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What happened at Wikimania?

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By Lane Rasberry
A panel discussion at Wikimania 2017... can you tell us more?

Wikimania 2017 was 9-13 August. Many people used the conference as an opportunity to participate, speak up, learn, engage, and form collaborations. The challenge following the event is to capture the momentum and meaning of it all while it is still fresh. The Signpost would like to publish all the news and updates from the event, but you and your colleagues have not yet written your articles about the event!

Will you please share what you learned at Wikimania in the form of a news story for The Signpost? Write your draft now, but feel free to submit your story anytime. As a conference which is largely volunteer organized, it takes some time to categorize all the media produced at the conference and publish all the lasting ideas which people had there. Over the next few weeks the professional videographers will be uploading the official videos of the keynote talks and some other presentations. The majority of talks either were not recorded, or were recorded by volunteers who will share the videos on their own time. Individual presenters may or may not share their slides or other materials.

Did you present at Wikimania? If so, and you want to reach an even larger audience, consider turning your talk and the discussions you had about your presentation into an article for The Signpost. Did you attend a talk at Wikimania that you found meaningful? Then please consider contacting the presenter, doing a 2-3 question follow up interview with them, then publishing your response to their presentation in The Signpost. Did you and another person have a conversation at the conference that you want to share? Again, The Signpost is a record of current thought in the Wikipedia community as we present it to each other and to the non-wiki outside world. If you can draft at least 5 sentences in the manner of a journalist and will agree to go through a traditional editorial process, then congratulations, you qualify to be a freelance writer for The Signpost.

The impact of Wikimania does not end at the in-person event. Please, everyone, ping everyone else who did anything significant at Wikimania and offer them the option to publish their project, idea, discussion, controversy, opinion, argument, conspiracy theory, rant, fan letter, or other journalistic material in The Signpost. Writers get a relevant audience, entry into the public record, and sweet community discussion.

To submit drafts or proposals, or for further information, visit the Submissions desk.

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No more scholarships to those who don't turn in their reports! Why do I see so many heads looking down at their electronic devices in the picture? Are they busy taking notes, or just bored by the discussion? I watched this one online, and was underwhelmed by it. Certainly not worth paying rack rate to get in the door. wbm1058 (talk) 12:05, 6 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]

I agree. Turning in a report of the sessions attended should be a requirement for anyone receiving a scholarship. Not all of us can afford to attend, nor have the time to watch the live feed/video record in its entirety. Reports help broadcast what was shared. -- llywrch (talk) 18:31, 6 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]
This is already the case. According to wm2017:Scholarships, the following criteria result in instant disqualification from a WMF Wikimania scholarship:
  1. The applicant received a scholarship in 2014, 2015 or 2016 but did not complete their post-conference report(s).
  2. The applicant is a current or past grantee from any WMF Grant program and found to be non-compliant.
--Deryck C. 22:19, 7 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Out of 92 full scholarships only a dozen have posted their mandatory report for this navel-gazing exercise that ended a month ago. Chris Troutman (talk) 19:55, 8 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]
That's disappointing. -- llywrch (talk) 06:43, 11 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Llywrch Chris troutman you both have been around long enough to know that there is no community organizer soliciting the reports and no guidance, feedback, or documentation on what constitutes a useful event report. There is no culture of writing reports and there is no culture of anyone getting positive feedback or even any feedback on reports.
You both seem a little grumpy about this and while being discontent can lead to making changes, I neither want you to feel powerless in the system nor obligated to do the labor of making changes. However, I do want you to be aware of options. Just today in the Wikimania-l mailing list Ellie, the WMF staff conference coordinator, sent an email out asking people to do conference reports. Chris, as you noted, the people at meta:Grants:TPS/Wikimania_scholars owe reports. I just posted a message at meta:Grants:TPS/Wikimania_scholars#Scholar_responsibilities saying that writing for The Signpost is one way to fulfill obligations of receiving a grant. If either of you wants to be involved in establishing the norms, all the requirements are in wiki for anyone to edit, so either you or anyone else you recruit could write the rules, give guidance to writers, actually write the scholarship recipients and ask if they would write for Signpost or whatever else, or be engaged as you like.
Almost none of the scholarship recipients know about writing obligations in exchange for the travel grant. If they do submit anything then whatever they submit is unlikely to be read or get comments because there is no culture or tradition of writing these reports for the sake of other Wikipedians, but there could be, and either of you could promote that.
I do not think that it is the place of WMF staff to establish any tradition, but if the Wiki community itself organized a tradition of accepting journalism in exchange for travel grants, then I think everyone involved would benefit and even that would be less of a burden for grant recipients than trying to write a report for an undefined audience. Thoughts? Thanks, both of you, for speaking up. I do not think you have any reason to be disappointed because you do have an opportunity here to author WMF grant reporting guidelines, which whether you accept it or not is really an amazing option for anyone who wants something to change. Blue Rasberry (talk) 23:09, 12 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]
"Grumpy" isn't the word for my mood; to repeat myself, it's "disappointed". And for several reasons

For one thing, many people want to attend Wikimania but can't, due to money; others would like to, but cannot due to other commitments. So being given a grant to attend Wikimania is a privileges do not have, & being cavalier about submitting reports disrespects those who did not enjoy this privilege. (I notice that there are reports from previous years, so I suspect submitting a report in return for the scholarship has been communicated better than you think. I also notice that as many as 9 more people turned in reports since Chris' post above, so maybe our comments are prodding people to file their reports.)

Another reason is that I would expect attendees to be motivated & excited about what they learn at Wikimania, thus eager to share this information. Were the sessions & interactions disappointing this year, & that is why the reports are coming in late?

A last reason is that while I doubt I will have the opportunity to attend a Wikimania in the next couple of years -- I have two small children I help parent -- I would like to know more about what happens each year than the text of the keynote addresses & the haphazard notes of sessions & discussion boards. Knowing what attendees thought were the most events & topics raised would convey a sense of actually attending.

So not having any report of this year's Wikimania disappoints me. Maybe it disappointed its attendees this year. Or maybe the attendees refuse to live up to their responsibilities, both as scholarship recipients & as Wikimedians, to help make the information free & are disappointing the rest of us. -- llywrch (talk) 02:47, 13 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]

@Llywrch: I think your expectations are too high. The skill set required to get a scholarship is unrelated to the skill set to publish journalism, do conference reporting, or teach others in print. I want these things too, but instead of blaming the volunteers for going, I would say that it is unreasonable to expect these kinds of outcomes unless we had paid staff support to coach people and develop guidelines on how to write conference reports effectively. Every year the kind of complaints that you are sharing come out. Your complaints are valid, and things should change, but I do not think that it is reasonable to blame 100 volunteers every year in perpetuity when we have good knowledge that the same thing has happened for so many years in the past. Increasing the disappointment and negativity about the situation without changing anything else is not a path forward to change. I do not know what is constructive to change but I am sure that I have no desire to blame the scholarship recipients for behavior which the infrastructure here has established as normal. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:57, 16 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]
@Llywrch, Chris troutman, and Bluerasberry: The Wikimania scholarship team sent out an email to all Wikimania 2017 WMF scholars last week saying the deadline of reports will be 1st October. Come back on 2nd October to see the reports! Deryck C. 13:29, 15 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]


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