[Foundation-l] Floating a notion: permanent Wikimania committee?

susanpgardner at gmail.com susanpgardner at gmail.com
Thu Jun 17 22:48:44 UTC 2010

A couple of fast thoughts:

* I think it's debatable whether it's board-level or not.  It's board-level in the sense that it's "not staff-level" -- meaning it's mainly a community responsibility rather than a staff responsibility.  But to the extent that part of the role of the committee would be to ask the staff for help if Wikimania is floundering, that is probably not a board-level issue. For example, I can't imagine the board making a resolution asking me to intervene to offer more support if one year Wikimania were floundering.   That just doesn't feel like a governance issue.

* Which leads me to point two, which is that from my perspective, I actually do want someone to flag to me if Wikimania is floundering, and to ask me officially to have the staff get involved.  Wikimania in Gdansk this year has had some problems, and I have felt awkward about how to best resolve them, given that (again) it's a community-led event, not a staff-led event.  But I don't think the board should need to involve itself in that, because again, I think it's not a governance issue.

* Those aren't super-significant issues from my perspective though. Upshot from my perspective: I think that there's lots of good energy and thinking happening on this, and it feels like people are pretty aligned in feeling we want some form of oversight/guidance/something, in place supporting excellent Wikimanias every year.  Which is great.  Does someone want to organize a meeting about this for Gdansk?  I'm hoping Phoebe will attend, and Casey and SJ, and whoever else is interested.  I will be happy to put it in my schedule, and I think James would probably be interested too. (James Owen, not Forrester. I actually don't know if James Forrester is coming this year, although now that I think of it, maybe he is one of the train-travelling people?)

-----Original Message-----
From: phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki at gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2010 13:28:37 
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List<foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Cc: Wikimania general list \(open subscription\)<wikimania-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Floating a notion: permanent Wikimania committee?

On Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 12:06 PM, Sue Gardner <sgardner at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> Hi folks,
> For several years now, people have occasionally floated the notion
> that there should be a permanent Wikimania oversight committee –
> basically, a group of people responsible for giving some coaching and
> guidance and oversight to the local planning team each year.  Over the
> years, support has been offered each year by people like Phoebe, James
> Forrester, Delphine (Delphine both in her staff role and as a
> volunteer) and SJ … but there has never (AFAIK) been a formal
> oversight committee.  I think there probably should be.

Hello Sue and all,

Good timing -- we just had a long conversation about this in the
#wikimedia open meeting this afternoon. There were quite a few
participants, including several past wikimania organizers.

Quick summary of that discussion:
* there is definite interest in an ongoing Wikimania (oversight,
governance, guidance) (body, committee, group) (we talked for quite a
while about those various names and their different connotations)

* there are a few potential roles that people see for such a group:
** 1) collecting and writing better documentation about the
conference, including best practices for organization and what has
happened in the past
** 2) answering questions from Wikimania organizers about past
practices, helping coordinate who to ask about various aspects
** 3) providing oversight to the overall wikimania process -- for
instance making sure that a bid jury is called and the bids are
submitted in time (like elections)
** 4) providing oversight/governance as the conference progresses --
for instance, getting regular reports about the conference. Along with
this, the org team would have someone to report to if, say, a venue
burns down or some other catastrophe happens.

These ideas are roughly in order of how much controversy they
generated among discussion participants. I think we all pretty much
agreed that we need better conference documentation, and a loose
community group of past organizers and interested participants can
provide such documentation. Here's a start:

Conference handbook: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimania/Handbook
-- let's write the big book of Wikimania
Conference checklist:
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimania/checklist -- make sure you
have everything you need
Conference community:
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimania/community -- a start at a
community group, w/ interested participants.

We discussed however that for any oversight/governance functions we
might need a more formalized structure and perhaps a formal mandate.
This seemed like a Board-level issue to several people (including me).
We also discussed that there's not a good process for proposing and
forming community committees that would interact with the Foundation
on various issues.

What do you all think?


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