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

Moushira Elamrawy moushirah at gmail.com
Thu Jun 17 23:16:28 UTC 2010

Today's meeting was definitely progressive and the idea of compiling a
handbook (or guide, or whatever) to Wikimania is fruitful..but, I just
Enthusiasm and good intentions could turn into a problem (or a crisis) if
they are not accompanied by experience, or at least know-how. All teams want
a conference, but they don't necessairly understand what does that take.

>From my limited experience in 2008; Delphine was an imporant factor
(catalyst) in making things go on track, poking volunteers, and reporting to
the foundation. She knew what a conference is...and what wikimedians want.

If someone could take the role of Delphine back, maybe on part time or per
task basis, then I think that could help.

A book is good; but how do we make sure the content is practically


On Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 1:48 AM, <susanpgardner at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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?)
> Thanks,
> Sue
> -----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?
> best,
> Phoebe
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