Talk:Wikimedia Conference 2014/Programme review

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Comments on "Hot topics"[edit]

Okay, I feel I'm very opinionated on some of these, so I'm taking it to the talk page... Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 00:08, 2 November 2013 (UTC)

"OMG Corruption!"[edit]

One proposed "hot topic" was "Fear of corruption and/or fraud by movement entities (as noted for example in a blog by outgoing director Sue Gardner)".

That's a terrible thing to spend time on: we are gathering in good faith to do work; we trust each other; the only outcome of the discussion can be: "no, there's no significant chance of corruption". Sue's words were made into an explosive headline, but what she referred to was in fact a nuanced question of the make-up of the FDC. That can be a topic, if people feel strongly it should be discussed, but please, let's not spend time wringing our hands about the perceived accusation (not actually made) of general "corruption". (If folks agree, let's delete or rephrase this topic.) Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 00:08, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
I have changed it. --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 09:58, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Great, thanks! :) Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 19:05, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

...[edit]

Setting a new benchmark for tight organisation and high standards of presentation, debate, and reportage[edit]

I've covered several WM conferences and Wikimania events for the Signpost, which has reinforced the impressions I formed as an academic many years ago (on the bottom of the food chain), when I came to see conferences as typically loose, boring, and hardly ever producing anything useful.

There are some good themes overleaf—interesting material to work with. But they'll disappoint if the presentations and discussions are not dynamic and tightly organised. Unless they're of high quality, will they have an impact beyond just meeting people face to face with whom we already have online contact? I do believe that the conference should overtly aim to showcase the best minds in the movement and include good speakers from GLAM, government, and NGOs who might collaborate with affiliated organisations to enrich WMF sites. Why can't we lift the benchmarks for accepting presentations, plan the schedule earlier, and increase standards of documentation? Surely if anyone is well-placed to set new standards for Wikimedia conferences, Wikimedia Germany is.

Conferences should run like an opera. Let's remember that they're very expensive in financial and carbon-emission terms. May I suggest consideration of the following points?

  • Aim to have larger audiences for most sessions by restricting the number of parallel sessions—larger audiences can raise the stakes (not necessarily very large, but 15 people is not enough, in my view).
  • Be stricter in applying quality control when judging submissions, and be perfectly open that you're doing so; it should be an honour to be accepted. Advertise widely in the movement for 100–200-word abstracts (for advance publication in the schedule) plus one-page summaries of presentations, and select a final date for submissions further in advance than what I've seen before.
  • There's no particular need for themed mornings and afternoons if they don't suit the field of submissions—I thought HK forced that a bit. Do avoid themes that are largely a re-run of what we've heard before at WMF conferences. Stress the importance of new ideas, fresh approaches. And allow people to be radical/experimental if you think they can bring off an interesting session.
  • Without appearing to be over-prescriptive, publish recommendations for structured presentations. Guidelines on using slides would be helpful (everywhere, slides are appallingly overused and overtexted, and there's evidence that people switch off when they're continuous).
  • Strictly timing sessions can bring a tightness to them, including Q and A at the end. I'd personally like to see a host introduce and run more of the sessions, to keep up the pace and encourage good Q and As.
  • Roundtables need pre-announced structure and aims, with expectations of summaries of discussion and formulations for action, and strong mediation.
  • Raise the standard of video online streaming production. Could there be a small team of technicians, multicam for the really important ones? Could the UTC times of streamed sessions be readily available online, and could the cams be turned off when halls are empty?
  • Please ensure that there's decent connectivity in venues and the main accommodation sites.
  • Perhaps you could think about targeting subsidies for travel and accommodation to gain more attendance from the global south, and from people interested in increasing female participation in the movement. Will there be visa problems? Tony (talk) 13:21, 27 November 2013 (UTC)