Hackathons/Handbook/Manage participants

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Registration[edit]

The registration is a big task. In many cases, the registration form will be the only time when participants interact with you before the actual event. Therefore, it's crucial that you invest time to think about what you want to know from participants, before you open the registration. E.g.: If you are planning on running the Mentoring Program, you should ask for who wants to be a mentor, and who is a newcomer.

Using multiple registration forms instead of one[edit]

As a lessons learned from WMAT (Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 Vienna), the organizers suggest using three registration forms instead of one. The reason: This way, you get a much more manageable spreadsheet. If you have all the info in one big spreadsheet, it can be difficult to work with it.

  1. Scholarships: Not all the people who apply for a scholarship will be able to come to the hackathon. Open form before the actual Hackathon registration!
  2. Hackathon registration
  3. Accommodation: Not all the people who register for a hackathon want accommodation. If you put it in a separate form, people will be more aware that this is a separate point that they (if they aren't sent from a chapter and don't have a scholarship) have to pay for it themselves.

Do make sure participants are aware of all forms. Tell them, multiple times.

Additional questions to consider[edit]

During the registration processing, some additional questions may need to be asked to eased the process for persons attending the conference. Be sure to leave a blank field, where participants can approach you with needs like this.

An example may include requesting a Certificate of Attendance to be provided. We do not have a ready-made solution in place; if you would like to investigate, then for example Google have made their "Certificate Maker" application available which they use every year to send certificates to GSoC/GCI participants.

Event bans[edit]

Some people are banned from events, either locally (e.g. by a chapter) or globally (all Wikimedia events). Registration is one of the opportunities to find banned users attempting to attend. See Event Ban policy/process, Event Ban policy, and Training modules/Keeping events safe.

Related: Make sure the form has a mandatory "I accept the Friendly Space Policy at https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Friendly_space_policy " section which offers a "Yes" checkbox.

When to close the registration?[edit]

Some organizers close the registration about a month in advance of the event, others leave it open until the day before and others close it once they reach their attendee limit.

Make sure you communicate your registration deadline very clearly! It is certain that you will have last-minute requests from people who forgot about the registration deadline. Prepare for this, and figure out a process in your organizer team how to deal with these last-minute requests.

Considerations for forms[edit]

  • Send a confirmation to participants after registration.
    • Having some of the details in the confirmation is good so people can double check themselves.
    • But be careful with passport numbers etc
  • The forms handle personal details of people
    • Make sure the information is handled and/or stored in a trusted system that is secure.
    • When passing around information, only pass around the information that the receiving party actually requires
  • Add a note about who to contact if a registrant made a mistake etc..

Registration form templates[edit]

Registration form for Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 (Vienna)[edit]

See the registration form on Google Drive

Additional questions for Hackathon participants in the registration form for Wikimania 2017 (Montreal)[edit]

Questions added to the registration for Wikimania ‘17 Hackathon Participants

  • Mandatory question: Information we can publish on the event page about your background, interests, and how other participants can contact you along with your user name. If you don’t want any information published please type “Do not publish information about me” here.
    • Question Type: ?
  • Mandatory question: What is your user name on www.mediawiki.org (if you have a user account there)?
  • Mandatory question: What is your user name on gerrit.wikimedia.org (if you have a user account there)?
  • Mandatory question: What is your user name on phabricator.wikimedia.org (if you have a user account there)?
  • Mandatory question: What is your user name on github.com (if you have a user account there)?
  • Not Mandatory question: Information about you
    • Help text: please pick all that apply, we are trying to gather information on supporting newcomers to our event.
    • Question type: Check boxes
    • Check box options:
      • This is my first Wikimedia or Wikimania Hackathon
      • I consider myself to be a “newcomer” at this hackathon
      • I would appreciate the option to attend sessions to help orient me to Wikimedia technical spaces
      • I would appreciate some form of mentorship or help to find and work on a project
  • Mandatory question: What are you hoping to get out of this hackathon?
    • Help text: please pick all that apply
    • Question type: Check boxes
    • Check box options:
      • Hacking on a project
      • Making friends / Meeting other Wikimedians
      • Learning new skills
      • Mentorship
      • Other <fill in the blank>
  • Mandatory question: Are you willing to volunteer?
    • Help text: please pick all that apply
    • Question type: Check boxes
    • Check box options:
      • I can take photos during the hackathon and upload them to commons
      • I can write a blog post or two about the event itself and / or my favorite sessions.
      • I can occasionally wander around the hackathon, ask people what they are working on, add the projects to the wiki
      • I can spend a few hours sitting at the help desk helping newcomers answer technical questions and find other participants)
      • I am willing to help work with or teach newcomers
      • I can run an hour-long session on an area or project to help newcomers learn or become oriented  
      • No Thanks!
      • Other <fill in the blank>
  • Mandatory question: Would you like to opt into to a Wikimedia Technical Events mailing list?
    • Help text: If you choose "yes" you will be added to a mailing list that the Wikimedia Foundation Technical Collaboration team will use to send information about future events.
    • Question type: Multiple choice
    • Multiple choice options:
      • Yes, I would like the email address that I used to register to be added to the Wikimedia Technical Events mailing list
      • No, I would not like to be added to the list

Scholarships[edit]

Wikimedia Hackathon 2018 (Barcelona) Scholarship Decision Process[edit]

Scholarship Decision Process

Every year we get significantly more qualified scholarship applicants than we can accept. The following is a description of the process we used to decide who attends.

  • The scholarship committee is formed
    • Every organization contributing funds to the scholarship pool can provide 1-2 members to the scholarship decision committee.
    • The process outlined below is mostly accurate, however in some cases if a Wikimedia Affiliatie is contributing a small amount of funding they can bypass the process and choose directly who they would like to fund - usually choosing based on if they are coming from the affiliate's region or working on a project important to the affiliate.
    • The scholarship committee reads lessons learned from previous years and then agrees upon a decison making process together.
  • Every member of the committee can review and assign a score to each application (from 0 lowest to 2 highest). So, applications can have up to 5 votes (if all 5 scholarship committee members score them).
  • Some aspects considered in the scoring:
    • Do they show technical activity from links to Wikimedia accounts (e.g., Phabricator) or 3rd party profiles (e. g., Github) ?
    • Do they have an explicit and well-structured plan for the hackathon?
    • Do they propose a plan that is aligned with some already specified tracks for the event?
  • Whenever possible, comments are provided apart from scores. Among them, some comments:
    • How many Wikimedia technical events have they been sponsored (sometimes we need to give other people a chance to attend even if it means turning away a very qualified applicant!)
    • Feedback from programs where they participated (e. g., Outreachy)
  • Approximate estimated trip costs and VISA needs are noted down for each application
  • Once enough scoring and comments are gathered a meeting is planned for deliberation
  • Before deliberation, candidates with the highest scoring are moved to a first acceptation list. Those with the lowest scoring are moved to a first declination one.
  • During deliberation, those with a scoring in between are discussed in a case by case basis. Additional criteria such as diversity (regional, gender, etc.) can be considered. Selected applications are added to the first acceptation list always having an eye on the threshold of the scholarship budget.
  • Up to a certain point, since information about trip costs cannot be available until accepted scholarships start being handled, the pending members are put in a waiting list.
  • Since all applications of the waiting list are not going to receive an acceptance in the end because of budget restrictions, committee members suggest how many of them to keep. They are ordered in a priority list. As trip costs start being clear, first position are more likely to receive a final acceptance.
  • The ones who are not included are moved into a second declination list.
  • Due to the sheer number of applicants we are not able to provide personalized feedback on every application, however we are always happy to discuss with anyone who has questions.

Lessons learned from WMFR ((Wikimedia Hackathon 2015 Lyon):

  • Ask every chapter to send ppl to the hackathon with scholarships
  • Committee with the stake holders (i.e. the chapters that contributed money or material to the hackathon)
  • Registration form
  • French form with link to CiviCRM was error prone
  • Registration wizards with several steps (split them up thematically)
  • 45 people applied for scholarship, 40 were admitted
  • Flights for scholarship recipients organized by WMFR
    • Should be organized by a travel agency

Coordinate with other chapters[edit]

There are not just the central WMF scholarships, but also scholarships from each chapter. As a hackathon host, you have to coordinate closely with other chapters. Some chapters pay for travel costs themselves, and the host pays for accommodation and gets their money back from chapter after the event. Either way, it is important that you establish a process for this.

In some cases the funders would like to choose which scholarship recipients are chosen and in other cases they leave it up to the scholarship committee. It is up to you as the organizer to allow this or now and determine the process.

Scholarships email templates[edit]

Reject[edit]

Thank you for applying to attend the ____ Wikimedia Hackathon in _____. We had a large more applicants this year than ever before and had to turn some qualified applicants away. We are sorry to inform you, but your scholarship application for this year's Wikimedia Hackathon has been denied.

Factors used to decide:

  • Active Wikimedia Volunteer Developer
  • Had not been sponsored in the past
  • Well thought out plan to contribute

There are several options for you now:

  • Participate without a scholarship
  • Apply to participate in the upcoming Wikimania Hackathon in Esino Lario https://wikimania2016.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
  • Find a sponsor (your employer, your local Wikimedia chapter, or someone else) to cover your costs.

If we don't hear from you, we consider your registration as cancelled, and may re-assign your accommodation to other participates. If you end up self funding or finding another scholarship, please let us know.

There will be more Wikimedia Developer events in the future. We hope to see you another time!

- Wikimedia Hackathon Organizers

Waitlist[edit]

Thank you for applying to attend the ____ Wikimedia Hackathon in _____. We had a large more applicants this year than ever before. You were not accepted in the first round of scholarships however you are on the waiting list for the second round in case we are able to find more budget. We should be able to let you know one way or the other by the end of this month.

Factors used to decide:

  • Active Wikimedia Volunteer Developer
  • Had not been sponsored in the past
  • Well thought out plan to contribute

There are several options for you now:

  • Participate without a scholarship
  • Apply to participate in the upcoming Wikimania Hackathon in Esino Lario https://wikimania2016.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
  • Find a sponsor (your employer, your local Wikimedia chapter, or someone else) to cover your costs.
  • Wait to see if you are accepted in round two.

There will be more Wikimedia Developer events in the future. We hope to see you another time!

- Wikimedia Hackathon Organizers

Approved[edit]

Subject: Wikimedia Hackathon 20XY: Your scholarship has been approved!

Dear XY 

we are looking forward to welcoming you in _____ for the Wikimedia Hackathon 20__. 

My name is _____ and I am in charge of visa and travel issues.      

In the travel form you suggest these travel dates XY---XY

Please check your travel dates and confirm them. 

Please also confirm your personal data:

Address

Date of birth

As soon I have your confirmed travel dates and personal data I can start working on your travel itinerary 

If VISA

For your successful visa application I need a copy of your passport - please email a scan or a photo to me until Friday the latest. On Monday I have an appointment at the aliens’ police office. There I will get a number with which you will be able to apply for an Austrian Visa at your closest embassy. I will get back with more information to you on Monday! 

If single rooms

In the registration form you suggested to be accommodated in a single room. We are trying to offer as many scholarships as possible and would be able to approve more scholarships if scholarship holders shared rooms. Thus we kindly ask you to consider staying in a double room. If you already know someone you are willing to share a room with, please tell us this person's name. In case we will match you with a room mate he or she would be the same sex as you are, of course. 

Let me know in case you have further questions.

Kind regards,

______    

Visa[edit]

As a host, you will have do help participants get visas. Each (host) country has different processes, so make sure to know how your country's process works well in advance, before you even open the scholarship registration.

WMAT gathered the information about 2 months in advance. This helped a lot because things always get stressful in the end with last minute registrations/ participants.

In some cases the local organizers will need to plan on making trips to the local embassies / visa offices or in other cases you might need to spend some time on the phone with an international agency to help get an attendees visa approved. Even when you are told it is not possible, don't give up hope. Sometimes visas work out unexpectedly at the last moment.

Travel[edit]

Public Transportation[edit]

Ideally hackathons allow people to travel to and from the airport and around the host city for free. WMDE and WMCH were able to work with their local governments / transportation agencies and find ways to provide attendees with hackathon name badges that also included public transportation passes. WMCH even was able to email these passes out in advance of the event. Whenever possible, we like to spare costs to event attendees.

If this is not possible, provide details on the best routes from the airport and train station. WMNL even created a guide with photos of every bus stop and turn. Some travelers will be traveling internationally for the first time and others just have travel anxiety. The more information the better!

You might consider connecting travelers on flights landing at similar times so that they can share taxi's or navigate the public transportation together. This is a great way to get participants to meet, too.

If you have extra volunteers or if the transportation is especially complicated you might consider staging some volunteers at the airport in a designated place and helping the arrivals find their way.

Accommodation[edit]

Who shares a room with whom? Assigning rooms to participants will take some of your time. You have to work closely with the venue. Even if you give the task mostly over to the people at the venue/ hotel, participants will still approach you with requests and questions. Be sure to allow some time for this task and have one person who clearly owns this task and is responsible for this in your team.

If you are putting strangers together in a room it is important to ensure that the rooms are meant for this. Sometimes shared rooms have two beds that are very close together and might not be comfortable for strangers.

Payment process for participants[edit]

Prepare PayPal invoices and mail them to the participants who didn't get a scholarship and pay for the accommodation themselves. If a person is unresponsive and/or does not pay, you can send the invoice to the chapter associated with that participant, and ask them to cover the cost, and/ or reach out to the participant in question.