From Wikimania 2011 • Haifa, Israel

Please leave feedback on what's worked well at Wikimania 2011, what could be better for next year, and any other ideas/suggestions for the Wikimania 2012 team.


  • Connectivity
    • Make sure plenty of electrical outlets and power strips everywhere
    • Make sure there is Wifi at the main venue during the WMF address and board meeting
    • Make sure that the Wifi is stable and coveres the main areas
  • Have a "VoIP booth" available for attendees to have a quiet place to call distant family members mid-conference.
    • Agree, and perhaps more things (fun things!) to help parents w/kids, or to keep in touch with kids back home
  • Have a lounge room open 24h for Wikimania attendees (with wifi!). We are not in Wikimania to sleep, we are here to hack!
  • Have a space for the public to interact with attendees - think of a "Meet the people behind Wiki[pm]edia" booth or so in a popular location near the venue.
  • Suggestion: Have a whiteboard or bulletin board where people can give feedback and leave messages.
  • Gilboa/Tavor were too small for some of the sessions
  • Air conditioning (especially in Cinemateque) often too cold. Also on the shuttle buses, with a large "18°" on display near the driver! Ah, I got a cold :-) --M7 12:43, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

+1 to: please more power plugs and strips (for notebooks), board for messages, 24h meeting room (with WiFi)

  • The venue was great (small and big rooms, nice meeting spaces inside and outside, central location with shopping possibilities etc. very near)
  • Bar stools (outside area) were a bit uncomfortable (I liked much more the armchairs on the first day ;-) ).
  • There were no ashtrays, using coffee cups was digusting. --Martina talk 22:03, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • I suspect the ashtray/smoking situation will be worse not better at DC (worse from the perspective of the smokers) as Israel is much more smoker friendly (or non-smoker unfriendly, if you prefer) than DC. Protonk 19:35, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • Putting ashtrays in public places has become illegal in Israel some five years ago. I suspect it is an imitation of the US anti-smoking regulations. Anyway, even if the venue owners adopted a lax attitude toward smoking, putting ashtrays would have been too much of a violation of the anti-smoking law. DrorK 06:47, 15 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Generally excellent in Haifa, but more accommodation for disability would be good (although I won't be disabled next year :P) and at least one smoke-free area where one can go to get air would be good (I don't mind smokers having the rest). Orderinchaos 17:46, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


  • Excellent organisation in general
  • Accommodation without adequate internet connection :(
    • Agree, most hotels didn't even have Internet in the price
  • Dorms quality good enough, although Talia ecc. were quite old and in need of some maintenance.
  • The presence of air conditioning at the Technion was very much appreciated, and people at other dorms told me that they struggled without it. CT Cooper · talk 11:09, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • More information about facilities available on the Technion campus (lounge with internet, food hall e.t.c.) before arrival would have been helpful, since I didn't know about them until I had been there a day. CT Cooper · talk 11:09, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Ganei Dan was in total a good choice (location, rooms, service).
  • WiFi flat should be included in hotel prices. 20 $ (11 €) per day was too expensive (and even didn't work because of bad connectivity, it took a whole day until these costs were cancelled.) --Martina talk 22:03, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Dorm quality was acceptable, even in the heat. The only problem with the dorms was the long transit time to the venue (I realize this was probably unavoidable). Protonk 18:44, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • chaotic registration: I reserved a single room and got a shared room while I've paid 345,27 Euro for four nights, which is too much!
  • We did not get any confirmation for payments (registration fee and accomodation). Nise81 08:22, 14 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
There was an electronic receipt sent by e-mail from PayPal. Ruslik 08:35, 14 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


  • Excellent organisation, good descriptions
  • Perfect shuttles, worked flawlessly
  • Missing to send bus lines from train station to dorms/hotels
  • Shuttle schedules in the program leaflet and on the wiki were incomplete, didn't list some of the evening shuttles. If you're gonna run schedules, document them. All of them.
  • When I was questioned about Ben Gurion Airport when leaving Israel, the man I talked to knew I was talking about Wikimania, which was very helpful. However EL Al Security at Heathrow Airport appeared to know nothing, and looked at me bemused when I said I was going to Wikimania, and even more so when I said it was taking place over the Sabbath. CT Cooper · talk 11:31, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • +1 for better shuttle documentation. Even on the wiki (someone added it over the course of the event) the schedules were not centralized and difficult to find. The transportation page had some schedules (or bus alternatives) and the accomodation page had others. Both should point to (or transclude) one set of schedules. Protonk 18:46, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Shuttles were excellent but as others have noted documentation was incomplete in the pack. Orderinchaos 17:47, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Minor point: rather than saying "and now the shuttle will leave" or "the shuttle leaves in ten minutes" at the parties, maybe you should give a first warning an hour in beforehand or something like that, so people will be prepared. Now it felt a bit abrupt. But on the whole, it worked just fine. /Julle 14:24, 19 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


Things that are not the organization team's fault...

  • Haifa in itself is not very walkable, the dorms were very far from the venue.
  • Public transportation in Haifa was quite poor: not frequent (you often had to wait 1 h for a bus, or at least 30 min on average), without signs or timetables or a fully working website, and generally unreliable.
    • Public transportation has a weekend schedule, which is less frequent, from Friday afternoon till Sunday morning. This was probably the reason for the long waits. The problem of signs and timetables is well-known to Israelis. The shuttles were supposed to be the solution for this problem (apart from joining the tent-protesters for lower housing costs and better public services :-) ).

Haifa was awesome! Signing for foreigners is underdeveloped but people helped kindly to find everything (locations, things to buy and so on) that I looked for (except party area at Nirwana Beach, no chance that time). --Martina talk 22:03, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I was actually impressed with the signs for foreigners. Most cities I've been to don't have that amount of signs in English. /Julle 14:26, 19 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


  • Session minders - have a minder in each room to make sure things start on time, speakers stay within their time slot, and keep things moving correctly. Make sure there is always water for speakers when they start, have the right adapters
  • Video adapters sadly, most folks leave their mini-DisplayPort dongles home, have them available
  • Efficient Q&A session - find some way to make this more efficient: have folks line up for Q&A, or have a method of taking 3-4 questions straight, and have panels/individuals respond, or let people put their questions on a wiki page or into an Etherpad, so that the presenters can take them from there
    • Most of the Q/A problems are solved by moderators, not schedules. A forceful moderator can cut short rambling non-questions and ensure everything remains on topic. Protonk 18:58, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Mini schedule in tag - this simple idea worked great in Wikimania 2011.
  • Last year, we had a Madness (a 30 sec talk by each presentor on their speech) each morning before the speeches. This helped everybody to choose the interesting/good presentations, and it marked the end of the breakfast break.
  • Don't try to squeeze everything in. Three sessions in a 90 minute block is plenty if you want to leave some room for conversation. Four is too much.
  • Explicit times in schedule. It was difficult to change tracks in a block, because of missing duration indication of presentations in the schedule.
  • Lightning Talks
    • Explain what they are and how to sign up by putting it on a sign in high profile space
    • Better to spread them out over several days, everyday. This year was all at the end. Make it parallel to some of the other tracks.
    • Use audible timer for lightning talks to keep people on time.
    • Lightning talks should also be spread out over two days. Placing a talk at the very end is a clear signal that it is less important than the rest of the sessions. I realize something needs to be last but bear this in mind. Protonk 19:04, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • I wonder about doing 'some' of these each morning (similar to the Madness done in Gdansk). In DC these could even lead to bigger discussions of things people were interested in during the unconference day. Jalexander 18:36, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Schedule on a wall. Since the schedules in the little book and in the conference book had at least one difference (a panel moved to a next day or smth like that), it would be very nice to have a schedule somewhere, which is known as the main and the most up to date, where participants may check in case of any doubt. Amikeco 22:34, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Ever have a session chair who leads everything. Start the session right in time, gives a short intro, introduction of the speakers, have a look at the time and guided through the diskcussion. Marcus Cyron 20:27, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • More discussion time at the end of presentations - sometimes there was as little as 2 or 3 minutes, when we have perspectives from all over the world in the room, the presentations can be greatly enriched by sharing them. Although in saying this, moderators should try and deal with people who ask 1-minute-long questions :P Orderinchaos 17:49, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Please, please, please make sure talks (or panels) end when they're supposed to end. There has to be a moderator who can step in if needed. This was the main problem during the conference, I'd say – some presentations had to be rather hurried, as the previous presentations ate all the time. /Julle 14:22, 19 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


  • 60 partial scholarship were awarded. This meant a reimbursment of $425 (300€), even if most flights are much more expensive. That's sad because you can't change the place you're living. Why don't we adjust the reimbursement system: eg. pay the full flight (economy!), or 50% of it, or a combination of both (100% till 300€, 50% for the rest)
    I don't actually understand this point: was the scholarship too little for some of the recipient to get to Wikimania? How many of them refused it? --Nemo 15:35, 9 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • I think the point is that some regions of the world are naturally more expensive to come from - I'm in Australia and a $3000 return ticket to just about anywhere is pretty normal, so $425 would barely even be worth applying for; same is true for the South Americans and many East Asians; whilst from some parts of Europe it would probably cover most expenses. Orderinchaos 17:51, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • my flight was 400€ (acceptable difference), but others came from Brazil and had to pay almost the double. It's sad the scholarship doens't pay attention to possibility flights are much more expensive. Paying back 50% (or 100% up to 300$ and 50% for the rest) would solve this problem MADe 19:50, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • My flight would have been ~1,200 dollars from Chicago to Tel Aviv. A 300 dollar scholarship could have defrayed some of that cost (not mentioning accommodation) but I could not have attended with a 300 dollar scholarship. Protonk
      • It was originally going to be $300, but it was raised to $425 when the results of the applications were announced. I could not have come with either amount on its own, so I got some additional money from outside sources. CT Cooper · talk 20:35, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Partial scholarships are vulnerable to the exchange rate to people living outside the United States (e.g. $2 to £1 -> $425 to £212.50 vs. $1 to £1 -> $425 to £425), which wasn't much of an issue for me this year, but could be in the future if the exchange rate dramatically changes between accepting a partial scholarship and being reimbursed. CT Cooper · talk
  • There needs to be clearer documentation on how exactly the scholarships are sorted through and decided. The scoring criteria was posted but it was vague and of limited use without any context e.g. your own scores. It also needs to be made clear that if you sign-up for a partial scholarship you are saying "I can definitely afford to go with a partial scholarship", and that you won't get a full one, rather than "I might not be able to afford a partial scholarship, but I will sign-up for one just in case I don't meet the criteria for a full one and my financial position changes". CT Cooper · talk 11:24, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Scholarships should be given earlier so that people have the chance to get early bird prices for flights and hotels. (My flight was half as expensive as the flights of several scholarship attendees.) --Martina talk 22:03, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Agree with the idea of partial scholarship being a percentage of total expenses. I came from India and the 425$ worked out to be 30% of my total expenses (including registration and dorms). It is a bit a steep for people from third world countries. Next year to DC, the flight tickets alone will cost nearly 1600 $ - a partial scholarship wouldnt make much of a difference -Sodabottle 09:12, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Please fill in the questionnaire if you want to address this problem: Questionnaire MADe 20:26, 17 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


What would you like to see in DC area? what can we help coordinate?

  • ...


  • It seems that lots and lots of throw-away cups and other eating stuff have been used. Please keep the environment in mind, imho.
    • +1, this has been a concern for some years. -- Fuzheado 06:38, 7 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • Garbage was the major weakness from my perspective as well. What about a Wikimedia 2012 mug instead of all those throw-away cups? -- Mietchen 19:34, 7 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • +1. At least add self-service stations where people can refill their cups instead of getting new (half-filled!) ones all the time. --Tobias 20:44, 8 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • Also, why were glasses always half-full? This often forced you to take more than one... --Nemo 15:35, 9 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • +1 I asked for a water refill and the catering people complied and were friendly about my request. Ok, plastic cups are disposable and recyclable, but it's best to try to limit the number you use. A marker can also be used to put initials on cups when partying or dining, so you can lay your cup on a table and get it back later. --M7 12:39, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • But this way everything kept kosher! Catfisheye 09:54, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
        • Throw-away dishes are indeed a convenient way to comply with kosher food instructions (which is the standard in Israel since everyone is willing to eat it, including observant Muslims, and vegetarians also find it easier to handle because of the meat vs. dairy separation). Nevertheless, I agree that there was overuse of this kind of dishes. At first I thought of asking them to refill my plastic cup, but then I saw they prepared the filled cups in advance, so they would have thrown them anyway, whether I had asked for refill or not. This thing was completely at the catering company's discretion, and I doubt if someone can compel these companies to act otherwise. If there is a list of "green instruction" (like there are kosher food instructions), then perhaps future organizers can ask the catering company to follow them, but I don't know of such a list of instructions. DrorK 06:37, 15 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Food labeling. I.e. what is vegetarian/vegan/kosher/...
    • I know people from the organizing team asked to separate the meat from the fish and other similar requirements, but the catering company failed to comply with this demand. DrorK 06:37, 15 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Excellent food planing with one small exception: On the Jerusalem there was no supper and it seemed some people did not realize that and got no food. It's perfectly fine not to provide supper, but it seemed that communicating that clearly would have helped.
  • This year there was often much less space than needed to sit down (or even stand up) and eat.
  • The food was great!! Water should always be available. --Martina talk 22:03, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • [1] were not very hygienic; the catering people used their hands as funnels to fill them.


  • It would be useful to have a "one pager" with all the vital info that can be printed or transferred to an iPad, so that everything is in one place for a traveller to Wikimania. Even though folks are using different means to get to the conf, some things should be universally useful:
    • Address of venue
    • Emergency phone number, and person in charge
    • Most typical transport scenario for airport->transit->venue and estimated costs
    • Basic info on money exchange rate, and best options for money changing, tipping guidelines
    • Electrical outlet information, picture of plug types
    • Telecom choices
      • Which cell phone provider (AT&T and T-Mobile) sell GSM pre-paid SIM chips
      • Which 3G WCDMA options (AT&T) and pay-as-you-go
    • A few basic important phrases in local language
    • Small map of the area: venue and housing
      • +1 the idea of a one-page reference. I showed up to Haifa with about sixty printed pages from the wiki in an attempt to have on hand all the information I would need (since my phone data plan didn't work there). A one- or two-page condensed guide would be awesome. Fluffernutter 15:44, 9 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Keep always in mind that Wikimania is, most of all, a social event. Haifa organizers did great in this sense: big and comfortable areas to sit and talk, welcoming party, evening cocktail,etc etc.
  • Badges
    • Should be color-coded to distinguish different groups of people: conference organizers, press, WMF staff (??), speakers, etc. Making organizers easily recognizable is especially important; slightly less so for press and WMF staff
    • Should be double-sided. Badges flip over all the time
    • Should be plentiful. Makeshift/temporary badges shouldn't be necessary if you print more than you think you'll need
      • And please make sure you have enough lanyards. When I checked in on Thursday, they were out of them, and eventually I got only a University of Haifa one instead of the cool Wikimania one I wanted :( Fluffernutter 15:44, 9 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • Double sided names, home wikis (I know I included my home wiki and username on my registration and I just had my full name on the badge), and colors for staff/dev/volunteer/etc. All of these came up on the mailing list and are great ideas. Protonk 18:50, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • Please prepair coloured round stickers which people can put on their badges when they do not agree to being photographed (or two colours: red = no photos, green = photos okay) --Martina talk 22:03, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Wikimania pockets caused a little security issue at the airport for me and one Hungarian guy. We got an extra queue, they did phone calls about the pockets and my luggage got completly packed out. --Martina talk 22:03, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • More XL/XXL tshirts! They ran out very quickly, which is strange considering the general girth of many Wikimedians (myself included)... Orderinchaos 17:55, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Conference suggests proprietary instead of free database. Why?

  • I am somewhat estonished. Wikimania is the conference about free knowledge. Thus I do not understand why its mainpage suggests uploading videos on proprietary youtube and photos on Flickr. Also the "official" videos are uploaded on the proprietary youtube. Why not suggest and upload on the only free multimedia database of the internet, which is called Wikimedia Commons? For the next conference I suggest to prepare some "Wikimania 2012" categories and galleries there in order to upload the videos and photos there. Then the "official" videos can be directly linked in the schedule as soon as videos are available.

Further I would suggest to scan the video screen directly. In the many cases this would be more helpful than watching the presenter. Here is an example of the OpenStreetMap conference, how this could be done with a simple private equipment. Regards -- Tirkon 19:37, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

  • I find screencasts of good presentations very hard to watch. A good presenter should use minimal information on slides and convey most of the information orally (or at least convey different information than what is on the slides). As such it is a little more engaging to see video of someone pacing and gesturing than a slide with 2-3 bullet points for 2 minutes. Protonk 19:31, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • A picture is worth a thousand words. Example Sue Gardner: She looks to the screen, says only one word and the whole hall is cheering and clapping. The video watcher has no clue, why. This is recurrent. A video should give the watcher the opportunity to understand, what is going on, regardless whether the presentation is good or not. Without showing a recognisable screen this is impossible. -- Tirkon 12:01, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • Resolution of this should be left to a competent editor for the major talks. For a keynote or plenary there should be two cameras (or one camera and a feed from the presentation). where a portion of the presentation is important it should be shown on screen. Otherwise we can see the presenter. At the very least the use of slideshare style tools over an audio feed should be a last resort. Protonk 00:40, 17 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I'm happy to let Free take a backseat to practicality and widespread use. Protonk 19:31, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

+1 Protonk. Orderinchaos 17:56, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
+1. They should be on Commons too, but the point of Wikimedia material being free is that it means that we can spread it freely, to make it available to as big an audience as possible. Refusing to use Youtube and Flickr does not help that mission. /Julle 14:17, 19 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
You are right. But not to mention Commons at all, cannot be true and is a shame. Why not trust our own free Multimedia Database to make it the first choice of multimedia for people in future? If we ourselves do not have confidence in that, how this should become true? -- Tirkon 00:40, 15 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]



Other general comments

Music for parties

I know I'm getting old but the music for the opener party, the party in the garden and the party on the beach was all too loud. I stood as far from the speakers as possible and I had to yell in order to be heard. Music is wonderful and a live band can be loud, but if the music is pre-recorded there is no reason to disrupt conversation and mingling (especially cross-language!) with obnoxiously loud music. Protonk 18:53, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Yes it was a little loud for my tastes also. I had to shout in order to have a decent conversation or to order a drink. CT Cooper · talk 19:57, 12 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
+1. Parties are for conversations at least as they are for dancing. Shovel 13:11, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
+1 to all of the above. Nothing wrong with having loud music, but reasonably sized quiet areas where people can talk comfortably with new (or old) friends is also needed. Orderinchaos 18:59, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, this was one of my main problems as well. I don't need music at things like Wikimania, I don't miss music when it's not there, but I also don't mind – as long as I can have conversations. Wednesday evening was OK for me, but Thursday we left and found a bar to be able to continue our conversation, and when I wanted to have a serious discussion at the beach party we took a walk on the beach, or we would have missed things. As pointed out above, this is especially important when many participants are speaking something else than their native tongue. /Julle 14:12, 19 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


Anybody knows something about the user Drbug (Vladimir V. Medeyko) after the Wikimania? Bnjklo 12:00, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Last edit in ru-wiki (13/08) Shovel 13:13, 13 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Star for all the organizers

This was my first Wikimania ever, and I was very content about it. It was amazing to see how big Wikimania realy is and how many people are involved. The accomodations were good and everything was perfectly organised during the conference. Only during the Jeruzalem tour there was a delay with the busses, which unfortunately resulted in the fact that we couldn't see everything we wanted. But still, it was a nice first experience with Wikimania, and changes are high that I will be joining the next Wikimania in Washington.

As a special thank you, I present the Wikimania Barnstar as a gift to all the organizers and volunteers who made this Wikimania possible:

Thank you. Maniago 16:18, 17 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Wikimedians not present at Wikimania

Wikimania is a nice place for people meeting in real life, but most of the users around the globe weren't present. I would suggest a way to digitally being present if one can't be physically present. I think that Wikimania should be a physical event to meet people as a digital event for people to meet each other. I think two things can be thought of: 1. Digitally being present with the presentations, live or afterwards (that day) being able to watch. 2. Being able to get in contact with users at Wikimania and around the globe in different ways, perhaps creating a platform (?) for that. Romaine 04:23, 3 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]