Talk:Learning patterns/Five tips for preparing a great conference

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This is just a draft. Very open to ideas, criticism. Please comment. Tony (talk) 04:00, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Avoid brainstorming sessionsEdit

Dear Tony1, thanks for the work. The title "Avoid brainstorming sessions" is great; I have to admit that it trigged my interest and I wanted to read further. My impression though is that the text in this session is slightly contradictory in respect to what you say afterwards:

  • With your core team, do the initial brainstorming at an early stage by reaching out to likely participants—onwiki, by email, by skype, by phone.
  • you also hope that entirely new ideas will come up

It would be nice maybe to suggest in your session that brainstorming should happen with your team before the conference and that ideas can be collected using other kind of sessions.

During Wikimania London in a discussion day we had a brainstorming session which was actually pretty nice. Maybe it was the size and diversity of participants at Wikimania or the format, in any case it worked very well to collect ideas. Lodewijk wrote an article about and maybe it is worth having a look The session was very structured (I perfectly agree with the remark you include in the text about roundtables): we had three general rules and we asked for at least 30 ideas and we set a precise timetable. I was surprised of how much people contributed. It was also fun (we did it in other sessions) to have people rising their hands to agree or not agree on issues. Online we always have rather one-to-one conversations and having a sense of how a room of around 50 people see things/position itself it is really cool (and conferences are a good occasion to do it).

Thanks, --iopensa (talk) 12:45, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

Thanks, Iopensa—good feedback that I'll follow up what you say when I go over this LP (soon). It's nice to know that conferences really can work ok—but it's my experience that they generally don't, from looking at PEG applications and reports. Tony (talk) 04:23, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

Note conference by labor investmentEdit

I think this proposal should be narrowed to a particular sort of conference, and not generalized to conferences of all sizes. Wikimedia conferences can be defined by the following attributes:

  1. How many total hours of labor (volunteer plus staff) will be committed to preparation
  2. How many additional hours of labor can be recruited, and by what date will this number be confirmed or revised
  3. Of these hours, note which ones are committed to only doing certain tasks, and not for preparation as needed

The labor makes the conference.

This proposal presumes a significant time investment in conference programming preparation - probably not less than 100 hours. That kind of planning investment in programming would be excessive for a niche topic conference of 30 people, and might would be excessive for a volunteer-oriented conference of up to 200 people if submissions and presentations will be made by volunteers. These planning descriptions are nice but I would not say that these are minimal requirements for most conferences generally. These are time-intensive proposals that assume a well-funded conference where the conference organizers have significant clout to call for the participants to conform to conference planning instead of to spontaneously be Wikimedians as usually happens. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:14, 23 April 2016 (UTC)


This describes one way to successfully run a conference; but it is far from the only way to do so. Avoiding brainstorming and pre-announced session structure are the antithesis of unconferences, for example, which can be highly effective. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:02, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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