Internal feedback about Wikimania spaces

Ok, so let’s try to set this thing up. :slight_smile:

Let’s try to pin something useful up for the Wikimania 2020, such as:

  1. What was good about this format?
  2. What didn’t we like about this format?
  3. What we think we need to get further work on?
  4. What we think we should not change for the next edition?
  5. …add your questions!
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Thanks Luca for kicking this off!

  • Overall: I think the spaces concept worked well, if for no other reason to get good buy-in and active participation from so many folks. The deadlines slipped quite a bit later than normal Wikimania dates from the past, but that was understandable since this was so new.

  • Info tables: The alternative to the Community Village seemed to be the benches and tables in the underground (3rd floor) A-D blocks, but I’m not sure how well-known this was. I didn’t discover them until Sunday afternoon, and the people staffing those tables looked rather lonely. I spent some time talking to T&S, but otherwise it wasn’t clear how people knew about these.

  • Poster session. I’m a big fan of the poster session, as they provide high impact in a short amount of time. I’d highly suggest keeping them in the same space or same level next time. I did not discover there was a second set of posters on the second floor, and it was only in the last 10 minutes I had to speed through them. Perhaps a big sign reminding people there is a second floor would help, or people consistently announcing this.

  • Etherpads. There was a hard-to-find master list of these at the bottom of the big schedule. Individual Etherpads were not necessarily linked from the main submission/session pages. Also, they were not named with a prefix like “Wikimania 2019” so we should make sure in the future to do so.

  • Video recording. It was phenomenal providing so much video recording of events, and the volunteers helping with it were professional and helpful. We need to make this a consistent cornerstone of Wikimania.

  • Food options. Thanks to the organizers for having so many vegan and veggie options, and coffee and tea all the time. The only slight downside is people at the far end of the conference at the A-D blocks did not have access to beverages, and had to treck back to the main conference area. The “grab-and-go” nature of lunch meant that people could quickly get food and get to meetups where needed. Nothing is perfect though - the fact that people scattered so quickly meant there was less “chance conversation” by sitting at a common 10-person banquet table. This is not a criticism, but just a decision that has different consequences.

  • Culture Crawl. I was so glad to see Wikimania incorporating this day of GLAM-oriented events the day beforehand. The volunteers were great, and it was a way to engage cultural professionals the day before events started in a relaxed atmosphere. It also alleviates the anxiety that people at the conference might never see any of the host city’s sites.

That’s a set of opening thoughts for now.

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+1 to Andrew. If “spaces” were called “conference tracks” I would have grasped the concept from the beginning, including the call for “space organizer” which is programmanager of a single track. I’m not a native speaker of English, and that is not my fault. Iliked in previous years people signing up their interest in submissions. I did miss them this year.

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Oh, also for reference the keynote buzzword bingo can be done all electronically:

https://bingobaker.com/play/2353713

*I liked that the individual spaces (tracks) were a) organized by people that had a real interest in that special subject, b) were organized in different ways, due to the ideas of different organizers, c) gave a lot of room for creativity
*Some people had many different sessions, while others did not get a chance to present. There was not enough time to coordinate well across spaces. Perhaps there were too many spaces, I am not sure.
*More coordination across spaces. Clearer timeline before the event.
*The general idea of spaces with coordinators that have an interest in the subject

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Agree with most. Also there seemed to be some miss in the communication. Knowledge savers who created the etherpads were under the impression that the space leaders would be responsible for adding the links to the session pages. But it seems like that information never reached the space leaders.

(Ciao Luca, what does “internal” refer to?)

Essentially agree with all that has been mentioned above.

Some additional comments

  1. focusing on Spaces
    I agree the terminology “spaces” was maybe not the clearest. I generally liked it though I felt there were too many sessions overall and quite a bit of overlap. So more coordination between spaces would be good.

  2. I attended Learning Days and I thought the program well designed and properly delivered. It was organized in a different manner than previous years, and I thought it a good idea to address LD with that new approach. Downside: impossible to participate even a little to the culture crawl. Some participants outlined that the LD could be rather programmed in one day. I have been wondering if a sort of LD track could be made into a Space (during Wikimania itself, not before).

  3. Food was generally good and sufficient. Not always though. Twice I saw salads were not in sufficient quantities (none left on Sunday lunch for example). Probably uncivil behavior of participants who took two salads :( Either plan more or remind that everyone should stick to their share.
    Fruit usually not available at lunch either. So some lunch ended up being a bread-based sandwich + cookie. Both were good, but sandwich + cookie is not a great diet.
    Many meals were not provided and Stockholm prices are high. It was hard on some participants. It did not help that it was not always fully clear whether a real dinner or just bits would be provided.
    [ Whilst I personally found the final party dinner excellent, I must recognize that it was not super suitable for vegan either… ]
    How does that relate to spaces ? Well, some spaces had a super central location and were quick to attend. For others… distance meant… lunch without salad, missing coffee, less informal conversation etc. For organizers of some of the spaces… it was probably a bit complicated.

  4. Maps and directions.
    Mixed feelings on this. I am supportive of printing less (hence having no printed program…). I thought it odd that all SDG were printed whilst we had no map though.
    A few maps were added in a few places, but honestly not enough. Not enough signage generally, or not big enough. Even on Sundays, people were still looking for their way and losing time. We have never enough signage… More is better. Perhaps physical spaces could also be made more “topic related”. For example, the strategy space was organized in a certain specific way. Perhaps all track spaces could have a special set up flavor to better realize we actually enter a “space”. Not sure I am clear here…

  5. Poster: great, to renew.

  6. Thematic lunches were rather a mess in my view because the rooms to meet were far away. So if you had the bad luck of attending a session in area A, had to run to area B to hunt for the lunch, then to run to area C for the meeting… chance is you already missed half of the meeting. Most people gave up before joining the thematic lunches.

  7. However, I thought the set-up for thematic meet-ups in the evening was excellent. All rooms next to one another, the bar and relaxing area nearby, I thought it one of the best option for thematic late-of-day meet ups of all wikimanias. It seems to be very fruitful to groups given the large attendance.

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My main takeaway is that I think that the number of spaces was too high.

This is a deliquate balance. With say 950 participants and 19 tracks the average number of participants per session is 50. The actual number of participants per sessions was much lower: not everybody was present all days, and some people stayed in the lobby to meet people one on one. With a small number of parallel sessions, they would end up with many people and passive participation. For those who like active participation, the number of participants per session reach a natural limit, and to serve everyone a lot of parallel sessions are needed. So, what is it that you like, want or need?

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I don’t think there were too many spaces. But navigation was… confusing as hell. too many names for the locations created less easy to navigate spaces. temporary and permanent signage was competing with each other instead of supplementing each other.

I also think that Thematic lunches were problematic, being as far away from the lunch as they were.

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Just seeing this thread now! I am passing it along to the WMF events team as we are currently in the venue contracting process and working to determine the spaces needed for 2020! Perfect timing :)

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I just read this thread. We are now obtaining feedbacks for the next iteration of Wikimania.

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