[Wikimedia-l] Effectiveness of meetings (Was: Affcom ...)

Lodewijk lodewijk at effeietsanders.org
Tue May 14 11:39:18 UTC 2013

I think this is very true, and we could perhaps improve our procedures and
documentation in many ways. However, I do think it is important to realize
that you're comparing apples with oranges here. The meeting in Brussels for
example was on the topic of influencing legislative processes - a topic by
definition long term and hard to measure. The goals there would be better
(copyright) legislation than without these initiatives - and rather
strategic. The bootcamp in DC was intended as a boost for volunteers, where
they would get a lot of information and experience in a short time:
capacity building. This is also long term, but much better to measure. And
finally there's the hackathon, which is much more short-term focused (at
least partially), and will have very concrete results (but probably zero
measured in new articles created).

What I think is most important, is that for every meeting we have, we
identify desired outcomes. These outcomes can be very tangible, or
intangible - but they should always be defined, and the agenda should be
built around it.
Based on these desired outcomes, you can estimate up front if the meeting
is likely to be 'worth it'. If not, you can reduce the costs, increase the
outcomes (different setup) or cancel all together.
Finally, after the meeting a report (private or public - there should
always be a report or documentation) should be produced and if possible
published. In that report you should always return to these desired
outcomes, and see if they were met - and how/why not.

But even then on the strategy side of things meetings are always hard to

Of course you're totally right that there are expectations towards
participants of meetings. Not only because of the money invested, but also
because of the attention of the other participants. I definitely have been
in meetings where people literally fell asleep or played games during the
meeting - and that is simply insulting to the other people in the room. So
yeah, if that is your mindset, perhaps it is better not to go at all. But
then I am assuming good faith, and think that everyone will be going to
meetings with the best of intentions, and not simply to play tourist.


2013/5/14 Balázs Viczián <balazs.viczian at wikimedia.hu>

> 40k for a single meetup can be justified if the results worth that much
> money. (I've already argued about this regarding Milan chapters meetup
> btw). Providing a "more than basic" travel and accomodation can be a way of
> appreciation as well for their work, what they do as volunteers, that
> should be calculated into the costs.
> Ain't these intrenational events' (not just this meetup's, but all events')
> "success ratio" being measured by some way already?
> The cost/benefit ratio [1] is a pretty basic (and extreme important) thing
> we like to calculate with here in Hungary about all of our activities. For
> example the number of articles created divided with the total costs of the
> article writing contest they've been created within gives a number we can
> work a lot with to improve cost-effectiveness. Seemingly very few chapters
> doing anything similar (or not in a visible way)
> AffCom already measures itself in some ways in their reports, but regarding
> other meetups, I've barely seen at least a basic followup or aftercare and
> especially not a detailed overall (measurement) report what is usually /at
> least in those commercial events I was involved with/ being published after
> about six month of the last day of the event, and gives a detailed summary
> of its pros and cons, dos and don'ts, successes and fails, overall impact
> (upon proactively collected feedbacks), etc.
> There were plenty of international events already this year (Brussels
> meeting about EU policies, Milan, London glam, Amsterdam hackathon that are
> coming in my mind right now from 2013, and this is just the first 4 month
> (only 1/3rd of the year) and not the full list!) most of them with no or
> very low visible results yet (ok they need some time to evolve, but
> regarding events in 2012, I barely read anything to remember nor any
> followups or summares, reports). Compared to the "GLAM camp" in the US
> recently, it seems definitely true. The latter looks like a very good
> example of a beneficial meetup, having a lot of potential and it seems
> there is a chance that it will be followed up by WMDC and other
> participating parties well after the event. Why to have a long term
> followup? To give a definite answer wheter those potentials actually
> resulted in anything at all (was there any "real benefit") or it was just a
> very good mooded, fun and positive, but totally fruitless event (wasted
> money from the movement's POV)
> I see compared to 2012 costs going up without any visible rise in
> effectiveness or more worse, a decline in it. This is solely based upon
> what I can (or can not) read about them on meta and other places, like the
> comments here. Wikimania 2014 was the first event ever where this thing was
> taken seriously, but rather on the cost cutting side, than on the
> effectiveness improving side
> It would be great to see detailed measurements of these events, like how
> many new projects or international cooperations (or whatever it aims) were
> boosted/inspired by the given thematic meetup up until the next similar
> meetup. If that number is X, while the costs were Y, and X/Y does not look
> good,  than you can start thinking how can you improve X without expanding
> Y (or even lowering it) to get a much friendly ratio, thus creating an even
> more fruitful (better quality) event next time. The best would be a
> detailed breakdown, like main goals, side goals, unexpected or "extra"
> things that that meeting had inspired/boosted/hosted/etc.
> Note, there ain't no such thing as free lunch [2]
> Cheers,
> Balázs
> PS: WMHU has 68k budget for 2013.
> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefit%E2%80%93cost_ratio
> [2]
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_ain%27t_no_such_thing_as_a_free_lunch
> 2013/5/14 Lodewijk <lodewijk at effeietsanders.org>
> > I don't think it is trivial either, and having a discussion is fine.
> > However, the bigger discussion is perhaps more relevant - because AffCom
> is
> > simply following WMF policy here, which is in place for many employees,
> > board members (and others? not sure).
> >
> > So I think there are two relevant discussions to be had: First of all,
> > whether there should be an AffCom meeting at all. Fair question of
> course.
> > (analogous you could wonder if certain chapters should really send a
> > representative to Wikimania from their budget, whether certain employees
> > really should be there and whether all chapters should be present at the
> > Chapters meeting - all fair discussions to be had in their time, too).
> The
> > second relevant question is, in my opinion, whether the WMF travel policy
> > is good, proportional etc. This policy has mostly received criticism from
> > two sides - some think it is too elaborate, and WMF should get 'less
> > luxury' (again fair discussion, but we should then focus on the whole
> > question) - another criticism is that it should be equalized for all
> > Wikimedia-sponsored trips, including individual engagement grants, trips
> to
> > the chapters meeting etc. When this question was brought up last time, I
> > believe it was Sue who mentioned that this would simply result in much
> less
> > travel and participation. Again, a fair question.
> >
> > Personally, I feel that WMF Committee (and board) members should not be
> > treated to a lower standard than staff members, simply because they are
> not
> > being paid for their work. But maybe I'm the only one in thát opinion
> > though...
> >
> > Lodewijk
> >
> >
> > 2013/5/14 Andrea Zanni <zanni.andrea84 at gmail.com>
> >
> > > On Tue, May 14, 2013 at 12:30 AM, David Gerard <dgerard at gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > > > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_law_of_triviality
> > >
> > >
> > > I don't really think this is a triviality.
> > > Cents and single dollars of chapters are weighted and analyzed,
> > > FDC and GACs nitpicks and their goal is to assure that donor moneys is
> > not
> > > wasted.
> > > We all know that there are issues on that and a lot of chapters had to
> > work
> > > hard to be able to draw their budget, and receive their money.
> > >
> > > 40'000 $ for Wikimania travels are a lot, especially compared to the
> > travel
> > > budget of chapters. Period.
> > > I would assume that WMF and the Board budgets should be reasonably
> > > proportional to chapters ones.
> > > Maybe I'm the only one, though.
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