Grants:Conference/WMDE/WikidataCon/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Conference Grant approved in FY 2018-19 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/WMDE/WikidataCon.
  • 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.


rahmenlos

28 – 29 October 2017 | Berlin, Germany | Grant report


Introduction[edit]

The WikidataCon took place in Berlin, on 28-29 October 2017, and welcomed 180 attendees from the Wikidata community: editors, data users, tools developers, partners. The first edition of this new format was the first conference built by and for the Wikidata community, to encourage the community to meet, share knowledge around Wikidata, and celebrate hard work and the 5th anniversary of the project. This conference was organized by Wikimedia Deutschland, with the help of thirty volunteers from the community. The sessions, keynotes, talks, workshops, the social events, discussions, the birthday celebration, the quality of the documentation and the positive mood of the attendees, made this event a great experiment and a real success.

Check font awesome.svg Measure of success: Total of 150 participants

WikidataCon 2017-Group photo-IMG 3674.JPG

Group photo, CC-BY-SA, Rama

History of WikidataCon[edit]

Every year since the official start of Wikidata, on October 29th, 2012, the development team and the community organizes a celebration for its birthday. In 2015, a nice party was organized in WMDE’s office in Berlin with one hundred attendees, and in 2016, twelve different local communities all around the world organized their own events, creating a worldwide network of Wikidata’s birthday celebrations. This enthusiasm for the birthday showed the need of the Wikidata community, which is very diverse and spread all around the world, to connect, meet in real life, and share about their favorite topics and tools. During the “Wikidata pink pony session” at Wikimania 2016, the community asked for a conference dedicated to the Wikidata community. 2017 being the 5th year of existence of Wikidata, the development team started thinking about organizing a bigger event, that would bring the community together to celebrate this special anniversary.

A few months after the first announcement in December 2016, the event already met a lot of enthusiasm from the community. The initial plan of having a conference with maximum 100 people and a small budget had to be rethought to fit better the expectations of the community, and already propel the new-born WikidataCon to be part of the big events of the Wikimedia movement.

WikidataCon 2017 registration 3.jpg

Swag at registration desk, CC-BY-SA, Mārtiņš Bruņenieks

Timeline
  • June 2016: community asks for a conference dedicated to Wikidata
  • December 2016: announcement and first call for ideas
  • January-March: finding a location, partnerships and sponsors
  • April: announcement of location, venue, number of rooms and maximum number of attendees, structuring the website, starting recruiting for the volunteer teams
  • May: applying for WMF conference grant, defining scholarship criteria with scholarship committee
  • June: call for program, talks, workshops, starting registration, opening of scholarship applications
  • July: closing scholarships
  • August: announcing scholarships
  • August: validating the program
  • September: announcing the program, call for volunteers
  • October: last sprint of organization
  • October 28-29: event
  • November: feedback, documentation

Our goals and how we achieved them[edit]

A conference built by and for the community[edit]

Dario @readermeter on Twitter: “The diversity and quality of Wikidata-driven innovation presented at #WikidataCon is making my head spin [...] I’ve never seen such a level of technical awesomeness in years of Wikimedia events”

The main goal of the project was to design a conference centered around the Wikidata community. We wanted an event focused on Wikidata, where the different sides of the community - editors, developers, people donating or using data from Wikidata and more - can participate and find interest in the conference. We expected a huge participation from the community, involvement in the different steps of the process, and we organized the conference in a way that people could not only consume the event, but really take an active part in building the program and the discussions.

With a scholarship committee made-up half with volunteers, we made sure that the attendees supported by the grant would be chosen in collaboration with the community after defining fair criteria together.

Except for two keynotes that provided external points of view on the open data world, and a few sessions run by members of the Wikidata team, the entire program was built by the community, through a call for project and a selection made by the program committee including for a half volunteers. We had more than one hundred talks, workshops and discussions, run by 78 different speakers, out of 180 attendees, meaning that 40% of the attendees ran at least one session during the WikidataCon.

Check font awesome.svg Measure of success: at least 25% of participants who present at or moderate sessions

We made call for volunteers with a lot of different types of roles (room angels, logistics, helpdesk, social events, etc.) to make sure that the attendees had the opportunity to get involved in the event. In total we got more than 50 persons helping the organization team to run the event smoothly. We supported the ideas brought by the participants to improve the event (for example: a spontaneous introduction to Wikidata, a volunteer who proposed to build balloons sculptures for the birthday celebration).

Every 4th of the most active editors on Wikidata (50 accounts with most edits) attended the WikidataCon. Though this number is not entirely accurate, because the Wikidata community is not only about editcount, and all the attendees are active in a way or another around Wikidata (developing tools, teaching, building partnerships, etc.).

WikidataCon2017 Program1.png
Extract of the participant survey regarding community engagement

Check font awesome.svg Measure of success: highly engaging event where the program is driven by the community

Encourage sharing experiences, tools and best practices[edit]

Jakob @nichtich on Twitter: “Sitting next to @MagnusManske encouraged me to quickly implement a feature request by @danbri into one of my tools”

The Wikidata community works online on a daily-basis, from all around the world, using a lot of different tools to add new data, improve the quality of the data, reuse data, and so on. One of the core goals of the WikidataCon was to offer them the opportunity to share their knowledge about these tools, increase the average level of knowledge regarding Wikidata, and share experiences and best practices about editing and reusing Wikidata’s data.

Three main tracks in the program were dedicated to specific topics (culture, education, science, data quality) and two rooms hosted a lot of technical workshops during the two days of the conference. Community members could demo some of their favorite tools, show their usual processes (such as Using Wikidata Query to verify the quality and completeness of Wikidata items) and discuss about different topics during the meetups (GLAM, research, ontologies).

The WikidataCon was also the occasion for the editors, tools builders and data reusers to meet the Wikidata development team and the UX team. These informal discussions were really useful for the team to understand more the needs of the users, what they may struggle with, and for the editors to discuss any kind of technical issues with the developers.

WikidataCon2017 Exchange.png
Extract of the participant survey regarding knowledge sharing

Celebrate the 5th birthday of Wikidata and the work of volunteers[edit]

Rosie @rosiestep on Twitter: “After a late night out... Coffee + chocolate pudding + lightning talks on a Sunday morn in Berlin #WikidataCon. Can life get any better?”

The WikidataCon was built on top of the 5th birthday of Wikidata. Every year, we use this anniversary date to celebrate the work of the community, share appreciation and highlight our successes. Our goal was to make the community members feel happy and appreciated, gain motivation, and in general enjoy the event.

The birthday celebration happened on the second day of the conference and included a motivational speech by Lydia Pintscher, birthday cake, sweets brought by the participants from all around the world, and a demo of all the birthday presents build by the community. Every year, developers and editors take the opportunity of the birthday to develop new tools or features, create maps, drawings or write about their experiences on Wikidata. During the WikidataCon, we highlighted all of these initiatives and took a moment to thank all the people who make Wikidata more awesome every year.

In general, during the conference, attendees were encouraged to show their support and interest for the work of other members. A bingo grid that we released with the program suggested for example to find the creator of one’s favorite tool and thank them for their work.

WikidataCon2017 Motivation.png
Extract of the participant survey regarding appreciation

Check font awesome.svg Measure of success: attendees feel happy and appreciated during and after the event

Content and outcomes of the conference[edit]

An overview of Wikidata’s past, present and future[edit]

One of the first talks was Lydia Pintscher’s talk about the state of the project. She presented highlights of the past year like the increased usage of Wikidata’s data in the Wikimedia projects or the large number of websites, tools and apps that now make use of Wikidata’s data outside Wikimedia. She also talked about some of the topics that Wikidata needs to address as it grows, including scaling the community, keeping data quality high and building out the ecosystem around Wikidata. This helped everyone reflect on the great work done over the past year that might not be so obvious in people’s day-to-day work on the project and understand where the current larger challenges are that should be discussed during the conference.

Right after this there was a panel with Wikidata editors, admins and the development team about the challenges of Wikidata and how to address them. The panel and the audience discussed topics ranging from scalability, to vandalism to multilinguality and references.

The program also gave a lot of space to lightning talks and demos. During these short talks, editors could briefly introduce a project they work on, or a tool they often use, an external tool built on Wikidata. With about 24 presentations, the lightning talks sessions gave to the attendees an overview of what is currently trending in the Wikidata world.

Wikidata for culture and heritage[edit]

WikidataCon 2017 photo18.jpg

On Saturday afternoon and evening, an entire track was dedicated to projects and discussions around collaboration with cultural institutions (GLAMs).

The track contained several presentations by large cultural organizations who already embrace Wikidata as part of their own online strategy. For instance, Europeana, Europe's online culture aggregator, works with Wikimedia projects extensively; during WikidataCon, Europeana's Valentine Charles and Liam Wyatt explored together with the audience what the most promising opportunities for Wikidata projects could be. Theo van Veen of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (the Royal Library of the Netherlands) even (slightly controversially) argued for using Wikidata as universal thesaurus. Various presentations discussed data import processes – still a complex task for GLAMs who want to actively contribute to, or work with, Wikidata. In the evening, more than 30 GLAM volunteers gathered for a meetup, where common goals and better ways of working together were discussed.

Following the GLAM track, several sessions focused on data donation processes took place. The focus was the process of donating data, with hands-on discussion on the shortcomings of the process of getting data into Wikidata and the sharing of best practices. A structured and well-prepared group discussion among the volunteers rounded up that day for everyone.

Wikidata for education and science[edit]

One of the main rooms was dedicated to education and science during the first day of WikidataCon. Different projects were discussed, starting with Shani Evenstein Sigalov, who led a discussion on how to use Wikidata as an educational platform, along with Asaf Bartov & Andrew Lih. As incorporating Wikidata into the academic curriculum is still in its infancy, the main goal was to have a joint brainstorming about different ways Wikidata could be used in an academic setting. After a short introduction, examples from existing endeavors around the world and discussion of the types of literacies that would be gained from working with Wikidata, the room was divided into working groups. Each group focused on a different academic field/discipline: 1 - Programming, User interface, Design, Visualizations group, 2 - Humanities and social studies, 3 - Life science, medicine, biology. Each group then brainstormed on how a Wikidata academic assignment could be added to the curriculum in this field, how it would be designed, practiced and assessed. Then all groups reconvened and each group reported its ideas. The session was recorded. In addition, a page about teaching with Wikidata was opened in Wikidata and the notes from the session were shared with the wider Education & Wikidata enthusiasts and inspired further discussion and experiments throughout the world.

Wikicite, the successful project dedicated to improving references in Wikimedia projects and use Wikidata as a central repository for bibliographic data, was represented at the WikidataCon, as well as WikiFactMine, focused on bioscience papers. The topic of digital preservation was brought by Katherine Thornton from the Yale University Library, with a focus on collecting, describing and archiving information about IT and software. Biomedical knowledge was also a strong topic, and the genetics project is very active on Wikidata. Tools like Scholia build a friendly interface to browse information about scientists and their work collected in Wikidata. Research about Wikidata power users was also presented.

Wikidata in Education session at WDCON 2017.jpg
Wikidata in Education: brainstorming in small groups (CC-BY-SA, Shani Evenstein)

Improving the quality of Wikidata[edit]

Alessandro Piscopo presented his work about data quality and completeness along various dimensions, and how to measure it. This session was followed by another one about data completeness, how to assess it and how to improve it. Finally, the next session introduced a toolkit based on the W3C Shape Expressions to compare and improve models on Wikidata. Harmonia Amanda also gave a lightning talk on the beauty of ontologies, and how the way Wikidata is organised has evolved from the creative chaos of the beginning to a more structured plan.

A late-night track collected the die-hard ontology nerds for several discussions about structuring data. First, a presentation of the ontology for popular music, where Gamaliel explained how the organisation of data about music on Wikidata is mainly inspired by the FRBR standard, and mentioned what could be done to continue improving this structure on Wikidata. The following discussion led by Andreasmperu suggested to create a collaborative ontology, and finally Arthur Smith organised a workshop for ontology cleanup, where he presented several problems from the WikiProject Ontology area. Several major problem areas were actually fixed by participants during the meeting or the following night!

The Query Service, an open door to Wikidata[edit]

During the conference, two workshops were held focusing on how to query Wikidata, for novice and experienced users. In addition to that, the query booth created a space where during the whole conference participants could meet experts to write and talk about queries. This is also where user testing for the prototype of the Query Builder happened, that will enable people to write queries without having to know SPARQL. Another session about the future of the Query Service was held to gather feedback about user experience and wishes.

Targeted at inexperienced users, the basics workshop showed the basic functionality of the Query Service and its user interface. During the workshop participants learned how to use the Query Helper to create basic queries and Result Views to display result data vividly. For experienced users, the advanced workshop explained the RDF data model and SPARQL syntax to write sophisticated queries and gave methods to optimize them.

In the meantime, a member of the Wikidata team, Jakob, organized some testing sessions with participants to get feedback on a new interface for the query service he’s currently working on. He collected a lot of useful comments and discussions and results of his research will be published soon.

Diving to the technical deeps: the tools around Wikidata[edit]

WikidataCon 2017-IMG 1906.JPG
CC-BY-SA, Rama

The track started with an introduction by Daniel Kinzler, long-term MediaWiki developer , who presented the different structures that form Wikidata, the extension Wikibase, the storage of the data, the API… through the journey of a single edit. He gave attendees a better understanding of the whole system so they can more easily understand how all the technical parts of Wikidata work together.

In the following technical workshops, the attendees could get an introduction to Lua, which is the main programming language editors can use to include Wikidata’s data in other Wikimedia projects. Thiemo Kreuz and Marius Hoch explained how to program Lua modules to build infoboxes and more for Wikipedia. Later Thomas Pellissier-Tanon lead a tutorial to introduced the more advanced concepts of programming in Lua. Markus Krötzsch and Maximilian Marx showed off their new version of Squid, a powerful tool to review and improve Wikidata, including a lot of features to help improve Wikidata by finding mistakes and missing information.

Many other tools were presented: how to use Wikidata on the command-line, in Java or Javascript, algorithms to analyse the quality of data, and several features dedicated to a specific project, like genetics on Wikidata. These demos and workshops allowed the community members, with a technical background or not, to understand better the huge variety of tools that the Wikidata ecosystem offers, and to learn how to use some features that could be useful for their daily contributions.

Wikidata and the Wikimedia projects[edit]

A big topic was the support of Wikidata for other Wikimedia projects. Sandra Fauconnier presented the work being done to bring structured data to Wikimedia Commons with the help of Wikidata and Wikibase. She outlined the tremendous opportunities we have to make Commons more usable and thereby allowing many more people to find and use the high-quality content there, regardless of the language they speak. She also stressed that the introduction of structured data to Wikimedia Commons is a lot of work and will cause some disruptions, that will however be worth it in the long run.

After that, Lydia Pintscher introduced the work being done to bring a new kind of data to Wikidata - lexicographical data like you find it on Wiktionary. Machine-readable lexicographical data has a huge potential in areas like automated translation, text generation, linguistic research, language learning and many more. In a few months the first version of support for lexicographical data on Wikidata will be released.

Another great moment during the conference was a panel by three different Wikipedia communities. Editors from Catalan, Basque and English Wikipedia demoed the Wikidata-based automatic infoboxes that they use on their wikis, explored in detail the technical sides and the advantages of these templates. The attendees had the opportunity to discover how data is used on other projects and bring ideas to their local community.

The last talk of the conference was by Lucie-Aimee Kaffee. She summarized her research on language support on Wikidata and the semantic web in general and how tools like the ArticlePlaceholder she worked on can help bring more knowledge to more people outside the languages that have big Wikipedias like English, French and German.

Specificities and challenges of the event[edit]

As previously mentioned, the focus of the conference was on the community, their interactions, the content of the sessions and sharing experiences among each other. The organization team worked hard on all logistic issues to make sure that the attendees could fully enjoy the content of the conference. Here are two topics on which we especially focused. We think that sharing our experience may be interesting for other events organizers.

Focus: diversity and inclusiveness[edit]

We are aware that the Wikidata community is very diverse, and our goal was to make everyone feel included and comfortable during the event.

Physical accessibility: We made sure that our venue was fully accessible for people in wheelchair, and that these persons could freely move during the conference and attend all of the events.

Inclusiveness regarding food and personal preferences: we made sure that our catering contained options for people who are vegetarian, vegan, allergic to some components, or following a specific diet for religious or health purposes, and planned our budget accordingly. We asked questions in the registration form to estimate what we needed, and provided a clear description of all the meals, so people could wisely choose their meals.

Diversity of the participants: Thanks to the scholarships supported by a WMF grant, we funded the attendance of people who couldn’t afford the costs of travel and accommodation. In total, people from 43 different countries attended the WikidataCon. We also wanted to make sure to have the gender diversity of the Wikidata community represented, and according to the registration list, we reached our estimation with 30% female participants attending the conference.

WikidataCon 2017 photo23.jpg
Collaborative "welcome" panel in many languages, CC-BY-SA, Sami Mlouhi

Check font awesome.svg Measure of success: good representation of cultures and countries

Check font awesome.svg Measure of success: at least 30% of female participants

A quiet room to rest: The quiet room was explicitly requested by some of our attendees. Since a lot of people were gathered in a small place, and the program very intense and long, we wanted to make sure that our participants have a place to relax, recharge their mental batteries after a lot of social interaction, and in the worst case, to recover if something challenging happened to them. The quiet room was a bit removed from the rest of the venue, furnished with cosy couches and all the facilities, and clearly marked as a silent, no-phone, no-photo area.

Gender neutral facilities: the venue contained the usual two different toilets rooms, one with male sign and one with female sign. We decided to transform it into two gender-neutral bathrooms, in order to make the life of our attendees easier, and to allow our participants who may not identify as cis-gender to use the toilets without anxiety. We covered the existing signs by ours, and fun fact, during the conference, our signs were hacked by the attendees to even improve the inclusiveness of this communication.

WikiDataCon 2017 WC.jpg

Hacking of the nonbinary toilets sign, CC-BY-SA, Jklamo

Enforcing the code of conduct to refrain any discrimination or harassment: as experienced event organizers, we were aware of the troubles that may occur, and put a lot of efforts in preventing any form of aggression or discrimination. When they registered, the attendees had to commit to reading and following the Friendly Space Policy of WMF including the Code of Conduct for technical spaces. We mentioned several times a summary of its content during the event, and we set up two contact persons who the attendees could reach at any time to report a problematic behavior. No major problem happened, and we didn’t have any report made during the conference. However, we are aware that this is not necessarily a measure of success, and that the attention of events organizers should be focused on providing a safe atmosphere during a conference, to make sure that no problematic behavior happens.

The efforts we made on accessibility can always be improved. We had a lot of new suggestions during the event, and we already know how we could increase again the accessibility of the event for next time (for example, providing subtitles or translation in different languages, including sign languages). We also had spontaneous improvements and hacks during the event, showing that community members are well aware of these topics, and ready to make our events always more inclusive.

Focus: documentation[edit]

The WikidataCon 2017 being the first of its kind, and anticipated by a lot of people, including people who could not attend, we put a lot of efforts into providing efficient and comprehensive documentation of the event. Our goal was to allow anyone, participant or not to the conference, to be able to find the entire content online shortly after the event. These efforts were achieved both by the organization team, who invested time and resources, and the attendees themselves, who actively participated in this effort.

A quality video livestream: Even if our resources didn’t allow us to cover the five rooms of the venue, we wanted to have the three main tracks covered by a video stream. We worked in partnership with the C3VOC volunteers, who also work on the conferences of the Chaos Computer Club, as well as various Open Source conferences. This small team was extremely efficient, acting professionally, providing the material and the resources for having the livestream running smoothly. Helped by the powerful network provided by our venue and one person of the orga team dedicated to technical support, they provided a very efficient service, including livestream, temporary storage, then final storage, and possibility to easily export the files and the metadata to Commons. In return, our financial contribution will help them to update their devices and continue working on projects. We can only recommend event organizers to connect with their local hacker community to discuss about this kind of collaborations. This video effort was completed by a volunteer who filmed other parts of the conference that were not covered by the livestream. We are especially proud of the fact that we were able to provide those who did not have a chance to participate in person with one of the most complete collection of videos for a Wikimedia event ever with a total playing time of ~40h.

Collaborative notes during the conference: having some notes taken during talks is always expected but rarely achieved when the attendees are mainly focused on listening to the speaker. In order to support them in the documentation effort, we prepared in advance all the tools they may need. On the page of each session, we included a link to a pad, which was already structured with a basic template, that people could fill and improve. Combined with the links to the videos, and the slides that we kindly reminded the speakers to upload on Commons, volunteers and the orga team could build a complete and structured documentation quickly after the event.

Regarding pictures, we supported one of the volunteers to be our official photographer, in order to make sure that we have the whole event covered. After the event, we made sure to communicate broadly about the documentation, we also collected and share all the blog posts and reports that participants wrote after the conference.

WikidataCon 2017-IMG 3046.JPG
Andrew Lih filming an interview, CC-BY-SA, Rama

What we learned during the event[edit]

Registration process[edit]

We decided to have the event free of charge, but letting the attendees booking their travel and accommodation by themselves. The ticket to register on Eventbrite was then free of charge. Due to the huge enthusiasm for the conference, the first 100 tickets have been gone in 10 days, and later we had the event completely “sold” out with 200 registrations. In the end, 180 (90%) attendees came to the conference.

The fact that the event was quickly sold out created frustration for people who couldn’t get their ticket. In order to reduce the risks of having a lot of cancellations, 2 month before the event, we sent a request for confirmation to the people who registered early and monitored their answers. A majority of them (60%) confirmed that they planned to come. We regularly asked the attendees to cancel their tickets if they didn’t plan to come anymore.

For the events to come, we will not only increase the number of attendees to fit better to the expectations of the community, but we will also think about a better system to control the registrations. Some ideas have been mentioned: charge with a small fee at the registration, limit the number of participants from the same company, etc.

Services provided to the attendees[edit]

WikidataCon 2017-IMG 2085.JPG
Plushes with plushes tag, CC-BY-SA, Rama

We put efforts and resources in providing a lot of qualitative services for our attendees. Not only about catering, accessibility and inclusiveness (see above), but also some practical help that participants may need during their stay in Berlin. We provided a booklet with useful information about the conference and the city. At the helpdesk, some volunteers were dedicated to welcome the attendees, give goodies and nametags, answer all of their questions. For example, they had the possibility to have their boarding pass or any other document printed at the helpdesk. Small details, like providing nail colors so people can paint their nails with the Wikidata logo, hygiene supplies in the toilets, are always appreciated. The name tags for plushees were also very well received by the many people who came with their personal fluffy mascot.

Another service we put a lot of efforts into was communication. From the wikipages to the newsletter, the mailing-list, Telegram group and Twitter, we made sure that the attendees had all the needed information in time, and that they could exchange with other participants.

Each of these services were directly useful to the attendees and contributed to the positive atmosphere of the event.

Program & structure[edit]

The content of the conference was built by the attendees and selected by the program committee, which increased the diversity of the topics and provided a good coverage of the points of interest of the community. With a lot of interesting talk proposals submitted, it was difficult for the committee to select the ones that would make their way to the final program, and the result was probably too packed. We decided on purpose to keep the sessions running until 23:00 on Saturday, and some of the attendees mentioned that this day was pretty exhausting. They also mentioned the lack of breaks and moments where people could simply discuss and relax. The technical community also requested a hackathon during the event, so they could have space to bring to life the ideas discussed during the sessions. For the next time, we could definitely work on having a lighter program that will allow attendees to stay focused until the end of the event.

The scope of the WikidataCon was the broad Wikidata community, people who already knew Wikidata, and was not designed for newcomers or people who want to discover the project. We are aware that there is a need for a lot of people who would like to learn how Wikidata works, and if the format of the conference didn’t allow it in the first edition, we may add this side in the future, so we can continue our outreach efforts and mix the inner community with future editors.

For the main social event, we decided to change a bit from the usual structure of other Wikimedia events, and proposed a welcoming party on Friday. The format is still to be improved, since a party is probably not the best type of event at a moment where people mainly want to relax after their trip and start networking with other attendees. For the future, we will continue building the special identity of the WikidataCon, probably by suggesting a networking evening on the first day, and making space for a final dinner on the last day.

WikidataCon coffee break.jpg

Attendees networking during a coffee break, CC-BY-SA, Mārtiņš Bruņenieks

Scholarship process[edit]

During the scholarship process, we asked the applicants to provide an estimation for the price of their travel. We calculated our scholarship budget based on these estimations. Since we had a lot of applications and recipients, we didn’t check these estimations. Plus, the estimations were made by the applicants in May, and the trips were actually booked in August and September, due to a process taking longer than expected. The result is that the prices were higher than the estimations. In the future, the estimation of the costs should probably be done by us (or a travel agency).

We also encountered a lot of troubles with the visa process. In some countries, getting a visa to visit Germany is very hard, and requests a lot of involvement from the applicant (getting to the embassy, filling forms and answering a lot of personal questions). We used the existing process of WMDE, providing documents and letter of invitation and reimbursing the fees, in order to support the applicants. Still, several visa requests were refused and some of our community members couldn’t travel to Germany. In order to partially solve this problem, we decided to support people who organise event in their own countries in the future.

Human resources[edit]

The quick growth of the scale of the event also had an impact on the amount of work for the whole organization team. During the eight months before the WikidataCon, a lot of people whithin WMDE’s Software Department and other departments have been dedicated to this project. Besides the visa and travel management, that took much time and effort from the administrative team, and the event technics, that was provided by the Events Department, the overall coordination of the event was heavier than expected, and Léa Lacroix (in charge of community communication for Wikidata) had to reallocate 100% of her working time to WikidataCon during the months preceding the event. During the conference itself, since we were not sure that we could reach the number of volunteers that we needed to have a running and relaxing event for everyone, we booked some extra helpers from a company that works with WMDE for a long time and we particularly trust.

For the further steps, it would be smart to have an experienced person entirely dedicated to the event coordination, so the rest of the team can focus on the fields where they have the most of expertise.

Financial report[edit]

This table is based on our initial estimation, updated will real costs.

nr. category Item description Unit # of unit Estimated cost per unit (in €) Estimated Cost (in €) Actual cost (in €) Comment
1 Location Location 1x 1x 8330,00 8330,00 8300,00 Rent for plenary + 3 workshop rooms + back office from Friday to Sunday, WLAN (100mBit), event + network technician
1a Location Network technician p. 1x 1.666,00 1666,00 Set up WIFI and all technical requirements for the event
1b Location Event technician p. 1x 1.309,00 1309,00 Set up all technical requirements for the event
3 Location /

Food & beverages

Social Event on p. 100 30,00 3000 2570,40 We paid this for location rent & and drinks for the event
Subtotal Location
Home font awesome
11300 13845,40 We spend more money than estimated because the network + event technician was not part of the Venue+Rent package, and we had to pay extra. This is an important expense for us because a stable internet connection was a critical part at the conference.
2 Food & beverages Meals Saturday & Sunday p. 170 75,00 12750 18426 We had over 180 people during the event, including drinks, snacks, cake & service staff.
3a Food & beverages Meals Saturday & Sunday for helping volunteers p. 20 63,40 0 1268,18 We had 20 volunteers who helped during the event and had to order more food than planned.
3b Food &

beverages

Social Event on Friday p. 100 14 0 1400,00 We paid this as dinner for the participants who joined the social event
4 Food &

Beverages

Snacks p. 170 2,94 500,00 0 We didn’t pay for any snacks. It was included in position 2.
5 Food &

Beverages

Drinks p. 170 30,00 5100,00 0 We calculated 15€ x 2days x 170 person but it was included in position 2 and position 3.
6 Food &

Beverages

Birthday party p. 200,00 31,25 Cake was included in position 2. Decorations Material costs where cheaper than expected.
Subtotal Food & beverages
Coffee font awesome.svg
18550,00 21125,43 We spend more money on food and drinks than expected, because we had slightly more attendees than expected, and needed more helping volunteers than expected.
7 Human

resources

Support Staff Working hour 16 17,00 272,00 1885,86 We calculated 17€/hrsx2PAXx4hours. We needed 4 people to support us during the weekend for 12 hours.
12 Human resources Keynote Speaker p. 1 500,00 500,00 0 We didn’t need the estimated budget for travel and accommodation.
13 Human

resources

Photographer p. 1 1000,00 1000,00 0 We didn’t need a budget for an external photographer. We had a scholarship funded volunteer who took awesome pictures. So we counted this budget in the scholarship budget.
14 Human

Resources

Childcare hour 14 35,71 500,00 0 Childcare was not requested for the event.
7a Human Resources C3VOC video 2380,00 Because so many attendees couldn’t join the event, we decided to organise a livestream & produced videos of the talks.
7b Human

Resources

DJ 400,00 For the social event, we decided to rent a DJ.
Subtotal Human resources
Group font awesome.svg
2272,00 4665,86 We spent more money as planned for human resources, because we needed extra help for setting up the venue & providing the conference via livestream for all the attendees who couldn’t join.
8 Logistic Communication 1000,00 786,17 We spent less than planned for posters, name tags, programs.
9 Logistic Logistic 1000,00 720,35 We spent less than planned for transporting furnitures & material.
Subtotal Logistics
Cogs font awesome.svg
2000,00 1506,52 Overall we spent less than planned for logistics because the venue was close to the office, and we worked together with companies, who already knew us and made us a good price.
11a Scholars Travel Costs p. 48 500,00 24000,00 22690,13 Costs for travels (booked in advance + reimbursed on site) for 48 pax. Due to short notice not all canceled trips could be canceled with travel agency
11b Scholars Accommodation p. 48 100,00 4800,00 4280,50 Accommodation for 48 pax.
11c Scholars Visa Costs p. 16 60,00 960,00 595,06 Reimbursements for visa payment fees, claimed by 9 participants
11d Scholars Other Costs 913,00 533,04 Additional costs like sending of visa documents, reimbursements for public transport and self-booked accommodation, emergency service call
Subtotal grants
Globe font awesome.svg
30.673,00 28.098,73 We provided 48 people requesting full or partial funding (hostel & travel costs) for the event. Lots of people booked their tickets themselves to save money, and we could invite more scholarships than planned. The gap for travel costs happened because 3 people canceled their booked travel shortly. 3 people didn’t got the visa and 2 people didn’t complete their reimbursement yet.
10 Supplies Goodies p. 170 11,16 2000,00 2383.64 We spent more than planned on this.
15 Other Buffer 2000,00 156,48 We used the buffer to spend money on the software license for the livestream, GEMA for music and HDMI cables for the venue.
Overall
Bar chart font awesome.svg
74.122,00€ 71.782,06€ Difference between estimation and real costs: 2340€

Notes:

  • With 182 people at the event and 20 volunteers who helped at the weekend, we were operating at our capacities for the venue, food & staff support.
  • We spend overall less than expected because we got special prices for venues or suppliers we used before.
  • In order to diversify our income sources, we solicited external funding for the conference from three companies: Google (5000€), Quora (2000€) and Mapbox (2000€). If the future, if we broaden the scale of the event to a more diverse audience, we will also have more potential for external funding.

Next steps[edit]

Boards - WikidataCon 2017 (5).jpg

Board of wishes for the future of Wikidata, CC-BY-SA, Rehman Abubakr

Follow-up after WikidataCon[edit]

During and after the event, we encourage people to provide reviews and reports about the WikidataCon, to share what they learned during the event. We collected more than 20 reports in different formats (blog posts, wikipages, podcasts). We also encouraged people to upload their pictures on Commons. We also built some collections of tweets, so the messages posted on social networks are not forgotten in the flow of information.

During their application, the scholars committed to providing a follow-up of the event to share their experience and knowledge they acquired with their local community. After the event, we created a template to make easy for them to describe their plans or what they already did. Meetups, meetings with potential partners, etc. A few contributions are already listed, and we will keep in touch with the scholars to follow the progress of their projects.

The future of WikidataCon[edit]

From the first steps of organizing the WikidataCon, to the actual event happening, we couldn’t miss the huge enthusiasm of the community for this event that would bring them together and allow them to share knowledge and celebrate. The total number of people who wanted to attend, despite the maximal capacity of our venue (around 200 people on the waitlist) and the very positive feedback during and after the event, convinced us to renew the experience, enlarging and improving the concept.

However, we are aware that the format “one conference to bring them all” is not necessarily the best, for various reasons. Many people couldn’t travel to Berlin, for budget, practical or political reasons, and we are also careful about the impact on the environment of such an international conference. Our goal is also to support and empower multiple local communities, and to develop the awareness of Wikidata in different places and fields. Therefore, we proposed to coordinate decentralized events for 2018. The local communities are invited to organise an event in their area, under the banner of “Wikidata’s 6th birthday all around the world”. Workshops, talks or meetups, we will connect all of these local events with a strong communication and sharing a common documentation. The organizers may ask their close chapters or user groups for financial support, and Wikimedia Deutschland will provide the efforts of documentation (for example providing documents on how to organize a Wikidata training) and communication.

In 2019, two years after the first WikidataCon, we plan to organize the second edition, expecting the enthusiasm and the exponential growth of the Wikidata community. This international event, taking place in Berlin, will take in account the lessons learned of the first edition, and will be larger and more open, with a capacity of 500 persons and including a track dedicated to newcomers, as well as a hackathon. Even if the event will have a bigger scale, we will keep what made the first edition a success: a program built by and for the community, a strong feeling of appreciation and involvement, the possibility to share knowledge with others, and a friendly and safe atmosphere.

In order to build an unforgettable WikidataCon 2019, we are already working on the planning and budget, in order to provide the dedicated resources to make this event happen and an unmissable appointment for the Wikidata community.

WikidataCon 2017 Orgateam.jpg
Thank you for reading this report until the end! If you have any questions, feel free to contact Léa Lacroix.