TL;DR: The Wikimania Committee and the WMF Community Engagement department
will be working on coming up with a new process for venues for future
Wikimanias, which we will be seeking input from the community in the next
At the Committee’s meeting in Mexico City in August, we agreed to alter the
way that Wikimania locations are decided.
The existing bidding process has developed over time. It has become
unwieldy and hard work for the community and staff. It demands that people
pour a huge amount of effort into building local teams, contracts and
institutional relationships only for rejected bids' work to be left unused.
A lot of pressure is put on volunteers to try to work on logistics rather
than dream about what would make a great programme for our communities.
Each year, the jury has to decide on a venue based on what is presented by
each group divisively, rather than what we as a community could come
together and build.
The process is too short-term, setting out venue much less than two years
ahead (often only just more than twelve months in advance). This greatly
increases expenses when other similar conferences plan locations out many
years ahead. This makes it impossible for us to be strategic about
location, prevents us from arranging co-location with like-minded
conferences, and it means that some areas of the world are ignored when
they could provide great Wikimanias.
Consequently, from now on the Committee will pick an area for Wikimania
four to five years in advance, from the following (provisional) list. The
years in which we have already held Wikimanias in these areas are shown in
* Western, Northern, and Southern Europe (2005, 2014)
* Canada and United States (2006, 2012)
* Asia-Pacific (2007, 2013)
* Middle East and North Africa (2008, 2011)
* Latin America (2009, 2015)
* Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia (2010)
* South Asia (none yet)
* Sub-Saharan Africa (none yet)
* Oceania (none yet)
The Committee intends to deliberately rotate between these areas to make
sure we allow as many community members to attend as cheaply as possible.
The large majority of our community members are based in either North
America or Europe; organising Wikimanias in these areas allows the majority
of our community members to attend cheaply, so that money spent on
scholarships can go further, and be more focussed in supporting our
community members wherever they are based.
Locating Wikimania in other continents does not assure that participants
from these areas can attend more cheaply. Nevertheless, to support the
movement worldwide, we do want to ensure that, every third year, Wikimania
will take place neither in Europe nor North America.
We propose that a sequence of "Western, Northern, and Southern Europe",
"Canada and United States", and one of the others every three years, picked
out several years into the future. Beyond the first two areas, we may not
visit some as often as others. (I have not listed Antarctica as an area to
which we will rotate, which may well be a disappointment to members of the
British Antarctic Survey and others in that location.)
More widely, we would like to encourage Wikimedia conferences as open,
engaging and fun community meetups, alongside the annual Wikimania
conference. I know that several chapters run country-specific conferences
each year, which is a good move. I think that there should be at least one
annual Wikimedia conference in each of these areas. This would help newer
editors know that there are people like them nearby without requiring the
existence of, or putting too great a demand on, every national chapter or
other local affiliated body. In some areas like Africa where the distances
are great, multiple regional conferences may make sense.
As part of the new system of location selection, we will no longer have a
'bidding' process. Instead, the Committee invites people interested in
leading or helping to run a Wikimania to contact us on-wiki
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Wikimania>, or via the wikimania-l
list. If you think that you know a great team, venue or concept for holding
Wikimania, in your area or anywhere else, please discuss the possibilities
with us. We will work with interested community members to narrow down the
selection to a particular venue.
Our next few locations will thus go like this:
* 2016: Western, Northern, and Southern Europe – Esino Lario in Italy
* 2017: Canada and United States – TBD
* 2018: TBD – TBD
* 2019: Western, Northern, and Southern Europe – TBD
* 2020: Canada and United States – TBD
* 2021: TBD – TBD
As you can see, as well as picking the 2017 venue in Canada or the United
States, for which we have a candidate lined up, we need to select very
quickly the area for 2018, and after that, 2019 and beyond. There are
several areas we’ve outlined above that have never had a Wikimania, and
others where we have not visited for some time. We would love your thoughts
on the areas on which we should focus for 2018 and beyond. We’ll also be
asking in future for your thoughts about how to structure the programme of
each Wikimania to make it as good as it can be for you, for others, and for
our community overall.
James D. Forrester
Chair, Wikimania Committee