User:Billie bb/ESEAP Conference 2018 Report
- For questions and comments, please proceed to my talk page
On 5-6 May 2018, I attended the first ESEAP (East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific) Conference held at the Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar in Bali, Indonesia sponsored by the Wikimedia Foundation and hosted by the Wikimedia Indonesia, as a scholar. The objectives of the conference were to learn how to build and manage local Wikimedia communities and to promote regional Wikimedia collaboration in the ESEAP region.
Aside from learning new things from my fellow participants and presentors, I presented the experiences of the Sinirangan Bisaya Wikimedia Community on collaborations with the local government units, private and national government organizations and educational institutions during 2013 to 2017 to improve Wikimedia projects content especially Waray Wikipedia and related projects, hoping that the other participants could learn from our experiences as well.
Wikimedians I met
During the 2-day conference, I have met representative Wikimedians from Indonesia (as host and participants), Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Hongkong, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam likewise representatives from Wikimedia Foundation, Affiliations Committee and Movement Strategy Team.
What I learned
With the conference aimed to impart information on building and managing local Wikimedia communities as well as to promote regional Wikimedia collaboration in the ESEAP region, the following statements illustrate what I learned in the conference and some thoughts brought about by the presentations, workshops and discussions.
In general, the experiences and thoughts presented and discussed during this conference pointed to the lesson that no matter how difficult an undertaking could be if the individuals or groups involved were dedicated and focused on their objectives or expected outcome that undertaking would be successful.
Building local Wikimedia communities
In the Philippines, local Wikimedia communities are being built by conducting activities such as but not limited to informal meet-ups, fora, edit-a-thons and Wikipedia takes a City to inform individuals and groups about Wikipedia and related products as well as to encourage them to share their knowledge, in their own way, by improving Wikimedia projects.
Jojit Ballesteros discussed his experiences on how to conduct a successful edit-a-thon in the Philippines. During the question and answer portion of his session, problems encountered by Wikimedia communities in other ESEAP countries while conducting their edit-a-thons and some possible solutions were discussed.
Presentations on how to help new local contributors to join and write articles in the Wikimedia in Kansai by Takashi Ota and the Wiki projects in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnamn by Anirudh S. Bhati were likewise informative. Takashi Ota emphasized the importance of librarians in improving Wikimedia projects content and Anirudh Bhati illustrated that political situations did not hinder a Wikimedia community in doing activities to enhance Wikimedia projects.
During the lightning talks on collaboration with GLAM institutions in Indonesia by Rachmat Wahidi, Bikol Wikipedia as a local resource by Irvin Sto. Tomas, early history, growth, tipping point, future of Wikipedia in Malaysia by Daniel Chong Choon Yuen, Chinese Wikipedia competition by Spring Roll Conan, Javanese Wikipedia by Nur Rahmi Nailah, the local language in Nusantara and Wikipedia by Nur Fahmia, and the three-year experience on Wikipedia education program in Thailand by Athikhun Suwannakhan, I gained valuable insights such as:
- Perseverance of local Wikimedia communities as well constant communication with partners and their support are necessary for the success of an activity.
- Wikipedia has become an important source of information so its contents should be continuously enhanced. Likewise outreach activities such as meet-ups and fora to inform the public on how to use Wikipedia should be continuously implemented.
- Wikipedia is being utilized not only to disseminate information but also to preserve regional languages as well.
Managing local Wikimedia communities
From presentations and workshops on Wikimedia Affiliations Committee support by Tanweer Morshed, community capacity for organisations or groups by Biyanto Rebin and Shangkuan Liang, organizing a Board structure by Reke Wang, making an Affiliate sustainable by Butch Bustria and an information session and short workshop on applying for a Rapid Grant by Kacie Harold, the following thoughts came to mind:
- The Wikimedia Affiliations Committee and the Wikimedia Foundation are willing to help affiliates in solving conflicts. Inform or contact them whenever conflict or problem arises.
- It will be a good practice if communities take inventory of their capacities and to share capacities with other communities that need it through capacity building activities.
- There are many words to describe best practices in creating an ideal chapter or a user group and making it sustainable, but it will take a lot of honest work, maturity, cooperation, resourcefulness, constant communication and unwavering focus on its vision and mission for an affiliate to be effective and efficient.
- As we discussed after the session, I understand the need of the Grants Committee to be very careful in approving monetary support to Wikimedia projects but i just hope that they too understand that in the Philippines, land travel between provinces or regions can be from 5 hours up to almost 2 days depending on the distance, condition of roads, roads along the mountainside, ferrying from one island to another, and that the difference of the cost of the land travel compared to air travel can be from PhP 1,000 up to less than 100% of the cost of land transportation, but the travel time difference is so much because it will only take about 1 to 1.5 hours of travel time for air travel. One of the reasons why we did not apply for grant for Waray Wikipedia projects was because we knew that it would not be approved because the monetary assistance would include air travel expenses and hotel accommodations for two persons who would come from Manila to travel to the Eastern Visayas Region of the Philippines. Land travel from Manila to Eastern Visayas Region is about 1.5 days up to less than 2 days while air travel is about 1 hour. There was an instance when the former Wikimedia Philippines approved air travel expenses for 2 persons from Manila to Eastern Visayas Region and back to Manila (item 5.2 of Expenses under Reporting and documentation of expenditures). In the report, there is a comment that it would have been disallowed by the WMF had they knew it before it was spent (Item 1.5 of Reallocation budget).
Promoting regional Wikimedia collaboration in the ESEAP region
Sessions on status of Wikimedia Asian Month and how to start with your own by Erick Guan, Wikimedia 2030 movement strategy by Kaarel Vaidla and Venus Lui and ideas for ESEAP collaboration by Shangkuan Liang (Chapter exchange program) and Punchalee Montriwat (communication channels) made me think of the following:
- As discussed after the presentation, it is a good idea to create articles for Wikimedia Asian Month during months not designated for the activity and upload the articles during the designated month. This is in response to a problem that in the Philippines November is a busy month due to various year-end activities so as much as Filipino Wikipedians would like to participate in the project, they could not.
- This was the first time that I came face-to-face with an activity about Wikimedia 2030. I only read about the movement strategy before this conference. After the activity, I still had questions that when I returned home I read the presentation again, clicked the link and read the contents.
- Chapter exchange program can be an effective way for capacity building for Wikimedia communities and various working communication channels are essential for ESEAP collaboration.
Plans for the future
With the learning from the conference, I plan to do the following with the communities in the Philippines that support the Wikimedia movement:
For the movement
- To continuously support the plans and initiatives of the Wikimedia Foundation by incessantly aligning our community's projects and activities with the vision and mission of the Wikimedia movement.
For the community
- To continue implementing offline and online activities for the continued development of the Philippine-language based Wikipedias and related Wikimedia projects, which include but are not limited to simple meet-ups, fora and edit-a-thons, as well as utilizing Wikimedia community portals, different social media such as Facebook and Twitter and email for online communications and collaborations.
- To further collaborate with communities within and outside of the Philippines towards the development of Wikimedia projects.
Comments about the conference
The following are my personal comments regarding the conference in terms of the program, venue, accommodation and other miscellaneous concerns.
- The sessions were informative because of lively discussions with knowledgeable speakers who answered questions adequately. But the sessions could have been more informative if they had been longer, for example, 30 minutes for each topic, 20 minutes for the presentation and 10 minutes for the question and answer so that topics could be discussed thoroughly. Likewise, workshops could have been more effective if they were longer than an hour and they are really conducted as workshops.
- Having Idaman Andarmosoko as a facilitator is an excellent choice. The sessions would have been more informative if all facilitators were like him.
- The inclusion of the viewing of the Kecak Dance makes a good introduction to the Indonesian culture.
The venue is very conducive to a productive conference:
- The conference room and break-out session rooms have adequate lighting, good sound system, nice room temperature and enough chairs for the participants.
- Pencils and notepads for note-taking as well as projector are always available.
- Having the conference venue inside the hotel where the participants are accommodated, makes it convenient.
- Rooms for break-out and plenary sessions are accessible and easy to find.
- Food (solid and liquid) provided during the sessions are delicious and plenty for everyone.
- Nice and spacious room. Courteous and helpful hotel staff. Food served during breakfast, lunch and dinner were good, delicious, plenty and varied.
- Very convenient to attend the sessions of the conference because the rooms for the break-out and plenary sessions are inside the hotel.
- Discussions during sessions and off-sessions are informative and productive but seem too short. There are still so many things to discuss and learn that there is a need for further communication after the conference.
- Putting the slide presentations to Wikimedia Commons makes them more useful because they can be read by more individuals, other than the conference participants.
- How about a technical workshop next conference? A workshop on Wikidata perhaps? In addition, can the workshops be recorded and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons or other online video repository platforms so that even non-participants can view and learn from them?
- It is very thoughtful and accommodating of the host to fetch the participants from the airport to the hotel upon their arrival and to drop off the same participants to the airport from the hotel for their departure even during very uncomfortable hours.
- Although I agreed to the travel itinerary that the host suggested, I found it hard to concentrate on the talks on the first day because we arrived at the accommodation about 1am on that day so I had less than 4 hours sleep. I am suggesting to the next host to consider having the participants arrive during the day before the event so that they will be rested enough to concentrate, understand and participate in the conference.
- A very successful first ESEAP Conference. Congratulations to the host Wikimedia community (WMID), sponsor (WMF) and the participants.