Who cares about Wikimania 2014?

This blog post was guest written by Ed Saperia of the Wikimania 2014 organising team. Those of us who are a part of the … Continue reading “Who cares about Wikimania 2014?”

  • Stevie Benton
  • June 3, 2013

A logo for Wikimania 2014

This blog post was guest written by Ed Saperia of the Wikimania 2014 organising team.

Those of us who are a part of the Wikimedia movement already understand, as if by instinct, the value of the Wikimedia projects. It is not the millions of articles, nor the billions of pageviews, but the magical combination of ethos and platform that has allowed a deeper perspective on knowledge.

Now that our bid has been accepted and we’re going cap in hand to sponsors, we’ve been forced to think hard about how to communicate this value to the outside world. Our chosen theme for Wikimania 2014 is outreach, and it is fitting that it is exactly the same struggle that the movement is also facing in its outreach efforts – how can we make strangers see the value in what we are doing, and have them join us?

Every sponsor we approach asks “Who will come to Wikimania?” It’s a question that we (as a community) have always struggled to answer in the past, offering the evasive “Wikimedians”, which is no answer at all. In a change from previous years, our Wikimania has a public promotional element, and so in a way we get to choose. What groups of people do we want to attract, who don’t already consider themselves Wikimedians? People already interested in what we do, people with something to offer us back, people who will be inspired to become full blooded members of our movement.

We believe that understanding and correctly articulating who these people are is the key to not only our public marketing effort, but also our fundraising strategy. Corporations don’t sponsor because they’re kind, they sponsor to access particular audiences. That “Wikimedians” is not a recognised audience goes some way to explaining the failure of previous years to meet their targets. In order to succeed, we need to truly understand who we are.

We’ll put forward our thoughts in our keynote presentation at the WikiConference UK 2013, being held in Lincoln next weekend, where we’ll be launching this discussion on the brand new Wikimania 2014 wiki.

3 thoughts on “Who cares about Wikimania 2014?”

  1. Hi,

    As one of the people behind the EU/Brussels Representation project I was thinking of getting some EU lawmakers or bureaucrats to the event. I’d be willing to work with the organising team to make it happen.

    As a Wikimedian I am not against the idea of getting recognisable “speakers”, but I am also conflicted. Wikimania is a community event, a place for people who work year round behind their computers to meet each other. I would very much like to keep this focus. At the same time it can and should be an event that attracts new people to our mvoement. What would be important is that we don’t invite “speakers” but paticipants. Whoever comes must be as committed to learning about us as we should be interested in hearing about her/him. Getting names in order to attract sponsors on the other hand doesn’t sound too attractive to me. I’d prefer a more amateurish, grassroots conference than a sparkling line-up of people who come, speak and go.

    Anyway, just my two pennies.


  2. Hi Dimi,

    Great comments.

    1) Political representation would be interesting – I don’t know anything about this initiative and I’d love to discuss this with you further. Can you send me an email about it? edsaperia@gmail.com

    2) We are trying to allow for both by splitting the conference in half, with an area for newbies and an area for more seasoned wikimedians.

    3) The speakers we’re inviting are generally well known evangelists of the movement already. Notice in the above post I never mentioned speakers – I was primarily talking about delegates. Sponsors are just as concerned with the delegate demographic than the big names, if not more so. And the intention is to try and find groups of people with whom we already share a common language.

    4) Part of our plan is to organise community outreach events to these groups in the year running up to the conference, invite them to create content in collaboration with wikimedians, and then present what they’ve made together at the conference.

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