Grants:PEG/WikiSym Initiative/2015 OpenSym Conference/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Project and Event grant approved in FY Pending has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • You may still comment on this report on its discussion page, or visit the discussion page to read the discussion about this report.
  • You are welcome to Email grants at wikimedia dot org at any time if you have questions or concerns about this report.


Project status[edit]

Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?

YES

Is your project completed?

YES

Activities and lessons learned[edit]

Activities[edit]

  • Run-up to conference
    • Established organizing committee
    • Marketed event, solicited research papers
    • Evaluated and selected research papers
    • Compiled conference proceedings
    • Managed event location, catering, other matters
  • Held conference at Golden Gate Club
    • Had four keynotes/invited talks
    • Had six research sessions of three papers each
    • Had welcome reception with poster presentations
    • Held doctoral symposium to nurture next generation of researchers
  • Post-conference work
    • Handled finances, reporting
    • Created videos from conference recordings

Lessons learned[edit]

What worked well?

OpenSym is a recurring event; by now we have strong organizational memory and capabilities to carry out the organization of a conference like OpenSym.

What didn't work?

The location was a failure. We see two main issues:

  • The Golden Gate Club itself is a beautiful location, however, the on-site people were challenged with properly supporting us, as paid for. Worse, the required caterer hid key charges from us until we were locked in, making us work around an otherwise outrageous catering bill.
  • We choce San Francisco, because we thought that it would be an attractive place for people to come to. While true, SF sadly was too expensive for most. We received many complaints that researchers and practitioners alike could not afford coming to San Francisco in August (airfare, hotel). We even had no-shows of registered people.
What would you do differently if you planned a similar project?

Because of the desire to be in SF, we went out on a limb without sufficient local support to warn us, for example, about the pricing practices of the Golden Gate Club's caterer. We will be more conservative in the future.

Learning patterns[edit]

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Learning_patterns/Establish_strong_local_support

Outcomes and impact[edit]

Outcomes[edit]

Provide the original project goal here.

(From the original submission.)

To hold a successful 2015 instance of the (by-now) long-running (11 years!) conference series OpenSym (formerly WikiSym), an annual conference for researchers and practitioners of "open collaboration", that is wikis and Wikipedia, FLOSS, open data, open education, etc. A conference like OpenSym allows

  • researchers to publish research work on open collaboration topics,
  • practitioners to present experience reports, hold workshops, etc.
  • connect researchers with practitioners to learn from each other
  • reconnect for, plan, and move forward multi-year collaborations
Did you achieve your project goal? How do you know your goal was achieved? Please answer in 1 - 2 short paragraphs.

Only partially. In general, OpenSym did its job like in previous years. Good research, good communication, a gathering of researchers of open collaboration, including Wikipedia. We had:

  • four keynotes/invited talks
  • six research sessions of three papers each
  • welcome reception with poster presentations
  • doctoral symposium to nurture next generation of researchers

Another thing that went well:

  • we connected to the Wiki Education Foundation by way of a joint reception
  • we had several participants from the Wikimedia Foundation (but could have more)
  • selected OpenSym participants got to visit WMF headquarters and connect to WMF researchers

The disappointment, and goal not reached, was the number of participants. Officially, we had 73 registered participants (rather than the expected 100). Of those 73, several did not show up, and several people participated only in some but not all of the conference days (why we don't know).

Progress towards targets and goals[edit]

Project metrics

Target outcome Achieved outcome Explanation
A conference that worked without major flaw (measure: nobody died). No major flaw. Well-working, established organization.
Had about 100 participants (measure: number of participants). 73 participants, not all on-site all the time. So, this is the main issue with this year's conference. The feedback we got was that San Francisco in late summer, early fall, is highly attractive (everyone wants to come, as planned) but too expensive (so much less people attended than expected). We were aware of the cost and most participants are paid researchers on a company or university budget, so we assumed this would not be a major problem. Still, it was, as probably many universities restrict expenses and researchers try to go on one big trip a year. For this then in the future we might have to co-located (or be cheaper in terms of travel and accomodation costs). We are still not entirely sure.
Had a good overall conference program (measure: diversity of keynotes (at least 2), workshops (at least 1), tutorials (at least 1)). Four keynotes, co-located workshops, open space sessions, a trip (of invited OpenSym researchers) to the Wikimedia Foundation. We marketed well and got a good enough (still improvable) program. We say improvable because it could have even better if people hadn't bailed out last-minute because of the travel and accomodation costs.
Had a continued strong Wikipedia research program (measure: research paper submission number = 20+). We had seven (narrowly defined) Wikipedia-related research publications (out of 14 submissions), and many more related research publication (open source, open data, wikis, etc.). We marketed well and did alright. Numbers could be higher, owing the cost problem discussed repeatedly by now.
Had a published freely accessible conference proceedings (measure: downloadable by anonymous). Available, like prior years, freely here: 2015, all years. Fully under our control; worked out as always.
Are set up for the year 2016 (measure: announcement for 2016 ready and performed at end of conference). We announced at the end of the conference to hold OpenSym 2016 in Berlin on Aug 17-19, 2016. Fully under our control; worked out as always.


Global Metrics[edit]

We are trying to understand the overall outcomes of the work being funded across our grantees. In addition to the measures of success for your specific program (in above section), please use the table below to let us know how your project contributed to the Global Metrics. We know that not all projects will have results for each type of metric, so feel free to put "0" where necessary.

  1. Next to each required metric, list the actual outcome achieved through this project.
  2. Where necessary, explain the context behind your outcome. For example, if you were funded for an edit-a-thon which resulted in 0 new images, your explanation might be "This project focused solely on participation and articles written/improved, the goal was not to collect images."

For more information and a sample, see Global Metrics.

Metric Achieved outcome Explanation
1. # of active editors involved
2. # of new editors
3. # of individuals involved 73 These are the conference participants; many more people submitted and were involved in the run-up to the conference but did not attend.
4a. # of new images/media added to Wikimedia articles/pages
4b. # of new images/media uploaded to Wikimedia Commons (Optional)
5. # of articles added or improved on Wikimedia projects
6. Absolute value of bytes added to or deleted from Wikimedia projects
Learning question
Did your work increase the motivation of contributors, and how do you know?
Please see impact below on our view of the role of a conference like OpenSym.


Impact[edit]

What impact did this project have on WMF's mission and the strategic priorities?

A (mostly) research conference like OpenSym (WikiSym) typically does not have an immediate impact in terms of numbers of new editors or new articles. Rather, researchers and practitioners discuss and created validated knowledge that will help future interventions/projects. At OpenSym 2015 specifically we connected with the Wiki Education Foundation and the Wikimedia Foundation by way of joint sessions/meetings to support communication and knowledge exchange. This is one way of how we believe our work will be heard. Another way is the always public research results on our website and the Twitter and Facebook activity around this work.

In the preparation for 2015, we asked our communmity about the impact their work has had in the past, providing an indicator of future impact. The list can be found here Grants:PEG/WikiSym_Initiative/2015_OpenSym_Conference/Evidence.

Reporting and documentation of expenditures[edit]

This section describes the grant's use of funds

Documentation[edit]

Did you send documentation of all expenses paid with grant funds to grants at wikimedia dot org, according to the guidelines here? Answer "Yes" or "No".

NOT YET

Expenses[edit]

Please list all project expenses in a table here, with descriptions and dates. Review the instructions here.
Number Category Item description Unit Number of units Cost per unit Total cost Currency Notes
1 Location Event location rental - - - $5,885.50
2 Catering Onsite event catering - - - $11,510.66
3 Committee Committee dinner, thank you - - - $824.50
4 Committee/speakers Travel expenses - - - $5,491.25
5 Miscellaneous Materials, other - - - $1,040.54
8 Fiscal sponsor Accounting, other - - - $1,000.00
9 Total - - - - $25,752.45
Total project budget (from your approved grant submission)
USD 30,000
Total amount requested from WMF (from your approved grant submission, this total will be the same as the total project budget if PEG is your only funding source)
USD 20,000
Total amount spent on this project
USD 25,752.45
Total amount of Project and Event grant funds spent on this project
USD 20,000
Are there additional sources that funded any part of this project? List them here.
Google grant, event fees

Remaining funds[edit]

Remaining funds from this grant have been returned to WMF in the amount of US$6667.

Are there any grant funds remaining?

Answer YES or NO.
Yes and no. Due to the Google grant and event fees, our income was higher than just the WMF grant, about double the amount. From this, one idea would be that the WMF grant apply retroactively to only 50% of our expenses. Also, when we realized how the catering costs (only once choice of caterer, holding us captive) was to explode, we worked hard to off-load costs. We utilized the Wiki Education Foundation and the University of Berkeley as sponsors / partners. Almost all of the committee really decided all to pay by themselves. With this in mind, we suggest that WMF grant be lowered by 1/3 retroactively. Please keep in mind that these cost savings can probably not be repeated in future years. If so, we would return $6.666,67 to the WMF.
Please list the total amount (specify currency) remaining here. (This is the amount you did not use, or the amount you still have after completing your grant.)
$0
If funds are remaining they must be returned to WMF, reallocated to mission-aligned activities, or applied to another approved grant.
Please state here if you intend to return unused funds to WMF, submit a request for reallocation, or submit a new grant request, and then follow the instructions on your approved grant submission.
Nothing is left, however, we would be able to retroactively lower the WMF grant and pay back $6667. Alternatively, we can apply this to OpenSym 2016. We will almost certainly apply for another grant, even though we are likely to lower the requested amount.

Documentation of expenditures has been received by WMF.