Wikimedia Hackathon 2020/Remote Hackathon/Feedback


There will not be a feedback survey for this Remote Hackathon. If you would like to provide feedback so that other future organizers can learn from us please add it below.

This event is an experiment with the intention of trying whatever remote collaboration ideas people are interested in, specifically so that we can better understand what works


Please keep in mind as you provide feedback that there was no central organizing team and all ideas were implemented by individuals or small groups building this event together. All feedback should be framed in a way that it would be useable by future remote / virtual event organizers who did not participate in the remote hackathon and not specific to making this exact event better.

Add additional categories of feedback below if there is anything you are specifically interested in gathering lessons about.

What worked that we should try again?[edit]

  • Multiple Telegram channels
    • Seconding, the Newcomer Support Group was very important for me. Much less intimidating asking for help over there instead of jumping in a conversation on the main group. --Igorabsorto (talk) 22:25, 10 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Having people stream piano playing and hacking music on twitch was really fun
  • "The afternoon walk" - A really good way of people sharing a bit about themselves without having to talk too much about themselves.
  • Remo. I thought the format that allowed people to move about and meet other people was nice, but might make more sense earlier in an event with some icebreaker activities.
  • I liked the dog/nature walk and the women's tea a lot. Also the statement that all is not mandotory so that it is ok to just chat, or just listen in was really helpful. Mx Lucy (talk) 18:29, 10 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Remo was cool. We should have used it the entire hackathon and not just in the end. Ainali (talk) 19:18, 10 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • I liked the organization of the option of remote participation to Wikimedia Hackathon. The problem in the Global South is that we do not have the means to travel to Wikimedia Hackathon. Remote participation can let people participate from home and build their MediaWiki capacity. The lightning talks' session is useful to have an overview of the advances in MediaWiki programming. I am quite certain that it is more interesting than a poster session. --Csisc (talk) 15:27, 11 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Combining work with leasure. If you think in the morning than all you will do today is work, it is a bit intimidating. But with fun sessions from time to time, works does not bore you. --Tohaomg (talk) 21:11, 5 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Did anything make it challenging for you to collaborate with others?[edit]

  • The time zone difference. Not that you can change that, but it may be worth keeping in mind when planning remote events that rely on collaboration :) --Librarian lena (talk) 19:05, 10 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • From a facilitator point of view, the different timezones were at the same time an advantage and an inconvenient: it was great for us to be split on different timezones so we could monitor and help on a broader period of time. However, it created some minor miscommunications (eg we started planning something while others were sleeping). Having a better "decisions tracking" tool could help with that. Lea Lacroix (WMDE) (talk) 20:25, 10 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • The lack of existence of a Chat Channel for the event has limited the interaction between the participants. --Csisc (talk) 15:29, 11 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • In a real event, I could approach someone to ask something and get an answer immediately. Asking someone something via Telegram and then waiting for answer for minutes or even hours is not very convenient. --Tohaomg (talk) 21:11, 5 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

What additional resources would you have liked?[edit]

Do you have any ideas for improving the social side of virtual events?[edit]

  • Would be nice if there was a stable call that was always open that people could hang out in/keep in the background. The scheduled events are important but distracting to keep open while you're working.

Can you comment on successes or failures of different chat programs or video conferencing services that were used?[edit]

  • I used Google Meet for my "introduction to SPARQL" presentation but I didn't realized that people need a Google mail Google account to join and I had to accept/validate each and every participant entering. At least one person couldn't join :( That said, Google Meet is still mostly an efficient tool (once connected, I could hear people perfectly, which is not always the case with other platforms) and maybe there is some equivalent and efficient free software but I don't know which one is best. A recommendation of the "best tool(s) available" would have been ideal (for both presenter and listener). Cheers, VIGNERON (talk) 14:51, 9 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Wikimedia meet works much better in Chrome than firefox. Ladsgroup (talk) 15:56, 9 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • To add to the above. Yes you need a Google account (not a Google mail account, I have no such thing VIGNERON), but it works just fine in Firefox for me. Not everyone was able to connect because of various technical difficulties. Multichill (talk) 16:12, 10 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Remo was awesome. I really like the concept with the virtual tables and how we could mingle before and after the main session. Multichill (talk) 19:51, 10 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • We encountered a weird thing while using the WMF Jitsi instance: at some point, we got all kicked out. Not sure if it's because the owner of the event got kicked out because connection problem, or a more global thing. Lea Lacroix (WMDE) (talk) 20:22, 10 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Remo doesn't work well on Firefox: hashed sound, not possible to type in the chat or share screen. Also on Chromium, it was sill pretty "heavy", I had trouble switching from chat to Q&A, etc. But overall this tool still offers a great experience. Lea Lacroix (WMDE) (talk) 20:22, 10 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • I liked the Remo session, I think we were pushing its capacity at 40 users. But I think for the majority of the session it worked well. Battleofalma (talk) 15:24, 11 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Remo was really cool, but I didn't like that I had to sign up for an unfamiliar service and it was difficult to participate in the mingling parts without a microphone. Most people seemed to completely miss anything in the text chat. I appreciated that Jitsi didn't require a login but found the interface confusing, I had no idea who I was hearing at any given point. The screen also kept changing to show other things and I didn't understand why. I didn't like that Google Meet required a Google account (which then required verification using a phone number), but the option to turn on automatic captioning was cool. I would use Remo or Jitsi again but I would skip an event using Google Meet (I already lost the login details for the account I created and I'm not creating another). - Nikki (talk) 08:30, 12 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • I appreciate that Fuzheado made a record of showcase session available through YouTube, but next time it would be better to record presenters screen at full screen, because now it is hard to see any details in YouTube video. Also participants should be asked to navigate at their screens slower, because the video recording sometimes stucks for a second or two and important details are lost. --Tohaomg (talk) 21:11, 5 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Only the organiser of a Google Meeting requires a Google account. As a participant Google Meet does certainly not require a Google account; you can just identify yourself with any random pseudonym (no account, no registration, no login, nor password required). So any participant can use Google Meet. But this makes the tool sensitive to identity abuse. The meeting organiser needs to accept each participant, or can disconnect any troll. Geertivp (talk) 11:01, 10 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Anything else / general advice for future organizers[edit]

  • Suggest that people leading sessions have a second person with them in the session who is not presenting. That person's job can be to help people who join late figure out what is going on (using the chat). To look up relevant links that come up. To keep track of questions and count the number of people who join the session. Generally just to provide any background support needed.
  • More strongly urge people who are running sessions in a presentation format to record their sessions. Many collaborative style sessions should not be recorded so that people feel comfortable asking questions so video recording of sessions should never be mandatory. But recording sessions help people from different timezones catch up.
    • Seconding, it's unfortunate that these valuable presentations (that are being streamed anyway) are lost
    • indeed. it would be good enough if at least audio of all was recorded Zblace (talk) 17:10, 14 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Combot on telegram can give you an idea of how many people were active and when. Some remote events wont have a registration form and you may have some participants show up anyways without registering.
  • Hackathon showcase session and GSoC, Outreachy new interns welcome party happened around in the same time, So it would have been more better if both the session timings were on different time as I don't want to miss both of them. Gopa Vasanth (talk) 17:53, 11 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • There was no clear protocol and welcoming procedure for newbies. Zblace (talk) 17:10, 14 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Phabricator was presented in intro video as very generic project organizing tool, but its use was policed in fairly rigid way and new people could not start projects. In that respect it was a bit of wishful thinking to present it as easy and accessible :-/ Zblace (talk) 17:10, 14 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

General metrics[edit]

  • 9,885 pageviews to the main event page (for the last 30 days) as of the day after the event.
  • 500 messages in the main hackathon telegram channel in the first 7 hours of the Remote Hackathon (approximately 1500 throughout the weekend)
  • 50 messages in the newcomer support channel in the first 7 hours of the Remote Hackathon
  • We estimate 150 individual participants stopping in, normally about 80 people were actively reading the telegram channel at all times, 55 people joined the hackathon showcase to view. 16 projects were presented, 19 projects were added as complete to the etherpad, 51 projects / tasks were added to the Phabricator work board.
  • ca. 220 tweets in the hackathon role-playing thread
  • 23 sessions and social events were added to the program and held, we had 1 hangout where anyone could join and socialize at any point and some more informal specific topic meetups.
  • Add your individual session here, the number of participants you had, and any comments you have about running the remote hackathon session
    • Introduction to Wikidata for beginners: 2-6 people at all times, unsure of total unique participants
    • Introduction to SPARQL for beginners: 10-15 people at all times, approximately 20 unique participants.
    • (Social event on 9 May) Wikimedia Hackathon background music for work (7 hours 15 mins): Average viewers throughout the stream 5. Maximum people online at any time: 10. Total 41 views from 31 unique viewers.
    • (Social event on 10 May) Wikimedia Hackathon background music for the soul (11 hours 10 mins): Average viewers throughout the stream 4. Maximum people online at any time: 8. Total 68 views from 46 unique viewers.
    • Wikidata workflow from Harmonia Amanda: 9 to 12 average viewers, not sure about unique participants
    • Lucas live coding on Wikidata Lexeme Forms: first stream 8 average viewers, 12 max, 54 unique; second stream 3 average viewers, 9 max, 16 unique
    • Lucas piano hangout: first stream 8 average viewers, 14 max, 51 unique; second stream 15 average viewers, 30 max, 72 unique (plus a few more via the untappd hangout); third stream 5 average viewers, 9 max, 23 unique
    • Wikiwalk: around 8-10 people at a time, around 15 total. It was really fun and great. Timezones are an issue of course because in some places it is dark out and hard to share your neighborhoods.
    • Wiki women's team meetup: 9 people joined, we used Jitsi. Everything was nice! :)
    • Untapped meetup: 30-40 individual participants. Google hangouts can only display 15 people at once so its not a good option if you want to see everyone's face at once.
    • Symposium on Wikipedia and COVID-19: More than 100 people watching the youtube stream, good community side-chatting
    • Tools for smaller wikis: 12 participants.
    • GSoC & Outreachy welcome party: 20+ participants including the newest and former interns, mentors, and organization administrators.
    • (Social event) Walk in the park on Sunday morning: we had 4 streamers and 2 to 4 silent participants, very nice experience, the Jitsi app is working well
  • Sunday showcase session
    • 41 attendees in remo, 14 viewers on Youtube livestream
    • 16 projects showcased in session, 22 projects documented
    • 16 short Q&A sessions.