Wikimedia Conference 2018/Future of the Wikimedia Conference

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

This concept for the Wikimedia Conference 2019-2020 is based on our long-term experience from hosting this conference and especially builds upon the learnings from the last three years of organizing it. Mid 2020 is the projected time for the movement strategy process to be finalized, and the conference is an essential milestone for this process and for the collaboration and exchange across the organized part of the Wikimedia movement. For the time beyond 2020 we will iterate and adjust the concept according to the outcomes of the movement strategy process and the changes to the global event ecosystem of our movement.  

The future purpose of WMCON[edit]

The Wikimedia Conference will become a focused annual event for conversations on strategy, governance and organizational development across affiliates, the WMF and its committees. A conference that carries the conversations from the movement strategy process further into the future, and is constantly developed along with the implementation and adaptation of the movement strategy across the organized parts of the movement.

The Wikimedia Conference in 2019 will be designed along the needs and status of the movement strategy process and the participants’ input. The format of the conference will be an adapted and improved version of the participatory and successful formats we introduced in 2017 and used again in 2018.

The 2019 event will mark the milestone in the movement strategy process where we go from recommendation into implementation regarding topics like roles, responsibilities and resources. Among other things, the process aims for the movement to develop a model for how strategic conversations, movement governance and decision making will happen on global, organizational levels. The 2020 conference will be designed along the outcomes of this process.

WMCON will be a conference with one thematic focus, that brings all participants together in broader plenary sessions and more specific break-out sessions. It will be three intense days where results will be reviewed, decisions will be prepared and next steps will be designed. Participating in the conference means that representatives will need to be present in the sessions all the time. We will make sure that the essential conversations will be held in the sessions, and don’t need to be moved to the corridor track.

To make the conference a success it will be essential for the invited affiliates to deliberately select their delegate. 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 and striving to help shape the future of the movement. We envision the delegates as “connectors” between the overall conversation about the Movement’s future and strategy, and their home organizations and groups.

Strengthening regional and thematic conferences[edit]

While proposing this change for the Wikimedia Conference, we anticipate necessary consequences. As a global movement, we need to continue to empower our affiliates and volunteers, and provide opportunities to share skills and knowledge, learn from each other and exchange ideas. We suggest providing more in-person, in-language trainings tailored to the specific context, which we consider to be more effective and more meaningful to everyone – in contrast to the capacity-building track at the Wikimedia Conference, which couldn’t cover all participants’ needs due to ever-growing diversity of participants’ backgrounds and experiences. Furthermore, we, as a movement, should assure access to the full range of methods beyond at-the-conference training (e.g. assessment, mentoring, consulting, technical assistance, and organizational development processes).

By moving “learning” from the Wikimedia Conference to the regional and thematic conferences of the Wikimedia movement, we envision more logistical support to the mostly volunteer-run regional and thematic conferences. However, we think that the Wikimedia movement can only strive for excellence if conference organizers and in general affiliates support each other in building a carefully designed, participative program for their conferences. Wikimedia Deutschland is happy to share their experiences in program design and to provide support to apply them at the respective conferences.

We recommend that in conclusion, capacity building, trainings and learning, as well as peer-to-peer exchange and support will need to move to regional and thematic events, while events like Wikimania can become a platform for global coordination and strategic development of these events.

Overall, our proposed changes of the Wikimedia Conference go hand in hand with the wider “Global Event Strategy” that is currently being developed by the WMF Community Resources team and we look forward to taking the first step by revamping the Wikimedia Conference.

WMCON 2019 and 2020[edit]

Participant structure in 2019[edit]

The 2019 event will be designed to be a working event where we bring a diverse audience from across the organized part of the movement together. Based on the Movement’s experiences at the 2018 Developers Summit and the 2017 Diversity Conference, we aim for a participant structure of not more than 200 representatives (plus WMDE supporting staff) that are engaged and interested in conversations about movement strategy and governance:

  • The Affiliates (1 representative per affiliate = 124, as of May 7, 2018; groups need to be officially recognized a year before the conference and need to be up to date on reporting)
  • Additional key persons and experts from within and outside of the movement (~20)
  • The group of Affiliates’ Executive Directors (staff) (~10)
  • The WMF Board of Trustees (10)
  • Committees for the organized part of the movement (currently AffCom, FDC, Simple APG, might change in the future, max 15)
  • WMF and WMDE C-team and other key staff members (~20)
  • Event support (facilitators, photographer, logistics team etc. ~15)

We expect that up to 120 people within this structure will need funding for travel and accommodation costs (affiliates and invited experts).

Please note that this structure is subject to change for 2020 according to the outcomes of movement strategy process. This does not only include changes in participant and program structure, but also a better balance of representatives from specific countries, regions and continents.

Further reading[edit]