Grants:PEG/Pradeep Mohandas and Pranav Curumsey - Wikimedia Chapter, India and Mumbai and Pune WikiCommunities /WikiConference India 2011/Report
Foreword: From dream to reality, it seems like centuries have passed in the last few months. Organising WikiConference India 2011 (WCI) has been a Herculean task, one that has been highly satisfying on a personal level, though working sixteen to eighteen hours a day with erratic meal times; seven days a week did take its toll on both of us it is an experience we will cherish for the rest of our lives. We owe great gratitude to the larger Indian Wikimedia Community for their trust, belief and support.
The document describes the events in a flow. We have taken breaks in certain areas to provide sufficient background and details which will help people understand things in the larger perspective. We’ve provided the same where we felt it was necessary. We have also taken breaks in certain areas to provide guidelines for future conference organisers, when we had such guidelines. We’ve also left open areas which we think the Community needs to discuss or the Organisers need to take a call using appropriate fora within the Movement.
A running theme through the document is the need for more hands in running of a Conference, especially when it is volunteer driven. Another theme is the complex network of India’s bureaucratic structure along with several Wikimedia entities (WMF, India Programs Office, Wikimedia India Chapter, Mumbai and Pune communities and various Community members) that we’ve had to negotiate with and take on board in our decision making process while doing it in a timely manner and make sure it is done in time for us to make useful decisions. These entities have helped or marred us at various levels during the conduct of the Conference. This has, we believe, influenced the outcome of the Conference. Given all the constraints, we believe that we’ve done the best we could, since considerable amounts of time were taken up by red tape and “politics”. A lot of people were not happy at the amount of “newbies” involved, however we tried to encourage newbie participation to the maximum as they are vital to our movements future. For the future, we feel it's necessary to have conference office bearers with more powers as its good to have consensus methodologies in place, however when one is organising such an event any person can join the process at any time and use these methods to create unnecessary hurdles which become difficult to deal with.
We’ve done our best to place facts on record in a manner that is sensitive to the Community. We’ve revealed things when we believe that the Community and the Movement will benefit from such knowledge. We’ve made certain remarks but think in the end, we ourselves are responsible for how the Conference was organised. We’ve acknowledged the help of community members in the relevant sections for their specific help in specific tasks. This does not leave out their help in various other tasks at various other junctures in the conduct of this Conference.
Organizing the Conference has involved managing interactions between Wikimedia communities and organisations that may or may not fully understand the Movement. This has been a great learning experience for us and we hope that our Partners and Sponsors have equally benefited from interacting with us.
We have taken names of members of the WMF Staff, India Programs Office and Wikimedia India Chapter Executive Committee members at the time of writing the report. We have used usernames for community members, whenever possible. We have also referred to ourselves when needed using our usernames. Lastly, we acknowledge that we were nowhere near perfect and accept that there have been numerous learning aspects along the way. Going down the road for the first time, we were walking blind however through this report we hope that those organising events in the future are better placed to manage situations than we were.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Getting everyone on-board
- 3 Finances
- 4 The Venue
- 5 Scholarships
- 6 Outreach
- 7 Getting started
- 8 Technical and IT
- 9 Press and Media
- 10 Parties and Fun
- 11 Manpower and issues
- 12 Security
- 13 Event Management
- 14 Parallel Hackathon
- 15 Last Month: The Run-up
- 16 The Event
- 17 Post Event
- 18 Closing
- 19 Feedback
- 20 Acknowledgements
- 21 Appendix
Wikipedia has been popular in India since its initial years, especially as a source of information. Though a major number of edits from India are anonymous IP edits, India has produced some excellent editors as well. These editors have worked hard to improve and increase India related content on Wikipedia over the years.
Only recently, did the first offline meetup of Wikipedians in India take place – the first one we think of was at Tinu Cherian’s house in Bangalore. Since then, several other cities have held meetups and gone further in holding other offline activities such as photo walks, workshops and academies.
In Mumbai, the first major meetup to take place in recent years was only in September 2010 when Barry Newstead from the WMF visited the city. A major fillip was a visit by Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales the very next month, October 2010. He addressed a crowd of over 400 people at Sophia College in Mumbai. In the next year, Mumbai was at the forefront in activities, which culminated with national limelight with this conference. A big meetup was held in January 2011 to celebrate Wikipedia 10 – again attended by Barry Newstead. A photowalk held around this time managed to cover quite a few structures in Mumbai. A placeholder bid for Wikimania 2013 was put up by User:Angpradesh, a long time Wikipedian from Mumbai. As we shall explain in this report, User:Angpradesh’s immense contribution not only to Angika Wikipedia which he founded, but also to community building in Mumbai and financial support for the conference cannot be overlooked.
In February too, the community was quite busy with Barry Newstead making yet another trip to Mumbai, this time to introduce Hisham Mundol, Consultant India Programs to the Community – Mumbai was the first city where Hisham was introduced. Shortly prior to this, Liam Wyatt visited the country, and held several meetings across the country including a few in Mumbai to promote the GLAM Project.
It was only in March, when the local community got a breather that we started discussing the possibility of seriously bidding for Wikimania 2013. After several rounds of discussions among Wikimedians, a meetup was called for in April 2011 that was attended by local community members, Hisham Mundol and WMF Board Member Bishakha Dutta. The Community felt that it did not have the experience to go in for something as big as a Wikimania at that point and that it would be better for it to hold a smaller national level event in order to prepare itself for Wikimania. We ended up being larger than Wikimania ever has been!
We also felt that given the growth of various communities in India and the presence of the new India Programs and Wikimedia India chapter, a face to face community event would greatly boost the Movement in India. In addition, we wanted to show that after local Wikimedia meetups, it was possible for Wikimedians in India to organise a national conference and meeting of Wikimedians in India.
It is with these intentions that in that April 2011 meeting of the Mumbai community, the decision was made for a national conference or meetup of Wikipedians.
Getting everyone on-board
Using a national conference as a preparation for Wikimania turned out to be quite a paradox. This was because our national conference turned out to be bigger than any Wikimania to date! Again, at the April 2011 Mumbai community meeting the community unanimously resolved to host a national conference in November 2011 in Mumbai. It further resolved to invite the Pune Community (Pune is a 4 hour drive from Mumbai and the nearest Wikimedia community) to co-host the event, which they accepted in great zeal.
A meeting between Mumbai, Pune and the Wikimedia India Chapter (represented by Wikimedia India Chapter President Arjuna Rao Chavala) took place on the 9th of May 2011. By then, Mumbai had already started doing its homework and a presentation was made to the meeting by Kundan and ATG. The presentation was upbeat and included an optimistic plan of holding the keynote address in a 20,000 seater stadium. Pune was supportive and spoke of how they could help. We felt that although he sounded helpful and amenable, the Chapter President did not make a firm commitment. In the next month, the community faced an uphill task of convincing what looked like an unwilling Chapter to back it. Several community members were in regular touch with individual Chapter Executive Committee members to persuade them to cooperate – which a few of them did do, however to the horror of the community the Chapter announced that it would hold a bidding process to decide where this conference would be hosted on 11 June 2011, more than a month after the initial meeting in Pune.
The Mumbai and Pune communities were outraged and felt let down by the Chapter. Day and night war-room conversations were held and several possibilities were considered, including mass resignation from the chapter. Chapter Membership was announced and opened on 9 May 2011 in Pune, and this received an overwhelming response from these 2 cities, with the first member by cheque mode being from Pune and the first member by NEFT mode being from Mumbai. Another possibility that was discussed was boycotting the chapter and hosting the event under a friendly local charity. It is important to acknowledge at this point that the entire Indian Wikipedia Community backed and rallied behind the Mumbai and Pune communities, which made us stand strong.
Thankfully, things did not come to that with the Chapter announcing support for the Mumbai event within a week. Thereafter a meeting in Mumbai was announced to be held on 18 June 2011, at a conference room in Inorbit Mall (who were good enough to extend this courtesy more than once as well as sponsor a Bus Tour during the event). The blueprint of the event was discussed at this point, office bearers were elected and plans kicked off. The name and logo were adopted after a call for suggestions and a vote by the community on meta.
In the run-up to the event, the Mumbai Community felt it necessary to continue with local activities, hosting regular meetups, a Creative Commons-GLAM Workshop (the first ever GLAM event in Asia) and an academy with the aim of building the local community.
Simultaneously with the above, we started working on estimating the cost of organizing such an event. We decided to raise money through sponsorships and with support from the Wikimedia Foundation. One of the basic requirements for estimating the associated costs was the number of projected attendees for the event. We did not have any reasonable standard through which to reasonably ascertain this. Therefore, we went with the average Wikimania attendance of 300 individuals as a benchmark and felt that an additional number of 100 would be a reasonable cushion for the purposes of determining the budget of the event. This guided the process of budgeting. It also helped us in selecting a venue for the event and had a bearing on numerous estimates that we have received from multiple potential vendors and service providers.
Based on discussions over a online document we decided to ask for a $40,000 grant request from the Wikimedia Foundation. This contained a reasonable safety net to cover our conference costs in case we were not able to find any sponsors. The initial experience with sponsors (efforts at securing sponsorship had started in parallel) had not been good. Although some good deals were discussed they could not be finalised. This was factored in as we got closer to the submission of the grant request. Although we secured the grant easily, getting money to the ground to actualize the ground turned out to be a challenging effort. We made consultations to ensure that we were in compliance with all the local and national laws. It was decided that the WMF would pay the vendors for the goods and services rendered, upon advice by Hisham. This was easier said than done.
The transaction process took a long time. Several emails were exchanged with the Foundation staff regarding payments. Some were heated and we learned a lot in the process about the time lag between the Foundation making the payment and the vendor receiving the money in actuality. This made on-the-ground work tricky as the date closed in and we had to win the trust of several vendors and had to ask them to be patient with the receipt of the money, which was paid only hours prior to the actual event. At this point it is important to state that though we tried to figure out ways, there seemed to be no cooperation from Hisham. He stated that there was no way he could help us and that we continue with direct payments. However, he did find a way to make substantial payments on the behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation Tech team for the Hackathon venue, for his own team’s hotel advances (a six figure sum) and a scholarship payment which we got to know of very recently. It was extremely frustrating for us to see Hisham make other payments whilst we only had money on paper.
Some people have publicly stated that our budget was too big. We would like to assure everyone that this was a shoestring effort and that we could not have pulled this off without the kind of monetary support we had locally. This is a small fraction of the money that the WMF spent on India last year and we believe that the benefits derived from WCI are far bigger than the other investment. Other community members made statements to the effect that although we had a lot of money, we were being miserly. While had had money on paper, we did not have it on hand. Hence, we had to conserve our local funds to prepare for the worst, in case the WMF funds did not arrive as planned. Unexpectedly, the collections from registrations were very strong. Though the accounts are in the process of audit, it seems as if the collections exceeded INR 700,000. This was indeed our savior. This does not mean that we would have spent a considerably larger amount of money than what we did. It simply means that we would have sorted out things well in advance and could have managed the event better had we had more financial room.
We had to diversify sponsorship as we got more offers of strategic barter tie-ups than actual in-cash support. This led to the division of the Sponsorships in “financial” and “non-financial” categorie providing varying and different returns for the sponsor. Although sponsors appreciated the value addition that Wikipedia was making to the community, they were unable to see a gain for their products in exchange. A case in point was several radio stations in Mumbai who perceived this as a knowledge conference which did not fit in with their focus on entertainment.
In hindsight, we have learned that even hiring an accountant from the very beginning instead of post-event would have been a good investment. This would have helped us with the maintenance of accounts early-on, knowing and understanding all the financial requirements and constraints like vouchers and taxes etc. We also understand the influence of money and its availability (and unavailability) at various junctions influenced our thinking and decision-making abilities.
We had an agreement with Kundan Amitabh who advanced a loan to WCI to make sure that we had money in the accounts when our cheques were deposited. This was much needed and appreciated since the sponsorship funds were not in yet and we did not have reliable information on the bank balance as it was Sunday. We had understood that such a situation would arise and had written to the Chapter to make requisites ready. The Chapter sent an agreement which would be signed before we got the loan. Due to circumstances, the actual signing of the agreement was postponed till the morning of the last day of the conference. At this point, Arjuna Rao refused to sign the agreement stating that he wanted a better idea on WCI’s financial position. We were surprised by this refusal and it did cause avoidable anxiety. In hindsight, we too could have done the signing comfortably and well in advance. However, more hands would have helped us at this moment.
Income and Expenditure Statement, Surplus and Deficit Statement, Balance Sheet have been submitted to the chapter. Special thanks to Gautam John for his cooperation in this matter.
Gautam was a chapter representative/signatory on our bank account. We spent quite some time in sending and receiving documents between Bengaluru and Mumbai. Cheques also needed to be signed by Gautam and sent to us via postal mail or courier. Gautam’s term with the Chapter ended in September and he did not run again. In the first week of September, we wrote to the Chapter informing them about the long time it would take to change signatories in the bank. We were then asked if we could change the signatory on our bank account in October. Since opening the bank account itself took so long and the procedure for changing signature involved considerable red tape, we requested that we not change the signatory. We were in the month of October and since we were in the last leg of organising the conference, we wanted to spend our limited time and resources (User:Prad2609 had at this point taken up his job in Gujarat leaving his Fellowship and leaving ATG with more responsibilities on the ground) in ensuring the Conference was a success. We’re happy, however that the Chapter agreed to this.
The following was paid by the WMF towards various expenses per budget directly to the vendor:
- Planned Expenditure: USD 15,000
- Actual Expenditure: USD 9,156.67
- The number of rooms booked was slightly less and also managed to strike a better deal with the hotels.
- Event Management
- Planned Expenditure: NIL
- Actual Expenditure: USD 9,842.75
- This amount includes multiple expenses and not just event management. Please check Appendix C of the Report for the break up of the expenses. This has expenses to the tune of INR 2+ lakhs, though we ended up paying about INR 3+ lakhs. This is for additional requirements that arose during the event.
- WCI 'Party and Food at WCI for 3 Days
- Planned Expenditure: USD 2889
- Actual Expenditure: USD 7391.67
- The higher cost was as a result of additional registrations which meant more people, use of commercial premises as we needed a larger venue and food for all 3 days, except hard drinks.
- Planned Expenditure: USD 2978
- Actual Expenditure: USD 1,160.29
- Part was borne by Chapter, part was borne by WMF.
University of Mumbai
Within a week of the April 2011 Meetup in Mumbai, User:Prad2609 and ATG did a recce of various possible venues in the city. Since the idea was to showcase the city and keep it where Mumbaikars can easily reach, South Mumbai was chosen as a good option. The Indian Institute of Technology (Powai – Mumbai) would have been a very good option had it not been for Powai being at the periphery of the city, making it difficult to commute to and fro for local public. Secondly, we wanted the event to be perceived as one of knowledge rather than a tech event, which would have been the case at IIT. Lastly, having a venue in South Mumbai would allow us to showcase the most popular tourist locations of the city. A document was sent across (Appendix A), vide which University of Mumbai, Fort Campus was favoured as the perfect venue given the parameters. Once the WCI mailing list was instituted, the organisers voted for the Fort Campus as the venue.
The University offered their 150 year old Convocation Hall, 2 Seminar Rooms and an additional Classroom over the weekend apart from large lawns. Since the Fort Campus is an old heritage campus, it was an ideal location for us. However, it is mainly used as an administrative base by the University, meaning they could not offer more space, meaning we could not have an additional thread or a storeroom (we put up an extra stall for this) or a prep area for speakers (part of the balcony was offered for this purpose, but most chose not to use it) or even a war-room for organisers.
We did face last minute challenges with the University as well. We were asked to pay the full amount as they claimed that we were not an educational non-profit as we had claimed. The University did have the right to change their terms. Despite this, we think the University was a worthy venue but believe that organisers must take efforts to prevent such last minute surprises or prepare for them.
Likewise for accommodations, we did a recce of various hotels in the area in April 2011 itself (Appendix B). Since South Mumbai is the heart of the city, rents are as high as can be found in prestigious areas of any major world city, hence it was a challenge to identify and negotiate venues (given that November is tourist and wedding season). Further, we thought it would be best to have the hotels within walking distance of the conference venue, to eliminate any travel arrangement requirements. Though Mumbai has one of the best public transportation systems in the country (train, bus and taxis – Auto rickshaws are banned in the city area), the transport system can be tough on tourists and newbies at times. Several attendees were surprised to find that the minimum taxi fare in Mumbai is cheaper than the minimum Auto rickshaw fare in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai!
For the Scholars, the choice was boiled down to 3 options – Chateau Windsor Hotel, Sea Green Hotel and Sea Green South Hotel (sister hotels in the same compound) and the YWCA International Guest House (No, you do not need to be a woman or young to stay here). These were budget hotels offering Air Conditioned Rooms with Breakfast included, all about a 10 minute walk from the venue. After working out various capacities and budgets,
User:Mokshjuneja and ATG went to finalise the hotels, though the preference was for Sea Green Hotels and YWCA, they chose to go with Sea Green Hotels and Chateau Windsor Hotel, given that they are a stone’s throw away from each other and it would have been easier to coordinate. This proved to be a blessing later on, as User:AbhiSuryawanshi, the person put in charge of the hotels was brought out of bed the first 2 nights on quite a few occasions by arriving scholars. Since all the accommodation was nearby and the fact that everyone was given a central meeting point (rather than their own hotel, as the room distribution was not finalised until the last moment, given that some people had given preferences and the organisers wanted to have separate rooms for each gender).
Though 34 rooms were booked at Sea Green Hotels and 20 at Chateau Windsor Hotel, the final scholarship numbers meant cancellation of a few rooms. Some non-scholars requested hotel options with the result that organisers decided to offer extra places at the above hotels to these people.
However, due to a glitch in the software accepting payments, we landed up with more people and less rooms. The initial plan was to have more rooms and 4 people sharing a room – the reduction in number of scholars meant fewer rooms and 3 people in a room. With the hotel's able to offer only a couple of rooms more at the last minute, we were forced to accommodate 4 people in a room (since our initial documentation clearly mentioned this might be the case, occupants were not caught unawares).
On the said dates, we found that we were had a lot of work to do and did not even have an organisers war-room, hence a few of the main organisers chose to check into the hotels themselves. Though we lived in the city not far from the venue we wanted to be on top of things and spend the least amount of time travelling. We were summoned to the Police Station on the night prior to the opening of the conference because of a protest scheduled outside our venue the next day, which meant that we had 70 policemen from the State Reserve Police Force and 5 police vans guarding the venue the next day. It also meant that last minute preparations were affected. After finishing from the police station, we had to pick up t-shirts and hold a meeting of organisers to decide next day’s strategy. At this point we felt it necessary to stay back the night. 2 rooms which were kept aside in case of need were taken over by the organisers on the first day, where this meeting was held. WMF Board Member, Bishakha Dutta and Member, WMF Advisory Board, Achal Prabala too decided to stay at the hotel for similar reasons. Thereafter, we had to pick up Jimmy and finish preparations at the venue, which meant we got just about an hours sleep at the hotel! The next day, organisers gave one room to a few others landed up as rooms were short. However, work kept us back at the hotel on every night of the conference. Another challenge was thrown late in the day with a Hackathon planned for the same weekend as a side activity. Apart from arranging a venue, the team had to arrange for another 20 rooms. The Astoria Hotel, a 3 star hotel was chosen, though we faced a lot of red tape at the time of payment (we needed it to be legal and in a way comfortable to us). Astoria was one of on the original list but was dropped as we could not afford it. It was within the tech team’s budget and was perfect as it was a five minute walk to the venue. Another challenge that came up last minute was external speakers confirmed late in the day. One of them was accommodated at Astoria; another was accommodated at Apollo Hotel, another 3 star on the list, a 10 minute walk from the venue on the opposite side. A further 2 people were accommodated at Apollo, 2 speakers who were part of a panel discussion sponsored by Google.
For the India Programs staff, we arranged for rooms at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club. Since one of them was not required as an offer was rejected, we offered the room to Jesse Wild (WMF). For Jimmy Wales and Barry Newstead we had booked rooms at The Cricket Club of India (CCI). Erik too was offered a room at the CCI, but he preferred to stay with the tech team at Astoria. An external speaker who had been confirmed early was also booked here. These Clubs were chosen as they offer excellent accommodation and facilities.
It was decided that since this was the first Conference of Wikipedians in India, a scholarship would be setup for the purpose of encouraging participation from Wikipedians living in different corners of the country to the venue in Mumbai. An announcement of the scholarships was made to various Wikipedia mailing lists within India about the impending Conference and the offer for scholarships. This was then extended via geonotices in India for signed in users. It was finally extended to anyone who accessed Wikipedia. The scholarship was to be given to deserving Wikipedians with preference for women editors, given the gender gap situation in Wikipedia. Further, scholarship for a caretaker was also given to applicants who were under the age of 18 and people with disabilities/old age.
The Scholarship criteria was set along the lines of Wikimania but tweaked for Indian conditions. The process also encouraged applicants from various movements that supported Wikimedia projects.
While we provided various provisions, it seemed like several attendees did not understand many of the provisions provided in the Scholarships. We would suggest having a much wider Scholarship Team which also provides a Scholarship hotline that could explain the provisions of the Scholarship via email and reaching out to community members to explain the provisions in Indic languages if they had trouble understanding in English or Hindi. Similar efforts could also be taken for people who are old or are differently abled.
We wanted the Scholarship process to be solely determined by members in the Scholarship Team. We did not want to give the idea of interference by any other member in the Organising Committee. This became difficult given the fact that the Scholarship team comprised of only three members and they had an uphill task of going through a large number of applications in an extremely short time. They also made appeals for a sense of direction to their Scholarship process that we think we were able to address only later on in the process, in a way that did not affect the Scholarship applications and keeping in mind that we did not change the terms adversely for the candidates. Before this, there were efforts in changing terms and introducing a system of quotas that would have made the job of the Scholarship Team much easier but might have left out worthy Wikipedians. Here as well, we used Wikimania guidelines to help the Scholarship team.
The above notification of Scholarship resulted in over seven thousand applications. This data was dumped on Google Docs and a repetitive review process was used to shortlist about 98 applications. This was the result of a large number of blank applications where the team did not have sufficient data (many of them just filled up private details) to make a decision of whether or not to grant Scholarships. Weeding out these entries were done automatically using machine processing. The Team wanted to make sure that the machine processing did not accidentally remove any possible deserving candidates. To do this, they sought volunteer help. This help was provided by the Gnowledge Lab and other associated members at the Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education, Mankhurd, Mumbai. Being from Mumbai the lab members were not eligible for the scholarships and hence manually went through the applications and came out with the list of applicants for the second round. This list was what the Scholarship Team members used in the second round to shortlist 98 scholarships.
Final Lists, Acceptance Levels and eventual turnout
We would like to thank the great work done by the Scholarship Team for their contribution in selecting the shortlist and enabling Scholarships. The team comprised of (in alphabetical order) Anisha Thomas, Naveen Francis and User:VVCrishna. We do acknowledge that this team was severely short staffed; one reason for the same was people recusing themselves from the team after we requested persons applying for a scholarship themselves not to be a part of the team to avoid conflict of interest. This led to a severe delay in announcing the scholarships and in hindsight, it may not have been a good idea to bar people with COI from being part of the team.
There was a discussion on whether we must base our website on the Wikimedia India Chapter's website at wikimedia.in or on Meta. Since we did not have precedent, we decided to go with Meta, as done by Wikimania. Meta seemed to be like a more permanent location and had been around since much before wikimedia.in had. It was easily accessible not only to members and nonmembers alike but also for people from outside India.
We do not think that enough discussion went into making this decision. However, in hindsight, this looks like a good decision since it allowed many people not necessarily from India and who were not initially involved with the Conference to get involved in the process. Beria Lima, who lives in Portugal, was one person who helped us maintain the Meta page and before throwing it open to the wide public, helped design it as well.
The 100 Days of Outreach was started with two things in mind. One was to encourage more contributors to Wikipedia and sister projects. The other was to reach out to the Wikipedian community to make them aware of the Conference and use their help to spread word in their respective communities. We hoped that the 100 Days would provide activities which would bring communities together and provide a platform to tell people about the Conference.
Many ideas were generated on how these objectives could be achieved. One idea was to encourage contribution to Wikimedia Commons through pictures as a way to show that anyone could contribute to Wikipedia. Word was spread via news interviews that many of the organisers gave and also through social media channels and mailing lists. The actual effort on Meta was run by a Wikipedian from Bangalore, Naveen Francis. Many of the images were also contributed by one Wikipedian - Ramesh NG. This was the only idea that we were able to implement. We could have prepared for the 100 Days of Outreach in a much more organised fashion. Here too we fell woefully short of hands. This also prevented an effort to spread out outreach to much more than a photo contribution effort. Although several ideas were thrown at us, we did not get volunteer support for carrying them out. What little volunteer base we had was working hard on various aspects of the Conference.
We think a 100 Days of Outreach would be a wonderful pre-event. It provides an opportunity for local Wikimedians to meet each other, contribute to Wikimedia projects, discuss Conference related stuff (papers they are presenting, how they’re travelling to the venue, where they’re staying etc) and get updates from the Conference team on where help was needed. Having 2 events per community or per region would have been great opportunity for local communities to feel as a part of the Conference. This link was provided at WCI 2011 by a small number of Wikimedians who contributed both to Indic and English language Wikipedias.
Meeting in Mumbai, selection of Office Bearers
Some of the people interested in the idea of the Conference met on June 18, 2011 towards working out its organisation. This came after the go-ahead given by the Wikimedia India Chapter. Although an Organising Committee structure typical of a usual conference was suggested, it was felt that this being a Wikipedia an exception needed to be made. The Committee was thus made on an equal footing. A Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer were chosen. This was however, to fulfil legal requirements and signatories for documents and bank and to give positions to those leading the team.
All members of the Organising Committee thus had equal say and there was no final arbiter. Discussions would be done and decisions made in the consensus model followed on Wikipedia. The meeting selected ATG from Mumbai, Chairman; User:AshLin from Pune as Secretary and User:Prad2609 from Mumbai as Treasurer. This was in keeping with the idea that more help was needed in the host city. We also decided to have an Advisory Committee for purposes of advice and to ensure that the Conference was handled in a manner that was in-line with the Wikimedia Movement and its principles.
The Organising Committee was thus changed to be called a Working Group - a group of people working to conduct the Conference. We felt that the Working Group would be a fluid body where only people who actually worked on the ground to stay on it. However, during efforts to secure a venue for the Conference we heard that Working Groups was a moniker used by for-profit bodies and hence we changed the name back to Organising Committee in public interactions.
We would like to suggest that the above Organising Committee structure that we tweaked with voting by all members on the mailing list to enable quick decision making was the broadest decision making process that we enabled. A similar process was also encouraged at the team level. While this was a long process, we felt we had limitations only because of a shortage of time. This structure is worth continuing in future WCI events.
The next step was to create a mailing list so that the Organising Committee could discuss and deliberate. There was discussion on the Wikimedia India list on whether this list ought to be public or private. It was decided to make this list private to enable frank discussions and also enable the use of this list to make decisions on vendors after going through their offers. We felt that such discussions if publicly available might prevent frank opinions of members of the Organising Committee.
Some of the discussions on the mailing list did get out of hand. The mailing list seemed insufficient to handle several conversations which were still going on off-this-list. Some of these discussions did come on to the mailing list thus confusing existing members. There were also several requests from observers from outside India to be on this list, but we humbly turned them down. There were also discussions on the purpose of the list – some believed it to be for coordination purposes only while others believed that all matters be discussed on the mailing list to enable transparent working conditions. There were also people (mainly newbies) who were alarmed at the rate and span of discussions that happened on the list and suggested reducing the volume of email sent to the list. It is difficult to balance these demands.
We would like to suggest that for future WCI events the purpose of the mailing list be discussed up-front. Newbies added to the list later on in the process be informed about how the list works. This can change from one event to the other. We would personally think that as much as possible should be posted on this mailing list.
One event that we are ashamed of even mentioning here is rigging of votes on the list. In the interest of the community, we feel it is necessary to speak about it. When Pune pulled out as co-host a new Secretary was required to support ATG as even Prad2609 was no longer in Mumbai. There were two sets of candidates and a one day window was opened for voting. What the office bearers found was one particular candidate adding his own people onto the list for the purpose of voting for him in this election. Since we did not want to take the issue head on and waste our time with a fight at an important juncture, in a late-night decision we decided to allow the other candidate to add as many more voters as the first one had. This was the only way we felt justice could be done at that point in time, In hindsight, the issue could have been handled better and is certainly one that could have been avoided.
A long and winding set-up process - Red-Tape! After three months of hard work and documents exchanged between Bangalore and Mumbai, we finally got a special purpose bank account in September 2011.
Name and Logo
Once we decided to have a conference, the first need was to have a name for the Conference. Ideas for name of the Conference was invited via the Wikimedia India list and cross posted on several lists. Out of the many ideas posted, WikiConference India 2011 won out.
Given the name, we made a public call for a logo for the conference. This also generated multiple entries. The logo was selected based on voting.
A couple of months before the conference, as preparations were on in full swing, some members of the Organising Committee made a call for changing the logo as “Wiki” written in the logo in the Devanagari script was wrongly spelled. There was one group which called for a change of name. They believed that as the conference was to be held in a state which used the Devanagari script, the “Wiki” ought to be written correctly. They also felt that it could be easily misinterpreted as “Chikri”. Another group was against changing the logo at the late stage in preparations for the conference. It also involved several changes in branding of the conference, as letters with the logo on the letterhead had already been sent to several vendors, the University (venue) and several potential sponsors. The decision to stay with the logo vide artistic license was made following a vote on the mailing list after efforts to reach a consensus failed.
A few Mumbai community folks met up on Thursday mornings from May onwards. This was to have face-to-face discussions on the Conference close to the Conference venue. As we progressed, these meetings grew in size and the discussions were far reaching. We had the feeling that more work got done when volunteers met face to face than when discussions happened online vide talk pages and mailing lists.
These also served as places for discussion of critical issues and sorting out various issues arising in the working of the Conference. We kept these meetings open to Mumbai community members as well. The meeting had regular influx of Mumbai community members. Some stayed and volunteered with us for different stretches in time while some stayed on throughout the length of the conference organisation.
In these months leading up to the Conference, we believe Mumbai was the only city in the world to have weekly meetups.
The Programs team was the core of the Conference. It was supposed to create a structure of programs for the entire Conference. Although several Wikipedians volunteered to serve on the Programs team, many of the members did not respond to emails from other members in the team. This made it difficult to draft the Call for Participation, a document that was to showcase the content in the Conference for the first time to participants who were interested in attending and to give a talk or present something at the conference. When efforts to prepare the Call for Participation became difficult, we relied on the personal contacts that experienced Wikipedians had with other Wikipedians to build the team. The Programs team discussed and finalised the four points around which the Conference could be centered – Knowledge, Community, Outreach and Technology. Given these four focus areas, we believed that we had covered all aspects of the Wikimedia Movement.
A Call for Participation (CfP) was made first on several mailing lists, then for logged in users of Wikipedia and finally to anyone who accessed Wikipedia from India. More than five hundred and fifty proposals for participation were submitted in a thirty day submission window. In an open process on Meta, the members of the Programs team worked through the calls to make a short list of speakers and presenters at the conference.
There were many off-topic submissions which did not relate at all to Wikipedia. The open process invited criticism from some people who had submitted proposals. Some were on Meta, while others were received via email as well. Some of the proposals were converted into poster presentations to enable giving time to what the Programs Team believed were proposals that required longer air time. Some of the proposals under the Technology thread were merged or moved to the Hackathon. Some proposals got converted into smaller Lightning Talks.
Much delayed due to different ideas. To diffuse the situation, a vote was held and we invited those with the highest votes, though in practice, it was choice two or three as this was really late in the day.
Lots of names, controversial and non-controversial and finally just one Keynote: Jimmy Wales. The discussion didn’t seem to have an end, so we decided to have one to one conversations with several Wikipedians and tried to get a consensus. However this was too late as the desired speakers had given out their dates to other events.
Technical and IT
Decision to go through a vendor, 4 proposals received. The one by Eregnow.com was found to be the best on the table and accepted. User:Logicwiki spent quite a bit of time coordinating with them. Due to a glitch in the system, some people managed to register through direct links even after closure of registration when we hit the ceiling in terms of seating capacity.
Red-Tape and non-availability of fibre in the area forced organisers to a private player who didn't deliver! To add salt to injury, in March 2012 a company finally got permission to install a fibre network in the area!
There was a major issue finding someone who could offer high bandwidth. None of the companies was getting permission to dig around the area and install fibre cables as it’s a high profile area. After reviewing our options, we zeroed in on Synthesize Networks, suggested by the Hackathon event managers who promised connectivity via Tata Communications. They were to install dishes on the top of the Convocation Hall, but had issues with line of sight and this failed completely. Some 200 odd user ids late on day 1 were distributed but the internet reset every two minutes.
The organisers had an idea that there may be an issue with the internet as experts had advised that such dishes were not trustworthy. We had planned to get a backup from MTNL via their copper lines that criss-cross every nook and corner of the city. ATG and User:Suyogaerospace made initial enquiries and found out that the confirmation would need to be made a couple of days before the conference. ATG, Hisham and Shiju went to MTNL. Since there was an important issue which cropped up, ATG and Shiju had to go off, leaving Hisham with relevant documentation to wait for the officer concerned, who was not at his desk. When the officer came in, Hisham did not understand the documentation and was unable to secure this backup connection, which led to a complete failure of internet as the primary connections never kicked in. Live streaming was done via a 3G mobile connection and speakers had to make do without internet or in some cases, with a data card.
In hindsight, it may have been better to have someone more competent and committed to deal with MTNL and secure the backup internet. We accept the blame for this failure in entirety.
On the other hand, some attendees were very happy without internet and mentioned to organisers that it gave them an opportunity to interact with a lot more people instead of being buried behind screens.
Several college festivals held in India use walkie-talkies as means of communication between organisers. These were widely employed at the Conference venue as well. It was organised by a Wikipedian from Mumbai, User:Suyogaerospace. Their presence at the venue enabled easier and faster communication and made it easier to locate others at the vast venue with multiple locations. We think they were not fully utilised but helped us at various junctures in the Conference. We’d also like to mention that this also became a platform for some healthy fun which helped defuse the tense situation that prevailed on the opening day of the conference.
Press and Media
We had a Press and Media team, which found it necessary to employ external agencies given the shortage of manpower and experience in such activities. The team was given full support and independence in these decisions. Moksh sent emails requesting proposals from various PR agencies, of which he recommended Text100 based on their quick and enthusiastic response.
User:Prad2609 recommended Moksh’s company, Avignyata inc. be partnered with for the purpose of Social Media, since Moksh has been a part of the local community for a considerable period of time, he understood the requirements best. Moksh agreed to do this on a pro-bono basis as a Non-Financial Partner. As we wanted to be fair and equal, we put out a request for other proposals on the mailing lists. We got one other proposal, which was addressed to the wrong person! It was addressed to someone who was not even in the Organising Committee, but had commented on the mailing list thread. This proposal was rejected as the person had not even bothered to address it to the correct people and the Organising Committee welcomed Moksh on board as the First Non-Financial Partner of WCI 2011.
A little later, a FOSS advocate objected to the use of Twitter by the event organisers and said we should be using a FOSS version like identica instead. At this point all that was promoted was a hashtag that could be used on either (we did set up a Twitter account at a later stage). This is when Tinu Cherian, a long time Wikipedian and member of the Press and Media Team sent an email stating that Wikipedia is neutral and does not take sides, even in this case, it neither sides with IT majors or FOSS, it is neutral and will use both Twitter and identica. He further pointed out that both Jimmy Wales and WMF use Twitter.
The team felt it necessary to hold a Press Conference a few days before the event on the 9th of November 2011. Text100 made the arrangements, the Press Club was chosen as the venue. Hisham, Moksh and ATG addressed the Press Conference which was meant to be a curtain raiser for the main event. Major English dailies and news agencies attended this press conference.
At the event itself, the press was given open entry to help promote the event and its aims. Text100 sent their representatives who ensured all journalists were taken care of, that they were pointed to various presentations and Wikipedians to interview based on their requirements. Post the event, Text100 gave us a thick docket containing all the coverage of the event.
Later, in January 2012, Moksh and ATG were invited to the office of Text100 in Mumbai to conduct a Wikipedia Workshop (Mumbai Workshop 2), which was webcast to Text100 offices in Delhi and Bangalore.
Parties and Fun
Party at Panache Lounge
On the fun side, a party was initially planned at the Ballroom and Anchorage area of the Royal Bombay Yatch Club. This venue could however accommodate a maximum of 300 persons. With the overwhelming response to the registrations, we were faced with looking for another venue, with a time bomb waiting to explode.
We considered a variety of options and decided given our budget and the number of attendees it would need to be an outdoor venue. We zeroed in on the Bombay Presidency Radio Club, which rents out a pier overlooking the Arabian Sea and Mumbai Harbour. What we did not take into consideration is the various permissions required. From Sound to Fire Brigade to Police to Traffic Police to Collector, these seemed impossible to deal with. By the time we sorted ourselves, this venue was no longer available.
With 2 weeks to go, we had two options: Indian Merchants Chamber (IMC), where we could get a hall and the terrace area, this would be a quieter option. On the other side, we had Panache Lounge, a nightclub which we had already contracted to provide lunch. The event manager knew the owners quite well and had negotiated a rate. Whilst the IMC would have been a little cheaper it meant that we would need to deal with the venue, caterers and DJ separately. Both venues could accommodate about 500 people and were within walking distance from the University (we hoped there wouldn’t be a rush and rotation at the venue would accommodate everyone). As the event manager got us a consolidated rate, we chose Panache. They promised us a Karaoke on the ground floor and a Discotheque on the first floor, closing their regular business to give us exclusive access.
In hindsight, this is something we should have done the other way. Only 250 people landed up at the Lounge (of more than 700 present in at the University during the day). The ones who did queued up for over an hour outside the place! We were under the assumption that people would like to come in later, having had a long day at the conference. However, they landed up at 7pm despite the delegate folder mentioning 8pm onwards. The crowd was more interested in the main course rather than starters and the chef was forced to rush the same. By 10.30pm, the place was quite deserted, which surprised us as organisers and the lounge staff as well! We had planned to keep it going until the wee hours of the morning.
Open Top Bus Tour
Another planned attraction was the city tour on an open top bus (provided by the public bus undertaking BEST). We had initially planned to hire 4 buses and take everyone together, however as it turned out to be cheaper to take a bus for the entire day, we decided to do that. This way, people could also choose when to go.
To book the bus itself, we visited Colaba Bus Depot, from where they were sent to Wadala Bus Depot. Moksh visited Anik Depot in Wadala to be told he's at the wrong one, that there is another depot in Wadala. Moksh and ATG went there on another day but reached after the cash counter had closed. This meant Moksh had to make yet another visit to secure the booking.
All this effort paid off, with the bus tour being appreciated by all and sundry.
Manpower and issues
The Pune Community agreed to be co-hosts with us, the Mumbai Community. At first, there was a common vision and planning for the conference. Later differences began to emerge on decision-making and methodology on one end and expectations of support not being fulfilled on the other side. Eventually, to maintain uniformity in vision in decision-making and coherence of activities, the Pune Community withdrew from co-hosting as a matter of principle feeling it was in the best interest of the Conference. However, the individual Pune community members continued to help out in the various activities and as such the withdrawal did not impact the success of the Conference.
Shortage of manpower prior to and during the event
The organisers faced a severe shortage of volunteers during the event, despite several calls for supports not many Wikipedians stood up though there were a truckload of armchair advisers. Then there were those who were only interested in having their name on meta as part of the team. Mundol and his team offered “full support” before they landed for the actual event, but even they disappeared for “internal meetings” among other excuses or were simply just “missing” when it was time to help on several occasions. At the same time, the chapter never offered any support whatsoever on this front. One can argue that it was very new, less than a year old, but some support would have been much appreciated as it was the need of the hour. This is a point to note for future organisers, manpower shortage can be the difference between a good conference and an excellent one.
Though we contacted 3-4 different sources, only volunteers from EMDI, an event management institute landed up. As there were a few other events at the same time, they too could not offer the number we required, which meant resources were very limited. Our thanks to Netra Parikh for marshalling this limited resource the best way possible.
Bishakha Dutta arranged for us to have a private security agency partner the event on a pro-bono basis. We had three recce of the venue with them to come up with plans for various aspects of the conference, several of which we hadn't even thought of. We would like to express our gratitude to Bishakha and SPS India for this kind arrangement.
There was a protest on day 1 of the conference, outside the venue organised by a political party against one of the maps used by Wikipedia to show the borders of India.
Police at the venue
There were over seventy policemen including Riot Police and State Reserve Police Force personnel and five Police vans guarding the venue. User:Suyogaerospace was put in charge of seeing that these personnel are comfortable at all times and that their food and beverage needs are taken care of.
A couple of months into planning, things with Pune did not work out and they withdrew from co-hosting the event. A little later, Prad2609 got a job offer at a Shipyard in Gujarat and chose to accept it. This meant that there was a lot of pressure on the other fellow, ATG as well as the rest of the local community. Moksh stepped into the shoes of the Secretary when it mattered most.
At the same time, the job was enormous and doing it without external support was becoming difficult. Since mid-August, a recent graduate known to ATG, Sahil Bhagat had been helping out in various ways. Sahil came from a family that ran an exhibition business and had recently ventured into Event Management. Sahil offered to take up several tasks as part of a non-financial Event Management Partner deal (Appendix C). This was a real blessing, as otherwise there was no way that everything could have taken place on time.
Around September 2011, the WMF Tech Team evinced interest in conducting a parallel hackathon on the 19th and 20th of November in Mumbai. After several rounds of discussions, the local community informed the Tech Team that venue is the only item thing we are in a position to provide them help with, given that we were severely short of hands.
We forwarded them Appendix A and their initial choice was Prince of Wales Museum. Since that was unavailable by then, the second choice, Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (MACCIA) halls on Rampart Row were chosen. Again, the idea was to stay within a 5 minute walk of the University, hence the choice was limited. We booked a 250 seater hall, a 60 seater hall and two conference rooms having a capacity of 10 each.
We would like to advise future organisers not to hold a parallel hackathon but to hold it prior to or after the main event as it was a major strain during the actual event, given that some of our vital volunteers attended the hackathon.
Last Month: The Run-up
The organisers wanted to protect themselves against unforeseen circumstances and decided to request a few insurance quotes. The National Insurance Co. Ltd. quote was found to be the cheapest and their cover included what the organisers were looking for, hence this policy was procured by the organisers.
Visa procurement was supposed to be an extremely limited activity for us, which eventually turned out to be a major issue during the run-up to the event. Our founder, Jimmy Wales, who was supposed to be delivering the Keynote had kindly agreed to include a 12 hour trip to India into his packed schedule just for this event. A couple of weeks prior to the event, his passport was sent to the Indian Consulate in Houston to transfer his visa from his old passport to the new one. This took longer than expected and on the 15th, 3 days prior to the event Topher and James were busy pulling diplomatic strings to ensure that the passport is processed and forwarded to London in time for Jimmy to catch his flight. Although it was processed, it was clear after speaking to the courier company that the passport would not reach Jimmy on time. All of us were completely distraught! A couple of community members familiar with the scene even suggested that without Jimmy they would not come to Mumbai themselves, as they would not be able to face the community and media. The mood was extremely sobre.
On the morning of the 16th, a small glimmer of hope emerged. Topher mentioned that Jimmy would delivering a lecture in be in Brussels, Belgium that day, traveling on a second passport! We took this opportunity to move heaven and earth to ensure Jimmy gets a Visa stamped by the Indian Embassy in Brussels, without him the conference would have turned into a PR nightmare! Bishakha Dutta was a major pillar of support for us, especially during this period. We appreciate support received from Achal Prabhala as well. A member of the Chapter's Executive Committee got in touch with a contact in the Indian Foreign Services, who promised to help and got in touch with the staff at the Belgian Embassy. ATG got in touch with a family friend who is a prominent Indian Diamond Trader in Belgium and explained the situation. It was this Diamond Trader that helped us sort things out. We owe great gratitude to the Indian Ambassador in Brussels for his cooperation in this matter, for without his help, Jimmy would not have been able to board a plane to India. Out of the other foreign attendees, everyone barring one person managed to procure a visa.
We would like to note that the behaviour of Hisham Mundol on the 16th was far from what we expected and to a great extent demoralising. Even though one of the reasons he had chosen Delhi for his office location was that he wanted to be close to the government, he refused any help in this matter whatsoever, citing that he did not have any contacts that could help. This was extremely surprising as he had been in Delhi for the last 6 months and we expected him to have made a few contacts in the right places during that period. Over and above this, what disturbed us the most the fact that when everyone was trying what they could on tender hooks, Hisham called us up and mentioned that there was a good chance that Jimmy would not make it to India and started lobbying for who should replace him as the Keynote Speaker. This for us was extremely demoralising. We had the entire next day to discuss what we would do in that eventuality, if one doesn't help the minimum we expect is that one should not hinder.
The three days were a harrowing time for User:AbhiSuryavanshi, volunteer in charge as people came in any time of day and night. Kudos to Abhishek for managing this smoothly though there were a few minor glitches as one would expect in such a large scale operation.
Moderation and quality issues marred the programs, though a lot of them were very interesting and appreciated by the attendees
The organisers decided to do away with breakfast and serve a small snack instead. Moksh arranged for Samosas to be delivered every morning from Gurukripa Hotel. All food and drink items were made available at no extra charge during the conference.
Tea and Coffee
Machines were installed outside the main hall.
20 litre bottles installed around the venue. These were done by the event manager.
As early as June 2011, Prad2609 and ATG had done homework on the lunches and had decided that rather than go in for expensive catering it would be a good idea to distribute executive lunch boxes that would be economical. However, with the shortage of time and lack of people to follow up, when the event manager offered a buffet from Panache Lounge (party venue) at the cost of lunch boxes, we readily agreed. We made two major errors here, one we agreed without trying the food ourselves unlike what we had done in June and second we gave the contract to the lounge despite them not having any prior outdoor catering experience. We accept the blame for the lunch not being of acceptable standards.
Since we had given the lunch contract to the event manager, we wanted to get the snacks and desserts ourselves as that would be our personal touch. On day one, the vendor forgot to come in altogether. After prodding, he landed close to snack time. Since we were short on hands, there was no one following up with vendors to make sure they were on time, a mistake on our part as well. So the Falooda from Badshah Cold drinks was served with snacks. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the weather in the afternoon was blistering. After this experience, the Swiss Chocolate Gelato arranged for Day 2 was postponed to Snack time as well. Day 3 ended with Dutch Truffle from Quality Cakes.
Since we had given the lunch contract to the event manager, we wanted to get the snacks and desserts ourselves as that would be our personal touch. On day one, we tied up with Dave Farsan for a box of Dhokla, Kachori, Batata Wada and Potato Crisps and on day two we tied up with a local Sandwich Vendor for a local speciality, a double layered Cheese and Chutney Sandwich. These were appreciated by the attendees.
One decision that has been criticised for being lavish - hiring 3 to 4 private hire 4x4’s daily for organisers use. Critics wanted us to depend on taxis, thank god we didn't! Right from going to the Police Station, to picking up Jimmy and other dignitaries as well as following up on vendors, these came in very handy.
We were speaking to Google for a few months with regards to a possible tie-up. With 2 weeks left they agreed to broadcasting the event live on Youtube and bearing production costs. However the Youtube broadcast didn't work out due to technical reasons at their end.
We did have the videographer cover the event, reimbursed by Google, videos of which are in the process of being uploaded on Youtube. One point we did miss on was having paid 100% advance, we did not have a hold over him for the videos and it took some time to get them out of him. Next time, we would suggest that part payment be kept pending against video delivery.
There has been a lot of follow ups, though post March this has decreased and there is currently only one pending item in the accounts, everything else has been closed.
Closing Accounts have been sent to the chapter auditor. Only one sponsor reimbursement is pending, we have been promised this payment in the first half of June 2012.
A feedback mechanism was initiated on meta and some feedback has been received, however we would have appreciated more participation in this area,
Acknowledgements in random order:
- Moksh for stepping in when it mattered most. Sponsors and PR were well taken care of - remember, it was Moksh who chose Text100 and how they have delivered! His social media support has been fantastic
- Kundan for being the lion heart that he is, again it would not be possible to have held this event without his support. He is our single BIGGEST Sponsor and backer
- Netra for her on ground support that kept the event together
- Sahil for taking on the humungous task of event management on a pro bono basis as well as support on sponsorships
- Aditya and Mehul for saving the day with their tech inputs and on ground support
- Suyog for his astute handling of the Police Personnel, walkie talkie network and entrance gate
- Vishal for his work with invited speakers and on ground coordination
- Vickram for his work on scholarships,
- Shekhar for his inputs with organisations having similar goals supporting us
- Harshita for bringing in fresh blood
- Anisha for helping with scholarships
- Dr. Nagarjuna for his tremendous support and keeping HBCSE doors open to us ALWAYS, whenever we needed it
- Ashwin and Mandar, for bearing office bearer responsibility and delivering the Marathi Track. Ashwin also stepped into the difficult scholarship role at a precarious situation and took care of things, thanks buddy!
- Sudhanwa for his inputs in the finance team and managing the Marathi Track
- Gautam, without whom we would never have had a bank A/c or a regular payment set up! Apart from the random support on various issues such as finding our first sponsor along with Hisham
- Tinu, for his exceptional PR support, notwithstanding the fact that he has a new born and his job to look after
- Beria and Theo for all their support on meta
- Naveen for managing the scholarships, outreach and tremendous on ground support
- Srikanth for his exceptional hard work on Registrations, Programs and Tech
- Shiju, Jayanta and Santosh for managing programs
- Bala for his support with programs and stepping into other stuff when required the most
- Harriet for her brilliant inputs and ideas
- Abhishek and Srikeit for coming in handy when it mattered on ground
- Arun for his work on the awards
- Achal for his wonderful support and kind words that pepped us up regularly
- Arjuna for taking up the advisory role and providing inputs when we needed them
- The chapter EC (Past and Present) for their support
- Jimmy, Ting and all other board members
- Bishakha for offering all possible support well beyond what her role describes
- Barry and his team, Global (Jesse, Asaf and Winifred among others) and India Programs (Hisham Nitika and Shiju)
- Erik, Alolita, Siebrand, Sumana, Amir, Gerrard and the Tech Team
- Coomarswamy Hall (Prince of Wales Museum)
Met Mr. Shetti Cost: 22,060 (Full day/Per Day), 11,000 (Half Day)
Advatages: Well maintained hall, heritage precinct. Ground Floor
Disadvantages: Seats 150 people. Has side areas that can seat more, however the stage cannot be viewed from those areas.
- Institute of Science
Met the Secretary to the Director of the institute (the watchman asked us to see the director, we found it odd so went to his secretaries cabin!) - Exam time, no hall available
- National Gallery of Modern Art
Met someone in the office, advised they have an auditorium that seats about 200 (looked decent when we saw it), Cost: 7,500 (Full Day/Per Day) - Not available on Sundays/Weekends - so struck off the list.
- Dhanukar Hall (Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce [MACCIA])
Cost: 15,000 (6 Hours - 1,500 per extra hour) 7,500 (3 hours), 10% Discount for MACCIA Members
Advantages: Big room, if we need more space we can hire Kasliwal Room next door to fit another 30 people aprox.
Disadvantages: 6th Floor, one lift with capacity of 5 people at a time
- KC College Hall
Cost: 60,000 (Full Day/Per Day)
Advantages: Big well maintained Auditorium, Ground Floor
Disadvantages: High cost, already booked for Sunday Morning (6 November)
- Convocation Hall (University of Mumbai, Fort Campus)
Met Ms. Rane Cost: 94,000 (Quote for the 3 days altogether)
Advantages: Grand Hall, Heritage precinct, Ground Floor, Individual Building, offered 50% discount as we mentioned we are a non-profit that promotes education (through an online encyclopaedia)
Disadvantages: No A/c (though it will be November, side doors can be opened for cross-ventilation, fans installed. They mentioned for a recent event A/cs were hired - we could do that)
- Amarchand Hall (University of Mumbai - on B Road, Marine Drive)
Met Mr. Manish Singh Cost: 68,750 (Quote for 3 days altogether)
Advantages: Good hall, nice seating, offered 50% discount as we mentioned we are a non-profit that promotes education (through an online encyclopaedia)
Disadvantages: 4th Floor (Lift not functioning, no guarantee when it will be repaired as "Tender has just been issued")
- Hotel Sulbha Palace located next to the Regal Cinema has 49 A/c rooms at about INR 5000 each. An extra bed is INR 800 more - so thats 3 people in the room for INR 5800 aprox (those with scholarships hopefully should not mind sharing the room with 2 others as long as the rooms are big enough - will have to physically check).
- Bentley's Colaba has 37 rooms ranging between INR 1600 and INR 2500 (this might have changed as the website says "Copyright 2002" at the bottom).
- Hotel Sea Lord at Carnac Bunder near CST, Hotel Royal Castle, Kemps Corner, Regency inn at Colaba, charge about INR 2000 - INR 4000 a night for 3 persons (Makemytrip.com)
- Ambassador, Churchgate - INR 8000 per night
- Ritz - INR 7100 per night
- Sea Green, Marine Drive - aprox INR 6000 for 3 people
- Chateau Windsor, Churchgate - aprox INR 5000 for 2 people
- YWCA, Colaba - aprox INR 4600 per night for 3 people (20 rooms)
- Hotel Causeway, Colaba - aprox INR 2500-3000 per night
- Marine Plaza, Marine Drive - aprox INR 8500 per night
- Oberoi Trident, Nariman Point - aprox INR 9500 per night
- Taj President, Cuffe Parade - aprox INR 12500 per night
- Taj Mahal Palace, Apollo Bunder - aprox INR 13500 per night
Wiki Conference India - Panache Proposal
Description Quantity 3 Day Cost Comments
Entry and Outside:
- Gate Entry Flex- Welcome to Wiki Conference India. 1 3,700 Signing won't be possible as flex will be at waist level
- Wooden Mounting for Entry Gate - 7,900
- Flex on either side of Main Door of Convocation Hall. One Flex will have Wiki branding, and the other will have sponsor branding. 2 2,400 One with Wiki Branding and one with Sponsor Logos
- Help Desk Banner 1 200 Near Main Gate
- Registration Desk Standee + Wooden Mounting 2 1,152
- WikiConference India Folders 1,000 28,000 Includes printing and lamination
- Food Coupons 4 3,730 With unique code and tearing ability. Price increased as there are three different books with different colours
- WikiConference Certificates 750 7,500 120 GSM, Gloss, Colour
- Main Stage Wiki Conference Flex 1 2,100
- Wooden Mounting of Main Stage Flex - 4,200
- Sunboards (Direction Boards, Do Not Litter, Wi-Fi Enabled, Toilet) 50 5,000
- Basic designing cost for a designer 1 5,000
- WikiConference India Standees 50 9,000 No mounting. We will hang them.
- Housekeeping Staff 5 11,000 Janitors to clean toilets and keep campus clean
- Tea / Coffee Vending Machines 6 13,200
- Tea Powder Packet 18 8,100 700 x 3 x 3
- Coffee Powder Packet 10 4,500 700 x 3 x 2
- Empty Paper Glasses for Water / Tea / Coffee 4000 8,000
C Ground Production
Convocation Hall, Gallery and Hallways:
- Coolers in the Convocation Hall and Viewing Gallery 14 30,660 10 down and 4 up. Includes cost of ice for 3 days.
- Screen and Projector 1 9,000
- Halogen Lights for Stage 2 2,000
- Sofas for Speakers on Stage 5 10,500
- Sofas in the Hallway 10 18,000 In Balcony. First Floor Seminar Rooms Moksh suggested Campus Chairs.
- Stalls 10 30,000
- Three Day Transport Cost for Stalls 3,000 One Time Payment
- Three Day Transport for Sofas and Wood 5,000 One Time Payment
- Miscellaneous 5,000 Glass bowls, rope etc
Service charge of 10.3% additionally applicable