Talk:WikiConference Australia 2015

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  • Friday 2 October is a potential Victorian public holiday which would have the benefit of making this a long weekend for almost the whole country one way or the other. #inspiredchoice
  • AFL grand final in Melbourne Saturday 3rd October
  • NRL grand final in Sydney Sunday 4th October

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Billinghurst (talk) 2015-02-06T12:12:09‎

Sounds like we need a footy room at the event, where everyone is watching the footy and editing wiki footy pages. John Vandenberg (talk) 23:25, 6 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
There is lots of Wikidata stuff to be planned and created to get football stats properly in place.  — billinghurst sDrewth 00:06, 7 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
can you expand on what wikidata stuff is so critical that WMAU needs to ensure has been addressed before we hold the event? Gnangarra (talk) 00:43, 8 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
G. The comment was more generic, that wasn't my meaning.  — billinghurst sDrewth 01:08, 8 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
great so wikidata stuff isnt something WMAU needs to address for the conference to happen then add to that the finals will make a good supply of cheap airfares for those going the in the opposite direction from SYD & MEL Gnangarra (talk) 01:17, 8 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I took your comment to mean we might use 'planning Wikidata footy' as an excuse to watch the football at the WikiConference ... ? I've already bought the beers for said planning session... John Vandenberg (talk) 01:19, 8 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
well since you've already brought the beers..... Gnangarra (talk) 01:28, 8 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
This can be looked at in a couple of ways. Setting up the Properties at WD prior to the conference, then setting up bots with usernames which slowly tick over to make it look like we are working; OR, we plan to have the whiteboards going for planning sessions during the matches which will be why editing will slacken during that period. Noting that for each day approx. half will have no interest in whatever match is on. You will also need completely different brewing companies for each day (see previous comment).  — billinghurst sDrewth 06:38, 8 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Daylight saving starts in south-eastern states that weekend. To note for those going home on the Sunday, and if teleconferences are an issue for the Sunday.  — billinghurst sDrewth 12:47, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]


I dont see anything in Special:WhatLinksHere/WikiConference_Australia_2015. Has a Wikimedia grant request been lodged publicly? John Vandenberg (talk) 23:27, 6 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Not yet. Public consultation is required first. But yes we intend to apply for a grant as soon as we can. Kerry Raymond (talk) 00:15, 7 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Length of conference[edit]

There were a few questions on the wikimedia-l and associated mailing lists about the five day length of the conference, and if this was too long. I'll quote Kerry's comment on the chapters list here, as she sums it up quite well:

As you will see, it’s not just one event but a set of 3, each of which is aiming for different audiences by with cross-over. The first two days is a follow-up to our GlamWiki conference in 2009 (which heavily targeted the GLAM sector) where Wikimedians participated but would not have been the majority of attendees, so this is not our first conference as such, but it is our first in terms of a national event with a pure Wikimedian focus (the Saturday and Sunday). Similarly we hope the Monday will have appeal to other groups like university researchers who study Wikipedia itself or use Wikipedia as a corpus of data.
While some folk will want to participate in all 5 days, I expect most attendees to come for 2-3 days, noting it is being held across a long weekend (3 days) for most states of Australia. The open content component targeting partner organisations is being held on week days as that is when people attending in a professional capacity will prefer to come, whereas people coming in a volunteer capacity will generally prefer to come on the weekend.
And of course Australian geography and travel costs are a significant challenge for us. We could have separated out the events to run on different dates but that would have doubled/trebled the travel costs for those coming from interstate, which in turn would reduce participation. So running them back-to-back enables people to participate in more than one for a single set of airfares.

To expand on some of the geographic issues:

  • The big one is Australia's geography and dispersed population - we have 23 million people in 7.6 million km2 - that's the population of Sri Lanka or Chile, in a country with the area of Brazil or the contiguous United States.
  • Although our primary target is Australians, we expect there will be several international attendees, either as delegates, presenters or speakers. We are physically along way from almost everywhere on the planet. The closest major cities (Jakarta, Singapore) are about a 7 hour flight away. Most other Asian cities are over 10 hours, Los Angeles is 14 hours, London is 20 hours. Add stopovers, airport transfers and jetlag recovery into that, and you can write off about 48 hours of your entire travel experience on the flights alone.

When the WMAU board were discussing the various events that we had wanted to run during the course of this year, we considered ideas such as bringing (just examples) an expert from Europe in topic X our to run workshops in a few cities, and then at a different time bring a speaker from the USA on topic Y for a talk in another city. Sadly, travel is a big cost (in both time and money) for Australians whichever way you look at it. People coming together to a single event where they can attend many different sessions/workshops is a more efficient way of doing things. -- Chuq (talk) 05:40, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks for adding the logic. Some of this we implicitly acknowledge. If we had a US visitor, it would take a day for travel each crossing of the Pacific, and allow some time for jetlag. It all takes time.  — billinghurst sDrewth 10:26, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
For the record, the conference has been shortened to three days (two days + an unconference) after discussions amongst the committee - and with the benefit of input from the community. We agreed this worked better for everyone and was in line with expectations especially given this is the first conference we've held for a number of years. Orderinchaos (talk) 14:22, 6 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Time space distance[edit]

  • Having pointlessly struggled with WMF staff and various members of committees to explain the distance/time issues that Australia has over a number years, it is very good there has been an attempt to explain the issues of distance/time. But even though Kerry and Chuq have given good explanations - there is a really sad sense that they never actually get it despite our (Australians) attempts to explain it to them. Perhaps someone needs to do a graphic or a youtube funny to make the point (again).
  • Despite all the explanations, no doubt quite rational and very well explained. The event looks too long. sats (talk) 23:21, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    As it is a series of events, and presumably a series of registrations, with a separated program and disparate audience, how can it be too long? You go for the bits that you want to do. If you think that there is stuff for day 1 and day 5 that are too far apart for their audience, then maybe the argument can hold water, but that is about discussing the programming. If there is not the expectation that all people will go to all days, then it is not long at all, just for the organisers and their families.  — billinghurst sDrewth 00:07, 26 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    It does bring to the front and centre the question of whether a single national affiliate is a practical way of achieving the WMF's goals and those of the chapter. Given that the community and the potential cultural partners are distributed far and wide, mostly in distant capital cities, and that there are nine jurisdictions (ten counting NZ), it might make outsiders wonder whether a better solution would be to form user groups in population centres, with liaison officers in each to foster and manage collaborative links with the others where they arise. Gotta be better than the current situation. Tony (talk) 03:36, 26 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    Individually most states dont have the community to sustain a local user group, Western Australia(Perth) which has both the most active group of users and been the most successful at delivering projects has discussed this. The biggest hurdle is the legal and financial constraints that required to be addressed necessitate a registered incorporated association, this would basically require a duplication of WMAU costs something that membership numbers wouldnt reasonably cover and WMF has already indicated it wont support such expenses. Gnangarra (talk) 05:05, 26 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    User groups are typically not incorporated. That is partly the point of them. Tony (talk) 13:13, 26 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    User groups are a wonderful concept that died in Australia many years ago due to the financial & legal issues placed on individuals of such groups. As you know without being incorporated user groups cannot open a bank account, individuals are also legally liable for the actions of every member or party purporting to be a member.[1] Unincorporated User groups in Australia are a dangerous mine field of legal liabilities, financial liabilities, tax liabilities and personal responsibilities making them the absolute last thing anyone should be considering. Gnangarra (talk) 14:01, 26 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    You'd need to provide better supporting evidence than that link, to damn the notion that Australians can't form groups to pursue their interests without incorporation. We're all subject to being sued, whether as individuals or incorporated entities, if we do stupid things; are you suggesting that a WM user group would acti illegally in such a way that makes it vulnerable to being sued? Has WMAU done such (because it, too, is vulnerable)? Tony (talk) 08:27, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    Really? Is this really the place for such a challenge and such a conversation? I don't think so. The issues of incorporated associations, volunteerism and insurance is well-known by those operating in the space. Simple google searches will provide the information that you require than what appears to be a bloody-minded challenge.  — billinghurst sDrewth 12:45, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    Typical of the poverty-striken mentality here. Mounting an expensive "national" conference seems to be the horse before the cart. I see no evidence of much done at all online in years and years and years. You'll have to do better than that. Tony (talk) 09:10, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    WMAu held the first GLAM conference in 2009 with 190 attendees, in WA alone there has been over 30 other events including one of the most successful Wikitakes events depending on how read the stats the most successful, there are also two WikiTowns(QRpedia) projects[2] and currently doing early trials for the first Indigenous Australian language project, elsewhere WMAU has been almost as active as well see [3]. Gnangarra (talk) 10:50, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    I presume that is a yes to truffles, Veuve, and caviar with the horrible black skin peeled off while we plan a night at the trots (no greyhounds, they do crap with cart pulling).  — billinghurst sDrewth 13:24, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    Gnangarra, those events didn't happen through chapter effort or organisation—they were done at individual level. To get a taste of it, take a look at how few edits have been made on the WMAU site. No committee meetings have been recorded for more than a year, for example. There are now eight committee members. What are they doing? If you want to hold a national conference, you first have to have an active chapter ... for some time, I'd say. Tony (talk) 13:54, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    We have an active chapter, its been active since 2009 as has the committee. As I organised most(90%+) of the WA events I can tell you they had chapter support and assistance as required. Some didnt need anything more than moral support and promotion as there is no direct costs involved, other activities have taken place where I covered the costs these havent been listed here. Gnangarra (talk) 15:09, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • "its been active since 2009 as has the committee"—<cough> Tony (talk) 07:36, 2 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]

This is a belated contribution to the above debate about incorporation. There is already a Wikimedia Australia Inc, incorporated in Victoria. Although it is traditional for Australian-based hobby, sporting or cultural, etc, groups to incorporate on a state-by-state basis, that certainly isn't compulsory, and I happen to think it's also old fashioned and inefficient. There's nothing to stop Wikimedia Australia Inc from being an umbrella organisation for user groups all around the country, and/or even elsewhere (eg New Zealand). All Wikimedia Australia Inc would have to do is either set up a sub-committee of members, or nominate an individual convenor member, for each user group it decides either to support or establish. Bahnfrend (talk) 15:24, 12 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Yeah. The major political parties in this country aren't even incorporated. The question here is whether smaller, more focused and personally cohesive groups need coordination. If there were a need for this, why would an en.WP noticeboard or the Australian WMians' mailing list not be better ways of coordinating them than an inactive chapter—at least one that sputters to life only every fifth full moon and soon nods off. Our experience with this chapter, unfortunately, is that it struggles to garner sustained activity among either committee members or members at large. This is a common problem for chapters outside densely populated and culturally motivated Europe—and the challenges are greatest in sprawling, low-density countries such as Australia, Canada, the US, and Russia. By contrast, user groups can be started for a particular purpose (even a temporary one, I suppose); they can be based in one part of the country if meeting face-to-face is seen as important (whereas it's hard to see the value for donors' money in meeting face-to-face on a national scale). User groups can explicitly focus on narrow themes of great value to the WMF's sites, like GLAM-related stuff, at minimal or no cost to donors. WMAU has failed to do anything on a national scale, and even passed up the chance to make representations on behalf of the free knowledge cause when national copyright law was at issue several years ago. WMAU would only work if a reasonably large and distributed body of people with the time and energy wanted to make it work: not since John Vandenberg have we had anyone like that; and one of them is not enough, as John found. Tony (talk) 13:28, 13 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I've been a member of the Perth user group for several years, and although it's fairly small, I think it's pretty successful. I actually sought out the Perth group, because I had been a contributor to Wikimedia for quite a while, and it felt rather odd to have had no face-to-face contact with any other such contributor, ever. If you spend a significant amount of time voluntarily contributing to Wikimedia projects while sitting alone in front of a keyboard (as I have done since 2009), there's quite a lot of value in meeting face-to-face with like-minded fellow volunteers occasionally (in the Perth group's case, it's every three months). I believe there's also value in meeting face-to-face on a national scale, but it doesn't need to be anywhere near as often. Sure, it costs more than local meetings, but interstate travel is not as proportionately expensive as it used to be, especially if someone has arranged budget accommodation for those who need it. As far as subsidies are concerned, people who donate money to Wikimedia do so in the knowledge that it's a charitable organisation run largely by volunteers, and provides a very valuable educational service to millions of people around the world. So I don't think they would balk at any suggestion that some of Wikimedia's funds be used to provide a moderate subsidy for Wikimedia contributors who attend gatherings with the sort of program envisaged for WikiConference Australia. After all, a longstanding priority of Wikimedia is encouraging people to become and remain contributors to Wikimedia projects, and I think most people would agree that occasional conferences with such programs are likely to be very effective means of fostering that priority. Bahnfrend (talk) 15:23, 13 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Bahnfrend, if you need assistance in moving your group to an affiliate, ask me; but best if you have quite a number of willing participants in Perth, and a short- to medium-term agenda. My issue with a national shindig is that I can't see how it will add proportionate value to the WMF's sites; if there had been national activity and the prospect of sustained activity (obviously, through online means), it might stand a chance of funding—but there's zip to show. Tony (talk) 12:40, 14 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Tony1, we have heard your opinion. It only needed to be stated once, twice is repetitive, three a crusade, fourth time onwards you become noise. It would be apparent that some have a different opinion, and if there is a sufficient number of people expressing an interest, and it is seem to be of value, it will get held; if not, then it won't.  — billinghurst sDrewth 12:00, 16 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
If you could engage without being personal and rude, it would make you look slightly better as an organisation. By coming to Meta, you have to accept that community members can freely comment on corruption, mismanagement, and illegality, as well as the inadequacy of WMAU's model for improving WMF sites. Tony (talk) 04:41, 19 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • issue addressed despite the fact this thread was side tracked into issues unrelated to the conference about alternative ways for the community to be represented via affiliates the decision by the committee to hold a 2 day conference with an optional third day unconference at the venue has now addressed the original concern over length. Gnangarra (talk) 03:52, 9 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

On-track or off-track[edit]

The previous thread seems to have somewhat gone off skew, and I must say that I am very disappointed that so few members of the Chapter committee have actually shown interest in the national conference, or made any comment at all on this side of the page. As I can see it - this page seems to be the main point of information about thinking or dialogue - the lack of dialogue is disconcerting.

I do not think there has been adequate explanation as to the viability of a national conferrence in the first place.

Some questions for committee members:

  • Is the national conference specifically an event for people interested in the issues that affect editing in Australia

(like has anyone on the chapter committee made other committee members aware at all of [4]  ? )

  • Has the committee an accepted national spokesperson - if so - when was the last time they actually spoke about issues of editing wikipedia in Australia - to any forum or any media?
  • As a small group of editors and involved persons - is there any sense that the chapter actually has a presence in the Australian community that can be a positive force for increased acceptance by other bodies - and that 'brand', 'intellectual property', and very careful marketing strategies are important for such a group - in other words - does the committee adequately understand its responsibility level of maintaining a professional appearance in the Australia and the Australian online community ?
  • Has anyone (apart from myself) ever raised issues with the committee about 'standards' of training, induction, and supporting improved knowledge about how wikipedia works? Is there any understanding that the chapter can be perceived as being a custodian of the 'brand' the image and standards of wikipedia training in Australia?
  • If silence is the answer, I strongly suggest that the committee must come to terms with the fact that there is an opportunity to look at how and why the national conference is happening, and what can be done - as the opportunity shows itself - to show how the Australian chapter is a well organised, adaptable, professional body that can attract funding not only from the WMF but partnerships from other bodies as well in the planning of the conference.

If there is no choice on the part of committee members to entertain discussions on the above points, I would suggest that some venue for ordinary members of the WMAU be provided to offer thoughts, suggestions and constructive comments as to the viablitity of the national conference in its current arrangement.

Trust that this thread can be kept to the point on these matters, and in view of the specific issues raised, that the Australian chapter can show its best side, and show how deserving it is of support and involvement by its members. sats (talk) 09:35, 21 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Hi Sats, the committee is aware of these questions and I understand an "official" response is being prepared. What follows is my own thoughts and not necessarily those of WMAU or any individual committee member.
Firstly, I think that a lot of the issues that you are raising on issues such as government surveillance of the Internet, some sort of certification for Wiki-trainers (similar to what WMUK has with their "train the trainer", perhaps?), and a community vision of what the chapter should be are excellent issues for us to be discussing in person at an event like this. Sure, a lot of that discussion can happen over mailing lists, talk pages, and other venues, but to my mind they are not a substitute for putting people in a room together to talk about issues. In my mind the community section on the weekend is the "core" part of the event, and the primary thing that I most want to get out of this is to bring the community together from across the country to see what issues are actually concerning people, and how we can better help each other to advance the mission of the Wikimedia movement. The things you've listed to my mind are an excellent starting point, and it would be good to see more discussion on what the community would like to see from this event.
In terms of whether it's viable, the committee received last Friday a costing from the venue that to my mind looks very competitive, and is well within our means. It was discussed at length by the committee at our last meeting on Sunday afternoon, and a meeting is taking place on Tuesday between SLQ and WMAU to go over some of the nuts and bolts. While we haven't quite committed to a particular format with them, I don't think it's appropriate for me to go into too much detail of the actual dollar amounts we're talking about, as they may yet change. I do hear your feedback regarding the length, and five days was always the "deluxe" option, and if we feel that it's not going to be possible, or if the community feels a full five days would be too punishing, it could get scaled back to a 3 or even 2 day event. If anyone else has feedback on this, then please drop it here for us.
As far as committee interest in the event goes, all eight members have unanimously endorsed the idea of holding an event. I regret that I was not aware that discussion was happening here until yesterday when Gnangarra and Steve made me aware of the fact, and I hope you can forgive me a day to gather my thoughts before responding.
Hope this tides you over until you get a full response, if you have any questions please either drop them here, and don't feel shy about reaching out to me on social media if you've any particular concerns or questions. Craig Franklin (talk) 12:30, 23 March 2015 (UTC).[reply]
Thanks - appreciate your response - sats (talk) 15:00, 23 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
The issue sats has raised appears to be a chicken-and-egg-type issue. If I understand him correctly, sats is suggesting that WMAU should do more in relation to getting its act together before it holds a conference. On the other hand, I happen to believe that holding a conference, especially if it is reasonably well attended, would be a good way of helping WMAU down along that path. Bahnfrend (talk) 15:14, 26 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Hi Bahnfrend, I agree with you that getting together in a room might kick off more consistent activity. Personally, although I would not like "chapter issues" to dominate the event, it could be a good way to see which way the community wants to move forward with the chapter, whether the current model is the best one or not, and what the various alternatives might look like and work in the Australian context. Clearly the current model of only coming together online isn't working effectively, hence the need for an actual physical event bringing everyone together. Craig Franklin (talk) 12:42, 27 March 2015 (UTC).[reply]

Interestingly Bahnfrend, Lankiveil, SatuSuro are simply 3 individuals, and interested in ways o looking at or solving problems. The issues raised in my original post in this thread has not really been addressed - the subsequent conversation has not really hit the nail on most of the import of my message. As a consequence I am really no longer interested in what happens, as if it takes over a week to simply have an official response to the issues, it more or less points to the issues addressed, and answers itself. There is no longer a need for a reply. sats (talk) 15:28, 27 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
It is imperative however, despite my claiming there is now no point in an official response to my questions as put above, there seems very little in current open access space anything about the current news and or explanation about the WMAU activities - either the WMAU website, or here - the sense of our own history seems to be of no relevance to the current committee. I would suggest who ever is in the current committee and watching here - that the capacity to understand our own history seems to be of no interest, which is fascinating.

The record that I re-adjusted here on meta to actually locate the documents relevant to the years, suggest that 2012 2013 2014 seems to have been some of the quietest years on record. I do hope that with the importance of understanding scope being a vital component of any organisations activities, that the internal guidelines of what is relevant and what is not is carefully explained to new members when they come on to committee, as induction and orientation and good handover techniques between committees are always so helpful. sats (talk) 23:37, 27 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I wasn't on the committee for 2012 or 2013, but I can speak for 2014. We had a lot of admin stuff to get through in the first 4 months of our term in 2013-2014 to secure the chapter's future and finances and rebuild links with the international Wikimedia community. Once that was done, we funded several Volunteer Support Programme (VSP) grants, cooperated with ALIA to do talks around the country to varied audiences, and supported the Toodyaypedia and Freopedia projects financially and practically in WA. Our president gave a talk to a university and we helped run a Paralympic editing workshop in Melbourne over a weekend. We're currently involved in a whole bunch of projects, either in a funding or advisory role, and are of course planning a conference. I have to say that was busier than either the 2010 or 2011 committee years having been in both. Documentation probably needs to be clarified and updated as for some months we didn't have a server due to uplink issues, but that's in the process of occurring as we speak.
As for induction and orientation, every year of our past committees is represented by at least one member of our present committee, not to mention generally friendly relations with non-committee protagonists of our major past projects. A lot of institutional memory has been retained, and we have across us email collections going back to day 1, and an internal committee wiki where things have been recorded since 2008. Things aren't perfect, but they're certainly not worse than other comparable organisations. Orderinchaos (talk) 14:16, 6 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
(Goes without saying this is a personal response from one committee member, not a committee response.) Orderinchaos (talk) 14:18, 6 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Linkage project side-discussion[edit]

  • Lankiveil writes: "Clearly the current model of only coming together online isn't working effectively". Proves the chronic dysfunction of the organisation. Brainstorming by shoving people together in a room at gigantic cost to individuals scattered around a continent and to WMAU's bank account will do nothing if you can't get people interacting online to do just that. Are face-to-face meetings required for anything to happen in this chapter? By conceding that "the current model" of online organisation is broken you've undermined the very reason for WMAU's existence. The only things that have ever happened were done by individuals in spite of the chapter, not because of it, although I see claims being made about small packets of funding passed on.
  • Orderinchaos: first, by "securing" the chapter's finances, are you referring to the breaking of a contract signed by the chapter, and the bald lies told to us by Stephen Zhang concerning what the WMF told him about that? (WMF none too happy, I can assure you.) Second, what has constituted the "rebuild[ing of] links with the international Wikimedia community"? Tony (talk) 14:58, 6 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
A comment - the reality is that face to face does just work better for some types of things, while online works better for others. And when you have a genuinely national organisation with representatives from all over the place - noting that I've been both an observer on the earliest elected committee that had only reps from Sydney and Melbourne with the attendant deficiencies of perspective, and have been on several widely scattered ones with the challenges of harmonising wildly different perspectives - getting those people in a room does cost money. It's incumbent upon the committee to ensure firstly that expenses incurred are reasonable and not excessive, and that they work hard during the time to ensure results. This has, as far as I know, been successfully done all four times it's been attempted from 2009 to the present. By holding the Berlin events and other mini conferences, which attract significant chunks of WMF funding, it is clearly something the WMF recognises too. Indeed, every organisation I'm associated with which has a national affiliation has face-to-face meetings at least once a year - the Australian Association of Maths Teachers funds state delegates to attend three or four times a year interstate, for example, at *much* greater expense than ours, while the Australian Computer Society funds not one but four disparate national groups to meet up periodically in person. Some call them talkfests, others see them as highly productive, and that ends up being a matter for opinion which is never going to be resolved.
Re your response to me - I disagree with your characterisation. The previous committee (2012-13) had committed almost twice as many funds as we had in the bank. We therefore did not have the means to honour that commitment. The Associations Incorporation Reform Act clearly states that it is our duty to make prudent financial decisions, and advice was sought on what exactly this meant from the regulator. The project did not stack up well against our statement of purpose, and so the WMF declined to fund it. (This was in black-letter, there was no bald lies involved.) There were other incapacities related to our ability to undertake qualified research which had been part of the original commitment, and which had not hitherto been disclosed to our partners in the exercise. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, we called off our role in the project, and negotiated with the partners to achieve this outcome as amicably as possible. The project proceeded anyway between the other partners and we've run subsequent (free) events with those partners at a later time, and intend to do so again in the future. Speaking as an incoming board member as this was occurring, I have to say the whole picture was a lot more complex than has maybe been presented either before or after the change and it certainly wasn't just hastily dropped.
And on one final point, I don't entirely disagree re individuals getting projects going - that has been the reality. WMAU's role has been to assist and support where we can. Individuals often have the best contacts in their local community and so are best placed to find opportunities. To presume we as a committee have the monopoly on good ideas would be the height of arrogance, our role is to vet ideas against our statement of purpose and then finance or support them within our means, provide promotion, links with other communities, etc.
I hope this answers some of your questions - I felt a fair response to some fair points (and one or two outright misrepresentations) was appropriate. Orderinchaos (talk) 12:14, 7 April 2015 (UTC)`[reply]
@Asaf (WMF): the comments Tony1 refer to are regarding the Linkage project that we discussed in 2014. To my recollection, you are the only one I discussed this in depth with at the Wikimedia Foundation, and you gave me your opinion on the project. We had not (and did not, as my fellow committee members can confirm) sign any contracts (we had however, passed a motion for year 1 funding which we later rescinded). To my recollection, the advice you gave was that the project would not be funded by WMF - can you please clarify? Thanks. Steven Zhang (talk) 10:49, 8 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Rejoinder by Tony1. The first concerns are what you might have told Asaf. For example, did you apprise him of the significant programmatic activity by members that was to be part of the Australian Paralympic–en.WP project—activity that is consistent with the chapter's aims, and broadly those of the Foundation. Did you make him aware of the publicity that the chapter, and the WM movement by implication, had already received in several news outlets, one of them national, upon winning the grant with the two partners, the Australian Paralympics Committee and the University of Queensland? I suspect you did neither, which might explain why he advised that it was hard for him to see the match with the WMF mission.

The second issue, more important here, is that you apparently misreported to members what Asaf had said in a way that (coincidentally) supported your desire to free up the financial commitment for other purposes. If I recall correctly (it is in writing somewhere), you told members that the WMF had advised you it would count the chapter out of any subsequent funding if the commitment to the project was honoured: I gather that this is quite incorrect.

I note also that you rejected a compromise proposal to fund only the first year of the project ($27k), in favour of providing only the promised in-kind support (largely en.WP editing activities); I see little evidence of that promised support.

You write: "We had not (and did not, as my fellow committee members can confirm) sign any contracts". But the chapter did sign a what in legal effect was contract: it was included as an essential part of the application. This committed the chapter to contribute both funding and in-kind support, and was signed with the knowledge and apparent approval of the then treasurer, who is still on the committee.

I've been told that because the chapter's behaviour had threatened the viability of the whole project, the two UQ partners flew down to Melbourne to discuss the matter with Steven Zhang, who greeted them with a point-blank no-we're-withdrawing-from-it, and that the meeting folded soon after ... thus wasting their return trip; these guys were ... how do I put this politely ... pretty angry at being treated in this way.

Altogether this is very bad publicity for an organisation that has the Wikimedia trademark and is supposed to be benefiting from the partnership and in turn benefiting the cause of free knowledge in this country. Tony (talk) 16:08, 8 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I can assure you that in my time on the committee no contract was signed, and that the records available to committee members at the time I was elected gave no indication that any contract had been signed. There was to my understanding an agreement(undocumented in available records, no clear T&C) that WMAU would support a project and be a party to an application for a grant. Accepting in good faith that commitment upon investigation of available information and putting together outcomes that commitment was not within the then current financial capacity of the Association and no application had been presented for funding assistance to other bodies including the WMF. Additionally the project required in kind activity from members though we didnt fully have the specific capacity or skills available to offer, what skills we could identify and offer was rejected by the other partners as the work of volunteers was not considered "in kind" as that could only be performed by paid individuals. We did discuss the possibility of committing funding for the first year of the project in which no outcomes to the community would occur, we also asked for consideration for second year activities to be brought forward which we could support and at least achieve some return on the communities funds but this was also rejected. There were other questions over profit sharing of potential commercial ventures resulting from the project but was told that we werent a party to those and that they would be unlikely to generate any profits. We also discussed options with the WMF over securing funds though the response was clear that they wouldnt be forth coming as the project didnt sit within their goals. Steve attended more than one meeting with the organisors including flying to Sydney meet with them as documented in our financial statements. The final decision to withdraw was not taken lightly in the end WMAU committee did its due diligence and explored all available options beforehand as we couldnt commit to any agreement that would send the Association bankrupt we therefore had to withdraw. This issue isnt something that has direct relevance to the conference plans nor to the original questions that were asked Sats, unfortunately the long off topic discussion has resulted in those questions going unanswered, in the future if you have questions of your own not related to the original discussion could you please respect others questions by starting a new thread. Gnangarra (talk) 04:30, 9 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Further rejoinder.

Gnangarra, it's the first time in years that anyone on the committee has been civil towards me. Here are my responses.

(1) It's true: you were not on the committee when it was signed; I see no suggestion that you were.

(2) It took only a brief request yesterday for the two-page undertaking by WMAU to land in my inbox. It's dated 30 November 2012 under the chapter's letterhead and is signed by the chapter's president. I'm looking at it right now. Such an undertaking is a contract in law, even if the word "contract" does not appear on the document.

(3) You write: "the records available to committee members at the time I was elected gave no indication that any contract had been signed". I suggest that this is a problem of chapter governance.

"that commitment was not within the then current financial capacity of the Association"—what matters is whether the committee and membership were provided an opportunity to plan fundraising over the three-year period, which I believe was the original rationale; and whether the compromise $28,715 funding only the first year was discussed among the full committee and chapter membership (sorry, I wrote $27k above, without the benefit of seeing the written undertaking). Was it? But this is not the primary issue at the moment.

(4) "we didnt fully have the specific capacity or skills available to offer, what skills we could identify and offer was rejected by the other partners as the work of volunteers was not considered "in kind" as that could only be performed by paid individuals"—that claim needs sourcing/evidence. As far as I can tell, the chapter membership had and still has ample skills related to the project, and it's not as though those skills are being harnessed by the chapter organisation. Which skills in particular are you referring to that would be beyond, which has always appeared to me to be pretty talented and keen to promote free knowledge, if efficiently organised to do so.

(5) "they would be unlikely to generate any profits"—Are we in this game to make profits?

(6) "We also discussed options with the WMF over securing funds though the response was clear that they wouldnt be forth coming as the project didnt sit within their goals."—The WMF is keen for chapters to raise their own funds, and looks well on those that do. As I understand it, they'd have seen it as best practice for this project, rather than committing direct WMF funding to be passed on to a third party (they don't like doing that, understanbly). Ergo, John Vandenberg had plans to boost WMAU's income from local donors, both individual and organisational, riding partly on the uniquely Australian theme of the project and its importance for a part of the Australian community that does it hard but has a rich history Wikimedians could help document on our sites as free knowledge; the rationale was also that Paralympians and members would have benefited greatly from mutual interactions. There was also the matter of forging a program that might well have been copied by other national Paralympic bodies, with possible support by their local chapters.

However, the current president told members that to proceed, even with a single year's funding (bankrupt, really?) and in-kind support throughout, would have queered the pitch for all subsequent WMF funding applications. Specifically, he wrote to us: "we were advised that if we were to proceed with funding using our reserve, which came from funds previously provided to WMAU through the annual fundraiser in 2010, that requests for funding in the future may be looked upon dimly." This is not what Asaf Bartov told him. Was this fantasy—that proceeding would have poisoned the well forever—what swayed the committee to go along with dishonouring the contract? So this zero-sum game, sacrificing a great opportunity for marshalling the skills and enthusiasm of the chapter, was sacrificed; I can't see much chapter activity since aside from a few dribs and drabs. Why hold a conference when existing opportunies are so wilfully spurned? Is it an excuse for the inability to use the chapter's site to gather members into thematic groups? Tony (talk) 09:20, 9 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I'm glad to clarify: Steven did discuss the project with me. I said several things:
First, that WMAU is an independent organization with its own fiduciary duties and interests, and that WMF therefore is not in a position to make these decisions for WMAU. I also advised Steven that the new (then current) committee is generally bound by decisions made by previous committees, and that it is now up to them to figure out how to make the best of an admittedly difficult situation.
Secondly, since I was asked for my opinion of the project (and going only by the description I was given, which did include a fair amount of detail from past correspondence about it, but did not include talking to either the previous committee initiators of the project or to either of the other partners), I did opine that it was a very low-impact project for WMAU in general, and specifically for the investment it was expected to put into it, not only in money, but in volunteer time and energy. In particular, the costs and effort related to producing what sounded like a coffee-table hardcover book seemed particularly unaligned to what we are interested in.
I added that as far as I can tell, WMAU is in fact not in a position to be able to guarantee either the (full amount of) money or the volunteer engagement, and that it was therefore irresponsible to have entered into this agreement (I have no knowledge or opinion on whether a contract was entered into or not) without a solid ability to deliver on these commitments.
(As an aside, it is not good practice for a chapter to commit to on-wiki editing activity, which is decidedly outside its powers to deliver. Certainly, chapters can encourage the community to engage with certain endeavors or topics, but committing to on-wiki mainspace deliverables is ill-advised in any circumstance, and also risks running afoul of NPOV in some cases, though I'm not suggesting this was the case here.)
Thirdly, that while WMAU is free to make a decision on how to use its own (non-WMF granted) funds, the funds it has from underspent past WMF PEG grants is not freely re-allocatable without permission from WMF. I went on to say that I (as PEG officer at the time) would be quite unlikely to approve such re-allocation for this project, as it was my duty to ensure funds are spent on what has at least a good chance of delivering impact, and the project as I understood it did not offer that, in my judgment.
Fourthly, when asked about the prospect of future PEG funding to allow WMAU to meet its "second year" contribution, I said that my response would be the same -- the project as construed was not a good investment for WMAU, and I would be remiss to allow WMF donor funds to be used to pay for it. I recognized it put WMAU in an awkward position with its prospective partners. I felt that couldn't be helped, and was the result of the original decision to enter into the project, as I said, without actually being able to make good on the commitments WMAU was making.
Finally, asked about any repercussions of WMAU deciding to go ahead with the project anyway, I did say that engaging in a large-investment low-impact project would be one factor in judging WMAU's future grant proposals, as it may reflect on how much we at WMF would trust WMAU's judgment in making good use of grant funds. This is indeed the case in judging all grant proposals from repeat entities -- WMF's willingness to approve ambitious or experimental plans certainly depends not only on what assessment WMF staff is able to make of the proposal, but also of WMF's impression of the proposers' good judgment in the past. However, I definitely did not say WMAU would be "barred" from funding in the future if it went ahead with the project.
On a more personal note, let me add that I recognize this issue has been painful and contentious among past and present committee members, and has cost both reputational damage to WMAU and morale loss within the membership. I wish there were a way to undo that. I am interested in helping WMAU put this matter to rest, and find its way to more harmonious and constructive work. I haven't read the full talk page or the mainspace page, but I hope if this conference does take place, it contributes toward that end. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 12:57, 9 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
User:Asaf (WMF), that's a bunch of mixed messages. Tony (talk) 03:11, 10 April 2015 (UTC) Furthermore, what you have written is not entirely consistent with my recollection of our conversation on this matter nine months ago. In asking for clarification on specific points, I'll refer to your paragraphs by number.Tony (talk) 14:01, 14 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I permit myself to reformat to interleave my answers, and to copy your sig after each question, for clarity of reading. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 03:30, 18 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
You say in (1) that the WMF "is not in a position to make these decisions for WMAU", which is at odds with your subsequent distinction between the chapter's "own (non-WMF granted) funds" and "the funds it has from underspent past WMF PEG grants", which are "not freely re-allocatable without permission from WMF" (3). Tony (talk) 14:01, 14 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I don't see that the two are at odds. It is true both that WMF has no sovereignty over WMAU's plans and decisions in general, including whom to partner with and to what ends, and that to the extent WMF provides project-based contract-bound funding to WMAU via the PEG program, WMF does have some control over what is done with those funds. Since, as you recognize, the funds at WMAU's disposal were not PEG funds, WMAU did indeed have the ability to exercise its independence, including spending, as it saw fit. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 03:30, 18 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Could you please clarify how much of the chapter's reserves at the time you understood to be in each of those categories, or at least whether you believed there were substantive amounts in each of these two categories (which would explain your making the distinction in (3))? Which category does the $200,000+ raised in the year before banner-driven fundraising was centralised fall into? Was there (and is there still) unspent funding from previously allocated PEG funding? It now seems to be rather important in assessing the status of the $68,000 that remains in the account: apparently you would have to approve "reallocation", but it's unclear to me that the WMF has ever been asked to do so. I'm confused. Tony (talk) 14:01, 14 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I understood practically all of the chapter's reserves at the time to be reserves created during the time WMAU was permitted to share the general Wikipedia fundraiser revenue, years ago. These funds were effectively WMAU's to spend as it saw fit, without the limitations that PEG and other types of WMF grants impose. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 03:30, 18 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Did you make an assessment of the project as "very low-impact" solely on the basis of what Mr Zhang told you, plus unspecified "previous correspondence"? Had you actually read any part of the application text for the funding—particularly the aims, significance and impact sections? If the primary evidence was not perused, it seems an insecure basis for such a summary judgement that the collaboration was "very low-impact" and an "irresponsible" act of the previous committee, which apparently, by implication, lacked "good judgment" (5). Tony (talk) 14:01, 14 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, I offered an opinion ("made an assessment" would be rather an overstatement) on the likely impact of the project based on the materials I was shown. Please remember this was not a grant proposal put before me for funding consideration. It was, rather, a request for an opinion on the project, on the general likelihood of funding for it if a proposal is made to WMF, and on the awkward quandary WMAU found itself in, in terms of its commitments versus its resources. I gladly offered my opinion, based on what I was shown. I did not think it a good time investment for discharging my duties to peruse the full text of a project proposal not actually submitted for WMF funding. For your information, WMF Grantmaking staff are not infrequently asked for this sort of "summary judgement" funding advice, sometimes in preparation for composing a grant proposal (the effort of which is sometimes spared, if our advice is that the idea is a non-starter), and sometimes in relation to work not requiring WMF funding (because funded elsewhere, or just seeking our programmatic experience). Asaf (WMF) (talk) 03:30, 18 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Could you please explain where the term "coffee-table hardcover book" came from? Now that I have a copy of the application, I can confirm that this term is nowhere to be found. What I do see is a description of a "hard-copy history" that would have contained, inter alia, selected data from the project activities and segments in which a "narrative voice" would have been included that is not possible on Wikipedia (given its "more constrained narrative voice"). You imply that "volunteer time and energy" would have gone into producing this so-called "coffee table book" (3); I see no evidence of that in the application text. The book is billed as a complement to both a new body of Wikipedia articles and an "e-history" output, remembering that a triple-partnered and -funded project may not be exlusively devoted to producing direct WMF-related outputs, and that the proposal appears to embrace and expansive "community of practice", engaging the Australian editorial and chapter communities with a prominent university and the federally funded Australian Paralympic Committee. Tony (talk) 14:01, 14 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
The phrase is mine. It stems from my (possibly mistaken?) understanding that a significant portion of the funds was to directly underwrite academic research work (which is not something we fund) and the high publication costs of a hard-cover book. The book itself would have perhaps been deemed worthy of citation on Wikipedia, but nonetheless is not an effective form of impact, relative to the investment. Just as we don't fund other forms of standard academic research (which could also result in citable sources), even as we do fund some kinds of community-specific research and tooling, I deemed the majority of the costs associated with the project to be unimpactful. You are correct that volunteer time and energy would not have directly been spent on the book; I misstated, above, and should have said "volunteer time and energy would have gone into the project". Given that the volunteer efforts on producing some Wikipedia articles on paralympic topics could (and to some extent did) take place even without the academic work in this project, the lumping together of Wikipedian volunteer editing with these expensive items, with WMAU footing a bill largely for decidedly non-Wikipedian labor, seemed to me ill-considered. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 03:30, 18 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
In (2), you write that the chapter was "not in a position to be able to guarantee ... the volunteer engagement"; yet ex-president John Vandenberg is specified in many places as the WMAU's key volunteer, and subsequently let it be known that he was keen to discharge his agreed roles to the fullest extent despite his partial move to Jakarta. But you insist that the chapter would have been unable to "make good on the commitments". This was despite the negotiated option of funding for only the first year, of some $28K, when there was around $100,000 in the bank and unexplored potential for ongoing fundraising. I wonder how you came to this opinion. Tony (talk) 14:01, 14 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
It's fine and noble of John to have remained committed and ready to meet those commitments, but it was not immediately obvious at the time that this was the extent of the envisioned Wikipedian labor. Certainly, John was in a position to commit volunteer labor he himself intended to provide; but reading the context I was shown, it did seem like the generally-inadvisable practice of committing volunteer editorial labor to a partner. To my knowledge, WMAU, like most chapters, did not enjoy the ability to merely point at some topic and have numerous editors jump into the breach. That's what I had pointed out.
Regarding the option of funding only the first year: I agree it was within WMAU's power to do so. It is not about that option that I stated WMAU made a commitment it could not keep. I said at the time, as I said above, that WMAU's reserve money was WMAU's to spend as it saw fit. If memory serves, this is what led to the questions about prospective funding for the subsequent years (which I said was unlikely, given my impression of the project), and to the question about potential repercussions to WMAU's reputation if it did choose to spend money on that project, about which see my final point (marked Finally) above. WMAU's decision (and WMAU's committee should own it) to withdraw from the project entirely was no doubt upsetting to the project partners and to those who hoped to see it happen, not least to John, and may perhaps have caused damage to WMAU's reputation, but it was, from the perspective of prudence in spending and accountability to our donors, at least reasonable. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 03:30, 18 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
In (2), you advise that "it is not good practice for a chapter to commit to on-wiki editing activity, which is decidedly outside its powers to deliver". What I see in the application is support for editor recruitment and training, which was to be led by John Vandenberg. Was there some doubt about his bona fides and a suspicion that citizens would be press-ganged into editing? Tony (talk) 14:01, 14 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
No, no doubt at all about John's bona fides! But again, committing to specific results on-wiki is generally a risky idea for a chapter, and I was under the impression that was what was being proposed. Committing to try, i.e. committing to a recruitment campaign and to training activity (which presumably chapter volunteers were in a position to commit themselves to deliver), is fine. So you may well discard my concern about committing to on-wiki results as unfounded in this case (though still a good rule of thumb in general), but it is immaterial, I think, to the evaluation of the funding proposal, as it is my understanding that very little of the proposed expenditure was to go to supporting the cost of that recruitment and training activity. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 03:30, 18 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I look forward to your clarifications. Tony (talk) 14:01, 14 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I have obliged you and clarified above. I hope you could turn your attention and significant experience to helping evaluate whether a national WikiConference could be useful to encourage more programmatic impact in Australia. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 03:30, 18 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I'll move on to why the conference is inappropriate when the time is right. You have obliged in responding: thank you for that much. Your previous post actively papered over (1) Zhang's duplicity in giving you only part of the information, and (2) your own poor judgement on that occasion in not asking for more information before coming to summary judgements—like the actual project text. All you've done is to slightly shift your message to the most wishy-washy and tangential of admissions on these counts. It's not what we expect from a WMF staff member, who is obliged to encourage transparency and honesty among affiliates. It's very disappointing to see your weakness in this respect. Tony (talk) 03:38, 21 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Wow, reading this section is very odd, especially seeing my name everywhere and nobody pinged me. Very sad, but not surprised. This is obviously not the right place to discuss the linkage project in detail, so all I will say is that the linkage project proposal was public at the time, including budget breakdown, and it disproves a lot of the above, and that agreements were signed, and the (much larger) funding component from the Australian Government was officially granted, press releases sent out, etc, etc. I am happy to clarify any questions anyone has on a more relevant discussion page, or my talk page. Also cant help note there is lots of irony in this conference apparently going to cost AUD $101,693. John Vandenberg (talk) 12:50, 26 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Media accreditation....[edit]

Yes, I agree with all of that. One thing that should be discussed is whether anything can be done by WMAU to assist editors in getting media accreditation for major events in Australia / New Zealand, so that the events can be better covered by Wikimedia websites. Think for a moment about the present ICC Cricket World Cup. It is possibly the biggest sporting event worldwide for 2015, and the article about it has been one of's most visited articles in recent weeks (ie one of the most visited of more than 4.75 million articles). Yet it seems that I'm the only editor who has actually been to a World Cup game, taken some photos of it, and uploaded them to commons! Bahnfrend (talk) 13:58, 27 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Bahnfrend, WMAU will write whatever letter is required to assist you to get media accreditation; we have done this for others, but it's up to the event if they choose to give accreditation based on their priorities. Unfortunately, Wikipedia/Commons isn't necessarily seen as a "media business" and, as a volunteer, you aren't an employee or freelancer (i.e a "professional"), which are the kinds of people they are accustomed to giving accreditation to. Also worth noting is that the media accreditation process may take place a long time in advance of the event, so some pre-planning is required. Generally the big events will have every big media company queuing up so getting media accreditation will be very competitive. Smaller events will be much easier to get accreditation for and probably have shorter lead times. The other comment I would make is that WMAU also needs a bit of lead time too (we are all volunteers with the usual other calls on our time: jobs, families, etc) so we can't deal with the-deadline-is-today requests. However, we have had success in getting volunteers accreditated for events such as the Paralympics, so it's certainly possible to make it happen. Reading the ICC World Cup priorities for media accreditation makes me think that we would need to make a very strong case indeed (even News Corp is limited to 15 photographers and other orgs to 1). My suggestion would be start now by getting accreditation to some of the smaller events so you can build up a "CV" in order to be able to make a stronger case for accreditation to the bigger events. Happy to discuss this in more detail with you, contact me on Kerry Raymond (talk) 22:18, 27 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Just adding I did go, unfortunately my photos are all of a half empty stadium at the Ireland v UAE game. Sigh. But, as Kerry has said, the chapter will generally be happy to write a letter on behalf of someone to get media accreditation; we've done it successfully before, but ultimately it's up to the organisation running the event. Craig Franklin (talk) 10:11, 28 March 2015 (UTC).[reply]
Agree that the chapter would support requests for accreditation, but such requests need to come from those who like to take on such a task first as identifying the individuals involved is part of accreditation processes for events. Gnangarra (talk) 10:22, 28 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Absolutely. Craig Franklin (talk) 10:31, 28 March 2015 (UTC).[reply]
also I see this as a separate issue in relation to my comment below on Gnangarra (talk) 10:35, 28 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • Actually media accreditation is something we should be discussing at the conference a with GLAM people having WMAU on their PR mailing lists getting invites and access to event launches, media announcements would be a good way to establish a more consistent communication channel between everyone, it would also open up our community to greater experience opportunities and we do have Wikinews as one of the projects we support, the possibilities a bound. Helping PR areas to understand how to maintain information on topics of interest without violating COI, and WP:NOT issues would also be an outcome of closer working relationships Gnangarra (talk) 00:06, 28 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
These are all good things that I'd like us to talk about as a national community. Including those who the chapter doesn't typically have a line of communication with. Craig Franklin (talk) 11:33, 30 March 2015 (UTC).[reply]

This page has failed[edit]

Below the initial threads - I left some specific comments that requested comment from the committee of WMAU - individual members of the committee have made personal comments, and a whole range of threads unrelated (a) to the conference (b) my request for comment from the committee - remain unsanswered. I despaired, and said it was all too late. Even then, other members of the committee have spread the divergent threads.

I wish to have nothing to do with the range of unrelated threads and chatter, I was honestly hoping that someone on the committee would understand that a question is being asked by a current financial member of the organisation, and could actually address the issue internally so that the committee might show something of its understanding of what it is, and its scope. The silence is nothing short of astonishing.

Surely, the committee of the WMAU has the capacity to respond to publicly stated questions? sats (talk) 14:44, 8 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Sats, in relation to the conference, as stated on the Content Page, the intended participants are active Wikimedians and those in the GLAM sector, Government agencies etc who are involved in the provision or use of open knowledge, primarily targetting people in the Australasian area. The theme "Celebrate - Inspire - Excel" is about looking at the successes we collectively have had, look at the challenges we face going forward, and seeking to be better at what we do. I have noted your interest in discussing the Australian meta-data legislation, training standards, etc as possible topics (would you be interested on speaking on the meta-data legisalation or organise a train-the-trainer session or similar?). The conference is not exclusively targetting WMAU members nor exclusively about discussing WMAU matters, but we could certainly have a component of the conference set aside for that community and that purpose if this was generally desired by WMAU members. (Of course, WMAU members are generally active Wikimedians and/or involved in open knowledge, so I hope they would have a broader interest in the conference than just a component on WMAU matters). Kerry Raymond (talk) 21:40, 8 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Sorry you have missed the point, like the rest of this page - the committee has failed to respond, Kerry, you are not the committee, and no-where do I see in your response that you are speaking on behalf of the committee. Once again it is a personal response. As for the other comments, you might see, that I fail to see any point in explaining the conference. My issues at the top of the page were questioning the viability of the conference, not the content. I have seen nothing publicly (ie for paid up members of WMAU) stated from the committee (as opposed to a spokesperson, if so, they should be more clear as to what position they are stating their case from - as a spokesperson of the committee - identfied as such) that clearly delineates the reasoning behind the conference, or how the decision was arrived at, or the alternative considerations being taken into account. I have no idea what the committee thinks about anything. And there is nothing to show, unless I have missed something, that they have any intention of doing anything about that. sats (talk) 01:04, 9 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

because of the decision to hold the conference in Queensland, Kerry as a member of the committee and resident in Queensland has taken on the role of leading the event organisation. As Kerry is focused on the conference I believe her response was based on an assumption that these were topics you thought could be of interest to the wider community for discussion in October. I understand your annoyance that earlier questions were railroad onto different irrelevant issues causing them to remain unanswered, despite assurances at the an official response was following(making this response sound equally as hollow). I have raised these concerns directly seeking an official response though there is no "officially appointed spokesperson" for the chapter or the committee Steve will answer formally as President. Gnangarra (talk) 04:57, 9 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I hope this page – in particular, most of #Time space distance and #On-track or off-track – is not indicative of the discussions to be had at the conference. Or if it is, I hope the sessions are clearly labelled to distinguish between "discussions about improving the online encyclopaedia" and "office politics that the average Wikipedia reader doesn't care about". Perhaps I'm an unusual case – caring about the web site our readers can see, but not the politics of the organisation behind it – but this talk page is almost talking me out of going to the conference at all.
(And it has even been suggested that I should pay money for the privilege of getting involved in the organisation!)
Mitch Ames (talk) 12:03, 22 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Edits by banned user[edit]

The banned user and their edits (by IP or socks) relating to discussion will be reverted at meta, per the ban. If this is problematic, then feel free to comment on my talk page (bar the banned user).  — billinghurst sDrewth 23:45, 16 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

  • thanks, for the record WMAU has developed a Safe Space Policy that in part says Individuals with a pattern of harassing behaviour, or who threaten to harass individuals or disrupt an event, may be asked not to attend. Event organisers may take steps to pre-emptively exclude individuals from events where there is a belief that their presence would lead to harassment or a "chilling effect" for other attendees. this policy has still to be formally approved by the committee and published but I think it has relevance to recent events... Gnangarra (talk) 01:50, 17 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    My above note was as a meta admin, not personal level. My personal response to WMAU's proposed policy is aligned with "good" … actually "excellent". [Further personal commentary redacted prior to submit.]  — billinghurst sDrewth 02:48, 17 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

What this conference is about ...[edit]

Wikimedia Australia is running this event in good faith for all Australasian Wikipedians/Wikimedians who want to attend in good faith, whether or not you are a Wikimedia Australia member. Indeed, it's our hope that by coming together face-to-face that we will build friendships and trust that will enhance our on-wiki collaboration. I personally look forward to meeting the many people I have interacted with on-wiki, as I believe we all share the desire to build: "a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge." The conference theme is "Celebrate - Inspire - Excel" and the content of the conference will reflect that. The content page lists the kinds of topics that have been suggested (and we welcome further suggestions). Help us make this a wonderful event by supporting us with your ideas and your attendance. Kerry Raymond (talk) 13:35, 22 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

It is strange to launch a proposal for an expensive get-together when the chapter committee has fought tooth and nail to prevent normal (non-committee) members from knowing who the other normal members are. We had the undignified spectacle of Craig Franklin running around encouraging members on the mailing list to use a loophole in the Victorian incorporation law (contrary to the spirit of that law) that enabled the redaction of their name from any list of members made available on application. We then saw the instruction that a member applying to see who their fellow members were had to pay for a return air ticket to Perth (unless they lived in Perth) to physically see the electronic list.

So having stopped members from knowing who their fellow members are, and thus quelled much hope of marshalling them into groups on the basis of location and/or thematic interest, you now want to spend up big for what appears to be a waterfall of brainstorming among a few rabbits who've popped their heads above ground. Really? What about first doing the basics to encourage online collaboration, trust, personal and social reinforcement among members, rather than working against this on trumped-up grounds of privacy? Then—a year or two after members are actually interacting with each other programmatically—you might weigh up whether holding a one-off, expensive, and pretty exclusive drinking and eating party in one city on this enormous broadband-connected continent would advance what the donors expect from their generosity: impact on the WMF's sites. Putting the cart before the horse will do nothing useful: if the chapter can't organise basic online programmatic collaboration among its secret membership list now, there is zero hope that it will do so after party-time. WMAU has not yet proved itself to be in a strategic position to make such an event impactful. Tony (talk) 03:28, 25 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

@Tony1: You have exuded, propounded, and philsophised all your negativity. Your opinion (negativity) has had a good run, and does not change. How about you give it a rest for a while. Take it somewhere else. You do not have to attend, you do not have to like it, and you may think that it is neither worthwhile or valued. Fair enough. BUT DON'T THINK THAT YOUR NEGATIVITY SHOULD BE A BURDEN FOR US ALL.  — billinghurst sDrewth 13:45, 25 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I'm sorry to see an attitude of bossing me around, ordering me, and excluding highly relevant issues to this proposed conference. You'll have to get used to the fact that on Meta, community members review proposals. If they believe a proposal is inappropriate or poor value for money (whether WMAU's private money or otherwise), and/or they feel a chapter is negligent, or has broken the law, or has no track-record to suggest that a grand splash all of a sudden after years of nothing is going to wash, those Wikimedians are treated on a level playing field. On Meta, we don't normally see the bully-boy tactics that sometimes intrude into private mailing lists.

I encourage you to discuss the matters cogently, or not at all, rather than personalising. This attitude seems to be symptomatic of the chapter committee as a whole (or if it's not, please stop demonstrating it and start communicating in a more functional way with your community). It does look suspiciously as though you have nothing to say in response to my reasoning above.

Oh, and by the way, you're a steward? Shame on the system. Stewards should be very cautious about coming into situations in which they have a deep conflict of interest. I'm surprised you don't realise that. And stewards are well advised not to shout at Wikimedians with capital letters. Tony (talk) 03:58, 26 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Speakers lined up?[edit]


I was a bit surprised to see "tutorials and hands-on sessions .. [about] .. AutoWikiBrowser, Wikipedia Python Library (eh?), WikiData (sp?) and WMF research tools like Quarry" on Grants:PEG/WM AU/Wikiconference Australia 2015. It certainly would be great to have someone competent presenting on topics like that, especially having an entire day dedicated to it. I am a bit curious about who it will be ... especially if they will be international speaker.

Have probable speakers been lined up at this stage to ensure the topics proposed can be covered by appropriate people? John Vandenberg (talk) 08:09, 26 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]

These are suggested topics. I would love to see people volunteer to speak about them; people don't need to be experts, just know a bit more than the average Aussie Wikipedian. The call for presentations is coming very soon. Kerry Raymond (talk) 08:57, 26 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]