User:春卷柯南/ESEAP Conference 2018 Report
Welcome back from ESEAP Conference 2018!
(Created in May 2018. Finished on 14th March 2019.)
- Presentation: I presented about the annual writing contest in the Chinese Wikipedia named the Campaign on Sunday, 6th June. From what I saw the presentation is well-received. Representatives from Javanese and Sundanese Wikipedia say that they will look into our experiences. I never talked with Vietnamese representatives for this, but I doubt if I make an influence on them (since one of them is the organizer of their article contests).
- Experiences from other communities: During the conference I've learnt approaches and tools which we can utilise for editor engagement and capacity measurement. These experiences can be useful if the Wikimedian community in Hong Kong decide to launch experiments to keep both veteran and new editors engaged while retaining tutorials to recruit new editors.
- Wikimedia Indonesia's collaborated with Goethe-Institut for enhancement of Indonesian Wikipedia in Social Science. It is held since articles about pop culture is prevalent in Indonesian Wikipedia if compared with social science articles, since local sources on pop culture are more readily available. I found their cause resounding since Chinese Wikipedia has the same problem. Some people there even advocate for an ACG subtheme for the Campaign, which I am against as it will undoubtedly widen the content bias. What they did is welcoming all auto-confirmed local editors to take part in a nationwide contest. They brought in judges from the Goethe-Institut and opened GI's library to participants for free. They have to finish ten missions about social science and Germany, in which they familiarize themselves with the Wikimedia basics. The champion has a chance to study German in Germany when runner-ups have German lessons in Indonesia. When they are unable to change the situation that residents of Java made up most of the participants, it is a successful drive to motivate new editors.
- Wikimedia Indonesia also held WikiLatih, or Wiki-training camps, all over Indonesia. Although the first edition was in 2008, its frequency has increased since 2016. Their objectives are: to build capacity and awareness for the Wikimedia movement, to recruit new editors, and to enhance Wikimedia projects in Indonesian and other local languages. They kept former Wikilatih participants active by holding meet-ups and ask for their help in future WikiLatih sessions.
- Community Capacity Map is a tool to measure our capacity to execute different tasks in the Wikimedia movement. The part for Chinese Wikipedia early is done by Shizhao this year, which showed our inability to maintain community health even if we can retain a group of tech-savvy admins. It measured the strength of a group in two scales: ability and robustness. Robustness means if the affiliate can keep going if a small number of people with such skills have gone. After Liang from WMTW introduced this to me I started to think that our capacity is mediocre (we do hold tutorials and taught them skills to edit Wikipedia well, but often failed to keep them engaged) and not robust enough (tutorials are always carried out by 1233. Yet three years later he may decrease his participation in Wikimedia projects for his graduation thesis.)
- Insights of recent happenings which affected the Wikimedia movement:
- Affiliates with similar scopes and inter-affiliate conflicts: The AffCom just disqualified two affiliates from Brazil before the Conference commenced in light of a concurrent row. Then I asked Tanweer, a member of the AffCom, that if user groups with overlapped scope are allowed to co-exist. He said that the de-recognition has nothing to do with their goals, but rather their contentious and unstoppable competition which violated the Friendly Spaces Policy. The AffCom failed to mediate, and they made such a decision. As shown in later cases, the AffCom have since recognized groups with duplicated coverage.
- During a session, Jan Gerlach from the WMF explained that public policy is a double-edged sword to the Wikimedia movement: a good measure can further Wikimedia's goal when a bad one can hamper that, even making the situation for both editors and the community dangerous. He expressed some concerns on recent developments in the region: legislations regarding fake news (whether content prohibited are defined arbitrarily), increasing surveillance (will Wikipedia subject to it) and bans on VPN (or whatever tools to circumvent censorship, to make it more difficult for access to Wikipedia in places like Mainland China). People attended this section share their concerns in issues like Freedom of Panorama and personal safety of Wikipedians. Hong Kong is free from the FOP problem, but the situation is worrying - like some pro-government elements want to criminalize comments advocating Hong Kong independence along with Article 23 of the Basic Law. Jan added that for suits against the community, WMF’s legal department helps. For particular editors, Community Legal Assistance can help.
- After the conference, I had a short conversation with Jan and Kacie from the WMF about the recent outcomes in the Wikimedia Conference 2018 regarding functions of different types of events. According to them, WMCON (later Wikimedia Summit) will be for strategic discussion and planning, when ESEAP Conference will be for sharing and learning. Before the conference, several editors from South Asia and Russia asked for a pan-Asian meeting, but they don't think so. For them, ESEAP conference at this scale is already successful, and enlargement will result in greater difficulty in scholarship review and distribution (particularly for Russians).
Before, during and after the meeting I met Wikimedians across the region (those I met before included), as well as some people from WMF who exchange opinions with me in sessions, breaks and aftermath of the conference. They gave me valuable insights of how Wikimedia communities across the region is running, as well as recent happenings within the Wikimedia movement.
- Tanweer Morshed - A Wikimedian serving the Bangladeshi chapter and the AffCom. During the session he explained about the affiliate models in the Wikimedia movement, and things to do when building a user group - a governing structure for a user group can be established after its recognition. I asked about the Brazilian affiliate saga during the session (see the section above).
- Jan Gerlach - Senior Public Policy Manager of the Wikimedia Foundation. He presented on the session about public policy (see above).
- Kacie Harold - Grants Program Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation. She presented in the session about different types of grants that the Foundation provide. The report is a late submission after nearly a year, but I can still recall some points from her speech: a) what different types of grants are for, b) how to process with the application, and c) before making a grant proposal, we should have a clear goal (or measure of success) of what we are going to do. Also, a thorough evaluation is mandatory for every proposal approved, so it is crucial to keep every evidence to prove it. It is a challenge.
- Kaarel Vaidla - Process Architect for Wikimedia Movement Strategy. On the last day of the conference, he explained how the movement strategy matters for our works in the region and the movement. The strategic direction in 2017 stressed two points: Knowledge as a service and Knowledge Equity. We shared our concerns about this in a session, in which I said that Knowledge Equity is not a problem in Hong Kong due to advanced technologies. Wikipedia is famous in Hong Kong, but besides Commons, other projects don't receive much attention there. Back to Hong Kong, we still discuss the strategic process, but I acknowledge that I didn't do much to implement the direction. After the announcement of the strategy liaisons of the user group, we will still follow the process, but my role can become smaller.
- Irvin and Maffeth - Organisers of the PhilWiki Community. Like us, their group exists as the reincarnation of a community organization after the original chapter crumbled. Though, they started as a splinter group. We aren't. We met in Manila before the conference convened, and shared about how we revived Wikimedia communities in the respective country/region. I explained that our problem was gerontocracy and mismanagement of internal matter when they said that the split is due to, as I remember, disputes in the community's future and how the chapter responded. I thought that their beginning is better than us since some people from the WMPH can understand their cause and help them. Hardly any experience from WMHK is inherited to the new user group in Hong Kong - later I have to play in the hard mode, which means to reestablish links to run a community by myself. Their current emphasis is the building of Central Bicol Wikipedia, and Wiki Loves ... campaign.
- Biyanto, Ivonne and Rachmat04 - People from Wikimedia Indonesia, and the host of the conference. During the event, I learned about the various projects that they have facilitated (see above, plus the initiative to import Ki Hajar Dewantara's letters into Wikisource). They talked about the challenges during execution, like difficulties to convince partners to open their resources (we handled it better since the partner is more unwilling to make them accessible) and how to retain volunteers they recruited in the tutorials. Lessons from the tutorial part are particularly useful for us (though we hardly implemented things they recommended.)
- BJ - Convenor of the Facebook Group "Tetun Wikipedia." in Timor-Leste. He started the group in 2016 and has engaged in different forms of activities to raise awareness on Wikipedia among Timorese. They have meet-ups to collect opinions from the community. Seminars and editing contests are for teaching and encouraging Timorese to take part in the Wikimedia movement. They took part in exhibitions to illustrate what can Wikipedia contribute to Tetun language. Also, they want to sustain this type of operational model and create a Wikipedia for Los Balos language. He thought that Wikipedia Zero was helpful and is unpleased to see its termination. As my roommate, we also talked about living conditions (education, healthcare, transportation, communications) and social reality (informal nature of Tetun, upcoming parliamentary elections - I showed him the Chinese version of the article about it) in Timor-Leste.
- In the conference, ネイ and I are considered representatives of the Wikimedia User Group Hong Kong (before the renaming in August). We met many people with similar linguistic backgrounds: Liang, Reke, and Jamie from Taiwan and Fantasticfears from Mainland China. They shared great ideas for the ESEAP collaborative, and we talked about issues online and offline, inside and outside Chinese Wikipedia and the geographical scope of this event. I also have a chance to meet Venus again, and we exchanged ideas on community building. (Sorry for a lot of vague words, since I forgot what we talked exactly or they doesn't allow me to quote them.)
- Daniel - A researcher plus a committee member of the Wikimedia Community User Group Malaysia. Also an emerging community, Malaysia saw a little offline Wikimedia activity before 2015, even when Malay (+ en, zh, ta) Wikipedia has existed for a long time. Chongkian, him, and some others helped to build a user group there, and their emphasis is GLAM activities. He also pointed out challenges that the Malaysian community faced: sustainability of the user group, people's mindset, ways to get knowledge, and Malaysia's multilingual nature (which means they have to engage with Wikipedians from different language versions).
- Athikhun, Punchalee and 2ndoct - Editors from Thai Wikipedia, members of the Wikimedians in Thailand. Athikhun shared his mutualist way to make biomedical knowledge more accessible. First, they encourage scholars to publish their findings on a peer-reviewed open access journal of medicine in a format similar to Wikipedia to make it more understandable and integratable into Wikipedia. Then they have an educational programme to introduce Wikipedia skills to chemistry students in a university. Punchalee introduced the ESEAP Hub, more or less a reincarnation of the ESEA Hub to showcase what every community in the region has done.
- Amy and Mia - Editors from Javanese Wikipedia. Javanese is the most-spoken regional language in Indonesia, though there are concerns regarding its usage - a) spelling mistakes are made by people from all walks of life (incl. President Jokowi) and b) language shift towards Indonesian language can be detrimental for regional languages. With SAPG grants from Wikimedia Foundation (through Wikimedia Indonesia) Editors of Javanese Wikipedia held writing contests and tutorials to help preserving Javanese writing in Wikipedia and promote about their existence. They even have a community workspace set up in Yogyakarta as a place to train fellow editors.
- Anirudh - an Indian Wikimedian based in Cambodia. He saw the potential of Wikimedia projects in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos - young population, strong economic growth and improving Internet usage. He received grants from the WMF to educate tertiary students there to use Wikipedia, with the assistance of Ryu Cheol, a member of Wikimedians of Korea. Response varied, from lukewarm welcome to great welcome. Same as I, he thought that the Vietnamese Wikipedia is promising, with a decent size of contents and the community. On the other hand, Khmer and Lao Wikipedia are still small and deficient. I also have chances to talk with Tuanminh01 (coordinator of writing contests in Vietnamese Wikipedia) and Alphama who came from Vietnam.
- Zulfadli and Tofeiku - Editors from Brunei and the adjacent Malaysian state of Sabah respectively. Before ネイ and I depart for Kuala Lumpur, we have some conversations about what they are doing. Zulfadli mainly works in English Wikipedia, focused on articles about Brunei localities. It seems that he is the only active editor from Brunei for the past one or two years. Tofeiku is a contributor to Wiktionary. We also exchanged opinion regarding the proposal to include Wikimedia activities in Singapore, Brunei, Sabah, and Sarawak into the scope of WMUG-MY (which did happen).
I also talked with other attendees, but above were people who have a relevant discussion with me during the conference (as long as I remember.) Whether mentioned or unmentioned, I think that I engaged them productively.
- Upon conclusion of the conference I decided to swim. That's embarassing - I don't wear a sandal and forgot every swimming styles (except backstroke) since my last swimming moments are in ten years ago!
- Follow-up in local level: On the returning flight, Anthony and I agreed that we should hold a meet-up, tell others who can't make it what we learned (like our helpful partner, 1233) and review how the Wikimedia community in Hong Kong has been. It is followed up in different stages. The first stage is a community meet-up in June, in which we talked about what did we do over there (see also there.) Later stages are going to be a process of capacity building, as from what we learned from Shangkuanlc, the user group is not robust enough in some aspects.
- Update March 2019: By reviewing what regional peers have done from then to now, it makes me feel that the road ahead is long, and we still have many things needed to catch up. Too much to mention.
- Thoughts on the next conference: By November next year, we will have another regional conference in Fremantle, West Australia. My thought on its scale is: Keep it as it has been this year. Enlargement will produce difficulties: fiercer competition of scholarship, more distinctive opinion which may lead to harder process to have a fruitful discussion, affecting its productivity. I talked with several Wikimedians on this issue, and it seems that most of them is proponent of a conference with a scope like this year.
- Update February 2019: From what I saw on Meta, ESEAP Conference 2019 is unlikely. Should Denpasar or Perth win the bid to host Wikimania 2020, then an event combining Wikimania and ESEAP Conference would become possible, like what we did in Montreal a few years ago. Even when it fails, we can think of other options. Current model to outsource the organization process to different communities is likely to stay.
- Lastly a trivia (correct me if I remember wrongly): I live in Tin Shui Wai, a neighbourhood near Yuen Long, which is renowned for its Sweetheart cake. I brought a box of these to Bali, but on the last day I lost it. I felt anxious and tried to find it everywhere, but nothing happens. At last Biyanto found it - the box is looked after by Thai Wikimedians.
Thanks for the committee!