Grants:IdeaLab/Towards a New Wikimania

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This page in a nutshell: This consultation was initiated to discuss what you value about Wikimania and movement conferences, and to discuss changes around the planning process for Wikimania. Please review the information below and provide feedback using the survey linked at the bottom of the page.


Towards a New Wikimania
Wikimania logo with text.svg
Developing shared values for Wikimedia conferences and reconstructing the planning process of Wikimania
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idea creator
Siko (WMF)
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project manager
EYoung (WMF)
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community organizer
I JethroBT (WMF)
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researcher
Shouston (WMF)
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volunteer
বলরাম
join
endorse
created on23:31, 1 December 2015 (UTC)


Background[edit]

Wikimedia movement conferences include:

  • Wikimania - traditionally a conference for everyone who participates in the Wikimedia movement
  • Wikimedia Conference - traditionally a conference for Wikimedia affiliate organizations (Chapters, Thematic organizations, User Groups, and Wikimedia committees) in addition to Wikimedia Foundation staff.
  • Regional or country focused conferences - regional community gatherings (e.g. WikiArabia, Iberocoop Conference, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)), or country-specific Wikimedia Conferences (e.g. WikiCon USA)
  • Thematic conferences - global community gatherings focused on particular themes Diversity Conference, Wikisource Conference, Global Hackathons, GLAMWiki Conference


Idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

Problem 1: The Wikimedia movement invests valuable resources in Wikimania, including significant time and energy from volunteers and paid staff, but we have not yet built a shared understanding of the outcomes we want to achieve with these resources. As a result, it is difficult to know if Wikimania is meeting the movement's needs.

Over the past 10 years, there has been an increase in the number, scope, and complexity of Wikimedia movement conferences. As the largest movement conference, Wikimania in particular has continued to grow. The total spend by WMF for Wikimania 2014 in London and 2015 in Mexico, including all travel, accommodations, scholarships, staff support and direct conference expenses, was ~$1 million USD, with 1,520 attendees for London and 800 for Mexico. Affiliates and individuals outside of the WMF have also put significant funds and time into these events. How will we (as Wikimedian conference organizers, funders, hosts, speakers, attendees, etc) know if the resources we put into Wikimania are meeting the movement's needs?

Problem 2: The way that Wikimania is organized and executed has grown organically over time, with small changes adopted to address individual issues. As a result, a number of issues have remained unresolved year over year.

The bid process for hosts, and unclear roles and responsibilities of the various groups involved in making Wikimania happen each year are two areas of particular concern. At this point, larger structural changes seem to be needed. But what form of changes to Wikimania will support the movement's needs best?

Based on conversations with past Wikimania hosts, committees related to Wikimania (e.g. Jury Committee, Steering Committee, Program Committee), WMF Staff, and community volunteers and participants, the following issues have been identified. You can edit this table to add other issues, if you like.

Area Issues
Outcomes & Connections between conferences
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  1. Wikimania does not have a set of clearly articulated goals or target outcomes
  2. Movement conferences have very few explicit connections between each other (e.g. continued and progressive conversations; connection between Program topics)
Roles & Responsibilities
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  1. WMF has played many different roles in regards to Wikimania, but that role has changed each year. The on-going role of WMF in Wikimania remains unclear (i.e. are they just a funder or an active participant?).
    • As background, WMF has been involved in activities across every part of Wikimania, for example: (1) Pre-conference: funding, planning travel, and conference logistics (2) During the conference: hackathon organization, organizing special workshops and (3) Post conference: Wikimania survey and analysis.
  2. Unclear decision making authority between multiple committees and WMF, particularly around two decisions:
    1. Deciding the host country, community, and conference venue:
      • Jury Committee - Reviews and votes on community bids and makes a recommendation on the final host country/community.
      • Steering Committee - An advisory group comprising of former Wikimania organizers. This groups "blesses" the Jury Committee recommendation, but has no veto power.
      • WMF - Makes final decision / approval, based on Jury recommendation and site visits to potential host countries/communities.
    2. Deciding the conference program:
      • Program Committee - Decides presentations & talks to be included in final Wikimania program
      • WMF - No staff involvement at this time, but there are WMF staff members who participate in their volunteer capacity as potential speakers and workshop organizers.
      • Role of the local organizing committee is currently not consistent year to year (they do work closely with program committee and sometimes are responsible for special tracks and invited talks)
  3. Role or participation of local affiliate varies depending on local community / host leadership
Process
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  1. Bid system
    • Competitive nature of the bid system damages relationships - people who invest time in bids and "lose" are demoralized.
    • A significant amount of volunteer time is spent on preparing bids, sometimes leading high-potential bids to drop out
    • No formal rules govern how Wikimania should rotate locations / geographic regions.
    • Mismatch between local community capacity/leadership/interest in hosting and the logistics/expense of hosting
  2. Event coordination
    • High risk of volunteer burnout, depending on size of local community and volunteers
    • A specific skill set is required for organizing and hosting a major conference, though the hiring of the WMF Events Manager has mitigated this in recent years
  3. Short timescales in booking venues results in higher costs.
Communication & Resources
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  1. Need to balance between the need for private due-diligence discussions (e.g. Negotiation of contract with main venue) and the need for public communication and open accountability.
  2. Documentation on planning and running conferences is outdated, needs improvement, or is not easily accessible / located.
  3. Many conference sessions lack adequate documentation (e.g. videos or notes) and are not centralized.
  4. When processes change or are improved (e.g. scholarships), those changes are either not well communicated or broadly understood

What is your solution?[edit]

Instead of continuing to make small changes to address single issues as they arise, let's take this opportunity to take a wider view. Let's consider what outcomes we value from movement conferences like Wikimania, and consider what form of Wikimania could serve us best as a movement going forward. From this bigger picture, we can then begin to work together on more specific process improvements. The outcomes of this consultation will begin to be implemented starting in 2018.

Goals[edit]

This consultation will address two major issues:

  1. Building shared understanding of Wikimania's value, in the context of other movement conferences
  2. Rethinking the overall form of Wikimania for 2018 and beyond, with clarification of roles & responsibilities

Timeline[edit]

15 December 2015 Consultation launches for public input
18 January 2016 Consultation ends
8 February 2016 Report back findings and next steps
March-May 2016 Begin laying groundwork to pilot changes for 2018
June 21–28 2016 Wikimania 2016
September – December 2016 Analyze outcomes from Wikimania 2016 for incorporation into 2018 plans, finalize selection for 2018

Issue 1: Building shared understanding of Wikimania's value[edit]

The following statement was built by aggregating quantitative and qualitative data and testimonials from past movement conferences.[1] [2] [3] [4]

The value of Wikimedia movement conferences[edit]

Gathering together at a movement conference helps to deepen and strengthen our relationships, both within our communities and as a global movement.

There are three ways this outcome can be seen:

1. By collaborating together on projects or in groups (e.g. User Groups, Committees). These projects or groups could be organized at a conference, or any time after the conference.
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(Expand to see stories)
FloNight, Rosiestep, and I already knew each other before Wikimania 2015 in Mexico City. But at Wikimania this year, we came together and were inspired to form the WikiWomen's User Group, a group that provides "a space for women on Wikimedia to collaborate on projects, discuss issues, socialize with each other, and a space for Wikimedians to work on gender-related issues." Wikimania inspired us to create the group because we were able to have those inspiring conversations in person that wouldn't have happened over email. As of December 2015, there are now 74 members.

Keilana from Wikimania 2015.

It was only looking backwards in late 2014 that I, The Interior, Sadads, and Nikkimaria realized all four of us leading the The Wikipedia Library had met in person for a weekend-long GLAM Bootcamp in Washington D.C in 2013 over a year before. We shared a coincidental interest in GLAM, but it wasn't the particular subject that brought us together those three days: it was the personal connection, rapport, familiarity, and sense of possibility we developed. By socializing in a shared 10-bed hostel, sharing day-long discussions around a conference table at the National Archives, taking breaks to explore historical monuments, and spending nights crafting hilariously well-referenced Wikipedia trivia articles, we were unknowingly laying the foundation of the Wikipedia Library’s core. At an event only designed to give us the basics, what we really came away with was the basis of trust and drive to come together again with an instant sense of confidence and possibility.”

Ocaasi about GLAM Bootcamp in 2013.


2. By sharing our experiences and learning from the experience of others.
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(Expand to see stories)
User:Soni and I attended Wikimania 2014 in London, and we were able to attend two roundtable discussions on helping new users getting started on Wikimedia projects, and how best to retain their participation. Both of these discussions highlighted two things that help engage and retain new users: (1) personalizing invitations and (2) making a personal connection that shows there is a human behind the username. These discussions informed some of the aspects of the mentorship space we were creating, The Co-op. The roundtable discussions motivated our decisions to prepare semi-personalized invitations, create user profiles that included more personal information (such as a free-hand description on why the mentor / learner was in the space), and to recognize the achievements of successful new editors.

I JethroBT from Wikimania 2014.

My first CEE (Central and Easter European) Wikimedia Meeting was in Kiev in December 2014. Me and the other two Bulgarians who attended heard for the first time of the Wiki Loves Monuments and the Wiki Loves Earth contests. Actually, I had heard of WLM, but having no Freedom of Panorama and no Fair Use in Bulgaria, I had immediately ruled it out that we could ever have a Bulgarian edition of WLM. The truth was that from our colleagues from CEE we learned a lot about how to set up the contest in a way that avoids the Freedom of Panorama problems, and in 2015 Bulgaria joined both contests for the first time. That wouldn't be possible if we hadn't learned from the experiences other people shared at a real life event, with all these seeable and touchable WLM and WLE framed photos, calendars, postcards, beer coasters and pin buttons. It was really inspiring!

User:Spiritia, about the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) Conference in 2014.


3. By resolving issues, or making progress toward resolving issues. Face-to-face conversations give us an opportunity to talk about the issues of everyday wiki life (e.g. community policies, legal advice, user interactions, etc.), and how they could be addressed.
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(Expand to see stories)
The first WikiArabia conference was held this year in Tunisia, as the “first annual conference for Wikipedians and Wikimedians from across the Arabic world.” One session at this conference focused on “Arabic Wikipedia policies and suggestions for new solutions”, where attendees discussed how to address old or outdated policies that needed to be updated. One solution proposed was to establish a committee of users (admins and editors with sufficient experience) to review a policy periodically. When the conference organizers followed-up after the conference with an admin, they confirmed that some of the policies were actually reviewed after the conference!

Vivaystn from WikiArabia 2015.


The unique value of Wikimania[edit]

The above outcomes can be seen at a lot of different movement events. So, what outcomes can/does the movement achieve at Wikimania and nowhere else? Please visit the talk page or take the survey to share your thoughts about both the value of Wikimania and the value of movement conferences in general!

Issue 2: Rethinking the overall form of Wikimania[edit]

Current form (until 2015)
Host Selection
  • Competitive bidding
  • Jury selects one host from many bids
  • WMF does due diligence and approves selection and funding

Program Setup

  • Program committee's core is same every year.
  • Host involvement in program is generally focused on scheduling, special tracks, keynotes and invited talks.
Logistical Support

Local host recommends venue and also handles:

  • local sponsors, public relations, and conference volunteers
  • receptions & entertainment
  • invited speakers/special theme tracks in the program.

WMF Events Manager handles:

  • negotiations and contracts for venue and accommodations
  • scholarship program
  • event budget and schedule, general sponsors
  • facilitation for committees, bidders and hosts

Current roles[edit]

Host: The organization or team representing the region where Wikimania is held.

Program Committee: Group responsible for requesting and selecting sessions to include in the Wikimania program.

Jury: Group currently responsible for selecting the host.

Steering Committee: Group tasked with making recommendations to members of the jury for the host selection process, and generally advising Wikimania hosts.

WMF Events Manager: WMF's main point of contact for Wikimania coordination

Options for new forms 2018-2021[edit]

Keeping in mind the outcomes Wikimedians aim to achieve from Wikimania or other movement conferences, let's consider some ideas about what new form(s) might support those outcomes best. Feel free to suggest improvements to these options or add ideas for other options on the discussion page! Note that Wikimania 2016 is also currently experimenting with a new format[5] - lessons learned from this experiment should also be fed into future forms for 2017 and beyond.

Option 1: Change to Global Rotation
Option 2: Change to Regional/Thematic Conferences
Option 3: Alternate years between Global and Regional/Thematic
Host Selection
  • No more bidding
  • Instead, move to global rotational schedule, set 3-4 years out (this could be set by regions, continents, etc)
  • WMF and Steering Committee select location and invite local communities to participate, plans are developed collaboratively with prospective hosts
  • Stop holding one big Wikimania for everyone
  • Instead, do more Regional / Thematic Conferences each year. Bids are replaced by grants process, where increased Conference Support funding can be made available for communities organizing these.
  • Consider how we can build more connections between these regional/thematic events (perhaps virtually, or via ambassadors)
  • Hold Wikimania every two years using non-bidding system to select hosts
  • In years without Global Wikimania, the movement puts more energy into regional/thematic conferences instead
  • Consider how we can build more connections between these regional/thematic events (perhaps virtually, or via ambassadors)

Program Setup

  • Program Chair is appointed by Steering Committee, taking location into account
  • Program Chair selects Program committee
  • Programming for regional/thematic conferences decided by local hosts and attendees
Logistical Support
  • Similar to current form. WMF can handle more logistics if local team would like to focus on content instead.
  • WMF can offer significantly more logistical & event-planning support (e.g. scholarships and travel booking, venue, etc) for regional/thematic conferences[6]


Get involved[edit]

WMF staff will review, aggregate and qualitatively code all feedback together before reporting back on outcomes. You may share you feedback via the talk page, or privately via a survey hosted by Qualtrics (a third party survey provider).



Your answers will be protected under the following privacy statement.


Have a story about something great that happened at or after a Wikimedia movement conference?

  • Instigator Would like your input to build a more sustainable plan for supporting Wikimania and other movement conferences. Siko (WMF) (talk) 00:17, 2 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Community organizer Helping facilitate communications and engage groups and individuals interested in Wikimedia movement conferences. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 23:42, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Project manager help coordinate feedback and work with community and WMF to implement changes. EYoung (WMF) (talk) 01:19, 2 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Researcher Finding, summarizing and analyzing qualitative and quantitative information from past movement conferences. Shouston (WMF) (talk) 04:46, 3 December 2015 (UTC)

Endorsements[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Conference reports submitted by WMF grantees (e.g. Wikimedia Conference report, reports from regional conferences such as Wiki Indaba and WikiCon USA)
  2. Post-conference evaluation surveys conducted by the organizing teams, e.g. Wikimania 2014, Wikimania 2015, Wikimedia Conference 2014, Wikimedia Conference 2015, Wiki Indaba 2014, WikiArabia 2015
  3. Hundreds of Wikimania Scholarships reports from 2014 and 2015
  4. Conversations with conference organizing teams, volunteer committees, and conference attendees
  5. See fundamental principles in planning, evaluation tasks, and general programming considerations for Wikimania 2016
  6. See Conference & Travel Support grants from the Reimagining WMF Grants consultation report

Participants[edit]