Towards a New Wikimania
Methods and participants
Feedback was gathered in two places:
- Qualtrics: 82 people shared feedback in a private survey on Issue 1 and Issue 2, with some of these individuals (5 participants) only sharing personal stories about movement conferences.
- The discussion page: 37 people shared feedback in public on the same questions for Issue 1 and Issue 2, or brought up additional topics related to Wikimania and movement conferences.
- Identical questions on both issues (Questions on Issue 1, Questions on Issue 2) were presented on both Qualtrics and the discussion page.
We reviewed a total of 119 responses. About 90 participants responded to the direct questions found on either the survey or the discussion page. There were a small number of individuals who participated in both channels, but after reviewing feedback, but this was unlikely to be significant. Ensuring there were multiple channels for feedback, including an option for private feedback, was useful for participation. This methodology for gathering feedback has also worked well in past consultations that affect Wikimedia project contributors generally.
The value of Wikimania
Participants indicated that Wikimania has similar outcomes as all movement conferences (collaborations, sharing of experiences, discussion of issues), but 1/3 of respondents also noted that the unique value of Wikimania is it provides an opportunity for attendees to engage with the diverse global movement, in a way that is substantially harder (or perhaps impossible) to do otherwise. This opportunity leads to conversations and collaborations that cross projects, languages and geographical boundaries, at a scale that could not be achieved simply through regional or thematic conferences alone, and it may also promote more unity across the movement. Those responses have been used to build a unique value statement for Wikimania (above).
Wikimania...has [the] unique value of putting our very diverse community together, with people of different countries (from Global North editors of English Wikipedia to Global South editors of small local wikis), different backgrounds (from tech experts to education and GLAM specialists), different experience and interests etc. There is no way to achieve this in any other way.— Anonymous
At Wikimania in Mexico City I discussed very different subjects, from forming regional groups in my country (something I am interested in as a chapter member) to discussions on global rename policy (something I am interested in as a bureaucrat), including a lot of things from translations to Wikidata. I could have [only] achieved this by attending probably 5 or 6 other conferences otherwise.— Anonymous
The value of Wikimedia movement conferences overall
Most participating community members indicated that the proposed value statement and associated outcomes were consistent with their experience. Less than 10% disagreed with the proposed value statement. A few proposed adjustments, additions or clarifications; these improvements have been incorporated into the updated value statement (above).
- Improvement suggestions: Most common suggestion was that the value statement should emphasize how face to face interactions are the foundation for relationship building at the conference; without these relationships, the primary outcomes - statements #1-3 above - would be less likely to happen.
- Concerns: The most concern or disagreement (about 10%) was expressed around statement #3, previously stated as "Resolving issues, or making progress toward resolving issues". While many recognized the value and importance of discussing issues, most also emphasized the difficulty in actually resolving issues, due to the short timeframe of the conference and the absence of broader community involvement.
Yes, [these values] are generally consistent, although I think these statements apply to small conferences and local meetups more than large international conferences.— Anonymous
I believe the face-to-face contact at a global event helps tremendously in making an excellent connection that you can refer to in the future when the right circumstances arise.— Anonymous
Issue 2: Rethinking the overall form of Wikimania
Participants expressed the most support for Option 3, followed by Option 1.
- Analysis of responses showed there were about 55 instances of support (61.1%) for Option 3, and about 47 instances of support (52.2%) for Option 1. There were only 16 instances of support (17.8%) for Option 2.
Participants were most frequently concerned with Option 2.
- There were about 36 instances of explicit concerns (40%) raised about Option 2 , whereas concerns were raised for Option 3 only 9 times (10%), and for Option 1 only 13 times (14.4%).
Concerns and Support for Options
Option 1 (Change to Global Rotation)
- Support: People who supported Global Rotation often pointed out that being able to meet year-to-year as a unified movement is valuable, and that this applies to individuals new to the movement in addition to ongoing projects and collaborative efforts.
- Concerns: People who were concerned with Option 1 were not convinced that the existing bidding system was problematic, or desired more information about the details of how global rotation would work in practice. Some also felt that the costs of Wikimania – in terms of finances, time demands, and other resources – are too great.
Option 2 (Change to Regional/Thematic Conferences)
- Support: There was a low level of support for focusing solely on regional and thematic conferences, and few explanations were provided by participants for this preference. One participant noted that for individuals who do not speak English, regional and thematic events are the only opportunity to attend Wikimedia conferences. Another individual felt there were advantages to holding conferences gradually through the year.
- Concerns: Participants overwhelmingly rejected the notion of abandoning Wikimania altogether, as it has unique value independent of regional and thematic conferences.
Option 3 (Alternate)
- Support: Support for this hybrid approach was based on feedback that more can and should be done to support regional and thematic conferences. Many specifically framed this option as a balanced approach to supporting Wikimedia projects and participants through conferences. Some participants proposed that regional/thematic conferences could serve as useful precursors in preparation for the larger Wikimania conference in the following year.
- Concerns: While there were few concerns with this option, some expressed that working relationships with individuals they are accustomed to seeing at Wikimania would be difficult to maintain if they could only meet every two years. Likewise, it may also be more difficult to initiate and maintain projects and initiatives where meetups at Wikimania are useful.
Other suggestions and concerns
A number of specific suggestions and concerns about the more detailed aspects of Wikimania's organization were also brought up by participants. This information, summarized below, will be collated in more detail at Wikimania/Consultation suggestions, for handoff to planning committees and future organizers of Wikimania and other conferences.
Based on the above findings from this consultation, the following next steps are now under consideration:
|2016||Wikimania in Esino Lario, as planned. |
Setup WMF Conference Support systems for improving grants and other resources to regional/thematic event organizers
|2017||Wikimania 2017 in Montreal, as planned. |
Setup and planning for "option 3" experimentation with community input, including plans to address key concerns identified for this option
|2018||Year of no Wikimania; Increase support and connections for regional and thematic conferences|
|2019||Wikimania under experimental rotational model, including any suggestions/revisions from Wikimanias 2016 & 2017|
Got questions or other thoughts to share about these reported outcomes? Please post them on the discussion page!
- e.g. see Grants:IdeaLab/Reimagining WMF grants/Outcomes and Grants:IdeaLab/Future IdeaLab Campaigns/Results
- One additional aspect brought up by just a few participants is that movement conferences are also a public relations or outreach opportunity. These comments mentioned the value of conferences is in bringing attention from the "larger world", via media attention, partnerships, or important speakers. We suggest that based on the small number of comments this is not yet fully agreed upon by the community as a key outcome or value, but this point should be monitored and kept in mind for potential future inclusion when more data is available.
- Note: Some of these participants (approximately 10) expressed interest in either option.