Wikimania is postponed until 2021.
A letter from Katherine Maher to the Wikimedia Community
18 March 2020
As a part of the Wikimedia movement’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are postponing Wikimania Bangkok 2020. This decision was made with the full support of the ESEAP host team and Wikimania Committee. Together, we will hold Wikimania in Bangkok in 2021.
We are filled with sadness to not see you all in Bangkok in August. However, we are confident that this is the best possible decision for the well-being of our global community and public health overall. This decision was proposed by the ESEAP organizers in line with their countries’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is in line with recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO).
You are certain to have many questions. We hope to answer some of your questions below. We will continue to answer questions on the Wikimania Meta-Wiki page and on the Wikimania Telegram group chat (more information below).
What does “postponing” Wikimania mean?
We will not host an in-person Wikimania in 2020. We are rescheduling Wikimania Bangkok until 2021. The ESEAP organizing team will continue their work as a regional collaborative between affiliates in the East, South East, and Pacific regions to host us in Thailand next year.
The hotel and venue in Bangkok will remain the same. We have not yet finalized dates for 2021. We will work with the ESEAP team and Wikimania Steering Committee to confirm new dates. We will let you know these dates by the end of 2020.
The good news is that Wikimania 2021 will coincide with Wikipedia’s 20th birthday year. We expect this to be a truly memorable Wikimania -- an opportunity to celebrate reconnection after a year apart, along with the remarkable accomplishment of two decades of free knowledge.
Will there be an alternative to the in-person event?
There are no plans by the 2020 Wikimania hosts to organize a virtual, online event. Hosting Wikimania is a lot of work. The ESEAP team is committed to hosting the best possible in-person event in Bangkok in 2021. Therefore, they will not have the capacity to organize a virtual Wikimania this year.
However, the Wikimania committee, the ESEAP host team, and the Wikimedia Foundation all recognize that other members of the community may be interested in organizing a remote, global Wikimedia event for 2020. Although the Wikimedia Foundation does not have the capacity at this time to lead the organizing of a virtual online conference, we recognize others may have the desire to do so.
We welcome discussion about online events. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Wikimania Steering Committee and Wikimania Foundation staff for advice on the Wikimania Meta-Wiki page.
We are also considering proposals for improving the capacity of communities to organize local virtual convenings, and for how we can support communities in organizing impromptu local and regional Wikimedia events once the pandemic passes. As the situation has been changing rapidly we are still working on specifics and will share more information in the coming weeks.
What does this mean for scholarship applications?
We are working on a plan for how to process Wikimania 2020 scholarship applications. We will share more information in the coming weeks.
How was this decision made?
This recommendation was made by the ESEAP organizers based on what we know about the current COVID-19 global health pandemic and current WHO guidelines. The decision was made together with the ESEAP team in consultation with the Wikimania Steering Committee and Wikimedia Foundation. Together we are fully and unanimously aligned around this decision.
Although we are genuinely sad to not have the opportunity to see you all this year, we also are fully supportive of this decision in all of our best interests. It allows our ESEAP community hosts to focus on the immediate needs of their families, local Wikimedia communities, and local communities as a whole. It is in line with global public health guidance and aligns the Wikimedia movement as a responsible actor in support of our common public good.
We want to thank all volunteers and affiliates that have been involved with planning Wikimania. We’re especially appreciative of the ESEAP for their leadership, flexibility, and compassion, as we have worked together to make some difficult decisions on this important event.
Where can I learn more about Wikimania 2021?
There are a number of channels where Wikimania is regularly discussed and where plans for 2021 will be posted as they develop. We welcome all interested participants to bring together our collective wisdom and creativity to discuss what happens next with Wikimania. You can find these channels here:
Where can I learn more about COVID-19 and Wikimedia?
We know the Wikimedia community as generous and altruistic. Unsurprisingly, many volunteers have started applying their skills and attention to this current global pandemic. The Foundation created a page on Meta-Wiki where we can share and document the steps the Foundation and movement members are taking and ways to participate. We invite you to join us in documenting more about our collective response: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/COVID-19
Our world, and many of our lives, have changed rapidly over these past few weeks. Yet we can look to history to take comfort that crises are also often moments when people put aside differences, prioritize community and care, and find ways to connect. The sense of community and purpose within the Wikimedia movement is a powerful rejoinder to these uncertain times.
This is a moment in which not only what we do, but how we do it, will make a meaningful impact on the world. We are so grateful for all that you do as a movement to continue to rise to the challenges of our moment.
Please, stay safe and take care.
Katherine, on behalf of the:
ESEAP Core Organizing Team
Wikimania Steering Committee
Wikimedia Foundation Events Team
P.S. You can help translate and share this message via Meta-Wiki.
You can also find additional information about Wikimedia's other actions regarding COVID-19 on Meta-Wiki:
Katherine Maher (hon/henne)