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This report for a Conference Grant approved in FY 2018-19 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
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WikidataCon 2019
25 – 26 October 2019
Berlin, Germany
Grant report


The WikidataCon 2019 was the second conference focused on the Wikidata and Wikibase ecosystem, organized by Wikimedia Deutschland. After the success of the WikidataCon 2017 and the enthusiasm of the participants, we decided on a structure that would allow the community members to meet, gather and share their knowledge, and to bring back what they learnt to their local community in order to spread the experience about Wikidata across the movement.

In 2018, we supported the Wikidata birthday all around the world, where almost 40 local groups organized events, workshops and editathons about Wikidata, raising interest in their area and onboarding new editors. In 2019, the community gathered again in Berlin for the WikidataCon. To widen our perspective and help build a strong ecosystem around Wikidata and Wikibase, we also invited representatives from GLAM institutions, companies, NGOs, and the research field.

The conference took place over two days, Friday 25th and Saturday 26th of October 2019, in Berlin. It was followed by a day of side events. We welcomed 220 participants, with about 40% of them coming from organizations that we invited, and 60% from the community (editors, volunteers, developers) who went through a selection process.

The program, built on proposals from the participants and selected by the program committee, consisted of roughly 60 sessions, including talks, panels, workshops and meetups. Most of its content has been live-streamed and is now accessible online, together with documentation for each session. We also encouraged participants to organize spontaneous meetups and working tables to gather people interested in a specific topic or work on a project.

After the conference, to understand the experience of the participants, we ran a satisfaction survey filled out by 69% of the attendees (see the report). We encouraged participants to describe their follow-up actions after the conference, how they shared the knowledge they gained with their local community.

Group photo of the WikidataCon 2019
Group photo of the WikidataCon 2019

Outcomes of the conference[edit]

An opportunity to meet, network and foster collaboration[edit]

Metaphor: Wikidata community working on linked data together

We should never underestimate the power of meeting online contributors in real life. Spending time with other community members and chatting about projects has a huge positive impact on future collaboration and the mood of online discussions. Just like in 2017, we were delighted to see people recognize each other, start discussions at any moment of the conference, and use the event as an opportunity to have conversations about Wikidata.

As we included many partners and representatives from external organizations in the conference, we encouraged them to talk to each other, and we spotted several conversations that will certainly lead to great collaboration in the future. For example, representatives from the French and the German National Libraries took the opportunity of the WikidataCon to meet each other and to discuss how they are both working with Wikibase and how they could work together. The conference was also the opportunity to invite and learn more about big companies, who are reusing Wikidata's data without necessarily being in touch with the community, to understand better how they reuse the data, and to discuss ways to contribute back to the community (for example the Lexical Masks and WikiLoop presented by Google).

The conference, highly anticipated by the Wikidata community, was used as a meeting point for several groups of people working on specific topics or WikiProjects, such as biodiversity, chemical compounds or sum of all paintings. The self-organized sessions gathered people who are involved in such projects in order to discuss the state of their work, exchange ideas or make decisions.

The connection between Wikidata and other Wikimedia Projects was also well-represented with various sessions taking place around Wikidata-powered infoboxes on Wikipedia, Structured Data on Commons, or Wikisource.

A focus on languages[edit]

Collaborative multilingual welcome board

Language was one of the core topics of the conference, and attendees could explore it through various angles: the participants learned more about how underserved languages communities can use Wikidata for their specific needs, and how we could improve the editing processes of Wikidata to engage more of these communities. They learned about lexicographical data on Wikidata and how collecting and describing words can help build technological solutions to support endangered languages. By design, the conference was very international, with people coming from 46 different countries. Although sessions took place in English, one could hear plenty of other languages during the event and some people even took it as an opportunity to practice a language that they are learning.

Wikibase is the new thing[edit]

Wikibase is the Mediawiki extension powering Wikidata and developed by Wikimedia Deutschland’s software department. It can now be reused by external organizations to structure and share their specific datasets. It was the other core topic of the conference, and definitely raised a lot of interest. More and more people are evaluating using Wikibase for their open data projects and wondering how this could contribute to an ecosystem where Wikidata would be the central hub of free and structured knowledge. We discovered how various people and organizations use Wikibase and adapt them to their own needs, from libraries to Illuminatis, from biology to digital arts. Following this huge increase in interest in Wikibase, a lot of interesting discussions happened among this emerging Wikibase community, wondering how to strengthen the existing group and onboard more people, coming up with several ideas for action.

Reflecting on data quality and structure[edit]

During the data quality panel, we learned more about Wikidata's data quality, what are the different ways to measure it and what are the existing and future features that can help improve it. During a session dedicated to issues with Wikidata, we shared interesting reflections on how to improve the processing and organizing of data and how to strengthen our ontologies and classification. At the same time, during the keynote from Os Keyes, we learned that the representation of the world that we're building on Wikidata can be harmful by reinforcing oppression systems and tried to highlight what needs to be improved. Each of these discussions took place in a very calm and constructive atmosphere, even if some topics were sensitive and some people had strong opinions to share.

A family reunion with lots of appreciation[edit]

Plenty of meetups and informal gatherings took place during the conference

Because of its relatively small size and its special atmosphere, the WikidataCon felt like a family meeting that would also include and welcome more people, embracing the diversity of the Wikidata and Wikibase contributors. Participants had the opportunity to meet people that they already know while making new connections. It was great to onboard people from external organizations (for example GLAM institutions) and having them participating in the traditions of the Wikidata community, such as the birthday celebration and presents, the plushies gathering or painting their nails with the Wikidata colors. The whole conference was vibrating with a strong sense of excitement and appreciation: we heard a lot of people cheering and praising each other for the work they've been doing. This feeling was especially noticeable during the birthday presents demo and award ceremony where some due time was taken to highlight the achievements of the community. Meeting at the WikidataCon encouraged people to work together on their favorite projects, and in the hacking room developers started creating or improving tools to address the needs and ideas that got shared with them. Overall, the atmosphere was very creative and warm, and we must once again praise the participants for being exceptionally kind, helpful, supportive and laid back.

Useful input for the development teams[edit]

From the perspective of teams at WMDE and WMF who are involved in the development of Wikidata, the WikidataCon was a unique opportunity to have a lot of core community members and potential partners in the same place. We have been able to gather feedback, ideas, as well as testing and getting feedback on new or upcoming features. The UX Design team from WMDE’s software department have been running interviews and usability tests with editors, especially about the currently developed Wikidata Bridge feature, traceability of edits on Wikidata and building lists and queries. These face-to-face discussions are very useful for them to better understand the needs of the editors and how they react to new features. From the Structured Data on Commons side, the WikidataCon gave the team the opportunity to feel the excitement about the project they are developing. They could see the new tools based on the features that were presented during various sessions. They also met key contacts from cultural institutions who will play a role in the development of structured data on Commons, and gathered useful feedback from users for the next steps of the project. More generally, for the members of chapters and user groups who attended the conference, it has been an opportunity to meet active Wikidata and Wikibase contributors, to understand better what they are doing and the projects they are working on, and to get in touch with potential partners or organizations for future collaboration.

Our goals and how we achieved them[edit]

We built on the goals of the WikidataCon 2017 and added some new layers based on the feedback we got from the first conference, and the new challenges that appeared after two years, the interest in Wikidata growing and the emergence of Wikibase as a flagship product in the open knowledge world. We also took into account the results from the community survey that was run ahead of the conference. Here is an overview of our goals and how we achieved them.

Previous goals[edit]

Strong involvement of the community in the conference was achieved both in terms of content and organization. While applying for the conference, the community members were encouraged to submit content for the program. The committee, including some core members of the Wikidata community, reviewed the proposals and built the concept of the program, together with the organizing team. The conference also included a lot of time and space (hacking room, meetup rooms) for self-organized sessions. From the logistics side, we encouraged participants to volunteer for one or several tasks that they could commit to during the event: supporting the speakers as room angels, helping the video team with streaming, helping with logistics and documentation. In total, about 40 different people were involved as volunteers and helped build a special atmosphere where attendees were not only consuming the event, but active in it, aware and respectful of others’ work.

Sharing experience, knowledge and good practices is a core part of the WikidataCon concept. As the Wikidata community is spread all over the world, and the ecosystem around Wikidata involves a huge amount of tools, topics of interest and processes, it is vital to provide space to the community so they can learn from each other and discover new fields of work and skills. This was achieved not only through the formal program, which included a lot of presentations of specific projects and workshops, but also by the self-organized sessions in the hacking room where people could gather around topics and learn from each other. The structure of the program was built on three ideas that ran through the two days of the conference:

  • inspiration (bring everyone to the same level of knowledge, broaden the field of vision)
  • connection (engage people in discussions, get more into detail about specific topics)
  • action (get things done, learn new skills and put them into action)

Overall, 99% of the survey respondents indicated that they gained knowledge from other participants during the event.

Birgit Müller and Liam Wyatt hosted the award ceremony

Providing appreciation to the community for the work that they do is essential to keep people engaged and motivated. Various traditions within the Wikidata community are used to share this sense of accomplishment: the Wikidata birthday is celebrated every year, and through birthday presents and nice messages, the community together with the development team reflect on the past year and celebrate their achievements. The birthday presents session has been a moment of shared enthusiasm and excitement, and is highlighting the work of people who, by creating new features or starting projects, support the work of the editors and contribute to Wikidata’s success. A new format, based on Wikimania 2019’s coolest tool award, was also set up during the conference. The WikidataCon 2019 award, based on community input, was a way to highlight and celebrate projects that have a great impact on Wikidata and its editors. Eight projects have been chosen in various categories (editing, multimedia, outreach, newcomer-friendly…) and the award ceremony was one of the core moments of the conference, where all attendees praised the work of the volunteers who developed these projects. In the participants’ survey, 94% of the respondents indicated that their participation at the WikidataCon increased their motivation to contribute to the ecosystem around Wikidata and/or Wikibase.

New goals[edit]

Based on the participants' survey of the WikidataCon 2017 and our own observations of the first iteration of the conference, we wanted to leave more space for informal discussions and encourage networking. In the satisfaction survey, 93% of the respondents declared that the conference helped them engage in meaningful discussions with others. For Wikimedia Deutschland, gathering the core actors of the Wikidata and Wikibase ecosystem was essential to prepare the ground for new partnerships. We achieved this with a combination of different decisions.

The first one was to bring together the core Wikidata community and various partners, organizations that we selected and invited directly. This implied keeping a non-trivial amount of seats for partners and setting up a more selective process for the participants from the community, since the total amount of seats was limited. We chose to give everyone the same status, with identical badges, equal representation in the program, and no reserved access to spaces or services, so both groups (partners and community) could blend smoothly.

The second adjustment was to keep more time and space for networking and informal discussions. The program structure was lighter than in 2017, with more breaks and longer meal breaks. We decided to run several social events that were designed for people to get to know each other and start conversations: the welcome meetup was focused on informal discussions, the evening of the first day was a calm and relaxing event where people could look at posters and exchange about their experiences of the conference, and finally, after the closing session, we organized a dinner and a social evening where people had time to wrap-up their discussions and say goodbye to their new contacts. We used various tools to help people engage in discussions (posters presenting projects, a card game designed by a volunteer) while always being careful of respecting people’s boundaries and avoiding being intrusive.

On top of that, the physical spaces of the conference venue were adapted to provide a lot of options for people to gather in small groups and have discussions: we had a dedicated discussion room with a cosy atmosphere, various corners with tables or couches where participants could get away from the crowd and set up meetings or have spontaneous chats. Finally, some digital spaces were also dedicated to identifying participants and helping them connect with each other: a list of participants, including topics of interest and things people wanted to learn, was filled-out on a voluntary basis, and the Telegram channel was meant for informal interactions among participants.

Over the past two years, Wikibase became a topic of its own. More and more organizations are interested in running their own instances of Wikibase to store data and give access to it, connecting their content to the rest of the structured data world and strengthening the existing data stored in Wikidata. We wanted to acknowledge this, highlight the potential of Wikibase and help build a strong community of stakeholders around the usage and development of this product. Several sessions of the program had Wikibase as one of their main topics, and raised a lot of attention from the participants. The Wikibase inspiration panel was one of the most anticipated sessions from the conference, and gathered five organizations from different fields who presented the state of their work with Wikibase, showing the diverse possibilities that the software can offer. The Wikibase meetup was packed and gave people the opportunity to talk about their projects and raise wishes for future developments. Last but not least, the Wikibase workshop that took place on the day after the conference was a great success, with more than 40 participants and as many new Wikibase instances created.

Out of the survey respondents, 35 people indicated that they or their organization were thinking about using Wikibase, 28 people indicated that they were already using it. 66 people indicated that the conference helped them to advance in their Wikibase-related work.

Community input[edit]

Before the conference, we ran a survey to gather thoughts from the community about the most important topics or challenges to discuss during the WikidataCon. Here’s an overview of the most important requests (rated as high), and how we addressed them.

Designing newspaper covers was one of the UX experiments to learn more about people's vision of Wikidata in the future
  • Future of Wikidata: the opening session Glimpse over Wikidata gave the participants a general introduction to make sure that they all had the same ground level of knowledge about Wikidata. A design thinking workshop was organized specifically about the future of Wikidata, focusing especially on knowledge gaps. The 16 participants prototyped some projects that were presented during the closing session. A follow-up is planned in 2020. Another exercise proposed by UX designers was the newspaper board, where people could draft ideas about the future of Wikidata. In general, most of the discussions and sessions were future-oriented, describing the current state of things and suggesting improvements.
  • Community Growth: although no session took place on this specific topic, many discussions happened, especially about how to include GLAM organizations among the Wikidata community and how to build strong relationships between the existing Wikidata community and the emerging Wikibase community.
  • Discussions on ontology and data structure: as the data structure is the backbone of editing Wikidata, the topic was discussed almost everywhere during the conference. Several sessions focused on a specific part of the data structure, pointing out the issues and suggesting solutions: about description of gender and sexual orientation, about indigenous content, or about the upper levels of the ontology.
  • Teaching each other useful tools in the Wikidata ecosystem: as knowledge sharing was one of our main goals, we made sure that people had space to organize workshops about tools and technology, both in the formal program (SPARQL, OpenRefine, Shape Expressions, Lexemes) and the self-organized sessions (“request a query”, “request a schema”, Wikispore, Pywikibot, etc.)
  • Wikibase: install, set up, reuse the software: Wikibase was one of the main topics of the conference, and was present in a lot of different sessions. The Wikibase workshop helped the 40 participants to install and set up Wikibase on their computers, most of them doing it for the first time. Some improvements for the software got presented, the most exciting one being a service where people can create and host a Wikibase instance in a few clicks.
  • Sources and data quality: data quality was definitely an important topic, with a panel presenting both research and practical tools to evaluate and maintain data quality in Wikidata.
  • Developing a harmonious ecosystem between Wikidata and other Wikimedia projects: several sessions and discussions took place regarding integration of Wikidata in the Wikimedia projects. As the first steps of structured data on Commons got released in 2019, it was a hot topic, and covered by a workshop and a meetup. A contest to add metadata on Commons files with the ISA tool was also organized, and several tools presented during the birthday presents celebration were aiming to connect Wikidata and Commons. During the infobox panel, several options to include Wikidata’s data in Wikipedia and Commons were presented, showing how small wiki communities can take advantage of the knowledge stored in Wikidata. A Wikisource meetup also took place, where the participants discussed how to build stronger connections between Wikidata and Wikisource.

Overall, we achieved to address most of the high priority requests from the community survey, and we supported various workshops, sessions and discussions on these topics. No specific session about documentation was organized, but data quality, data structure and knowledge sharing were well-represented during the conference. We also talked with various institutions present at the conference, presented success stories of use of Wikidata and Wikibase, and started very interesting discussions with potential partners.

Specificities and challenges of the event[edit]

Provide remote participation and interaction[edit]

Just like in 2017, we worked with the video team of CCC to provide live-streaming and video recording of the sessions taking place in the three main rooms. Once again, we are very satisfied by the excellent service provided by this team of volunteers, as the live-stream ran without major issues and most of the videos were available online before the conference was even finished. This service allowed not only remote people to watch the sessions, but also onsite participants to be more relaxed during the conference: knowing that they would have the possibility to watch the talks later on, they could focus on the interactive parts of the event: workshops, discussions and networking. In February 2020, the 40 available videos cumulated 2400 views. The most popular session is “Wikidata and OpenStreetMap, followed by the keynote “Questioning Wikidata”.

In order to make the content more accessible to various audiences, we decided to provide subtitles in English for all the sessions, and subtitles in a selection of widely spoken languages for the nine sessions we identified as the most important for Wikidata and Wikibase outreach. The videos and subtitles will be provided in a standard format that will allow volunteers to provide additional translations. One thing that we learned in the process is that although we required the services of a very skilled company, subtitling and translation takes efforts from both sides: we underestimated the time needed to review the work provided by the company. We can definitely advise other event organizers to plan this amount of work carefully if they intend to require translation and subtitling services.

Being able to watch the session remotely is a good step to include more people, but we also wanted to move forward with interaction between the onsite and remote attendees. In 2019, the pads used to take notes during the sessions contained a “questions from remote people” sections, and room angels were encouraged to bring these questions to the speaker so they could answer them. This effort could be strengthened in the future by making the contributions of remote people more visible for onsite participants, and imagine other ways for them to exchange. A Discord instance was also set up to allow remote people watching the sessions to watch them together and comment through a voice channel. This was an experiment set up by volunteers quickly before the conference, mostly advertised on Telegram channels, and gathered 10 people in total during the event. This encouraged remote watchers to chat with each other and helped build a friendly context for those who couldn’t experience the atmosphere of the event.

A playground for new experiments[edit]

Healthy and vegetarian catering during the event

The WikidataCon is a new conference in the galaxy of Wikimedia events, and the Wikidata community is usually curious, constructive and open to change. This is why the organizing team could try new things along the way, experiment on new formats and services, with the hope of beta-testing some ideas that could be used by other conferences in the future. Here are some of the things that we tried in 2019.

According to a policy implemented at Wikimedia Deutschland since the beginning of 2019, our catering offer for big events is now fully vegetarian. With no meat and fish included in the menu. Not only do we hope to reduce our impact on the environment, but this also makes it easier to adapt our offer when it comes to religion-specific food diets. We also offer vegan options, and we make sure to choose services who provide healthy and diverse food. The WikidataCon was the first big conference organized by Wikimedia Deutschland where we implemented this new policy. Expecting possible negative reactions, we announced this decision in advance and we were ready to provide arguments, but the reactions from the participants were overall positive: in the end, it was not particularly a topic during the event. This successful try is very encouraging for future events.

Because we are aware that a two-day conference can be very intense for participants, with a lot of discussions, intense intellectual work and social interaction, we wanted to offer a way to relax and reconnect at the half-way point of the event. We included a guided meditation session and a yoga session, on the morning of the second day, before the start of the formal program. Offering these optional sessions was the result of many thoughts about how we can encourage people to take care of themselves during the conference without being intrusive or placing them in uncomfortable situations.

Inspired by the new photo policy presented at Wikimania 2019, we decided to apply it during the WikidataCon. We agree with the observation that photos of people at Wikimedia events are often taken and published without consent, leading to huge quantities of pictures on Commons that can make people feel uncomfortable. We communicated clearly about the policy, asking photographers to be very careful about asking permission before or after taking photos. Our official photographers were entirely onboard with the decision. We received mixed reactions: although many people supported this decision, several photographers also expressed their dissatisfaction with the policy. We also acknowledge that less pictures were published online (951 pictures on Commons for 2019, 1508 pictures in 2017), without being certain of the direct correlation with the policy. We will continue the conversation with various stakeholders in order to arrive, in the future, at a policy that respects privacy without restricting the creativity of photographers and documentation of the event.

What we learned during the event[edit]

Here’s an overview of things that the organizing team learned during the event. These are points that we will look at again in the future in order to continue improving our events, and we hope that sharing them can also be helpful for other event organizers.

Raising the conference[edit]

Ingredients of a successful conference: good coffee, fancy swag and card games

About the registration process: because we had a limited amount of seats, we had to find a way to select participants. We didn’t want to run a “first come, first served” process like in 2017, and we also didn’t want to ask for a fee, as we found both ways unfair for people who wouldn’t have the necessary resources. Since the core target audience was the Wikidata community, we decided to select participants based on their involvement in the community and their contribution to the event (program submissions, volunteer). We also tried to encourage diversity by highlighting the gender and country of origin in the selection process. We ended up with one big form that was a selection form, a registration form, a program submissions form and a scholarship request form altogether. This format had many pros and cons. For example, it allowed us to have an overview of the requirements and contributions of each applicant, but it was also long and exhausting to fill out. Because of schedules, visa process and other incompressible deadlines, we had to run the application process seven months before the event, which can be quite a long time for people to foresee. Finding the perfect registration process that fits both the needs of the organizing team and the participants is not an easy task, and in the future, depending on the structure of the conference, we may continue experimenting on formats and tools.

Looking for sponsors: in order to diversify our income sources and provide the best experience for participants, we’ve been looking for sponsors. We started the process nine months before the conference, but the first research was unsuccessful, probably because we didn’t manage to reach the right people, to expose the interest they would have to support the event, or to provide valuable counterparts. Based on the planned budget at that time, we reduced the format of the conference (that was initially planned to be three days long, with a hackathon day). However, several months later, we secured a sponsorship, but because of unclarities in the process and various operations that took some time, we ended up in a rush to make decisions in order to make meaningful use of the money that was granted to us. In the future, we definitely need to sharpen our sponsoring process and get in touch with the right contacts early, which can allow us to plan safely in advance and make the best use of our contacts with partner organizations.

Based on the feedback from 2017, we improved the structure of the program to offer more breaks, more time for people to discuss and network, and a lighter schedule. We think that we managed to have a pretty good balance between formal sessions, discussions and workshops this year, although several participants mentioned in the survey that there could have been more time for hacking, self-organized sessions and workshops. Survey respondents also mentioned the panel format, that was used to give more people a chance to present their projects in the program, but didn’t work as expected by the participants. We acknowledge these requests but we are aware that no perfect solution can be found. In the future, we will continue experimenting with the format of the program, maybe reducing the formal program to leave more space for community-driven sessions. We also heard feedback about the unequal quality of the talks and speakers’ skills, and we’re investigating ways to support the speakers before a conference to help them increase their confidence and presenting skills.

Building the atmosphere[edit]

During and after the conference, plenty of participants mentioned an especially nice and friendly atmosphere. Although we think that this comes mostly from the participants and their behaviour, we put some thoughts on how an organizing team can foster great mood and collaboration among the participants of an event:

  • Caring about little details, thinking ahead about people’s specificities and aiming to have everyone included
  • Communicating transparently and getting people involved in various steps of the conference organization (program design, volunteer, asking them feedback about the services they’d like to get during the event…)
  • Letting people know who is organizing the conference, providing faces and individual connection to the organizing team so people can recognize them during the event and be more willing to help or ask for help.
  • Making clear statements about the Friendly Space Policy, but also about how people can take care of themselves and others so everyone is having a good time. Remind people to be nice and supportive without being too pushy, and providing a favorable context for positive behaviour.
  • Having identified and available people to talk to about specific topics during the event, especially about well-being and Friendly Space Policy possible issues.
  • Providing gratefulness and appreciation to everyone we’re working with, even during rush times or difficult situations.
About 40 people volunteered during the event and gathered at the closing ceremony

On a similar topic, we’ve been thinking a lot about volunteer commitment. In order to have the WikidataCon run smoothly, especially the program sessions needing room angels and support with streaming, we had a lot of helpers slots to fill out, which caused quite a lot of stress for the organizing team ahead of the event. It worked pretty well during the event because a lot of people jumped in spontaneously, but in the future, we want to strengthen our volunteer process and make sure that people are interested in volunteering and commit to tasks. We are looking into bigger conferences, like the CCC, to see how their volunteer process is organized. This includes not only a proper shift planning tool but also better counterparts for helpers.

Challenging logistics[edit]

On the logistical side, we had to face issues during the conference: one of them was the wi-fi network, that didn’t work as well as expected, leaving people without connection, which was particularly annoying for the live collaborative note-taking on Etherpad. We relied on the onsite technical infrastructure, that was not enough to support both the streaming flow and the individual use of participants. One seemingly obvious option would be to enlarge the capacity of the network for future conferences by booking a dedicated external service, but one could also reflect on the use of the network by participants, and offer them local options to answer their needs. For example, if we expect 100 participants to download the same file during the event, why not offer it on a local wi-fi network?

Another important issue we encountered is related to accommodation for scholars. In the hotel we chose to accommodate scholarship recipients, we booked double-bed rooms, ending up with people sleeping in the same bed. We acknowledge that this caused important privacy issues and that it’s not acceptable to ask people who don’t share intimacy to sleep in the same bed. We apologize for this issue and we will make sure that this doesn’t happen again at one of our events.

Finally, on the organization side, we struggled with having different parts of the conference happening in different places (the welcome meetup and the side events at Wikimedia Deutschland’s office, the rest of the event at the conference venue), and in general to have many things happening in parallel. This caused some staff resources issues. In the future, we should make sure that the entire organizing team can focus on only a few tasks at a time.

Financial report[edit]

This table presents the main expense items of the conference, the estimated costs and the final costs, as well as the difference between those.

Item Description Budgeted costs Final costs Difference Comments
1. Location Costs for 2 days Room and furniture rental costs, technical equipment hire, event technician, Internet, live streaming, childcare service 49,000.00€ 49,232.58€ -232.58€
2. Catering Costs for 250 people Drinks for Thursday evening @WMDE Office, Friday and Saturday conference catering and beverages (lunch and dinner) 65,000.00€ 67,056.81€ -2,056.81€
3. Communication Costs Production cost for location branding, photographers, goodies for participants, T-shirts/ give-aways for volunteers, location branding, equipment and decoration exhibition space, post-production cost for subtitles in several languages 15,500.00€ 37,627.50€ -22,127.50€ Along the way and thanks to additional funding we received, we decided to provide subtitles and translation for the videos in order to make the content accessible to more people.
4. Support Staff Costs Hospitality staff on-site 1,500.00€ 2,012.29€ -512.29€
5. Keynote Speakers, VOC & Facilitators Accommodation and travel costs 2,500.00€ 4,220.16€ -1,720.16€
6. Logistics Costs Ground transportation 1,500.00€ 598.39€ 901.61€
7. Miscellaneous Furniture for social events, yoga supplies, cleaning costs 5,000.00€ 2,889.22€ 2,110.78€
Subtotal WikidataCon Costs 140,000.00€ 163,636.95€ -23,636.95€
8. Scholars Accommodation (3 nights), travel (incl. public transport tickets on-site), visa costs for 46 scholars 40,000.00€ 40,336.29€ -336.29€
Total WikidataCon Costs 180,000.00€ 203,973.24€ -23,973.24€

A big share of the conference costs has been covered by Wikimedia Deutschland. WMF granted 40.000 USD for the organization of the conference. 50.000 USD were granted by Google LLC via WMF for costs associated with enabling conference participation.

Next steps[edit]

There's always a lot of enthusiasm around birthday cakes!

We want to encourage participants, and particularly scholars, to bring the knowledge and skills that they acquired during the conference and share them with their thematic group or local organization. We created a follow-up page and asked scholars to report on their projects. With blog posts, meetups or podcasts, people are sharing what they learned during the conference with their local communities.

We also want to encourage people to prepare for the next event: another iteration of the decentralized Wikidata birthday, that will take place in October 2020. We hope for at least as many events as in 2018, and during the next months, we will explore ways to support the local Wikidata communities to organize their events in order to share knowledge with each other, onboard newcomers or connect with local partners.

The WikidataCon will take place again in 2021. We will iterate on feedback from 2017 and 2019 and reflect on Wikidata and Wikibase strategy to define the main goals, topics and format of the conference.

On behalf of the organization team, thanks for reading this report and participating to this awesome journey! If you have any questions, feel free to contact Léa Lacroix.