I don't agree with you completely, Mike (but
you're probably used to
that by now! ;) ) - if you buy a generic conference package you get a
generic conference. What's the point of flying all the way to London, for
example, for a conference on an industrial estate in Hounslow? Sure, you
might be literally spitting distance from Heathrow and you're not short of
options for hotels, but it doesn't have that uniqueness that makes
Wikimania what it is. Likewise, the evening programme and all the ancillary
stuff is as much part of Wikimania as the talks; in fact I'd argue that the
social side is far more important and probably much more fertile ground for
ideas than the talks themselves.
You *do* have a point, though, that we reinvent the wheel every year
with a new team. I can't remember specifics, but there were several times
in the buildup to 2014 that I thought "this can't be the first time a
Wikimania team has had to do this". Not everything will be the same, but we
should get better at sharing and learning from our experiences so that
future teams aren't left wondering "how did they do this in London or
Mexico or Esino?".
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On Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 7:06 PM, Michael Peel <email(a)mikepeel.net>
I don't want to take away from the huge amount of work and movement
contributions that were made by the Mexico, London, and other Wikimania
teams, but: it's worth noting that we could organise a Wikimania with the
same number of attendees for a lot less amount of volunteer time (and also
~1,000+ people conferences take place quite often each year, across
many different academic, non-profic and commercial communities, and there
are dedicated conference venues that will just sort out everything - the
venue, the internet access, hotel options, the whole lot. They are often
located near to international airports, or major cities, which are easy to
get to from across the globe. If we wanted to, we could go as far as saying
"we're meeting at this venue, delegate fees are X per day, here is the list
of nearby hotels that you can stay at, it's up to you to sort out
everything else yourself" - and that would lead to a very cheap Wikimania
for the WMF and the local Wikimedia organisation.
Rather than going for those options, we've preferred to keep things
complicated - we chose not to use standard conference packages, instead
picking specific locations and approaches for each Wikimania. We travel to
out of the way locations. We bolt on different bespoke activities (such as
evening events, and outreach activities) to those conferences that increase
the complexity of the event. We ask volunteers to take on duties that we
could ask attendees to take on instead (photographs/organising sessions,
etc.). We vary the structure of each conference to include the preferences
of each organising committee. We organise a scholarship process.
If we're going to do a rational cost-benefit analysis of Wikimania,
including all of the options about regularity, intentions, etc., then
perhaps we should also consider the basics - what's the minimum amount
that's needed to hold such an event, leaving aside the optional extras?
What can we keep constant between each Wikimania: can we keep the program
organisation, the approach to evening events, and the add-on events the
same each year (saving volunteer and staff time)? Or perhaps we should
acknowledge the extra work that goes into each bespoke Wikimania, and
celebrate that? Or seek an intermediate solution - sort out the venue,
program, etc., and leave hotel/food options up to attendees? Or perhaps
each Wikimania should keep vying for the title of the best Wikimania ever?
On 10 Jul 2016, at 23:42, Ivan Martínez <galaver(a)gmail.com> wrote:
It's a lot of work, last week before Wikimania Mexico the coordination
team slept less than 4 hours each day. But for me being honest was not a
shaming time, was great. And we can have people intended to keep Wikimania
annual and run similar challenges.
Harry, we had here 72 committed volunteers working without paid and we
are not a major developed economy.
Darius, I think that "motivations criris afterward" must also be
considered in the planning and prior call for Wikimanía volunteers and can
be avoided. In Mexico we always tell to people that we did not want them
just for giving the best of themselves for three days around, but we wanted
to keep them with Wikimedia mission. A month ago we broke a Guinness record
and 60% of attendees were Wikimania volunteers. It is a matter of long
preplanning, I think.
2016-07-10 15:03 GMT-05:00 Harry Mitchell <hjmwiki(a)gmail.com>om>:
> Yes, London was big, and the two Wikimaniae since have been on a
> smaller scale, but I'm not sure a ~1,000-person conference is significantly
> less of a headache than a ~2,000-person conference, and actually I'd wager
> that Esino was more logistically complicated due to the location - for
> example having to arrange buses to Varenna and the airports (which were
> around 50 miles away). Not that that should be taken as a criticism of the
> Esino team - they did a fantastic job in a beautiful location and I'd love
> to have another 'scenic Wikimania'.
> I'll let Ed tell you about what he did. I know I saw him spend a lot
> of time dealing with the venue and the programme and discussing finance and
> logistics, but I'm sure there are lots of other things. Speaking for
> myself: those volunteers in red shirts? That was my contribution. The
> volunteers on the helpdesks, running sessions, meeting and greeting,
> tweeting, photographing, doing odd jobs and generally making things run
> smoothly ... I recruited most of them*, got to know them, trained them,
> split them into teams, did a lot of the scheduling (easier said than done -
> lots of moving parts!). During the conference, they looked after the
> attendees, and I looked after them. And I've never worked with such an
> amazing group of people. It was a truly humbling experience, but it was a
> lot of work. At one point I was receiving something like 200 emails a day
> just relating to Wikimania and was having to set aside time at the start
> and end of the day to answer the ones that didn't require an immediate
> response. I also devised the scheme of reporting and emergency/contingency
> planning for volunteers (thankfully this wasn't necessary, but the death of
> a Wikimedian at that year's Wikimedia Conference was painfully fresh in our
> memories), and spent a lot of time trying to drum up and channel interest
> within the UK Wikimedian community. I'm sure there were other things, but
> those roles alone took up a significant amount of time - certainly in
> excess of 40 hours a week in the final few weeks before the conference.
> *(Not wishing to take credit from anyone else; I worked closely with
> lots of other people on all these things, particularly Hera Hussain, and
> Fabian Tompsett and Chris McKenna who were at the time employed by
> Wikimedia UK.)
> Harry Mitchell
> +44 (0) 7507 536 971
> Skype: harry_j_mitchell
> On Sun, Jul 10, 2016 at 7:40 PM, Lodewijk <lodewijk(a)effeietsanders.org
> > wrote:
>> Thanks Harry, Ed,
>> Of course London was a bit of an exceptionally big Wikimania - but
>> did you evaluate your effort somewhere, and note what you spent your time
>> on somewhere? Just to get an impression which components take most effort
>> (as Dariusz suggested)?
>> 2016-07-10 20:25 GMT+02:00 Harry Mitchell <hjmwiki(a)gmail.com>om>:
>>> 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
>>> 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.
>>> 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
>>> 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
>>> Harry Mitchell
>>> +44 (0) 7507 536 971
>>> Skype: harry_j_mitchell
>>> 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
>>>> undertaking, and in retrospect it seems deeply unfair to expect
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> ourselves as such.
>>>> *Edward Saperia*
>>>> Conference Director Wikimania London
>>>> email <edsaperia(a)gmail.com> • facebook
>>>> <http://www.facebook.com/edsaperia> • twitter
>>>> <http://www.twitter.com/edsaperia> • 07796955572
>>>> 133-135 Bethnal Green Road, E2 7DG
>>>>> In the same time, I've seen the following problems over the
>>>>> not directly linked to the financial cost (which in the face of our
>>>>> relative financial stability can be justified by the benefits,
>>>>> 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
>>>>> 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
>>>>> is such a big strain? If it is clear that we can't afford it
>>>>> (because of the human cost, probably more importantly than the
>>>>> the decision to break with the annual format will be a natural
>>>>> of such an analysis.
>>>>> Dariusz Jemielniak ("pundit", a current Trustee).
>>>> Wikimania-l mailing list
>>> Wikimania-l mailing list
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