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Wikimania 2009/Seattle

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This is a placeholder for a bid that I would like to see at some point in the future. 2008? 2009? 2010? Whenever, really. phoebe 15:45, 17 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

City details

the Space Needle
  • Country: USA
  • City proposed: Seattle, Washington
  • Proposed dates: Summer 2009 (or any year from 2008-2010) -- noting that July/August in Seattle are absolutely beautiful months with (typically) perfect weather
  • Contact person(s): phoebe/brassratgirl, unless/until someone else comes along

Quick overview



  • West Coast accessible from Asia, relatively cheap flights from Japan etc.; strong Asian [and many other multiethnic] communities in Seattle
  • Lots of active Wikimedians on the West Coast of North America, from Vancouver to San Diego. Seattle is the heart of the "Pacific Northwest" area, and is a central hub for flights from all cities in the U.S. West; often very cheap flights from destinations in Canada/U.S/Mexico. Many West Coast Wikimedians did not go to Boston, despite it being in the same country: too far, too expensive.
  • The Seattle/Portland/Vancouver WP meetup group is active & could be drawn on. Additionally, many, many former Seattlites involved in the projects that could be drawn on. People from Seattle tend to be very enthusiastic about their city :)
  • Local community: one of the biggest software/tech/FLOSS communities in the U.S., after Silicon Valley; very enthusiastic arts & free culture community that has collective experience organizing big and small events, from Burning Man to SciFi conventions; many active online groups that are also active in real life and are used to meetups; large and progressive library & information science school that could be motivated to be involved such an event.
  • Seattle is a beautiful, fun, progressive (and politically liberal) city. Lots to see and do; compact downtown good for walking, ok public transportation, lots of friendly people that could serve as hosts.
  • Several university campuses that could be tapped for venues, including the University of Washington, which has a beautiful campus and a notable CS department, among other features.
  • Seattle is amazingly gorgeous in mid-July. Plus, there is a big music or other event happening nearly every weekend in the summer... built-in entertainment.
the outside of one of UW's libraries


  • Back in the US of A.... we'd want to start early this time, for visas/scholarships/those damn biometric passports. Would take some convincing to get people back in the U.S.
  • Not a cheap city, though much cheaper than San Francisco/Boston/New York.
  • Solutions: can be mitigated with sponsorships; if food/lodging/venue are adequately sponsored, savings can be passed on to participants.
  • Accomodation could be a problem. There are few good hostels downtown, compared to other major cities; lodging next to UW is too sparse & expensive. A dorm solution would have to be enacted.
  • Solutions: see accomodation, below; good dorm housing on the UW or Seattle U campus looks like it can easily be rented. Additionally, at least one hotel in the U-District can be block-booked if we do it well enough in advance. Additionally, there are many Wikimedians & friends in town; a strong couch-surfing network could be set up.
the inside of another
  • Potentially the best venue, the University of Washington (UW), is decentralized from downtown (not more so than Cambridge/Boston, however).
  • Solutions: This may or may not be a weakness; the university community and urban area around campus is vibrant & exciting.


  • The best coffee and wireless in the country, on practically every corner... and I don't mean Starbucks.
  • Field trips to the Science Fiction Museum
  • parties on a beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean at sunset... accessible by public bus
    • Puget Sound isn't exactly the Pacific Ocean, but it is gorgeous.
  • an awesome community wireless network and enthusiasts, plus city and private wireless available nearly everywhere
  • visiting the Cascades... or taking a ferry to an island for the day...
the Seattle skyline
the Seattle skyline

Planning notes:


local press & communications

  • The Seattle Times newspaper ran the AP story about Wikimania 2006 and ran the AP story about Stephen Colbert and his call to vandalize WP. There's been lots of other local press about WP over the years; the local community is pretty clued-in. There have been multiple specials to the Seattle Times about it. [1] [2] The Seattle Times has gone so far as to cite Wikipedia as a source in an article![3]

Possible dates

  • summer is good!


  • SLA (Special Libraries Association) conference is in town July 27 - 30, 2008. There is at least a bit of overlap in our constituencies. This could be good or bad: bad 'cause it's a big conference, and will book at least a few hotels; good, 'cause all those interested librarians could come in handy...
  • UW calendar: Spring quarter lets out June 6th, 2008; there is summer school from June 23rd-August 22, 2008. This shouldn't be a problem; means campus services are still open.

Venue brainstorming

  • University of Washington (UW):

UW is a large (40,000) public university with a beautiful campus and dozens of buildings. There are numerous lawns and quads in which informal gatherings and parties can take place, and several renovated buildings with nice a/v setups. There are a good number of large lecture halls, as well, and several nice libraries in which to congregate. Possible buildings:

  • Mary Gates Hall (home of the library school) for lots of nice a/v-equipped classrooms and at least a couple nice large theatre-style rooms
  • the Suzzalo library venue rooms for nice receptions
  • Kane Hall for big keynotes (3 big, a-v equipped theatre-style rooms, seat hundreds)
  • the Allen CS building for hacking days [?] (have to check on lab spaces).
  • (have to check on the possibilities for renting any/all of these)

Other poss venues in the city:

  • Seattle University - a centrally located private college
  • en:Seattle Pacific University - ditto, nonsecular
  • the smaller colleges: Antioch, Seattle Central
  • the arts colleges
  • SPL Central [for special events, not the whole conference]
  • Washington Convention Center [accomodation is hotel only]
  • In one of the big downtown hotels, self-contained
  • ???

Accomodation brainstorming

  • University of Washington:
  • SigIR2006 just reserved UW dorms to go with their UW-held conference; they estimate $36/person, double occupancy. (Actually, the whole sigIR site is a lesson in having a conference on the UW campus. NB: Phoebe knows many of these folks).
  • Housing & Food Services/conference services at UW is super organized. They rent any of the UW dorms; they also offer them 2 days before and after the conference for those who want to stay longer. A $20 food allowance/person is required, but can be spent for any meal. Additionally, they offer: integrated dorm & food service, conference registration (including badge production, money handling, conference rosters, budgeting and online registration), and help with room renting -- all in one integrated package. See registration for more. They also have a handy planners guide.
  • Dorm considerations: for the UW dorms, we would probably want McMahon, because of the clusters; should check with people who have actually roomed in these dorms. Actual dorm building availability is not known until the spring, according to HFS.
  • Seattle University:
  • Seattle U also rents out dorms; $28.50/person/night double occupancy, $43 single. They also offer full service catering; three meals a day is $27.54/person.

Wireless love

  • Seattle loves its wireless. Free, city-provided wifi blankets the street of restaurants & shops that borders campus. Most coffee etc places in the city have wireless. Many, many local networks. On UW campus: campus-provided wireless is plentiful & well-run, but limited to students only; would have to check about opening it up.

Parties & field trips

  • Options for parties
  • downtown clubs
  • the EMP
  • ??
  • Options for field trips
  • EMP/SF
  • Elliot Bay Books
  • ??




  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, or "Seatac" (SEA), flies to/from most places worldwide. Direct flights to Europe/Asia/most places in North America/some places in South America. Flights are typically pretty reasonable to Seattle.

typical flight prices -- ad-hoc estimation; these prices all need to be checked - please bold & add notes when checked.
Flights July August
North America (East Coast) $350 or less same
North America (West Coast) $200ish or less same
North America (Midwest/South) $400ish same
Caribbean $400-500ish ?
South America $600s & up ?
UK (London) varies wildly -- more expensive
Europe (Western) varies wildly more expensive
Europe (Eastern) same same
Africa $2000+ same
Asia (Japan) $1000-$1100 same
Asia (Southeast Asia) $1000-1300, or less (varies wildly) same
Australia $1300-1500 or less same
  • Very ad-hoc personal experience is that flights to Europe in high summer run around $1000-$1300, depending on where you're going & how much you've booked ahead; London is typically (though not always) less; flights to Asian hubs (Bangkok, Tokyo, Hong Kong) are similar. I've gotten flights to both continents from Seattle for under $900; depends on timing (and may wildly vary by city; Frankfurt is $300 less than Berlin, etc).

Other transportation:

  • Can take an Amtrak train from Vancouver, Canada/Portland, Oregon (or further, if you have the time...; takes about 4-5 hours to either city); sometimes Asian flights to Vancouver (YVR) are cheaper, though dual country visa issues would ensue.
  • long-distance buses go to Seattle.


  • There's an extensive city bus system, which goes to/from the airport to downtown & the University at (most) hours of the day & night (as well as all over the city), costs $1.25. Pack light!
  • Otherwise, there's shuttle services from the airport-whereever that run $20/person or so (these could be reserved?); and finally, a taxi costs $40-50 to go from the airport-UW. If this bid gets put off long enough, there might be light rail (they're building it now).

visas and scholarships

  • Visas: a pain, and the biggest impediment to having the conference in the US. The Boston page sums it up.
  • Scholarships: there are a few possible solutions to mitigate the cost of travel & visa issues. Let's brainstorm.
Assume that scholarship money/sponsorships will be recieved, and further assume that the Foundation will cover overhead costs (faxing, phone, letterhead). One possible setup could be as follows:
  • 1) A "visa coordinator" is determined/appointed early in the planning process. This person takes responsibilty for managing the scholarship and visa process and assumes authority for sending visa letters.
  • 2) The first $10,000 of scholarship sponsorship money could go towards visa "mini-grants" of $150-200 (the cost of the actual U.S. visa plus travel expenses to obtain it). These should be announced as early as possible, and disbursed in mid-November (assuming conference planning starts in early October) in order to allow people lots of time to apply for the visa, wait for an appointment, etc. 50 of these grants would go a long way towards easing the pain of getting a U.S. visa, and substantially help with our diversity.
  • 3) The next $10,000 could go towards fixed-amount travel scholarships ranging from $500-1000, which may or may or may not cover all expenses but would enable many more people to attend.
  • 4) The next $10,000 could go toward providing *full* scholarships for people from underrepresented parts of the world.

Alternatively, the model could be:

  • 2) The first $10,000 goes towards visa mini-grants, as described above
  • 3) The next $10,000 goes towards bringing at least one chapter representative from each chapter, and other non-US Foundation/committee officials who are unable to afford their own travel (note that this could take considerably more than $10,000)
  • 4) The next $10,000 goes towards bringing heavy contributors/admins from projects that have not yet been represented at a Wikimania gathering (this could involve a lot of visa wrangling)

Or, some combination of all of the above. Obviously, there are many ways to spend scholarship money; The key is starting early with visas, having a clear, defined and early process, and having enough manpower to adequately process scholarship applications in a timely manner. It is hoped that by 2009 this would certainly be possible.

local sponsorships

  • at least one two! of Wikimania 2006's sponsors are from Seattle & might be enthusiastic about a local event.
  • the UW and particularly the UW iSchool could be a huge asset.
  • there are dozens of tech companies in the area that fund things like this, from the (very) well known to startups & dot.coms...

other vaguely similar conferences in seattle


People that we could learn/get ideas from:

local team

  • see above, could be rounded up
  • phoebe is non-local (currently lives a 1.5 hour, cheap flight away) but has close ties to various Seattle communities, including the ones mentioned above; knows the city & especially the University of Washington inside & out; knows who to call to get things done. Would move mountains to make this happen if the Wikimedia community was supportive. Has benefit of Wikimania experience. Considers not living in Seattle a personal problem that could be remedied if a bid went through.
  • User:DamianFinol. Not exactly a local either (actually from South America) but has family in Seattle and visits twice a year, so knows it inside out and the Puget Sound area.
  • you!