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Hackathons/2017 Decision Process

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Wikimedia Hackathon: History, Budget, Location Decision & Timeline

tl;dr: This page includes the history of the Wikimedia Hackathon, a description of the budget for the event and outlines a timeline and decision making process for the 2017 process. You should read this if you are considering submitting a bid to host the 2017 Wikimedia Hackathon.


The Wikimedia Hackathon was originally an annual European spring hackathon taking place in Germany. The idea originated with Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE) and was originally funded by WMDE and the WMF.

After the 2012 Berlin Hackathon an informal decision was made via an in-person conversation between WMDE, the WMF hackathon team (Rachel F, Erik M, & Sumana H) , and volunteers from WMNL to try to hold the event in Amsterdam in 2013. This plan was approved by the staff and board of WMNL.

After a successful hackathon in Amsterdam, WMF and WMCH decided to work together to host the 2014 hackathon. Just before Wikimania in 2014 the Engineering Community Team (since renamed the Developer Relations team) emailed chapters to see who was interested in hosting the 2015 hackathon - and there was an in-person meeting at Wikimania to discuss this. When more than one chapter came forward it was decided at the in-person meeting by those present that WMFR would be a good option. The meeting consisted of WMF Engineering Community Team and some past hackathon organizers, and was open to any interested host-chapters.

Before the 2015 Wikimedia Hackathon in Lyon an email was sent out to chapters looking for a 2016 host. For the first time there was a more formalized bidding process with documentation created by the Engineering Community Team, which funded a large portion of the event and also funded all WMF engineering staff travel costs for the event. Multiple chapters submitted proposals and all past hackathon organizers present in Lyon were called together to decide between the proposals. The proposal with the most votes, Jerusalem/WMIL, became the 2016 Wikimedia Hackathon Host.

This process has been kept flexible by choice. However, Developer Relations will be experimenting with a more formalized process for 2017. After the 2017 selection process is complete, Developer Relations will review the process and determine if it was successful or if any changes are needed. Success is to be determined by the following criteria:

  1. We find a location for the Wikimedia Hackathon 2017.
  2. All bidding chapters and groups, even if they do not agree with the location decision, can see how the location decision was made.
  3. Developer Relations feels comfortable supporting the location decision.
  4. There is a good logistical framework in place to ensure that the Hackathon can run. Location and accommodation booked well in advance of the event. Registration and scholarships open.  

The process for selecting a 2018 location (or other future hackathons) may be different than the 2017 process due to changes in budgets, success of previous events, changes in number of hackathons or target size of hackathons.  

Wikimedia Hackathon Budget:[edit]

Wikimedia Hackathons are funded by the WMF Developer Relations Team in partnership with the host chapter or organization that contributes money and staff resources from their own budget and from event specific fundraising. The Developer Relations team has a scholarship budget for flying volunteer engineers to the event. WMF funds WMF engineers to travel to the event. It is not mandatory that all these budgets are spent on one hackathon. Multiple smaller hackathons are also an option, however unless there is a good reason it is likely that 2017’s budget will go towards one large event.   

Process for Location Decision for Wikimedia Hackathon 2017:[edit]

  • Developer Relations will email the already formed past hackathon organizers email list asking for volunteers to be on the committee. The list is made up of main event organizers from past Wikimedia Hackathons.
  • The names of the members of the volunteer committee for the 2017 (anyone from past hackathon organizers who volunteers can join the committee) decision will be made public, this committee will also consist of one or two members of the Developer Relations team.
  • We will put out a call asking for chapters or other groups to indicate their interest in hosting the 2017 Wikimedia Hackathon by creating a publicly logged Phabricator task.
  • Once there is a call for submissions any organizer of the committee who is associated with any of the bids will recuse themselves from discussions on the 2017 decision.
  • There will be at least a month between the call for bids and committee’s final decision. Ideally lots of discussion by interested community members will be taking place on the Phabricator bids in this time. Ideally if there are multiple bids those groups can talk with the committee and informally (based on conversation and not voting) come to an understanding as to which host makes the most sense.
  • If more time or information is needed and the committee can not come to a decision, the committee will be given a few weeks of flexibility. The bids will be discussed and compared.
  • If there is a bid that is clearly strongest, that bid will be proposed to the committee to accept as a whole.
  • If there is a clear tie between bids, the committee will vote. Each member will get one vote.
  • The Developer Relations team will announce the host of the Wikimedia Hackathon 2017.
  • The 2017 committee will not make any promises to a host for the Wikimedia Hackathon 2018, they can however urge a strong bidder to propose again for the following year.

The Developer Relations team will confirm the final decisions after doing their due diligence as they are ultimately responsible for the budget and the success of the event year to year. In the rare case that it is needed, Developer relations will do their best to turn down bids before the committee votes.


Jan 29, 2016: This information published

Jan 29, 2016: Committee consisting of past hackathon organizers will be formed, that committee will be responsible for deciding on the location of the Wikimedia Hackathon 2017.

Feb 8, 2016: Call for hosts

~~ Decision Committee discusses & asks for more information if needed ~~

March 8, 2016: Decision committee decides on location

March 8th - March 14, 2016 : Location for Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 is announced

If we are not able to stick to this timeline the Developer Relations team may step in and make a decision instead of delaying the process. This is to enable the hosting team to have enough time to contract venues and accommodation with enough lead time in advance of the event.    

Information about this page[edit]

This was originally written by Rachel Farrand from the WMF Developer Relations team. The intention was the clarify the process and inform chapters and groups who are interested in hosting how the decision will be made in advance of the call for hosts. The text (up January 29, 2016) was reviewed by the Developer Relations team, a few volunteers from the WMF Community Engagement Department, and the Past Hackathon Organizers email list. Suggestions and changes from those people and groups were incorporated. We also integrated feedback on the 2016 decision process summited by WMAT.