I find this a very interesting topic. What I would really like us to achieve is not to demolish the Wikimania model before creating a good replacement.

I think the idea of Wikimania is to enable everyone to meet other Wikimedians from all over the world and exchange experience. To feel that you belong to the same community as people from the other end of the world. To be able to spontaneously learn about something cool happening in a completely different geography but in a relevant context. Open (at least theoretically) to everyone, not people pre-selected by chapters or thematic groups.

Personally I think that this feeling of 'belonging to a global community' and 'building spontaneous connections' is very hard to get without a Wikimania. Before I attended my first Wikimania, I knew a few people from neighbouring communities, like Ukrainians knew a few Poles and vice versa. I interacted with some users on Meta, but they were just usernames, I did not know them as people. I did not know whom to contact to organise an international project together. And by that time I was already an admin, have served on an ArbCom and was a chapter board member. Still I had no idea how global our movement actually was.

What I see now is that besides Wikimania we have three main ways of engagement:

1) Regional events. I think that we are quite successful at building stronger regional networks. Still this gives very limited idea about people and activities outside your region. There is almost no way of having a spontaneous exchange: a person from Thailand will hardly spontaneously learn about a project in Uruguay, unless this is THE big thing Iberocoop wants to proactively showcase. Users from Zulu Wikipedia will probably not be able to learn about a tool on Mongolian Wikipedia unless they meet each other at a Wikimania. It is definitely great to encourage people to think regionally, but it should not be a remplacement for thinking globally.

2) A limited number of truly international committees. This number is very limited and a level of engagement below the collaboration usually stops. Like stewards have some interactions as a group, but CheckUsers don't meet except at Wikimania or on-wiki/by email. There are (were?) some conversations of affiliate chairpersons, but e.g. affiliate treasurers never meet except maybe at Wikimania. There are way less people involved in regular interregional conversations than the number of attendees of an average Wikimania.

3) Some online international conversations. While it is an option, there are quickly two limits: size and engagement. It is hard to have a constructive video call for more than a few dozen people. It requires a certain commitment to get really engaged in meaningful conversations by meeting only by video (or, worse, only on Meta). From my observations, most participants in such conversations are either people who attended a lot of global events before the pandemics or really committed people who spend a lot of time following these global discussions.

I feel like without Wikimania we would lose a powerful source of engagement and spontaneous interactions and will be more inclined to keep a status quo. It is hard to go to a regional event now if you are not an affiliate member. While we see successful global collaborations on popular and well-supported projects (like WikiGap), it is way harder when the project is small and less-supported (like Wikibooks). It is easier to keep working together with people you have met multiple times, rather than start a collaboration with someone you only saw in a 100-person video call.

Of course this requires us to think about how we can make Wikimania inclusive and equitable for people from all regions, and make sure such global interactions actually happen. For example, we should think about people who come to Wikimania only to spend time with people from their community, maybe because of language or cultural barrier, maybe because they don't feel comfortable building new connections. Or we should consider which perspectives are missing for a true representation of our global community. It definitely would take more effort, but the impact can be higher.

Of course I understand that the world is changing, and I also feel bad about flying from Europe to Singapore to use my entir annual carbon budget on a few days-long event. But we don't have any comparable alternative, at least yet.

Mykola (NickK)

20 березня 2023, 21:54:52, від "phoebe ayers" <phoebe.wiki@gmail.com>:

Hi folks! Thanks for all of these good comments. And Jan-Bart, I might just take you up on your offer to facilitate that discussion :) 

For folks who are newer to Wikimania, one core principle we do have is to make sure the conference goes to different parts of the world, precisely because we have community members everywhere and we don't want it to always be an extra-long journey for the same people. Of course rotation by itself isn't enough: we also need a group or collaboration that is excited to host the conference, as well as a location that will work well for a global conference. But these factors together hopefully result in a Wikimania that moves around. We got some great expressions of interest for Wikimania, and I find it exciting that after the lull of the pandemic there is lots of interest in hosting Wikimania going forward from so many groups.   

I think one positive result of the pandemic's online conferences are that the Singapore Wikimania, and hopefully others going forward too, do plan to be hybrid. As Anton just noted, If you haven't looked at the submission form, you can submit a talk for either virtual or in person, and our hope is that affiliates will also organize satellite events for the conference to watch and participate from afar. I think that it's tricky to do a hybrid event, but I also think this is a positive development. We have never been able to get all Wikimedians in a single room, and over the years as the movement has gotten more and more geographically diverse, and the WMF staff has grown and become more disparate too, that has become even less possible. And there are many reasons why virtual events can be more accessible, even if there is still a lot of value in meeting face to face. 

Finally, as many of you know I am a big fan of regional events. One positive development with Singapore and Krakow are that they are both supported by a regional collaboration, not just a single group. Personally I think that this can be a great way to go, whether the conference is labeled 'Wikimania' or something else. I've gotten a lot of value from our regional conference in North America (Wikiconference North America) and have heard great things about others in other regions as well. 

Anyway, this isn't the first time that alternating Wikimania years, or some other similar setup, has been proposed; but the pandemic put an unexpected forced stop to conference planning in the near and long-term. As I noted, the Wikimania committee is talking about 2025 and 2026 as well, and this multi-year planning is a change for us -- hopefully for the positive, as we don't want planning Wikimania to be a scramble for anyone involved. That said: we are as always open to ideas! Thanks for starting this conversation, Jan-Bart. 


On Mon, Mar 20, 2023 at 4:02 PM Heather Knox <hknz@yahoo.com> wrote:
Kia ora, Wikimedia Aotearoa-New Zealand chiming in here!
Absolutely agree with the comments about more regional conferences and fewer global ones, from a sustainability perspective (huge amount of airline travel involved in global events) and also accessibility. For us down here, it's a 24-36 hour one way journey to Europe and not one that many people are able to participate in - it's a minimum of a week to 10 days away from work and life for a 2-3 day event when travel and recovery time are factored in. 
The recent events in Sydney and upcoming in Singapore are a welcome change from the Northern Hemisphere-centric calendar of in-person events.

On Tuesday, 21 March 2023 at 08:41:12 am NZDT, Evelin Heidel <scannopolis@gmail.com> wrote:

+1 to what Philip & Jan-Bart shared. Maybe we should have a Wikimania every 2 years instead of every year, particularly given that we do have some more specialized conferences (Wiki Education, GLAM Wiki, Wiki+Libraries, among others) alongside with the regional meetings, that allow for a continued conversation.

El lun, 20 mar 2023 a las 16:05, Philip Kopetzky (<philip.kopetzky@gmail.com>) escribió:
I can only second what Jan-Bart has written. There already seems to be a change in the way people attend Wikimania. Many communities from Europe won't send anyone to Singapore, but will probably attend Krakow.

Wouldn't it be time to acknowledge the change in format towards a regional conference with an international focus, rather than a global event where we fly a few hundred people in for a few days, in times where pandemics and global climate emergencies don't seem as far off as they did even 5 years ago?

Best regards, Philip

On Mon, 20 Mar 2023 at 18:58, Jan-Bart de Vreede <jan-bart@wikimedia.nl> wrote:
Hi All

Thanks Phoebe and the Wikimania Steering Committee for organising the selection process and of course congratulations to the team in Poland who are going to organise a great Wikimania.

(Disclaimer: I have been privileged enough to have been able to attend many a WIkimania, and am perhaps one of the worst people in the world to write the text below)

Reading your comment on hopefully announcing the Wikimania hosts for 2025 and 2026 soon makes me wonder if we are not overlooking a fundamental discussion with regards to the continued existence of Wikimania as it currently takes place. Are we going to continue to annually organise a global event, flying people from all over the world to a location which limits physical participation to those that are able to do so (regardless of the few scholarships we manage to distribute for volunteers)?

Would it not be a good idea to start with revisiting our goals (for example: reconnecting, exchanging experiences and sharing cool projects) and start thinking of alternatives to the current Wikimania set up? It would also be interesting to match these goals with the increase in regional engagement which is taking place across our movement.

 I have the feeling I might have missed some earlier discusion on this, but I am not seeing much change in the Wikimania concept in a time that probably demands change both from a sustainability as well as an equity perspective. 

And again I am probably not the best person to point this out (coming from an incredibly privileged position) and I love wikimania and I love seeing all of you on a regular basis… but at the same time I have noticed that we are all trying to adjust to a changing world…and it would seem that a movement as unique as ours should be able to come up with a better alternative? 

I hope that people take this mail in the spirit that it is intended and if I can contribute to facilitating this discussion I am of course more than willing to do so!

Jan-Bart de Vreede
(Views expressed in this email are my personal views)

On 20 Mar 2023, at 16:32, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki@gmail.com> wrote:

Hello everyone, 

I am very excited to share that Wikimania 2024 will be hosted in the city of Kraków in Poland! [1] Kraków had a strong submission with a collaborative design and an experienced, enthusiastic team supporting it [2]. At the crossroads of history, culture, and technology, we are confident that the impact of Wikimania will be great for our projects, the movement in general, and especially, local communities in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region. Read more on Diff [3]. 

Bringing our movement’s beloved event to life is not simple and we took many criteria into consideration. We were grateful for the expressions of interest received for hosting Wikimania in 2024, 2025, and beyond [4]. Announcing host cities this far in advance is a new approach to organizing Wikimania we are exploring [5]. In addition to the support we provide as the stewards of Wikimania, together with the Foundation’s Movement Communications team, we see great value in facilitating more time for organizers so they can learn from each other in practice and strengthen their capacity [6], [7]. We hope to announce the hosts of Wikimania in 2025 and 2026 in the coming months or at Wikimania 2023 in Singapore. 

Once again, wholehearted congratulations to the 2024 Wikimania team. We know you will do an excellent job welcoming our global family to your timeless city. And to our global family, we hope that you are as excited as we are returning to the vibrant CEE region after 14 years. Looking forward to collaborating with you all on wiki and in person. 

My best wishes for all, 
Phoebe (Wikimania Steering Committee) 

On behalf of the Wikimania Steering Committee and the Wikimedia Foundation Movement Communications team
Translations available on Diff

[1] Kraków is a hybrid gem of history and modernity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krak%C3%B3w 
[5] The call for hosting Wikimania in 2024, 2025 and beyond: https://diff.wikimedia.org/2022/10/27/wikimania-welcoming-expressions-of-interest-for-2024/ 
[6] The Wikimania Steering Committee: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimania_Committee 
[7] The Wikimedia Foundation Movement Communications team https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Communications/Movement_Communications

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