WikiCon 2023 in Austria – 3 days, 75 sessions and more than 300 Wikipedians

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Three conference days, 75 sessions in the main programme and a host of offerings in the supplementary programme: That was the essence of WikiCon 2023, which took place from 29 September to 1 October in Linz. Organised by a team of volunteers and supported by employees of Wikimedia Österreich and Wikimedia Deutschland, the event welcomed some 250 Wikipedians at Wissensturm in Linz as well as more than 80 participants online. The goal was to discuss the ongoing and future evolution of Wikipedia.

Chair of Wikimedia Österreich, lawyer Ulli Zeller: “We are particularly pleased that the first WikiCon in Austria in over ten years coincided with our association’s anniversary. This way, its 15th birthday turned into a big family event.” In addition, a host was found in the city of Linz that is recognized as one of Europe’s pioneers of open data and the digital commons through its Open Commons Initiative and that has nurtured a strategic partnership with WMAT for many years.

The conference kicked off in the Ars Electronica Center, a museum known as the “Museum of the Future”. This is where the stage was set for a weekend dedicated to the future of Wikipedia and of volunteering.

One of the core themes addressed at WikiCon was the role of volunteering and community for Wikipedia and its sister projects. Participants, including many active Wikipedia editors and interested parties, engaged in animated discussions about the role of artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and technology for Wikipedia. Quality assurance and the motivation for sustaining volunteer engagement in the Wikipedia community were the subject of thorough discussion.

The opening session “Wikipedia Future Congress 2024” took a bold look into the future of Wikipedia and underscored the necessity, in today’s times, to uphold the principles of community, of a neutral position, and of source verification, that are practiced in the project.

Participants in WikiCon also discussed the challenges and opportunities the Wikipedia community faces. They talked about the impact of AI, the recruitment of new authors, and the improvement of communication culture. Discussions also explored adjusting to the evolving search behaviour of young generations as well as safeguarding Wikipedia’s democratic character and community participation.

The weekend’s events culminated in the WikiOwls award ceremony, where particularly dedicated Wikipedians are honoured every year.

This year, Claudia Garad and Raimund Liebert from the head office of Wikimedia Österreich were both awarded “HonoraryOwls” in recognition of outstanding commitment. Heidrun Rosenberg, member of the WMAT’s Board for just over a year, was delighted to receive a “NewcomerOwl”. Upper Austrian community member Isiwal took home the “PhotoOwl”.

Participant testimonials

“It was my first time at a WikiCon ever, and I loved it! Now I’ve started sharing my enthusiasm with friends who weren’t there and hope to inspire more Wikipedians to join in future events.”

Dieter Zoubek

“Organisation this year was impressive. Lots of things started a bit earlier and ran more smoothly than in the past: active communication, an early call for helpers, proper helper instruction, a multifaceted supplementary programme, perfect support by external technicians. Add to this a great venue, excellent food, impeccable accommodation…”

Lars (User:Albinfo)

“The top-notch performance of this year’s organising team has certainly set a high bar for the next WikiCon organizing team. For this year, we would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed their efforts all throughout the past year. Last but not least, we also want to thank all the sponsors whose help was enlisted and who supported the event without prominent advertising banners. On top of all that, the catering also brilliantly showcased Austria and its cuisine.”


“A very special thanks to the team that made hybrid participation possible for me by providing a streaming option. Specifically, sound quality was excellent. The contributions to the discussion were clearly understood via the handheld microphones that were passed around to the discussion participants in the audience.”


“While what will be remembered about Linz certainly includes the venue, the splendid view, the quality of the technical facilities, and more, it’s also the rich programme that enhanced the overall impression. I don’t think I’ve ever participated in so many sessions.”


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