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Grants talk:Conference/FloNight & Rosiestep/WikiConference North America 2016

GAC members decisionsEdit

GAC members who support this requestEdit

GAC members who support this request with adjustmentsEdit

GAC members who oppose this requestEdit

GAC members who abstain from voting/commentEdit

GAC commentsEdit

Community commentsEdit

Previous iteration of thisEdit

For 2016, much of the community discussion around the North America conference began in the context of this proposal -

As that proposal became more developed, the team in Seattle came to realize that community organization and resources in Seattle did not make the present the best time and place for a conference there. At that point, there had been community discussion about how much money the WMF was able to offer, which individuals were available to serve in various roles, what community groups could contribute, and which local community organizations can contribute to the event. Around the time that the Seattle proposal was about to be withdrawn, Mel stepped forward to share her expertise and professional network in San Diego. The major contributions that she offered included event coordination expertise, negotiation with an appropriate venue for hosting, and connections to a the right local community participant base.

Anyone considering this grant should see in in the context of months of national discussion for the withdrawn grant. Much of online organization for the previous conference carries over to the planning of this one. For that reason, this conference proposal should not be seen as hurried or suddenly imagined. There is an expectation that support for the previous proposal, and the legacy of the two previous conferences in NYC and DC, should carry over to this event. Blue Rasberry (talk) 11:45, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

WMF CommentsEdit

Community questionsEdit

Question about datesEdit

Hi DrMel and FloNight, I see that the end date of this grant is October 15, which is a Saturday. Does that mean that this conference is happening Wed 10/12 through Sat 10/15? I was thinking that the conference would end on Sunday, which would make the dates Thurs 10/13 through Sunday 10/16. Adding to the confusion is a statement in the grant proposal that the dates of the conference are "Saturday noon – Monday 5 p.m." Please clarify. Thanks! --Pine 19:14, 5 July 2016 (UTC)

@Pine:According to the #Venue, the conference will be held in "3-day holiday weekend Oct 8–10".--AddisWang (talk) 15:21, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
A pre-conference will happen on Friday October 7, and the main conference will start on Saturday Oct. 8th and go through Monday Oct. 10th. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 15:59, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
Thank you. --Pine 16:49, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Question about event managementEdit

Big conferences are difficult to pull off without a large team of committed volunteers and/or a paid conference manager. DrMel I was under the impression that you were going to be contracted to do some of this work and paid accordingly. I don't see a line in this budget for paid conference management, so I'd like to know what the plan is. As was discussed in the recent Zoom meeting, there are lots of details like catering, insurance, fundraising, and outreach that need to be addressed, whether by a team of volunteers and/or by a paid event manager. Thanks, --Pine 21:22, 5 July 2016 (UTC)

A team of volunteers are organizing the conference. We held several meeting at the Diversity Conference and at Wikimania, and there is strong support from many active volunteers from across the United States to make this event happen. We created a Facebook group and a google planning document where there is more details. And we are coordinating with DrMel and the folks at San Diego Library and Balboa Park. The Wikimedia DC and Wikimedia NYC are experienced at planning similar events so we are not lacking for people who understand the scale and level of detail to make this conference happen. Additionally, several other people who are involved have previous experience planning Wikimanias including Wikimania 2015 in Mexico City. So, there is little risk that the event will not be successful due to lacking of planning. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 16:13, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
OK, thanks for the info. --Pine 16:50, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

I object to the characterization of the Wikiconference 2015 in Washington DC as being "successfully organized". I'll have more on this later, but it was neither an open conference, nor managed according to the procedural guidelines of the host facility. Until later, there is this blog which addresses the main concerns. - Thekohser (talk) 12:51, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

Looks like my concern was completely ignored. - Thekohser (talk) 13:27, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

Event insuranceEdit

Hi organizers, I notice that there's no mention of event insurance in the budget request. Is this being handled through some other means? If not, I would encourage you to add event insurance to the budget request. Event insurance probably should include cancellation insurance (for example, in case the library closes for some reason), property liability insurance, and injury liability insurance. --Pine 01:50, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

Being handled by other means. Pine, feel free to read the google documents and join the Facebook group where these types of items are being discussed. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 01:56, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
Sydney Poore/FloNight my understanding from Kirill is that general liability insurance is being covered by the library. Do you know if that insurance extends beyond the property of the library to other aspects of the conference? If not, I would suggest researching the cost for broader general liability coverage and adding it to the grant request. I would also suggest adding a request for funding of event cancellation insurance. --Pine 00:42, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
You need to see if the library requires us to apply to be covered as an "additional insured" (possibly with a fee) or to have our own policy. I am virtually certain that it will not cover any event off the premises of the library. The question is if WMF has insurance to cover their events; it's probably best to get a rider on theirs. Montanabw (talk) 00:45, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
Montanabw WMF does not provide support of this kind - insurance, direct legal advice, management - to the Wikimedia community. WM NYC is organizing insurance. Contact Becksguy for details. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:40, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, we discussed that on the conference call Friday. Interesting that WMF is so hands-off; don't they have to formally recognize these user groups? Oh well. If NYC can handle it, great. There does have to be some entity legally responsible... Montanabw (talk) 18:16, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
Email me if you want to arrange to talk more by voice or video about chapter organization. There are no secrets, but also, there is not online documentation about these relationships and how things works. Anyone could document such things if they like. The situation is that the WMF wishes to avoid the en:moral hazard of being compromised by having liability for the actions of user groups/chapters without any ability to control the actions of those groups. If groups can take risks to get benefits while leaving responsibility for addressing problems to someone else then there is trouble. In general, groups should balance their appetite for risk with responsibility to fix their own problems. WMF provides funding and demands accountability (and demanding accountability is a sort of support), but other support is limited. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:05, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
Oh, I hear their reasoning, I just don't agree with it. Amateurish. Many national organizations that form local chapters have ways to find a middle ground. But don't worry, I'm just being grumpy today. ;-) Montanabw (talk) 21:50, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

Choice of communications chairEdit

I presume the role of communications chair is akin to public relations, so I would object to the current choice for that position. Anyone who serves as the public representative of a group or event should be someone who is not a public relations liability. Unfortunately, Gamaliel has generated some negative attention for the Wikimedia community recently due to his poor conduct towards a writer critical of him and Wikipedia.

Now, I understand Gamaliel contends that he was not trying to get a critic fired from his job, but to me and most people that would be a flimsy excuse. Repeatedly contacting another individual's employer with defamatory smears and claiming in those messages that people have been fired for such things in the past is behavior a reasonable person has to expect could result in termination of employment. Even his claim many hours later that he was trying to get the writer's commentary stopped creates a bad impression as it looks like an attempt at having a critic muzzled by his employer. There is some indication that it has been successful because the critic has indicated there are certain matters he can no longer talk about.

It should also be noted that the critic is someone who joined Wikipedia to not only address certain smears of him on the site, but also made a few constructive improvements to articles. So this was not only harassment of a critic, but harassment of a member of the Wikimedia community that would appear to violate at least the English Wikipedia's harassment policy. All of this is in addition to the controversial circumstances he recently found himself in on Wikipedia as one of few ArbCom members to have the unique distinction of being subject to an arbitration case while an active member. He resigned from his position during the case and there was a good deal of legitimate criticism that ArbCom covered for their fellow member to insure he would not be at risk of losing his admin status as well.

Choosing someone with that history, which is still fresh in people's memories, as the public representative of a major annual community event is misguided and could generate undue and distracting negative attention on the event.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 23:02, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

It looks like your concern was completely ignored. Perhaps you were contacted privately about this, TDA? - Thekohser (talk) 13:27, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

Funding DecisionEdit

Hi FloNight and Rosiestep thank you for all of the hard work you and the organizing team have put in to planning this event and creating this grant proposal. We especially appreciate DrMel and other volunteers in San Diego who put a lot of work into finding a free venue and coordinating efforts between several user groups to plan the events. We are pleased to support this event with US$50,000 in funding. In the last few weeks we have discussed the proposal on several phone calls with Rosiestep and FloNight, who have taken the lead on organizing the grant request and coordinating the work of other organizing team members. Prior to that, we met with ~10 representatives from several North American user groups at Wikimania to discuss goals and priorities for the event. We are pleased with the progress they have made in setting goals for the event that primarily represent the needs of active Wikimedians and affiliates. We look forward to working with the organizing team in the months leading up to the conference. --KHarold (WMF) (talk) 17:59, 9 August 2016 (UTC)

Thank you, Kacie!! :-) Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 18:10, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
Thank you, Kacie! --Rosiestep (talk) 22:04, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
Are there really no concerns @KHarold (WMF): with regards to Gamaliel's selection as Communications chair? I would note the critic whose employer he contacted, has already taken notice. Given this was previously covered in the media, there is a good chance it will be covered again now that the WMF has decided to grant $50,000 to the event despite Gamaliel's role as its PR rep.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:38, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
@Mdennis (WMF): @KLove (WMF): Since it seems Kacie is not going to respond, perhaps one of you could address the issue I raised in this section or the section above. I see under this proposed budget Gamaliel, as a member of the core organizing team, would have travel and accommodations covered. This would mean the WMF is literally paying for someone who threatened the job of a critic with false smears to travel across the country and serve as this event's representative. Probably should include @Heather (WMF): in this as a member of the communications team @Ed Erhart (WMF): seemed to implicitly endorse Gamaliel's actions at the time. He did delete the comment, but if that was done to avoid any appearance of the WMF endorsing Gamaliel's conduct then this grant undermines that effort.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:01, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
As the only reply I have received from any member of the Foundation is a canned response expressing confidence in everyone involved, I would ask @FloNight: and @Rosiestep: to explain if they were aware of the history I highlighted in the section above this one. Gamaliel just last month threatened the job of a critic who is also a contributor on Wikipedia and furthermore someone who is a member of the press. Does the role of communications chair mean Gamaliel will be expected to interact with the press or act as a public representative of the conference? This is normally what a communications role would imply, but him serving in that role would be very concerning given that recent history. Him being a beneficiary of the WMF grant as a member of the core organizing team aggravates that problem. Were either of you aware of Gamaliel's recent actions and do you condone those actions? Since Wikimedia DC is listed as fiscal sponsor and said to be "administering" the grant I think it is important WMDC president @Kirill Lokshin: respond on this point as well. I also am curious whether it was the two grantees or WMDC who approved Gamaliel's selection as communications chair and placement on the core organizing team.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 22:15, 19 August 2016 (UTC)

Budget changeEdit

Hi FloNight, thank you for emailing me with your request to change part of the budget, captured in the following quote: "With the amount already budgeted, the donation from American Chemical Society, and paid registration fees we run about $1000 short. So, we would like to shift $1000 from Conference Materials to the Catering budget. (signage, registration badges, wristbands, other office supplies is covered by the remaining $1000)By doing this shift, we can pay the deposits for catering with peace of mind. :-) " The request to make this change is approved. --KHarold (WMF) (talk) 19:11, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

Thank you, Kacie. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 19:13, 26 September 2016 (UTC)
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