Navigating Wikimedia ESEAP’s Voyage Towards Collaboration Beyond the Horizon

Translate this post

In the vast Wikimedia ecosystem, where knowledge and innovation intertwine, the Wikimedia ESEAP Regional Cooperation emerges as a testament to the collective quest for free and open collaboration. This group, a mosaic of cultures from East, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, is on a voyage to forge a unified front as a Wikimedia Regional Hub.

Charting a course from its humble beginnings to its current triumphs, ESEAP has weathered the storms of challenge, seizing moments of opportunity to chart a course toward progress. Its narrative is one of unwavering dedication to the democratization of knowledge, a narrative that demonstrates the strength found in unity.

We delve into its storied past, acknowledge the achievements of its present, and face the trials that fortify its purpose. We survey the horizons of potential, where aspirations for the future are planted with the intent of flourishing and the hope of establishing a essential node in the Wikimedia network of volunteers.

This narrative journey, where each segment honors the resilience of the collective endeavor resonates ESEAP’s dedication to the collective sum of human knowledge.

The Wikimedia East, South East Asia and the Pacific Regional Cooperation (ESEAP) is a regional collaborative composed of nationalities, communities and Wikimedia affiliates of Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. It also includes nationalities and informal communities of Brunei, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Timor Leste and Pacific island nations and territories.

Wikimedia Asia

As far as September 2007, an idea of the Wikimedia Asia project was first coined. Two years after a mailing list was initiated and the meta-wiki page was set up months after that.

It started as just a meetup

The first impromptu meetup of Asians happened in spring of 2010 during the Wikimedia Chapters Meeting (which later evolved as Wikimedia Conference then Wikimedia Summit) in Berlin, Germany. The physical acquaintance was successful that in Wikimania 2010 in Poland, another meetup was organized. While the first image of an Asian meetup happened in Washington DC at a simple lunch during the sidelines of Wikimania 2012. It was originally conceived to work on an Asian regional conference inspired from the Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2012 and the Ibero-American Wikimedia Summit (Iberocoop) 2011.

Wikimedia Asia meetups in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017

In the end, the Asia Wikimedia Meetup became a regular occurrence during Wikimania 2013 in Hong Kong and in the Wikimanias it succeeded, Wikimedia Conferences in Berlin and Milan and the Wikimedia Summit. An Asian regional conference never had materialized.

Have it a name : “ESEA”

ESEA meetup in Berlin, 2015

During the sidelines of Wikimania 2014 in London and in the Wikimedia Conference 2015 in Berlin, participants from East and South East Asia gathered and talked about the purpose to collaboratein a regional way”. This paved for the plan of a regional conference called “ESEA Meeting”. Australia was part of the discussions, and during the Wikimedia Conference 2017, the Pacific region was admitted to the group and ESEAP was formed.

The plan had been regularly discussed during Wikimedia conferences since and in 2017 plans progressed when there was a consensus to have the event in Bali, Indonesia. The grant for the ESEAP Conference was proposed in September 2017 and was approved by the Wikimedia Foundation on November 2017.

Formally met in Bali

ESEAP Conference 2018 in Bali, Indonesia

The first ESEAP Conference happened from 5-6 May, 2018 in Bali, Indonesia. Wikimedia Indonesia served to lead the organizing committee. That event brought together participants from Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam. The conference was successful and the concept of regional collaboration has progressed. Interesting topics such as capacity building, outreach and Wikipedia project promotion were presented or discussed there.

One regular project ESEAP had been involved in was the Wikipedia Asian Month happening during November each year.

Strategy Meeting in Bangkok, Wikimania hosting, COVID-19 and Virtual Meetings

ESEAP Strategy Summit 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand
Wikimania 2020 presentation in Stockholm, 2019

It was decided that the next ESEAP Conference will happen in Fremantle, Western Australia in 2019 but there was a grant freeze in early 2019 for it to adapt to the Movement Strategy recommendations being written that year. In lieu of the regional conference, the Wikimedia Foundation decided to involve ESEAP in a Strategy Summit in Bangkok, Thailand in June 2019. Most of the recommendations given from ESEAP were related to capacity building, partnerships, and the Universal Code of Conduct.

The Wikimania Steering Committee in March 2019 offered hosting of Wikimania 2020 to ESEAP and the host location will be in Bangkok, Thailand. Plans for having the ESEAP Conference were shelved and planned to integrate to Wikimania 2020 in August 2020.

In early 2020, an emerging virus outbreak happened in Wuhan, China, and quickly spread around the globe. Plans to have Wikimania in 2020 were in doubt and after the formal declaration of a COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organization, several conferences scheduled in 2020 were canceled including the then upcoming Wikimedia Summit 2020. The ESEAP Wikimania Core Organizing Team made a tough decision to postpone Wikimania till 2021. The Wikimedia Foundation also suspended approving grants for in-person gatherings and requested affiliates and organizations who already obtained conference funding not to hold in-person gatherings until further notice.

The movement strategy recommendations were announced early 2020 and the concept of “hubs” was among its recommendations. The hubs recommendation was inspired by the emerging formation of regional and thematic collaboratives such as the CEE, WikiArabia, Iberocoop and ESEAP. In August 2020, ESEAP decided to move forward the discussion of ESEAP Regional Cooperation to be a regional hub through a virtual meeting. Every month since, ESEAP had been gathering virtually to discuss key topics that affect the region, sometimes conduct workshops, and training. It also invites guests from the Wikimedia Foundation and affiliates outside ESEAP to be a resource speaker. The hubs topic frequently was on the agenda.

In December 2020, the ESEAP Wikimania Core Organizing Team had serious doubts that an in-person conference is likely to happen in 2021 and decided to dissolve the Core Organizing Team and cancel the plans for an in-person conference scheduled in 2021. Wikimania went virtual in August 2021. The Wikimania Steering Committee decided to have a hybrid Wikimania for 2022 but it is primarily online.

After the decision of the formation of the 2022 Wikimania Core Organizing Team, the Wikimania Steering Committee offered ESEAP to host Wikimania 2023 with a physical venue as anchor host location. Wikimedia Thailand the same month decided that it would be wise for ESEAP to select from a wide variety of host locations rather than having it in Bangkok.

In May 2022, ESEAP decided to pursue a regional conference after the Wikimedia Foundation gave a green light to resume in person gatherings after it was suspended due to COVID-19. The next host was granted to Sydney, Australia with Wikimedia Australia leading the organizing committee. A proposal was submitted on June 2022 and was granted the same month by the Wikimedia Foundation.

A risk assessment was done for 9 ESEAP countries by the Wikimedia Foundation for the host location of Wikimania. During the 23rd ESEAP virtual meeting, ESEAP decided to narrow choices to two countries namely Japan and Singapore and allow the wider ESEAP community to decide on meta-wiki. Through an absolute majority vote, the community decided to have Wikimania in Singapore in the northern hemisphere summer of 2023. The Wikimania Steering Committee affirmed the ESEAP community decision and ESEAP publicly announced Singapore as the host location to the global community at the final day of Wikimania 2022.

ESEAP Conference in Sydney and the seeds of the Hub were planted

roup photograph of attendees to ESEAP 2022, Reconnect taken outside the Aerial Centre of the University of Technology Sydney(UTS)
ESEAP Conference 2022 in Sydney, Australia

On 18-20 November 2022, the second ESEAP conference was held in Sydney, NSW, Australia. The theme of the conference is “Reconnect”, marking a significant post-pandemic reunion of the regional Wikimedia community. Some of the key topics discussed at that conference are the proposal of ESEAP being a Wikimedia regional hub and plans for Wikimania 2023 in Singapore.

The result of the conference mandates the creation of the Interim Hub Committee that will craft the declaration statement of the creation of the ESEAP Hub. It was published to the community in June 2023 and ratified thereafter. The declaration calls for the purpose and direction of the ESEAP Hub, as a focal point for a diverse and collaborative network of Wikimedia communities, affiliates, and content contributors in the region. Contents of the declaration includes:

  • Mission and Vision: The Hub aims to empower people in the ESEAP region to share in the sum of all knowledge. It promotes the idea that knowledge should be free and accessible to everyone, and encourages participation and contribution regardless of language, culture, geography, or time zones;
  • Core Values: The Hub is committed to developing and supporting knowledge resources that are accurate, trustworthy, and inclusive. It emphasizes the importance of cooperation and partnerships to achieve its mission and vision;
  • Strategic Direction: The hub desires to collaborate with civic associations, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and other like-minded entities, to create an environment where every person can access and contribute to free and open knowledge.

Wikimania 2023 : Singapore

Presenters from the ESEAP region answer questions during Wikimania 2023 in Singapore

From 15-20 August, 2023, the regional collaborative played host to Wikimania 2023, the largest Wikimedia event. It took place at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre in downtown Singapore. ESEAP’s rich cultural diversity was showcased that included the Aotearoa Pasifika performance, Sazau by Wikeint and Manuk Lembukun Dances from Borneo. Three Wikimedians from the region were announced in the Wikimedian of the Year 2023. The first Wikimedian of the Year from the ESEAP region, Taufik Rosman of Malaysia, gave emphasis to then a student in the field of education on doing outreach and development of the Malay Wiktionary and Lexicographical data. The Wikimedia New Comer of the Year, Eugene Ormandy of Japan initiated student clubs that aim to promote and develop contents in the Japanese Wikipedia. The Wikimedia Laureate, Siobhan Leachman of New Zealand, a long-time Wikimedia contributor who became a key figure in the Aotearoa New Zealand community as a community organizer.

Side activity: ESEAP Strategy Summit in Singapore

East, South East Asia and Pacific Wikimedians (ESEAP) family photo in Singapore 2023
ESEAP Strategy Summit 2023 as a pre-conference activity during Wikimania 2023 in Singapore

On the sidelines of this annual event is the ESEAP Strategy Summit 2023. The summit provided a platform for regional collaborators, community and affiliate leaders, and representatives from the ESEAP Interim Hub Committee to engage in meaningful discussions. It was designed to bring together voices from the ESEAP region to contribute to the global conversation on Movement Strategy. The focus was on the most relevant strategic topics for the region, spanning various thematic areas. This collaborative environment aimed to inform the ongoing conversations with perspectives from the ESEAP region and to strengthen relationships among communities and affiliates within the region. The event also included a program with sessions on the overview of the ESEAP Hub, the need for a Pilot Grant, and discussions on the roles and responsibilities within the ESEAP Hub. The result of the summit created a preparatory council that will draft the hub’s charter, its governance and policy making structure.

Next Steps: Hub Charter and next gathering

Wikimedians from across the ESEAP region will gather in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on 10-12 May 2024 for the third ESEAP Conference. The theme of the event is “Collaboration beyond the horizon“. The theme aims to celebrate the limitless possibilities that lie beyond our current boundaries of collaboration. This event will also be an opportunity to deliberate and ratify these statutory documents (charter, its governance and policy making structure) and discuss the regional hub’s future.

ESEAP Conference 2024 logo

Can you help us translate this article?

In order for this article to reach as many people as possible we would like your help. Can you translate this article to get the message out?