I think the centralized place on meta is a great idea so we could put tips, samples, and maybe even an 'advice line' for people who might be able to help someone in a particular region.   If someone wants to start this I'd be happy to add, edit, etc.


On Sat, Jun 24, 2017 at 5:47 AM, Amir Ladsgroup <ladsgroup@gmail.com> wrote:
As a person who missed three events because of rejection of visa (one Wikimania, one Wikimedia Hackathon, one WikiArabia) and missed two other because couldn't event get an appointment with the embassy (DevSummits) I want to share my experience here. There is three parties involved in this case:

- Participants:
 -- If you are going to another country that has strict visa rules, you should be prepared and know what can go wrong. Usually make a group of people who are more experienced in Wikimedia events and ask them for help. This helped me in some events to get visa without trouble. One case I remember was when the invitation letter was from WMF and not the local chapter. It caused rejection of visa before me and once I knew it, I fixed it.
 -- Be prepared for other options. For example, for Esino Lario one of my friends missed the event because he couldn't get appointment with the embassy, when I knew this is a problem, I tried the German embassy and got the visa ready in time. (Per Schengen laws, you need to make requests to the country you will stay the most, so I stayed in Germany for 11 days and Italy for 8 days to make things legal)
 -- If you have an interview to justify your visa, definitely mention Wikipedia. People don't know what WMF is but all know Wikipedia and have positive feelings.
 -- I know it's hard but let go sometimes: I decided not to go at this year's Wikimania just because the visa process is horrible and I need to travel to Turkey at least twice. Even though I know I miss a great event but let's hope to meet them soon.

  -- I know WMF is busy but I mentioned this several times to legal, support and safety and some other teams. People like me have problem going to events and there should be support for them. Two things were always said and I don't know why it's not being done, 1- Prepare a centralized place (probably in meta) so people share experience to help newbies to get visa documents right. I have seen lots of problems in the documents my friends need to prepare for the visa and helped them to get it right before it gets rejected but I had to meet them in person and it's an exclusive club of people I know. I want to open this knowledge to others.
  -- The other option I always mentioning is support for getting one multiple entries visa instead of getting one visa for each event, This is very true for European events. This would make life of lots of people way easier.

Local chapters:
 -- When there is a Wikimania, a local chapter will be handling process of visa for lots of countries with different issues. Sometimes they handle it perfectly and other problems might be the reason for rejection but sometimes I need to come back to them and ask for more documents which increases the chance of rejection or visa not being issued in time. They usually consult with an immigration lawyer before the process, this needs to be increased and WMF needs to make sure these consults happen.

Sorry for the long email. I hope this would be helpful for you.


On Sat, Jun 24, 2017 at 1:51 PM Ilario valdelli <ilario.valdelli@wikimedia.ch> wrote:
On 24/06/2017 02:00, Ellie Young wrote:

On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 2:10 PM, Gabriel Thullen <gabriel@thullen.com> wrote:
I have a few comments:
We do not know how the Montreal venue was selected for Wikimania. Jean-Philippe said:
"A "Wikimania Montreal Committee", now defunct, was behind the request to WMF to have Wikimania in Montreal and they did not coordinate with the chapter in doing this."
The situation there is obviously more complicated than what is being said so I will not dwell on that. What disturbs me is that the Montreal bid was accepted in absence of the local chapter support. That is not acceptable. Looking back on the success of the Esino Lario event, I believe that strong local chapter and volunteer support is vital for a Wikimania event.

​​Let us just say that there was confusion and communication issues with the original proposers to host.  The Steering Committee (including yours truly) thought that Wikimedia Canada was  involved.    I think everyone can agree how important it is for having the local chapters involved--- most recently Esino Lario and Mexico City and of course  South Africa coming up.

Hi Ellie,
This is an interesting point. I know that recently there has been a decision to have Wikimania's organization notified two years in advance, but this model can only work if there is a "local group" with a mature organization. Two years are too many for a local "extemporary" committee.

A chapter (with at least a small staff) is something that can assure a commitment for two years and can support efficiently a local group (and perhaps to save the organization in case of withdrawal).

Basically the two year model cannot be disconnected from a *mature* local organization as a chapter, otherwise the model will not work.

But at this point is also interesting to know how big may be the impact on a chapter. The organization of an event like Wikimania is something fascinating, but at the same time it's more than a "stress test" for a chapter.

Kind regards

Ilario Valdelli
Wikimedia CH
Verein zur Förderung Freien Wissens
Association pour l’avancement des connaissances libre
Associazione per il sostegno alla conoscenza libera
Switzerland - 8008 Zürich
Tel: +41764821371

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Ellie Young
Events Manager
Wikimedia Foundation
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