Thank you for submitting this report. There is no doubt of the importance of creating and sustaining Wikimedia communities in Africa, particularly when looking at the critical gaps in free knowledge content and contribution for and from Africa. We therefore appreciate the leadership, time and effort it took to organize the first pan-African conference and hope whatever momentum was built can be utilized effectively. Follow-up and continued coordination are crucial, and while we had hoped for a clearer road map for this than the report indicates, we look forward to further discussions that can ensure this opportunity is not lost.
The feedback we've heard in person and as documented in the survey was very positive. First and foremost, the event served to bring together Wikipedians from across Africa for the first time to share experiences and this alone is incredibly valuable. It sounds like most people were very appreciative to learn more about the different types of offline and online projects, funding opportunities, and measuring impact. We appreciate how well organized the event was and the lessons learned detailed in the report. There is a lot of valuable information in the survey in terms of what worked, what was challenging, and most importantly, what folks want to see happen next. We look forward to talking with you more about strategies for addressing feedback on next steps.
We do have some concerns about the report and look forward to your response:
During the discussion of the grant request, both on the discussion page and during multiple preparatory calls, we agreed that WMF and WMZA would review all proposed scholarship recipients to make sure only people contributing to Wikimedia projects were funded. WMF vetted a list, which was supposed to be final.
We were surprised and disappointed to find out that between the vetting of that list and the event itself, grant funds were used to fly in additional participants, who did not meet the scholarship criteria, despite our clear agreement.
This had a number of negative consequences: (1) It diluted the value of the conference as a strategizing forum since a significant number of participants did not have the experience within the movement to have productive conversations; (2) It wasted movement resources; and (3) It was a breach of agreement.
Goals and Measures of Success
We do not see clear evidence of a number of goals and measures of success that are presented as having been met, including the following. Please provide more details or links.
- Create a strategy for Africa from Africa that is mission-aligned and can be part of a starting point for a wider Global South strategy. We are not aware of such a result. We know a 1-hour session was dedicated to it in small groups, but, partly due to the mixed attendance, nothing came of it as far as we're aware.
- Transfer community leadership and building skills. Are there examples of the skills shared? Our impression is that most talks were updates/reports, not distilled lessons or workshop-type activities.
- Ascertain clear intentions to establish formal Wikimedia active groups in areas not yet reached by Wikimedia.
- Formally resolve to create a regional cooperation organization to facilitate regular interaction among African chapters and user groups. Has this taken any form other than the creation of the new mailing list?
Please make the analysis of the evaluation survey publicly accessible or paste it onto a wiki page. It is very informative!
- Conference day lunch: Why was the lunch more costly than expected? We understand the number of people increased (from 35 to 50), but the rate increased as well from 300 ZAR/person to 1,031.42 ZAR/person.
Reply from Theresa
Thank you for your feedback Alex.
Access to Documents
I have made all the documents linked to the report public as requested.
- With regards to Item 3.2.2 referred to above, I wish to advise as follows :
- This amount per person includes dinner drinks, breakfasts, lunch drinks, equipment and the cost of the conference package. We should have included an explanatory note, and we apologise for not doing so. The reason why we have grouped this together is because there were no specific line items for the items mentioned above.
- I would like to request that for clarity, we amend this line as follows :
- 1. Allocate R 350.00 (USD 32.20) to Variation on Grant, Item 6.3 - Dinner Drinks
- 2. Allocate R 675.00 (USD 62.10) to Variation of Grant, Item 6.4 - Breakfast (Partial Scholarship)
- 3. Allocate R 2 831.00 (USD 260.44) to Variation of Grant, Item 6.5 - Lunch Drinks
- 4. Allocate R 25 140.00 (USD 2 312.79) to Variation of Grant, Item 6.6 - Additional Equipment - Mike, Projector, Power Cables, Roaming Mike
- This will leave a remaining balance of R 22 575.00 (USD 2 076.82) which was the basic conference package fee per person:
- Arrival Tea & Coffee
- Breakaway coffee, tea and snacks
- 1 Data Projector
- PA System
- 1 Roaming Mic
- Sweets and Water
- Notepad and Pen
This will then work out as R 451.50 per person (USD 41.54) per person. Please note that this includes the additional charge to meet all the dietary requirements of participants.
Goals and Measures of Success
Thank you for the feed back above. We have posted a section that should have been submitted with the report. This section is a Failure Report & Learning Pattens, which deals with what we think did not go so well, from our point of view. I also want to deal with some of your questions here:
1. Create a strategy for Africa from Africa that is mission-aligned and can be part of a starting point for a wider Global South strategy. We are not aware of such a result. We know a 1-hour session was dedicated to it in small groups, but, partly due to the mixed attendance, nothing came of it as far as we're aware.
- Yes there were three groups that caucused on a strategy to deal with pertinent issues that we face as a continent. The groups had to answer five questions as follows:
- Q1- What can be done to increase understanding of and use of Wikipedia in Africa?
- Q2- What can be done to attract users? What subjects are effective?
- Q3- How should we organise ourselves to work together going forward?
- Q4- What is the best way / tool to stay connected as a group and regions going forward?
- Q5- What is the future of WikiIndaba?
- The outcomes of the group discussions can be found here: Group 1 ; Group 2 and Group 3. Of course its not perfect, but we believe it is a start. These were further reviewed at Wikimania 2014, during an Africa Meet-up. As part of our follow up, we will request the community to discuss these and adopt.
2. Transfer community leadership and building skills. Are there examples of the skills shared? Our impression is that most talks were updates/reports, not distilled lessons or workshop-type activities.
- This is true, although there were some skills shared in non-formal platforms through discussion between WMZA and Planning Wikimedia Botswana, as well as Tunisia Uer Group and Egypt User Groups, the conference did not create such cross pollination. We have dealt with this aspect in our failure report section.
3. Ascertain clear intentions to establish formal Wikimedia active groups in areas not yet reached by Wikimedia.
- This was partially achieved in the case of Nigeria, Ethiopia and Malawi. Delegates did express their intentions to do this. WMZA was requested to assist in this regard and we will be following up on progress.
4. Formally resolve to create a regional cooperation organization to facilitate regular interaction among African chapters and user groups. Has this taken any form other than the creation of the new mailing list?
- At the moment, only the mailing list has been created. However, during the Africa Meetup, at Wikimania 2014, the mandate was broadened to include Africans in diaspora (Especially in Europe). This means that our regional co-operation organization should also build ties with European chapters and user groups where users of African descent can be identified.
- Thank you Thuvack for providing a section on the report for learnings and for providing more information on the outcomes. We appreciate the "failure report", especially reflections on how the structure of the conference and individual sessions can impact the event's effectiveness. For future events, we're happy to support brainstorming around how to structure discussions, strategy setting, knowledge sharing, and how you can support the development of higher quality presentations.
- There are some great ideas listed in the Africa strategy discussions. It will be interesting to see how those ideas are documented, prioritized, and brought to life. We'll be sure to check-in to see how the strategies develop and how we can support. Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 00:26, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
Attendees can be categorised into four groups :
- Candidates justified to attend - Above average applications. WMZA felt that scholarships were justified
- Candidates who were the only representatives of the respective country - Contributions to WP in terms of editing
- Short listed Candidates - When people who were selected in the first round had to cancel due to visa rejections, these candidates were selected in their place, as we had already paid accommodation etc
- Partial Scholarships - Candidates who paid for their own travel to attend the event. We covered accommodation and conference fees.
- Other - Candidates who attended the conference entirely at their own expenses.
We have had a chance to reflect on these categories and how to prevent any exceptions from repeating and catching them will in advance. In general we are of the opinion that if we can get in touch with active editors in each country as soon as possible, this will assist us to plan well for a similar event in future.
- Thank you for posting this summary of the participants. It is helpful to understand how they were chosen or accepted. As mentioned above, a smaller, less representative conference with experienced and enthused Wikpedians is far more desirable and will lead to greater impact than letting people attend who cannot add value to the conversation. We're happy to hear there were some key learnings from this year's conference. We hope to support you in the future with identifying key users in each country and expect agreements on participants to be honored. Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 00:12, 23 October 2014 (UTC)