In late May, Wikimedia Ukraine held a two-day online event for administrators of Ukrainian Wikipedia and other Ukranian-language Wikimedia projects. A first-ever event of its kind for the Ukrainian community, the forum helped both develop the community’s technical capacity and provide a platform for discussing how to improve admins’ productivity and performance. In this post, we’ll share how we held the event & what’s next.
Why a separate forum for Wikipedia admins?
Narrowly defined, Wikipedia administrators are “editors who have been granted the technical ability to perform certain special actions”. In a wider sense, they are a group of volunteers with broad experience in working in the community and extended technical rights, entrusted with running important aspects of Wikipedia maintenance.
There’re over 40 admins on Ukrainian Wikipedia and several sysops in each of the Ukrainian-language sister communities. They often face unique challenges in their work; one of them, for example, at the very start of their work – when admins are granted the rights, they don’t have access to any standardized onboarding. Аn ongoing need to share their experiences, discuss common problems and acquire additional practical skills brought us to holding a separate event for these volunteers.
This idea was in the air for some time, and it got crystallized at the online Wikiconference which Wikimedia Ukraine held in December 2020. We had German AdminConvention as inspiration, though our forum ended up looking considerably different.
Wikimedia Ukraine took it upon itself to organize the event, in line with our strategic goal to “[reach a] motivated, informed, active, responsible and skilled community which acts effectively and cohesively for sharing and popularizing free knowledge” by “organizing training sessions for specific skills” and “holding events for sharing experience between editors”.
Importantly, while Wikimedia projects’ admins were the primary audience for the event, it was open to all active editors upon prior registration. So, the event’s other goal was to “open up the curtains” a bit, allowing non-admins to get more insights into admin work and pitch in their perspective.
How we organized the forum – and what was covered by the program
The forum took place on May 29th–30th as a two-day online event with a few sessions per day.
To spread the word before the event, we published an announcement on the local village pump and various offwiki channels, as well as used MassMessage to invite every administrator on their talk page. Every participant could propose a topic to present.
As a result, nearly 20 people took part in the forum in real time. Recordings are available privately to admins and other editors who’ve requested them; it’s difficult to know for certain the number of users who’ve made use of them, but anecdotally we’ve seen strong interest among admins who couldn’t make it to the event.
The event was facilitated by Wikimedia Ukraine’s Program Coordinator, who is also a Wikipedia administrator in volunteer capacity. Eight people delivered presentations or moderated specific discussions.
The program included nine sessions, including one round of lightning talks. The topics covered include:
- the role of wikiprojects’ administrators – perception, rights and responsibilities;
- how to communicate about Wikipedia with the media;
- how to work with newbies;
- how to solve conflicts – and what’s the role of admins here;
- how to resolve the problem of maintenance backlog more effectively;
- how to counter edit wars;
- technical lifehacks for admins.
Results and plans for the future
One of the forum’s goals has already been achieved – it helped boost some key volunteers’ skills and awareness of admin work. In the post-forum survey, many participants noted a “calm” and “positive” atmosphere of the event and said the sessions on technical skills were most useful to them.
More follow-up work is planned for the remainder of 2021. First, the organizers have tried to capture potential action items identified at this forum, inviting the participants to expand the list. We’ve yet to see whether and how they get implemented in the long term.
Second, some of the forum’s participants stressed the importance of holding events of such kind regularly. Although we are not sure of the format yet (for example, it might make sense to do shorter standalone events instead of a big forum), we will try to organize more events targeted at Wikipedia administrators and other groups of Wikimedia volunteers.
- Versions of this article have previously been published on Wikimedia Ukraine’s blog & as Wikimedia Ukraine’s program story for its grant report. Credits for both texts: Anton Protsiuk, CC BY-SA 4.0