The 2022 edition of the annual WikiConference North America was held online on Friday-Sunday, November 11-13, 2022.
WikiConference North America (WCNA) is the annual conference for Wikimedians in North America, including Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. WCNA 2022 was the 9th such conference, and the third time it was held online. As in the past, attendees of WCNA include new and experienced Wikimedians editing Wikimedia in several languages, and GLAM and cultural institution professionals, educators, and technologists. The program for the conference was designed to share information, educate, and inspire these varied attendees. Many WCNA attendees do not regularly attend any other large Wikimedia conference.
We teamed up with OpenStreetMap USA to offer a joint conference which served as one of their regular annual conferences too. We adapted somewhat to their format which was to hold short plenary talks on the Friday, and longer sessions in tracks on the Saturday. On Sunday we had a few more wiki-specific sessions.
The program selection decision were joint by a committee of both organizations. We had about 57 presentations or speakers. Attendance was 129 at its peak, and 301 accounts logged in at some point. We used the same software as in the previous year's WikiConference North America. We held three in-person Wikimedia meetups jointly with the conference, in Indianapolis, New York City, and Washington DC. OpenStreetMap USA had some gatherings of their own.
Outcomes and Impact
- Please tell us about the top 2-3 innovative (new to you and your community) or things you tried this conference.
Our major innovation was to partner with an outside organization to make a joint conference. We partnered with OpenStreetMap USA starting early in 2022, to consider holding one conference together. We asked around and all sides seemed to think that was just fine. By having an interesting partner, we see a different view and bring in new people, and give our own people new views and opportunities. Administratively this helped us a lot. They had reliable funding so we could commit to holding the joint conference before we knew whether we had funding from WMF, and they had professional responsive full-time staff.
- Were there any significant changes from the initial grant proposal?
We narrowed and focus our objectives relative to the grant submission. We did not try to have language interpretation in as many sessions.
- What do you think will be the long term impact of this conference?
We are continuing a successful tradition. We are perhaps building on it to build more of a structure for North American cooperation of other kinds, in the future. We plan to hold another annual conference in 2023, perhaps in person, perhaps in Toronto.
- Do your best to estimate the number of attendees in your event that have never attended any Wikimedia event before. How were you able to support and engage this group?
Perhaps 50. We have not researched it. We partnered with a group from OpenStreetMap some of whom would never have been to a Wikimedia event before.
- Do your best to estimate the number of participants who have been involved in Wikimedia activities for more than 5 years. How were you able to support and engage this group?
Perhaps 100. We have many old-timers. We had several advanced sessions.
Learning and next steps
- Was there any non-financial support that the Wikimedia Foundation could have provided that would have better supported you in achieving your goals?
It will help perhaps when we have a stronger ongoing organization, and each meeting is not strictly a volunteer affair from our side. It helped a lot that OpenStreetMap USA had professional, reliable, and friendly staff who devoted their efforts and were reponsive.
- What would you recommend on a local and/or regional level as the best next step to leverage your success and momentum? (Please consider potential new allies and partners; internal wiki collaborations; future projects etc. We don't expect you to necessarily do those, we are only looking for more ideas from your own perspective.)
It makes sense to build up ongoing permanent organizational support. Teaming up with OpenStreetMap USA was successful and we could do it again, perhaps every few years.
- Does your organizing team / affiliate / user group have any plans to follow up with your attendees in the future or support efforts related to the outcomes of this conference within your community?
Yes, we expect to hold this conference again, annually, and to build on the conference population by combining efforts across North American affiliates.
- Please add any 3 operational recommendations for future events organizers.
First we show our actual expenses. We'll compare to the original budget categories next.
|Expense||Cost in USD||Notes|
|Main conference software platform; an annual business-class subscription|
|Live interpretation software platform for English/Spanish|
|Interpreters for the conference (en ⇔ es); bank transfer fee included in a separate item|
|Hotel meeting room where we did some of the streaming and had Wikidata birthday cake|
|Food/drink for library gathering and mapping/tagging lunch|
|To WMNY for fiscal sponsorship|
|For payment to Tlatolli by WMNY thru Swift/bank|
- Budget table
The next table compares budgeted to actual expenses.
|Number||Category||Item description||Budgeted cost||Actual cost||Notes|
|1||Registration||Pretix||$0||$0||Included with a Venueless subscription, or for a conference under a certain size|
|2||Platform||Hopin||$2000||$10000||Conference platform; we extended our annual subscription|
|3||Platform||Zoom||$100||$0||OpenStreetMap hosted many planning meetings; others were held on WMDC’s zoom; we did not use it during the conference|
|4||Platform||Streamyard||$0||$0||For main presentation stage; included in a Hopin subscription|
|5||In-person events||Wiknics, happy hours, and real-world mapping parties||$400||$855.96||WMDC and WMNY drew from this grant; WM Indiana from elsewhere, and OSM also from its own resources|
|6||Accessibility||Tlatolli Ollin's live interpreters (English ⇔ Spanish)||$8,000||$1,690.50|
|7||Accessibility||Kudo’s virtual rooms for interpreters (workspaces)||$9,500||$5,750||Including tech support; Downscaled from 2 tracks, 2 full conference days|
|8||Accessibility||Transcription service||$500||$0||Not included in Hopin or Kudoservices yet, and we did not research it|
|9||General||Event planning||$1800||$0||Volunteers did it. We had about 20 volunteers in various roles.|
|10||General||Branding, design, and marketing||$0||$0||Our icons, banners, materials were all online ; we sold a few t-shirts|
|11||General||Post-event video production, introducing/framing the recordings||$0||$0||Volunteers did it (Omar_Sansi and legoktm)|
|12||General||Financial and banking fees||$200||$40||Transfer from WMNY to Tlatolli Ollin in Mexico|
|12.5||General||Management fee||$450||$450||To WMNY, the fiscal sponsor|
|13||General||Subtotal of all above||$22,950||
- Summary of funding
Total project budget (from your approved grant submission): $40,000 USD
Total amount requested from WMF (from your approved grant submission):
Total amount spent on this project (from the table above):
Total amount of WMF grant funds spent on this project:
Are there additional sources of revenue that funded any part of this project?
Yes. We partnered with OpenStreetMap USA, for whom this conference served as their Mapping USA conference. They did much of the management, mainly a cost in labor, and we do not have an estimate of their time spent. They also have some corporate sponsorship (which did not seem to cause any problem for Wikimedians, on this occasion), and we do not know their revenues. They collected some small donations for themselves and for the wiki chapter sponsors. We also sold a few WikiConference 2022 t-shirts. At this moment we do not have estimates of these small sources of revenue. WikiCred offered to support disinformation sessions, but in the end we had enough budgeted money already, and simply held the planned sessions.
- Remaining funds
Are there any grant funds remaining?
- Answer YES or NO.
Yes. WMNY has the remaining funds, which can perhaps be reused for next year's conference.
Please list the total amount remaining here. (This is the amount you did not use, or the amount you still have after completing your grant.)
Optional - Event Evaluation Toolkit - In this page you can find a list of basic questions that the Wikimedia Foundation uses to evaluate large movement events like Wikimania and other regional and thematic events. Feel free to use any part of these questionnaires to evaluate your own event. You will find: Registration Questions; Post-event questions for participants and Follow-up questions for participants.
We did a survey after the event, similar to the one we did after the previous conference. This time we sent it out late, and we got only 13 responses. Of these, almost all had attended on both Friday and Saturday and fewer than half on Sunday. On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being a "fantastic" score, 7/13 rated it above 7 and no one rating it below a 4. These are high ratings.
Asked if they would identify something valuable that they had learned, 5 of 11 who responded to this question mentioned something about OpenStreetMap's initiatives or infrastructure. Others mentioned information about WMF affiliates or the new Wikifunctions project. Asked a similar question about projects of interest, three mentioned OpenHistoricalMap, one mentioned the Credibility Coalition, and there were favorable comments about the lightning talks generally and the open source efforts by both Wikipedia and OSM. (OpenHistoricalMap is a memorable project indeed, using OSM infrastructure along with Wikidata to depict maps from past times. A scroll bar enables a user to roll back time.)
We asked about the technology of the conference. Attendees all gave the Hopin platform at least 6/10, but there was a comment saying that the chat systems were confusing, as there was a chat within each room and across the whole conference too, and it was easy to use the wrong one. Asked about the English/Spanish interpretation, only 3 of the 13 had used it, and they said it worked well. Two comments addressed interpretation, saying it went well and it was worthwhile to enable Spanish and English speakers to communicate in their own languages.
Several comments offered possible improvements: Easier ways to find the events within the conference platform ; easier ways to meet. Collect polls for more interaction. Get YouTube videos up sooner, and make presenter notes or slides available online sooner. There is some desire to meet again in person.
Is there anything else you want to share about the conference or event?
The core organizers had attended the conference in the past and had compatible visions and goals. In addition to past WCNA organizers, new organizers were recruited and joined the team. Organizers met weekly, and a few volunteers joined for the conference itself to help moderate sessions. The 20ish volunteers for this year's conference are listed here.
Technologies, platforms, suppliers
Many software platforms and services were involved in planning and executing the conference. We list the main ones in Table 3.
|Hopin||Used as the main attendee platform||paid|
|Kudo||Software that creates a virtual translation room that the translators could log into to control input/output||Used for translation. Hopin had a way to plug in Kudo already||paid|
|YouTube||Used for live streaming talks in English and Spanish||Streams were produced for the two streams plus the translations of those streams||free (WCNA account)|
|OBS||free/libre software for live streaming to YouTube||Streams from Hopin were recorded in OBS by distributed volunteers on their laptops, and then sent to YouTube, which enabled streaming post-translation||free|
|Zoom||Video meeting platform||Used for participatory events (edit-a-thons, editona, vaccine workshop, and training workshops)||free (individual accounts)|
|Tlatolli||live translators||This is the translation/interpretation group we used previously. They do well with wiki terminology. They of course have difficulty when we have short presentations and fast speakers.||paid|
|Etherpad||Easily editable pages||Used for participatory notes during sessions||free|
|Slack||chat platform||Used for organizer and behind the scenes/day of communication, especially by OSM||free|
|Telegram||chat platform||Used for general and attendee chat||free|
|Pretix||registration / ticketing platform||Used for registration||free|
|MailChimp||mass mailing system||Used for attendee communication and advertisement to previous attendees||paid|
Many videos of talks are on YouTube. We have some audio/video files we could make available on YouTube and on Commons. One volunteer did the streaming to YouTube in Spanish. Another volunteer was able to convert the YouTubes to .webm files for Commons. These projects require specialized skills and a willingness to put in time.
Many of the presentation files and recordings are on Commons, in Category:WikiConference North America + Mapping USA 2022
We had 301 users logged in at some point. A few of these were staffing the event or secondary accounts. The peak attendance was 129, on Friday. Saturday's peak attendance was about 100 and Sunday's was about 60. About 2000 chat messages were sent during the event, generally to anyone in a session or to everyone at the conference.
Sessions and spaces
The program selections were by a joint ongoing committee of OSM and Wikimedians. The resulting program was a mix, covering both platforms, with about 57 planned sessions, listed in the online schedule. We were overall somewhat more selective than in previous years partly because OSM's conferences usually have a day of short plenary talks rather than long discussion sessions in parallel, and we went with their format for the Friday sessions.
English/Spanish interpretation: In Friday's sessions and one on Saturday, attendees could select a language for audio, English or Spanish. It went well overall. The Hopin software has a plugin for the Kudo software which created virtual interpretation rooms, where interpreters could control for example whether they were speaking into an English channel or a Spanish channel -- they had to switch depending on the speaker's language. The interpreters were near Mexico City on their own computers mostly working from home. It worked well, as confirmed by survey responses.
Friendly/safe space matters: We met with OpenStreetMap representatives and combined our previous year's stated friendly space policy with their usual policy, making minor improvements. In general we followed the previous year's practices. We announced the policy each day and in the chat box of various sessions. We think the resulting policy statement and the practices document can be reused and adapted for our conference and others. Volunteers signed up for shifts and sessions. We vetted the registrants before giving them access to the conference platform, and did not let everyone in.
In turned out to be possible to monitor chat boxes from multiple sessions at once if one had enough computers. Members of this team stayed in touch with one another during the conference by direct messages. Morale was good and we covered the sessions well. We had no identifiable safe space problems at the conference.
We had three in-person local events. One was in Indianapolis for the duration of the conference, and the attendees there made a presentation. On Friday there was a small Washington DC meetup. We made a couple of presentations from there and streamed Spanish audio to YouTube. On Sunday afternoon there was a large meetup in New York City, joined by the local OpenStreetMap community with a mapping workshop and lightning talks, and germinating the Open Boro Map proposal. A sample gallery of photos from these events is included below. In person, we celebrated the 10th birthday of Wikidata.