WikiProject remote event participation

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WikiProject remote event participation (formerly CROW) is set to help remote participation and videoconferencing for either hybrid physical+online or completely online alternatives to in-real-life Wikimedia events at any time (and, especially, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic).


This project was founded through a meetup with remote participants at Wikimania 2019 (see notes).

There are a set of proposed recommendations specific to Wikimania.

News of early Covid-19 pandemic, tech and events[edit]

  • Start-ups aim to bring big conferences online as coronavirus triggers cancellations - CNBC - March 9, 2020 - [1]
  • Amid Coronavirus Fears, Startups Rethink the Virtual Conference - WIRED - March 9, 2020 - [2]
  • The coronavirus is wiping out tech conferences and that's not all bad - Fast Company - March 7, 2020 [3]
  • Google and Microsoft are giving away enterprise conferencing tools due to coronavirus - The Verge - March 3, 2020 [4]


On the /Documentation page, you can find documentation of past remote events organized in the Wikimedia community. If you've been involved in organizing a remote event, please share your experience with the Wikimedia movement by filling in a documentation page!


Remote-first Wikimedia meetups[edit]

A "remote first" Wikimedia meetup is one designed for virtual participation, as compared to prioritizing the in-person experience. Modern software options support this by audio, videoconferencing, and collaborative text editing using a variety of platforms - desktop, browser-based and mobile options.

Examples of remote-first engagements:

Announcing events[edit]

Though announcing events still did not become a well defined routine process, it seems that if global or at least regional in scope it is good practice to:

  • Add event to the Meta's Events calendar and if exceptionally relevant also add to listing on Main_Page#Current_events
  • Add event to the DIFF Calendar and also consider to have Blog post accompanying it
  • Announce on Wikimedia-l mailing list
  • Announce on telegram channel @WikimediaAnnouncements, also on
  • Publish on Twitter, Mastodon, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other popular social media.

Overview of Engagement models[edit]

Different tools are ideal for different engagement models.

One to... Some to... Many to...

Personal calling Webinar Online voting

Webinar General videoconferencing, Shared notes

Live video streaming, live audio streaming, presentation slides Massive online chat

Online summit

Other perspectives on engagement include whether it is

  • synchronous or asynchronous
  • within or across time zones
  • entirely remote or with in-person elements
  • one-off or regular
  • distributed over one or more relevant units of time (e.g. days)
  • monolingual or not
  • recorded or not
  • fixed or flexible in terms of who is presenting

Overview of Group social interaction[edit]

Good remote icebreakers and social interaction activities should consider the amount of people participating, virtual meeting limitations and how to engage everyone (especially for hybrid events, where integration between on-local and remote attendees can be hard).

Check this table for group social interaction suggestions at remote events.

Common usage[edit]

  • For basic small to medium-sized groups, popular options in the movement were Google Meet, Jitsi, BigBlueButton, and Zoom, while Microsoft Teams, Skype, and WebEx (free for up to 100 people) have been less so. WMF and many affiliates purchased subscriptions to Zoom licenses (longer, featureful, and bigger meeting options).
  • For large conference-type settings, Telegram tends to be the Wikimedia chat space of choice, with Wikimedia mailing lists for announcements, combined with a video streaming platform like YouTube Live (StreamYard and Hopin have been used also by a few).


This section documents some technical platforms to aid in remote participation or staging an online conference.

Free/libre/open source to commercial and proprietary spectrum [edit]

The Wikimedia community largely favors free/libre/open source solutions and opportunity of self-hosting, though a number of Commercial proprietary platforms are regularly used in the movement (e.g. Zoom and Google).

  • Free/libre/open source solutions can be self-hosted (on platform like AWS or DigitalOcean) and offered as non-commercial and/or commercial hosted service, that comes with different levels of support and guarantees of quality of service. In terms features they tend to address specific communities or offer generalized bare-bones service. They tend to require less updates, less end-user computing resources and scale to work better with older hardware, non-mainstream OS and browser combinations. They often focus on delivering particular technical solution and then establish interoperability with other services and follow open standards.
  • Commercial proprietary platforms, in general, provide a better service level for scalability and user support. The subscription prices they charge come with those benefits. Their feature sets are often catering to personal consumption/entertainment and/or workplace productivity. They support multiple modern mainstream platforms (Mac OS, MS Windows, browsers, mobiles) and less others. They tend to offer integration and interoperability with popular corporate software solutions and assume use of modern hardware, with ability to upgrade often and have access to good and even stable bandwidth. They tend to not or very selectively follow open standards and interoperability with competing products.

Table overview[edit]

This is just a table overview and for extended information follow up and on shared links (not all solutions are well covered/reviewed).

Tool Model Features Optimal for... Upsides Downsides Cost/commercial status
Etherpad Notes and chat Open source platform for collaborative note taking Unconference- style dynamic Free and open source, already hosted by WMF Only text Apache 2.0, free
Google Suite Shared document editing (Docs, Presentation, Spreadsheet) Integrated Office environment (Docs being a good alternative for Etherpad) Real time document management G Suite for non-profit is free of charge, can be perfectly used with Google Meet. Available: Windows client Explorer, Outlook client module. Reliable, stable. GDPR compatible. Requires a Google user account. Some do not like Google. Requires a G Suite subscription (free for nonprofits, or per user price)
Google Meet Videoconferencing and chat (part of the Google Suite package) Multi-platform support also for Linux. Works in browser or app, good performance. Traditional videoconference No software to install on laptop. Reliable, stable. Participants can connect without authenticating. Only a short URL required. G Suite Premium up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers. Latter is being made free until July 1, 2020 because of COVID-19 The organiser requires a Google Suite subscription to host. Limit of 100 participants with standard package. Requires a G Suite subscription (free for nonprofits, or per user price)
IRC - Internet Relay Chat Text chat purely text chat with many clients, or just in any web browser Real-time chat Oldest chat platform in Wikimedia community. Runs on anything because it is just text Declined quite a bit in participation in recent years. Text only, not rich whatsoever. No catching up on past messages Free
Jitsi Videobridge Videoconferencing, chat and sharing platform Self-hosted open source platform, uses Etherpad Multiparty videoconferencing and document editing Free and open source Need to install on your own server, posing scalability/performance issues Free
Jitsi Meet Videoconferencing, chat and sharing platform Open source platform, uses Etherpad. Uniquely/obscurely named rooms the only privacy method Multiparty videoconferencing and document editing Free and open source Questionable video quality with large number of participants. Security through obscurity only; no admins in sessions Free
OneDrive + Office + Skype Collaboration tools Any interface: Windows Explorer, any browser. Document management, archiving, conferencing Any platform; well supported Windows focused, commercial product from Microsoft Paying (except for Skype basic)
StreamYard Live video stream Live video streaming to multiple platforms simultaneously (YouTube Live, Facebook Live, LinkedIn Live) Ease of consumption - watch video on any platform Free to use for 2 platforms; cheap for multiple ones $25/month Interaction is limited - chat back on the platform (YouTube or FB) is limited to that platform Free or $25/month for more streams
Telegram Text and multimedia chat Real-time and deferred chat Native apps for all major operating systems, both desktop and mobile. Allows sending large files (up to 1.5 GB) Requires a phone number. Free
Tencent Meeting Videoconferencing with chat, screen capture and file sharing Videoconferencing with people in China Free conference platform for up to 300 people (during the COVID-19 disease), availability to join the meeting via PC, Mac, Smartphone, Web interface or even traditional phone calls. Closed sources. No Linux client provided (although Web or Wine available). Tencent is a company with a generally bad reputation of trustworthiness about privacy. Freeware

Video broadcasting, chat and breakout rooms (unconference style) open source platform for large-scale, participant-driven events; unconference-like proposing of breakout sessions Unconference- style dynamic Free to create, uses tools like Etherpad Support and scalability problems. No iOS support. Erratic chat, messages get lost. NOT CURRENTLY RECOMMENDED MIT, free
Web Captioner Real time captioning Supports several languages, works well with English. Already used in the Wikimedia Diversity Conference Free Free Free
WhatsApp Text and multimedia chat Real-time and deferred chat Native apps for major operating systems, both desktop and mobile (though none for Linux) Owned by Facebook. Requires a phone number. Free
Whereby Video conferencing with screen sharing. Easy video meetings with no login or downloads. Video conferencing with screen sharing, recording and much more Multiparty videoconferencing Free and easy to use Free is limited to one user and one meeting room. And support up to 4 Participants Free or $9.99/month for more participants
Zoom and Zoom Webinar Videoconferencing, chat and breakout sessions One of the most popular solutions, good performance and many platforms supported Traditional videoconference Free to use at basic tier Limit of 40 minutes for free tier Free version limited to 40 minutes and 100 participants
Sarv Wave Video Conferencing, Chat, Document Sharing, Collaboration Tool, Live Stream Any platform, No Download, End to End Encrypted, Connect with upto 1000 at once. Collaborative Video Conferencing with Chat Run on Browser, Mobile App, Collaborating, Whiteboard, Note making, Live Stream to Multiple platform, No Login No Download, Perfect for Webinar, End to End Encryption 99% complete Free For Now
Hopin on WD Bigger event festival or conference focused Live Stream, Video Conferencing, Chat Webservice via modern browsers. No download. Collaborative Video Conferencing with Chat Run on Browser, Login needed. Ticketing. Webinar. Fresh started (2019) London based company. Heavy on browser and memory resources. Free accounts for end users. Free Demo available.
Spatial Chat Virtual conferencing tool with lobby, conference rooms, chat Avatars, lobby, virtual conference rooms Large virtual conferences, any browser supported Very easy to use, participant does not need user account required Free base version has a limit of 50 participants with a 10,000 user-minutes limit Free base version with paying options, or a one-day "unlimited" pass

Reviews of tools that we tried[edit]

  • WorkAdventure (spatialized discussions with a retrogaming vibe) - 2021

Miscellaneous platforms to investigate[edit]

Open source[edit]

Video conferencing[edit]
  • Apache OpenMeetings - NOT RECOMMENDED
    • Very old style interface
    • Requires Adobe Flash for video/audio,
    • Odd invitation/joining system
  • BigBlueButton - TRY
    • Open source, hosted solution or own server
    • Popular videoconferencing plug-in module for LMS like Blackboard, Canvas Conferences, Moodle
    • 150 users max, so more teams than "event" [5]
    • HTML5-based, no plugin needed, so less sensitive to browser choice
    • Hosting
Online conversing[edit]
  • Mumble - chat similar to Teamspeak

Proprietary solutions[edit]

Video conferencing[edit]
  • Skype (private, business)
  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp
Video streaming[edit]
  • Youtube Live
  • Facebook Live
  • Facebook FaceTime
  • Twitter Periscope
  • LinkedIn Live
  • Twitch (but videos are only saved for a limited time!)
Large vendors[edit]
  • Adobe Connect pricing
    • Meeting - $50/month - hold a meeting with up to 25 participants
    • Webinar - $130/month - webinar with up to 100 participants
    • For browser-based participation, requires Adobe Flash (ick)
  • Cisco WebEx pricing
    • Meetings - free up to 100 ppl
    • Teams - $17.95 per month, per host. Recording of sessions, multiple hosts.
  • Microsoft Teams - premium tier is free for six months, kind of flaky login system
  • Amazon Chime - unified SIP and video for Amazon AWS
  • Uberconference - mostly enhanced phone conferencing
  • GoToMeeting
Online summits[edit]
  • HeySummit
  • Remo
  • Run The World - from China, Andreessen-Horowitz funded
Online conversing[edit]


  • ManyCam
  • Mural - it's a tool to make virtual sticky notes, seems very useful
  • LUMA Workplace - not sure what this tool is, but it's a tool to help facilitate sessions.
  • Media assets
  • Wudele - for planning meetings and creating polls
  • Template {{online}}, to spread sessions and other meetings in the User namespace.
  • js script to show local times on schedule pages.

Grants and funding for remote events[edit]

Funding is available for remote events through the Wikimedia Foundation's grant programs. Specific to remote events, here are eligible expenses that can be covered through the Rapid Grants program:

Eligible for funding Not eligible for funding
Subscription services for video conferencing, webinars, or other online communication platforms during the grant period (see Working and convening remotely for examples of platforms) Subscription services for video conferencing, webinars, or other online communication platforms that extend beyond the grant period
Expenses for temporary wired or wireless data plans needed for organizers to host online event Expenses for wired or wireless data plans that extend beyond the grant period.
Subscription services supporting communications, marketing, and promotion for online event via e-mail, social media, or other domains during the grant period. Subscription services supporting communications, marketing, and promotion for online event beyond the grant period.

This is not an exhaustive list, and may be updated. Please contact rapidgrants(_AT_) if you have suggestions or questions around funding for remote events.

Connectivity and Accessibility[edit]

End user minimum tech requirements (overview)[edit]

Jitsi and BigBlueButton are Open Source conferencing platforms that provide integrated text, audio and video conferencing capabilities that are secure and easy to use even on older hardware and software. Their end user minimum tech requirements and possibility to customize and localize are likely the most attractive features.

Examples from other domains[edit]


  • Creating “Open GLAM now!”, What I learned by organising an international webinar series on open access on digital cultural heritage, Larissa Borck, February 24, 2020, Medium
    • YouTube playlist of OpenGLAM now webisodes [6]


  • Hubspot - Youtube Live (conference) [7]
  • Sprout Labs - Zoom (conference) and ActiveCampaign (signups) [8]
  • Learning Technology Design - Zoom (over GoToMeetings, which doesn't allow chat) [9]

Suggested best practices[edit]

  • When possible have more than 1 person managing the session. The first person can manage the presentation, share screen and slide flow, while a second person can assist with the recording and help to watch for chat comments, newcomers to the Waiting Room, and coordinate Break Out Room sessions, if needed.
  • Good internet connection with ability to at least update your conference page with your findings and sign up here with a link back to your findings
  • For scheduled live streams, check beforehand if there is a place you can ask questions in real time (the YouTube channel should be monitored, but isn't always)
  • DM speakers for links to slides, background work, etc. Try to make screenshots of the presentations with points that strike you - you can share on social media, but also upload to Commons if the speakers have released their rights (generally this is done by the event coordinator, but check)

Preventing trolls from ruining your session[edit]

Please note that, when publicising links to your events on social media, there is the threat of people disrupting the conversation or presentation. This is now a known practice. There are several ways to prevent this, as detailed in these links (the links relate specifically to the Zoom platform, but the tips could be relevant to other platforms):

Well-known channels[edit]

Initiatives and projects to support[edit]

Users interested in project[edit]

If you place {{User WikiProject Remote}} on your user page, this template will display the userbox shown above and will add your user page to: Category:WikiProject Remote participants {{Columns-list|colwidth=30em|

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Further reading[edit]


See also[edit]