[Foundation-l] Reply to Mark

phoebe ayers phoebe.wiki at gmail.com
Fri Feb 29 07:30:44 UTC 2008

On Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 1:42 PM, Nathan <nawrich at gmail.com> wrote:
> This thread should probably have a more appropriate title.
>  As others have eloquently said, Wikimedia is about free - as in freedom. The
>  choice of where to meet, as participants in Wikimedia projects, should
>  without doubt take this principle into account.

It should probably be pointed out just one more time -- even if it is
exceedingly obvious -- that our Egyptian colleagues are participants
in our community as well. And to my knowledge, they have not yet been
able to attend a Wikimania, due to visa issues with the countries
involved where we have held the conference in the past. Believe me, it
wasn't through lack of trying, all three years.

Let's be clear: the jury certainly did not pick Alexandria simply
because we felt that we wanted to make the conference accessible to a
group of editors that had been excluded from attending in the past.
But it is worth remembering that previous locales have not always been
entirely friendly to all members of our global community -- explicitly
so, because of governmental policies on who can be allowed in the
country and under what conditions -- and that terms like "freedom" and
"accessibility" can mean very different things depending on one's
location in the world.

I can say that this conference choice was not made for political
reasons or as a political statement; that much should be clear. I also
sincerely hope that anyone who can't attend this year -- whether it's
because Egypt is too far, because they don't have enough money,
because they fear for their safety traveling, or any other reason --
will be able to join the conference in future years in other places,
because Wikimania is a truly amazing event.

I am personally very sorry that people are upset over the location
choice and feel personally discriminated against because of it. I do
wonder what constructive suggestions can be made for future conference
venues, considering a community that spans most cultures and countries
on earth, unfortunate governments that are prone to restricting
travel, and a generally unsafe (if usually interesting) world.

-- phoebe

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