[WMCEE-l] Some toughs about the scope, selection of participants and official language of the CEE Meetings.

Tomasz Ganicz polimerek at gmail.com
Fri Sep 29 23:59:37 CEST 2017

As I promised during the final session on CEE Meeting, below some of my
thoughts regarding 3 key issues: scope of the conference and selection of
participants. This is rather long, so if you have no time to read all my
story go to the bottom of the message and read summary.

*A)     SCOPE*

*Geographic:* We are rather in general agreement that the conference is for
Wikimedia communities from widely understood CEE countries (i.e. Central
and Eastern Europe + central Asian countries formerly being a Soviet Union
republics).  So, the northern border seems to be somewhere near Northern
Pole, the Southern – the shores of Mediterranean and Black Seas, and then
southern border of former Soviet Union, the Western border being the former
“Iron Wall” + former Yugoslavia and current Austria, and the eastern –
shores of the northern Pacific. Roughly 1/3 of the globe and around 1/10 th
of the globe population. *Target/thematic scope:* This is quite an issue –
originally the target of the conference was to support and encourage
regional cooperation and sharing experiences – therefore it was rather
meant not for (sorry for being not political correct) “general wikimedians
crowd” but for most devoted members of the communities – so it is rather
like regional Berlin Wikimedia Conference (executive meeting) than regional
Wikimania (open for all maniacs about Wikimedia projects fun-style
meeting). But – in fact – and in practice – CEE Meeting is much less rigid
and much more inclusive than Berlin Conference, and also covers
“non-executive” topics and even “hackathon-style” topics.  I think – for
the future we must finally decide – what do we want? It seems that pure “
only executive meeting” won’t be satisfactory for our needs and
expectations – but we don’t want to make it as open and wide as Wikimania,
still keeping this rather an internal Wikimedia meeting – which means that
we are not going to open it for people not being a members of Wikimedia
movement. If it is what we want – it means that we will end up with a mix
of executive meeting + local hackathon and general Wikimedia
movement/projects related topics. So I suggest to define *CEE Meeting as a
conference for local part of Wikimedia Movement during which all Wikimedia
related topics are generally allowed.*


*Participants:* If we agree for the above definition of the scope – there
is an issue *how to properly select the best participants for the meeting*.
For sure we want to have as much diversity as possible – i.e representation
of as many as possible languages/countries, but also the issue is to have
participant which can contribute and benefit from the meeting as much as

The former tradition was simply to have 2 representative from each chapter
and if there was no chapter – 2 representatives of local language/country
related editors communities, roughly one per each country + some invited,
external experts to provide the useful knowledge and share experiences with
regional representatives.  However, nowadays - mainly due to creation of
many usergroups and affiliated organizations not being the chapters – the
situation is more complicated. During organization of CEE Meeting 2017 – we
had to cope with this making sometimes arbitrary decisions based on our own
feelings whom to accept as a scholars and whom not. *These wide territories
called by us CEE are at the moment inhabited by (as I calculated) 37
recognized larger communities of which most have their incarnations in a
form of chapters or usergroups, but there are still some not represented by
any formal entity at all or  *having usergroups but not yet officially
recognized by AffCom. Therefor it is really hard to make a complete list of
all potential entities and communities which are allowed to send 2
scholars. Moreover – these 2 scholars rule – excludes sometimes important
for the region people, who finished their terms in local boards or are not
directly linked with them although doing many good things on international
Wikimedia level. This year we managed to “smuggle” some of them as invited
speakers or by using unused ones by chapters/UG  – but for longer the issue
should be somehow resolved in less arbitrary and more transparent way.

So my suggestion is to (assuming that WMF agrees to donate 80 scholarships:)

*Change the 2 representatives per community rule to 1 representative only*
– so there will be around 40 scholarships for which people will be selected
by local communities/entities – this should be enough to provide good
diversity and representation of region

*The 10 scholarships might be designated to invited experts* outside the
CEE region  selected by program committee

*The remaining 30 scholarships should be given by a scholarship
committee *(this
role might be played by program committee as well) – based on announced
rules and analysis of the received applications to people preferentially
from  CEE region, but not necessarily only from the region.

Finally all local communities still will still be allowed to have more
participants to the conference (say – up to 4 per language/country) on
their own expense.


Finally – I want to suggest something probably very controversial – but I
think worth consider. This year and also several previous meetings were
attended by quite a number of people able to speak Russian much better than
English. There were at least several attendants who do not speak English to
the level that let the fully participate in the Meetings.  Moreover – as
the participants are somehow selected by their communities taking into
consideration that they should rather speak English well – we are losing
many important voices from the region. Actually – Russian – is the lingua
franca of quite substantial part of CEE communities. This year I saw the
situations that the group consisting of Armenians, Belarussians, Ukrainians
and Albanians – switched during the coffee break to Russian – as for all of
them it was easier to communicate in that language than in English. I know
that using Russian in the region – is somehow political (non)correctness
issue, but I believe that for better understanding of each other – we might
overcome those political superstitions and be more practical.  *Therefore –
I suggest to make Russian – the second official language of the Meetings
and designate some money in the grant proposal for professional
simultaneous translation of at least one track of the conference in both
ways (English to Russian and Russian to English). *


I suggest to define the scope of CEE Meeting as a conference for local part
of Wikimedia Movement during which all Wikimedia related topics are
generally allowed.

I suggest to change/define the method of scholarship selection for Meeting
as such (assuming having 80 of them): only one scholarship per
community/affiliate/UG for persons selected by these groups (around 40); 10
scholarships for experts from outside the region to be selected by program
committee; 30 scholarships for people from CEE region to be selected by
scholarship committee.

I suggest to make Russian the second official language of the Meetings and
designate some money in grant proposal for professional simultaneous
translation of at least one track of the conference.

Tomek "Polimerek" Ganicz
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