If this were a more predictable year, Wikimedians from around the world
would be together this weekend at Wikimania Bangkok 2020, in the warm
hospitality of our remarkable Wikimedia ESEAP hosts. We’d be preparing for
a weekend of inspiring presentations, serendipitous meetings, and
fascinating conversations with Wikimedians from dozens of projects,
languages, and communities.
I miss these moments of togetherness, and seeing people in person. Even
though we’re mostly known as an online community, in-person events have
always been part of the fabric of the Wikimedia movement. They are how we
have built working partnerships, friendships, and the skills that support
these remarkable projects over the years.
In March, I sent messages out to the movement, asking grantees to postpone
or cancel their in-person events until the World Health Organization
declares the COVID-19 pandemic over. Today, that seems wistfully optimistic
-- that we’d have this all wrapped up in six months! As we enter August the
COVID-19 pandemic is still with us and seems likely to be part of our lives
for some time to come.
*== Safer events guidance ==*
As we all learn to adapt and live with this new reality, we at the
Foundation want to offer more adaptable support for Wikimedia convenings.
We're already improving support for online events, but as different
countries and regions start to offer more flexible guidance for in-person
gatherings and travel, we expect to see more community interest for
resuming in-person meetings (with appropriate precautions). We want to
respond to this interest with tools and resources to help you assess your
options, including whether your community can more safely host an in-person
We are developing some tools to support your decision-making process,
including a risk assessment calculator, to help you evaluate your own
situation. *Importantly, this will also include guidance on when not to
hold an event.* This tool is developed in a way that should be flexible to
use for all community members, regardless of your country and the size of
We’re also creating a checklist of precautions, including resources with
tips and suggestions for how to prepare, evaluate, and follow up on any
event. Finally, we’re working to create a list of suggested types of
events, such as walking tours, photo hunts, and community picnics, all of
which can help meet the demand for safer in-person gatherings.
*== Your feedback ==*
Living through a global pandemic of this scale is new for all of us -- and
the best way to navigate this change is with the support of your community.
In that spirit, the events team will start reaching out to affiliate
leaders and potential grantees next week for their feedback and advice on
these proposed resources. We’re asking for your help shaping these tools to
make them as useful as possible for our diverse global community, with all
the varied contexts our movement works in.
I look forward to sharing more about these tools, as well as additional
information about event support and grants toward the end of August.
Until then, please stay safe and take care -- I look forward to the next
time we see each other again.
Katherine Maher (she/her)
Wikimedia Foundation <https://wikimediafoundation.org/>