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

Mykola Kozlenko mycola-k at ukr.net
Sat Sep 30 22:22:34 CEST 2017


I will comment on it as the discussion already started here.

1. Underrepresented communities. From the experience of past years, few countries are almost completely missing: Lithuania (quite absent offline but somewhat active online), Slovenia (same as Lithuania), Bosnia (Bosnian language community, while Serbian-language community is more active), Cyprus (only few people active) and Montenegro (no signs of any active community), with Romania, Croatia and Kazakhstan semi-active. Plus some minority languages for which we never made any serious outreach.

2. I think that it is important to keep at least 2 scholarships for smaller communities. The fact that these communities are small means that they are unable to provide scholarships to their members like bigger chapters (WMPL, WMEE etc.) do. Giving only one scholarship make these communities quite dependent on one person (having one leader is not always obvious, it might cause severe conflicts if people disagree with this leader or, on the contrary, may create a strong dependence if people lead this leader decide on anything international).

3. I think that there are more disadvantages than advantages of this. People able to make synchronised translations of Wikimedia terms may be extremely hard to find: we need them to be highly proficient in Russian (pretty easy to find in, say, Armenia, but hardly available, say, in Greece) and not to make mistakes with Wikimedia terms (WMF tried hiring non-Wikimedia translators, they failed to translate even simple Wikimedia terms like "chapter" and wrote translations that were rather hard to understand). This is unlikely to be beneficial to more than a dozen of people (those who speak Russian better than English, given the CEE demography there are no more than 5 countries with such situation), but this is likely to frustrate more than a dozen (those who don't speak Russian or associate it with not that happy Communist past of the region). And well, I am a bit surprised to hear about Albanians who prefer Russian to English, this seems very uncommon. Having met CEE people at a number of event, I recall meeting just a couple of people who were not from Russia AND preferred speaking Russian to speaking English. I think we should carefully evaluate if there is a significant need for such translation.

Best regards,
Mykola (NickK)
Wikimedia Ukraine

--- Оригінальне повідомлення ---
Від кого: "Samat" <samat78 at gmail.com>
Дата: 30 вересня 2017, 20:39:14

Dear Tomasz,

Thank you for your detailed review of the situation and recommendations for the future. I found them very useful and constructive.

Basically, I can agree with you proposal. I have only a few additional thoughts:

* We could count the communities (existing Wikimedia language communities and countries) in the CEE region, and I would recommend to make a list of all potential participant. Would be nice to see the actual coverage of CEE conference, and which communities we "left out" until now.

* I would recommend to consider limiting the number of externally (for example by chapters) or self-funded participants as well, because of organizational and balance reasons. For example to additional two people per community.
* I understand your idea for the Russian as second official language, it sounds reasonable. But I am personally a little bit worried about it. I am the last generation who (obligatory) "studied" Russian language in Hungary (without any success), people only 1 year younger than me didn't do. I know only very few active Hungarian Wikipedians, who can communicate in Russian language. I am afraid, the professional simultaneous translation makes the conferences costly, the presentations (with translation) will be harder to follow and question&answer parts will be longer/harder. But I can accept this solution if there would be consensus about it.

Best regards,

Tamás / Samat

On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 11:59 PM, Tomasz Ganicz <polimerek at gmail.com> wrote:
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 possible.

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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