Talk:Wikimania/Scholarships

Active discussions

Please participate here! Please add your thoughts regarding the five questions into the appropriate sections below. If you have something else to address, create a new section!

1. Scholarship Review Committee formationEdit

  • My first question is: How is formed now? Who is in it, for how long and what are their roles and duties now? Béria Lima msg 23:13, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
    • Committee Selection: I will be the first to admit I am not totally aware the background of the committee formation either! I believe there was an open call three or so years back, and then a group was selected based on this. From there, it always consists of those from the past year's team who still are interested in participating, 1 WMF member (to organize, not rate), and 1 member from the Wikimania host team. When I joined it in October 2010, the committee consisted of all people from the previous year's + one new member from the Wikimania team + one volunteer who asked to join. Duration of terms is of unlimited and self-determined. For Roles, see "Roles and Responsibilities" or the Wikimania Handbook. Jwild (talk) 16:58, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
    • Let me just state what should be obvious: that way of running a committee is broken and should be fixed, as one result of this discussion. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 23:18, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Few people know or understand how the Scholarship Committee (or the Program Committee) is formed. Ideally they should be elected, although having elections for every committee seems somewhat impractical, so a codified appointments system may be more appropriate. This could involve fixed and staggered terms (such as three year terms with three members appointed per year), and appointments chosen by a trusted individual or small group. CT Cooper · talk 15:54, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
    I like the staggered terms. It's a lot of work on the committee, so maybe the time could be reduced to two instead of three years? Jwild (talk) 16:58, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
    Three year terms led to burn out on the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee, resulting in the terms being reduced to two years which has worked a lot better - so it does make sense to follow this lesson for the Scholarship Committee. The current scholarship committee team comprises of the program manager and six/seven reviewers. It makes sense to give the program manager indefinite appointment subject to remaining in that job at the Foundation, with a set number of reviewer members being appointed every year (at least one representing the next hosts). The total number of reviewers is open to debate - if there is a desire for a quicker review of applications and/or more complex criteria then pushing it up four/five appointments per year (nine to eleven total members, including the program manager) may be appropriate. CT Cooper · talk 19:33, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
    Good comparison point with ArbComm - I think 2 years makes sense. Having 10 active committee members should be plenty and really help the workload - the 9-11 target members would be sufficient and manageable. The election/selection process is the harder topic.... Jwild (talk) 17:07, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
    I'm actually not sure the committees are anything alike. ArbCom operates year-round, on difficult, often convoluted cases, where emotions run high and topics are often inherently controversial. The Wikimania Scholarships Committee is called upon to do its work in one concentrated period of a few weeks, once a year, has far less input to read per applicant, and I would content also far less to read overall, compared to a year's worth of ArbCom cases, and on the other hand, has wider contexts than ArbCom, which is focused on on-wiki occurrences, suggesting a greater benefit from somewhat longer-serving members. I don't think two year terms are a terrible idea, but I would say the analogy to ArbCom would be misleading, in this case, and not a good reason to reject a three-year term. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 23:18, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
    Good points, though I think the reason three year terms were retired goes beyond simply the amount of work. With the voluntary nature of this project, people cannot often think three years ahead and therefore signing up to serve for that long can be a problem. This problem has not completely disappeared with two year terms, but it has been reduced. I'm not completely against three year terms, but on balance, my preference would be in favour of two year terms.
    It would be interesting to know how much workload the Scholarship Committee does actually have to deal with, although I have been given the impression that for at least a short part of the year, it is quite intense - the deadline for the release of results was missed this year by twenty days for instance, and there were then complaints repeatedly posted by recipients on the Wikimania 2012 wiki at things not being done with backlogs e.t.c. How many hours a day/week does the average reviewer need to commit? CT Cooper · talk 17:11, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
    workload: the committee said it was a total of ~55hrs in all, but that's over the course of the whole term. I think during the application period, it is probably ~5-8 hrs/week. Jwild (talk) 18:53, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
    5-8 hrs/week per person isn't too bad for spare time work, though it doesn't leave much room for errors or problems which may increase the workload. So, increasing committee members does appear to be a good idea. CT Cooper · talk 19:26, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
    And please take into account that these volunteers usually already spend their spare time for Wikimedia, contributing to the projects, being active in chapters' work or in other initiatives. So mostly this is an additional commitment. And it is better distributed over several shoulders. --Alice Wiegand (talk) 19:34, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
  • One thing that has been suggested is that those on the Scholarship Committee be "rewarded" for their work with a free or subsidized trip to Wikimania themselves. This sort of incentive hasn't been necessary for most members in the past, since they tended to be board members or sponsored by their chapters, but it could be important in the future as the committee expands: more important than simply providing motivation, this could reduce barriers to entry into the committee itself. As of now, if you are on the committee you are excluded from receiving the scholarship. On the one hand, I think we shouldn't reduce our representation on the committee to only those people who have local chapters which could support them or who have the financial means to support themselves. On the other hand, I don't want the committee to become simply a way to get a free ticket to Wikimania. Thoughts? Jwild (talk) 17:07, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
    Difficult. It makes sense that scholarship reviewers shouldn't be able to get scholarships via the conventional route with the nature of their role, however this cases a problem to people who wanted to become a reviewer but who also need a scholarship, which in turn causes the danger of making the committee the slow ship to Wikimania. The only suggestions I can make is to ensure appropriate vetting of candidates - long-term contributors who are trusted in the community being desirable attributes. Also, a scholarship as a reward shouldn't be automatic, with reviewers being given the option to opt out to a partial scholarship or entirely for any reason they wish, and any scholarships given being subject to those on the team pulling an appropriate amount of weight. CT Cooper · talk 23:20, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
    This seems reasonable; I agree with these suggested stipulations. Maybe the non-guaranteed standard could just be a partial scholarship (whatever that ends up meaning) for the reviewers, with the major deviations stemming from (a) an indication of needing more support, and/or (b) not fulfilling responsibilities. Jwild (talk) 21:31, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
    I am strongly of the opinion guaranteeing a scholarship to committee members is a terrible idea, and would completely corrupt it. Wikimania is wonderful, and anyone who's been to one wants to go on attending every year; we are already witness to a certain amount of wrangling around this, and it would severely undermine us to offer scholarships for the relatively easy work this committee is tasked with while not offering any comparable compensation for folks working in other, probably more strenuous committees, such as the Chapters Committee, ArbCom, etc.
    If it emerges that there is just not enough will in the community to fill this committee without the reward of a guaranteed scholarship, the committee can be put on hold until such time as people do want to get involved again in the scholarship process, for its own sake. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 23:18, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
    I appreciate the strength of this sentiment. Many excellent points, and definitely fair to compare it to the work of other committees. Jwild (talk) 17:51, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
  • We need to get this one figured out ASAP and start the formation of the new committee, and then figure out the rest of these things. Thoughts on how to do this? Perhaps open up a page for nominations? Jwild (talk) 12:45, 5 October 2012 (UTC)
    If there is agreement on number of members and term length (two years, ten members?) then I think it is time to press ahead with inviting applications for appointment, particularly if there is desire to start the scholarships process earlier than previously so the results can be released earlier. For the nominations page, a decision will need to be made on how applications/expressions of interest will be made and ultimately who/what determines appointments - an e-mail was given to send applications to last time round, but I don't know how applications were assessed. In any case, the page should be well advertised. CT Cooper · talk 18:40, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
    AFAIK there were not very many applications last time around, and a single guy from WMF chose the committee based on these. Are people comfortable with this process? I.e., WMF selecting the committee? Jwild (talk) 16:56, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
    With the disclosure that I may or may not be an applicant, I don't have strong views on what the process should be, although I suspect that elections would be overkill for a committee of this nature, so appointment through a trusted group from the Foundation should be sufficient. CT Cooper · talk 20:56, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

2. Chapters, WMF, and Organizing team dynamicsEdit

  • Suggestion: Applicants from countries with chapters who are offering scholarships should be rated by the Scholarship Review Committee, and then be considered only for their local scholarship funding group. If no local scholarship is available, this application will be considered from the Global pot of funding (i.e., WMF's). (See Wikimania Meetup notes)
I Think that in the case that there is a local chapter with scholarship, ALL applicants from that country should be redirect to the chapter. But that might be a problem in case a chapter with a big population and few scholarships. Béria Lima msg 23:33, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I think devolving scholarships to chapters where possible would simplify things greatly. However, the amount of money chapters have/want to spend on scholarships varies wildly - a big problem for such a proposal. A potential solution to this is for the Foundation to provide money to chapters who cannot provide an appropriate amount of scholarships (how "appropriate amount" is to be determined is an open question). CT Cooper · talk 16:09, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Suggestion: Wikimania Scholarships and Wikimania Program selections should be more closely synced. (See Wikimania Meetup notes)
That should be logic and obvious. ;) Is quite amateur to send a "yes, come talk" and a "no, we wont pay you to come" mail in the same day (like happened this year). Béria Lima msg 23:33, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, definitely. CT Cooper · talk 16:09, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
I MOST definitely agree! I must say that the selection messed our program very much and the delay (~3 weeks) of publishing the scholarship list made 4 program members to work 8-10 hrs/day within 4 days to bring in the time. It was crazy!!! The Scholarship team had absolutely ZERO communications with the Program Team, which is very sad. We should have worked together, not against. --OrsolyaVirág (talk) 15:30, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
  • To ensure a chapter is represented in the chapters meeting in any Wikimania event, 40 slots are initially reserved for chapter selection (this will increase depending on number of chapters). A local chapter will choose their chapter selected scholar. The succeeding slots will be determined by the Scholarship Review Committee. Local chapters financially capable of sending more scholars will have an independent selection process. --Exec8 (talk) 06:40, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
    • I don't think that comes under the scope of scholarships - that should be done from chapter funds, either raised by the chapter, or received via an FDC or Grant application. Assuming you're referring to chapter representatives (which I think you are). Mike Peel (talk) 22:11, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
    • I find it could be a good option to have a correct representativity of the chapters, which by principle organize events in their geography so are likely to do a presentation or so. But given the restricted number of scholarships (130 in 2011 from what I saw), perhaps this should only be a more important weight given to people coming on behalf of their chapter, and this weight could only be given if it is likely no one from the country comes. So what I propose is a soft introduction of chapters people, but only if it is valuable for such a person to come. ~ Seb35 [^_^] 06:31, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
  • One concern I have about devolving scholarships to chapters, is that without close coordination there is likely to be (and there may be already) varying standards and selection criteria from chapter-to-chapter. There is also a problem that due to closeness of chapters to some local Wikimedians, that there could be a (unintentional) bias favouring applications who have done a lot of chapter related work, and therefore disadvantaging those that have many general contributions but have no or little link with their local chapter. CT Cooper · talk 16:09, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
I think there are a number of points that need to be balanced. Chapters with different levels of funds will be able to fund different number of people, and sending board members is not automatically included in the budget of most chapters. One could make an argument, that eligible chapters (which is only a subset of all chapters, and other entities, e.g. thematic orgs) should just apply to the FDC; however, I see the risk of creating a scholarship arms race here ("Chapter X got funding for sending 10 people. I only asked to fund 3 people. Next year I will need to be bold and ask for 15 scholarships.") without taking into account the size of communities or the number of eligible applicants in any given country.
In the end, I think it would be useful to have someone from every country that has a chapter (not necessarily from the chapter; but wherever there is a chapter, there is a community with some very motivated people present and a high likelihood that they have done something awesome or at least could put into practice whatever is learned); and that some level of equity would remain between regions and funding entities.
Given that the FDC would be funding or approving the budgets of all chapters, I think it would make sense to think about centralizing scholarships. For this to work, the process of awarding scholarships should be changed a bit (e.g allocating more scholarships to Global North countries), and the criteria or review process a bit improved.– Bence (talk) 22:42, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

This year process was to 1) call for application 2) review by scholarship team 3) approval or rejection by scholarship team 4) forward of an independant list of askers to each chapter
The "good" is that

  • we got a list of names
  • we got the review from the committee to help us pick up names

The "bad" is that

  • we had no idea which names other chapters got (and some names indeed were on several chapters lists. We had to contact each chapter to check who would handle who. ---> confusing for chapter + loss of time
  • some askers did not really understand the process (first yes/no by team; then yes/no by chapters). Others sent request weeks after the close of call. I am not quite sure how this can be improved

The "ugly" was

  • process too late & too slow (both on team and on chapter side) --> stressful for applicants and more expensive
  • misunderstanding of the scholarship team with regards to global pot money requirements, clearly written on the original agreement but apparently not read: choice should have been made by team (but was forwarded to us) and should have supported a certain type of applicants (none suitable on our final list).

3. Ideal transparencyEdit

  • I think one thing that's missing is to inform the people who had their application denied of the motive why that happened. Is quite frustrating not to know what happened. Béria Lima msg 23:16, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
    Agreed. I have had scholarships accepted and rejected in the past, but in neither case I knew what were the motives behind the decision. The process has been quite opaque. Having the list of criteria publicly available and informing each applicant of their score in each criteria, along with the corresponding average and/or cutoff score (and of course, the total score/cutoff as well) would greatly increase transparency and confidence from the applicants that the committee is doing an objective and honest evaluation (note that in no way I believe the opposite). --Waldir (talk) 13:51, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
    Related to my suggestion above: wm2012:Feedback#Selection --Waldir (talk) 14:12, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
    The public table is not an interesting suggestion: not implausible, but fraught with privacy concerns. So, basically this would mean that there would be two tables: one for acceptances and one for rejections (that sounds so harsh! Maybe I'll use "not accepted" to help tone it down...). The ones that are NOT accepted would be by username, with a score for each selection criteria? The biggest privacy concerns could be avoided by making this an opt-IN publication, with the understanding that the only way to receive such feedback is publicly. Another concern I have is people extrapolating their comparative value from these scores through the direct comparison of themselves with others in the movement: this could fuel discouragement for some and entitlement for others, which are both unhealthy for a community! Any more thoughts around this? Jwild (talk) 21:49, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
What's wrong with a list of Usernames and a total scores? We have set up the same table for program submissions. Noone complained. --OrsolyaVirág (talk) 15:41, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Wait, I wasn't talking of public lists. Béria's suggestion was to inform "the people who had their application denied" and I continued that reasoning: each applicant should be informed of their own "scoresheet". Then, in order to have an idea of where they stood among all applicants (which would help in the perception of transparency/objectiveness of the process and competence of the committee), this would be accompanied with the relevant statistical information from all scores combined (I believe the only important ones are the cutoff score for each criteria and how many people got selected), therefore without identifiable information about other individual applicants. So for instance I'd get an email saying something like "Sorry, we had so many applications that yours didn't make the cut. Your combined score on all criteria (link) summed up to 25, but since we had only x scholarships available, the cutoff had to be made at 30. Here's a breakdown of your score in all criteria: ...". How does that sound? --Waldir (talk) 10:17, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Suggestion: Send an email to all applicants who pass or don't pass through the first round of reviews (i.e., the "spam" filter). This will help keep people updated on where they are in the process. (See Wikimania Meetup notes)
    Putting in an application and then hearing nothing for two months or more is not ideal. I agree that a simple e-mail on the results of the first round is sensible, and there possibly should be a second one for those in the top 100 to 150 before final adjustments are made - this would at least inform people how close they came. CT Cooper · talk 16:30, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Thanks for reading the comments on Wikimania wiki. I copy here a small suggestion of mine: publish an official list of scholarship recipients (Nemo 06:05, 24 July 2012 (UTC)). A list of 2012 recipients would still be useful and I don't think it can produce any privacy concern, so why not start immediately? Nemo 23:53, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
    I would support this along with a released attendees list. However, an opt-out option (on application submission for the scholarship recipients list; on registration for the scholarship recipients list) is the only way to completey resolve privacy concerns, and that could only be implemented for 2013 onwards. CT Cooper · talk 16:30, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
    Small point, I think it should be an opt-IN, rather than out, and we should give this option in the acceptance email when it is a reality rather than in the application form. Jwild (talk) 21:49, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Are you sure there are actual privacy problems? I don't see why, this should be confirmed by the legals. --Nemo 09:46, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
    Yes there are privacy problems. Some people want to be anonymous, some okay with disclosing their real names, etc. And we promised in the application form to keep the information private and only shared with those who need it (e.g. scholarship committee, opt-in share with chapters). For 2013, the rules can be changed but the application form needs to be clear about what will be done with information submitted, what will be shared and with whom. For the attendee list, privacy is also important and even things like "i am willing to be contacted by the Wikimedia Foundation storyteller or be interviewed" (IMHO) should be opt-in. Cheers. Aude (talk) 15:19, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
    Ok for the past if your language was so strict (does it really apply to everything? of course we're not going to share addresses etc., the point is the proportionality), but as you say rules can be changed. I agree that "i am willing to be contacted by the Wikimedia Foundation storyteller or be interviewed" should be opt-in because it's not related to the scholarship process (as a marketing newsletter is not related to your purchase on a website); apart from that an attendees list doesn't need to provide any contact info: usernames are enough and if one doesn't want to be contacted there's the option to disable emails from users. --Nemo 06:07, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
    I agree with Nemo here. Sharing only the list of recipients (username or real name, as they prefer) would be a great move towards increased transparency. --Waldir (talk) 13:51, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
    Agree with this "opt-IN" as well. Perhaps this too could be part of the acceptance email, rather than the application. Jwild (talk) 21:49, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
    Nemo: I wanted to confirm that Aude's explanation above is accurate. If we are going to disclose an applicant's information, we should have their consent. I can work with the scholarship team to change the 2013 process so that we have proper consent, but we should first figure out what sort of information may be disclosed. Cheers, Stephen LaPorte (WMF) (talk) 19:57, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

4. Encouraging new participationEdit

  • That really depends. If confronted with 2 applicants with the same background and who meets all the criteria in the same way, we should opt for the one who never went to wikimania of course. But let's be honest, how many times that will be the case? A question to make now is: What is the racio now? Béria Lima msg 23:20, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • I think we should perfectly mix innovation and tradition: if there were peer candidates, we should choose 50% of people already been to Wikimania, and 50% of people never gone there. Larry.europe (talk) 12:44, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Previous attendance clearly is important to the process, yet it does not form part of the current criteria as posted at wm2012:Scholarships. I proposed adding in a criteria which negatively weights previous attendance at wm2012:Feedback#Scholarships, and it so happens this was also proposed in the meetup. How much the weighting should be is open to debate - attendance to Wikimanias before two/three years ago should not be taken into account, although I think giving a 0.7 (70%) penalty just for attending the previous year as suggested in the minutes, is way too high, and creates a cliff edge if there is no consideration for Wikimanias before that. Something like 0.2 (20%) penalty for attending Wikimania the year before, added onto a 0.1 (10%) penalty for attending the Wikimania two years before, would be fairer. CT Cooper · talk 16:45, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
    • Note, that 0.7 was a multiplicative factor I suggested - multiply the rating by that number to get the weighted rating - so it's a 30% penalty, not a 70% penalty. But it was just a number off the top of my head that felt sort-of right. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 17:34, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
      • Oh yes, my maths got rather muddled there, and we are in rough agreement on the sort of negative weighting required. To clarify, something along the lines of multiplying by 0.8 (20%) for attending the previous Wikimania and 0.9 (10%) for attending the Wikimania two years before, with someone who attended both having their score multiplied by 0.7 (30%), could work. However, there are many combinations which could be proposed and this is also just an example. CT Cooper · talk 18:38, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
        • To be a bit critical of the concept: we have to consider the reality that some areas will only be able to produce at most 1-2 people who will be genuinely interested (and who will have the time, and will be willing to take the effort) to actually go to a Wikimania. I'm fortunate to have been to Wikimanias twice, and I gladly support the idea of generating new participation, but we must consider that negatively weighing previous attendance to allow for new faces to go may have an impact as to which people attend, let alone where they attend from. I must agree with Waldir here: especially coming from a small Wikimedia community, we need to think of ways to reach those communities, and to give incentives for people to attend Wikimania. In the absence of that, a community represented by someone who has been to Wikimanias several times is still better than a community represented by a newbie, or not at all. --Sky Harbor (talk) 16:06, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
          • Well, putting it in the criteria would be as much as about limiting its effect than retaining it. As it stands at the moment, the affect of previous participation or lack of it on ones chances is clearly large and potentially unlimited, with no line drawn on how many years ago previous attendance has to be to be counted. A fixed number, particularly a low one, would serve to put a cap on it. I'm not too concerned about disproportionate effects across regions, since under the system introduced this year, individuals from the same region compete with each other for a scholarship - and if there was only a few applicants, all of whom with good scores had previously attended Wikimania, then then the previous attendance criterion would make no difference. CT Cooper · talk 17:10, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
  • When I first applied for a Wikimania scholarship, it was only because Cary Bass sent me a message in my talk page (he was messaging several active editors of African origins to increase diversity in Wikimania participation). I wouldn't have even considered it otherwise. We should think of ways to reach those valuable, dedicated editors from smaller Wikimedia communities/backgrounds who could benefit from the Wikimania experience, especially those who don't know a previous attendant who could incite them to apply. --Waldir (talk) 14:00, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
  • These comments and the title only refer to previous attendance, regardless of prior scholarships. Is that implicit or does attending a Wikimania on one's own expenses also impact on future consideration? 62.255.129.19 00:08, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
    I would say the criteria should only apply to scholarship-sponsored attendance. Jwild (talk) 18:59, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
    I don't have a strong opinion either way on the issue. There is some logic to saying only previous attendances which are scholarship driven should be counted as it is the fair distribution of the foundation's resources that matters here - making self-paid for attendances arguably irrelevant. Also, having only scholarship sponsored attendance count would avoid the potential quirk of someone asking for a scholarship one year, getting it, then paying it themselves the following year verses someone paying for themselves one year then needing a scholarship the next year, but not getting it with previous attendance. The main counter-argument to this way of doing it is that it would allow individuals who could afford to come on their own expenses some or all of the time get themselves a scholarship every few years or so, resulting in those who could never afford to come on their funds would loose out. In any case, if only counting scholarship sponsored attendance is carried forward, then the difference between a partial and full scholarship should be recognized e.g. under the proposed criteria, previously receiving a partial scholarship could attract half the penalty of a full one. CT Cooper · talk 21:19, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Perhaps one way to make a good balance might be to only weakly count such contributions that are made before the last scholarship granted to the relevant person. For example, suppose one was granted a scholarship for WM 2010 based primarily on his/her 50k contributions in the 2006-2010 period (I'm considering the number of edits only here, for the sake of simplicity). Then let's assume he/she made less than 1k in 2010-2011 and applying again to the scholarship for WM 2011, while there was another new applicant with 25k who has never been sponsored. I would be in favor of the new person, because the new person seems to have more unrewarded efforts and unspoken experiences which might enrich the conference better. Only if the "older" person had continued a high level of activities since 2010, then he/she should have a better chance again in my opinion. I think in this way we wouldn't have to unfairly exclude the people who keep being active throughout the years, while reflecting an alternation of generations where appropriate. This could work as something like decaying, for example, one scholarship-sponsored attendance makes the preceding contributions reduced by a factor of 0.2 or so. --whym (talk) 09:56, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
    • This is an interesting idea, and I'm open minded towards it. CT Cooper · talk 20:58, 13 September 2012 (UTC)

5. Qualifications and requirementsEdit

Question - should we attempt to judge if the applications would be able to afford the trip or not (i.e., take into account financial need)?

  • Currently, there is no real attempt to distinguish between need or no-need. The closest we get is whether or not someone identifies that they could attend based on their ability to pay the fare remaining after the Partial Scholarship (See Wikimania Meetup notes)
  • "Demonstrating financial need" translates into "giving your personal financial information to a poorly defined and somewhat anonymous group of strangers". That's not going to fly with a lot of people. Sven Manguard (talk) 02:17, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
    • Rather than quantifying it, we could try to qualify it by asking them 'If you had to pay for your attendance rather than receiving a scholarship, what would you not be able to do?' Then, if they answered something like 'eat', then we'd know they really need the scholarship to attend. Things would be interesting if they said things like 'buy a new computer to replace my current dying one'... Mike Peel (talk) 05:03, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
      • The big advantage of measuring contributions and other some other factors such as previous attendance is that they are verifiable - a reviewer, if they felt the need, is free to go and check if a applicants claims are correct. There are few if any realistic ways to do this with finances, and while I'm sure the overwhelming majority of candidates will be honest, there will be some who will at least significantly exaggerate. In any case, if finances are considered, they will need to be added to the criteria and weighted. CT Cooper · talk 19:04, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Partial scholarships will be prioritized on Wikipedians closest (in distance) to the host country. Should there be enough funds, the amount of Partial scholarship will depend of the distance from the host country, not a flat rate of 300 Euros in any country --Exec8 (talk) 06:44, 26 July 2012 (UTC).
    • I don't think the cap at 300 Euros makes a lot of sense at all, and is rather unfair for those travelling long distances. Paying travel costs by percentage costs (e.g. pay 50% of travel costs) has been proposed multiple times and would be fairer. CT Cooper · talk 19:04, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
      • This is a bit complicated. If we base the amount of the partial scholarship off of the location of the recipient, this means more work in the financial modeling (we back into the number of scholarship spots each year based on the total estimated costs of the tickets we benchmark from the different locations) and also 50-60 individual emails to the partial scholarship recipients indicating what the approved amount to expense from their ticket is (we couldn't just say "50% of ticket price" and allow them to purchase whichever ticket they want and/or have no incentive to purchase a ticket earlier rather than later). The first issue isn't TOO much extra modeling work, though it definitely is some. The second is a lot more work on the front-end (announcing awards) as well as the backend (following up with more detailed expense requests). Per Exec8's comment above, I do think it makes sense to prioritize Wikipedians that are closer in distance. So, for example, the % of full scholarship allotments to North America last year was weighted down slightly, because it was assumed that more North American attendees would be able to come on Partial Scholarship (which was true). Jwild (talk) 17:03, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
        • I would agree in weighting the local region more partial scholarships, to counter-weight allocating less to full scholarships, although it may need to clarified if this change would be financially neutral or not i.e. would it result in less or more money being spent on the local region's scholarships?
        • The arguments against changing partial scholarships to a percentage of ticket price, in terms of more complex modelling and potential for misuse, are somewhat convincing. "Somewhat" because they aren't completely unresolvable - for instance there could be a deadline for booking the flight/trip within a reasonable time as a condition of the partial scholarship. Furthermore, the e-mail granting partial scholarships would need to clarify that booking with anything other than economy will not be accepted. On the side note, from what I have seen control of full scholarship expenses could be even stricter than it is now - for instance scholarship recipients get a direct flight where practical, even where less convenient cheaper indirect ones are available. I don't actually support making people make large detours to save some money, as travelling long distances is stressful enough for direct flights, and some recipients will have limited/no experience of flying alone. If the partial scholarship was changed to a percentage based system, some rules would need to be set out - although the more rules there are, the more potential there is for conflict between recipients and the committee.
        • Putting aside the percentage system idea, giving every individual a cap based on location would be a good idea if there was good modelling to back it up. Failing that, with the disclosure that I might benefit from such a change, raising the cap a little to reduce the cliff edge between a partial and full scholarship (particularly when candidates are effectivly forced to choose between the two) wouldn't be unreasonable. It should rise a small amount every year to deal with inflation anyway. CT Cooper · talk 19:40, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
  • I think that the best way would be supporting people in order of meritocracy: if two guys apply for a scholarship, that should be assigned to the one that is more active in the Wiki projects. Larry.europe (talk) 12:11, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
  • There are factors besides contributions which should be taken into account, such as previous attendance or ensuring their is fair representation from developing countries. However, I do think contributions should be the main factor by far. On the current criteria, contributions to Wikimedia projects and related activities is only weighted at just 50%. The "Future goals for participating in the Wikimedia movement" seems to test candidates imagination and general knowledge, rather than their suitability for a scholarship and what is written is generally unverifiable - not to mention this would be a better question for after Wikimania, and I would support weighting it down (say to 15%) or eliminating it, and increasing the weighting of the contributions to Wikimedia projects criterion. CT Cooper · talk 19:04, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Yes I think that grants should only be for those who financially need them, but we will probably need to do this on the honour system. WereSpielChequers (talk) 23:13, 5 August 2012 (UTC)


Question - The current criteria does not take into account what the participant wants to do at Wikimania (be a speaker, lead an unconference, attend the chapter conference, etc.). Should that be incorporated into the criteria?

  • My distinction between criteria based on speculation and verifiable information does apply here, with this falling into the former - with there being a danger of exaggeration, and as a result I don't think criteria like that should dominate the weighting. That said, the question asked on the form "In the space below, please explain how your individual participation in Wikimania 2012 would enrich the conference." and the existing criterion "Future goals for participating in the Wikimedia movement" seems to come into this area, so this proposal could be implemented in the form of expanding/clarifying the scope of this current criterion. CT Cooper · talk 21:12, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
+1. In terms of clarifying, we could simply say something like "In the space below, please explain how your individual participation in Wikimania 2012 would enrich the conference. This includes any plans you have of presenting, hosting a meet-up, attending the Hackathon, etc." Jwild (talk) 16:53, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

6. A general commentEdit

As something of a newbie to the process I was very grateful for the central work done that provided us with the spreadsheet of candidates. That was very helpful and saved us a great deal of time. It also avoided duplication and the candidates having to make multiple applications. In terms of the actual awards I would hope we retained flexibility and not a 'one size fits all' approach. Our Chapter will allocate an amount of funds and want to choose who it supports based on local knowledge as well as the application forms. Other chapters may be happier to delegate the decisions, especially if key volunteers are applying who might otherwise be making the decisions. So - skimming through the comments above - it seems you are asking the right questions and being suitably self-critical. Well done. Jon Davies WMUK (talk) 09:36, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

I support that, the Google Doc is an easy way to work with, done that 2011 and 2012. Important is that we get the data early. For us (WMAT, WMCH) it was also helpful to see the scores the central scholarship team has given. The applications were not fully scored as with those handled by the central team but two opinions "from the outside" (from the chapter's perspective) are helpful. We can still choose to ignore them, if needed. --Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 09:40, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

Wikimania/Scholarships/2012Edit

For the information of those who have watched and/or have contributed to this page, some new information is in draft at Wikimania/Scholarships/2012 with further discussion on the talk page. CT Cooper · talk 18:28, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

yes! please check it out! It includes: chapter scholarships, acceptance rates by region, and average scores by region. Jwild (talk) 18:48, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
An unedited draft of proposed changes: Wikimania/Scholarships/2012/Proposals#Results_announcements Jwild (talk) 13:26, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

scholarship offers for people who don't applyEdit

One thing I think would make the scholarships much more effective in bringing together the optimal group of Wikimedians each year — both in terms of what they get out of the conference, and what they contribute to it — would be to have some scholarship offers awarded pro-actively, to people who did not apply but who are richly deserving of a scholarship. For example, during the 2012 process, Phoebe said to me something like, "hey, there's this incredible Nigerian Wikipedian named Demmy who has written like half of Yoruba Wikipedia. You should give him a scholarship." In retrospect, that would have been a really good thing. (He was Jimmy's "Wikipedian of the Year".)

Especially in the strategic priority regions where we want to award more scholarships than the number of really, really outstanding applications, I think some kind of companion process for actively seeking out community leaders and great contributors from less prominent projects and/or strategic priority regions would be a big step forward. The current process is overwhelmingly tilted toward meta-oriented editors, and too many great Wikimedians either assume they wouldn't have a shot or don't even know about Wikimania scholarships.--Ragesoss (talk) 15:24, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

Interesting, I suppose this might gestate into something resembling affirmative action, whereby underrepresented groups would be preferred over others. At an approval rating of less than 20% for scholarships, I really don't think it would be fair to those who do go through the process of applying, waiting and then, from that tiny pool of available scholarships end up in the final 18-20%. Then, it brings up the inevitable question of who decides who is richly deserving? it would turn into hand-picking one person or a group's opinion on who is "richly deserving" and who isn't, I think the evaluation process is already not as transparent as it should be, and actions like this might make it more complicated than it needs to be.
I think an easier approach might be - a) Point, nudge or directly enter the richly deserving candidate to be in the same pool as everyone, and if they do indeed turn out to be that deserving it can be decided by the same group on the same merit as everyone else b) an alternative pool of scholarship might be worth considering but that's a resource related question more than a decision one. Regards. Theo10011 (talk) 20:05, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

Narrowing focus: Wikimania and scholarshipsEdit

A proposal to "narrow the focus" of the Wikimedia Foundation has proposals to slim down WMF support for Wikimania, which it appears will impact on scholarships in some way as well. See User:Sue Gardner/Narrowing focus#We will reduce time and effort spent on staging and supporting complex international events. for the proposal and Narrowing Focus: Wikimania support for the discussion. CT Cooper · talk 19:51, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

Return to "Wikimania/Scholarships" page.