Wikimedia Conference 2017/Report

WMCON 2017 Core Conference Program Fringe Events Registration & Participants
Reports, Reviews


Report accepted
This report for a Conference Grant approved in FY 2016-17 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • To read the approved grant submission describing the plan for this project, please visit Grants:Wikimedia Conference 2017.
  • You may still comment on this report on its discussion page, or visit the discussion page to read the discussion about this report.
  • You are welcome to Email conferencegrants at wikimedia dot org at any time if you have questions or concerns about this report.

Wikimedia Conference 2017 (from above)

Compliance and completion edit

Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?
Is your project completed?
Did you use any of the grant funds?

Activities and lessons learned edit

This section describes what the grantee did, and what the grantee learned from implementing the project. This section should be useful to others implementing similar projects and is an opportunity for the grantee to reflect on the project's performance.

Activities edit

Provide a detailed list of activities performed to complete this project, descriptions of these activities, and the amount of time spent on each activity. This section should also include a list of participants, or a link to pictures, blog posts, or videos from the project or event.

Activities Program and Engagement Coordinator edit

The following section provides a brief overview of the tasks executed by the Program and Engagement Coordinator (PEC) Cornelius Kibelka from August 1, 2016 until June 30, 2017. An overview of all work packages and activities can be found below. Please see also the previous reports on the Wikimedia Conference 2015, 2016 and the follow-up work afterwards. We plan to publish a report on our experiences on hosting the three Wikimedia Conference 2015, 2016 and 2017 in fall 2017.

Follow-Up Work

Keeping participants of the Wikimedia Conference engaged throughout the year is one of the main goals of the Program and Engagement Coordinator, and at the same time one of the most difficult. Many participants are actively engaged in their affiliates and/or communities, which already takes a lot of time and energy. Many participants perceive additional engagement on the international level of the Wikimedia movement as a ‘nice to have’. So motivating participants to voluntarily work on topics of the Wikimedia movement needs constant communication, support and patience.

Group photo of the Partnerships workshop, as part of the follow-up work of the Wikimedia Conference and, at the same, preparing the then upcoming Partnerships track at the Wikimedia Conference 2017

It became clear that certain topics of the Wikimedia Conference – like Grantmaking and Impact –  basically “faded out”, as they were either not considered relevant (anymore) or there weren’t enough people interested in joining and keeping  the conversation going. Other topics – like Partnerships – emerged and became more important. You can find a detailed overview of the follow-up work on Wikimedia Conference/Follow-Up.

However, one topic is to be highlighted. One of the main topics of the 2016 edition of the Wikimedia Conference was the impact of the Wikimedia movement: This topic, which was covered via a whole programmatic track, addressed questions like “How do we define the common impact of the movement?” and “What does impact mean on a global and on a local level?”. Already in the aftermath of the Wikimedia Conference 2016, but especially after Wikimania 2016, it became clear that discussing “Impact” was too broad and too meta by itself (or maybe too early), it did not relate strongly to participants’ day to day work and participants and affiliates found other, more practical topics  better suited to discuss first. Many Wikimedians and especially WMCON participants were more interested in more tangible topics, topics they could better relate to their actual Wikimedia work.

Based on these learnings and experience, the PEC did not pursue this topic any longer and let it “fade out” into another topic. Instead the work on partnerships within and beyond the Wikimedia movement seemed to be more relevant to Wikimedians, while, at the same time, also covering some questions of the Impact topic. First sessions on Partnerships within and beyond the Wikimedia movement were already held at the Wikimedia Conference 2015 and followed-up at the WMCON Follow-Up Day 2015 in Mexico City. Together with John Andersson (Wikimedia Sverige) and Anne-Laure Prévost (Wikimédia France), Nikki Zeuner (Wikimedia Deutschland) pursued this topic more deliberately- addressing it in terms of sharing knowledge and experiences, catalyzing concrete collaborations,  and discussing partnerships in terms of their meaning and potential to advance the movement as a whole. “Partnerships” turned out to be  a topic any Wikimedia affiliate or community can relate to, as teaming up with partners has endless potential to increase Wikimedia’s impact on society.

Jack Rabah (WMF) & Julia Kirchner (WMDE) hosted a partnerships session at the African Wikimedia conference WikiIndaba 2017 in Accra, Ghana. They worked with a participants on challenges around partnerships and solutions for these.

To get more input on this topic and to see if it actually makes sense to pursue it and choose as a track for the upcoming Wikimedia Conference, Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE) hosted a partnerships workshop in November 2016. WMDE invited staff members from Wikimedia affiliates and WMF working on partnerships to a two-day workshop in Berlin. Over the two days, participants discussed how to continue the work of the partnerships peer group in meaningful / helpful ways, how to prepare a possible partnerships track for the Wikimedia Conference 2017, how capacities on partnerships in the movement can be further developed and, finally, how partnerships can play a more important role in the Wikimedia Movement Strategy process. You can find a detailed documentation of the workshop on Meta as well.

A further follow-up session on partnerships was held at the African Wikimedia conference WikiIndaba 2017 in Accra, Ghana. Julia Kirchner (WMDE) and Jack Rabah (WMF) worked with participants  on the topic and shared experiences around it. At this conference we learned that partnerships is really a topic that is important for many affiliates and communities. The PEC attended this conference as well to understand the needs of the African Wikimedians and to gather input for the Wikimedia Conference program design.

Improving the program design process, an own design for each track

As for the previous Wikimedia Conference, the PEC chose to use a similar program design process for this year’s program. The program is built upon four cornerstones: One overarching movement theme (Movement Partnerships), Capacity-Building & Learning, a wildcard theme (Movement Strategy) and Facilitated Social Activities as underlying theme for the whole conference. As the three tracks differed a lot in terms of goals, sessions, content and speakers, each track was designed in a different way.

We planned with three tracks for the Wikimedia Conference 2017, each with a different way of program design, according to the context and input given by our partners.
To design a capacity-building & learning track according to the needs, wishes and experiences of the participants, we surveyed them in the registration form. Especially Communication and Outreach skills were mentioned many times.

The Capacity-Building & Learning track was designed in a similar way as in 2016. Based on the programmatic questions from the registration form, the PEC gathered the needs, wishes and experiences from the participants to be able to shape a program along these needs. By asking participants about their preferred ways to contribute to the conference, the PEC was able to match needs and available speakers. Most participants expressed the necessity of gaining capacities and knowledge around internal and external communication. Other often mentioned topics were volunteer/community support as well as project management (more details can be found in the summary). The PEC, together with the Visiting Wikimedian David Saroyan, reached out to many participants and worked with them on creating sessions and goals for the sessions based on their input and the PEC’s experience of the previous Wikimedia Conferences. Especially having a video call with each speaker and briefing them for the conference has proven to be very successful. Often only having a call made it clear for both sides what the actual goal for the session was and how it could be (better) achieved. In total, 19 Capacity Building sessions were hosted by 44 different speakers (10 of them giving Lightning Talks).

The Movement Partnerships track – based on the previous work in the Impact track of the Wikimedia Conference 2016 and the Partnerships group’s effort (see above in the “Follow-Up” section) – was designed in a different way. The track was created in close collaboration of WMDE’s Partnerships & Development (ZEN) team and WMF’s Global Reach & Partnerships team. The expertise of both teams was essential to create and shape the program of this track.

As mentioned above, in November 2016, Wikimedia Deutschland hosted a workshop with Wikimedia affiliate staff members working on partnerships. One important topic of this workshop was how to approach “Partnerships” in the program of the conference. The PEC gathered the workshop attendees’ input, which then shaped the design of the conference track. In a second occasion, Julia Kirchner (WMDE) and Jack Rabah (WMF) hosted a session on partnerships at the African Wikimedia conference WikiIndaba 2017 in Accra, Ghana. The session in Accra was very useful to understand the huge differences and challenges of Wikimedia affiliates/communities in African countries compared to those of the European chapters.

In the subsequent months, the track was shaped in close collaboration of WMDE’s ZEN team and WMF’s Global Reach team. Based on three approaches “Training & Teaching”, “Connecting & Collaborating” and “Sharing Case Studies”, both teams developed different sessions and goals for the track together. Several sessions were hosted by members of both teams. For some other sessions the PEC was able to recruit speakers from the participants of the Wikimedia Conference. In total, the track contained 13 sessions with 36 speakers (12 of them giving structured Lightning Talks).

Right after the decision by the Board of Trustees to initiate a new Movement Strategy process, we knew that this topic will play a role in the Wikimedia Conference 2017. As this process was only designed in late 2016, the size and content for WMCON was not fully defined  until the end of 2016. Cornelius and Nicole held several conversations with the leadership team of the Wikimedia Foundation and the then created Strategy Core Team to figure out how to best make use of the Wikimedia Conference as one of the main platforms for in-person conversations and input creation around the Movement Strategy. For more details check the next section.

Topping up the size of the conference

After many conversations, Cornelius & Nicole decided to contract two external facilitators with huge experience in facilitation and designing bigger strategy processes: Bhavesh 'Bhav' Patel and …
… Robin 'Rob' Lancaster. Both designed and facilitate the entire Movement Strategy track of the Wikimedia Conference 2017.

In late November/early December the decision was made to increase the size of the Wikimedia Conference and invite around 150 additional participants to the Movement Strategy track of the conference. The main reasoning for inviting additional participants was to increase diversity and more equal representation: It allowed affiliates with previously only one representative to send another one and enabled some very active individual contributors to attend for the first time. The logistical aspects and challenges around inviting 150 additional people are described in the Logistics Coordinator’s section below.

To design the Movement Strategy track, Nicole Ebber and the PEC decided to rely on external expertise. Based on a recommendation, both chose Bhavesh Patel and Rob Lancaster as the two main facilitators and designers for the track. Nicole and Cornelius appreciated the long track record of both and their expertise in creating and managing highly participatory strategy processes in movements and non-profit organizations as well as their skills to facilitate large groups of people.

Bhavesh and Rob designed the track of 14 hours program in close collaboration with Nicole and Cornelius as well as the Strategy Core Team. Via several video calls and a real-life work meeting of two days in Berlin, the track was shaped in a way that all voices could be heard and valuable input for the strategy process could be gathered. One major consideration throughout the process was to always incorporate the common habits as well as the language and style of the Wikimedia movement.

In a later stage it became also clear that while the facilitation and the design of the track itself could be handled by Bhavesh and Rob,  the capturing and documentation needed additional resources. Based on a recommendation by both facilitators, Nicole and Cornelius hired Luís Manuel Pinto, a facilitator and conference documentarist, to be the writing observer for the whole track – and we can already spoil that this decision was worth a mint.

Another challenge that was seen by Nicole and Cornelius was that attendance of a specific track was not compulsory, and we expected many participants to be free-floating between all three tracks. So the question arose how to make the process of the Movement Strategy track visible and understandable during those three days, while we expected people to be going in and out of the room. The process, the intermediate steps and the results had to be more tangible for the participants and also allow for interaction, for example via sticky-notes. Therefore, Nicole and Cornelius decided to hire a small agency called “Studio Amore” and their approach of being additional “haptic facilitators” for the conference. In close collaboration with Luís Manuel Pinto, Studio Amore built huge, flexible panels, where intermediate steps and results were to be shown. This also solved our problem that, by venue rules, we could not stick anything to the walls.

In the Wikimedia Movement there is tendency of neglecting external expertise. Therefore, these decisions to contract additional, external personnel was extremely carefully considered and discussed by Nicole and Cornelius. We understood that this conference was an important step for the whole Wikimedia Movement Strategy process and for its success we had to rely on expertise and skills from outside of the movement. We cannot stress enough that these decisions were not easy to be made, and a lot of thinking and consideration had to be put in so that in the end they turned out to be essential for the success of our conference.

Pre- and Post-Conference Events

As already noted in previous Wikimedia Conference reports, the Wikimedia Conference is an important platform for fringe events, and this importance is increasing each year.

Group photo of all members of the Affiliations Committee, including staff support and WMCON organizers Cornelius & Nicole.

The Learning & Evaluation team of the Community Engagement department of the Wikimedia Foundation has chosen the Wikimedia Conference as an important event to organize pre-conference Learning Days. It is an excellent opportunity for the team host learning sessions for leaders, staff and volunteers from Wikimedia affiliates/communities. For the Wikimedia Conference 2017, the Learning & Evaluation team again organized two days of pre-conference, on Wednesday and Thursday. Alongside the “Traditional Learning Day” track, the team created a new track called “New Leadership Development track”. Around 80 participants who were selected via a specific selection process beforehand took part in these learning days.

Another pre-conference event that became kind of a tradition for the Wikimedia Conference was the two-day Boards Training Workshop. In close collaboration and with support of the PEC, Frans Grijzenhout (chair of Wikimedia Nederlands) and Tim-Moritz Hector (chair of Wikimedia Deutschland) organized a two day program with workshops and learning sessions specifically for volunteer boards of Wikimedia organizations. While in 2016 basically only APG-funded participants could participate, in 2017 the range of participants was widened to non-APG funded participants thanks to the generous support of the Affiliations Committee. 15 participants took part in these sessions which focused on strategic planning, leadership skills and bylaws, among others.

The Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation hosted one of its regular real-life meetings shortly before the Wikimedia Conference, too.

Another fringe event around the Wikimedia Conference was the meeting of the Affiliations Committee. After some consultation with the staff supporting the committee, they decided to host their meeting after the conference itself, and not at the same time. This allowed committee members to be approachable by their main stakeholders during the conference and also gave them the opportunity to actively take part in the Movement Strategy track.

A Wikimedia Conference for 350 participants

The Wikimedia Conference 2017 was not only the biggest in terms of number of participants, but …

Four weeks (for the Capacity-Building & Learning track) and three weeks (for the Movement Partnerships track) before the conference, Cornelius finalized most of the sessions, especially with the support of the Visiting Wikimedian David Saroyan. Two weeks before the conference, the first draft of the schedule was published. While these both programmatic tracks had specific, single sessions, the Movement Strategy track was designed in a different way: Based on Open Space technology, the sessions built upon each other. Bhav provided a rough description of the program in advance on Meta.

At the Wikimedia Conference itself, the PEC took care of all things necessary around the program, which included providing all participants with program related information, supporting session leads in all their needs and, together with the volunteers, documenting all sessions. Additionally, the PEC interviewed almost all speakers (so-called “Outcome Interviews”) to gather input for improvement and note eventually agreed next steps for the documentation.

The concept of the Program and Engagement Coordination is designed in a way that most work for the PEC is done before the conference itself, and that everything is prepared perfectly to ensure a smooth conference. Thus, the tasks for the PEC at the conference itself are mostly supporting all volunteers, participants, speakers to focus on the program and the logistics coordinator as well as handling unexpected situations.

… also the most diverse in terms of global representation.

The program of this whole conference could not have happened without additional support that we are very thankful for: David Saroyan (our Visiting Wikimedian) and Chiara Weiß (Federal Volunteer at WMDE) supported speakers as so-called “Room Angels”, giving advice on the room set-up, supporting with material and keeping track of time. Luckily, we were also able to recruit two documentation volunteers (Matti Blume and Stuart Prior) who took notes of a selection of sessions.

Besides the program created and refined in advance, we provided an additional room which could be booked by participants for several purposes. As in the previous year, this offer was constantly used and many spontaneous meet-ups took place. There were even so many spontaneous meet-ups that other spaces like the hotel restaurant, bars or nearby parks had to be used.

As in previous conferences, we tried to create many “Moments of Sharings” for the participants, to get to know each other, exchange ideas and be inspired. Among others, we again had a “Letter Box”, Organizational Profiles, a candy table with candies brought by participants from all over the world, an evening for regional and thematic meet-ups, conversation starter lines, a Telegram group for all participants, a social game during the party, etc. etc. One well received new activity also was the “Buddy System”, based on similar initiatives at Wikimedia Hackathons, where experienced and inexperienced Wikimedians were brought together.

Evaluation, Documentation and Follow-Up

The weeks and months after the Wikimedia Conference were mainly filled with efforts and activities around evaluation, documentation and follow-up.

Luís Manuel Pinto, our contracted writing observer for the Movement Strategy track, provided within one week after the conference a full report of all activities, written statements and their prioritization of the Movement Strategy track.

Our contracted writing observer for the Movement Strategy track created a whole report for the track within one week after the Wikimedia Conference. While being impressed with its detailedness and quality, the PEC wikified it right after. The report perfectly shows  the participatory process of the track and all its intermediary steps. It served as a detailed and thorough documentation of all insights and outputs that could be further used as an important source for the strategy process. Another benefit was that it enabled non participating Wikimedians  to realize that participants really started with a blank piece of paper and built all content during the conference – no direction or focus in terms of strategy was set beforehand. The language specialists of the Wikimedia Foundation that were contracted for the Movement Strategy Process translated the report in up to 13 languages!

The documentation for the other two tracks took much longer. Many speakers had to be asked several times to provide their slides while the notes written by the documentation volunteers had to be formatted, corrected and brought into a digestible structure. It became also clear that despite having briefed all speakers, some have not considered documenting their sessions. It became clear – as mentioned below in the “Lessons Learnt” – that communicating about the importance of documentation needs to be improved and intensified. We need to create even more awareness of the importance of a proper documentation among speakers and participants.

Together with WMDE’s Christof Pins, the feedback survey was analyzed and summarized. 228 out of 338 participants (68%) took part in the survey. You can find details of the survey on Meta, the metric relevant results are listed below under “Measures of Success”.

Having post-processed, evaluated and documented all important efforts, first steps in terms of follow-up were made. As at previous Wikimanias, we will again host a “WMCON Follow-Up Day” where Wikimedia pre-conference participants are invited to work and follow-up on WMCON topics. Additionally, initiatives like the “Volunteer Supporters Network” were supported by the PEC to discuss and refine the network’s activities and topics. The network decided to potentially host a meeting of European (paid staff) volunteer supporters in fall 2017.

Overview of Activities of the Program and Engagement Coordinator edit

Area Task (summarized)
Project management Create project plan
Update/adjust project plan
Evaluation Design survey
Publish survey
Evaluate survey
Publish survey results
Write the report (together with the Logistics Coordinator)
Documentation Documentation concept / design (with facilitators)
Create organizational profile form
Send organizational profile form
Evaluate/Print organizational profiles
Find documentation volunteers for WMCON
Coordinate documentation volunteers for WMCON
Post-processing / evaluation of the documentation
Publish documentation of WMCON
Debrief with facilitators
Continuous engagement Constant communication with the movement public (in any form)
Identify and find thematic ambassadors
Identify and define important (major) topics
Check importance of topics and status
Outcome orientation Communication with the sessions leads and participants; inform specific target groups about specific sessions
Continuous consulting with the International Relations advisor, the WMDE communications team and evaluation team
Building bridges Preparation of the WMCON Follow-Up Day
Creating awareness for the Wikimania pre-conference day
Selection of topics for the Wikimania pre-conference day, inviting speakers
Logistical organization of the follow-up today, together with the Program Team of the Wikimania
Documentation of session of the follow-up day

Activities Event and Logistics Coordinator edit

The following section provides a brief overview of the tasks, which were executed by the Event and Logistics Coordinator Daniela Gentner in the realm of the Wikimedia Conference 2017 from the beginning of August 2016 to the end of June 2017. An overview of all work packages and activities can be found below.

The role of the Event and Logistics Coordinator was to successfully plan, organize, implement as well as to follow-up on the Wikimedia Conference and the fringe events such as the Pre-Conference Learning Days, Education Track, AffCom Meeting, WMF Board Meeting and Boards Training Workshop.

From the kick-off to the final reporting, the Event and Logistics Coordinator was responsible for the management of the logistics around the conference, detailed planning and the liaison with the WMF travel department, the Program and Engagement Coordinator as well as external vendors. Communication management such as creating and updating Meta pages or sending information to participants were a crucial subject of the coordinator.

The Event and Logistics Coordinator also took care of the cost management, which encompassed planning on the budget, expenses tracking, processing invoices and budget reporting. Important key tasks also entailed participant management (inviting attendees, coordinating travel and hotel bookings, helping with visas and interacting with participants etc.) as well as the management of the venue and other service providers (research, inquiry to select appropriate vendors, contract negotiation, contracting and coordinating them before, during and after the event etc.).

Particularly this year the management of the event, the participants as well as other stakeholders (WMF, service providers etc.) became more time intense and harder to plan ahead. As WMDE expected (and actively argued in support of this extension) that the participant number might increase, a new venue that offers more meeting rooms and flexibility in terms of the participant number had to be found. The conference hotel Mercure Hotel Berlin Tempelhof corresponded to these criteria.

In December 2016 WMF and WMDE finalized the agreement that 150 additional participants will be invited to attend the Movement Strategy Track. Originally WMDE budgeted for and planned with a total number of 200 instead of 350 attendees. By extending the invitation to additional delegates, a separate registration form had to be created and managed. A second hotel to accommodate the attendees had to be found as well. Moreover, participant management (entailing among others participant communication, visa support, hotel booking) became more intense. As the decision was only set around four month before the event, good planning and time management skills were necessary.

Fortunately, the Event and Logistics Coordinator was also supported in the last phase of the event by the “Visiting Wikimedian” David Saroyan from Wikimedia Armenia.

Last but not least it was of utmost importance for the event team to create a welcoming and pleasant atmosphere to ensure a great conference experience for all participants. Responding to their needs, caring about every question or problem and trying to solve them as good as possible was a crucial field of duty of the project partners.

To conclude, all activities were dedicated to facilitate the logistics behind the event and to support the program team and participants in the best manner, in order to enable them to fully immerse into the conference and to concentrate on the conference goals and topics.

Overview of Activities of the Event and Logistics Coordinator edit

Area Task (summarized)
Cost management Create budget plan, adapt budget for additional Movement Strategy Track invitees
Process invoices, expenses tracking and cost control
Set up actual cost overview
Create invoice from WMDE to WMF
Location management Conference venue research and negotiation
Location contracting
Check technical & equipment as well as catering needs
Catering and technical equipment contracting
Create location signage concept
Create room plans & schedules
Set up / Dismantlement
Manage location and catering team on-site
Hotel Management Hotel research and quotations solicitation
Hotel negotiations
Hotel contracting
Hotel reservation for participants
Close coordination with WMF travel team regarding hotel allotment for group 3
Participant Management Set up concept and create registration form
Checking and managing incoming registrations
Adding participants on meta
Communicating with participants
Visa and insurance management, creating and sending invitation letters
Participants support, registration on-site
Communication Management Creation and maintenance of meta page
Sending information and updates via mail to participants
Creation and administration of mailing list
Close collaboration and coordination with WMF (e.g. Travel Team, Learning & Evaluation Team)
Respond to individual needs and requirements of participants and other stakeholders
Create documents for on- site usage (signage, conference guide etc.)
Social Event Location scouting
Location booking
Brainstorming and preparing social activities
On-site management of participants and service providers

Further reading material on the conference edit

List of Participants
see here Wikimedia Conference 2017/Participants
Documentation and Follow-Up
An overview of the documentation of all sessions held at the Wikimedia Conference 2017, follow-ups and next steps for the main conference topics can be found here: Wikimedia Conference/Follow-Up
Pictures of the Conference can be found on Commons
Category:Wikimedia Conference 2017
See here for twitter
Hashtag #wmcon and for our Twitter handle @wmcon

Lesson Learned edit

What lessons were learned that may help others succeed in similar projects? Consider the following questions and respond with 1 - 2 paragraphs.

Lessons learned related to program related aspects edit

What went well?

External expertise is absolutely valuable and necessary – sounds like a platitude, but we think it's wort to highlight it here again (here: Cornelius & Nicole together with our facilitator Anna Lena Schiler)
But not only external expertise is valuable, also the movement experts' knowledge and skills are highly recommended and to be considered. Thanks to the different teams that have supported us in designing the program (here: WMF Partnerships & Global Reach)

1. External expertise is valuable and necessary

While it may almost sound like a platitude and it is pretty obvious, we have to highlight again how useful it is to contract external expertise for a successful event. This Wikimedia Conference, and especially the Movement Strategy track, was so successful because we trusted external, non-Wikimedian expertise. Bhavesh Patel, Rob Lancaster, Luís Manuel Pinto (the three facilitators for the Movement Strategy track), Anna Lena Schiller (the facilitator for the Movement Partnerships track) and Ryan Merkley (CEO of Creative Commons) were an excellent choice for the conference. And only with their skills, knowledge and charm, the conference ran as smoothly as it did.

2. Tap the movement experts’ knowledge and expertise

If you want to plan and create a thoughtful and valuable program for the Wikimedia Conference, it is absolutely essential to collaborate with different experts and teams across the movement. Cornelius and Nicole both have the high-level view of how to curate a conference and design an outcome-oriented program. But we also rely on people’s deeper thematic experience and knowledge of the status of the movement discourse and current research to enrich conversations. In addition, this collaboration is helpful to properly follow-up and create links to other Movement events. The expertise can come from within our own organization (like WMDE’s ZEN team), from the WMF (like Learning & Evaluation, Global Reach & Partnerships and Strategy Core team) or from other groups and individuals across the movement.

3. You can talk ‘strategy’ with Wikimedians. Open Space Technology works.

We and others were skeptical about having an entire track to talk about 'strategy'. But we the right design and process, it works!

Before the conference, we and others were skeptical about how people would react to dedicating an entire track to talk about a strategy for the Wikimedia movement. In the past, anything related to more strategic topics felt abstract and less tangible for many participants, and did not lead to sustainable outcomes. We felt that even if everyone kind of wanted to be involved in strategic conversations, the quality of contributions and interest in high-level conversations was underwhelming. Additionally, using Open Space Technology for almost the whole track of a conference has never been done to this extent at a Wikimedia event (if you ignore the unconferenc-y Hackathons). For these reasons, we put an extra focus on comprehensively communicating the process of the track and providing enough material for participants to prepare and engage. After having organized this event we can say that with a good facilitation and a meaningful, relevant and transparent process you can attract Wikimedians to thoroughly discuss and create strategy statements using Open Space methods. That was a huge learning (and success) for us (link to the report).

4. The most diverse Wikimedia Conference ever.

Thanks to the Wikimedia Movement Strategy Process and the extended budget, the conference was opened up and 150 additional participants were invited. While logistically a challenge (see below), the conference was much more diverse and most different voices could be heard and included in the strategy process. But not only the strategy track (and the strategy process) benefited from this decision, also the other two tracks had a bigger and better global representation than ever before, as most affiliates were represented by two representatives, of whom one of them could attend other tracks. Additionally, the Wikimedia Foundation invited non-affiliated participants which in our opinion was useful as well for the whole process. In the end, this conference gave the participants the feeling of being a global movement with many different people and voices – this is a an experience we have never witnessed before at a WMCON.

5. A(n even better) program adapted to the needs of the participants.

Thanks to the survey-based and PEC curated program, we felt that the program was even better and closer to the needs of the participants

We felt that the program of the previous conference was already close(r) to the needs of the participants, thanks to the survey-based and PEC curated program. This year, we improved this process and included more (real life) voices in the process of designing and shaping the program. This led to an even improved program for the participants, based on their needs, wishes and experiences. Expanding the capacity-building & learning track to two rooms run in parallel helped to design a schedule adapted to different needs and different levels of experience.

6. The right size venue for the right conference.

Back in May 2016, we decided to look for a venue that could host more participants– many months before we actually knew that 150 additional people were coming. In the end, this was one of the best decisions we could have made, because we expanded the program and still had enough space to accommodate the number and different needs of the participants. As in 2016, we offered an additional room where participants could organize spontaneous meetings. The room (and even other locations like the restaurant, the lobby hall, or bars closeby) were basically constantly filled with participants chatting, discussing, working, collaborating on new projects, ideas and plans for the upcoming months. While you cannot plan these events, they are part of the core of the Wikimedia Conference and are important and valuable. To provide the necessary infrastructure (in terms of space but also time slots) is something we have learned and acknowledged.

7. Getting support by and sharing learnings with our Visiting Wikimedian

As in 2016, we again worked with a “Visiting Wikimedian” from another Wikimedia affiliate to support us throughout the planning process and execution of the Wikimedia Conference. This year, David Saroyan from Wikimedia Armenia supported us. His presence and work was absolutely indispensable and valuable. Also, only with David’s support we could offer the “Buddy Concept” that brought experienced and inexperienced participants together. Basically all design work (and its constant application throughout the venue) was done in an excellent way by David. We very much enjoyed to have David with us and will continue with our program of inviting Wikimedians from other affiliates to support us and sharing our learnings with them.

What did not go well? What would you do differently if you planned a similar project?

1. Limits of the conference concept

One of the most striking aspects of this year’s conference was its additional size: 350 participants instead of roughly 200 participants, as usual. While having additional voices from underrepresented regions is definitely a plus (especially for the Movement Strategy process), the original idea of this conference – working together on specific issues – lost focus. Our idea of a working conference implies that there’s less distraction of other topics, continuous participation of the same participants (within a track) and smaller/focused sessions for working groups. Also we think that everyone should have at least seen or talked to everyone, which wasn’t possible with this number of participants.

Nevertheless, we recommend that the 2018 Wikimedia Conference should have a similar size of participants, as it basically serves as a follow-up on the Movement Strategy process (phase 2 will be in full swing at that time), and the same or at least similar people should be present. However, for 2019, we would aim to reduce the conference drastically and focus on strategic issues, coordination of global efforts and enhancing the collaboration on the organizational levels. We envision a conference that carries the conversations from the movement strategy process further into the future and is iteratively developed along to its implementation and adoption.

On the other side, we envision an increased number of smaller, more focused events and meetings for shared learning and peer-to-peer exchange among affiliates, the WMF and its committees as well as community leaders designed according to their regional and thematic contexts. By focusing regional events on learning and sharing, its content can more easily and effectively adapted to regional contexts where participants face similar challenges. At many regional events, learning can even happen in the local languages, what has been proven to be more impactful. Local opinion forming that happens on these focus events will then inform the global coordination and strategic decision making at WMCON.

2. Ensuring equal participation of parallel tracks was a challenge

When preparing the program, we were unsure how strictly we should enforce the policy that people who were especially invited to the Movement Strategy track should attend it throughout the whole conference. We wanted to maintain the open atmosphere from previous years and allow people to go with the flow and attend those session that they found most useful for their own affiliates' progress, or where they thought they could contribute in a most valuable way.

This led to a situation that people were overwhelmed by the richness of the program and actually wanted to attend sessions that were running in parallel. We have also read several comments in the survey where people complained about being confused of which track to attend and having a hard time to decide upon this. For future conferences, we will ensure to communicate this policy or flexibility more carefully and support people/affiliates with choosing their sessions.

3. The more other organizations’ teams are involved in the program design process, the better we have to communicate.

While having external expertise for designing the tracks is more than a plus (see above), we need to communicate more and better with all people involved

The Wikimedia Conference works only as it is because we don’t invent a program out of the blue, but collaborate intensively with other teams, especially from the Wikimedia Foundation. Three teams were heavily involved in designing the conference: The Strategy Core Team (for the Movement Strategy track), Global Reach & Partnerships (for the Movement Partnerships track) and Learning & Evaluation (for the pre-conference Learning Days and parts of the Capacity-Building & Learning track).

For the future, we would aim to collaborate better and especially communicate needs and wishes from both sides more regularly, including de-briefs. This would ensure that processes are handled efficiently, agreements are kept, and each team can rely on the commitment of other teams.

4. Documentation took much longer than expected

We think a good documentation is key for the success of the Wikimedia Conference. As we still follow the idea of having a more or less closed conference (and an application of the Chatham House Rule), the only way of documenting properly is to create a written documentation.

This year’s documentation took much longer than in the previous years, because many other processes massively delayed it. As we found only two wonderful volunteers for documentation (while having 3 rooms to be documented at the same time), one third of all programmatic sessions were not documented properly. Also, some speakers did not provide any notes or upload their slides, even if they had repeatedly assured to do so.

In the future, we aim for a better communication with the speakers about our needs regarding the documentation before the conference. We are also considering – after our outstanding experience with Luís for the Movement Strategy track – contracting professional note takers.

5. English was and is the movement’s main language. But how about being more conscious about non-native speakers?

The lingua franca of the Wikimedia Conference is English – despite the fact that less than a third of all participants are non-native English speakers. Participants have complained about feeling excluded and/or not being able to express themselves in an appropriate way. This is true and we acknowledge this (we are also non-native English speakers).

There is no easy solution for this: Simultaneous translation is extremely expensive and also only a few languages could be covered. Workshops, which are the majority of the programmatic sessions, are not translatable. So what to do?

We think the whole movement needs to be more conscious about its diversity of languages. That means that e.g. texts (like session descriptions, slides, etc.) should be written in a more simple way and complicated vocabulary or jargon should be avoided. Another idea to follow would be live transcription (subtitling) of the plenary sessions, as reading comprehension is much more widespread than listening comprehension of American English dialects.

Lessons learned related to logistical aspects edit

What went well?

1. Placing importance on professional participant management during all project stages to enable attendees to fully concentrate on the topics of the conference and to reduce stress of the unknown

We think, experienced and know: Good participant management and care is one important key to event success.

Good participant management and care is one important key to event success. This counts for the support of attendees and management beforehand as well as during and after the conference. The conducted feedback survey showed that WMDE achieved a high participant satisfaction in terms of support before (rated by 98% of respondents as good/excellent) as well as during (rated by 100% of respondents as good/excellent) the conference.

Communication is the heart of participant management. By constructing an event communication plan right in the beginning of the project, including a schedule when, how and what will be communicated to attendees in terms of logistics and program, WMDE intended to make participant management more effective. This tool was really vital in organizing WMCON, as it was a unified plan for the whole team to work off. Moreover, it helped to plan well ahead and make sure that the relevant information was spread in the right moment and thereby minimized the risk of missing out to communicate or causing an information overload at one point.

Sending out invitations and establishing a registration form is one of the first big milestones in relation to participant management. A well conceived registration form sets the foundation for effective participant management and enormously facilitates follow-up processes for the organizers. Collecting not all necessary data or being not able to work with it, can seriously impact the management of participants. Therefore, WMDE always put much time and consideration in designing the WMCON registration form as well as testing it in collaboration with the WMF travel team. Thanks to this process and the last years’ experiences, WMDE was able to improve the form from year to year. Asking clear and relevant questions, providing important and comprehensible information within the form was vital. By creating a clear call-to-action on what steps to take next within the automatic registration confirmation email, WMDE learned that event organizers can greatly support participants in adequately preparing for the event and at the same time facilitate their own workflow.

At large, it was of utmost priority to reduce the stress of the unknown for the attendees beforehand and to do everything so that each guest can arrive and participate at the event with everything he/she needs and in a good frame of mind. Bearing that in mind at all stages of the project was very supportive in the participant management process and helped to achieve a high attendee satisfaction.

Particularly starting from two months before the conference as well as at the conference itself, individual attendee inquiries and requests increased. With the aim to assist participants as good as possible and thereby facilitate their conference attendance experience from the logistical side, the organizing team tried to respond to every demand and find good solutions within the realm of possibilities. This was highly appreciated by the participants. Although this year participant management became way more intense due to the increase in participant number and some challenges in this regard occurred, it was in the end no problem in handling it thanks to the expertise/previous experiences.

2. Successful venue management – from selecting the right venue to creating an appropriate ambience on site

Successful venue management – from selecting the right venue to creating an appropriate ambience on site

This year the conference was hosted at a new venue WMDE has never worked together with.

Obviously, this always carries more uncertainties as well as risks and requires to invest more time in communicating with the provider and managing the related suppliers. Making several site visits to get a better feeling for the space and talking face to face with the manager was a key to success. By giving the person in charge a clear idea of the event proceedings and the attendees, one can increase the chance of running a smooth event.

One decisive factor for choosing the rooms at Mercure, was the offered flexibility in terms of participant sizes and room capacities. WMDE had strongly advocated for extending the conference to use it as a major platform for movement strategy conversations. As the final participant number was only determined in December 2016, WMDE needed to find a venue that can cater for a minimum of 200 and up to 400 participants in beforehand. In terms of contract negotiations, it was of utmost importance to make sure that the agreements entered can be kept and work out for both cases: a conference with 200 or up to 400 participants. This means that it was indispensable to the organizing team that good cancellation deadlines and flexibility were offered by the venue to minimize the risk of budget overspending or capacity problems. Thanks to the good negotiated contractual agreements, the decision to extend invitations to 150 more participants didn’t have a major impact on the venue management process.

When selecting a venue, it is in general crucial that its ambiance matches to the event and its participants. Hosting the WMCON at a conference hotel was not WMDE’s first choice, as the ambiance of these types of venues don’t fully fit to the character of the event. However, in terms of service and costs, these types of venues mostly offer the best deal as they cater for all hospitality needs (full service packages, all required equipment on-site, professional service personnel etc.).

The classy decor of the Mercure conveyed a more business-like conference feeling compared to the last years. The WMCON organizing team tried to alter that feeling by personalising the venue with some décor elements (WMCON roll-ups, WP bean bags, WMDE stools, posters, photo wall etc.) participants can identify with. This was positively perceived by the participants.

3. Accommodating participants in close proximity to conference venue to minimize travel time and to offer a high level of comfort

Accommodating participants in close proximity to each minimized travel time and offered a high level of comfort

To make conference attendance as easy as possible, the organizing team always placed great value in accommodating participants in a hotel nearby the conference venue. This year, 90% of the attendees were accommodated at the venue hotel, Mercure. The feedback survey clearly reflected that having the venue and housing under one roof is highly appreciated. This saved travel time and was perceived very comfortable.

Furthermore, having one point of contact for venue as well as hotel booking related questions and inquiries facilitated the work flow for the organizing team.

4. Enhancing conference participation by adequately supporting attendees in the visa application process

Event organizers can tremendously support the invited participants in the visa application process and can influence the successful visa application. Being well informed about the related processes as well as requirements, event hosts can offer adequate visa support. Incorporating the last years’ experiences in this regard helped the organizing team a lot in order to be able to increase the service and support level in 2017. The feedback survey also reflected the high satisfaction level: 100% of the respondents rated the support with visa formalities as good or excellent.

In the first place, event organizers can provide supporting documents such as an invitation letter, travel health insurance confirmation, copy of register of association, travel plan etc. Secondly, WMDE learned that informing the Foreign Registration Office about the event and asking them to inform the respective embassies that invitees will apply for a visa to attend the event, is beneficial.

Particularly in terms of how to counteract visa denials the WMCON organizing team increasingly accumulated knowledge thanks to previous experiences and feedback acquired by participants. Visa applicants can appeal to the rejection of the visa application within a letter. The organizing team often experienced that attendees are not aware of this option or feel demotivated to do so. Getting notified about a visa denial, the organizing team clearly pointed out what steps to undertake and provided guidelines on what to include in the letter of appeal. While this is the official required measure to take, WMDE also experienced that it is beneficial that the event organizer gets in touch with the respective embassy and thereby endorses the reconsideration of the visa application. Thanks to these measures, almost all participants, whose visa were rejected in the first place, obtained the visa in the end.

From around 80 participants who were in need of a visa, only four were not able to attend the conference due to visa matters. This however only occurred due to the lack of time between the visa application or denial notification and the actual event.

Among others, a proof of travel reservation needs to be submitted in the visa application process. Travel was only firmly booked for attendees after they successfully obtained the visa (travel plan was sent to them for the application process). As most of the attendees only received the visa 1.5 month to 2 weeks before the conference, travel could be only booked for them shortly before the event, which mostly implies higher travel costs. As aforementioned, the visa denial rate is relatively low this year as well as in the years before. Thus, booking travel earlier and running the risk to pay the costs in case of visa denial is conceived more cost saving versus paying higher costs due to last minute bookings. By providing the attendees with a firm travel ticket, the attendee's visa application gains more credibility.

Through the organization of the Wikimedia Conference in the last years, WMDE accumulated comprehensive knowledge on how event organizers can support invited participants in the visa application process and decided to share this know-how in a dedicated Learning Pattern.

5. Seizing the Wikimedia Conference platform for several side events

The Wikimedia Conference has become an important platform for many side events and spontaneous meet-ups of regional and thematic groups (here: the WikiWomen meet-up).

The Wikimedia Conference also served as a crucial platform for different fringe events and event formats (such as Pre-Conference Learning Days, Boards Training Workshop, AffCom Meeting, WMF Board meeting, thematic/regional/language-specific meetups) this year. Some meetups were planned and announced a few month in advance, while some inquiries reached the organizing team quite spontaneously. Thanks to the flexibility of the conference venue and the availability of meeting rooms in the evening during and after the dinner snacks, all requests could be fulfilled.

While this flexibility might not be granted in the next year (e.g. if the event is hosted at a different venue), the organizing team will proactively contact the groups, who are likely to organize a meeting around WMCON, to be able to better plan ahead. As most of the affiliates representatives meet each other only 1-2 times a year, it is comprehensible that the time spent together is seized entirely and therefore these meeting opportunities should be supported further on.

What did not go well? What would you do differently if you planned a similar project?

1. Coordination of travel booking process increased in complexity and lead to higher workload

As in the last years, travel booking was coordinated by WMF and travel booking for group 2 (representatives of Chapters, Thematic Organizations and User Groups, which do not receive funding via an annual plan grant) and group 4 participants (additionally invited Movement Strategy track representatives: eligible affiliates who would otherwise have only one representative in Berlin, individual community members and Stewards) was handled by an external travel agency.

As the registration form is handled by WMDE and mostly all communication about the logistics of the event is carried out by WMDE, participants often contacted the Event and Logistics Coordinator in regards to travel booking. Although the responsibilities were clearly communicated within the registration form as well on Meta, WMDE often served as intermediary between the concerned parties. Participants mostly inquired WMDE for an update on their travel booking status two months to shortly before the conference, as they hadn’t received a travel plan. This particularly pertained to participants who were in need of a visa (travel plan needs to be submitted in the realm of the visa application). The travel agency did not want that participants directly contact them, as this was expected to hinder their work flow, WMDE served as main contact point and got in touch with the travel agency to ask for a travel status update of the particular participant. Following the answer of the travel agency, WMDE had to inform the attendee accordingly. This three-way communication was very time intense and the workload increased. As WMF contracted the travel agency and WMDE as well as the participants would have been two further interest groups to handle, it was understandable that the travel agency asked to minimize direct communication with participants. Consequently, to reduce the points of contact and for being more involved in the travel booking process, WMDE suggests to contract a travel agency, which is based in Germany, directly. As the workload for the coordination with the travel agency and participants will be more intense in this case, more resources will be required.

WMDE also learned that participants had difficulties in recognizing the travel plan as a travel plan and some also experienced problems in understanding their flight schedule. Thus, for the next event, it might be wise to provide a clearer flight schedule overview and include further instructions, when sending the travel plan.

2. WIFI connection problems

Despite having put enormous efforts in providing a good wifi connection, a good service quality was not provided. Sorry for that. Ping-pong tables served as an alternative.

Offering WiFi access at events is a must. In general, but especially for Wikimedia events, a good WiFi connection is essential to keep participants satisfied and enable them to work or edit. Most of the attendees try to connect with multiple devices at the same time, want to upload and download a lot of data, do video calls, etc. and consequently enough bandwidth and enough access points are necessary. The WMCON organizing team was well aware of this fact, made the essential inquiry for WiFi and wanted to invest the essential money to provide good WIFI, especially also in view of the last year’s experience.

The venue Mercure Hotel Berlin Tempelhof Airport works together with one dedicated internet provider, who ensured in advance that the offered WIFI connection is sufficient for 700 devices. This was also verified by our IT department. However, already during the pre-conference days 50% of the attendees were not able to log into the network. From the start, the communication between the internet provider was really time consuming as the hotel had to act as an intermediary. As the company is not based in Berlin, only telephone assistance could be offered during the conference days. In order to guarantee a better support in case of internet problems, it will be essential to hire a company that is based in Berlin or hire a technician for on-site assistance in the future.

3. Invitation and registration management

The high number of participants and the difficult group / invitation processes put some challenges on us.

This year the invitation management as well as registration process increased in complexity. As already elaborated in the activities section of the PEC, right after the Board of Trustees initiated the Movement Strategy process in mid 2016, the organizing team felt very certain that an important role should be ascribed to it in the conference and consequently proactively offered WMF to add a dedicated track. When opening the registration for the Wikimedia Conference in November, it was however not clear in which realm (budget as well as participant number wise) this can be executed. Consequently, a second registration form had to be created by the WMCON organizing team, after the budget was approved and the participant number was determined.

While WMDE was responsible for the invitation management for the regular tracks, WMF took care of inviting representatives for the Movement Strategy track as well as for maintaining the invitee/attendee list. Beginning of January invitations were sent out to potential Movement Strategy track representatives by WMF. Following that, WMDE received a lot of inquiries regarding the participation in this track. Invitees mainly approached WMDE as the registration for the Movement Strategy track was managed by WMDE. Through these experiences WMDE learned that it might be worth to consider that  invitation and registration management should come from one single source.

The availability of two registration forms lead to confusions among participants and consequently also to an increase in administrative effort. First of all, it often happened that affiliates that were invited to participate at the Movement Strategy conversations used the wrong registration form. Secondly, participants who had already registered for the regular tracks decided to switch to the Movement Strategy track and nominated a further attendee for the other track. This required further communication and coordination with the participants as well as the WMF to clarify their role at the conference. Consequently, the administrative processes immensely increased. Determining the number as well as composition of participants in the future well in advance, would ease the process and enable the organizing team to better streamline the registration process.

As invitations to the Movement Strategy Track were only sent out three month before the event, invitees, who were in need of a visa, only had a short short time frame to complete the visa application process. A few had to cancel theír participation as there was no appointment at the embassies availability before the event.

Besides the aforementioned issues in regards to the registration process for the Movement Strategy track, WMDE identified that the combined registration for the Pre-Conference Learning Days produces a significant bottleneck in terms of follow-up processes, such as travel and hotel booking or visa application. As the attendance at the Learning Days influences the approved arrival date of each participant, one can’t advance in booking travel or the accommodation before the attendance status has been decided. Thus, WMDE realized that the invitation and participant management for the Learning Days collides with the necessary processes for organizing WMCON. One possible option would be to change the invitation and selection procedure and to establish a more open selection process. Another option would be to integrate the Learning Days into the main conference program.

4. Dinner snacks hosted at hotel

Due to the high number of participants, we couldn't host the evening dinner snacks in WMDE's office. But of course, we kept the Candy Table (where people bring candies from all over the world).

Dinner was offered from Thursday to Sunday after the conference program to create socializing possibilities and to offer full board for the participants. While in the last years dinner snacks were hosted at the WMDE office, the space was too small to accommodate 350 participants and thus, the space in the Mercure hotel was used.

Due to the size of the hotel and the different areas to linger around, participants spread over the complete hotel and bonding possibilities decreased. Consequently, more little groups built and a lot of participants also left the hotel to go to a surrounding bar, as the prices for drinks at the hotel bar were quite expensive. Spending the whole day at the venue, a lot of attendees also needed a change of location. For the future, if the WMDE office can’t be used due to the high participant number, it might be wise to establish an evening program on all days to keep the group better together and to increase bonding moments.

Project goal and measures of success edit

This section should reference the project goals and measures of success described in the approved grant submission. See your grant proposal to review the goals and metrics listed in the approved submission.

Project goal edit

Provide the project goal here.

We are convinced – based on our metrics and stories told by the participants – that we achieved our goal: make the conference outcome-oriented and productive.

Before 2015, a typical Wikimedia Conference proceeded like this: A program was created, participants arrived rather unprepared at the conference, presented and discussed important issues for three days and then left on Sunday. After the conference, the different strands of ideas, topics and conversations were not taken up, no one felt responsible to develop these strands any further; at least not in the open or in collaboration with others. Overall, a coordinated, outcome-driven approach was sorely missing. Only when it was time for the next conference, topics were brought up again, but mainly overshadowed by logistical discussions around venue, host, or color of the bikeshed. The Wikimedia Conference is not the only conference that faces these issues: Keeping the attention and motivation for events and topics high is quite a common challenge within and outside the movement.

In early 2015, WMDE and WMF agreed on hosting the Wikimedia Conference for at least three years (2015-2017) in Berlin. This gives us the opportunity to organize the conferences with a long-term perspective regarding logistics and program, with specific goals and with proper involvement of all affected parties. Wikimedia Deutschland is taking the lead in the program design process. Both, the creation of an outcome oriented and productive program as well as facilitating an efficient engagement process pursues our goal to make the Wikimedia Conference a productive and sustainable event, well embedded in the Wikimedia movement. The close collaboration with the WMF’s Community Engagement teams throughout the Program Design Process as well as their participation in the conference is also key for a successful WMCON. With the aim to make the conference more sustainable, the Program and Engagement Coordinator as well as the Event and Logistics Coordinator plan to establish learning patterns and be consultants for other movement events, because we strongly believe in the power of being learning partners in the movement.

Did you achieve your project goal? How do you know your goal was achieved? Please answer in 1 - 2 paragraphs.

Based on our own reflections and experiences, the feedback from participants (see Evaluation Feedback), facilitators, affiliates and partners, we think we achieved this goal for the Wikimedia Conference. We think that we even improved our achievement from our 2016.

As you can see in the participants’ feedback, 96 % of all participants having participated in the 2016 and 2017 conference (and having filled out the survey), agree that the Wikimedia Conference led to tangible outcomes. 74 % of those have pursued an initiative, project or any other type of collaboration joined or started in the aftermath of last year’s conference. These high approval rates run throughout the whole feedback. Despite serving and supporting more participants than ever before, we have improved our approval rates for the logistics. Participants appreciate our service-orientation towards them, our communication and support throughout the whole conference. We claim this high approval rates an achievement of our goals and as a confirmation for our ways to design and run this conference.

And let’s ignore these numbers for a moment: Over the last two years we have built a new type of conference for the Wikimedia Movement, working professionally towards a better program, with a focus on outcome orientation and productivity. Only having this achieved already in 2016 pathed the way to choose the Wikimedia Conference as one of the main events for the Wikimedia Movement Strategy. We appreciate the trust and confidence from the Wikimedia Foundation’s side and see this as well as an achievement and honor to have provided an important platform for the future of this movement we are so passionate about.

Measures of success edit

List the measures of success exactly as provided in the approved grant submission, and evaluate your project according to each measure listed there.
Please see also the evaluation of the participants' survey
Overall, we achieved again …
great or extraordinary results.
General assessment: 72 % excellent, 27 % good
(2016: 67% excellent, 32 % good; 2015: 57 % excellent, 40 % good)
# Measure (as proposed in the grant) Results Compliance
1 80% of participants approved that the conference improved my understanding of partnerships in the context of the Wikimedia movement 28 % strongly agree, 57 % agree ( = 85 %) Yes
2 80% of participants approved that the conference provided applicable knowledge and improved capacities 34 % strongly agree, 56 % agree ( = 90 %) Yes
3 80% of participants approved that the conference made satisfactorily clear the significance of sharing and collaboration in the Wikimedia movement 47 % strongly agree, 46 % agree ( = 95 %) Yes
4 80% of participants were satisfied with selection of topics 33 % strongly agree, 60 % agree ( = 96 %) Yes
5 80% of participants were satisfied with quality of contributions 36 % strongly agree, 56 % agree ( = 92 %) Yes
6 80% of participants were satisfied with communication regarding the program design process before conference 33 % strongly agree, 47 % agree ( = 80 %) Yes
7 40% of the 2017 conference participants engage in the structured follow-up process 12 months after the conference. Engaging means participation in working groups, discussions, special events etc. It’s too early to give numbers here. n/a
8 30% of people involved in the structured follow-up process are from outside the group of WMCON 2017 participants. It’s too early to give numbers here. n/a
9 For Wikimedia Conference 2017: minimum 50% of the 2016 program activities pursue major topics of the 2016 conference or build upon related outcomes/ follow-up work of the 2015 conference.

(Same as #19 below in the second table)

10 At the 2017 conference, a minimum of 80% of the participants which have also attended the 2016 conference report that the 2016 conference led to tangible outcomes for their work. 36 % strongly agree, 60 % agree ( = 96 %) Yes
11 50% of the 2017 conference topics lead to concrete outcomes (e.g. documented next steps or wrap ups, learning patterns, established working groups, continued conversations, joined activities, binding decisions) – either at the conference itself or between the 2016 and 2017 conferences It’s too early to give numbers here. n/a
12 Topics of the Wikimedia Conference have a continuance at the Wikimania in a dedicated track or space (as qualified by dedicated Wikimania sessions, participation of 2016 conference participants at the dedicated sessions, etc.); this may be applied to other subsequent conferences as well. During the pre-conference of Wikimania 2017, we will organize the WMCON Follow-Up Day. Yes
13 At least two thematic ambassadors (or members of their initiatives) of the follow-up process participate in a regional conference (IberoConf, CEE Meeting, WikiArabia) as multipliers for the WMCON topics. CEE Meeting 2016 yes, WikiIndaba 2017 yes, CEE Meeting 2017: tbd Yes
14 At least two shared learning documents created by WMDE during the organization of the Wikimedia Conference were applied by organizers of other Wikimedia movement events (as qualified by mentions in their reports, documented communication or direct feedback). It’s too early to give numbers here. n/a
15 80 % of the participants could satisfactory seize the conference to: share knowledge with other Wikimedians 57 % strongly agree, 41 % agree ( = 98 %) Yes
16 80 % of the participants could satisfactory seize the conference to: gain knowledge from other Wikimedians 63 % strongly agree, 35 % agree ( = 98 %) Yes
17 80 % of the participants could satisfactory seize the conference to: better understanding of each other's views 47 % strongly agree, 50 % agree ( = 97 %) Yes
18 85% of participants were satisfied with: communication support from organizers before the conference
(Question widened in the survey)
63 % strongly agree, 35 % agree ( = 98 %) Yes
19 85% of participants were satisfied with: support from organizers during the conference 74 % strongly agree, 26 % agree ( = 100 %) Yes
20 85% of participants were satisfied with: visa service 69 % strongly agree, 31 % agree ( = 100 %) Yes
21 85% of participants were satisfied with: conference venue 52 % strongly agree, 43 % agree ( = 95 %) Yes
22 85% of participants were satisfied with: accommodation 67 % strongly agree, 31 % agree ( = 98 %) [Mercure Hotel, n = 185]
61 % strongly agree, 27 % agree ( = 88 %) [Motel One, n = 41]
23 85% of participants were satisfied with: social events Saturday’s party at Heimathafen Neukölln 37 % strongly agree, 48 % agree ( = 85 %) Yes

From the 2016 report, that couldn’t be answered before

# Measure (as proposed in the grant) Results Compliance
11 50% of the 2016 conference topics lead to concrete outcomes (e.g. documented next steps or wrap ups, learning patterns, established working groups, continued conversations, joined activities, binding decisions) – either at the conference itself or between the 2016 and 2017 conferences Partnerships & Resource Development: Partnerships workshop, partnership session at WikiIndaba
Public Policy: Freedom of Panorama Campaigns, BFB Meeting #4,
Governance: Boards Training Workshop at WMCON17
Communication: New set up of ComCom
Community Support/VSN: Learning Patterns
13 At least two thematic ambassadors (or members of their initiatives) of the follow-up process participate in a regional conference (IberoConf, CEE Meeting, WikiArabia) as multipliers for the WMCON topics. WikiArabia: 0 (due to the limits of the program); WikiConvention Francophone 1; CEE Meeting 2016: 1; WikiIndaba 2017: 1; IberoConf 2017: 0; CEE Meeting 2017: tbd Yes
14 At least two shared learning documents created by WMDE during the organization of the Wikimedia Conference were applied by organizers of other Wikimedia movement events (as qualified by mentions in their reports, documented communication or direct feedback). We provided assistance to Italian WikiCon 2017, WikiIndaba 2017, Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 and the Wikimedia Diversity Conference 2017, however for all these events the reports are not published yet (or the events have not taken place so far) Yes

Provide an overall assessment of how your project went according to these measures.

Following our measures of success chosen in the grant proposal, we think that the Wikimedia Conference was entirely successful.

Following our measures of success chosen in the grant proposal, we think that the Wikimedia Conference was entirely successful. Our approval rates for the logistics are constantly high. Our approval rates for the program design have grown as well, mostly. However, we would consider being careful with comparing the results of 2016 and 2017. Despite having measured the same metrics, the results are not as comparable as they might seem.

With inviting additional 150 participants to the conference, this event has changed its shape in terms of numbers, but also in terms of complexity and focus of the event. With a growing number of participants, the variety of opinions among participants grow as well, which might not be reflected in these metrics.

As in 2016, certain measures for the engagement part are yet to be measured (7, 8, 11). Other measures of success (13, 14) reflect already the work in the past, between the Wikimedia Conference 2016 and 2017.

If you were to plan a similar project, would you measure it differently? If yes, please explain how.

Generally, we think have chosen a good mix of measures of success for this event. We have basically used the same as in 2016, to have comparable results for the Wikimedia Conference.

However: With inviting 150 additional participants and changing the focus of the event much more towards a global conversation around the Wikimedia Movement Strategy Process, it would have been good to use additional metrics to reflect the success of this change. That includes e.g. a measurement of diversity and global representation in the range of participants. Just to give an example: We could have set up metrics for measuring the global representation at the Wikimedia Conference, by counting the number (and share) of participants from “Emerging” and “Developed Communities”, we could have encouraged affiliates to choose more diverse participants, etc.

The Wikimedia Conference 2017 became the most diverse Wikimedia Conference ever – so far. In total, 92 organizations, groups, and committees participated in the conference. Of those, 48 count as "Emerging Communities", 29 as "Developed Communities", and for 15 organizations this definition does not apply (thematic user groups or WMF and its committees). Of those 92 organizations, 36 were chapters, 48 user groups, 1a thematic organization, 2 movement partners, and 1 the Wikimedia Foundation with 4 present committees.,

Generally, while reflecting on the metrics for this report, we have learned that adapting measures of success within the grant period is useful, especially if the event changes drastically. For a possible Wikimedia Conference 2018, we would strongly consider adapting the metrics to reflect changes of the event.

Impact edit

An impactful aspect that could already be seen at the last Wikimedia Conference, but became even clearer at this year’s conference: The Wikimedia Conference leads to stronger cohesion within the Wikimedia movement.

This section ties this project to Wikimedia's broader goals, and shows what the project accomplished.

What impact did this project have on WMF's mission and the strategic goals? Please answer in 1 -2 paragraphs and include specific measures of impact such as the number of readers or editors reached by a particular project, or the number of articles edited or improved.

The Wikimedia Conference doesn’t influence the Wikimedia projects directly – as “Wikimedia’s strategic goals” might suggest – but influences the work of the Wikimedia organizations on a more meta level. Instead, we would like to highlight two important aspects of the Wikimedia Conference, that have an impact on the Wikimedia movement itself.

The Wikimedia Conference has developed towards a catalyst for projects: It is the place for Wikimedia organizations and groups to exchange ideas, to create new ideas and join existing collaborations and initiatives. As we can see in the feedback, participants have felt that the Wikimedia Conference led to tangible outcomes for their work, and many have named us their new ideas or initiatives they have joined. This is an aspect we have been working on for the last years and we have the feeling our goal becomes true: a productive and outcome-oriented conference for the greater good of the movement.

Another impactful aspect could already be seen at the last Wikimedia Conference, but became even clearer at this year’s conference: The Wikimedia Conference leads to stronger cohesion within the Wikimedia movement. Thanks to the Movement Strategy track and the additional participants invited, it was achieved that Wikimedians felt much as more as part of the Wikimedia movement. So far, the Wikimedia Conference captured only Wikimedia organizations and groups, which, by structural reasons, have a strong “Global North” tendency. With inviting more people to have more equal representation of the whole movement, more voices could be heard and more people felt represented within the Wikimedia movement. This is an aspect we should not forget and should keep in mind for this and other movement events.

Reporting and documentation of expenditures edit

This section describes the grant's use of funds

Documentation edit

Did you send documentation of all expenses paid with grant funds to grants at wikimedia dot org, according to the guidelines here? Answer "Yes" or "No".

Expenses edit

Please list all project expenses in a table here, with descriptions and dates. Review the instructions here.
These expenses should be listed in the same format as the budget table in your approved submission so that anyone reading this report may be able to easily compare budgeted vs. actual expenses.
Note that variances in the project budget over 10% per expense category must be approved in advance by WMF Grants Program staff. For all other variances, please provide an explanation in the table below.

Please find here the documentation of expenses:

Cost Category Category Description Estimated Costs Actual Costs Difference: Estimated Costs – Actual Costs % of Budget Spent Comment
Conference Costs
Conference venue conference room and technical equipment rental, WIFI, conference support personnel €23,295.00 €17,743.80 €5,551.20 76.17%
Conference catering package price included plenary room, all day beverage flat rate, 2 coffeebreaks, lunch, incl. kosher food for three days €32,287.50 €31,911.42 €376.08 98.84%
Facilitators and haptic facilitation tools scope of service of facilitators: program design process, facilitation and post processing for Partnerships & Movement Strategy track €35,000.00 €29,073.44 €5,926,56 83.07% The concept for the haptic facilitation was downsized to fit the needs of the Movement Strategy track.
Child care €4.000.00 €868.70 €3.131.30 21.72%
TOTAL Conference Costs €94.582,50 €79.597,36 €14.985,14 84,16%
Dinner Snack Costs (3 nights at conference venue)
Catering beverages and warm buffet (incl. kosher) at conference venue, three evenings €19,593.00 €17,228.58 €2,364.42 87.93%
TOTAL Dinner Snack Costs (3 nights at conference venue) €19,593.00 €17,228.58 €2,364.42 87.93%
Social Event Cost (1 night outside WMDE office)
Catering and personnel costs warm dinner at Heimathafen Neukölln, beverage flat rate and personnel costs €12,970.00 €12,951.35 €18.65 99.86%
DJ €250.00 €250.00 €0.00 100%
Others presents for party game, risbands for admission control €500.00 €67.57 €432.43 13.51%
TOTAL Social Event Cost (1 night outside WMDE office) €13,720.00 €13,268.92 €451.08 96.71%
Travel & Transport Costs On-Site
Travel Costs volunteers/ facilitators transport costs for 4 facilitators €3,500.00 € 1,233.07 € 2,266.93 € 35.23%
Public Transport Ticket public transport tickets for participants and sightseeing tour €6,475.00 €2,610.40 €3,864.60 40.32%
Transport costs material transport €500.00 €464.47 €35.53 92.89%
TOTAL Travel & Transport Costs On-Site €10,475.00 €4,307.94 €6,167.06 41.13%
Communication Costs
Conference Guide printing costs for conference guide €760.00 €448.63 €311.37 59.03%
Sending Visa Documents €4,200.00 €619.74 €3,580.26 14.76%
Visa Cost Reimbursement reimbursement visa costs for 15 participants €4,200.00 €4,165.75 €34.25 99.18%
Lanyards production costs for 240 lanyards €570.00 €603.33 – €33.33 105.85%
Photographer €3,000.00 €3,228.00 – €228.00 107.60%
Others poster printing  €1,460.00 €2,077.63 – €617.63 142.30%
TOTAL Communication Costs €14,190.00 €11,143.08 €3,046.92 78.53%
Staff & Office Costs
Event Management €25,200.00 €25,200.00 €0 100.00%
Program & Engagement Coordinator €41,200.00 €41,200.00 €0 100.00%
Intern Logistics Support €6,000.00 €6,000.00 €0 100.00%
Visiting Wikimedian €4,000.00 €4,000.00 €0 100.00%
Proportional staff costs for conference curation, event management and evaluation support  €7,500.00 €7,500.00 €0 100.00%
TOTAL Staff & Office Costs €83,900.00 €83,900.00 €0 100.00%
Accommodation Costs
Accommodation Costs for group 2 and group 4 participants1 €64,776.00 €45,315.30 €19,460.70 69.96% WMDE has budgeted for single room occupancy for individual Movement Strategy invitees. As ~60% decided to share a twin bed room, the actual costs were less then expected.
TOTAL Accommodation Costs €64,776.00 €45,315.30 €19,460.70 69.96%
Extra Costs
Buffer €8.000.00 €0.00 €8,000.00 0.00%
TOTAL Extra Costs €8.000.00 €0.00 €8,000.00 0.00%
TOTAL COSTS €309,236.50 €254,761.18 €54,475.32 82.38%


1 Group 2: Representatives of Chapters, Thematic Organizations and User Groups which do not receive funding via an annual plan grant (APG). This group includes organizations who receive funding through Simple Annual Plan Grants (Simple APG).

Group 4: Additional representatives from eligible affiliates who would otherwise have only one representative in Berlin, Individual community members who come from underrepresented communities and who have demonstrated project or community leadership, as well as community Stewards, to participate in the strategy track.

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