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Wikimedia Conference 2016/Program Design Process

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The Wikimedia Conference is the annual meeting of all Wikimedia organizations and groups to discuss the future of the Wikimedia movement in terms of collaboration, learning, and organizational development.

It is Wikimedia Deutschland’s interest to make this conference a working, thinking, and learning event. The conference offers a safe space for exchange, for a better understanding of different roles and challenges; it is an event that focuses on active participation, capacity building, shared learning, and clear outcomes. Bringing all movement organizations together will give us the opportunity to incorporate diverse perspectives and experiences into the program.

We have seen different approaches to create a program that can foster such a space; from dedicated program managers to a volunteer program team, from loosely structuring the program into different tracks to just trying to cover everything. These approaches were partly successful but still did not tackle the full potential of such an resource-consuming gathering of movement people. Incorporating the constructive feedback on participants’ needs, our experience from previous years, the distinction between WMCON and other movement events, as well as the first results from our Program and Engagement Coordination, we have now decided to introduce a new approach: We will set one high level motto for the whole conference that enables us to create a truly focused program for the first time in the history of this event.

The new Program Design Process[edit]

Wikimedia Deutschland as a host will take the lead in the program design process for 2016 and 2017. Nicole Ebber as the curator of the WMCON will work together closely with the Program and Engagement Coordinator (Cornelius Kibelka, PEC). In the next months, they will work with the Program Advisors, the Thematic Ambassadors, the facilitators as well as the participants to create the conference program.

The four cornerstones of the program[edit]

To ensure an impact oriented (in terms of the motto but also in terms of results) conference, we need different formats and target group specific sessions. We have identified four cornerstones that complete the program:

  • One overarching movement theme: Impact. WMCON brings together movement stakeholders to discuss the future of the movement. We have to make the most of the this unique opportunity where this group of affiliate and WMF representatives is gathering in one place and have them work, think, talk, listen, and learn together. For inspiration, we will also consider to invite external key note speakers.
  • Capacity building. The culture of shared learning is slowly increasing among movement entities. We are getting better at learning from each other’s mistakes and successes, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Working and learning sessions will be built according to the participants needs; speakers will come from within and outside of the movement.
  • Facilitated social activities. Only a safe space in a creative, trustful atmosphere will enable a good, effective working environment that includes newbies and old hands alike. We will create more moments of sharing, of social exchange and provide guidance for side events and evening sessions.
  • Wildcard and must-have topics. Since the agenda design process starts early, we will leave some space in the schedule for urgent movement issues that might come up in the time between January and April.

One core theme “Movement Impact”[edit]

Wikimedia Conference 2016 will focus on the core theme of “Movement Impact”. All sessions and contributions will have to add to this theme.

Why impact? Previous events and conversations – on- and offline – have shown that impact is an omnipresent topic within our movement and the nonprofit world. Our movement – from the youngest User Group to the Wikimedia Foundation – is striving for the biggest possible impact on Free Knowledge, seeking to create impactful programs, processes, and support structures aligned with our shared mission. At the same time, “impact” is a term that we struggle with, and for which we lack a common definition. In Berlin, we would like to unlock the potential for better collaboration, learning, and development in our movement – and more impact of our movement. The thematic strands and outcomes of our 2015 conference will feed into the new program.

Throughout the conference, we will work together on the following core questions:

  • How do we define the common impact of the movement? What does impact mean on a global and on a local level?
  • How do we measure impact? How can impact measurement help us to prioritize our actions?
  • What programs have proven to be successful in terms of generating impact? How can they be replicated and how do we scale them up?
  • How do other nonprofit organizations define and measure impact? What can we learn from them?

How to select the delegates[edit]

WMCON is all about participation. To make the conference a success it will be essential for the invited affiliates to deliberately select their delegates. Participants should come to Berlin to learn and to share, but also to bring the information and learnings back home. We are seeking delegates who will be actively engaged before, during and after the conference and can represent their affiliates. Ideal delegates are those who are

  • involved in the decision making processes of the organization,
  • or evaluation specialists,
  • or program leaders.

Participants should be eager to shape movement conversations; people with passion for movement impact as well as people striving to improve their affiliates’ impact. Please don’t overthink it, consider this food for thought while making your choices.

Prepare for the registration[edit]

Registration opens December 1 and closes on January 15. Please note that this is a sharp deadline. In the months between the registration and WMCON, the Program and Engagement Coordinator will work with the registered participants on elaborating the program of the Wikimedia Conference. Because we want to build the program to fit participant needs and experiences, we would like to learn a little more about your interests in advance. We will ask the following questions within the registration form; these questions can also help you to select the delegates.


  • In short, what is your motivation to contribute to the Wikimedia projects?
  • In 140 characters or less, please share what makes you most passionate about our movement.
  • If you could personally accomplish just one thing for the movement, what would it be?


  • Please share one phrase which best describes your current understanding of impact in the broader Wikimedia context.
  • To what extent do you feel your perception is shared with other movement affiliates?
  • What is the current understanding of impact within your organization/group?
  • What do you see as the most important change or impact your organization will make over the next 2 years?
  • What or who has helped you along the way to achieving this change?
  • What do you see as your organization's largest barriers that may prevent you from achieving this change? What has helped you to get around these barriers (if applicable)?


  • Can you recommend any like-minded organizations which may be able to provide valuable insight relevant to our movement impact and sustainability as presenters at the conference?

Capacity Building

  • Please name one or two skills, tools, or resources, that you want to be able to bring back home to your local organization.
  • How can you contribute to the Wikimedia Conference? What skills, knowledge or insights can you bring to share that others can learn/benefit from?


Role of the Program and Engagement Coordinator[edit]

Cornelius Kibelka as the Program and Engagement Coordinator will facilitate the program design process, reporting to Nicole Ebber. He will use the input from the program advisors as well as the conference curator and the external facilitators to create the final program. Cornelius will work with all involved stakeholders to create a program according to their needs, expectations and contributions.

Role of the program advisors[edit]

We will be working with program advisors and consult with them at certain points of the program design process. In practice, this will mean not more than 3 conference calls and a few emails with concrete questions and request for input. Program advisors come from different movement entities, offer diverse perspective on movement issues, and are essential for a qualitative and outcome oriented program. Program advisors are Alice Wiegand (WMF), Rosemary Rein (WMF), Christophe Henner (WMFR), Anna Torres (WMAR), Saroj Dhakal (Wikimedians of Nepal) and Antanana (WMUA).

Role of the thematic ambassadors[edit]

The thematic ambassadors are people from most different movement entities who carry on strands and topics from the Wikimedia Conference 2015 throughout the year. They are in close contact with the Program and Engagement Coordinator ensuring to bring the thoughts, conversations and outcomes of the Wikimedia Conference 2015 into program of the next conference, to ensure sustainability of the whole process.

Role of the participants[edit]

At the Wikimedia Conference, everyone is a contributor, not just a participant. Opening the registration three months before the event offers the participants plenty of time to get involved in the preparations. Everyone will be asked for their needs and expectations, as well as their contributions to the program in the registration form. This input will enable us to agree upon the concrete program, to look for appropriate speakers and to create conference material for participants’ preparation.

Rough timeline[edit]

July/August 2015

  • communication of the 2016 conference date, WMCON follow-up at Wikimania Done

October 2015

  • publication of the improved program design process Done

November 2015

  • work on and publish core program theme Done
  • work on an publish participant structure/number of delegates
  • call to select affiliates’ delegates according to the core theme (including an organizational briefing “How to select the delegates”) Done

December 1- January 15, 2016

  • registration period (hard deadline, no exceptions) Done
    • offers the participants plenty of time to get involved in the programmatic preparations Done
    • offers the conference team enough time for working on the concrete program, to look for appropriate speakers and to create conference material Done

January 15, 2016 - April 2016

  • program design process (to be completed) Done
    • further work on goals and desired outcomes Done
    • involve participants, consider their needs and experiences when creating the program Done
    • publication of a session outline Done
    • agree upon concrete speakers (Wikimedia/external), brief the speakers Done
    • create material for preparation Done
    • design the session formats Done
    • finalize the schedule Done

April 21-24, 2016

Wikimedia Conference 2016, Berlin

After the conference Follow-Up, work with thematic ambassadors, build bridges to other conferences like Wikimania, IberoConf, CEE meeting etc.