Feedback from the Wikimedia Conference

The photo shows a man and a woman, both seated, having a conversation
Alice Wiegand and Patricio Llorente at the Wikimedia Conference

This post was written by Stuart Prior, Wikimedia UK Project Co-ordinator

Berlin, this year’s host city for the Wikimedia Conference, is full of sparrows. Which for me seem a strange and exotic bird these days given their sad and unexplained decline in the UK, but it’s another thing Germany still has that we seem to have lost here in the UK (along with efficient public transport and affordable housing!).

It certainly makes for a pleasant visit, and I was there to attend the annual gathering of the Wikimedia Foundation and Affiliate organisations, organised by Wikimedia Deutschland and held at the Tagesspiegel offices.

The three day event (with some pre-conference meetings) is designed for people starting, or already involved with established, Wikimedia Affiliate organisations, to meet and share knowledge and experiences about how best to facilitate the work of the movement. Over 50 organisations and countries were represented at the conference, from usergroups, thematic organisations and chapters.

I attended some great sessions on programme management, fundraising and events, though the programme covered finance, governance, volunteer support and various other activities that we all need to understand. But a lot of the benefit was meeting other affiliates and exploring ways we can help each other.

As an example, Wikimedia Netherlands has helped Wikimedia Poland with access to content on the Battle of Arnhem, which involved numerous Poles but which Poland itself has little record or artifacts from. This is just a hint of what cooperation can do, and something that the UK could really achieve in with our strong cultural institutions and diverse society.

Lila Tretikov, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, gave a talk about their strategic direction, emphasising the fact that the Foundation cannot achieve the goals of the movement on its own, and that local organisations like us are a valuable asset for effecting change on the ground.

Additionally, a lot of focus was given to follow up on the conference, and how momentum built can be carried on at Wikimania 2015. Ivan Martinez and Cornelius Kibelka gave a good presentation about just this.

I myself will be trying to carry on those conversations and expand those ideas in the coming months, and prevent this just being a weekend of ideas when it can be a starting point for actions.