User:Elitre/Public Outreach

(personal notes + something from a WMI page)

Before planning an event, define your goals. Don't mix different goals if you don't have enough staff to pursue all of them. Even if you have many people in your team, be prepared to a failure (or more than one). Shit just happens also when you prepare everything in detail. If you are alone, there is no much you can do but giving a talk OR distributing flyers OR selling gadgets.

  • A page about the event must be created on WP and on the local chapter's website once the participation to the event is confirmed. This must be done at least 3 to 4 weeks in advance. The idea of participating to the event must be obviously prior to this: as some events are annual, it might be good to talk about it some months before they happen. Be sure that the other Wikipedians know about what you are going to do so that they can come, listen or help. Don't let Google Alerts tell them that there has been an event in their city/region, it's just not polite IMHO. The same is for the press: let someone competent deal with journalists and writing press releases.

A notice about the event *must* be present:

on WP:Meetups
in Wiki-related mailing lists, at the village pump and local wikinewspapers, in chat topics, in the sitenotice
in the talk of local users and of potentially interested wikiprojects
on personal and official accounts of Twitter and Identica and blogs.
  • It must be clear who the "team leader" is. He/she will:
keep in touch with the staff organising the event and with their press room;
attending any meetings with them, before and after the event;
visiting the venue, reporting about the usable space (how many rooms - how many people can sit/stand - which facilities are present - if it will be possible to use Internet, to stream and so on)
reporting everything to wiki(m/p)edians through chats, IRC logs, e-mail, ...
updating the page(s) of the event;
updating in real time once the event is in progress (Twitter, Identica, chat..)
  • It would be great if the team was composed by local people. They know the place, know how to go around, who to ask in case of necessity, help with the lodging and the meals and so on. They will be very helpful, so be sure to have at least a bunch of them in your team.
  • The team leader must assign tasks to the others, verifying that all the required material arrives in time and that nothing is missing from it. According to the local chapter policies, he/she might ask for the refunding of his/her expenses.

Depending on where the event is held, the team will probably have to organize the venue (moving/mounting tables, chairs, gazebos... before and after the event), provide laptops with Linux, projectors, cables and so on, study and ask for a thoughtful order of gadgets (sometimes they will have to be ordered from a producer that may not be able to deliver them directly to the venue). Ask other experienced wiki(p/m)edians about the best gadgets to take with you. Evaluate carefully that you will have to return gadgets to the person who is in charge of them: you may need to wait for a courier the day after the event, or to send the gadget yourself in adequate boxes. Consider you'll need money, tape, markers... for this. Don't forget the receipts and try to fill them as best as you can, but if you have Internet it will be better to update the sellings directly on a reserved page about the event. The stall must be adequately arranged with large posters, logos and/or colorful eyecatching banners, the slideshows must be ready before the event begins and you may need some slides running in loop to catch peasants'attention. If you really can't arrange a streaming, upload pics and/or vids during or after the event.

Provide updated useful infos to the other wiki(m/p)edians coming to help you (where to eat, where to sleep, where to park the car, who can I ask if I need help...). They may be on a budget, don't let this prevent them from participating.

Front office: be *prepared* to the people's questions, to sell gadgets, to collect donations, to help editing pages or solving problems related to WMF projects (in many cases people will attend the event just to approach you and tell you their problems with Wikis: in most cases they are just unexperienced, but you may also meet encyclopaedic people angry with statements in their bios...), to attend smaller events, press conferences and so on.

Get creative. If you want to let people know you're around, take some copies of books about Wikipedia (or print some Wiki collections that may sound intriguing for the public) and leave them around with Bookcrossing labels with infos about your stall and/or speech. Take with you an empty Moleskine and invite people to add thoughts or ideas about Wikipedia and other projects. When the event is over pass the Moleskine on or send it to another wikip/median who will take it to the next scheduled event.


  • Try to know everything you can about hosts and relators. Prepare your slideshows in an open format. If you are a Windows/Mac user (shame on you) you should at least run a live distro while using your PC. Always keep 2 copies of your slideshow; more copies of it in a proprietary format (PPS/PPT and PDF) may however be handy. It would be polite to "localize" your speech as much as you can with data referring to the local reality. Keep an eye on your watch and don't use other relators'time. Remember to take in a recorder or a cam so you'll be able to study your performance later and to show others what you've done. In many venues there will be photo/video recording services, but it is unlikely that you will manage to access that material and, far more important, that anybody will grant you permission to republish it under a free license. Share your slides on Commons or on your chapter's website.

TAKING PICS/INTERVIEWING When going to an event, check in advance if other attendants are "encyclopaedic" guys! You may provide up-to-date pictures of them, and sometimes interviews for Wikinews. In every case ask for a permission (plan this some days/weeks before the event to be able to get a special pass/extratime if needed) and explain about the free licenses you'll use for the media.