Grants talk:Conference/WMDE/Wikimedia Conference 2018/Report
Comments from Pine
As usual, I thank our colleagues from WMDE for their detailed and candid report.
Regarding the topic of unexpectedly low attendance, I have a few thoughts.
- I agree that meetings of groups like AffCom and the Simple Annual Plan Grants Committee should be scheduled not to overlap with the main conference program. I thought that the plan for 2018 was for this to be the case, but apparently it was not. Perhaps these groups could meet during the pre-conference and/or after the main program.
- In a way, I think that it is good news that many self-organizing meetups happened. In 2015 these meetings happened during evening hours after the main conference sessions, and I would encourage reverting to that type of scheduling.
- I am very disappointed to learn that as many as 50 attendees at any one time may have skipped conference sessions in favor of recreation. This is related to an existing concern that I have regarding a lack of visible follow-up from the conference by attendees, whether in the form of writing public reports, or making presentations to their organizations that are recorded on video and published on Commons. I would encourage WMF to consider a variety of measures to enforce accountability, such as requiring that attendees publish non-trivial written reports and/or video recordings of non-trivial presentations that are made to their organizations. Also, attendance may be taken at conference sessions. The penalties for absence from conference sessions and/or noncompliance with reporting requirements may include full reimbursement from the responsible individuals to WMF and WMDE for travel, lodging, and any other expenses, and a prohibition on that individual and that individual's affiliate from receiving further WMF funding until the amount due is repaid, civil legal action, and an indefinite global ban on that individual due to misuse of Wikimedia resources. Misuse of approximately 2500 euros' worth of Wikimedia services is not trivial.
Comments from WMF
Hi Cornelius Kibelka (WMDE). Thank you for this detailed report and all the time and effort put into documenting both best practices and learning from the conference. It is super useful for us to understand what is working and what challenges remain, as well as to be able to share this with other communities in the movement organizing large conferences. I have a few comments/questions and look forward to your responses.
- Hi Alex (@AWang (WMF):), I'll answer in-line:
- We agree that the growing size and diversity of the Wikimedia Conference is making it very challenging to create a program that satisfies everyone's needs. We appreciate all the efforts the team has made to meet the diverse needs -- developing parallel tracks, sessions tailored to newbies vs. more experienced organizations, etc. However, it is clear from just the participation challenges last year that it has become untenable. We are excited to see how a conference focused solely on movement strategy in 2019 will engage participants and impact the outcomes of the conference.
- We know from last year's strategy track that it can be challenging to engage people in intense conversation for many hours and several days in a row. It will be good to think about how to structure the working sessions next year so that people are at their best for creative thinking and don't get burnt out.
- We have discussed this intensively internally. Actually, one of the main outcomes based on the experiences from 2018 is to have only one track, so that there are less cannibalizing effects. The Design & Delivery team for the Wikimedia Summit consists of the same facilitators as for the Wikimedia Conference 2018, and we will incorporate what we have learned and experienced previously. All three days will also have different formats, a healthy mix of work, think, talk or listen sessions, with different levels of engagement and energy.
- In terms of general participation, hopefully this will improve a lot with a smaller and more focused conference. However, it would be good to think about some way to keep people accountable throughout the day. Perhaps some kind of sign-in sheet or consequences for not coming?
- Right, this has also been on our agenda for the first design/delivery team briefings, and we are working to find a balance between pushing participants towards accountability and creating an environment where people intrinsically feel motivated to participate. By decreasing the amount of participants, we also anticipate a stronger social pressure on single, missing participants.
- You noted that you hoped to share some of the session formats as "session template" to be used at other movement events. Have those templates been created? If yes, it would be great to have the links so we can share them in our conference portal.
- Yes, we have created mainly two templates. One for the “Structured Lightning Talk”, where 4 people talk about their initiative/project within a specific topic. The other one is being finalized, it is a 2 hours group discussion session template called “How can work better together”, used and facilitated by us at WikiIndaba 2018 in Tunisia and CEE Meeting 2018 in Ukraine. I'll upload it and link it.
- We want to appreciate again the work of the logistics and organizing team, as well as the support of various WMDE colleagues who provided their time and expertise. The extra attention paid to offering high-quality services and comfortable conference experience was very much felt by the participants, which is obvious from the survey results. Personally, I became quite sick during the conference and felt really well taken care of -- with the front desk folks helping me to find and schedule a dr appointment. Thank you!
- Your reflections about the need to have people outside of the main conference organizing team be responsible for handling safe space violations is very understandable and we will advise all future conference organizers to do the same. If an incident does come up, it is too much for an organizing team member to also handle it well.
- We understand you see a challenge in diversifying presentations because of differing levels of presentation experience amongst participants. While we don't agree with the general statement that "it's difficult to find speakers from Emerging Communities that have the skills to host a 60 minute workshop session", we do agree that session design, presentation, and facilitation skills are all skills that many people need to develop and that it takes preparation and practice. Your efforts to work with sessions leaders before the event, as well as provide session templates, are both good ways to improve skills. We can also encourage more capacity building around this area at regional conferences. It would be helpful to know what you think are the essential skills for holding a 60min session as compared to other types of presentations.
- I understand and would like to clarify my statement and add a bit of a nuance. So far, the Wikimedia movement has not been good in training Wikimedians in designing, planning and facilitating workshops. Most of the sessions are, therefore, usual talks with presentations (one to many) – for learning and skill sharing session this is rarely a good choice.
- Based on the experience from finding speakers among the participants over the last 4 years, many participants from Emerging Communities (but not limited to them) do not feel ready to design and host such workshops using different facilitation methods. That’s where I see a huge need for future trainings.
- Asaf has done a first step with offering an extensive facilitation workshop at the CEE Meeting’s pre-conference. We will intensify the exchange and discuss different approaches, ideally with the new Conference Grants Program Officer.
- We loved #wmconfaces -- great idea (thanks to Wikimedia Sverige)!
- Noting that the underspend of 86.677,95 € was returned to WMF.
- Hi @AWang (WMF):, just a quick note: I have seen your questions and will respond within the next days. Thank you! --Cornelius Kibelka (WMDE) (talk) 20:01, 20 November 2018 (UTC)