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Grants:IdeaLab/Towards a New Wikimania/Outcomes

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Towards a New Wikimania




From 15 December 2015 to 19 January 2016, the Community Resources team at the WMF held a consultation on articulating the value of Wikimedia movement conferences overall, the unique value of Wikimania, and what new form Wikimania could take to better serve the movement going forward. Based on the feedback from over a hundred participants (both on wiki and via the private survey), the following emerged:

  1. The value of Wikimania is that it provides a unique opportunity to engage with the global movement face to face, to ask questions, listen and learn from people who have different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences than ourselves.
  2. The value of Wikimedia movement conferences overall is that they provide an opportunity to deepen and strengthen our relationships with one another, through collaborations, experience-sharing, and discussions on complex issues.
  3. Participants supported experimenting with a new model for planning Wikimedia conferences where:
    • Wikimania will be held every other year (with 2018 as the first non-Wikimania year), and
    • In the years Wikimania is not held, regional and thematic conferences will receive increased support.
    • Building connections between different conferences will become increasingly important in order to enhance the values that have been identified.

Methods and participants


Feedback was gathered in two places:

  • Qualtrics: 82 people shared feedback in a private survey on Issue 1 and Issue 2, with some of these individuals (5 participants) only sharing personal stories about movement conferences.
  • The discussion page: 37 people shared feedback in public on the same questions for Issue 1 and Issue 2, or brought up additional topics related to Wikimania and movement conferences.
Identical questions on both issues (Questions on Issue 1, Questions on Issue 2) were presented on both Qualtrics and the discussion page.

We reviewed a total of 119 responses. About 90 participants responded to the direct questions found on either the survey or the discussion page. There were a small number of individuals who participated in both channels, but after reviewing feedback, but this was unlikely to be significant.

Ensuring there were multiple channels for feedback, including an option for private feedback, was useful for participation. This methodology for gathering feedback has also worked well in past consultations that affect Wikimedia project contributors generally.[1]

Additional information on sampling and analysis

The following groups were sampled to participate in the survey:

We qualitatively coded responses from all response channels (survey and IdeaLab) together in order to identify the most relevant types of information as well as themes or topics that were frequently brought up. We used codes to:

  • group quotes about the most frequently identified themes, and then look at how many times each theme came up.
  • identify instances of agreement/disagreement with values of Wikimedia conferences in addition to new values and unique values for Wikimania.
  • identify instances of support and concerns for the options for Wikimania planning, in addition to identifying rationales supporting those attitudes.

In this report, we use some numbers to identify how often different themes and types of feedback were found. We do think the numbers are useful to help us understand the aggregated feedback at a high level, but we've used language like "about" to describe frequency since qualitative coding is not an exact science.

  • We had two people coding the responses to get more consistency in how the codes were applied, and to catch inaccuracies.
  • When looking at the discussion page feedback, we grouped comments that came from the same user as one response.
  • We tried our best to limit coding within each comment by not coding related or redundant items. If a similar or same point was brought up on the discussion page several times by the same person, it may have been coded only once.

Issue 1: Building a shared understanding of Wikimania's value


The value of Wikimania


Wikimania provides a unique opportunity for us to engage with the global movement face to face, to ask questions, listen and learn from people who have different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences than ourselves.

Participants indicated that Wikimania has similar outcomes as all movement conferences (collaborations, sharing of experiences, discussion of issues), but 1/3 of respondents also noted that the unique value of Wikimania is it provides an opportunity for attendees to engage with the diverse global movement, in a way that is substantially harder (or perhaps impossible) to do otherwise. This opportunity leads to conversations and collaborations that cross projects, languages and geographical boundaries, at a scale that could not be achieved simply through regional or thematic conferences alone, and it may also promote more unity across the movement. Those responses have been used to build a unique value statement for Wikimania (above).

Wikimania...has [the] unique value of putting our very diverse community together, with people of different countries (from Global North editors of English Wikipedia to Global South editors of small local wikis), different backgrounds (from tech experts to education and GLAM specialists), different experience and interests etc. There is no way to achieve this in any other way.

— Anonymous

At Wikimania in Mexico City I discussed very different subjects, from forming regional groups in my country (something I am interested in as a chapter member) to discussions on global rename policy (something I am interested in as a bureaucrat), including a lot of things from translations to Wikidata. I could have [only] achieved this by attending probably 5 or 6 other conferences otherwise.

— Anonymous

The value of Wikimedia movement conferences overall


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

We do this by:

1. Collaborating together in new or existing projects and groups (e.g. User Groups, Committees), both at and after the conference.
2. Sharing our experiences and learning from the experience of others.
3. Discussing the issues of every day wiki life, how those issues could be addressed, and sometimes making progress toward resolution.

Most participating community members indicated that the proposed value statement and associated outcomes were consistent with their experience. Less than 10% disagreed with the proposed value statement. A few proposed adjustments, additions or clarifications; these improvements have been incorporated into the updated value statement (above).

  • Improvement suggestions: Most common suggestion was that the value statement should emphasize how face to face interactions are the foundation for relationship building at the conference; without these relationships, the primary outcomes – statements #1-3 above – would be less likely to happen.[2]
  • Concerns: The most concern or disagreement (about 10%) was expressed around statement #3, previously stated as "Resolving issues, or making progress toward resolving issues". While many recognized the value and importance of discussing issues, most also emphasized the difficulty in actually resolving issues, due to the short timeframe of the conference and the absence of broader community involvement.

Yes, [these values] are generally consistent, although I think these statements apply to small conferences and local meetups more than large international conferences.

— Anonymous

I believe the face-to-face contact at a global event helps tremendously in making an excellent connection that you can refer to in the future when the right circumstances arise.

— Anonymous

Issue 2: Rethinking the overall form of Wikimania

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
  • 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
  • Hold Wikimania every two years selecting hosts using a non-bidding system
  • In years without Wikimania, increased funding and logistical support for regional/thematic conferences instead
  • Build more connections between these regional/thematic events

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 offers significantly more logistical & event-planning support for regional/thematic conferences



Participants expressed the most support for Option 3, followed by Option 1.

  • Analysis of responses showed there were about 55 instances of support (61.1%) for Option 3, and about 47 instances of support (52.2%) for Option 1.[3] There were only 16 instances of support (17.8%) for Option 2.

Participants were most frequently concerned with Option 2.

  • There were about 36 instances of explicit concerns (40%) raised about Option 2 , whereas concerns were raised for Option 3 only 9 times (10%), and for Option 1 only 13 times (14.4%).

Concerns and Support for Options


Option 1 (Change to Global Rotation)


One particular issue is "What are the regions we are rotating through?", continents could be considered too broad, and do we work harder to cover less active regions or support more organically growing areas...?

-StuartPrior, from the discussion page.

  • Support: People who supported Global Rotation often pointed out that being able to meet year-to-year as a unified movement is valuable, and that this applies to individuals new to the movement in addition to ongoing projects and collaborative efforts.
  • Concerns: People who were concerned with Option 1 were not convinced that the existing bidding system was problematic, or desired more information about the details of how global rotation would work in practice. Some also felt that the costs of Wikimania – in terms of finances, time demands, and other resources – are too great.

Option 2 (Change to Regional/Thematic Conferences)


A regional gathering in which many can attend (instead of some selected Wikimedians) will increase by far the collaboration between countries and Wikimedians that speak and edit in the same language.


  • Support: There was a low level of support for focusing solely on regional and thematic conferences, and few explanations were provided by participants for this preference. One participant noted that for individuals who do not speak English, regional and thematic events are the only opportunity to attend Wikimedia conferences. Another individual felt there were advantages to holding conferences gradually through the year.
  • Concerns: Participants overwhelmingly rejected the notion of abandoning Wikimania altogether, as it has unique value independent of regional and thematic conferences.

Option 3 (Alternate)


I rather prefer to vote for the third option: alternate between Wikimania and regional conferences. We must not overlook thematic and regional conferences that would be a kind of pre-conference for the major event, Wikimania.

-Anonymous, translated from French.

  • Support: Support for this hybrid approach was based on feedback that more can and should be done to support regional and thematic conferences. Many specifically framed this option as a balanced approach to supporting Wikimedia projects and participants through conferences. Some participants proposed that regional/thematic conferences could serve as useful precursors in preparation for the larger Wikimania conference in the following year.
  • Concerns: While there were few concerns with this option, some expressed that working relationships with individuals they are accustomed to seeing at Wikimania would be difficult to maintain if they could only meet every two years. Likewise, it may also be more difficult to initiate and maintain projects and initiatives where meetups at Wikimania are useful.

Other suggestions and concerns


A number of specific suggestions and concerns about the more detailed aspects of Wikimania's organization were also brought up by participants. This information, summarized below, will be collated in more detail at Wikimania/Consultation suggestions, for handoff to planning committees and future organizers of Wikimania and other conferences.

Comments regarding specific Wikimania considerations and other movement conferences matters
  • A number of ideas were advanced on the matter of host selection for Wikimania to address the problem that the conference is not accessible to many. They included some measurable suggestions to use for a rotational schedule in addition to a general suggestion to focus on mid-sized locations rather than on very large cities.
  • Also related to accessibility, some participants called for more scholarships for regional/thematic conferences.
  • The increasing number of WMF staff attending the conference, in particular at Wikimania 2015, as well as the proportion of presentations given by WMF Staff, was concerning to some participants.
  • A variety of considerations were offered on programming decisions at Wikimania, such as more focus on issues related to content creation and content curation issues, more opportunities for volunteers to present or discuss their work, and various suggestions on the responsibilities of the program committee. Some participants also suggested holding a training session or facilitating mentorship for Wikimania speakers/presenters to help in preparation.
  • A few participants noted that there is considerable benefit to having a local professional event organizer for Wikimania, and that local teams should be able to choose this organizer.

Next steps


Based on the above findings from this consultation, the following next steps are now under consideration:

Timeline for changes
2016 Wikimania in Esino Lario, as planned.
Setup WMF Conference Support systems for improving grants and other resources to regional/thematic event organizers
2017 Wikimania 2017 in Montreal, as planned.
Setup and planning for "option 3" experimentation with community input, including plans to address key concerns identified for this option
2018 Year of no Wikimania; Increase support and connections for regional and thematic conferences
2019 Wikimania under experimental rotational model, including any suggestions/revisions from Wikimanias 2016 & 2017



Got questions or other thoughts to share about these reported outcomes? Please post them on the discussion page!


  1. e.g. see Grants:IdeaLab/Reimagining WMF grants/Outcomes and Grants:IdeaLab/Future IdeaLab Campaigns/Results
  2. One additional aspect brought up by just a few participants is that movement conferences are also a public relations or outreach opportunity. These comments mentioned the value of conferences is in bringing attention from the "larger world", via media attention, partnerships, or important speakers. We suggest that based on the small number of comments this is not yet fully agreed upon by the community as a key outcome or value, but this point should be monitored and kept in mind for potential future inclusion when more data is available.
  3. Note: Some of these participants (approximately 10) expressed interest in either option.