Wikimedia Technical Conference/2019/NotesandFacilitation

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This page is a work in progress, we will use it to set guidelines around session note-taking and facilitation at the Wikimedia Technical Conference 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



  • Lead: Nick
  • Attending in a "note-taker" capacity: Chris K, Will D, Brennen B
  • Additional note-takers (volunteered in registration and confirmed later): TBD

General Plan[edit]

Each session should be assigned a lead note-taker and a backup note-taker. These note-takers will be connected with the session-leaders in advance of the session.

Each morning at the conference the note-takers will sync up with session-leads and facilitators in person to review the plan for the sessions.


All note-takers should try to work in pairs, passing back-and-forth the primary role when each speaker changes, and filling in the gaps the other misses.

As the active note-taker in a pair, please write ??? when you missed/couldn't hear something, and hopefully your partner will be able to fill it in.

In your notes, please try to add the (usually unspoken) identifiers for:

  • INFO

to highlight whatever seems to be the most important points.

For session-leaders and all participants, it would be good to remind them to actively call out these identifiers, frequently throughout each session, to aid the note-takers.

End of day documentation sprints[edit]

At the end of the day, we will:

  • Copyedit / cleanup the etherpad notes, if needed
  • Copy & paste the content from etherpad into the associated phabricator task, as a new comment.
  • Talk with the session-leaders to find out if they have any other needs

Links to templates[edit]

Phabricator board, used to communicate the details of the session in advance of the event and gather pre-event input / post event comments.

Etherpads, used during the session to capture notes, are all setup and linked from the Program page.

Session outcome and next-steps template, can be combined with either of the above. Will be used to clearly and concisely summarize the session and call out proposals, decisions, next steps, owners, and action items from the sessions.


Incorporate any other ideas from last year's feedback (T185012)



  • Lead: Aubrey W
  • Attending in a "facilitator" capacity: Brooke S
  • Additional facilitators (volunteered in registration and confirmed later): Greg G, Deb T, more TBD

General plan[edit]

All facilitators for the technical conference will attend a pre-event training to get on the same page and learn some facilitation strategies.

Every morning at the conference facilitators will meet up with session-leads and note-takers to review the plan for the individual sessions.

Check out this overview of faciliation tips / ideas from a previous iteration of this event.

General Guidelines[edit]

Things facilitators will be focusing on:

  • Involving everyone / not one person talking too much (dominating the talk)
  • Staying on topic
  • Driving towards recommendations for next steps and possible action items around each topic. The attendees won't necessarily be making any irreversible decisions but they will be creating recommendations for future work to be based around.
  • Reminding the audience that relevant Phabricator tickets need to be updated
  • Checking-in / reality-checks when narrowing in on next-step recommendations: “Is there anyone in the room that sees a reason that this is not possible”
  • Keeping time
  • Being a neutral party/unbiased

Facilitation tips[edit]

From the WMF Team Practices Group links below[edit]

  • Leave flexibility for change
  • When possible, reserve time at the end to address topics that came up (event wide or session specific)
  • Physically moving takes longer than you expect
  • Try to use a variety of session formats, to keep the energy up
  • The larger the group, the more valuable it is to break out into smaller groups when possible/practical
    • Breakout groups generally need at least a roaming facilitator to help keep things on track; full facilitation would be ideal
  • Session formats: Options include pre-planned, semi-structured, unconference, unstructured
  • Facilitator(s) should plan to spend 1-2 hours preparing for every hour of facilitated session time (may not be possible at TechConf)
  • When possible, involve some physical movement within the session, such as having everyone get up and arrange post-its on a wall
  • When possible, get groups to split up; conversations with more than 5-10 people are especially difficult
    • But remember that splitting up, and reconvening, can take longer than one might expect
  • Beware of "shared-facilitation" sessions, where there is a presenter who is not a skilled facilitator
    • In advance, agree who will handle what aspects of facilitating any questions or discussion
  • Be familiar with the "groan zone" (where the group has diverged and is struggling to converge), and understand that it is impossible to predict how long a group will take to get through it to converge
  • Watch for opportunities to make sessions "optional", giving people who don't attend a chance to catch up on email or have small-group discussions
  • Introductions, diverging (generate ideas) and converging (prioritize).

Facilitation resources[edit]