Wikimania/2019 report

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Wikimania 2019 took place at the University of Stockholm.


The topic of Wikimania was the 17 sustainable developmental goals defined by the UN (examples: gender equity, health and well-being, sustainable cities…). The Wikimedian projects are relatable concerning these 17 goals and attendees were invited to share one of their experience about these goals and their activities on a special page (link).

Last year I mainly attended the sessions about the gender gap during the main conferences. This year, there were still too many choices of sessions and topics, so I decided to mainly focus on the sessions about Growth community, Safety, Diversity & mental health – both my new personal topics of interest right now and topics which be very useful for the Belgian chapter.

I attended some sessions about Community Growth the first day. It was the opportunity to learn more about the new tools for newbies and the initiatives lead in other projects and countries to recruit more editors and increase the retention rate of our activities and initiatives. (for more information about these sessions, please use the talk page for asking)

One session showed a new tool for newbies used in some languages Wikipedias. This gadget lead the newbie through several step (from registration, logging, creating their user page, doing their first edit, viewing the impact of their edits) and can also provide help (automatic help by suggesting help pages in context or helpd deask or provide human help). It improved the retention rate, and could be displayed on several wikipedias.

The staff of the Foundation also introduced the new Wikimedia space ( Wikimedia Space is a new platform designed to be both a blog and a forum for Wikimedians. It allows to gather discussions on the same platform rather on several projects where talks are lead in parallel with no exchange. The Wikimedia Space allows to create discussion spaces by communities, by countries, for user groups, theme… Most of these spaces are open to everyone. It is also possible to create closed groups. The Wikimedia space is designed to be a safe space and applies the Friendly Space policy. WikiFranca asked for creating a forum to talk about the movement, WikiFranca’s events and activities, experience exchanges between volunteers (now here… I thought this would be a good opportunity for the Belgian community to invest this space for cross wiki discussions for example.

I was very interested in learning more about safety around the projects: how the Trust and Safety Team work, which recommendations of safety they may have, what are the options to make the projects safer... I really appreciated the rules of the Safety sessions: no photography, no recording, and use Chatham’s house rules (do not report: who said what, to avoid too sensitive topics and detailed clues that would allow to identify the involved persons). This really allows people to talk more and with more confidence about their own experiences and the struggles they faced on the online or offline Wikimedian projects. The definition of “safety” varies depending on people, context and backgrounds, but we agree that being safe within the projects at least means not being harassed, and being able to discuss in respect of each other even when the perspectives are different.

A very interesting session reported that most of the Wikimedian projects do not have safety guidelines or policy. This is a risk for the long-term of the projects: more the time goes, greater is the risk of a problem of safety happens. That’s why a collaborative work could be done about a code of conduct which apply on the projects. This works also has many challenges: this “universal code of conduct” should apply for different cultural backgrounds and has to takes it into account, such as the legal context, the process to follow (how to review it, which form it will take…). This is an ongoing project lead by both volunteers and the Foundation.

For the two other sessions, one was about mental health and the other one about the Trust and Safety team work. The first one broached about dealing with mental health within the projects, as a contributor with mental health issues (for example, C-PTSD, depression, autism spectrum disorder…) or without this issue (how to react when somebody has a bad behavior; is that a consequence of a bad day, or a mental health issue/condition?). The sensitive and delicate balance of which conduct adopt as a contributor or as a person dealing with a bad behavior perpetrated by a contributor with mental health issues/condition was broached, as well as how to deal with a contributor with a mental health issue who hurt people with other sensitive background and maybe mental health issue too, which can make the things more difficult again – and solving this kind of case is still a delicate balance where no solution seems to be a good one.

This question naturally leads to another one: how the Trust and Safety team works. This sessions really leads me to a better understanding of the Trust and Safety Team. Most of their job is about evaluation. Their aim is to react by providing provide community and internal support, and resources to the contributor in need, through meta pages (examples). In case of serious problem, the Trust and Safety Team can take several types of actions: primary actions (such as global ban event, child protection), secondary actions (conduct warning, interaction ban, removal of advanced rights) and use of advanced right (checkuser, specially in case of emergency, protection page, but not for content page, and range blocks). These last measures are rarely used. They need between 1 month to 2 years to study and take decisions about a case. However they face several problems: most of the community members don’t know who they have to contact in case of problem, and the delay to deal many cases is very long, and can cause severe mental health issues for the persons involved and a loss of good volunteers in the meanwhile. They underline that they are only a little team, have to do many thing and that the support for contributors online is unsufficiant and the creation of a special committee may help. I also attended some sessions about the gendergap and other diversity issues.

I attended some informal meetups at Wikimania, such as WikiFranca meetup and autistic meetup that I organized. We talked about the future of Wikifranca as organization and perspectives. I was present as a simple volunteer and referent for Wikifranca in Belgium. We also talked about the next French Wikiconventions. I had some informal talks about the coming Wikiconvention and the Belgian chapter. I also had the opportunity to meet some members and board members of WMNL, including the Dutch chairman of WMNL, and I talked with Berry van de Wouw, former Dutch teacher in French. I also helped a French wiktionnarist (Lyokoï) to meet him at the end of Wikimania. I also met someone during the poster session who talked me about similarities between autism and ADHD. I organized an autistic meetup, but a bit lastely. Only 6 people attended and several persons told me they would have liked to be there (but were at the Wikidata meetup instead) but it shows there is a growing interest for mental health and autism topics within the movement. I think that will become bigger and bigger in the coming years.

[TL:TR] What I did at Wikimania :

  • Attending:
    • Community growth session
    • Safety session: learning the principles of "safety", where are located the resources about this topics, the work of the Trust and Safety Team and the struggles they may have, more about the codes of conducts on the projects
    • Diversity session (including gender and issues)
  • Participating:
    • By presenting a poster during the poster session
    • By organizing an autistic meetup
  • Meet:
    • Mainly French speaking people that I hadn't met for a long time, but also people from other places
    • WikiFranca meetup and discussion about the Wikiconvention 2019
    • WMNL board members, members and staff

What I bring back from this Wikimania:

  • more leads to organize and supervise Wikimedien events in a safer way for everyone but specially for people who have to stand systemic oppression everyday of their lives;
  • knowledge:
    • about new ideas both from the community and the Foundation to improve the accessibility of the projects for new users;
    • about safety both online and offline;
    • about the activities lead in the community;
  • feeling that I belong to a community because we are almost all passionnate about what we do; we also know these projects are changing the way we see the knowledge;
  • motivation because Wikimania showed me a lot of initiatives from the people of our community, a lot of people really want to make the thing better and better as I do;
  • hope because I really expect that projects become more inclusive toward women and people from minorities (LGBT+, black people, neuroatypical people, disabled people...), but that also means that everyone in our community has to educate themself in order to better understand others (and that is not an only wikimedia-related stuff, but a path for everyday and being aware of their own provileges).
  • fatigue because this is a huge event with many people and it's sometimes difficult to stand it

What I've already used or done, one month after Wikimania:

  • tips about how to make an event safer and being part of a trust and safety team for an international event (French Wikiconvention), raisong awareness by introducing and reminding the local Friendly space policy;
  • Wikimedia space by creating a cross-wiki and multilingual forum for the Belgian community on the (new) Wikimedia Space introduced during Wikimania (
  • and I was very busy due to the Wikiconvention in Brussels :)