Grants talk:PEG/WM UA/CEE Meeting 2014

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Evaluation by the GAC[edit]

GAC members who support this request[edit]

  1. Moved here. If all is ready there is no sense to stop it. --Ilario (talk) 12:59, 26 November 2014 (UTC)
  2. Support for the initiative, big questions about the date of the conference (tbd directly with Alex/Asaf) MADe (talk) 20:48, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

GAC members who oppose this request[edit]

GAC members who abstain from voting/comment[edit]

  1. Skeptical about the ability to realize. Few days... anyway I know that previously CEE have been good. --Ilario (talk) 19:52, 22 November 2014 (UTC)
    @Ilario: which part are you most sceptical about? We already have confirmation for venue and hotel, we are quite advanced in preparation of the conference programme and we have confirmed participants from around 10 countries. We would like to know what you are sceptical about to make particular attention to these points — NickK (talk) 01:02, 23 November 2014 (UTC)
    @NickK: I don't have the values to evaluate the risks. I have read them in the proposal, now they are more clear, but anyway I don't know why there is the need to do it in December and not in January (even if as event of 2014). --Ilario (talk) 13:31, 25 November 2014 (UTC)
    @Ilario: If you don't mind, I'll answer. There're several reasons to do it in December.
    Firstly, the idea to organize CEEM-2014 this year was discussed during the whole year and approximate dates were delayed every time as well as host state was discussed a lot too. Now, the dates and host city/state are confirmed and everything is ready to host such international event. If we announce after the confirmation that "sorry guys, maybe the event will be in January, or February or maybe later", we can forget about cooperation for long time.
    Secondly, we have communicated with participants from about 25 states and half of them already confirmed their participation (the list is updating everyday). Of course, representatives from states without chapters needs scholarship and they can't have an opportunity to take a part in such huge regional event in the future. I know that Switzerland will host Wikimedia Conference next year, but from one hand people from more weak communities needs more experience now, not after half year and from other hand not everybody can join that Wikimedia Conference due to different reasons.
    Thirdly, we have already negotiated about free venue at the city center.
    Fourthly, for this period we have found cheap, but comfortable hotel at the city center (with discount it costs only 30 euros for double room (15 euros per person), breakfast included, Wi-Fi is available in all rooms).
    Fifthly, we have enough big and good prepared team which is ready mostly to any challenges.
    Everything what don't need money is prepared already. Of course, the schedule is still discussed but only for minor changes (we have speakers for almost all sessions and we have one free slot (it was proposed to substitute FDC grant proposal session as it can be interesting only for few chapters) to which we have 4 proposed topics, after discussion we will choose one of them or we will increase number of sessions if it be recognized as necessary by participants). Thanks for your attention and if you have any other questions, we will gladly answer to them.--Ліонкінг (talk) 14:27, 25 November 2014 (UTC)
  2. I abstain as I'll may participate in this meeting. Polimerek (talk) 21:53, 22 November 2014 (UTC)
  3. --MikyM (talk) 01:34, 23 November 2014 (UTC)
    @MikyM: by the way, are you going to attend this meeting? --Ліонкінг (talk) 03:21, 23 November 2014 (UTC)
Hi @Ліонкінг:. I am not part of WMRS any more, so I probably will not attend the meeting, but anyway I strongly appreciate your (WMUA) effort. I'm sure this event will be organized good. I will use this opportunity to appeal to all attenders - use this great opportunity to talk about future of CEE event as a separated meeting. I have concern about weak activity as CEE group. I saw draft of the program and a lot of things are similar to WM Conf. or Wikimania, too. Maybe you should include some focus topic about of "CEE"; is there enough capacity for strong partnership or maybe basic one - what for you means CEE partnership, and how it can affect the movement in general, what is your vision and mission and capacity. Good lack --MikyM (talk) 04:07, 23 November 2014 (UTC)
@MikyM: I would like to mention that I have the same doubts before the beginning of preparations, but at the moment I see that many new states with small communities are interested participate for receiving new skills, to have possibility to develop mutual collaboration and why not, to share some successful experience they have in certain directions. Even for Wikimedia Ukraine it's interesting to receive information about development of small Wikipedias. Just one example. We have Crimean Tatar Wikipedia and we cares on them (as they live in Ukraine), but we have lack of experience how to help them (Ukrainian Wiki consists 538 587 articles, while Crimean Tatar Wiki consists only 4 099 articles and it's understandable that we have another POV (the difference is too big) on question how Wiki should grow and we can't find the best solution for development project plans for such small Wiki. And there're a lot of small Wikies in CEE region which for last times have a very dynamic development. From other point of view, Crimean Tatar Wiki at the moment use Latin alphabet while 90% of Crimean Tatars use Cyrillic that's why experience of Serbo-Croatian Wiki in switching between Latin and Cyrillic can be also useful for us.
We have included to the schedule most actual questions based on CEE Meeting at Wikimania, poll "Questions & Needs" and recently direct communication with representatives via mailing list, mails, facebook and google docs. And it's necessary to mention that not all representatives from CEE region have an opportunity to visit WM Conference or Wikimania. As you advised, we have added discussion on the topic "Future of CEE" to the "Official closing". I think it will be the best time to discuss the future of CEE after all 17 sessions, because there're a lot of people from small states who are participating first time in Wikimedia offline events. Thanks for wishes! --Ліонкінг (talk) 16:33, 24 November 2014 (UTC)
  1. I abstain from evaluating this grant request because of my general involvement in the preparations for the CEE meeting every year.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 10:38, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

GAC comments[edit]

Comments MADe[edit]

It's a very good idea, and I strongly support organising the CEE event in Ukraïne. In the coming days I will check the proposal more into detail MADe (talk) 09:39, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

There are two very similar grant requests at the same time. It allowed me to compare the two. I think it's good written, including the most important paragraphs. I appreciate the measures of success, I like that WM UA is setting the bar high.
  • Risks:
    • I think the first point (little time for preparation) gives the solution to the biggest problem of this request. The conference is programmed for mid December, that's in three weeks, with no financial approval yet. The first point also gives the solution to the problem ... holding the conference in Feb. So, what's holding you back? Given the current situation in Ukraïne, I'm not afraid of higher costs due to last-minute arrangements
    • Lack of support from other chapters (or in general, other organisations). Why does WM UA want to organise the conference so urgently if there's currently so little support from the guys you'll invite? Again, please reconsider moving to February. Also, almost the full conference cost is paid by the WMF. I personally think more can be done to get other organisations to support the project financially
    • War in Ukraïne. What if the situation turns worse? What happens in this case? Who decides on the go/no go of the event? Provide extra budget to protect (Russian) people during the conference attendees?
  • Budget: is ok.
    • Can you check 4.3 (goodie bags) and 4.4 (notebooks): seems high. Normally sponsors provide the stuff to put in the goodie bags. You should get more other organisations to sponsor you (see above).
    • 50% of the budget goes to plane tickets. The WMF pays >95%of the total cost.
Discussion: currently one endorsements (uni of Kyev). This should be higher: what about local (tech) organisations, other chapters ... MADe (talk) 19:41, 25 November 2014 (UTC)
Hi MADe and thank you for you comments.
Concerning risks, we have stated risks that might happen but not risks that will happen. Most of these risks are already successfully eliminated:
  • We made a feasibility study comparing two options (February versus December) and checked with WMF, and we finally opted in favour of December option.
    • Firstly, in 2012 and 2013 grant requests were also submitted one month ahead of conference (exactly the same timing as a request for CEEM 2012 that was approved and produced a successful and productive conference). Of course it is not a reason in itself, and we will advice 2015 organisers to do it better
    • Secondly, we would not have announced the conference without being ready to organise it. When we found out that we are the only bidding country (at Wikimania), we studied if we are able to do it and finally announced our intentions to host it once we were sure we will be able to organise it.
    • At the moment, almost everything is ready for the conference, we have a programme almost ready (all sessions already have confirmed speakers), and we have 24 confirmed participants from 14 countries in addition to 9 local participants, as well as confirmed venue and hotel. There is no major threat about this anymore.
    • We questioned chapters and user groups about their needs starting from August, but situation may change until February. For example, in October Bulgarians were looking for help concerning chapter registration, in November they already have a registered user group and are now looking for help writing good bylaws. This will mean we will have to re-question everybody once again, as needs may evolve over 6 months, and probably re-think the programme as well. In addition, we will have to check once again with all speakers, as chapters may not send the same people in December and in February.
    • We have a venue confirmed for December (letter signed by the university) but we are not sure we will have the same agreement for February. Our partner university is on holidays until 15 February (and other Ukrainian universities are even closed until 1 March), and there is no guarantee the venue will be available in late February, thus we may have to look for a new venue. This may make the event more costly, as the current venue is free for us.
    • We have a hotel confirmed for December, but it may not be a good option for February. The hotel is very centrally located (corner of Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv's central square), very reasonably priced (special discount) and with good Wi-Fi. However, it is the very same location where almost a hundred persons were killed in late February 2014. It is very likely that some mourning ceremonies will take place there in late February 2015 meters from the hotel door, which may be uncomfortable for conference participants, thus we will probably have to seek arrangements with another hotel if we organise it in February.
    • On the other hand, it is not clear what will be better in February. We are unlikely to have any better schedule or any better attendees (we have already achieved a good representation), and we are unlikely to involve more people: we already have attendees from Moldova, Georgia and Albania - countries that were never represented at major Wikimedia events. The only countries where we got zero feedback were Montenegro and Cyprus, but these two countries are lacking wiki community in general, and this is unlikely to change by February.
    • In addition, postponing the conference by two months will give participants two months less to make an impact on projects in their countries / in their languages before we meet again at Wikimedia Conference or at Wikimania.
    • Finally, CEE movement will not be considered a credible partner if we change dates several times. We have 24 participants who are ready to come to Kyiv on these dates, we are already in touch with Ukrainian embassy in Macedonia for visas to Albanian attendees, other people may already have made their arrangements... and it will not be a responsible behaviour to cancel all this. People who have already arranged a vacation from their work will have to cancel it and take a new vacation in February, others will have to change their family plans etc.
    To sum up, the "little time for preparation" threat was eliminated by hard work over the last month, and although there was such threat a week ago, as of today we do not see what can be done better in February.
  • Little support from chapters was a risk, but we have already eliminated it. All major chapters of the region (WMPL, WMCZ, WMEE, WMRS, WMAM and Shared Knowledge Macedonia) supported the conference and will send their representatives to Kyiv. The only chapter that may not attend is WMHU, but they seem to be little interested in CEE movement in general (although we would be glad to see them if they finally decide to come). As the only chapter that may not attend does this for other reasons then timing, postponing the conference will not make any difference here.
  • The current situation in Kyiv is calm, and because of official ceasefire fighting takes place only along the frontline which is some 700 km from Kyiv. The probability of a fighting in Kyiv within a month is almost the same as a probability of Russians dropping nuclear bombs on Warsaw, Prague, Tbilisi or any other CEE city: no one can be protected against a sudden crazy decision. In the current situation Russian citizens are safe in Kyiv and do not require any additional protection: we had attendees from Russia at our July 2014 conference, and they did not have any problems at all.
  • Funding: we are not sure we will have Ukrainian sponsors who will support us financially. We can reasonably expect getting in-kind donations, for example, we are negotiating such support with Kyivstar, leading Ukrainian telecommunications company. However, there is little interest in advertising a company to 50 people, 30 of whom are from 15-20 different countries: there are very few Ukrainian companies with business in other CEE countries (except alcohol manufacturers but we prefer not to ask them), and multinational companies present in Ukraine have their advertising budgets frozen for this year. Thus we are unlikely to find sponsors for this event who will support us financially, but we may get in-kind donations.
  • 50% of budget goes to plane tickets because we have arranged low prices for venue and acommodation. If we compare with CEEM 2012 budget, we have almost same amount for travel costs (6900 EUR in 2014 vs 6400 EUR in 2012) but much lower total costs (ca. 14560 EUR in 2014 vs 27881 EUR in 2012). Removing or reducing this budget line will prevent people from growing communities without chapters (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Moldova, Albania, Belarus) from attending, as they have no other source of funding.
  • Technically we have endorsements from other chapters (as they will attend and no other country was bidding) but I don't think it's reasonable to post logos of all CEE chapters. Concerning tech companies, apart of technical support (negotiations with Kyivstar) we cannot expect more from them in current conditions.
To sum up, we have done almost all that depends on us to make this conference happen and make it helpful for cooperation in the region. We have all necessary arrangements and people interested in participation. Unfortunately we are unable to get financial support from Ukrainian-based organisations, but that's due to the fact that Ukrainian-based organisations have limited advertising budgets this year. Moving the conference to February is unlikely to make more impact on the movement, but it will make both organisers and attendees change virtually all arrangements. Cancelling or postponing until further notice is an option, but we don't want to consider this as it will most likely kill our hope to develop the international cooperation in the region.
Please do not hesitate to ask questions if you need further details — NickK (talk) 21:54, 25 November 2014 (UTC)
Hey NickK, thanks for responding to my concerns. I'm a strong supporter of organising an event like this in Ukraïne (Russia eat this!). Given the short period before the conference and the good quality of the project proposal, I urge you to contact the Foundation (Alex/Asaf) directly to ask approval for this project. To me it seems outside of the hands of the GAC. Good luck! MADe (talk) 22:46, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Hi MADe and thanks for you comment. There is no big problem with Russians (not with Russian government/military) as we already have at least one attendee from Russia who has registered. On the other hand, there was no concurrence with Russia here, as it is problematic to organise it in Russia given that almost entire CEE region needs visas for visiting Russia. Concerning dates, we have already asked Alex and Asaf for assistance, but we still want to have an opinion from GAC that will probably help us make this event even better and making more impact — NickK (talk) 23:49, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

Community comments[edit]

Regarding - payment issue for travel costs - if needed we can play a role of payment processor (Wikimedia Polska). We can buy needed tickets through our travel agency or reinburst people if they buy the tickets themselves and then got refund from WMF in one bank transfer. Polimerek (talk) 21:58, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

@Polimerek: thank you for this, it will be very helpful for us. If WMF will not be able to book tickets for us, we will ask you to help with it. If this will be the case, we will ask WMF to make you the payment for tickets and transfer the remaining sum for us — NickK (talk) 00:56, 23 November 2014 (UTC)

I would avoid words «interstate». There are no state bodies which take part in the preparation or participation in the meeting. --Perohanych (talk) 11:20, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

We meant that participants may represent different countries and different nations, with not necessarily people from a given country represent the same nation. Thus, for example, we already have a Belarusian from Poland, a Belarusian from Belarus and a Polish from Poland, and we tried to represent this diversity by calling it "interstate and international collaboration": cooperation by Wikimedians from different states and representing different nations — NickK (talk) 20:21, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

Oppose by Tony1[edit]

  • As Alex has pointed out below, although more nicely than I'm going to, launching a request for more than US$14,000 just a week and a half before your activities are planned to start is not fair to the system, the WMF, or the donors. I note that you decided to go ahead with it as far back as August; this doesn't say much for the planning process, and conferences need a lot of planning if they're to have any impact at all.
  • "Possible higher costs due to making last-minute arrangements"—but the text under that seems to talk in the opposite terms. I don't get it.
  • Community engagement: I'm not at all convinced. There are vague statements such as: "We are in touch with all active communities in the region (but one) and all of them so far are ready to contribute." In touch how, with whom, and what exactly does "ready to contribute" mean?
  • Previous experience organising four wikiconferences (2011–14): even through google translate on those linked pages, it's very very unclear what the outcomes were. I see no evidence of impact on our readers.
  • The schedule suggests there's been little or no preparation by participants (which, as Asaf Bartov says, is essential: a conference should be the culmination, not the start, of discussion). No information is provided about how the sessions will proceed in terms of logistics, flow, organisation. What will "common session: Education program" comprise? What exactly will "Recruiting volunteers" give the movement in terms of real impact? What ideas are already on the talbe for "Cross-border inititiatives"? All we have until 14:30 on the first day is a common session "State of the movement". I'm not hopeful that will deal with the crises we have in editor retention and gender gap. Just giving every chapter time to get up and talk about its activities seems like a very low-value thing to be doing. There's no sense of getting to the issues, the problems, the strategies, straight away; no sense that participants will come prepared to debate solutions and strategies. You really need solid proposals/options on that table beforehand.
  • "our government makes us sell some 50% to 100% of incoming funds in foreign currency"—what does that mean, exactly, for funds that will be spent in Ukraine? And your plans for proxy allocation of funding outside the country look very vague. The budget doesn't say how much will need to be spent in Ukraine.
  • "Budget column "Other sources"—this is vague given your statement that "Wikimedia chapters may pay for the travel of their members." (my bold)
  • Conference bags? How do our readers benefit from $600 spent on that? I'm surprised that participants would arrive without a bag to contain their materials and laptop. They really shouldn't attend without. I discourage this kind of spending, especially when planning for content and process is so vague.

In my view, WMF grantmaking should not be rewarding last-minute, vaguely conceived activities that promise little impact for great cost. Tony (talk) 08:37, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

Hi @Tony1: and thanks for your feedback.
First of all, I do not agree with the definition last-minute, vaguely conceived activities that promise little impact for great cost. We have started preparation in August, and we did not submit this grant request before receiving feedback from most of CEE communities, getting the programme, venue and other details ready. I do not see why you think this will generate little impact, as we do hope to increase reach to communities that have little or no previous sucessful activities and encourage innovative projects in the region.
Then I follow your concerns point by point:
  • We are requesting a month before the conference itself, and a week and a half before first payments (most notably tickets for those attendees who can't buy them by themselves). At the moment of submission this grant request we have already completed a survey of CEE region's communities (Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2014/Questions&Needs) and we had a good draft of the programme (Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2014/Programme). At the moment we have almost all speakers confirmed, thus it is not true that this conference was not planned in advance — we have started planning in August at Wikimania
  • Texts below risks are ways to adress these concerns. While some participants raised the issue of higher costs due to last-minute arrangements, for most countries costs are the same as for any other dates, thus most (if not all) participants will not be concerned by higher costs
  • Please see Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2014/Questions&Needs. All communities have listed what works good (and what they are ready to share) and what they expect to learn from others, thus helping us to prepare the conference agenda. You can find names of people who have filled in this form at the page history tab.
  • Could you please suggest which measures of impact would you suggest for measuring impact on readers if conferences mostly invovles editors and partners (GLAM institutions, universities) etc. There is no direct impact on readers (i.e. participants of such conferences do not write articles during the event), but there are many ways of indirect impact (getting partnerships with institutions providing high-quality content, organising events that will encourage more people to edit, organising projects that will improve quality of materials etc.). In my view, there is no way to measure such impact, but one can measure the impact by future involvement of participants in projects targeting readers, as most of participants of such conferences are not readers but people who organise projects targeting readers, but this is a very long-term impact (for example, if a 2011 conference participant. If you have a better metrics, please share it with us
  • I don't really see why there was no preparation by participants, we are working closely with each speaker to make him make his presentation as productive as possible. Going session by session:
    • No information is provided about how the sessions will proceed in terms of logistics, flow, organisation — we have indicated the type of each event (presentation with discussion, panel, brainstorming). We have also provided names of people who will moderate each session. Could you please suggest what kind of addtional information do you need?
    • What will "common session: Education program" comprise? As the text on the programme page suggests, This panel will represent most successful models from different countries that can be used for designing education programmes in the region
    • What exactly will "Recruiting volunteers" give the movement in terms of real impact?. As the programme page suggests, this session will help find out strategies on how to help motivated people join the Wikimedia movement, either online (Wikipedia) or offline (Wikimedia). Working strategies of recruiting volunteers will have the real impact on the movement by helping CEE countries... to recruit more volunteers to Wikimedia/Wikipedia
    • What ideas are already on the talbe for "Cross-border inititiatives"?. This will have a form of brainstorming, and we will invite participants to present their ideas of what initiatives they want to see. The projects already working are bilateral thematic weeks (two countries organise weeks inviting people to write about another country in their language), cross-border expeditions (in regions that have historical ties with two or more countries), projects concerning national minorities in other countries, as well as sharing experience between the countries (like this event). I may not be aware of all initiatives, and this event will be an opportunity to share experience and ideas of each country with others.
    • All we have until 14:30 on the first day is a common session "State of the movement". This is not true, we will have another two sessions: 12:00-13:30 Sessions: Freedom of panorama / Wikiexpeditions.
    • I'm not hopeful that will deal with the crises we have in editor retention and gender gap We are planning to add a session on gender gap (probably on the currently available spot 3b). On the other hand, editor retention is a bit less an issue for Wikipedias in CEE languages, as many of them still have a high potential for growth of their editor base, and more common concern is small number of active editors and low quality of articles (session Making small Wikipedias grow will address this).
    • Just giving every chapter time to get up and talk about its activities seems like a very low-value thing to be doing. This concerns only the State of the Movement session. While this may be not the most productive way, this will be helpful as we do not have a lot of opportunities to share this, and knowing activities of each other will be productive for the following sessions.
    • There's no sense of getting to the issues, the problems, the strategies, straight away; no sense that participants will come prepared to debate solutions and strategies. You really need solid proposals/options on that table beforehand. If some countries have proposals or options that are already working in their countries, we want to make sure they will share them with others. If no country have a solid proposal, we organise a brainstorming and invite people to think and debate on what they can suggest. If you want us to organise it in a different way, please suggest how.
  • Ukrainian government has issued a regulation that Ukrainian organisations may not keep incoming money in USD or EUR, but we need to immediately change at least 50% to 100% of these funds (depending on conditions) to Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH). We will spent all funds in Ukraine except travel costs, as it is difficult (and for some companies it is impossible) to buy tickets with a departure city outside Ukraine by paying in UAH, as UAH is not freely accepted abroad. For example, if one is flying with Air Baltic from Riga to Kyiv, there is no reason for a Latvian company to accept Ukrainian hryvnia for a ticket issued to a Latvian national flying from Latvia, or they will accept UAH with a high exchange commission. Thus we want to ask either WMF Travel Agent or Wikimedia Polska to book these tickets on our behalf, as this will be cheaper to the movement (we will avoid high exchange fees and commissions). Thus only budget line 1.1 will not be spent in Ukraine, while other lines will be spent in Ukraine.
  • Chapters having funds for such travel in their budget will pay from their budget, chapters that don't have such funds will be unable to cover these fees, hence the word may. To the date, the following chapters confirmed they will be able to pay for their participants: WM AM, WM CZ, WM EE, Shared Knowledge Macedonia, WM PL, WM RS and WM SK. On the other hand, to the date 17 participants from 10 countries have asked for a scolarship as their chapters have no funds to cover their travel or they don't have any chapter at all.
  • We may generate impact on readers if a person meets a Wikimedian with a wiki-labeled bag on a street of Elbasan in Albania or Karaganda in Kazakhstan and becomes a reader (or even an editor) of Wikipedia. A labelled bag may be motivating to people who see it on the street and to its owner as well. Our members were asked on the streets about wikis when they were wearing wiki-labelled T-shirts. Bags may generate a similar form of impact, especially given that T-shirts are impractical in winter. However, I didn't get the issue concerning the content of the bag: what do you expect us to put there? What is the problem with process — do you find any particular issues with production process or distribution process? I think we have made it clear that we are planning to distribute them only to participants and partners (1 or 2 bags per partner, up to 10 in total).
Finally, if you have suggestions how we can generate more impact, we would do our best to take them into account. If you have any further questions or need other details, please do not hesitate to ask — NickK (talk) 02:02, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

Rejoinder by Tony1[edit]

Thanks for your reply, Nick.

  • "thus it is not true that this conference was not planned in advance — we have started planning in August at Wikimania"—All I see is that the proposal was launched a week and a half before you want to start spending money you're requesting (like, yesterday). On that basis alone, I think it should be rejected as putting undue pressure on reviewers and staff to say, as Illario has been forced to at the top: OK, it's too late, go take the money. It's unacceptable when you got a (what looks like a half-hearted) go-ahead to plan back in August.
  • Back in August, apparently the question was "is it worth it". Good question. Clearly there were doubts. I have doubts in terms of impact vs cost.
  • "Costs and last-minute"—the text is faulty, then, in the application.
  • "All communities have listed what works good (and what they are ready to share) and what they expect to learn from others, thus helping us to prepare the conference agenda."—I have concerns at the lack of community engagement beyond chapter board members and employees.
  • Direct vs indirect impact: the case is not convincing. How many WMF-funded conferences have come and gone, cost a fortune, but still failed the test of drawing dotted lines between them and real impact on readers. That is why, in my view, funding catch-all large conferences requires special justification.
  • I concede that the sessions are mostly described (briefly) and are assigned a speaker/moderator. What I don't see for each is a list of issues, questions, options, proposals for action. These should be worked out much before the event, involving communities. We have two crises on our hands, for example: editor retention and the gender gap. Where are the proposed discussion points for these? And discussing is not enough: for our $18,000 (since it will all come from donors), will the conference sessions arrive at solid, agreed-to proposals for action, organisation, strategies, people who agree to be responsible for these? Without that, a conference is a waste of money.
  • " "Cross-border inititiatives"?. This will have a form of brainstorming ..."—Brainstorming has never ever come to anything worthwhile at a WM conference (probably at any conference). Brainstorming should be done beforehand, online and by audio. Organisers need to liaise to turn the results (usually bloated and disorganised) into sets of solid options, talking points at the conference. You need to start at a more advanced stage in the discourse, not start brainstorming.
  • Freedom of panorama: OK, sounds like a good theme; but have you got the possible strategies on your schedule site yet? Are the legal/technical/cultural hurdles in print yet for each of the jurisdictions in question??
  • "Making small Wikipedias grow will address [the small number of active editors and low quality of articles]"—not unless there are options on the table already. You need working parties to liaise on each issue. It doesn't matter whether some options might be distasteful—people can bounce off what they don't want. But this brainstorming model is doomed to failure, and along with it $18,000 in donors' money.
  • State of the Movement sessions "may not the most productive way"—My point exactly. So why design it like this. Meet and greet and get to know the chapters/countries should be in a two-page summary on your site, already. Let people read it on their journey. Do I see a list of participants, with their country, languages, skills, backgrounds? That would make individual, personal networking more likely, yes?

My view is that this event should be postpone until some time next year when the groundwork is properly done. If WMF staff really can't cope with the political opprobrium of refusing to fund it, I believe they should significantly reduce the amount requested, and set out solid guidelines for what we expect in the report. Tony (talk) 05:48, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Hi @Tony1: and thank you for listing your concerns.
  • Grant proposal is not the only part of the conference. For us it was much more important to have a good conference programme before submitting the grant request. CEEM 2012 proposal was submitted a month in advance with ready programme and was funded, CEEM 2013 proposal was submitted a month in advance without programme and was rejected, thus we focused on making our programme as good as possible. I oversimplify a bit but we did not want to submit a grant request until all other arrangements are ready.
  • August meeting notes are here. The decision was that it is worth if we will have enough things to share, learn and discuss. Thus for the next two months we focused on collecting those topics and made a decision once we had a clear vision what we will decide.
  • Ok, better safe than sorry
  • It is the responsibility of local communities to submit a representative overview of their concerns and needs. We were unable to do it primarily due to linguistic barrier (bear in mind that over 20 languages are spoken in the CEE area, and we could not restrict ourselves to people speaking English fluently), and we cannot have a better vision of community's activities then people from inside it. We have not contacted any employees at all, all our contacts were either active chapter members incl. board or active local wiki users, and we contacted at least 3 different people per country (except Montenegro and Cyprus). As far as we know this was discussed on-wiki, on mailing lists and during wikimeetups in various communities, but we did not ask for a complete record.
  • We would be glad to measure the impact of the conference on readers if someone would provide us an appropriate metrics. For us it is possible to measure qualitative impact but no quantitative, so we invite you to provide us a metrics we can realistically use.
  • Good point about sessions, that's exactly what we asked moderators and speakers to add to respective Etherpad documents. The goal of each session is to arrive to some strategies of dealing with the problem (listed in Goals section). I do not think we will focus much on editor retention (it is much less a concern for CEE wikis than for English Wikipedia), but we plan to work on the gender gap. However, we will actively work on other concerns, such as recruiting volunteers, involving new users (Education programme, article contests etc.), improving quality of content (GLAM projects, thematic weeks, WLM/WLE etc.) and improving efficiency of chapter projects.
  • Concerning brainstormings, we have already asked speakers to list their ideas in Etherpad documents. Speakers are usually people who already have ideas (most likely from experience in their countries), and we appointed skilled moderators who will be able to structure discussions and focus on options and strategies. Audio discussion is almost impossible - it is very hard to arrange a time for a talk between 40 people, especially those who have never interacted with others before. On the other hand, it is more likely we will be able to arrange a follow-up audio discussion after the meeting.
  • Freedom of panorama: we will have speakers from Armenia, Romania, Ukraine and possibly Russia who will present their strategies. All countries with FoP problem share the same legal hurdle: no freedom of panorama in national laws or limits on freedom of panorama make it uncompatible with free licenses, thus we have a common challenge here.
  • See above.
  • A big advantage of the State of the Movement session is that it helps to identify each participant with organisation he/she represents and achievements of this organisation. While we could replace it with other form of getting to know each other, we decided to use this format that was successfully used on numerous Wikimedia Conferences.
Once again, I do not see what we can realistically gain by postponing the conference. If someone already has ideas now, he/she will still have them within few months (provided they do not become obsolete). If someone cannot come up with ideas in a month or two, he/she is unlikely to come up with ideas within 3-6 months as well.
If you propose to singificantly cut funding, well, it might be an option not to feed participants or not to book a hotel, probably they will work better if they are hungry and sleep outdoors, but our budget was intended to be limited from the very beginning.
Finally, I agree with you that having guidelines for the report would be helpful. Could you please suggest measures we should use for evaluation of our impact, in addition to those already listed? Thanks — NickK (talk) 03:30, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
    • Nick, I see that the proposal has a "funded" template. OK, I remain cautious and, I'm afraid, cynical. Nevertheless, a few points:

      (i) Nowhere do you mention what language the conference will be conducted in (I neglected to mention this key issue earlier, and am reminded by reading your point above concerning the multiple languages spoken by your intending participants.) How is the language issue going to be managed?

      (ii) I know that our busy grantmaking staff will be developing (better) guidelines for writing reports—not an easy task, but the guidelines are coming.

      (iii) I suggest you email or audio-contact Alex to discuss how best to improve your measures for evaluation: it may be that Learning and Evaluation staff could help there, too. WMF staff are very willing to have contact with grant applicants and recipients.

      (iv) "All countries with FoP problem share the same legal hurdle: no freedom of panorama in national laws or limits on freedom of panorama make it uncompatible with free licenses, thus we have a common challenge here."—right, but can you find someone with legal/copyright expertise to write a "position paper" on options for action in the participating countries, before the conference? I wonder whether grantmaking staff might be able to help in locating someone. I'd say it would be much much better to pay an expert for such a paper than to spend US$600 on show-bags for participants. Then it could be sent to participants a few days before the conference. Now that would be more likely to get things happening. (Just an idea of how I think conferences should be prepared.) Tony (talk) 02:58, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

Hi Tony,
(i) Our working language will be English. This is the only language spoken by all participants, and all materials will be in English
(ii) and (iii). We have already provided measures of success, but those reflect impact on projects and participants, not on readers. However, none of programme resources can measure impact of a conference on readers, thus I was interested if you have any measures we can use.
(iv). The hurdle is the same, but legal systems are not. We want to learn from countries who have already successfully reached it (Armenia, Russia) and already know what worked well in their countries and what they needed to succeed. A strategy they used has high chances to work. However, there is no magic 600$ position paper that would benefit all countries. Firstly, there are no lawyers competent in copyright laws of all CEE countries (as such lawyer would have to be fluent in some 20 languages). Secondly, legal systems are very different all over the region, and one should take into account local context while writing a position ppaper. Your approach is perfect for countries with similar systems (e.g. Commonwealth or maybe Iberocoop), where Australian position paper is likely to work in Canada (or Argentinean one may work in Colombia). However, this is not the case of CEE, thus we focus on working strategies and successful approaches instead of ready-made solutions — NickK (talk) 03:36, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

WMF comments[edit]

Thank you for this proposal, your planning efforts, and engagement in the discussion so far. We have the following remaining comments/questions:

  1. While past proposals for the CEE Meeting were approved in a short time, this does not mean it is best practice to submit a request so late :). Please note that advanced planning does not just make it easier for logistics and review by the GAC/WMF, but more importantly, it allows more time to develop an effective program and maximize the meeting's impact.
  2. We appreciate your efforts in understanding the needs and interests of the CEE community and developing a program based on their feedback. Please provide more details on how this program has continued to develop in collaboration with the participants, since there is no evidence of discussion on the program talk page. What work is being done by the session moderators/speakers to prepare for the meeting?
  3. What activity has happened between participants of past CEE meetings throughout the year? Beyond the mailing list and Wikimania meeting, are there other avenues through which participants have communicated or collaborated?
  4. The quantitative metrics for attendees reporting they have new ideas or new information seems quite low (60%). Please let us know how you determined that number.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 17:57, 26 November 2014 (UTC)

Hi Alex and thanks for your questions!
  1. We have learned lessons from last year (2013) when Slovakian grant request was rejected due to poorly prepared programme and low community involvement. To avoid this risk, we started developping the programme from Wikimania in August by contacting all chapters, user groups and local communities. Thus during August — October we effectively involved groups from most of countries (except Montenegro and Cyprus where we were unable to find a local community) and asked them to contribute to the programme. Our plan was basically 1) ask if we need a CEE meeting, 2a) learn needs of each country, 2b) make arrangements for the venue and accommodation, 3) prepare the conference programme, 4) submit a grant request (as listed in Activities section of the request). If we should have done it differently, please suggest the better way to do it — we will share it with the CEEM 2015 team to help them.
  2. We contacted each participant (or each participating chapter) individually and checked how their experience and interests can fit the conference programme in the best way. We used both their suggestions and strengths of their local communities to find which presentation topic(s) will make the best impact on the community. In addition, we tried to make sure that countries that are strongest in some aspect will be represented in the respective session. We are planning to get moderators in touch with "their" speakers once all moderators are confirmed, we expect to do this next week. There is no discussion on the talk page as most discussions took place either via personal emails or on the CEE mailing list.
  3. Except Wikimania, we had two ways of interactions. The first one was based on local conferences, most notably Polish, Ukrainian, Russian and Armenian conferences (I am not aware if others organised such events, but at least WMUA members were not involved there) that were attended by representatives of other countries of the region. This involved exchanging experience in groups up to 5 countries. In addition, there was some cooperation following meetings on particular subjects (e.g. board training in London, education conference etc.) The second way was based on bilateral cooperation: most notably thematic weeks or article contests organised simultaneously by two countries. Of course, there were also bilateral online communications between members of different chapters, but those are much harder to list. We will seek more ways for effective regional collaboration during the conference (Cross-border collaboration and Future of CEE sessions).
  4. These metrics are intentionally low due to very different origins of conference participants. Based on the survey of questions and needs we think that around 1/3 of participants will be primarily interested in project management, running chapter projects or community building (improving project management, making their community more efficient), 1/3 of participants will be primarily interested in learning about new projects they can implement in their communities (starting new projects, making more impact by their existing projects), and 1/3 will be interested in both. We absolutely did not mean that 40% of participants will learn nothing, we just supposed that some participants may have little interests in some areas. For example, we are not sure that participants from a country whose main problem is lack of editing community will be interested in project managament (but they will be definitely interested in recruiting volunteers and community building), while experienced members of staff of mature chapters will most likely share their project management experience with others instead of learning about project management (but they will be very interested in learning innovative ideas related to their projects). Thus these figures are low primarily due to diversity of interests and expectations of the community in the CEE region. We expect that at least 85% (roughly 5/6 minus error) will have learned about any of the two 60% (roughly 2/3 minus error) options. We may come up with more accurate figures once we know more about identity, experience and expectations of each attendee, but this will not be possible before we close registration.
Please tell me if you need any further information — (talk) 20:41, 26 November 2014 (UTC)

Hi NickK. Thank you for the clear responses. Here are our follow-up comments:

  1. We recommend submitting your grant request at least 2 months in advance, even earlier if international travel is involved.
  2. Thank you for your work in developing an effective program. In future, it would be helpful to have communication around program development on-wiki, as this encourages information sharing, collaboration, and transparency. We hope moderators can be settled this week so they can get to work in organizing and preparing their panels. We also understand there have been conversations around a gender gap strategy session, but see it is not yet in the program. We encourage you to consider adding this, if participants are interested.
  3. It is great that folks had a number of opportunities to collaborate throughout the year and we are happy to hear that this will be a topic of discussion at the meeting. As said previously, we would strongly encourage you to spend more time discussing what the CEE identity means, what concrete goals are sought for CEE, and how this event achieves those goals. The smaller, more focused collaborations and experience exchanges might prove to be more effective venues for regional cooperation. A decision on the future of CEE should be an outcome of this meeting.

Best, Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 23:20, 26 November 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for the follow-up!
  1. Two months is a realistic delay for having a programme and local arrangements ready, we will encourage the 2015 organisers to do this.
  2. While it would involve more transparency, making online arrangements with 30 speakers will make a mess. We could have used a Wikimania approach by asking all participants to make their submissions, but it is not easy to manage for a small group (high risk of several people covering the same topic and lack of speakers for an important section). Instead we decided to find topics having both chapters with positive track record and countries looking for experience in it. This required more off-wiki work that is difficult to manage at the same page, but such approach worked really well for our 2014 Ukrainian Wikiconference.
  3. We already had a brief discussion on this on the mailing list, and I will present here a few ideas. The main problem is that unlike other groups (Iberocoop or WikiArabia), CEE in itself is not a universal identity, as we share neither the same language nor the same culture and rarely interact on-wiki. Instead we have over 20 countries with over 20 languages with almost exact equality between countries and languages (almost all countries use one language and almost all languages are spoken in one country), thus making quite similar challenges for each community. In addition, we have similar legal framework, relatively similar mentalities (in the sense that similar ways of interaction with people may work across the region), pretty common history and geographic proximity (this allowing cross-border projects). This makes the main point in the CEE interaction: there are high chances that models that have worked in one country will also work in other countries, but they can be implemented only by local people due to linguistic differences. That's the reason why we have defined Increasing reach (helping communities to develop and increase awareness about Wikimedia projects in their countries) and Encouraging innovation (sharing innovative projects) as our priorities, and those are the goals we want to achieve — NickK (talk) 00:05, 27 November 2014 (UTC)