This page contains some guidelines and best practices for setting up a Wikimedia Discussion Room at major Wikimedia conferences. It is very much under constant construction; additions and improvements are very much welcome!
The Wikimedia Discussion Room is a dedicated round table discussion track with a focus on the Wikimedia communities, in the context of a larget Wikimedia event such as Wikimania or a large national Wikimedia conference. Each discussion typically takes 45-60 minutes, has 20-50 participants and has a focus on the Wikimedia projects. The topics of the discussions should be presently relevant, contain clearly defined goals and well prepared by a dedicated discussion leader.
Because the discussion room is not just one discussion, but a day worth, the room can be set up effectively to accommodate them optimally and participants know what to expect.
Why a Discussion Room?Edit
Wikimedia conferences tend to focus more on presentations, panel discussions and workshops than on round table discussions, while the round table discussions are more connected to the way our communities work, and are an excellent tool for knowledge and experience exchange.
The focus on the Wikimedia communities in the Discussion Room helps to involve more community members in the discussions.
- prepare a timeline for the preparation; be transparent when participants can expect what.
- Ask for input from the participants - it is important that they consider the topics relevant! Ask to suggest topics they would like to attend a discussion on.
- Make sure you have two people to lead the discussions.
- Make sure you have everything you need: facilitators, documentators, projection screen for etherpad, flipchart / writeable wall
- 2-3 weeks before the event: publish a draft list of topics and goals, ask for feedback.
- 1-2 weeks before the event: set up the schedule, publish the topics and goals.
- 1-2 weeks before the event: Find at least one expert for each discussion to give a 1-3 minute introduction to the topics (no slides!). If it is very controversial, find an expert for both sides of the story.
- The week before the event: Have an (online) meeting with the people involved and prepare the topics. Discuss them and the goals, decide on sub questions. Decide on the discussion flow. Prepare introductions, rules of discussion and how to enforce them.
- Hour before the event: check everything is in place.
- Each discussion session: summarize the goals and rules, introduce the topic/discussion, allow the experts to introduce, have the discussion, summarize the discussion.
- At the end of the discussions: make sure the documentation is in order and published.
- <room setup>
- <basic rules>
Example productive topicsEdit
- Wikimania 2014 in London: 8 discussion sessions of 45 minutes; avg 50 people per session