested in participating in, as well as meet people who teach and inspire to pursue new activities.
3. Please list the priorities identified in the report from the last conference organized by this community. What progress have you made in those areas?
Last year's conference was WikiConference North America 2017, which took place as a Wikimania 2017 pre-conference in Montreal. The report for that conference is available here.
2017's theme was "amplify", and our priorities were shown through our programming categories:
  • Advocacy & Outreach
  • Technology & Infrastructure
  • Education and Academic Engagement
  • Community
  • GLAM
One of the goals of the conference is to teach and inspire people to contribute to the movement from what they gain from the conference. Our technical demos were very popular, with many people learning how to contribute to Wikidata, among other things. More people learned about GLAM and learned about case studies, hopefully inspiring similar projects throughout the continent.
4. If your community has hosted a similar conference in the past, what key lessons were learned, and what would you like to improve on?
Including WikiConference USAs, this will be the fifth WikiConference North America. Throughout the years we have gotten better at organizing the event and learning from each one. Since 2017 was an unconventional conference with virtually 0 cost and no grant, we are basing the following on our last two events (2016 and 2017). Some important lessons learned and what we would like to improve on are:
  • Dealing with reimbursing scholarship recipients is challenging. We hope to improve this through our fiscal sponsor, and potential help from the Foundation or another travel vendor option.
  • Making sure people are aware of our Safe Space Policy, and making sure it is on all our communications for the event, is a must.
  • We hope to improve our press relations, by establishing relationships before the conference and having better action plans for if and when press shows up to the event.
  • In 2016, documentation during the event was lacking (in terms of what went well, what didn't go well, content to put on the grant report, etc.). Ensuring team members are documenting relevant information during the event is important for 2018.
  • Have a better follow-up with participants, especially to learn about tangible results that come from the conference.


Venue and Logistics[edit]

1. If the venue is more than 1 hour away from a major airport or transportation hub, how will participants travel to the event venue?
Venue is less than 30 minutes away from the Columbus airport. Travelers can use ride-sharing and taxi services, as well as public buses (COTA).
2. Is the event venue within walking distance from the hotel? If not, how will people travel between the two locations?
Participants will be able to reserve their own lodging. Some lodging is available right on and around the Ohio State University campus; other lodging, including more affordable options, are located between 10 and 20 minutes away by car. Attendees can use ride-sharing and taxi services, as well as public buses (COTA). We will be compiling a list of recommended lodging options, as well providing the best transportation options and estimated costs for each.
3. Is the event venue and hotel accessible for people with physical disabilities?
The Ohio State University, being a large public university, accounts for people with physical disabilities. Most hotels in Columbus do the same, and we will ensure our recommended venues provide adequate accessibility services. COTA (Columbus public buses) and the Ohio State University's bus system account for physical disabilities.
4. Do you anticipate any challenges with using the space for the event you are planning?
We don't anticipate any serious challenges with using the Ohio State University Libraries' space for our conference activities; the University is large and experienced in hosting conferences. The biggest challenge will be for conference attendees to get to and from the University from their accommodations; while there is some nearby accommodation at Ohio State, the more affordable options are up to 10 to 20 minutes away by car (and longer by bus).

Friendly space policy[edit]

Our Safe (Friendly) Space Policy can be found on the WikiConference North America wiki.


It is crucial that most participants have a minimum level of Wikimedia experience so that they can engage actively in workshops and discussions. Please answer all applicable questions below.

1. Please describe the target audience for this conference or event.
The target audience for WikiConference North America is anyone who is part of the Wikimedia community from North America. We are also targeting people who share in the values of the Wikimedia movement (librarians, archivists, open source developers, open knowledge enthusiasts, etc.), as this conference provides a great opportunity for relationship building as well as having new people introduced to the movement.
2. If your conference has an outreach component, how will you ensure engagement with these participants after the conference, and what impact do you see them having on the projects?
For newcomers to the conference and/or Wikimedia movement, we hope the conference itself provides enough networking opportunities for these individuals to remain engaged with the projects and community. All registrants and participants will be added to our WikiConference North America mailing list, and will receive at least one follow-up survey after the event. In this survey, we plan to ask questions on their continued engagement after the conference, and whether the conference had an impact on that engagement.
3. Are you thinking about inviting WMF staff to attend or participate in the event? If yes, please list individuals or teams who you may want to invite, or describe how you would like WMF staff to be involved in the event.
Absolutely. Previous WikiConference North Americas have included staff participation, whether through providing presentations or simply being at the conference as an attendee. We believe the conference provides a great way for Foundation staff to network with other community members, as well as to learn more about the projects and problems the community is facing. Likewise, WikiConference North Americas attendees have a lot to gain from Foundation staff, whether it's through learning through presentations or simply networking.
We would love to see some presentations from Foundation staff, including coverage of projects, research, or trainings that the Foundation thinks would be interesting and exciting for participants. Great previous examples have included presentations on harassment research; Wikidata trainings; and GLAM overviews.


1. How many scholarships would you like to offer?
We plan on providing 60 scholarships, each valued at $500.
2. What expenses will the scholarship cover?
The scholarship is to cover travel and lodging costs for getting to and from the event.
3. How will scholarship recipients be selected?
Interested parties will be asked to apply for a scholarship. The scholarship application will ask for:
  • Involvement in Wikimedia projects
  • Involvement in outreach projects and events, both offline and online
  • Past conference experience
Scholarship applicants will be internally evaluated by at least 2 volunteers. The evaluations will be primarily based on the level of experience and involvement the applicant has with the Wikimedia community; what the applicant will be bringing to the conference to share with others; and the potential for the conference to positively impact the applicant's future in the Wikimedia community.

Resources and risks[edit]

Describe the resource potential for successfully executing this project and the key risks/threats.


Organizing team

The core organizing team, in no particular order, currently consists of Fuzheado (Andrew Lih), SuperHamster (Kevin Payravi), & Kelly Doyle, Pharos, Rosiestep (Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight), and Sarah Stierch.

The current roles are as follows. More volunteers are expected to join and responsibilities to be shuffled as the conference nears; the table below will be updated accordingly.

Team User Names
WMF Liaison KHarold (WMF)
Conference Program TBA
Scholarships Rosiestep, Another Believer
Communications SuperHamster, Kelly Doyle
Culture Crawl User:Fuzheado, Kelly Doyle
Volunteer Coordinators TBA


  • Risk: Currently a small volunteer team.
    • This is fine for the moment given the time until the conference. We will soon need to expand our volunteer organizers to cover more tasks and roles, which we plan to do by reaching out to our own networks of experienced volunteers, as well as reaching out to Columbus locals (including Ohio Wikimedians User Group members).
  • Risk: Skill gap in financial management experience by current organizing team.
    • This risk will be minimized by working closely and pro-actively with our fiscal sponsor, and perhaps the Wikimedia Foundation if resources are available.
  • Risk: Some scholarship recipients need funds before spending, not after.
    • This risk will be minimized by working closely and pro-actively with our fiscal sponsor, and perhaps the Wikimedia Foundation if resources are available.


Please provide a detailed breakdown of project expenses according to the instructions here. See Budget Guidelines.

Event budget table
Number Category Item description Unit Number of units Cost per unit Total cost Currency Notes
1 Venue Space rental Days 4 $0 $0 USD Space is donated by the Ohio State University Libraries
2 Catering Lunch Meals 200 * 4 days $20 $16,000 USD
3 Catering Coffee throughout day Days * # of People 4 * 200 $12.50 $2,500 USD
4 Travel and Lodging Partial scholarships People 60 $500 $30,000 USD Partial scholarships to offset costs of travel and accommodation for the conference. We have found that most people can manage to make it to the conference with a partial scholarship (vs. a full); by providing partial scholarships, we can bring more people.
5 Travel and Lodging People 10 $800 $8,000 USD Pre-event site visit (2), keynote speakers (2), core organizing team (6)
6 Attendee materials Lanyards, nametags, print-outs People 200 $5 $1,000 USD Lanyards for people to wear during the conference; nametag for the lanyard; print-outs of nametags and fliers with information for participants throughout the event.
8 Office supplies Poster stands, printouts, paper, post-its, pens N/A 1 $200 $200 USD Office materials for running the conference. Post-its
9 Contigency N/A N/A $2,300 $2,300 USD
Total cost of event
$60,000 USD
Total amount requested from the Conference and Event Grants program
$60,000 USD
Additional sources of revenue that may fund part of this event, and amounts funded
We are seeking grants between $10,000 and $20,000 from several other organizations, including:
  • OCLC
  • The Ohio State University Libraries
Other sources of potential grant and sponsorship funds we plan to pursue are:
  • American Chemical Society
  • Wiki Education Foundation
Please confirm that you are aware that changes to the approved budget beyond 10% in any category must be approved in advance.
We confirm that we are aware that changes to the approved budget beyond 10% in any category must be approved in advance.



Do you think this project should be selected for a Conference Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

For grantees

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