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.

Harry Mitchell
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Skype: harry_j_mitchell

On Sun, Jul 10, 2016 at 4:22 PM, Edward Saperia <edsaperia@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 such.

Edward Saperia
Conference Director Wikimania London
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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 define them):
- 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 afterward). 


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 analysis.  

Dariusz Jemielniak ("pundit", a current Trustee). 

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