Learning patterns/Hosting an online symposium

A learning pattern forevent
Hosting an online symposium
problemMost Wikimedia events do not translate easily into online formats.
solutionWhen forced to move an in-person event online, an online symposium on a specialized topic can be an effective model.
created on03:15, 18 August 2020 (UTC)

What problem does this solve?


Due to the global pandemic, Wikimedia affiliates were forced to cancel events or move their programming online. There is a need for a median approach between a full online conference or edit-a-thon and a video by a single presenter. A full online conference can take too much volunteer resources in planning, and might offer limited benefit in an environment of competing priorities for attention when many are already experiencing Zoom fatigue. While a single presenter video does not offer the ideas-rich and diverse dialogue that we have come to expect as a Wikimedia movement, and might not generate the excitement of a flagship event.

What is the solution?

  • An online production often means a faster turnaround time, as one does not need to reserve space or order refreshments. Recruiting and working with potential presenters should be possible in a few weeks. Finalize details at least two weeks in advance in order to have time to advertise the event.
  • Identify two to five speakers to present on divergent aspects of a particular topic, as suits the communities’ encyclopedic approach. It’s important to select speakers from different backgrounds and perspectives. Consider an honorarium to recognize their time and expertise.
  • Select a volunteer moderator and one or two additional volunteers to monitor comments during the event. Make sure they are aware of any applicable code of conduct or friendly space policy.
  • Select a distribution platform. A software solution, such as Streamyard, can allow for a livestream with several presenters alongside public comments pooled from multiple social media platforms that can selectively highlighted on-screen. Streamyard will also generate a recording that can be further distributed on Youtube and Wikimedia Commons for future viewings.
  • Develop a schedule so that each speaker can give a presentation, engage with the moderator and public comments, and if time allows the various presenters can engage with each other in a concluding panel.
  • Generate an announcement and distribute it through local channels. Audiences can be targeted through the CentralNotice banner by geography and by level of editing engagement, and it is potentially possible to reach a very wide public audience of Wikimedia project readers if desired for certain topics or special events.
  • After the event, send thank you notes and any honorariums to the speakers and the volunteers. Record how many

When to use




See also