Musings from my first Wikimania

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I attended Wikimania 2023 held in Singapore on August 16–19, 2023. Wikimania is an annual conference celebrating all the free knowledge projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. The conference, which is typically held in a different city each year, brings together hundreds of Wikimedians, volunteers, and champions of open and free knowledge from different corners of the world. Conference participants learn about and discuss new projects, share results, exchange ideas, and seek solutions to pressing issues.

Although I have been a Wikimedian for over ten years, Wikimania Singapore was my very first Wikimania. I was lucky to get a scholarship from the Wikimedia Foundation to attend it. The conference, which lasted for four days, was highly interesting, with numerous presentations, meetups, and a hackathon. I attended several presentations and workshops that I found interesting.

In addition, along with my husband Nataev, we gave a presentation about the WikiStipendiya edit-a-thon, which has been organized by the Youth Affairs Agency of the Republic of Uzbekistan in collaboration with the Wikimedians of the Uzbek Language User Group. The project has changed the Uzbek Wikipedia beyond recognition and has spawned a new generation of committed Wikimedians. We discussed the massive changes that have taken place in the Uzbek Wikipedia since the project was launched as well as some of the challenges we have faced, such as machine translation, editor burnout, and difficulties dealing with an influx of new contributors.

The conference was an unforgettable experience for me. In particular, the opening ceremony held on the first day of the conference left a lasting impression on me. We were told in advance that it has become a custom for conference participants to attend the opening ceremony fully and colorfully garbed in their national costumes. Therefore, my husband and I dressed up in our traditional outfits. Also, during the opening ceremony we had our picture taken with Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales.

This was my first time in Southeast Asia. Not only did we learn about all things wiki and make new friends, but we also explored beautiful places in Singapore. We found the city-state of Singapore the perfect balance of modernity and tradition, and green space and cityscape. We visited the National Gallery Singapore, went to the world-famous Gardens by the Bay, marveled at the lotus-shaped building of the ArtScience Museum, and explored the city’s green spaces.

The conference was even more memorable for us for another important event: on August 17, we celebrated my husband Nataev’s birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary. My husband is actually the one who got me hooked on wiki. He has been very supportive throughout my wiki journey over the years. I hope that we will be able to jointly participate in future Wikimanias and other international conferences.

I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of Wikimania Singapore. I cannot imagine how much time and effort they must have put into organizing such a big event with around 700 in-person attendees (and hundreds more joining virtually online). Special thanks for hosting the closing ceremony at Flower Field Hall inside the beautiful Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay! Among the organizers, I would like to thank Gisca Syalindri of the Wikimedia Foundation, who made the entire process very smooth for scholarship recipients.

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