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Wikimedia Hackathon 2017/Tech events orga session

From mediawiki.org

Notes of the tech event organizers session :)

Organising Tech-Events

  • Léa: WikidataCon
  • Linda: WikidataCon
  • Birgit: Tech on Tour
  • Dutch chapter: Hackathon 2014; good for connecting people
  • Rachel: WMS Events manager (Dev Summits; trainings, meetings up to 500 pax)
  • Anton: organising events for Vienna hackathon
  • DJ: hackathon and sport events
  • Martin: academic conferences, parties, hackathons,
  • Oreol: not tech, but international converences, organising hackathon in Barcelona 2018
  • ?: Amical;
  • Nl? paricipant mostly
  • Vienna: Tech-conferences smaller volunteering events (like jungle girls); interested in Ladies that foss
  • Nick: WMF, documentation, assisting Rachel
  • Antonio and Elisabeth: new comers; not organising any events yet; more situated in academic world



Have a good team: assemble people that cover the skills that we need for the conference;

  • Assign important tasks to reliable people
  • have back-up, if someone gets sick
  • get people on board that know the field
  • treat it as a professional event: be efficient; have results at meetings
  • attitude with the ability to be flexible and able to relax in stressful situations
  • food: enough coffee and food not set at specific times, but have food to pick all along
  • give enough information, so that participants do not have to waste time finding their way
  • close distances: have venue and hotel close together so that time is not wasted is
  • welcome participants and recognize that participants are diverse and have information distributed in various ways
  • do not be angry if people do not listen
  • have checklists; have good documentation; write down what you decided on
  • enjoy your own event
  • stay calm
  • have volunteers that help only at the event
  • have someone at the registration desk so you can be somewhere you are needed more
  • plan and ask for help from volunteers in advance; have a list of tasks to sign up
  • have a thank you dinner
  • Communicate a lot (remind people that they signed up)
  • have a section for volunteering already the at registration form (documentation; photography; blog...)

Be aware of different ways of organising: office vs. volunteers.

Enforce that we organise together with the volunteers and not instead of them, but with and for them and with them.

Have volunteers do the fun tasks and the more boring tasks done by office.

involve e.g. students with projects that are interesting for them (here: wikicite)

  • give perspective: retain the new volunteers for the future, don't just burn them for the event
  • have smaller events for them, maybe in advance to start at university and then have the main event at the main event

But: you need staff to do this

Biggest Fails

  • no food (many other things can fail, but food has to be in place)!
  • wifi too late
  • have enough plugs and cables and sockets
  • miscommunication (so: manage expectations so that it does not blow up in your face)
  • deliver what you promise; when you outsource: you are still responsible
  • avoid long unproductive times
  • remote participation is difficult (maybe having a clear topic, opening session, and mentors would help include remote people)
  • publish photos and videos of the event immediately the week after otherwise it will be forgotten


  • having a program is easy in this community
  • but a good program is where you can stand out
  • newcomers need more structure than established participants, have introductory projects / workshops to get everyone up to speed and introduce the basics
  • have a project in the beginning that everyone is doing together to get people started and working together, then they can do their own thing
  • have phabricator with tasks
  • dev summit had per-conference hangouts, but response was not so big for reasons of different time zones and other

Look at base documentation at Wikimedia.org


  • take photos
  • take notes
  • have people with scholarships report back (blog, tweet)

live stream:

  • opening + showcase + keynotes
  • volunteers might be willing to help out

Other links: