Wikimania/Scholarships/SWOT 2005-2014 and goals for 2015

Context analysis of the structure and functioning system of Wikimania scholarships between 2005 and 2014. Current status, opportunities and challenges.

SWOT analysisEdit

Wikimania Scholarships SWOT Analysis
Strengths Weaknesses
  • More than 10 years of experience.
Data
  • Data about scholarships in 2012 and 2013.
  • There are already many discussions, comments and hints related to scholarships.
Scholarships process
  • Scholarships are granted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • Wikimania scholarships have links with the Participation Support Program.
  • Also chapters provide - or can provide - scholarships. They can provide fundings within the general application process, or they can establish their own selection process. Discussion about Chapters, WMF, and Organizing team dynamics
  • The scholarship process seemed to improve in every area in 2013 from 2012 (in particular for travel arrangements)[1].
Scholarships committee
  • Volunteers who provide support in the organization of Wikimania online.
  • The scholarship committee benefits of links with a broader team of people interested in Wikimania and providing advices also for criteria and strategies.
  • Two WMF staff members are engaged in the committee (person from the evaluation team and Wikimania and event coordinator).
  • The scholarship review committee formation has being discussed. At the moment it seems that there is an agreement that the duration of terms should be defined in 2-3 years (more likely to be 3 years); that it would be nice to have elected members but it is too complicated for a committee; that new members can be appointed by a trusted individual or small team (which can be the WMF staff); the committee should be made up of volunteers who are not granted themselves a Wikimania scholarship. There is also an attempt to provide the committee with a gender and geographic balance.
Selection criteria
  • Geographic and gender balance are taken into consideration in the Scholarships committee current criteria.
  • Scholarships from Wikimedia chapters can have different selection criteria which can counterbalance the choice of the Scholarships committee (in particular by supporting participation from Europe).
  • There is no distinction between financial need and no-need[2].
Budget
  • Increased budget for Wikimania scholarships.
  • Participation to Wikimania is also provided to WMF board, WMF staff members, invited guests, to some Wikimedia chapters and affiliates board members and staff (within Wikimedia chapters and affiliates grants), to volunteers who include funding for Wikimania within their IEG grants; those participations are separate from scholarships. Also local volunteers active in the organization of Wikimania can receive some benefits (i.e. reimbursement of travel expenses)
  • Researchers and practitioners can apply for fundings to their institutions.
  • There are existing funding also for travel costs of students and young people (i.e. European Youth Program).
  • Dorms and cheap accommodation is mainly reserved for scholarship recipients.
Scholarships follow up and impact on the movement and the Wikimedia projects
  • Very high rate of satisfaction in receiving a scholarship[3].
  • Over 90% of scholarship respondents said they had increased motivation to participant in online project, local community work, and future Wikimanias[4].
Data
  • Discussions and comments related to scholarships are a bit everywhere (feedback from Wikimania editions, on the main scholarship talk page. See references below.
  • It doesn't seem possible to access data about attendees. We have a general number of the attendees for each edition, but we do not know how many payed for their participation, who are they and what they come to Wikimania for.
  • There's no data available for the editions in Poland, Haifa, ... (before 2012)
Scholarships process
  • Proposals for the scholarships process are not prepared systematically on a page on meta in early stages, and there isn't a page focussed on Wikimania scholarships vision and evaluation. This doesn't facilitate a planning and it does not allow to rapidly introduce changes.
  • Once Wikimania is over, the new scholarship committee is formed and it focusses on the following Wikimania. The imminent tasks necessary to be implemented do not allow time to reflect, evaluating and introducing changes with a broader vision.
  • Wikimania Handbook suggests to "begin developing scholarship criteria; develop scholarship process front page" in the early planning (One year or more before the event); who is supposed to do it is unclear.[5]
Scholarships committee
  • The composition and process of selection of the scholarship committee has being unclear for a while. In 2012 a discussion was open to clarify and define it more precisely.
Selection criteria
  • Wikimania scholarships have often been a major source of conflict[6]
  • Often applicants (or prospective applicants) don't feel considered enough, nor treated equally[7]
  • Perception of a non-full transparency[8] Can the names of the scholarship recipients being disclosed?
  • Some perceive that the current scholarship process tends to polarize the community, and too often simply rewards long-time community members, or those who are connected to large movement entities, with free travel: rather than increasing the diversity of new voices and faces at global events[9]. On the over hand, others perceive exactly the opposite[10].
  • The majority of scholarship respondents are members of local chapters or user groups[11].
  • Perception that those that have previously attended Wikimania have little to no chance of getting a scholarship. Even if they are from outside Europe or North America[12] (is this among the criteria?).
  • There's no fair and accurate way of taking financial needs into account[13].
  • Knowledge of English is a criterion which disqualifies people regardless of their relevance, contribution, and capacity of contributing.
Communication of the scholarships opportunities
  • Limited number of applications and requests.
Calendar
  • The scholarship selection is notified – at best – mid March.
Budget
  • Need to assess the impact of the budget invested in Wikimania scholarships[14]
  • Wikimania lunch is free for all attendees (costs are covered by donors-sponsors); participants pay for their dinner. This means that lunch is free also for people who can pay for it (i.e. people with grants from research institutions); it also means that participants – also those with very limited funding or with full scholarships – need to pay for their dinner.
  • Travel funds for students – or other external funding – are not normally used to facilitate participation to Wikimania. This is mainly due to the fact that collecting and using other funds requires a lot of work.
  • Researchers can normally apply for funding for events in which they present a paper/presentation; there is a tight link between the calendar of the program application and selection and the possibility for researchers to get their travel costs covered by their institution or within research. The decision from the program committee arrives too late to properly allow researchers to apply for research grants.
  • People who get selected for the scholarship have proven that they are considered engaged, relevant for the movement, active.... They get access to dorms and the cheapest accommodation. Although this allows to take full advantage of the scholarship budget, it is questionable if you compared it with the Wikimedia Foundation staff accommodated in the nicest hotels closest to the conference venue (?). A more even solution would maybe be more balanced and better.
Visa
  • Visa seems to be the single biggest deterrent from attendance for those who are fully funded[15].
Scholarships follow up and impact on the movement and the Wikimedia projects
  • At the moment there is not an evaluation on the scholarships follow up and the impact of attending Wikimania on the movement and the Wikimedia projects.
Opportunities Threats
  • Scholarships provide opportunities to build a stronger community, by having people supporting each-other (in looking for matching funds, discussing logistics in a mailing list in a specific language, having someone tutoring a scholar or assist him/her at Wikimania, homestays)[16]
Scholarship process
  • Transparency: must be complete, because scholarships are a public, not a private affair. All applicants will agree to have their username and/or full name published in the wiki lists of attendees. They will also be encouraged to add themselves more contact information, topics of their interest etc. to further facilitate interaction[17]
  • Having chapter scholarships and Foundation scholarships as part of one application can be sensible[18]
Scholarship committee
  • Members of the scholarship committee from local team biding or selected can learn how the process works.
  • We need to involve all movement organisations, groups and individuals as our "headhunters" and reviewers. Even without changing the committee composition,[3] we can recruit a pool of additional reviewers who will see some portion of each application from their area/language and give the committee an additional opinion[19].
  • One person on the scholarships committee can help the recipients look for and find local matching funding (from their institution, from a local foundation or civic group, from a local chapter)[20]
Selection criteria
  • We need to involve new participants, not just "the usual suspects"/Wikimania regulars. A "younger" and more engaged attendance will make Wikimania more fun and interesting also for the regulars, after all[21].
  • Balance between new and not new participants?[22].
  • Attending Wikimania with expenses reimbursed, both for volunteers and staff, is often perceived as a "prize to the career" and as a recognition of one's merits[23].
  • We can ask all applicants to tell if and how many Wikimania scholarships (whatever the issuer) they benefited from in the past, and subtract a substantial portion of the score for each of them depending on how long ago they were[24].
  • Wikimania scholarships allow room for beginning editors or new Wikimania attendees and they can continue to do it[25].
  • Applicants should be allowed to write their application in their preferred language[26].
  • We can ask applicants to tell us what's the minimum proportion of the full scholarship that they'd be able to accept[27].
  • The minimum "score" for acceptance should not vary depending on how many scholarships there are for your (sub)continent; we can instead give each area a budget and try to get the best out of it[28].
Communication of the scholarships opportunities
  • The volume of requests and grants made in the Participation Support Program must be increased in order to fully realize its potential; the scale of use is too small with the current scope and setup[29].
  • Communicating Wikimania scholarships opportunities can also lead to an increased number of requests and grants form the Participation Support Program (thanks to the call on Wikipedia noticeboard and the collaboration of chapters, affiliates, user groups[30]
Budget
  • Establishing partnerships with other funders to support travel grants and participation or facilitating processes which allow attendees to request and obtain fundings from other sources rather than Wikimedia can strength the event and other events[31].
  • We should match every Euro spent on travel support with a Euro spent on infrastructure for great virtual participation: cameras, projectors, and video-screens for communities around the world (physical tools they can keep and use for years); making space to share the faces and voices of people who are unable to travel to the event; live-streaming hubs stationed around the event itself; and support for getting all videos up online within 24 hours[32].
  • Spending money on scholarships is more important to reach the goals of a broader attendance, than funding catering. Food costs can be included in the registration[33].
  • Booking your own travel can allow more flexible options (20% of people said so in 2013[34].
  • The scholarships/money which were not rewarded/spent can be used for a waiting list[35]
  • Scholarships for students (in high school especially) should be budgeted separately; local schools can fund participation as a field trip[36]
Engaging scholars within Wikimania
  • Scholars really enjoyed meeting each other and other Wikimedians; consider having a social event for the WMF scholars one of the nights of Wikimania (at the hostel or venue)[37].
  • National mailing list for Wikimania attendees contribute to team building[38].
  • Have some volunteer and presentation roles that the scholarship recipients can undertake[39].
  • It can be nice to find local wikipedians who can host scholarships recipients to welcome them and to help them integrate more into the global wiki-community[40].
  • Those who have attended Wikimania in the past should be encouraged to submit a presentation to the Wikimania program[41].
Scholarships follow up and impact on the movement and the Wikimedia projects
  • How much a person can bring and take away from Wikimania (engagement) can be a crucial factor in evaluating the success of Wikimania scholarships[42]
  • The success of Wikimania is made by its participants: we will succeed if we get the maximum number possible of engaged attendees, who pro-actively interact with each other[43]
  • We need the recipients and applicants to foster a general reflection on what we gave and took from Wikimania. All recipients will be required to publish a... report, retrospective, story, summary, paper, novel, manga, photo/movie documentary – whatever format they choose! – in the language they prefer, sharing it with their "home" community[44]. This is particularly interesting in multiple languages[45]. Asking people to share something back to their home communities such as 1) create or endorse Learning Patterns (sharing learning back with the movement), and 2) blog, speak at a meet-up or in some other way share outcomes with their local/language community after the event (sharing back to their home wikis, local community, etc)[46].
  • By being part of the Participation Support Program, Wikimania scholarships benefit from a wider evaluation and monitoring process (i.e. analysis of the Participation Support Program in 2013).
  • The process and structure of scholarships have implications on calendar, visa, program (it shows the involvement of applicants and it has fallouts on the presenters' participation) and budget.
Data
  • Having a better idea of Wikimania target and of the target we want to reach can allow us to use Wikimania scholarships to fill gaps and to produce a more focussed and broadly framed outreach. Wikimania/Target
Scholarship process
  • By being part of the Participation Support Program, Wikimania scholarships need to be framed also within the broader structure and metrics of the program.
  • Transparency. For some attendees it might be problematic to to have their username and/or full name published in the wiki lists of attendees or to provide more information about themselves.
Scholarship committee
  • To make sure the scholarship process can start early a committee should be nominated very early the year before Wikimania (Spring of the previous year).
Selection criteria
  • Explore ways of encouraging non-Chapter contributors to apply for scholarships[47].
  • Not all wikimedians, and even less all world citizens of value for our mission, are born wikimanians, so we need an incentive for all those we need to come to us[48].
  • Knowledge of English is at the moment a central selection criterion and it is not easy to manage a large event in more languages and with translations (practical problems within formal and informal discussions, and costs for simultaneous translations).
  • Having applications in different languages create problems if we don't have reviewers for those languages (a translation can be asked or managed with a software?).
Communication of the scholarships opportunities
  • The volume of requests and grants made in this [Participation Support] program must be increased in order to fully realize its potential; the scale of use is too small with the current scope and setup[49].
Calendar
  • Opening applications in early September, closing late November, and then releasing results at the end of January[50].
  • Scholarship application should be accepted starting in October and closed in January, with results announced in February[51].
  • If the process is slow, it slows down also the work on the program[52]
  • The program must be already in draft during application and ready before scholarships are decided.
  • Accommodation information must be available before scholarships application deadline, including beds availability and costs, to allow planning and personal budgeting
Visa
  • Important to help scholars secure visas[53].
Scholarships follow up and impact on the movement and the Wikimedia projects
  • The impact of changing the scholarship program can be measured on the mid-term, not on the short term[54].
  • Difficult to monitor impact on a mid-term (follow up needs to be planned after 6 months, 1 year, 2 years).
  • Difficult to collect reports from participants. Sometimes scholars do not send their report. The system of paying the scholarship grant after receiving the report can be an efficient system but it doesn't always work (in particular it is not possible to use this system when funding are provided in advance, necessary in several cases).
  • The current narrative-style report doesn't seem to be that useful either to those who write it, or the movement who doesn't read it[55].

GoalsEdit

Goal What it implies
5000 applications (+400 %)[56].
  • Large dissemination of the call through noticeboards, headhunters, existing networks, chapters and affiliates.
  • People can only be interested in disseminating the call if they do not consider other applicants as competitors.
10 chapters/affiliates or more help fund the program;[57]. Ideally, none feels the need to make their own.
  • Involvement of Wikimedia chapters and affiliates; they have to be engaged in the definition of vision, goals and criteria and share the decision.
20 affiliates or language communities support the review of applications, making it solid, equal and transparent[58].
  • Call for volunteers.
  • Involvement of Wikimedia chapters, affiliates; they have to be engaged in the definition of vision, goals and criteria and share the decision.
  • It should be made clear why people should be interested in having scholars at Wikimania (i.e. potential new editors, people active in specific projects, people specialized in specific topics, people interested in contributing to existing working groups...).
Extended committee (core committee+local reviewers) with at least 20 members[59]; total pool of reviewers (extended committee+application translators) covering at least 20 languages[60].
  • Early call for volunteer members of the committee.
  • Involvement of Wikimedia chapters and affiliates in recruiting volunteers.
10 % decline rate or lower[61].
  • Visa is a major reason of decline. See below.
0 scholarships declined for visa reasons[62].
  • Resetting the Wikimania timeline to make sure there is enough time to ensure the implementation of the visa process.
  • Taking into consideration the possibility of entering the country where Wikimania takes place by obtaining the visa from another one (i.e. taking advantage of the Schengen area).
400 scholarships (full or partial): maximise the recipients and points of view earned with the available funding[63].
  • Establishing partnerships with other grant-makers or facilitating the submission of applications to other funders.
  • Facilitating grant requests for students, young people (within young people grant and travel programs), researchers.
  • Making lunch part of the registration costs and invest the saved money in scholarships (partial or full).
  • Having scholarships also for local volunteers engaged in the event? They are already supported but they do not go through a scholarship process.
90 % of the recipients submit a "report".[64].
  • Collaborations with chapters and groups in different languages to review the reports in different languages, or to facilitate the use of a beneficial output of the experience (i.e. meet-ups, Learning Patterns)
50 % of the scholarship recipients are involved in the Wikimedia movement 1 year later.
  • Including in the application the authorization to provide information about their Wikimedia engagement 1 year later.
  • Survey of the scholars 1 year later.
  • List of names of the scholars awarded and information about their interests and skills (this to facilitate exchanges during and after Wikimania with the community).
  • Engaging scholars during Wikimania (mailing lists in specific languages for Wikimedia participants to facilitate team building, lists of tasks they can sign in for, meet-up or short presentations devoted to them...)

NotesEdit

  1. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Survey_Key_Takeaways.
  2. Discussion about qualifications and requirements.
  3. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Survey_Key_Takeaways.
  4. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Survey_Key_Takeaways.
  5. Wikimania_Handbook#Early_planning.
  6. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  7. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  8. wm2012:Talk:Scholarships#Breakup_and_details_of_Scholarships_awarded, Discussion about ideal transparency.
  9. Samuel Klein in the Wikimania mailing list, 13 January 2014.
  10. Katie Chan in the Wikimania mailing list, 13 January 2014.
  11. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Survey_Key_Takeaways.
  12. CT Cooper wm2012:Feedback#Scholarships, 16 July 2012.
  13. Katie Chan in the Wikimania mailing list, 13 January 2014.
  14. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  15. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Things_to_consider_for_Wikimania_2014.
  16. Scholarships as an opportunity to build a stronger community is an hint which comes from several comments: Experience from the past highlighted by SJ in a discussion page, 13 January 2013, as well as Frieda Brioschi January 2014.
  17. [[Talk:Wikimania/Scholarships#3._Ideal_transparency|Discussion about ideal transparency], Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014; the proposal of publishing names/usernames comes also from Siko in Thinking about rolling Wikimania scholarships under this program's umbrella, 13 January 2014, "for greater transparency, while honoring our scholars".
  18. CT Cooper wm2012:Feedback#Scholarships, 16 July 2012.
  19. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  20. Experience from the past highlighted by SJ in a discussion page, 13 January 2013.
  21. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014; Discussion about encouraging new participation
  22. Discussion about encouraging new participation.
  23. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  24. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  25. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Things_to_consider_for_Wikimania_2014.
  26. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  27. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  28. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  29. Analysis of the Participation Support Program in 2013.
  30. Analysis of the Participation Support Program in 2013. Publicizing the program should be a priority; blogs, social media, and on-wiki promotional campaigns to spread awareness of the program could help boost the number of requests.
  31. Samuel Klein in the Wikimania mailing list, 13 January 2014.
  32. Samuel Klein in the Wikimania mailing list, 13 January 2014.
  33. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  34. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Survey_Key_Takeaways.
  35. CT Cooper wm2012:Feedback#Scholarships, 16 July 2012.
  36. Experience from the past highlighted by SJ in a discussion page, 13 January 2013.
  37. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Things_to_consider_for_Wikimania_2014.
  38. Experience of Wikimedia Italia with a specific Wikimania participants Italian-speaking mailing list.
  39. Experience from the past highlighted by SJ in a discussion page, 13 January 2013. In 2005, the scholarship recipients were invited to come a day earlier than everyone else; they each shared a short talk about wikipedia in their community; and they were invited to help with some of the last day of preparation. [sorting t-shirts and badges, &c]. A few did help, and the rest felt welcome.
  40. Experience from the past highlighted by SJ in a discussion page, 13 January 2013.
  41. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Things_to_consider_for_Wikimania_2014.
  42. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  43. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  44. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  45. Experience from the past highlighted by SJ in a discussion page, 13 January 2013. In 2006, we had international media interest in 10+ languages; the scholarship recipients were among the people we felt comfortable sending journalists to if they wanted an interview in their own language.
  46. Siko in Thinking about rolling Wikimania scholarships under this program's umbrella, 13 January 2014.
  47. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Things_to_consider_for_Wikimania_2014.
  48. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  49. Analysis of the Participation Support Program in 2013.
  50. CT Cooper wm2012:Feedback#Scholarships, 17 July 2012.
  51. AutoGyro wm2012:Feedback#Scholarships, 16 July 2012.
  52. Deror avi wm2012:Feedback#Scholarships, 16 July 2012.
  53. Wikimania/Scholarships/2013#Things_to_consider_for_Wikimania_2014; Johnbod wm2012:Feedback#Scholarships, 19 July 2012.
  54. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.
  55. Siko in Thinking about rolling Wikimania scholarships under this program's umbrella, 13 January 2014.
  56. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014. WMIT's program had about 200 applications in 2013 with Italian representing about 3.5 % of the global active editors userbase. In proportion, global applications should be around 5700.
  57. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014. Conservative number: same as in 2013.
  58. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014. Non-financial support is easier to expand, but not less important: one wrong recipient less, or one great recipient more, is as important as a financial contribution for the same amount.
  59. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.To have at most 250 applications to review for each of them in the first screening, similar to the workload for the WMIT scholarships committee members.
  60. Let's start with this number and change it if it doesn't fit.
  61. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014. Was 12 in 2013, but much more in 2012.
  62. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014. 15 in 2012!
  63. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014; I added the number 400; in 2013 there were around 216 scholarships provided.
  64. Presentation of Federico Leva and Martin Rulsch, January 2014.

ReferencesEdit

Visions and proposals
Analysis of Wikimania Scholarships
Feedback on scholarships
Wikimania Scholarships on Wikimania websites
Articles on the Wikimedia Foundation blog