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Program guides/Conferences

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    Planning Guidelines


    Conferences and meetings provide unique opportunities for Wikimedians to meet face-to-face (and they are fun!). They can be a very valuable way to share experiences, resolve on-wiki conflicts, build skills, plan future activities, and create goodwill amongst the community. They also require extensive time, energy, and resources from volunteers, staff, and donor funds. These opportunities need to be well planned and participants should be well prepared in order to make the most of both time and money! We expect all conference grant requests to demonstrate the following:

    Clear Goals


    Start early and think of what the ideal outcomes might be: what type of knowledge would be conveyed to which participants, what type of personal and professional networking could arise from the event, and what types of decision-making and strategic development could occur at the conference? Assemble your core team and discuss the ideal outcomes with them. Don't just identify problems and opportunities: try to develop angles, approaches, strategies, logistics that can be put to the conference for input from your participants. Start a conversation on wiki and invite community members to participate (see an example of a community needs assessment). Grant reviewers will be interested to read how the planning discussion developed and who was engaged.

    Always keep in mind that the ultimate impact should be felt on WMF sites. Achieving that is the reason for holding a conference.

    (the above taken from the Five tips for preparing a great conference Learning Pattern)

    Good program planning


    On-wiki discussion with your community is essential to planning a good program. Individual sessions should be publicized at least 6 weeks in advance of the meeting. The goal for each session is to have:

    • Specific topic/question that is reasonable to cover in the allotted time.
    • Specific outcome in terms of what attendees of the session do at, or gain from, the session (e.g. brainstorm solutions to a problem;learn a skill; share best practices).
    • A clear format -- is it a lecture? a group discussion? a training workshop?
    • Clear roles, i.e. who is/are the speaker[s]? Who runs or moderates the discussion, if any?
    • A clear audience, e.g. "this session would be useful to people who already have some experience running an education program", "this session will teach you the basics of using CentralNotice and GeoNotice", "this session is for people who don't know anything about GLAM", etc.
    • Clear mention of any preparatory work attendees should do before the event, to maximize the utility of the rare (and expensive) face-to-face opportunity a conference would provide, e.g. "please be sure to have read the introductory material at [LINK]" or "Please think about your own group's experience and come prepared to share two successes and one mistake".

    Active participants


    It is crucial to have editors above a certain minimal level of experience in the room to allow for truly productive conversations. The presence of any amount of newbies over a tiny minority greatly increases the odds of sessions turning into largely introductory sessions, rather than productive peer-learning, brainstorming, and planning sessions. That is why some kind of vetting of the participants is beneficial and especially critical when you are offering scholarships. This does not mean edit count is most important and there are other considerations. What really matters is people having a minimal level of experience. Since the most effective programmatic work happens when there's a strong partnership between off-wiki work and on-wiki work, having the top editors participate insures that the (mostly) off-wiki group in each country is 1. aware of, and 2. on good terms with, the most active on-wiki contributors in the community.

    You should carefully consider if inviting non-Wikimedians to the conference (GLAM, educators, government officials) would be beneficial.



    Give presenters clear expectations and helpful guidance (see best practices shared for presenting on Wikipedia, poster presentations, hosting open meeting via IRC, and telling movement stories).

    Follow-up plans


    Each session should be well documented with documentation posted on-wiki after the meeting. All sessions should have action items and designated people (more than one) who will follow-up within a set timeframe. Make sure to assign someone on the organizing team who can check-in on follow-up.

    For more information, please see the Planning effective conference sessions and Five tips for preparing a great conference.

    Note: Conference grant requests should be submitted 2 months before you expect to start spending funds.


    • Total # of participants (More participants does not equal better. More important are the experience level, level of engagement, and diversity of the participants)
    • # of female participants
    • % of participants who present at or moderate sessions
    • % of respondents to the post-event survey and survey results
    • # of new projects/partnerships initiated as a result of connections made, skills learned, or ideas shared at the conference (2 months, 6 months, and 1 year after the event)
    • # of new tools or communication channels created to better coordinate work amongst participants and the greater community



    Example Surveys


    Learning Patterns


    Learning patterns are created by volunteers and based on experience and evidence. They're short and helpful resources you can use when planning your event. This list highlights some of the most frequently used resources. See the Learning Patterns Conference category for the full list.

    Recent Grants


    We recommend you read some sample grant requests and reports, including the discussion pages, to get an understanding of goals, programming, and WMF expectations.

    Recent Reports


    Additional Resources