[Foundation-l] A Wikimania for everyone?

Samuel Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Tue Apr 1 00:52:15 UTC 2008

On Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 3:39 PM, Nathan <nawrich at gmail.com> wrote:

> Practically everything related to Wikimedia produces a lot of debate.

True; and debate can be productive.  We should harness that interest and
energy into constructive work to lay the groundwork for joyful events, and
discussion about what makes a successful gathering.

> Even the composition of the jury has been challenged - though no one has
> objected to Buenos Aires directly (although one writer mentioned that it
> is
> equivalently far away as Antarctica for him). I think we should thank the
> jury for the work they do and refrain from challenging the decisions using
> arguments that do not include a critical analysis of the bids and process.

Suggesting that the process rely more on questions, assessments, and
discussion from the community at large is certainly relevant.  There were
not many discussions about criteria or questions from the wider community
during the bid process; and many more voices tend to speak up after each
Wikimania and after a selection.  The basic interest in improving the
process is there, but it isn't being realized; if people who care about a
topic don't use the right forum to discuss it, the discussion space is not
truly open.  (Perhaps publicity or presentation could be better targeted so
that the community feels the shared ownership of review and selection.)

The limit on Wikimanias is financial and logistical - as (and if) the
> Foundation earns more funds it will become feasible to hold more Wikimania
> events - although at that point we need to have a discussion about the
> utility of these events in relation to the goals of the Foundation. All
> other efforts being funded sufficiently I think it would be great to have
> frequent Wikimanias all around the world - in a perfect world, one
> on each inhabited continent each year.

Logistical, perhaps -- though if more people take up the meme of throwing
regional events, and come to see that as an exciting and viable project,
more of the talented local organizers may choose to do it.   But financial?
If there are 10,000 people who would like to attend some similar gathering
each year, and only 10-15% of them currently do, there is an ample pool of
talent, resources, and attendee-driven funding to organize a number of
events.  (One might just as well suggest that BarCamps are limited by
O'Reilly's financial resources...)

If the Foundation is going to allocate funds to Wikimania as a major
> annual expenditure, then those funds should be in support of the mission
> of the Wikimedia Foundation - and not venues for "celebration" by the
> current contributors of two continents.

Does the Foundation plan on allocating Wikimania funds as a major annual
expenditure?  My understanding is that past Wikimanias have been basically
self-supporting, with the Foundation acting as a conduit for some related
sponsorships (which certainly incurs  overhead costs) and supporting travel
for staff and board members.

As a frequently-cited point of comparison, consider the World Science
Fiction Society's WorldCons -- each large event has a bid team that is
chosen two years out, and every team is its own independent organization
that exists to put on a major gathering, organize its own logistics and
finances, and wind down.


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