WikiCon 2013 in Karlsruhe: rushing from session to session

From 22 to 24 November 2013, the German-speaking Wikimedians were invited to South Germany’s minor metropole Karlsruhe. Under the denominator “WikiCon” people (finally) met offline, exchanged ideas, and left with a lot of tasks for the nearby future. Sue Gardner called Wikimania a place for practitioners, well, that’s exactly what WikiCon is all about. Seeing it, who could ever complain about a lack of cooperation between the Germanophone Wikimedia organizations?

A little more than 200 participants came together at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, with a surprisingly weak wi-fi. My contributions were an “Entzücklopädischer Abend”, a kind of late night show; a lecture about wiki theory (called “Popular myths about Wikipedia”, to attract some listeners); an introduction to the wiki:team session; and I have been asked to lead a discussion about the so-called “Botpedia”, the mass creation of Wikipedia articles with bots (automatic programmes).

Most memorable: the presentation of two KIT collaborators about academic writing for the technical student. Students of the sciences and mathematics don’t like writing or even reading, he KIT writing trainers said, and probably they have chosen those subjects so that they never have to write again. Then, when the final thesis approaches, they see themselves in big trouble. I learned about different writing styles in different disciplines and will try to keep that in mind when I meet a different taste in Wikipedia.

A team of volunteers has taken over the responsibility just a few months before, and we are all very grateful. We do ask to consider putting more time into the timetable of the next WikiCon to get from session to another.

Germans explaining wikis and Wikipedia: the wiki:team blog

In summer 2013, a group of Referenten (advisors, speakers) started the wiki:team. The origins are the Referenten network of Wikimedia Deutschland, established in 2010. The German association of the Wikimedia movement decided in early 2013 not to go on with the original concept but to support in a suitable way an independent group of Referenten.

If you represent an educational institution, say, a school or university or study association, you can hire a speaker or lecturer or trainer who explains about wikis, Wikipedia or media literacy.

And since December, the wiki:team has also a blog. We want to tell about our work and give some advice about our subjects.

WCA in Hong Kong: invitation to the Wikimedia Organisations Seminar

On the two days of the Wikimania preconference, the WCA offers a Wikimedia Organisations Seminar (WCA WOS). We Bildwelcome everyone, whether he or she is already active in a Wikimedia organisation, or wants to become active.

The WCA is the Wikimedia Chapters Association. In spite of its name, the Association is open for all Wikimedia organisations: chapters, thematic organisations and user groups.

What we learn here:

  • who is active in organisations
  • how organisations manage themselves
  • what the WCA is and could be in future
  • how we can help each other

Among the panelists are Jon Davies, director of Wikimedia UK,  Anasuya Sengupta of the Wikimedia Foundation and James Heilman from the Wiki Med Project. The topics: the role of money, the structure of the movement, and: who is the boss in a Wikimedia chapter?

Wikimedia Conferentie Nederland 2012 with ‘father of Wikipedia’

Jimmy Wales (Sebastiaan ter Burg CC-BY)
Jimmy Wales (Sebastiaan ter Burg CC-BY)

On Friday, November 9th 2012, the Wikimedians in the Netherlands held their Wikimedia Conferentie Nederland. Since 2006 we have established a small tradition, with pauses in 2009 and 2010. Imagine a day with keynotes, three tracks with sessions for different target groups, good food and a ‘borrel’ at the end of the day (as the Dutch call it to stand with each other and enjoy some beverages).

Several times we tried it, but this time Jimmy Wales actually could come and impress us with news and inspirations about Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement. People were really enthusiast. The ‘father of Wikipedia’, as a Dutch newspaper called him, said that he don’t know whether there will be ever again a Wikipedia blackout against legislatation, such as in January with the anti SOPA action. We must be careful, he said, we are no political organization. But we must take action against laws that limit the access to knowledge.

The other keynote was on WikiData, by Lydia Pintscher. WikiData is the next big thing in the movement, and every Wikipedian should learn more about. It is a new website for data, to be stored and administered centrally on one wiki.

Usually on a Saturday, we hoped that Jimmy Wales could attract a lot of people and compensate the Friday, a normal work day. We may have been too optimistic aiming for 150 people, but the actual 110 participants are perfectly in line with the previous years. The organization was eventually more relaxed than before, because WMNL has now a mixture of volunteers and professionals bringing the association forward.


Witty remarks from Daniel Kinzler (WMDE) in the Wikimania presentation ‘Let’s talk about Wikidata and what it means for you’:

‘Self-evident is a valid source.’

‘Anyone can glue science to walls.’

But all kidding aside, I am afraid that the process of creating Wikidata is difficult to follow for non technical persons. I wonder how the community will deal with that.


Wikimedia Chapters Association: redefining the ‘we’

In Berlin, now some months ago, representatives of the national Wikimedia chapters decided to establish a new organization: the Wikimedia Chapters Association. A team with Israeli chapter president Tomer Ashur is preparing the organization, and some chapters have already selected its Council Member. In mid June, the board of Wikimedia Nederland nominated me for the following two years.

In general, we all in the Wikimedia movement prefer to see the larger picture, to include rather than to exclude. We are doing great things, and we together try to improve what was to be improved. But in the last few years the different entities in the movement understand more and more that they have different roles with slightly different responsibilities.

When I say ‘we’, it usually responds to the whole movement, but sometimes it can also mean: ‘we, members of Wikimedia Nederland’. Sometimes it is ‘we, the national chapters’, in contrast to volonteers and personnel of the Wikimedia Foundation. This is natural and a good sign for a healthy development and differentiation. It does not necessarily mean that there have to be hostilities between the entities, we can agree to disagree, and if we/we/we don’t succeed with our opinion this time, we may the next time.

The WCA creates a new ‘we’. At least partially, because not all chapters will join it immediately. Or, it even creates several ‘we’s. We, the members of chapters (collected by the WCA); we, those with positions in the chapters; we, the members of the WCA Council…

In Washington, we will try to bring the movement and the WCA forward. Chapters need support, chapters need representation within the movement. This is our commitment.