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.
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.
Outcomes & Connections between conferences
Wikimania does not have a set of clearly articulated goals or target outcomes
Movement conferences have very few explicit connections between each other (e.g. continued and progressive conversations; connection between Program topics)
Roles & Responsibilities
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.
Unclear decision making authority between multiple committees and WMF, particularly around two decisions:
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.
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)
Role or participation of local affiliate varies depending on local community / host leadership
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
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
Short timescales in booking venues results in higher costs.
Communication & Resources
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.
Documentation on planning and running conferences is outdated, needs improvement, or is not easily accessible / located.
Many conference sessions lack adequate documentation (e.g. videos or notes) and are not centralized.
When processes change or are improved (e.g. scholarships), those changes are either not well communicated or broadly understood
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.
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.”
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.
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
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!
目前2016年維基國際年會也正在實驗新的形式——這次實驗所得到的學習經驗也將用於2017年及之後的會議。 - lessons learned from this experiment should also be fed into future forms for 2017 and beyond.