Wikimedia Conference: Takeaways for MWStake

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by on 23 June 2016 07:24 (EDT)

Tag.png Tags: Conference, Wikimedia
Person.png People: Markus Glaser

Wikimedia Conference is the annual get together of the political sphere of the Wikimedia world. Representatives of the Foundation and affiliate organisations go there to discuss the future of Wikimedia as well as learn and educate themselves how to organize and lead an organisation. I had the pleasure to be the representative of MediaWiki Stakeholders, and went to Berlin to further our cause.

One of the most helpful takeaways was to hear about the newly built Program Capacity and Learning team. Provided by the Wikimedia Foundation to Affiliates, including us, this team helps them do a lot of tasks they need for their daily work. So there is a person, Edward Galvez, dedicated to conducting surveys, and I had a long chat with him about our upcoming MediaWiki Users Survey. There is also a team working on social media and the offer to help the Affiliates with their social media strategy in general and how to publish on the big Wikimedia channels in particular. And of course, there's the grant team which should be approached when we need money for specific projects.

There were several opportunities to let the Wikimedia world know about our projects and get feedback on them. In the pre-conference, I had a lightning talk about our last year's MediaWiki User Survey and the learnings we took from this, and I had a few conversations afterwards about conducting a survey and exchanged experiences with others.

On the topic of a MediaWiki organisation, the main mission was to spread the idea, get feedback and also get a sense of how well supported any variant of such an organisation would be. To that end, I did another lightning talk on Friday, where I presented a wide (take on responsibility for core) and a narrow (work on 3rd party needs) option. In conversations following the talk, I got the impression that the narrow option in particular has the support of several players in the movement. In a follow-up meetup on the next day, there were a few people who wanted to know more. One question that came up is whether a MediaWiki organisation could also serve as a software developing partner for other Affiliates, such as small chapters. This is an idea we have to think about.

This has been a difficult half a year for the Foundation. I would have loved to see a little bit more of analysis at the conference how it came to the recent leadership crisis. This would have helped in finding ways to prevent such a thing in the future. However, it was inspiring to see how everyone at the conference was constructive and forward-looking. In general, I have the impression that we see a new attitude towards Affiliates and Community. The word "serve" has been used several times in this context. Katherine Maher (interim ED) conveys a sense of conversation on a par with everyone. The Program Capacity among others shows the Foundation is willing to take on its responsibility for the wider movement as a partner. This is definitely the right course. Let's hope they, and we all in the Affiliate world, can keep this up.