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What did you think of your Wikimania experience? What should be different next time?

Sessions

  • Many of the presentations didn't have descriptive titles (ei "A tale of two wikis"), so from the program grid, it was hard to tell which ones were of interest. Ike9898 17:16, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
    • Having copies of the abstracts would be even better for deciding which sessions to attend.--71.81.70.212 01:45, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
      • N.B.: too late to be helpful (*sigh*), this is available for downloading here (.pdf format). phoebe 17:42, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
    • I'll try to make a better title next time. If there'd been room for the full one ("A Tale of Two Wikis: Techniques for building, managing and promoting collaborative communities") then it probably wouldn't have been a problem. :-) GreenReaper 20:36, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
  • The session on "Wikipedia and social roles" sounded interesting, but was far, far too technical. It was pitched for a specialist academic crowd, which we are obviously not. Presentations should at least have some words under six syllables. On the other hand, Angela's discussion session on Saturday was excellent. More of this sort of open discussion would be very good for next year. -- Sannse 11:38, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
    • I think that there was a high proportion of academics and similar types in attendance, so in my perspective, these types of presentations were appropriate. Ike9898 13:17, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
      • Not from the comments on IRC during the talks, and the confused looks on many people's faces around the room. I have a background in biochemistry, and could have followed a talk on that at this level - being an academic doesn't mean you will understand the technical language of all disciplines. This was a mixed room, not a room of specialists in the subject of the talks. I think they need to be pitched for that... or at the very least, labelled as not suitable for a non-specialist in that subject.
  • Moderators need to be more strict about time-keeping, especially for the breakout sessions (not as important for the sessions where everyone is together anyway). It's not good to have to walk out of a session because it's over-run. -- Sannse 11:45, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
  • It would be nice if the half-length session were more formalised. If you were only interested in the first half session, it almost seemed rude to attend one session, then another half session in another room. A 5 minute break between sessions may have made it easier to change.
The information that was distributed seemed surprisingly sparse. Without wireless Internet to look up abstracts on site, I would've had no idea which sessions were relevant to me.
It seemed like when there were multiple sessions on the technical track, there were all held at the same time. It would better to distribute the tracks better, so people who are primarily interested in one track don't have as many conflicts. -Sanbeg 20:37, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Do you have a specific example of technical talks that were in conflict? we tried really hard to separate out the tracks, so I'm interested in what conflicted. Thanks! phoebe 17:42, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Conference Location

  • I suggested to Nichalp that the Wikipedians in India should attempt to host Wikimania there next year, bringing the conference to yet another continent & allowing this emerging technology power to shine. He seemed overwhelmed by the idea & claimed that the membership down there is too dispersed, but perhaps someone else from that country will be interested. -- Llywrch 17:01, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
  • I personally feel that Wikimania should not be held in around Silicon Valley. People living there get to be 'in the loop' constantly already. I'd suggest France or Poland with have the 3rd and 4th largest 'pedias in their language. Ike9898 18:47, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
  • I personally suggest that the next Wikimania Conference should be held in Tucson Arizona. Although some look to it as one of the smaller cities, it is actually the fastest growing city in the entire United States of America. It is a very open, liberal arts college town. The pleasant weather would also suit all times during the year for the conference.

Facilities

More and better instructions to get to "first contact" with wikimania. I spend an hour looking for someone that could get me settled. A "hotline" number that you can call for more information would be nice so that you can just scribble that number down, and use it if you are lost. Roadrunner 19:12, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. Erica did a fantastic job with registration and accomodations, but she was overwhelmed, and didn't get around to responding to my middle-of-the-night conundrum until Thursday, when I was already en route to Wikimania -- I therefore didn't know where to go when I got to Harvard and only found Pound Hall because I passed Jimbo on the street. More coordinating staff/volunteers, especially ahead of time, would be a great boon. Any maybe a public 24-hour "help" line? - Seth Ilys 03:28, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

I've never been to a conference that had so many power outlets in every room; that was a wonderful treat. The acoustics were also very good. But the air conditioning on Sunday was not. nep 18:35, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Lodging

Parties

  • I liked everything about the Saturday night party except that weak recorded music/visualization display by the back bar. And it was too freakin hot in there. Ike9898 18:45, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
  • I thought the music by the back bar was kind of annoying, but I was really pleased that the organizers hired Gifrants. Music aside, I thought the party was well planned. The pick of venue was good, and the "Web 1.0" design competition was fun / hilarious. --L33tminion 15:18, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Food

  • During the afternoon break it was great to have a snack setup, but alternates to brownies and cookies please. Fruit, or something dandy like that. You know, healthy stuff. JoeSmack 06:36, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
    • There were apples, I think. --L33tminion 15:19, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
  • The catering was excellent.
  • Actually, having been to many scientific conferences (mostly with more expensive registration) I was astonished with the food offered. Often you feel lucky if you get free coffee. Ike9898 13:04, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
  • I had no idea that lunch was going to be included. That was a nice surprise. -Sanbeg 20:45, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
  • I thought the food was fantastic and I was also surprised to see it there. No complaints from me.DAmanda
  • I agree with the posters above. Thumbs up. --L33tminion 15:19, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Wow. The food rocked. As a vegetarian, I was very pleasantly surprised! --Andicat 17:21, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Agreed with all of the above, however, the food accomodations weren't well-advertised on the website beforehand. Until I got there, I was under the impression that no meals were provided. - Seth Ilys 03:29, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
  • There was a lack of coffee (possibly because it was sponsored by coke, so that's all that was available a lot of the time). Angela 12:29, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Books

Perhaps I misperceive my fellow Wikipedians, but I believe that dispite all of the Web 2.0 hype & Internet buzzwords you won't find a group who love books more than us. So I was a little disappointed to find these two oversights (however I understand the volunteers doing the work can't think of/do everything):

  • No table at the conference selling books by Lessig, Benkler, & some of the other speakers we listened to. (I had to trudge down to the Harvard Coop to buy a copy of Benkler's book, & at least one other attendee expressed a desire to buy a copy.) Autographed copies for sale would have been a bonus.
  • The Widener Library, one of the great libraries currently in existence, is closed to everyone without a Harvard ID. At the very least, next time we are near such a storehouse of information please could we at least have a tour of the institution? -- Llywrch 17:01, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
  • our tour fell through. I am very sorry as well! phoebe 17:43, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Conference time of year

Miscellaneous

  • The names on the badges should be in a much bigger font, so that they can be read from a distance. Ike9898 17:18, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
    • Someone suggested to print both sides of the badges, they tend to flip over. And to print the first name even larger so that one can read that from yards away in less optimal (crowded) conditions. He had seen that at previous conferences. It is a minor detail but it means less slightly embarassing moments where people have to ask for a name that should be visible or perhaps even should be known but was lost in the contact overload. Of course people say their name when shaking hands, but with all accent and pronunciation differences it helps to be able to take a peek at the name card again.
      • It's standard procedur at BookCrossing conventions to have nametags showing user name, real name and home location (with a little flag) on the front, and a copy of the schedule on the back. Obviously you can't fit everything in, but times for session starts and main events can be included. Paper shedules get tucked away an lost. Skyring 10:34, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
  • We had the GNAA vandal hitting the wiki on Saturday evening. There were no admins around to tromp on his fingers and we had to make do with a scratch force recruited from the IRC channel. --Skyring 20:01, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
    • maybe there should be a way that registered attendees could edit partial protected pages, and use that liberally; and make sure there are enough admins. When I was chasing him around on Friday night, he did wind up getting blocked fairly quickly, but I had to guess who to talk to to find out what was going on there. -Sanbeg 20:42, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
  • An effort should be made to record every speaker in one way or another. Just attatch a recorder to the mic. For instance, I found Brad Patrick's shtick on legal issues facing Wikimedia incredibly helpful, but no archive exists. I think even video would be possible too; bringing personal video cameras are good enough quality for small groups, im sure some wikimanian's would be willing to carry that torch if no official capacity is possible.JoeSmack 14:37, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
    • And shouldn't the highest profile speakers be recorded in a relatively sophisticated manner? I wanted show the Larry Lessing video to some colleagues, but it was an unedited, shaky cam mess. Ike9898 16:02, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
      • N.B.: the professional videos of the keynotes will be uploaded (they aren't yet); check back at archives. phoebe 07:43, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
      • All of the speakers should be recorded in the same professional way. Don't get a hall without an audio system. Tell, don't ask, tell the speakers in the invitation that they will be recorded, the recordings will be distributed online in the following formats (and make sure that at least one of those formats is free, no more proprietary/encumbered-only embarassments), and distributed under the following license. This way people know what's up and the speakers have no room to complain when they get there if they don't want to be recorded. Record everything; turn the Wikimania into a single-track festival if you don't have enough equipment to do a good job everywhere. Yes, I am completely serious. --J.B. Nicholson-Owens (mail@digitalcitizen.info)
      • I uploaded the hand-shot H.264-compressed QuickTime-format improvisational Lessig video mainly to aid anyone creating transcripts or extracting audio, as a 'better than nothing' solution for people who had missed the live stream or who couldn't handle real format (my tripod was still in my luggage at the airport at that time). My belief (largely faith-based) is that in the halls (like Ames) where live video feeds were streamed, a video archive was also captured and will eventually be published, so my footage would mainly be useful as "B-Roll" material, for alternate P-O-V, snippets of favorite quotes, views of people in the audience, context, etc., and as a temporary placeholder for the 'real' video to follow. It's posted on blip.tv with a Creative Commons ShareAlike license to encourage others to use it to create whatever else might be useful. I'm working on geting the raw DV footage up at archive.org or collaborative video-editing services. An organized pool of volunteer capturers would do wonders to back up and outrun any official efforts, at this or any other conference. Raines Cohen, 11:42 10 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Templates like wiki type templates or blog type templates will likely be updated. Ever newer templates will be developed. What will be the next big template?... that will offer even better collaborative exchanges. Drawbacks in the current templates will be solved. What new templates are being developed now?...
    Don warner saklad
  • Last I looked (before the 2006 event), Wikimania was going to be webcast live exclusively in RealMedia, a proprietary format only readable with proprietary software. Looking at the archives, things are slightly better with a clear minority of files distributed in codecs and formats one can read on any platform with software one is free to share and modify (free software). But the majority of the files in the archive are in a patent-encumbered format (MP3) or a format employing a proprietary codec (QuickTime container, proprietary codec used for audio and video within). I thought that "Free Knowledge requires Free Software and Free File Formats" (see http://blog.jimmywales.com/index.php/archives/2004/10/21/free-knowledge-requires-free-software-and-free-file-formats/) and this is why Wikipedia favors Ogg Vorbis audio files and Ogg Theora+Vorbis video+audio files. Perhaps someone could help Wikimania return to webcasting in free codecs and archiving in free formats (offering proprietary and/or patent-encumbered alternatives as an option but never exclusively). http://wingolog.org/archives/2006/07/07/so-you-want-to-stream-a-conference seems apropos. (J.B. Nicholson-Owens -- http://www.digitalcitizen.info -- mail@digitalcitizen.info).
  • Please get someone who knows something about audio and video production. A friend of mine showed me some of the Lessig talk and this footage was embarrassing. It was shot by someone seated(!) in the middle or back of the room(!) by someone who doesn't know how to hold a camcorder steady. The introducer had no mic(!) and was barely audible above the din of the room. The previous Wikimania recordings were far better than this. What happened since last year?
    Are you saying that we should just ban people from doing their own videos of proceedings, and make people wait (several weeks, probably) for the official ones to be encoded and uploaded to Commons? I'm confused. Certainly, the unofficial Lessig footage is poor, yes, but that seems an odd reaction. James F. (talk)
    Perhaps there should be a note saying "come back in 2 weeks" - or even a link saying "email here to be notified when they're available". GreenReaper 20:41, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
    Relax, everyone should be able to record and distribute what they wish. Is it possible to get the people who did the previous Wikimania stuff to record the future Wikimania proceedings? Would it be possible to get microphones for the lecturers and record audio from those mics?
  • I added a "coming soon" note; if you think more is needed please add :) phoebe 17:46, 24 August 2006 (UTC)