Grants:PEG/Eugene Eric Kim - Wikimedians in San Francisco/West Coast Wikicon/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Project and Event grant approved in FY 2010-11 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
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Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?



Organized a Wiki conference in San Francisco in conjunction with the Wikipedia X celebrations. Full conference information, along with pictures and program information, are available on the conference wiki. Specific activities included:

  • Planning. A small group of locals (largely driven by Phoebe Ayers and Eugene Eric Kim) agreed on an overall plan and coordinated on logistics for the event. Several people participated in the planning process through the sf-wiki mailing list, through local meetups, and through ad hoc meetings
  • Logistics included finding a location (we eventually settled on The Hub in San Francisco), coordinating food (The Bread Workshop in Berkeley), setting up registration (Eventbrite) and deciding whether or not to charge (we did, although we also found ways to offer scholarships), getting schwag (Steven Walling took care of this for us), sound (an awesome volunteer took care of this for us), and inviting keynotes (Ward Cunningham and Kevin Kelly)
  • We had additional support at the event itself: Setting up the space, manning registration, and facilitating the event itself

Project goal and measures of success[edit]

Project goal[edit]

Our main goal was to organize a West Coast version of the Wikiconference that had successfully been organized on the East Coast. Our secondary goal was to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia.

Measures of success[edit]

We had two measures of success:

Attract 50 great participants. We had over 80, which included a large waiting list. We also had a really nice diversity of participants. Foundation representation was very good. Obviously, it helped that this was in San Francisco, but I'm sure the Wikipedia X timing worked in our favor as well. We also had a number of local Wikipedians as well as folks from other wiki communities. Our best achievement was the number of participants new to Wikipedia. Given how often people report poor first-time experiences with Wikipedians, it was wonderful to see Wikipedians work so kindly and generously with people new to the project. Again, the Wikipedia X timing probably worked in our favor here (we got a lot of free publicity), as well as our high-profile keynotes.

Generate and document a number of great ideas. There were a lot of really great provocative conversations, and the self-documentation on the wiki was okay, but not great. The overall tenor of the event was more beginner-centric, due most likely to the participants we drew.

Lessons learned[edit]

What lessons were learned that may help others succeed in similar projects?

We had two hardened veterans in organizing these kinds of gatherings lead this project, and we definitely leveraged that knowledge. In particular:

  • Keep things simple. We chose to do one day rather than two or three. We chose an Open Space format rather than a programmatic format (which is more in the spirit of wikis anyway; more on this below). We chose to charge a nominal fee to help reduce uncertainty regarding attendance.
  • Nail the logistics. We found a location well in advance that was close to public transportation and that was reconfigurable. This, along with the food, constituted the majority of our costs.
  • Use an experienced facilitator. Sometimes, people operate under the misconception that "Open Space" or "unconference" implies "no structure." It does not. A facilitator keeps the participants focused on the goals and monitors the energy and direction of the conversation. An experienced facilitator is often the difference between wildly successful and extremely bad.
  • Leverage the community. The biggest mistake you can make in trying to organize an event like this is to do all of the work yourself. Granted, we definitely did a lot of the driving, but we had a lot of support from local volunteers. The key is to ask. If you don't ask, you likely won't get help. In our experience, people actually love to be asked, because they want to be helpful, as long as it's something within their means.
  • Get keynotes. Keynotes aren't critical for gatherings like this, and I think we would have been successful either way. However, it definitely helps draw participants, and we knew we could get really great ones.

What impact did the project have on WMF mission goals of Increased Reach, Increased Quality, Increased Credibility, Increased and Diversified Participation?

This gathering likely did not make a significant impact in and of itself. However, it modeled what a successful interaction should be between experienced Wikimedians and interested participants. It also modeled how gatherings like this could be accomplished cheaply and effectively.

Reporting and documentation of expenditures[edit]

Remaining funds from this grant have been returned to WMF in the amount of US$999.

Documentation of expenditures has been received by WMF.

Did you send WMF documentation of all expenses paid for with grant funds?


Details of expenditures:

Payee Cost Description
The Hub $1,010 Space rental
The Bread Workshop $1,506.09 Catering
Supplies $30
TOTAL $2,546.09

We received $2,295 in conference registration fees.

Will you be requesting re-allocation of remaining grant funding?


Will you be returning unused funds to the Wikimedia Foundation?

Additional requests and related proposals[edit]

Will you be requesting an extension or were you granted an extension?


Please link to related grant proposals here: