The ESEAP Conference took several years of brainstorming until an event could finally be scheduled for Bali, Indonesia, in 2018. During WMCON 2015 in Berlin, Wikimedians from Wikimedia Hong Kong (WMHK), Wikimedia Indonesia (WMID), Wikimedia Philippines (WMPH), Wikimedia Taiwan (WMTW), and the China User Group had an initial discussion about the need for a regional meet-up. The idea was put on hold indefinitely due to limited follow-up. A year later, during WMCON 2016, representatives of WMHK, WMTW, WMID, Wikimedia Thailand (WMTH), the China User Group, Wikimedians in Korea, and Wikimedia Australia (WMAU) discussed collaborative regional activities. The result was an online platform page on Meta called ESEA Hub, which also included a periodic newsletter containing activity report/news from chapters and user groups in ESEA regions (unfortunately, it is also on hiatus now). The idea for a regional meetup was also discussed, but insufficient resources were available to hold the event at that time.
The urgent need for a regional meetup grew stronger during discussions in WMCON 2017, which was attended by Wikimedians from China UG, WMTW, Wikimedians from Japan, South Korea UG, PhilWiki Community UG (PH-WC), WMID, WMAU, WMTH, and Wikimedia UG Malaysia. We all share the common concern that those countries have never had any sustainable collaboration or any dialogue between each other, as exemplified by the lack of regional conferences in the area. We believe that sharing experiences between us would strengthen our communities and might lead to great partnerships in the future. However, considering volunteer capacity and available resources, it was decided that the first conference would be small but intimate, and sufficient for engaging participants in important conversations.
We decided to hold a regional conference spanning the area of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific (ESEAP) due to (a) geographical proximity, (b) stronger engagement of the Wikimedians from the main countries of these regions over the past few years (online and offline), and (c) the need to strengthen the community, as we have more than 2,000 languages in these regions, but fewer than 1% of them have their own Wikipedia, Wiktionary, or other Wikimedia projects.