Report on Bay Area WikiSalon's first Wikidojo

Here are my notes base on the Wikidojo we conducted in June 2016 at the Bay Area WikiSalon, creating an article on the Ghost Town Royals. These notes are somewhat detailed; for a more broad overview, see this blog post.

Getting the article started. Ben, Eugene, and Pete. For more photos (mostly by Pax Ahimsa Gethen), see the Commons category for the event.
Video of (most of) our Wikidojo

Be prepared:

  • Set up computer ahead of time. Be sure to have "mirrored mode" set up, so the user and the audience are seeing the same thing; and to have a clean, uncluttered desktop, without multiple programs or browser windows open.
  • Needs to be comfortable for all. Be sure to have a standard mouse. Sitting is better than standing (for people of different heights, so you don't have to adjust lectern or microphone height).
  • Use a microphone stand or lapel clip for the pilot, they only have two hands! If you don't have a stand, you might do OK with the copilot handling the mic; but this takes some skill and confidence, so use it as a last resort.
  • Train everybody to put the mic right next to their mouth, and remind them when they (inevitably) move it further from their mouth.

Intro exercise:

  • If people don't all know each other, they may be extra hungry to jump in and offer tips. Suggestion: Consider a 10 minute exercise before the Wikidojo to introduce everybody, and let them talk about what topics or wiki techniques they like, what they know, what they want to learn, etc.
  • Would it be possible to weave account creation for newbies, and password-resetting for infrequent editors, into the intro exercise? If so, perhaps having each pilot use their own account would be possible, without taking up too much time.
  • Be explicit about video recording etc., and consider not doing it! We did record by video, and I didn't think to bring it up ahead of time. At least one attendee was reluctant to participate because they didn't want to be on camera. In hindsight, even though it's nice to have a record, I'd rather just skip the video rather than have anybody feel less comfortable participating.

Picking the pilot and copilot:

  • Maybe a very charismatic or outgoing newbie would be an ideal one to get things started?
  • How to choose the next copilot? We had the outgoing pilot choose, which worked fine; but it could be done other ways, as well.

Say to the crowd ahead of time:

  • Be comfortable with silence. Let the pilot and copilot team find their rhythm; some will be more talkative than others, and that's OK.
  • Let the pilot make mistakes! We will debrief and learn at the end.
  • We are not trying to make a perfect article. Making mistakes is a benefit -- when it's your turn to pilot, you can demonstrate how to fix the problem!

Think through these things in advance -- it will make you a better facilitator:

  • As facilitator, certain things made me want to butt in. Be clear in your head where your boundaries are. Will you let a pilot upload a copyrighted photo? In hindsight, I think you should! But this one was a challenge for me. What if somebody goes down a rabbit hole and starts editing related articles instead of the main one?
  • When people want to stray from the format, how will you handle that?

Event design things to work on:

  • Find a way to make it possible for everybody to log into their own account. Identity is so important on Wikipedia! Let's not dumb this down if at all possible. See intro exercise, above, which could be part of the solution -- making sure everybody has an account and remembers their password before you get started.

Suggested changes to format

  • Copilot wanders and seeks input, and interfaces with audience. This was tried on the second round. My take, as facilitator, was that this interfered with establishing a rhythm of pilot-and-copilot interaction. We tried (with some success) to get back to the initial format in subsequent rounds. (But surprisingly -- to me -- the "everybody shouts stuff out" format was more popular when I asked for a show of hands at the end.)
  • Create a channel for asynchronous suggestions (Google Doc, Etherpad...) which the pilot may visit at their discretion. This was a very poplular suggestion, I would like to try it.
  • Suggested to work on an existing article, rather than starting from scratch. This could be an interesting exercise, but I personally am more interested in seeing what a group can come up with to begin with. A significant consideration would be whether you're trying to build an article, or whether you're trying to learn something about wiki. My intention with this, and the original Wikidojo idea, are more about the latter.