Wikimedia Conference 2018/Program Design Process

WMCON 2018 Core Conference Program Fringe Events Registration & Participants
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The Wikimedia Conference is the annual meeting of all Wikimedia organizations and groups to discuss the future of the Wikimedia movement in terms of collaboration, learning, strategy, and organizational development.

It is Wikimedia Deutschland’s interest to make this conference a working, thinking, and learning event. The conference offers a safe space for exchange, for a better understanding of different responsibilities and challenges; it is an event that focuses on active participation, capacity building, shared learning, and clear outcomes that lay the ground for future decision making. Bringing all movement organizations together will give us the opportunity to incorporate diverse perspectives and experiences into the program.

Incorporating the feedback and our experiences from 2015, 2016 and 2017, we are following our approach by setting four cornerstones for the whole conference. This enables us to create a truly focused program based on the needs, experiences and knowledge of the participants of the Wikimedia Conference.

The four cornerstones of the program edit

To ensure an impact oriented conference, we need different formats and target group specific sessions. We will have four cornerstones that complete the program:

  • Overarching movement themes: WMCON brings together movement stakeholders to discuss the future of the movement. We have to make the most of the this unique opportunity where this group of affiliate and WMF representatives is gathering in one place and have them work, think, talk, listen, learn and shape our future together.
  • Capacity building. The culture of shared learning is slowly increasing among movement entities. We are getting better at learning from each other’s mistakes and successes, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Working and learning sessions will be built according to the participants needs; speakers will come from within and outside of the movement.
  • Facilitated social activities. Only a safe space in a creative, trustful atmosphere will enable a good, effective working environment that includes newbies and old hands alike. We will create more moments of sharing, of social exchange and provide guidance for side events and evening sessions.
  • Wildcard and must-have topics. Since the agenda design process starts early, we will leave some space in the schedule for urgent movement issues that might come up in the time between January and April.

Three programmatic tracks edit

Movement Strategy edit

Movement Strategy: In November 2017, phase 2 of the Wikimedia Movement Strategy Process will start. Its main goal will be to answer the question "How do we implement the strategic direction", which means identifying the roles and resources needed for execution, and the activities it involves. In order to ensure participation from the organized part of the movement in this next phase, we will again host a three-day track on movement strategy. This track will be designed together with the Wikimedia Foundation.

Movement Partnerships edit

Wikimedia organizations and groups have a wide variety of experiences and knowledge in working with partners to achieve our mission. Based on the conversation at the last Wikimedia Conference, Wikimania, and regional Wikimedia conferences, we aim to continue to offer a space for conversations, experience sharing and learning around partnerships within and outside the Wikimedia movement. This track will be designed together with the Wikimedia Foundation’s Global Reach & Partnerships team, WMDE’s Partnerships & Development team and the volunteer “Partnerships group”.

Capacity Building & Learning edit

The Wikimedia Conference is one of the main spaces for learning and sharing among Wikimedia affiliates. Again, we will host a track with sessions that are designed according to the participants’ needs, wishes and experiences. This track will be designed in close consultation with WMF’s Learning & Evaluation team, and will complement the pre-conference Learning Days.

How to select the delegates edit

The Wikimedia Conference is all about participation. To make the conference a success it will be essential for the invited affiliates to deliberately select their delegates. Participants should come to Berlin to learn and to share, but also to bring the information and learnings back home. We are seeking delegates who will be actively engaged before, during and after the conference and can represent their affiliates. Ideal delegates are those who are

  • involved in the decision making processes of the organization,
  • striving to help shape the future of the movement,
  • or partnerships specialists,
  • or program leaders.

To increase diversity and have more diverse points of view present at the Wikimedia Conference, we advise affiliates to send at least one non-male participant per organization/group.

Participants should be eager to shape movement conversations; people with passion for partnerships with institutions, funders and like-minded organizations as well as people striving to improve their affiliates’ impact. Please don’t overthink it, consider this food for thought while making your choices.

Prepare for the registration edit

Registration opens on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 and closes on Monday at midnight CET, January 15, 2018. Please note that this is a sharp deadline. In the months between the registration and the conference itself, the Program and Engagement Coordinator will work with the registered participants on elaborating the program of the Wikimedia Conference. Because we want to build the program to fit participant needs and experiences, we would like to learn a little more about your interests in advance. We will ask the following questions within the registration form; these questions can also help you to select the delegates. Our intention is to create awareness for the conference themes and for the “seriousness of the business”. The answers will then help to create and shape the program. They will help us to get a better understanding of everyone’s initial thinking.

Movement Strategy

  • What does “Knowledge as a service“ mean for your organization/group/community and its future activities?
    • See:
      The paragraph is: "Knowledge as a service: To serve our users, we will become a platform that serves open knowledge to the world across interfaces and communities. We will build tools for allies and partners to organize and exchange free knowledge beyond Wikimedia. Our infrastructure will enable us and others to collect and use different forms of free, trusted knowledge."
  • What does “Knowledge equity“ mean for your organization/group/community and its future activities?
    • See:
      The paragraph is: "Knowledge equity: As a social movement, we will focus our efforts on the knowledge and communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege. We will welcome people from every background to build strong and diverse communities. We will break down the social, political, and technical barriers preventing people from accessing and contributing to free knowledge."
  • What kind of conditions do you need to realize these activities?
    • Describe what you think would be good conditions for you to move forward in this direction. Think of conditions in the broadest sense; e.g., capacity, skills, partnerships, clarification, structures and processes, room for development or experimentation, financial resources, people, access to other means of support etc.

Movement Partnerships

  • Is there an insight, idea, method or something else around partnerships you can imagine to share or talk about during the Wikimedia Conference?
  • Is there an insight, idea, method or something else around partnerships you would like to learn about during the Wikimedia Conference?
  • During the first half year of 2018 (for example, at the Wikimedia Conference) we will discuss how to realize what we have endorsed in the Wikimedia movement’s “Strategic Direction”. What is your wish or hope regarding Partnerships within and beyond the Wikimedia movement based on the Strategic Direction?
  • What do you need to fulfill this wish or hope?

Capacity Building

  • Please name one or two skills, tools, or resources, that you want to be able to bring back home to your local organization/group.
  • How can you contribute to the Wikimedia Conference? What skills, knowledge or insights can you bring to share that others can learn/benefit from?

Registration form analysis edit

Full slide deck (pdf, 2.57 MB) with summary of the answers

After the registration had closed, Anne Kierkegaard, Vira Motorko and Cornelius Kibelka sorted, clustered and analyzed the around 2,400 answers that we collected from participants via the registration form. The answers provide valuable insights into the needs, wishes, experiences and expectations of the participants towards the Wikimedia Conference. The following summary is also available as a slide deck on Wikimedia Commons.

Only 270 of the 300 participants had registered before the official deadline, which led to the fact that we could not include the answers of 30 people in the analysis. Of those 270 participants, 102 participants registered as representatives of a Wikimedia Chapter, 107 participants as representatives of a Wikimedia User Group and 8 as representatives of Thematic or Allied Organizations. 40 participants from the Wikimedia Foundation – including the Board of Trustees and staff members – registered, as well as 8 members of the three participating committees (FDC, Simple APG committee, AffCom). Overall, around 40 percent of these 270 Wikimedians did not participate in previous Wikimedia Conferences.

Movement Strategy track questions (Q1–Q3) edit

Like with the previous Wikimedia Conference, we asked questions around the current Movement Strategy process. In April, the next phase of the Movement Strategy Process is expected to have started and conversations around it are expected to focus on the Movement’s new Strategic Direction and what it means for the movement.

The first two questions asked what the central concepts of the Strategic Direction – “Knowledge as a service” and “Knowledge equity” – actually mean for the Wikimedia organizations, groups and communities. The third was about what kind of conditions people need to fulfill or realize the activities mentioned in their answers to the two first questions.

The insights from the first two questions are eye-opening and interesting. “Knowledge as a service” is understood by many as a request (or necessity) to ease the (technical) access to [content] of the Wikimedia projects. This is further expressed in answers that focus on developing (more) partnerships with partners beyond the Wikimedia movement and the need to create and curate content / data in the Wikimedia projects, highlighting the aspect of quality. Another interesting aspect of the answers is also that participants express the need to understand our users better and anticipate what they could need from us, as well as the aspect of widening our audience(s).

Interestingly, many also connect “Knowledge equity” with “access” – not from a technical point of view (as in Q1), but from a social one. Equally, many understand “Knowledge equity” as the need to create a welcoming environment in the Wikimedia projects, include underrepresented communities (by either gaining representatives herefrom as authors or by otherwise including their perspectives and knowledge), as well as generally include more users with different backgrounds. The aim to work further towards “the sum of all knowledge” – as in bridging gaps in content and include new forms of knowledge/sources – is also mentioned quite often.

Regarding the question of what kind of conditions that are needed to fulfill these activities, answers are a bit less surprising, as most mention financial and human resources as well as skills/trainings as necessary conditions. Interestingly, cross-affiliate partnerships are mentioned by 59 participants.

Movement Partnerships track questions (Q4–Q7) edit

Four questions were asked to gather input for the Movement Partnerships track, a programmatic track in which we aim to continue to offer a space for conversations, experience sharing and learning around partnerships within and outside the Wikimedia movement. While Q4 and Q5 cover the competencies / knowledge sharing part of the track, Q6 and Q7 are focused on the connection between the Strategic Direction and the work on partnerships in the movement.

What we can learn from Q4 (Is there an insight, idea, method or something else around partnerships you can imagine to share or talk about during the Wikimedia Conference?) is, as we assumed beforehand, that many participants have quite some experience in organizing partnerships with or within their affiliates/communities. Especially partnerships with educational institutions and GLAM institutions are mentioned, as well as content creation partnerships (editathons, etc.). Compared to 2017, partnerships with grassroot organizations (e.g. feminist movements, environmentalist movements, etc.) and partnerships around diversity/inclusivity topics have increased.

In Q5 we asked what people would like to learn about partnerships The vast majority has a great interest in something we clustered as “general partnerships practices”. That includes, among other things, the different phases of partnerships (from research and finding the right partner until finishing/exiting a partnership), different partnerships types in general, as well as the need for capacities and competencies around partnerships (e.g. different partners, inclusivity in partnerships, partnerships as non-formal group). Additionally, sustainability of partnerships is often mentioned topic.

Looking at what participants expect, hope or wish regarding partnerships based on the Strategic Direction (Q6), the need for improving the internal cohesion of the Movement and its structures is clear. Many wish a stronger / better collaboration within the movement. Another often mentioned wish is to have more and more sustainable partnerships and more diversity within those. In order to achieve these wishes (Q7), many answer that we need to share more of what we have learned and did and need to have more trainings. Another interesting cluster of answers, is that we need more forums/spaces for these exchanges and in general more unity or even alignment within the movement. Further answers are similar to Q3, i.e the need for people, financing and skills.

Capacity-Building & Learning track questions (Q8 and Q9) edit

Questions Q8 and Q9 are the same as in the previous years. Due to different clustering results, however, they are not entirely comparable to 2017 or 2016.

Again, it’s clear that the Wikimedia Conference is a place for inspiration, sharing and learning. Many participants say that they would like to get new ideas or find inspiration for projects and bring those home. Others are interested – as in previous years – in community building / engagement and management of their affiliate, which seems to be a big struggle for many. Partnerships within and beyond Wikimedia are more prominent, as well as tech tools. Over all, answers are similar to last year, they just differ slightly in priorities (less communication topics, more event organization and tech tool topics).

In terms of what participants would like to share, “partnerships” are mentioned often as well as general experiences, ideas and success stories. Interestingly, the wish to share experiences about affiliate management is mentioned quite often. Much more than in previous years (also already notable in Q4/Q5), the wish to share knowledge about diversity/inclusive activities as well as the general wish to understand (or being understood as) emerging communities has increased.

Timeline of the program design process edit

  • Publication of these results (beginning of February)
  • Selection of session topics based on the prioritization within the survey (beginning/mid February)
  • Approaching speakers (mid/end February)
  • Working on session goals & session design with speakers (until beginning of March)
  • Publication of program outline (beginning/mid March)
  • Publication of the first – tentative – schedule (beginning of April)