Grants:PEG/WikiSym Initiative/2016 OpenSym Conference

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This Wikimedia Foundation grant has a fiscal sponsor. The John Ernest Foundation administered the grant on behalf of Dirk Riehle, WikiSym Initiative.

WikiSym Initiative/2016 OpenSym Conference
Grant request for OpenSym 2016, an (academic) research (and practitioner) conference on all things "open collaboration", including wikis and Wikipedia research, FLOSS, open data, open education, etc.
targetAll Wikimedia projects
strategic priorityImprove quality
start dateAugust 17
start year2016
end dateAugust 19
end year2016
budget (local currency)10,000 USD
budget (USD)10,000USD
grant typeIndividual
non-profit statusYes
organization• The John Ernest Foundation
created on01:50, 3 May 2016 (UTC)


To hold a successful 2016 instance of the (by-now) long-running (12 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


OpenSym has a defined rhythm. We announce next year's event at the previous event. Over the course of the following year, we go through various stages of marketing, organizing, program building, etc. An overview time-line of OpenSym can be found in this spreadsheet: [1]


  • Marketing
    • We market through mailing lists, websites, blogs
  • Proceedings
    • We collected submitted research and practitioner work as written papers and publish them on our website at as well as through our publisher
  • Conference
    • We meet in person, have the written papers presented, workshops held, tutorials performed, keynotes listened to etc.

How these activities line up in time is captured in the aforementioned spreadsheet.


Target readership[edit]

The language of the conference is English, but ultimately the research being presented and the practices being discussed impact all Wikimedia projects across all languages.

Historically, OpenSym has attracted a substantial amount of Wikipedia research, so the English Wikipedia may ultimately benefit most.

Fit with strategy[edit]

What crucial thing will the project try to change or benefit in the Wikimedia movement? Please select the Wikimedia strategic priority(ies) that your project most directly aims to impact and explain how your project fits. Most projects fit all strategic priorities. However, we would like project managers to focus their efforts on impacting 1-2 strategic priorities. Examples of strategic priorities can be found at here.

As a research conference, we aim to be the premier place where Wikipedia and related research is being presented.

As a practitioner conference, we aim to be an important place where research meets practices and everyone learns from each other.

We believe we ultimately impact all strategic objectives, but if we have to pick one, it is improving quality.

Measures of success[edit]

Please provide a list of both quantitative and qualitative criteria that will be used determine how successful the project is. You will need to report on the success of the project according to these measures after the project is completed. See the PEG Program Resources for suggested measures of success. Note: In addition to your project-specific measures of success, you will also be asked to report on some Global Metrics at the end of your final report. Please keep this in mind as you plan, and we'll support you as you begin your project.

Basic success is "another instance that isn't worse than what came before". We will have had it if we achieve

  1. A conference that worked without major flaw (measure: nobody died)
  2. Had about 100 participants (measure: number of participants)
  3. Had a good overall conference program (measure: diversity of keynotes (at least 2), workshops (at least 1), tutorials (at least 1))
  4. Had a continued strong Wikipedia research program (measure: research paper submission number = 20+)
  5. Had a published freely accessible conference proceedings (measure: downloadable by anonymous)
  6. Are set up for the year 2017 (measure: announcement for 2017 ready and performed at end of conference)

Better success is continueed growth into open collaboration topics beyond wikis and Wikipedia. We will have had it if we achieve

  1. A conference that worked without major flaw (measure: nobody died)
  2. Had about 150 participants or more (measure: number of participants)
  3. Had a good overall conference program (measure: diversity of keynotes (at least 2), workshops (at least 2), tutorials (at least 2))
  4. Had a continued strong Wikipedia research program (measure: research paper submission number = 20+)
  5. Had a broad (not just Wikipedia) research program on open collaboration (measure: Wikipedia research papers are <= 30% of published papers)
  6. Had a published freely accessible conference proceedings (measure: downloadable by anonymous)
  7. Had non-trivial practitioner participation (at least 40% of participants self-declare as practitioner or industry)
  8. Are set up for the year 2017 (measure: announcement for 2017 ready and performed at end of conference)

Resources and risks[edit]


We have a great team in place already, listed here: Please note how previous Sponsorship Chair Dirk Riehle used university resources (as a professor at a public German university) to support and sponsor OpenSym. In addition, we have received strong support by Fraunhofer FOKUS in the form of a cost-free venue (labor still needs to be covered). This and TJEF are key pillars of the event that have made it stable over the years.


There are two risks for every annual conference, and OpenSym is no exception:

  1. Nobody attends--we invest and organize and it is for nothing. We have built up a strong reputation in Wikipedia research. In the past, we have marketed successfully, with stable attendance at about 100 people. We have considerable mailing lists at hand of interested people and know our channels to reach new ones. We have strong track chairs, who know how to get to their specific audiences.
  2. We make a financial mistake and go broke, ending the conference series. We have some staying power and backbone, so we won't go broke if one year turns bad. So we plan prudently and frugally and keep finances in check, hoping not to make mistakes. Wikimedia sponsorship is an important part of keeping us afloat (without it, we would have to raise event fees significantly).


Please provide a detailed breakdown of project expenses according to the instructions here. See Budget Guidelines. Grantees are subject to line-item scrutiny of expenses. Changes to the approved budget beyond 10% in any category must be approved in advance.

Project budget table[edit]

Number Category Item description Unit Number of units Cost per unit Total cost Currency Notes
1 Venue Room rent Days 4 0 EUR Venue will be sponsored
2 Equipment Non-technical (chairs, tables, posters, pinboards, decoration, ...) Days 3 1000 EUR
3 Equipment Technical (A/V, wireless access) Days 3 0 EUR A/V will be sponsored
4 Welcome reception People 80 15 1200 EUR
5 Social event Event location, transportation, food People 80 90 7200 EUR
6 Catering Coffee and lunch breaks Days*Persons 240 40 9600 EUR
7 Travel and accomedation Conference committee People 4 1200 4800 EUR
8 Travel and accomedation Invited speakers People 4 1200 4800 EUR
9 Open space facilitator People 1 1000 EUR
10 Miscellaneous materials Printer, badges, invoices, signs, plaques, etc. 1000 EUR
11 Event organizer Responsible for local arrangements Person 1 600 EUR
11 Additional Staff (student assistants) Reception / guides Person 2 ? EUR
12 Conference material Give-aways, bags, program Person 80 15 1200 EUR

Notes on the budget:

  • The location is the Fraunhofer FOKUS, in Berlin, Germany which is provided free of charge.
  • We are using coffee and scones for the coffee breaks and take-away lunches rather than sit-down lunches.
  • We are trying to utilize local people as much as possible; some numbers may ultimately come in lower than projected above.
  • There is some remaining variance in the data; I can provide an updated spreadsheet as needed.
  • We still cannot tell precise numbers for the social event (too early)---in Berlin, it may be more expensive than given above.

Total cost of project[edit]

EUR 32,400 (thirty-two thousand four hundred euros)

Total amount requested[edit]

USD 10000 (ten thousand dollars) (~ 8800 EUR)

Additional sources of revenue[edit]

Additional sources of revenue, other than the Project and Event Grants Program, that may fund part of this project, and amounts funded.

Participants have to pay a fee, which is about EUR 400 for researchers on a university or industry participants on a corporate budget and about EUR 200 for students or self-paying participants. The lower price category is a subsidy as it does not fully cover costs.

Non-financial requirements[edit]

See a description of non financial assistance available. Please inform the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) of any requirements for non-financial assistance now.

None needed, thanks for the offer!


General comments[edit]

Value of a conference[edit]

From last year's proposal: WikiSym, now OpenSym, is a community conference, it entails the following:

  1. it is a community of mailing lists enabling year-round exchange
  2. it is a community with a website and appropriate exchange
  3. it is a community with a full freely accessible 10+ year archive of published papers and related materials
  4. it is a community that meets once a year to talk to each other in person, generate new ideas, and carry ideas and discussions forth
  5. it is a community that nurtures the young and pays tribute to the old, in person, and on its website
  6. it is a community into which many people pour hard work without any compensation
  7. it is a channel to publish research work

When I write community above it is exactly those people who research the topics of interest to the Wikimedia community.

Open access publishing[edit]

Our publisher, as in previous years, is the ACM. The ACM is a US-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization, dedicated to advancing the public good. The conference papers will be compiled as the conference proceedings and made available in the ACM digital library as well as on our website like all prior years at Authors can opt to publish their paper open access, paying one of the lowest fees in the industry (USD 700). This fee, while among the cheapest around, is still too high for many, so we can't force authors to pay this fee. Thus, we can't guarantee a particular open license on the papers. Still, they will be freely available for reading, because the ACM permits non-commercial provision of papers like our own website.

In preparation of this proposal I inquired whether it was possible to get a bundle deal, where the conference pays the open access fees for all its authors (and gets it much cheaper this way). Alas, this is not yet possible; we would have to pay the USD 700 for each paper that the author also has to pay. This would completely break the conference finances, so we decided not to do this.

Link to prior grant proposal[edit]

We have been funded in the past. Here is a link to last year's proposal: Grants:PEG/WikiSym_Initiative/2015_OpenSym_Conference

Community notification[edit]

You are responsible for notifying relevant communities of your proposal, so that they can help you! Depending on your project, notification may be most appropriate on a village pump, talkpage, mailing list. Please paste a link below to where the relevant communities have been notified of this proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions. Need notification tips?

Actual discussion (including remarks previously made here) is on the talk page.


Do you think this project should be selected for a Project and Event Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

Endorsements for last year's conference can be found here.

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