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Narrowing Focus: Wikimania support

This page is for discussion of the proposal, User talk:Sue Gardner/Narrowing focus, and the question of Wikimania support.

Wikimania and other eventsEdit

It seems to me that there are two ways to reduce the burden of event organization within the WMF: either offset it entirely to the community, or (and perhaps and/or) designate a single person as events support. The cost of a single salary, even with administrative overhead, would be less than the current cost (and associated chaos) of events being a poorly-defined part of many peoples' jobs. Regardless of what the foundation supports for the community, there will still be internal events, after all: all-staff etc.

This is just a half-formed thought and I don't think I'm advocating for something either way. I think in an ideal world, hackathons, wikimania, and all other community events would be best organized by either community members directly or via the chapters without WMF intervention or support (which tends to muddy the organizational waters anyway). But I also wonder if a coordinator staff role -- maybe just someone to answer questions directed to the wmf -- would be worth the effort and (though it seems like more investment) would result in less confusion & splitting of focus for everyone else. But maybe given supervision and the offset time burdens (approval of expenses etc) it wouldn't be worth it. I'm not sure. -- phoebe | talk 19:21, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

this is obviously a larger organizational question, of whether having a 'single point' that deals with something (whether email, logistics, or anything else) is every effective/worth it. -- phoebe | talk 19:25, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Seems like a good thing. There is often an issue of who the point of contact is when something is needed inside the WMF, and there are often unclear answers. I've heard of cases where people get shuttled back and forth between others. I've also seen it where WMF staffers apparently end up having free reign in decision making despite their job function not apparently covering this. --LauraHale (talk) 20:20, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
If the WMF is not interested in doing this, I believe the Wikimedia Chapters Association may be interested in supporting such a role (both for regions with and without chapters).--Pharos (talk) 22:07, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
After thinking through this and speaking with various Foundation folks about what effort we typically put in before Wikimania to support the hosting chapter and Wikimania year-over-year, I'm planning to post a draft RFP (request for proposal) for a contractor position who would function as liaison and single, consistent point of contact between Foundation and chapter organizing committee. This contractor would continue the work that the Foundation has previously done. I would love input on the RFP, and would love for community members to be part of the vetting of proposals. I anticipate that this will be a part-time position with substantial conference organizing experience and the ability to support the scholarships process (not selection). Gyoung (talk) 19:57, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
From my experience, Wikimania and meetups don't need any true "organization." Booking a location is very easy, and people mostly mill about and chitchat. The rest is fluff. Ottava Rima (talk) 00:00, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Reminds me of what a former boss, a professional trade show organizer, always said: "If you are a professional who knows what they are doing, the day of the show, all you need to do is stand around and accept congratulations." On behalf of all the DC volunteers, here is one more hearty shout-out and thanks to all the event plannners and staff at various institutions who made Wikimania 2012 look easy! Djembayz (talk) 01:49, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
Obviously, an analysis of whether Wikimania continues to provide value for money to the movement should also be conducted here. Everyone I know who's gone says its awesome, but I'm not 100% sure that having a party of vested contributors in an exotic location every year is the best use of movement funds and resources. Craig Franklin (talk) 13:09, 14 October 2012 (UTC).
"exotic location" - Definitely agree on that point. Why the Foundation is putting any of the money in is kinda silly. Ottava Rima (talk) 13:36, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
I'd agree. Look at the alternatives, if not Wikimania, which is a single annual highly visible event, there isn't much else that you can say that has the same level of direct return. I'd rather see a single large annual event that everyone in the community knows and wants to attend, than have that money go to any of the alternative that WMF would spend on. BTW as far as "exotic locations" go, the last wikimania in Washington DC actually costed more for just the staff to travel and stay in the same country, than the entire cost of organizing Wikimania in Haifa, or Egypt. Exotic isn't necessarily expensive. Does it really matter if there were 3 more contractors working on AFT vs. a Wikimania? or how about 2 more researcher or another "analyst" or "manager". If there is a worthwhile alternative, I'd like to know what Wikimania is taking away from. Theo10011 (talk) 18:31, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, DC was "exotic" to me in the sense that I've never been and I wouldn't mind taking a holiday there (all those museums? The Library of Congress? *drool*) I reckon most Wikimedian types would much rather have a holiday in a cultural centre than sit on a beach sipping piña colada like conferences for other professions do. Craig Franklin (talk) 08:34, 15 October 2012 (UTC).
Yes, we really wanted folks to have a chance to connect with all the cultural resources available here in DC and make plans to come back someday and visit. You've got our e-mails and user pages ... and meanwhile, we can always participate in each others' edit-a-thons remotely. Djembayz (talk) 01:58, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment. I obviously do not have an overview of the subject, but I want to comment on one particular point. I was one of the few active members of the Program Committee for Wikimania-2010 in Gdansk. When we compiled the program, we managed to accept almost all submissions (turning down only the obvious crap), and most of them were oral presentations and panels (though we had to turn some of the submissions to the posters, but I think in the end it was quite a success). The organizing committees of subsequent Wikimamias did not show any interest to my experience, and I did not follow the developments closely. However, I knew that a big number of submissions in 2012 were rejected, including clearly reasonable submissions from experienced mainstream users. And then I learned that several dozens Wikimania presentations were given by the WMF Fellows/employees. Whereas there is nothing wrong in this fact as such, and even nothing particularly wrong in the fact that submissions were turned down to giver room to the employees (they could be just be just inferior, I do not know),but I think there is smth fundamentally wrong in the fact that first Wikimania is slowly turned to the forum where the most speakers are coming from and are paid by WMF, and then suddensly WMF says that there is no money to support this forum any longer. I am sure there are other solutions - for instance, not to pay participation of all employees and fellows, and support people who otherwise were not able to participate. Note also that at least in 2010 the fellowships to participate in Wikimania were awarded without any connection to the program - we compiled the program not knowing who would get a fellowship and who would actually be coming, and in parallel, the fellowships were awarded without any regard on whether people have actually been selected to present anything. --Ymblanter (talk) 12:35, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment: I'm sure there has been many errors in the past in organizing Wikimanias (and there will be in the future), which has probably lead to waste money and time and work, but I don't like the idea (that is passing) that Wikimanias are not worth it.
I believe that they are huge, ever-growing events that make wiki*edians across the world travel and meet and talk, that are useful and rich in conversations and meetings, that make people connect and discover projects and ideas, that are absolutely efficient in making wikiPedians into wikiMedians, etc. Until now, WMF moneys have been absolutely crucial in organizing Wikimanias, I can't imagine a chapter organizing a Wikimania all by itself (with just his funding)(yes, neither WMDE). I think that many results/outcomes of Wikimania are not visible and can't be quantified, but still there are. And I would deeply regret not seeing them any more. Aubrey (talk) 14:04, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

Events committeeEdit

A good thing to do would be to have many people with experience, including the events-running staff at all movement bodies (incl. the foundation, chapters, &c) maintain an events discussion list, provide advice and support to wikimania and other event teams on request, and maintain the reports and plans and debriefs for past events. Ideally we would have a coordinator pool, something like fancyhands, not "owned" or employed by the WMF or a single chapter, but run by an independent group that knows how to get those sorts of well-defined event-running tasks done, which each event could draw on at need. SJ talk  21:14, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

a fine idea :) how to bootstrap? thoughts from others? -- phoebe | talk 17:08, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
I agree, a list should be easy to set up and useful. Aubrey (talk) 14:04, 21 October 2012 (UTC)