Wikimedia Summit 2020/Report
|Program||Fringe Events||Registration & Participants
"If you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost." – that’s a quote by Zig Ziglar that you could use quite fittingly for this Wikimedia Summit and this report. In all of Wikimedia Deutschland’s years of organizing this event, there have been many challenging situations, but this year has been especially difficult. Wikimedia Deutschland has never faced so many challenges while organizing an international conference – and in the end, we had to cancel the event on February 28, one month out, due to the global health situation around COVID-19.
Although the physical conference did not take place, we are nonetheless reporting on the steps we have already taken and the funds we have used to plan and prepare this event. Also, never before has a conference in the Wikimedia movement been cancelled so close to the actual event, and we would like to share our lessons learnt around cancelling such a big event.
While the physical Wikimedia Summit did not take place, we have been exploring with Ryan Merkley, members of the Movement Strategy Core Team and external consultants how to organize a virtual Wikimedia Summit instead. As such, we have included our considerations around moving from a physical to a virtual event in this report.
However, after considering all options and possibilities, we came to the conclusion that we could not fit all goals and objectives into one single virtual event, but a series of virtual events. To reduce the overall complexity, and to enable the team to design these events from scratch, we decided together not to host the virtual Wikimedia Summit, but instead support Ryan Merkley and team with our advice and experience.
Programmatically, the Wikimedia Summit 2020 would have been the fourth conference covering the Movement Strategy Process and the second one solely focusing on Movement Strategy following our redesign of the event in 2019. The Movement Strategy Process is a process that is owned by the Wikimedia Movement. The Wikimedia Summit serves as an annual check-in point for the Wikimedia organizations and groups to get updated about, to discuss, and to adjust the Strategy Process. For the Movement Strategy Process itself, the Wikimedia Summit was supposed to be the closing point for the second phase of the process (“Drafting recommendations for change”) and to be the starting point for the third phase (“Implementing recommendations”). The two phases of the Strategy Process are led by two different persons: While the “Recommendations phase” is led by the Core Team and its lead Nicole Ebber, the “Implementation phase” is led by Ryan Merkley, Chief of Staff of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Cornelius Kibelka, Program Coordinator of the Wikimedia Summit, served as the main liaison between all involved parties to set up the whole conference and design its program with the contracted facilitators. By October/November, Cornelius had developed four goals for the Wikimedia Summit, based on the input given by Nicole and Ryan. In a meeting in December, Nicole Ebber, Kaarel Vaidla (also from the Movement Strategy Core Team), Ryan Merkley, and Cornelius Kibelka agreed on these four goals:
- Recommendations are presented and understood
- Initiating implementation design in a collaborative manner
- Creating agency for the implementation
- Initiating movement-wide conversations regarding prioritization
Having agreed on the rough (programmatic) framework for the Wikimedia Summit, we decided to once again hire our experienced Design and Delivery Team consisting of Bhavesh Patel, Rob Lancaster, Luís Manuel Pinto, and Olha Kotska. All four of them had already worked with us for previous Wikimedia Summits/Wikimedia Conferences. They all have extensive experience with the target audience and the Movement Strategy Process, and they have done a great design and facilitation job for the previous three conferences, so we deliberately decided to work with them again.
In January, Nicole Ebber, Kaarel Vaidla (remotely), Ryan Merkley, Bhavesh Patel, Rob Lancaster and Cornelius Kibelka met for a two-day work session in London to develop the overall design for the event. It became clear that designing the (presumably) first day of the Wikimedia Summit covering the “Recommendations phase” was an easier task than designing the second and third day covering the “Implementation phase”. In January, many process-related questions regarding the Implementation phase were still open, so designing a program for a process that was still being designed was a rather difficult task. Nevertheless, Bhavesh Patel, lead of the Design and Delivery Team, gathered all relevant information and input from all involved parties at the work session to design the program.
In February, we started to prepare all Wikimedia Summit participants for the conference. We planned, among other things, to host “Onboarding Calls” for all participants, as well as to recreate our previously successful social media campaign #wmsummitfaces featuring single participants.
Parallel to this, we had been monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and the outbreak of the disease in Germany. In the last week of February, after internal conversations at Wikimedia Deutschland and with the Wikimedia Foundation, we decided to cancel this year’s Wikimedia Summit (more details regarding the cancellation process below) due to health and safety concerns presented by the pandemic. Abraham Taherivand and Katherine Maher announced the decision shortly before we would have published the first draft of the official program.
With the cancellation of the Wikimedia Summit, we started to explore possibilities to host a virtual Wikimedia Summit covering at least parts of the originally planned program (more details below).
This year’s event team was an all new one composed of Florian (who worked at Wikimedia Deutschland until the end of December), Jana, Robert, Gesine and Marc. They were new to Wikimedia Deutschland and brought along a lot of event experience and know-how from outside the Wikimedia Movement. The processes developed by the previous event team made the transition period from the old team to the new logistics core team (Jana and Gesine) quite smooth, mainly thanks to the great and detailed documentation of our predecessors.
The tasks of the logistics team focused on the following areas: venue, hotel, catering, travel, cost, personnel management and communication management. The main objective of the team was to establish and set the adequate framework for a smooth implementation of the program as well as a hassle free participant experience before and during the event. A constant communication flow towards participants and with our vendors was the key to achieving this goal.
Just like in past years, we took care of travel booking arrangements for participants from groups 2 and 4. Wikimedia Deutschland acted as an intermediary between the participants and the travel agency and synchronised all travel arrangements with the participants.
Prior to the cancellation of the Summit, all participants apart from two had obtained their visa, which was a great success. Over the past few years, Wikimedia Deutschland has established a constant relationship with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which informs the corresponding embassies about the event beforehand, and this has proven helpful in regards to our participants obtaining their visa. We also made sure to support visa remonstrations in case of denial to ensure we had exhausted all possibilities for every participant to be able to come to Berlin and participate in the conference.
As with previous years, we were supported by a Visiting Wikimedian, who was originally meant to be at Wikimedia Deutschland for four months. This year’s Visiting Wikimedian was Alice Kibombo from Wikimedia Community User Group Uganda, and she had several tasks: One of them was organizing the “Dinner Snack” that was supposed to take place on the night of the first conference day. She also supported the logistics team with organizational and research tasks as well as Cornelius in program-related matters. Having her with us was a great support and very helpful for the whole Summit team.
We would like to highlight that the organizing team did not manage the whole conference organization single-handedly, but was fortunate to rely on the support of various Wikimedia Deutschland colleagues from Team Office, Team Finance and Team Central who provided their time and expertise.
After the cancellation of the Summit, the organizing team faced some new challenges with having to figure out what to do with flights that had been booked for participants, reimbursements, cancellation of the location and all related services. Luckily for us, we had great cancellation conditions at the conference venue. We then decided, together with the Wikimedia Foundation, to cancel all flights and trains we had already booked as it was clear that travelling internationally was too big of a risk. The travel agency we were working with supported us in the complicated flight cancellation process. Finally, many participants had already applied for a visa. Usually, we reimburse participants for visa-related costs in cash at the conference to avoid transfer fees for both parties. As this wasn’t possible this year, we instituted a process whereby participants could fill out the Wikimedia Deutschland reimbursement form online and send it to us with all their original receipts so we could transfer the money to their respective accounts. Due to the special circumstances, we covered the transfer fees for the participants.
- There are four different groups of participants:
- Group 1: Representatives of Chapters, Thematic Organizations and User Groups with a full process annual plan grant (APG via FDC process) and Allied Organizations.
- Group 2: Representatives of Chapters, Thematic Organizations and User Groups which do NOT receive funding via an annual plan grant (APG via FDC process).
- Group 3: Representatives of the committees WMF Board of Trustees, AffCom or WMF staff.
- Group 4: Additional participants – mostly members of the Movement Strategy Working Groups.
As described in the introduction, we developed the goals for this year’s Summit together with Nicole Ebber and her team, as well as Ryan Merkley, Chief of Staff of the Wikimedia Foundation. Due to the dynamics of the Movement Strategy Process – delay of the publication of the Recommendations as well as the start of the Implementation phase – the development of metrics for all objectives were a bit delayed. In the end, we did not reach a state in which they were publishable. For the record, here are the goals and objectives, based on a draft from mid-February.
- Recommendations are presented and understood
- All conference participants have a clear understanding of the final set of recommendations
- Initiating implementation design in a collaborative manner
- Most of the conference participants will have a shared understanding regarding the next / future steps
- Creating agency for the implementation
- Most of the conference participants feel that their voice and understanding has been taken into account in the collaborative planning sessions
- Most of the conference participants will have a feeling of agency and commitment to participate in the implementation of the recommendations
- Initiating movement-wide conversations regarding prioritization
- Conference participants have prioritized implementation steps
- Conference participants have a shared understanding regarding the next / future steps for prioritization and sequencing in implementation
All of these goals focus on the program of the Wikimedia Summit. As with previous Wikimedia Summits / Wikimedia Conferences, we would have also added a couple of metrics around the logistical part of the conference (satisfaction with logistical communication, hotel/venue, travel, etc). Most of the metrics would have been evaluated quantitatively via a post-conference survey, as we have done in the past.
What worked well at the event?Edit
Moving from a physical to a virtual Wikimedia Summit
With the cancellation of the Wikimedia Summit, we announced directly that we would work towards a virtual version of the Wikimedia Summit instead. In reality, that’s easier said than done. The Wikimedia Movement, despite being “virtual” since its beginning, has never hosted an actual virtual conference for a large number of people, where people actually work together and not only listen to lectures. On top of that, (good) “virtual facilitation” has not yet become a necessary resource. In the two weeks following the cancellation, we worked on a proposal for such a virtual Wikimedia Summit. Our facilitation team connected us to a small external virtual facilitation agency and we were able to work on initial ideas for a proposal. Already while working on the proposal we discussed some key issues (or challenges) for such a virtual event. Our conversations resulted in the following thoughts:
- Can we ask staff and volunteers to dedicate their time for a topic like Movement Strategy during a global health crisis? Do they have the mental bandwidth? This was by far the most important question before moving towards setting up a virtual event in these times. We concluded that reconnecting would be of value on its own for this virtual event and we would dedicate time specifically for reconnecting and social sharing within the program.
- Sounds like conventional wisdom, but we need to make it clear again: You cannot just replicate what you had planned for a real-life event in a virtual conference. You have to completely rethink your concept and adapt it to the virtual environment. Most people are not used to continuously working several hours online (in a video conference set-up), and for many, it’s an exhausting activity. For a virtual conference, you need to take more time, prepare participants (even) better, and have shorter sessions.
- When we explored how to host a virtual conference, we wanted to maintain the most essential aspect of people coming together to real-time events: conversational interactivity and cross-pollination. We did not want to create a program that could be passively consumed on YouTube, but something that makes it worthwhile to spend your time in front of your computer. The key element here is “virtual facilitation”. As with a good offline event, you need to have good facilitation that guides and moderates the conversations, leads you through the program and is well skilled to adapt the flow of the program according to potential changes or dynamics.
- One of the inconveniences of the world is that not all of us live in the same time zone. So it’s hard to ask all 200 participants to be available for a certain time slot. To find a good compromise between timezones and budget limitations, we considered working with two time slots: One in the European morning that would cover most parts of Asia, as well as Africa and Europe; and one in the European evening, that would cover the Americas and again Africa/Europe.
- The Wikimedia Summit has always been faced with the challenge of being an English-speaking conference, and thus does not represent the language diversity of the Wikimedia Movement. At the physical Wikimedia Summit, people nevertheless manage to get by – but how do you do that for an online event where you cannot ask your neighbor to help you understand, or read the body language in the room to feel the dynamics? Our thoughts were that at least for a part of the program, we would group people by languages and offer non-English speaking breakout conversations, and maybe language-focused chat rooms. Additionally, we were exploring options of automatic subtitling.
While this report was being written, it became clear that a virtual Wikimedia Summit could not replace the physical Wikimedia Summit completely. Instead, preparation for a series of virtual events started. The series would not only address Wikimedia affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation, but have a wider scope to ensure various parts of the movement are engaged in different ways. These events would serve as a transition phase that will result in a plan for implementing the recommendations. The objectives and audience groups of the Wikimedia Summit will be addressed and involved in different ways and parts of the series of events. To reduce the level of complexity, and to be able to design such a series of events from scratch, we decided together to let go of the idea of hosting one of the events under the Wikimedia Summit framework and brand.
Transition period and changes in the team
As mentioned before, the logistical aspects of the conference were taken over by a whole new team this year. A new team comes with new ideas and new energy, but also with a number of challenges: the new team members have to understand how the conference and the processes work so they can carry the work forward. In this matter, we found that documentation is key. Writing down all structures and processes as detailed as possible not only helps new team members familiarize themselves with what they’re working on, it also helps on a personal level in having a clear overview over what is happening and continuing to develop. Of course, it was a challenge to define ourselves as a new team, but the well-documented processes combined with the know-how and the expertise of the new team members made this transition period and the handover quite smooth.
The changes in the Summit and the general events team also posed a challenge when it came to the Visiting Wikimedian program, which started in January 2020. Usually, there should be a well worked out “internship plan” defining and timing the tasks of the Visiting Wikimedian before they start at Wikimedia Deutschland. We weren’t as well prepared as we had wished to be as we were quite busy defining overall responsibilities in the events team and the Summit team around the same time. Therefore, the first week of the Visiting Wikimedia program was filled with rather spontaneous tasks and onboardings.
We worked on that rapidly though and made sure to always include Alice in all the processes from the beginning. In particular, having the “Dinner Snack” as a separate project organized by the Visiting Wikimedian with a person from Wikimedia Deutschland as sparring partner turned out to be a great task. The aim of the Visiting Wikimedian program is for the person to learn as much about organizing events as possible, and giving her the responsibility of organizing a specific, small event within the bigger event Wikimedia Summit worked well here.
Travel agency as a service partner
For a few years now, we have been working with a travel agency that takes care of the flight bookings for participants. Their service has been a great asset, even before the cancellation of the Summit. They found the best flights for the participants’ desired flight dates, specific needs and wishes and could always be contacted about travel-related questions. This eases the workload on the organizing team considerably and allows us to focus on other aspects; the travel agent is the link to the airlines, meaning our team doesn’t have to deal with airlines directly, and the travel agency will take care of the participants in case of delays or cancellations.
This proved to be especially valuable when it came to the cancellation of the Wikimedia Summit. After the cancellation, there were a lot of aspects the organizing team had to take care of, like location/venue, service partners and communication with participants. It was ideal to work with professionals who knew exactly when to cancel which flights, when to wait for the airlines to cancel, who were always up to date about all current travel restrictions and who dealt with the airlines on our behalf. That was a significant amount of specific work that we could have barely handled on our own.
The communication with the participants was another aspect that was very important to us, especially when it came to cancelling the Wikimedia Summit. With the growing concerns due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19 at the time, it was indispensable to make clear decisions and communicate them rapidly. Even though it took a few days to have all processes concerning flights, reimbursements and hotel completely defined, we then communicated them directly to the participants.
The overall feedback of the participants about the decision and the following steps was, apart from the obvious disappointment that no physical Wikimedia Summit would be happening, very positive, which confirmed we had taken the right steps.
What did not work so well? What would you do differently next time?Edit
Huge complexity in the program team structure
When we reported on the first Wikimedia Summit, one of the major pain points in organizing the program of the conference was the huge complexity of the program team and the different stakeholder roles.
We tried to change this for the Wikimedia Summit 2020 – but did not succeed. Quite the opposite, with a program covering two phases of the Movement Strategy that are led by different people, the complexities became even bigger. Having the experience of the previous event in mind, we even discussed changes in the structure, but did not come to a clear conclusion or idea of how to mitigate the complexities.
For the Recommendations phase, Cornelius had to follow the ongoing Strategy Process, check in regularly with the Core Team, and adapt the program framework to the dynamics and timeline of the process. For the Implementation phase, which was not even on the horizon when we started planning the Wikimedia Summit in July 2019, first conversations took place with Katherine Maher and Ryan Merkley in December 2019, with Ryan then becoming the responsible lead for this phase.
Beyond the complexities of these simple client / contractor relations, another layer of complexity was added by the different manager / employee relations. Nicole Ebber, Movement Strategy lead, is also the manager of Cornelius Kibelka; Ryan Merkley is the manager of the Core Team, and also the lead for the upcoming phase. This layer of complexity brought additional communication challenges, and lines of decision-making were not always clear. For future processes, these complexities have to be reduced and internal communications has to become much more efficient.
Dynamics of the Movement Strategy Process and unclarity about the “Implementation phase”
When we started to plan the Wikimedia Summit in July/August 2019, the Movement Strategy Process was at a point at which the nine different working groups were preparing their very first draft of recommendations. Originally, the timeline for the “Recommendation phase” was to have the final recommendations published in October and to have them approved by the end of the year. The Wikimedia Summit would have focused much more on Implementation than on the Recommendations.
A Strategy Process that is radically open and built around gathering and integrating feedback from staff and volunteers across the Wikimedia Movement can be pretty slow, and as such, updating timelines by moving deadlines happened quite often. This is absolutely normal – but it always had a direct effect on the Wikimedia Summit. Overall timeline changes led to a situation where even less time was available to map out how to design the “Implementation phase” of the process. How do you design a conference program for a phase of the strategy process that is itself not designed yet? How do you avoid a vacuum between a conference where you talk about “Implementation” and the actual start of the Implementation phase, that could be much later?
These “chicken and egg” issues are not new; we experienced similar issues at the previous three conferences. In an ideal world, you would be able to organize and host a conference in less than three months depending on the status and need of strategic processes – but that’s not realistic. Quite the opposite: a conference with more than 200 participants needs at least 9 to 12 months of preparation. Therefore, in an ideal situation the form follows the function, so the event would be built around the needs of its actual function.
In the end, there is no perfect solution for this issue. Both, the event organizers as well as the process organizers need to be in constant exchange about what’s possible and what’s needed, so the program of the event can be adjusted to all needs and constraints.
Difficulties in creating engagement around “Strategy”
It has never been easy to create engagement among the Wikimedia Conference / Wikimedia Summit participants for such a meta topic as “Strategy”. Many participants of the Summit are actually Wikipedians, day-to-day activists fighting for free knowledge in their organizations, the “feet on the street” of the Wikimedia Movement. In order to make “Strategy” relevant to them, you need to break it down and use more tangible items, stories, and questions.
We started to explore how we could create more pre-conference engagement among participants in January/February, shortly before we cancelled the event. As a starting point, we used a similar approach as we did in the past, asking participants for, in this case, their thoughts on the recommendations which would then be shared as quotes to be shared on social media. This #wmsummitfaces campaign has been quite successful in the last two years, and we were eager to repeat this success and wanted to experiment with Instagram stories using photos and videos to reach out. We approached participants asking them what was the most important or relevant part in the pre-final strategy recommendations for them. We had hoped that many had read the recommendations already.
However, most of the answers we received were pretty vague, unclear, or not related to the recommendations. We think that the issues were twofold: The preliminary draft of the Recommendations used quite complicated language and it was not made clear where major changes would be. It was hard to understand and process the first draft of the recommendations. On the other side, of course, our questions could have been even simpler and more focused. Next year, we would aim to focus and simplify our questions (even) more.
Due to the cancellation, we did not have time to adapt our approach. Also, we couldn’t test our approach of expanded onboarding calls with all participants.
As explained before, there are four groups of participants. When people register for the conference, they have to select their group and according to that, we need more or less information. Wikimedia Deutschland books accommodation and travel for Groups 2 and 4, which requires more information such as travel dates or passport information. Group 1 books themselves, so in the registration form no additional information is requested. The Wikimedia Foundation books travel for Group 3, which also leads to separate information being required.
Even though the whole registration process is well thought through, it also is very complex: On the one hand we did find that this year as well as in past years, the selection of the respective group each participant belongs to caused quite some confusion. Quite a few participants selected the wrong group, which meant more communication and more loops until we had what we needed from each participant.
We’d like to simplify the registration process in a way that spares us and the participants several loops until the registration is considered complete. An option could be programming the registration form in a way that by selecting the User Group or Chapter or organization one belongs to, the form automatically selects the respective group (Group 1, 2, 3 or 4).
Furthermore, the installment of the registration process from coordination to programming is also quite complex for the organizing team and the respective partners at the Wikimedia Foundation and at the travel agency. We’re using Google Spreadsheets to collect the registration information from the participants. Due to GDPR reasons, we don’t want to pass on too much personal information of the participants to partners that don’t need them, so we set up different spreadsheets for different partners that only show them the information they really need. Preparing all of that and thinking it through is a big task beforehand for our IT department as well as the organizing team.
Therefore, we’d like to restructure the registration process to simplify it for everyone involved. One possibility would be using event software and a CRM system that combine all the aspects of the registration process we need, and takes some work off of us by developing and programming every step ourselves.
Normally, reimbursements are handled in person by our finance team at the conference itself. Participants visit the team, hand in the reimbursement form with the respective receipts and get the money reimbursed in cash (which saves a lot of transfer fees). Due to the cancellation this year, we had to handle reimbursements via bank transfer or Paypal.
We sent out an email explaining what had to be filled out and handed in so we could transfer the money to all participants. Unfortunately, the reimbursement form and the whole process is quite complex. The form has to be filled out in the currency the expense has been made in. For every expense participants wish to have reimbursed, an original receipt has to be handed in. Additionally, every expense must show the currency conversion from the original currency to Euros using rates from the European Central Bank or Oanda that were valid on the day of the expense and add it to the form.
Even though we gave a step-by-step explanation on how to fill out the form, what to hand in and how to send it to us, it took some time for participants as well as us to get it right. Participants filled out the form in Euro, didn’t add the currency conversion pages or didn’t convert the amounts according to the day of the expense. Furthermore, we didn’t communicate the reimbursement guidelines (what can be reimbursed, what can’t, the fact that we need original receipts for every position) early enough. Therefore, some participants didn’t have receipts for all of their expenses. Therefore, adjusting the form and streamlining and improving the whole reimbursement process would save everyone a lot of time and would make the process much faster.
We also realized that we should have communicated the reimbursement and travel guidelines right after the registration. We do have rules on what we reimburse and what paperwork and information we need to be able to reimburse participants but didn’t communicate them early enough. Therefore, we weren’t able to reimburse some of the expenses participants handed in – sometimes because the receipts weren’t sufficient, sometimes because the expenses weren’t clarified with us. By sending out the guidelines right after the registration with the registration confirmation, everybody would know from the beginning what is needed in order for us to reimburse expenses.
This section describes the grant's use of funds
|Item Description||Comments||Original budget such as planned||Money spent without virtual event||Explanation|
|1. Conference Costs||Conference venue, catering, WIFI, technical equipment rental, personnel and facilitation costs||124,341.00 €||6,372.25 €||Cancellation fees|
|2. Dinner Snack and Social Event Costs||3 nights dinner at Mercure & 1 night at WMDE office, party venue costs, DJ||62,790.00 €||0.00 €|
|3. Communication and Visa Costs||Production costs for communication material, photographer, visa application fees,||11,795.00 €||291.12 €||Cancellation fees|
|4. Staff Costs||Logistic and Event Coordinator, Project and Program Coordinator, Assistant Logistics Support, Visiting Wikimedian||85,000.00 €||85,000.00 €|
|5. Accommodation Costs||Accommodation costs for participants in need of funding (group 2 and group 4) as well as Facilitators||37,532.40 €||1,297.95 €||Cancellation fees|
|6. Travel Costs||Travel costs for participants in need of funding||100,830.00 €||41,695.69 €||Cancellation fees|
|Subtotal||422,288.40 €||134,654.01 €|
Total amount requested from WMF (from your approved grant submission):
Total amount spent on this project (this total should be the total calculated from the table above):
Total amount of WMF grant funds spent on this project:
Are there additional sources of revenue that funded any part of this project? List them here.
We, at Wikimedia Deutschland in general, but the Wikimedia Summit in particular, were incredibly sad about not being able to welcome more than 200 Wikimedians from around the world in Berlin. This conference is definitely one of our highlights of the year, and hours, weeks, months of preparation went into it.
However – and this something you learn quite quickly when organizing events – participants’ health and safety always come first. The COVID-19 global health crisis was in sight, and it became clear within a couple of days that things would develop quickly and dangerously over the weeks leading up to the Summit. Wikimedia Deutschland’s and the Wikimedia Foundation’s decision to cancel was not an easy one. We assessed the risks, discussed these among leadership, and after a couple of days, on February 28, made the best and only decision possible: to cancel the event. Ironically, when writing this report and with the benefit of hindsight, we ask ourselves: Why did it even take us a couple of days to discuss and decide?
The Wikimedia Summit has always been a space for creativity and innovation. We have the privilege of being able to dedicate a lot of time and resources in planning, improving and rethinking this event from year to year. Thus, organizing a virtual Wikimedia Summit was a challenge that we accepted, having the experience of previous years’ offline events in mind and the resources to organize such an online event in hand. However, as already outlined above, it became clear that a virtual Wikimedia Summit could not replace the physical Wikimedia Summit entirely this year. Instead, the Wikimedia Foundation started exploring the options for a series of virtual events with a wider scope to ensure various parts of the movement are engaged in different ways. These events would serve as a transition phase that results in a plan for implementing the recommendations. Planning and co-design for this is starting, but takes a lot of time, and careful consideration, including also what was learned during the last 1,5 years of drafting the recommendations.
To reduce the level of complexity, and to be able to design such a series of events from scratch, we decided to let go of the idea of hosting one of the events under the Wikimedia Summit framework and brand.
We hope that even in a difficult situation such as this, the organizations and groups of the Wikimedia Movement will together find ways to discuss our future and make plans for how to implement the recommendations of the Movement Strategy Process. We are going to share our experience and advice from organizing this unique event with the responsible teams. Wikimedia Deutschland looks forward to hosting the Wikimedia Summit 2021 again, and to welcoming our friends from all over the world in Berlin next year, if the global health situation allows.