May 2018: Pilot WomenTechStorm
From 10-12 May 2018, the gender gap working group organised the first Wikimedia Netherlands hackathon specifically aimed at participants who are women or non-binary: the first Women TechStorm. The event was deliberately small-scale and had an important social character. The goals were twofold: to introduce participants to Wikimedia projects and to exchange knowledge about technical skills. The final group consisted of 18 participants (selected from 99 registrations) and 9 trainers. When selecting the participants, attention was paid to the knowledge level in the field of coding and software, as well as familiarity with Wikimedia projects. Registrations came from all over the world. People who were able to travel to the Netherlands and who met the conditions set competed for participation. The working title 'Vrouwen TechStorm' was eventually renamed Women TechStorm with participants from different backgrounds (12 nationalities).
The programme was compiled on the basis of the information provided by the participants about their own level of knowledge and expectations. We had planned several workshops but we noticed that this resulted in participants following workshops and there was less time left to work together. During the techstorm we decided to minimize the number of workshops to five, in order to offer more opportunity to work together on the Wikimedia projects.
These five workshops were offered:
- Commons tools/GWT
- Wikidata 101
- Wikidata & SPARQL
In the meantime, there was room for collaborative work on projects and people could participate in presentations by the collection specialists of the KB about the masterpieces of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. We were impressed by the enthusiasm of the participants and how they took their first steps within the Wikimedia projects. Participants automatically found each other and started collaborations, or were inspired to start new projects themselves. A small selection of the results that were presented at the closing session: A broken Wikidata script works again, new queries were created on Wikidata, editor 1Veertje has new members for her Video-Cat-Bot project, the Sparql knowledge of a large group of participants has increased and a nice side effect: there is even 1 Wikipedia article written on the Polish Wikipedia.
The survey among the participants shows us that many respondents plan to continue with their WikiData knowledge. What is most appreciated is the open atmosphere among the participants, the great gender diversity and the social character of this Women TechStorm. We gained a lot of knowledge during the pilot in May. We incorporated this knowledge in the preparation process for the successor of the women's techstorm: The WikiTechstorm.
Need for new event: Wiki Techstorm October 2018
We realize that a single event will not change the world. A successor was therefore planned before the pilot started. Our approach: Apply lessons learned from the pilot and repeat success factors from the first edition.
- More preparation and research in the range of topics of workshops that will be offered
- Find local mentors (easier for follow up events/contact)
- Increase the range of tasks that follow on from the workshops.
- Use of a project tool to communicate the tasks and for collaboration (we used Phabricator)
- More attention for maintaining active contact with the participants before, during and after the TechStorm.
- More research on how to measure the activity of participants
- Ensure that the mentors are recognisable and available as mentors
Make sure that mentors are available for questions during the TechStorm Communicate clearly that most of the participants are new, and encourage everybody to ask questions.
Impact of past events
During the pilot in May there was a lot of cooperation and beautiful projects came into being. We have had focus on communicating that most of us were new to the field and we made sure that there were mentors available for questions.
Despite our effort, we do doubt the activity of participants after the event. Based on the evaluation among participants and our own evaluation, we have defined points for improvement that are mentioned above.
Goals of the WikiTechStorm October 2018
The goal of the TechStorm is basically: to allow developers who were not yet active as Wikimedia developers and Wikimedians who are not yet active as developers to become active as Wikimedia developers.
As an organizing team we have set ourselves the goal to admit at least 80% women/non binary participants.
We read the word ‘developer’ in a broader sense than one might be inclined to. For example, learning to work with (Excell) spreadsheets and tools in order to add bulk knowledge to Wikimedia projects is, in our project, part of being a developer.
Organisation - members
Host: Olaf Janssen, Koninklijke Bibliotheek
Organisation team: Andra Waagmeester, Ciell, Danielle Jansen, Michelle van Lanschot
Advisors: Finne Boonen, Maarten Dammers, Siebrand Mazeland
Staff / support WMNL: Denise Jansen, Michelle Boon
Promotion and outreach WikiTechstorm
We have defined 3 target groups to reach out to for the Techstorm:
- Developers who are already active as developers but not yet within Wikimedia projects
- Wikimedians who are active in the community but not yet as developers
- Employees of GLAM institutions who want to learn more about uploads and working with Wikimedia software
We published a central notice on all Wikimedia-projects on all European language versions, we communicated about the Techstorm on Social Media, via email and our personal network to invite these target groups.
- 286 people subscribed for the TechStorm
- 58 people were present at the WikiTechStorm
- 2 participants were also participants in the WomenTechStorm in May (and we received 2 messages from previous participants who wanted to come but weren’t able due to visa troubles or work)
- 35 people attended the WikiTechstorm in a role as participant
- 15 people attended the WikiTechStorm in a role as mentor
- Of the 35 attendees, 24 were female and 11 male, 0 non binary. 68,6% female or non binary participants.
- The participants came from 12 countries and 4 continents (7-continent model).
General conference statistics
Two days of hacking and learning. Six workshops, were held during 2 days. Our Techstormers could attend a maximum of 2 workshops per person. In order to prevent people from spending all their time following workshops, two workshops were offered at the same time. This way there was enough time left to work together.
- Workshop Introduction to Wikidata
- Workshop Introduction to Python and Pywikibot
- Workshop Introduction to Wikibase
- Workshop Getting started with Commons Android app development
- Workshop Workshop Batch uploading files to Wikimedia Commons. Getting started with Pattypan
- Workshop Introduction to Wikicite
Opening en closing session
Opening was done by Sandra Rientjes and Ecritures, we closed the WikiTechstorm with a showcase presentation 23 presentations held by participants (see etherpad)
Press / Social media / Coverage
Media: Informatieprofessional | Pre-registration Tech Storm II opened Nationale Onderwijsgids | Women work together on the software behind Wikipedia Techgirl | Join Wikimedia's women-only hackathon Executive-People | Women work together on software during WikiWomen Tech Storm
Twitter: 38 tweets containing #WikiTechStorm Facebook: 50 euro promotion reached 3.889 people, 80 clicks
Bitly link https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wiki_Techstorm in social media and mail generated 45 clicks
Survey among participants
At the end of the WikiTechStorm, during wrapping up, a survey was held among the participants.
- See the original questionnaire.
Of the 35 participants, 27 people have completed this survey. We will sent out 2 more surveys (scheduled for January and October 2019)
Reports by participants
Participation to the Techstorm was free of costs for participants but we did ask them something in return. We asked people from the WomenTechstorm to also join de WikiTechstorm. This didnt give high results, only two participants were able to join the second TechStorm. In October we have askes participants to write a report or communicate about the TechStorm. The respons is a bit higher but still not a 100% coverage: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wiki_Techstorm/Reports
Rating of the Wikitechstorm and its sessions
Scores are averages from 27 respondents:
- The Techstorm, overall, got an average rating of 4.45 out of 5
- The range of topics for workshops, got an average rating of 3,96 out of 5
- The quality of all workshops were rated very diverse. We expect that is has to do with the mixed levels of experience among the participants.
- We scored an average of 6,96* on the following question: On a scale from 1 - 10 - How did the TechStorm help you improve your developing skills?
5 out of 27 respondents scored 5 or lower
A selection of remarks
What do you consider to have been the best part of the Techstorm?
- Meeting people from very different backgrounds
- Workshops > how to experience new tools under the supervision of people who can help you to figure your bugs out
- The variety of workshops, projects, and the freedom to work on various topics/projects.
- Hacking! I I started on a project late, because I had two workshops on the first date, but I had a great experience working with others and learning new stuff from the mentors.
- That everyone was very open to help out others.
- The open atmosphere, everybody keen to share knowledge & to learn from each other, very low entry level/barrier for a hackathon, lots of new faces
- to work with the tutors, the respectful and open atmosphere
What did you learn from the TechStorm?
- A little bit more about Chemistry, how to say Schiphol correctly
- I learned how to use pattypan, and some bits about organizing a hackathon targeted at newcomers, especially with diversity as a goal
- That there is a lot more than Wikipedia, but still too much to learn in only two days
- I learned more about the functioning of Wikidata, how to use SPARQL, OpenRefine, how to set up my own profile, how to contribute as a translator and the different ways people can contribute to the commons App.
- I learnt more about the different Wikimedia projects, how to use Phabricator, how to web scrape using Python and Beautiful Soup, what Pywikibot and OpenRefine are... Especially, I'm happy that I learnt some foundations so I consider myself more prepared to contribute from now on.
- To find technical documentation on the pywikibot, search and work programmatically with Wikimedia tools
What did you teach other people?
- My prior knowledge was very little, but I was able to share what I learnt in the workshops to the people that did not attend them
- I'm a newbie, but I could help some people out with some basic problems they had while using Python.
- I put a focus to try to get all the tooling knowledge to be able to do independent steps after the Hackathon. This left little time to teach, though I feel after attending the 2 wikimedia techstorms in The Hague and some personal practice, I might be able to support, encourage and provide some orientation for developers that are new to the overwhelmingly complex wikimedia landscape from the developer point of view, if there was a next techstorms
- Use Java if you're doing anything unicode
- OpenRefine, reconciliation, and how to draw data from VIAF
- community support, GLAM, mobile app development experiences
- How to work with Wikibase and other Wikimedia content
How can we support you in your work in Wikimediaprojects?
- keep organising events like this, where GLAMpeople and Wikipedians meet
- I am curious about more tech events or things related to Wikimedia Nederland.
- Workshops are really useful of beginners like me. If there are more workshops I would love to join.
- I would probably feel more comfortable if I had a mentor for my first programming-related tasks (e.g. with the Commons app)
- Meetups like these from time to time
- workshop OpenRefine, web scraping
- Probably for the wikidata more difficult queries I need more explanation. But I will try find this online.
What should be better next time?
- For newbies to wikimedia like me (and some others I talked too), maybe provide some useful links we can read beforehand so we have a prior overview of the main infrastructure and the specific terminology (so many new words!)
- I would try to provide more coffee and tea. :) In all seriousness, I would have liked to have seen more workshops on data. I was really interested in learning more about Python, so I had to miss the Wikidata workshop..
- Maybe some workshops for beginners / advanced could be an option next time with some datasets available to start hacking or more practical starts with exercises to be able to practice
- Maybe work in teams with in each team a more experient user so that beginners have better guidance.
- Present ideas of work to do outside of the workshops. For newcomers it was a bit hard to find something useful and interesting to do... It would have been awesome if there was a short presentation of ideas of concrete things that we could do, in small groups.
- One tip regarding Phabricator: I found it a very useful tool, but it only works if everyone is using it to update the project. Maybe the need for this could be emphasized a bit more next time. (f.e. remind people around lunch time).
- First timers, especially with little tech experience, could maybe also use a bit more help picking a suitable project.
We measure up to 24 months after the Techstorm because experience shows that new developers become active more than a year after first contact.
Metrics are done with: phabricator as a task list, participants are told to keep track of their activities. Strong focus on this at the beginning of the Techstorm, special session and in the communication around the Techstorm. In addition, measurements via tools.
During the TechStorm participants worked closely together on various projects. We closed the WikiTechstorm with a showcase presentation 23 presentations held by participants (see etherpad). These presentations show us the direct results from our TechStorm.
In december we have checked activity of our participants, since our goal was to get more people (Women) active as a developer on Wikimedia projects: 2 from 35 participants have been active after the Techstorm.
We do realise that we cannot measure all activity from our participants using tools. We have planned a new survey in januari 2019.
We are also planning a follow up meeting in March and based on the metrics we have decided to ask the participants what subjects/workshops they would prefer in a follow up meeting.
- One participant of the Techstorm in May 2018 started giving workshops in Argentina and another participant of the Techstorm in May 2018 started with monthly Wikidata workshops in Paris.
And how to continue?
We have noticed that there is a lot of interest worldwide to participate in a beginners Techstorm a.k.a. hackathon . A beginners hackathon makes people who are just starting dare to join and people feel free to ask questions during the event. This is a huge difference compared to traditional hackathons.
We will investigate the possibilities for possible collaborations with Wikimedia chapters in other countries to give more people the chance to participate in a Techstorm.
We will use email and Telegram to stay in touch with participants. The Phabricator environment will continue to be available after the TechStorm.
will be available soon.