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Wikimania 2011/Bids/Montréal/Q&A

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  • Have you thought about looking for "community people" supporters outside of the organizing team? While your organizing team seems pretty strong, I don't see much "involvement" from various Wikimedia communities (or even Open Source/Free knowledge/Volunteers other communities) could you try and appeal to the communities that you think are relevant to see who is ready to support you? And also, who, on the ground, might be able to help with on site logistics? notafish }<';> 08:02, 12 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]


Organising Team[edit]

Q: Does your team or its members have any past experience organizing an event? What kind of event and with how many people?

A: Yes and no. We are all professionals with experiences in some of the aspects of event organization. I have experience with call for participations and refereeing programs, our accountant has a great deal of expertise in the financial aspects of nonprofit events and benefits, and one of our board members is an executive at Tourisme Montréal and brings his expertise at liaison between the hotels, venues and transport and with logistics.
Collectively, we have a good grasp of what needs to be done and the best way of doing it; but mostly we rely on the services of professional event organizing teams to support us. For instance, the venue (Palais des Congres) provides us with the organizing team free of charge before, during and after the event to coordinate suppliers, deploy resources, give support for visas to delegates and most of the logistics of making sure the venue is ready when we need it. Likewise, Tourisme Montreal (the Montreal tourism board) is handling transportation and negotiation with hotels with an efficiency and bargaining power that a volunteer team would be hard pressed to match.
There is a large editor community in Quebec, even if it is not as formally organized as in some other locations, and there is no doubt that as the event gels we'll have ample volunteer resources to tap.

Q: Is your team or its members in close contact with organizations also interested in the free and open knowledge? Are they prepared to cooperate with you in the organization and realization of Wikimania 2011?

A: Not close contact, no. We are in preliminary discussion with some of the groups that have compatible interests with the Foundation, but it's mostly on informal terms at this point.
One of the things to note is that Quebec's free information scene is not yet as mature and organized as it is in some other locations; part of the reasons we feel holding a Wikimania in Quebec is a great idea is because it's an ideal way to focus and harness the enormous potential here. We intend to give Wikimania a great deal of visibility to help increase awareness of the good Free knowledge brings to cultures around the world and stimulate Quebec's implication in it.
Perhaps surprisingly, while everyone seems to be aware of the Foundation's projects, few people are aware of the Foundation itself and the work it and its chapters do. Wikimania is the perfect platform to make that message heard on barren but fertile ground— and this is what we intent to do.

Q: Has any member of the organising team attended a past Wikimania

A: I can only speak for myself, but I've attended and held a panel in Buenos Aires, and will do so again in Gdansk. — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 19:05, 2 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Q: Can the core team leaders realistically commit a substantial amount of time in the 6-8 months before wikimania to planning it (i.e. 10-20 hrs/week, more closer to the conference)

A: I have a very understanding employer who, in fact, encourages me to dedicate the resources to this project (and, in fact, who might "donate" some of my working time as a sponsorship of sorts). Two other members of the committee are self-employed and willing and able to schedule around the time requirements. One of us (A&M) actually works in the tourism industry and his contribution is done under the aegis of his normal work. — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 02:18, 3 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Q: How free are the bid leaders to travel? Travel is needed by at least the core team to the preceeding wikimania and once to san francisco, at a minimum.

A: Only one of us has limited travel opportunities because his own work requires him to travel on a fairly rigid schedule. — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 02:18, 3 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Do you plan to implement any ideas to improve the experience of those participants that might not be particularly proficient in English?[edit]

For one, the conference would take place entirely in both English and French with simultaneous translation and bilingual programs and material. The infrastructure is budgeted for translation booths and simultaneous translation transmission in all conferences on all tracks. We also have the infrastructure to support one more language during the conference itself (provided we have available translators).

What are your biggest security concerns, and what measures will you be taking to try to avoid them?[edit]

By and large, Montreal is one of the safest big cities in the world. While personal safety is not a major concern, one of the advantages of holding the conference in a large venue that was designed for conferences and expositions is their solid security infrastructure. They have 24/7 video surveillance of the premises with trained security personnel on site at all times, as well as medical services.


Breaking this into several questions

Technical budget[edit]

Q: There is, in my opinion, a real concern to be had concerning the technical budget. It is simply enormous. Could you please:

  • break down the technical budget so we can have a better understanding of what costs what?
  • look for "cheaper" alternatives on some parts of the technical budget (I understand that the Palais des Congrès might want to have some prerogatives in placing their equipment, but this is still an event organized for a set of non-profit organizations, we need to see what we can get that's cheaper). Thanks. notafish }<';> 08:06, 12 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
A There are two points of note about that sizable chunk of the budget that need to be taken into account when evaluating it:
  • It includes the ~15% sales tax which will be reimbursed to the organizing committee (a few months after the event), which will then either go (back) to the Foundation or towards the foundation of a local chapter (the nonprofit charter allows either); and
  • It represents a worst case scenario; that is: it represents the maximal amount that we know would have to be paid in order to have all the technical support we need for the event. Some of it (see below) could end up being much lower given potential sponsorship deals or discounts.
That being said, here is a rough breakdown of that budget:
  • 18,000 is the union crew
    This is part of the budget we cannot avoid given the venue. The Palais rules will not allow anyone but their accredited crew to setup or tear down the conference, to place wiring, or to operate the facilities
  • 12,000 for the simultaneous translation
    (in particular, this includes about 5000 for the receiver rentals alone; I expect we can find this on loan or less expensively elsewhere)
  • 45,000 for the AV setup itself
    That includes cameras (including cameramen), projectors, screen, lighting (which is surprisingly the most expensive component), audio pickups, audio consoles (and sound tech), and a console tech; all the recording and transcoding, and webcast of the plenaries. The large room for the plenaries and Jimbo's State of the Wiki address is a bit more elaborate with two projectors and screens to allow for both the speaker and a video feed to be projected, as well as a more elaborate light stage. The large presentation room counts for about $16000 of the overall budget and is a prime candidate for more frugality if we need it in the end.
  • 15,000 for furniture and decoration
    This includes banners, registration kiosk, seating and tables for the R&R area, coffee, snacks and water.
  • 8,000 for power drops (including the electrician)
    This is also unavoidable; given the necessity of widely available power everywhere during the conference.
  • 15,000 or so in VAT (which, as explained above, will return to the committee)
In short, there is a lot of room for "shaving" that budget by shopping around for sponsoring suppliers or better deals (made much easier if Montreal has won the bid as opposed to discussing an hypothetical event), or by being more frugal in some areas by reducing from pro gear (at the cost of some final quality, of course). We constructed the bid with "best result" as our primary objective, but there are no unsurmountable obstacles to reducing that budget's envelope if, as July approaches, finances demand it.

"Guests" budget[edit]

Q You are planning a budget of 44 000 CAD for 20 guests/VIP. Who exactly are those "VIPs?"? (I don't need actual names, but just an idea of what kind of people you would include in such a budget)notafish }<';> 08:27, 12 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

A: We went with an allocation that was overgenerous rather than risk undershooting. We expect to provide for travel for the Keynote, the 2012 core team, and invited speakers as the program and schedule gels, though it's unlikely we'll reach 20 guests (or that much per guest)— we expect to funnel any leftover from this budget towards scholarships.

Happenings section[edit]

Your "happenings" section is not very detailled, apart from a festival, which happens in ... winter ;). Care to expand that a bit? notafish }<';> 08:19, 12 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I suppose that by "not very detailled" you mean "sucks very much"?  :-) I've fleshed it out with some of the more relevant festivals; but that's complicated a bit by the fact that many events have yet to publish their 2011 schedules. — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 20:31, 15 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Number of attendees[edit]

You are planning to have around 800 to 900 attendees. In my experience, this is a very very high estimation (I believe the "biggest" Wikimania had maybe 500 attendees at any one time). Who are those 800 attendees? How do you plan to reach them so that they come? Can you please provide an estimation of the break-out between "Wikimedians" and "other people" and give an idea of who these "other people" are? notafish }<';> 08:27, 12 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

It's likely that Montreal would be able to attract a larger number of attendees given its ideal situation. As the first Wikimania whose proceedings are fully available in French, it's easily foreseeable that the very strong francophone wikimedian community will make a much stronger showing than in years past; in particular, Montreal would be especially attractive to the communities of France, Belgium and Romandy (as well as the local population, of course). This, combined with the proximity to the large basin of editors on the US East Coast that Montreal shares with New York point to the possibility of a significant increase in attendance.
In addition to this, we plan on making an outreach towards the local population; to raise awareness but also to involve the Press and academia. Extending invitations towards educators and grad students to "come see what we do, what we are about" even when they have not yet edited, and we plan to hold a "come edit with us" workshop to the press to help dispel myths about the projects. Part of our guest budget is directed at inviting academic speakers to present their work at the conference to help attract greater attendance from educators and students who are less familiar with our projects.