I agree with Ed here. Organising a conference of this size is a huge
undertaking to ask of volunteers. I wouldn't want to see Wikimania go down
the road of being organised by a team of professional conference organisers
because then it would lose the organic community feel that makes it so
special, but we shouldn't rule out stipends for the local team. Otherwise
we end up with the slightly odd situation of the WMF or local chapter
bringing in paid staff to fill gaps left by volunteers but the volunteers
still effectively working full-time unpaid. I had a much smaller role in
2014 than Ed and others and was fortunate to be in a position to dedicate a
lot of time to it; I certainly wouldn't be in a position now to devote as
much time as I did for free and without wishing to speak for Ed, I doubt he
would be either even if he was willing.
If that's a problem in major developed economies, I'd imagine it would be
even more of a problem in places where people have less disposable income.
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On Sun, Jul 10, 2016 at 4:22 PM, Edward Saperia <edsaperia(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Thanks for that comment, Dariusz;
Wikimania London took over two years of preparation, and occupied me full
time for six months in the run up to the event. It's a massive undertaking,
and in retrospect it seems deeply unfair to expect volunteers to do this.
There was a bidding process, so there was heavy pressure to
minimise/understate the budget - which mostly comes at the cost of the
volunteers. I think the community just has to be more realistic about what
it costs to put on a 1000+ person event.
Were I to do it again I would absolutely include subsistence for the
organising team in the budget. It needs professional commitment and
professional skills, even with WMF staff support.
I do think that the movement deserves an annual event, and particularly
that the WMF should capitalise on it more from a comms perspective.
Wiki*edia is a significant entity and we should be presenting ourselves as
Conference Director Wikimania London <http://www.wikimanialondon.org>
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In the same time, I've seen the following
problems over the years, not
directly linked to the financial cost (which in the face of our relative
financial stability can be justified by the benefits, depending on how we
- huge WMF staff involvement (most Wikimanias run smoothly also thanks to
countless hours put in by the staff),
- huge volunteer local organizers involvement (in fact, my observation is
that many chapters organizing WIkimanias suffer from a motivation crisis
While we can get the money (at least for now), the human involvement cost
is something I would not dare to dismiss just by emphasizing the benefits
of Wikimania for the movement.
Instead of discussing whether we should have a Wikimania every year or
not, perhaps we should try to list and discuss the reasons why it is such a
big strain? If it is clear that we can't afford it every year (because of
the human cost, probably more importantly than the finances), the decision
to break with the annual format will be a natural consequence of such an
Dariusz Jemielniak ("pundit", a current Trustee).
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