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Grants talk:PEG/SPARC/OpenCon 2016

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Comments SolstagEdit

Seems like a great idea to have a more coordinated presence of Wikimedians at OpenCon. However:

  • I find it a bit troubling that this request is made apparently without any previous participation, contact or mention of Wikimedia DC.
  • I think the criteria for selecting those Wikimedians to be supported by Wikimedia at OpenCon should be better explained. The proposal says "most effective, most engaged", but I can think of a lot of effective and engaged Wikimedians that wouldn't profit from being at OpenCon. It should be more clear who are the people they're targeting: wikimedian academics? prolific editors? experienced advocates? A mix of those? And why.
  • I don't get the emphasis on the "Wikimedia Legal Team", but perhaps I'm out of the loop at this point. Sure they do some advocacy, but so does a lot o people in the community without even knowing that team exists.
  • I worry that the impact will vary a lot depending on the level of coordination between those Wikimedians, in particular how they coordinate previous and during the conference. There is not much discussion of this in the proposal, only about follow up, as if this was mostly about strengthening Wikimedians to do advocacy.

Finally, given the items above, I don't agree there are no significant risks to the proposal. I'm sure the conference will be a success and I am enthusiastic of both the conference for its own sake and of a stronger Wikimedian participation, but that doesn't make the grant without risks.

Disclaimer: I have attended OpenCon 2015 and organized a satellite event that same year.

--Solstag (talk) 16:49, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for the comments. I've addressed each below.
* We've since reached out to Wikimedia DC. Because OpenCon is globally focused, we didn't immediately think about the local organization in DC; however, we should and plan to involve them, as suggested.
* The main criteria for selection is who is likely have the most impact following OpenCon, which is a mixture of many factors (past history as a leader in the Wikimedia community, past advocacy experience, demonstrated interest in OpenCon's issue areas, etc). This will be judged based on application questions which ask people to describe their interest in Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education as well as the projects or ideas for projects they have that could advance these issues. We plan to provide a shortlist of the best applications from the Wikimedia community to a group of those we've worked with on these issues in the past, including Ocaasi_, Daniel_Mietchen, Dimi_z, MBrar_, for their input in making a final selection. We use a similar process for other organizations that sponsor individuals to participate in OpenCon.
* We mention the Wikimedia Legal Team, because they've previously highlighted Open Access as an advocacy priority. We want to make sure this effort is aligned with theirs to maximize impact. As stated above, we also value input from the community, especially those who have been engaged on these issues.
* Agree that coordination among those Wikimedians selected to attend is critical, and we believe there will be significant time for this coordination to be established at the meeting and will support follow up afterward. We've seen similar collaborations form out of OpenCon (the OOOCanada Research Network, Open Access South Africa, our early career librarian network) and feel there is strong reason to believe a similar collaboration among Wikimedians could grow out of this year's meeting.
I hope this addresses your concerns and appreciate the help refining this idea!
--Nshockey2 (talk) 12:05, 2 August 2016 (UTC)
Hello. Thank you Nick, that's all great to hear! I'm perfectly satisfied by the answers =) Hope this works out well, --Solstag (talk) 12:18, 2 August 2016 (UTC)

Comments MADeEdit

I support two comments by Solstag:

  • collaboration with Wikimedia DC. I think this is key to have a good coordination between the selected Wikimedians. Have you been in contact since his comment?
  • selection of the Wikimedians should be explained more in detail. The WMF has a lot of experience in this regard (with the Wikimania scholarships). It would be wise to use this also for the selection for OpenCon.

I have two additional comments:

  • last year I was disappointed by the lack of open and honest communication by the organisers. I felt the event was organised by marketeers instead of open source enthusiasts. Have you taken any actions since last year to improve this point?
  • I don't think it is wise for the WMF to spend 18k$ only on travel and accomodation, as we have no real control on who will get the scholarships. A better solution would be for interested people to send in a Travel & Participation Support grant on meta. MADe (talk) 08:27, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for the comments, MADe. I've addressed each below.
* As I mention above in my response to Solstag, OpenCon is globally focused, so our goal is to spur collaboration and coordination on Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education advocacy between Wikimedians around the world and build capacity in different regions. For this reason, we hadn't immediately thought about Wikimedia DC but agree they should be included, especially given their location nearby. As mentioned, we are currently in touch with them.
* Do you have specific questions regarding the selection process not covered in my response to Solstag? Through our application process, we have detailed information provided by many dozen Wikimedians interested in Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education as well as their ideas for advancing these issues within their local contexts. We propose to work with both key members of the WMF team and Wikimedians who have been active around OpenCon's issue areas to make final selections based on consensus.
* I'm not sure what you mean by "the event was organized by marketeers instead of open source enthusiasts" or by the communications not being "open and honest." I would be happy to respond if you could provide a bit more detail. OpenCon is hosted by SPARC, a non-profit library membership organization that helps lead the global advocacy effort for opening up research and education (for which I serve as the Director of Programs & Engagement).
* Since we're not asking for any general support from WMF and will be covering core costs through separate fundraising, we will be putting all of the $16,100 requested directly toward the cost of attendance of the Wikimedian participants selected. As mentioned above, we propose to work closely with both WMF and Wikimedians active in OpenCon's issue areas to make the selections by consensus. By making these decisions in partnership, we can better ensure we have the strongest possible group and one that will compliment those Wikimedians who have already been accepted for the conference.
I hope this helps address your concerns. If you have any others or follow up questions, I would be happy to try to address those as well.
--Nshockey2 (talk) 02:11, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
On the point of the selection process, it remains still very vague. This whole grant is about spending 16k$ on a limited number of scholarships. I expect a better developed plan to shortlist them. You mention this selection will be done together with the WMF, how will this be done? And with who?.
My experiences were based on several emails received and sent to the organisation. And on a (perceived?) reluctance from the organisors to work with the local Wikimedia chapter. These two points combined gave me the impression I described in my earlier comment.MADe (talk) 17:41, 11 August 2016 (UTC)
Hi MADe, thanks again for the comments. Going to try and address your second comment as I can see you and I spoke.
Apologies if you didn't find emails from us/me to be open and honest, I can see why you might feel that way, I could certainly have done a better job in answering your questions. The waitlisting process I think you experienced last year has been adjusted to provide more clarity for people. The process is incredibly complex and we're constantly trying to make it better. We also restructured the way we took questions this year to ensure they're answered quickly and well. For what it's worth, the tool at the heart of the application process is one we built and made Open Source ( with updates from this year to be posted soon) and I'm one of the founders of the Open Access Button ( an Open Source tool for helping people access research - so no lack of enthusiasm for Open Source here. I can say there was no reluctance on our part to work with the local Wikimedia chapter. We were extremely pleased when it reached out, and responded within a few days (we did active outreach to some groups too). It looks like we spoke at least once on the phone about collaboration, but I can see no clear actions in my notes from the meeting. I'm not sure why that would've been now, but we don't have enough resources to ignore opportunities for productive collaborations, so perhaps no opportunities were clear? I can see we did ask the chapter for help on one issue. Again, if this has come off as a reluctance to collaborate I can only apologize. However, we did include Dimitar Dimitrov of Wikimedia deeply in the organization of our Advocacy day as a speaker and on our advisory committee for that part of the event. This year, we've spoken to the President of Wikimedia DC and invited them to send people to the event. --JoeMcArthur (talk) 16:17, 26 August 2016 (UTC)

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