Virtual Wikimania 2021: a Welcoming space

A big part of Wikimania is getting to enjoy the small interactions, hallway conversations, group meetings, and impromptu meetups, in addition to the formal conference program. This all happens organically when we meet face-to-face. 

The Core Organizing Team wants participants to get the full Wikimania experience, even though the event will be taking place online. To do this, we will be using a variety of technological solutions in all stages of the event – from registration, to translations, to actual participation at the event. In choosing the platforms we had to balance our desire – as organisers – to prioritise and use free and open source software with the need to ensure a safe, welcoming and easy to use platform or venue. Where we could not use free and open source software we have taken steps to protect your privacy and data by negotiating bespoke arrangements. All these platforms have been used by the movement before

Where will Wikimania take place?

Together, we chose a platform with all of the functionalities required to make this event as fun, lively and informative as possible. We took into consideration needs around audio and video, chat, Q&A, polling, whiteboards, tech support, and presentation functions. At the same time ensuring we can support multilingual participation. All of this while creating a safe environment through straightforward enforcement of the Friendly Space Policy (FSP). 

The platform we are using as the virtual event platform is called Remo. Wikimania will be the second time the Wikimedia movement has used it. The first being the 2020 Hackathon, when it worked well and received favorable reviews from participants. Remo is a Virtual Event Platform that enables participants to be fully immersed in the event. 

Watch this short overview video to get an idea of how Remo works. If you participate in Wikimania through Remo, please also review their User Terms of Services, Privacy Policy and Data Protection Addendum.

The Wikimania team will be hosting Practice Events for a series of days prior to Wikimania! We encourage you to come to these days to get familiar with the Remo platform, ask questions or just hang out!

What are we doing to protect your privacy?

We use third-party service providers and contractors to help run Wikimania and ensure the event is accessible for you and other participants. We have provided links to the terms of use and privacy policies of each of these services for you to review; the links can be found throughout this post and in the summary at the end. We also put requirements in place to help ensure that these service providers protect and handle personal information with care. For example, we have worked with Remo to minimize access to participant data.

Will I be recorded?

Event participants will not be recorded. Only speakers and co-presenters will be recorded when they are presenting on the virtual stage. The recordings and content will be uploaded to Commons after the event for parts of our movement unable to join the event.

Why do you need to register for a free event?

Traditionally, Wikimania has charged fees to partially cover conference expenses. As this year will be virtual, we want to expand the event to be attended by anyone from our movement who wants to and have made it free.

However, as part of our coordinated effort to keep Wikimania safe and enjoyable for everyone, we need attendees to register ahead of time. This will help us carry out the Friendly Space Policy and ensure that Wikimania serves those of us who have come to enjoy, learn and connect with other Wikimedians. 

Eventbrite (which has been used for past Wikimanias over several years) is being used again to support the registration of attendees to the event. Eventbrite commits to not selling data on to third-parties and whilst they do market to users you can close your account after the event to have it deleted or opt- out of email marketing. Here is our privacy statement on how we handle the data collected through registration.

Have you registered for Wikimania yet? If not, please do so in advance of the event!

Why are we using YouTube? 

The collective thinking was framed around language and platform accessibility, and a potential learning curve for participants in using the technology solutions for Wikimania. 

We have been thinking about how to make sessions accessible for folks that don’t live in areas with the appropriate connectivity infrastructure for a virtual event. It was also really important to consider language accessibility by providing subtitles and closed captions for participants. 

YouTube is quite popular and is accessible for most folks, in most countries, and has so many functions that are useful for the accessibility of Wikimania. For example, YouTube’s infrastructure provides best looking video quality at the lowest bandwidth possible. This sentiment is shared across geographies, communities and volunteers. 

In addition to the above, we are able to leverage the captioning capabilities of YouTube. These capabilities include the option to have multilingual captions as described above! Youtube is routinely used by parts of our movement already.

You can review YouTube’s Terms of Service and Google’s Privacy Policy

How are we providing audio translations?

We will be using Interactio – an audio translation vendor specializing in virtual events for our translations. They limit their translation to Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI), which means they do not store any information related to their translations. Interactio will only have access to de-identified data in order to see how many people accessed their translations and in what languages. You can review Interactio’s Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy if you would like more information.

What about Wikimedia Commons?

All sessions will be archived and will be made available on Wikimedia Commons! We are planning to have all our sessions archived and ready for everyone to watch back by mid-September. For this, we do need support from our community to make this possible and cannot do it without you!

If you would like to assist with the archiving of Wikimania sessions on Commons, we are looking for volunteers. Please submit your interest on the Wikimania wiki.

So, to sum up the technical solutions

  1. Remo – This is the Virtual Event Platform that will be used from the 14th – 17th of August. Registered event participants will receive specific access information via email prior to the event. Here are Remo’s User Terms of Services, Privacy Policy and Data Protection Addendum.
  2. Eventbrite – To get access to Remo you need to register. Eventbrite will be used for registration for Wikimania 2021. Register today! Here is our registration privacy statement.
  3. Jitsi (Hackathon only) – Jitsi will be used for the Hackathon on the 13th of August 2021. Registration for the Hackathon is on the Wikimania wiki. Here are Jitsi’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
  4. YouTube – If you are experiencing technical difficulties with Remo during the event days, you will be able to still view sessions using a Youtube link. Here are YouTube’s Terms of Service and Google’s Privacy Policy
  5. Interactio – audio translation service for the seven languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian and Spanish. Here are Interactio’s Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  6. Wikimedia Commons  – Commons will be used for archiving all of the sessions that took place. If a track is translated to the supported event languages, they will be on Commons as well.
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Event participants will not be recorded. Only speakers and co-presenters will be recorded when they are presenting on the virtual stage.

Is this true for sessions that involve Q&A portions? If so, how will those be captured in the recordings?

Hey @GorillaWarfare, good question. The Q&A portions will only be facilitated through text. Each session will have an etherpad associated and volunteers will be helping to monitor the chat and Q&A in Remo.