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2021:Present and future

From Wikimania

Page about the present and future of Wikimania 2021 that was 100% online. Read more and feel free to contribute! ❤️️

Many of these notes apply primarily to an upcoming online Wikimania, but could be useful in a live Wikimania as well.

We respect copyright[edit | edit source]

☐ COPYRIGHT-1 · We respect copyright and we don't steal from volunteers
We are the Wikimedia Movement and contributors must not violate other-people's copyright. For the same reason, Wikimedia Foundation must not violate volunteers' copyright.
Example: If a person (e.g. volunteer) makes a presentation under CC BY-SA, the video should not be uploaded on YouTube as-is. This must involve extra cares, because YouTube applies a "YouTube standard license" that is quite an "all rights reserved" as default, and that is not good and surely is not compatible with CC BY and/or CC BY-SA. In short, if all the authors have not agreed on this, this is a copyright violation.
Note: YouTube has a license selector. They support the "CC BY" but not the "CC BY-SA".
Practical: → In YouTube it would be better to always select at least the "CC BY" license to demonstrate openness in good faith, and we must do our best to clarify in the video description the supposed correct credits, eventually explicitly giving a mention to "CC BY-SA", with a link to https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ and mentioning authors names, as the authors want.
Practical: → Before publishing the YouTube video, always contact video authors to be sure that the video description reports the correct video credits.
Example: also, YouTube applies Digital rights management on the video and this is one of the things expressly not allowed by CC BY-SA[1]. Again, extra details in the video description to respect the authors' copyright are necessary on YouTube.
Practical: → Better to first upload the video on a Free platform with a robust License system and without DRM, like Wikimedia Commons, PeerTube, etc. and only then, on secondary platforms, like YouTube. So the link to Wikimedia Commons can be added in the YouTube video description.

We don't believe in digital restrictions[edit | edit source]

☐ DIGITALRESTRICTIONS-1 · We do not tolerate digital restrictions (DRM)
We are the Wikimedia Movement and we do not tolerate digital barriers to Free knowledge.
Example: We should not promote YouTube as main platform, or any other platform that applies DRM (Digital rights management) to the Libre contents generated by the Wikimedia Community, like presentations. If a platform does not allow to show a video without DRM, and if the platform does not allow to download the contents (without being against the terms of use), the platform is not OK.[2]
Note that DRM are also not allowed by CC BY-SA.

No human identification as default[edit | edit source]

In Wikimedia we believe in an Internet where you don't have to identify yourself to express yourself, help others, contribute.
What's the problem
In order to participate to Wikimania 2021 online, participants were asked for their first name, last names and email (via Eventbrite).
Why it's not good
Wikipedia is an online project designed to allow user anonymization. Unlike Big Techs, Wikipedia does not try to identify every human being. The Wikipedia registration process is designed to protect you, hiding your IP address, encouraging you to choose a nice nickname, while allowing you to be trusted, mentioned, thanked, banned, etc. without requiring human identification.
It's true that during live events there may be anti-terrorism laws requiring identification but, on the Internet, Wikipedia teaches that human identification can be just unuseful, bad or dangerous.
☐ HUMAN-1 · Reduce necessary data
Reduce necessary data from participants to the bare minimum. e.g. Ask yourself: do I really need this? Make an effort to ask for the bare essentials, like a nickname instead of the name etc.
☐ HUMAN-2 · Stop asking sexual orientation
In some countries, like Afghanistan, homosexuality is punished with the death penalty. So, If you want to be inclusive, never ask sensitive information in any questionnaire that can be associated to a first name, last name, nickname or any address. The lives of volunteers are more important than statistical curiosity.
☐ HUMAN-3 · Explain what is mandatory or optional
e.g. it is okay to expand the requested data, asking for the date of birth to send birthday wishes during the event ecc. but allow people to say no.
☐ HUMAN-4 · Explain data processing purpose
e.g. many governments apply mass surveillance "for security reasons" but we don't work that way. We clarify detailed purposes.[3][4]
☐ HUMAN-5 · Handle privacy concerns
e.g. make sure there is a designated person so that we can process volunteers privacy concerns in time and before the beginning of the conference.[3][4]

Organize publicly, no black boxes[edit | edit source]

Don't privately organize something public. Get more eyes, more ideas, more feedback, more input, but don't separate them in secret places, like in a database of a questionnaire, just for the eyes of your team.
What's the problem
Wikimania 2021 was mainly organized with private meetings and/or private documents with final decisions affecting 2000 participants. The dedicated wiki was used, but sometime leaving participants alone on talk pages. Some talk pages were not participated by any organizer, even after weeks.[3][4] The only official answer was often something like We have everything under control, we are aware of this issue, we don't need any help from volunteers now, we will decide soon the tasks of the volunteers, sometime without any public follow up or triage, about critical issues like user registration, privacy policy, tech decisions, the impact on users' freedoms, ecc.[3][4]
Why it's not good
Wikipedia says that contents are not governed by a Wikimedia Foundation editorial team, and anyway not in secret talks. Both the content and the software, before any substantial changes are made, are subjected to public talks, request for comments and review, to reach consensus and compromises and go ahead. Even if Wikimania 2021 could have been an opportunity to include more people from an organizational point of view, this did not happen. The namespace zero was used only for announcements but talk pages in the Wikimania wiki were not actively participated by organizers, sometime missing «OK, I've read, I need some time to answer, I've reported this to my coworker Foo Bar». This kind of public answers are not just a courtesy or a matter of respect, they are just how Wikimedia projects work. Instead, answers like «thank you for this feedback but it's too late to discuss this or fix this» after a few hours after the announcement, it means something has been wrong since the beginning.
☐ PUBLIC-1 · Share ideas before implementation
e.g. We don't communicate only with final decisions via late announcements. We discuss early, share stubs, or participants will be not able to make useful contributions. This allows to avoid a climate of belated criticism, rather than taking advantage of feedback.[3][5]
☐ PUBLIC-2 · Free (Libre) license as default
e.g. We make sure that, by default, organizational contributions are freely licensed except where noted, because most information are useful to improve and replicate the event and share it to the community.
☐ PUBLIC-3 · Work publicly and invites others
e.g. In the Wikimedia movement we don't keep all meetings on private "Google Meets" or confidential documents on "Google Docs"; we take advantage of the Linus's law instead.
☐ PUBLIC-4 · Collaborative triage
e.g. If help is needed, we say it. If the person who asked the question can help, let them help. We try to fix a problem, not workaround it. A good answer is "Thank you, but don't know how to help. Let's contact @foo who is my boss / coworker / friend." A bad answer is "we are working on it" without saying who or how. In addition, for any public question, share a public answer, otherwise, others can't easily know if you've already tried to help someone.
☐ PUBLIC-5 · Watch and reply talk pages
e.g. There are simple but powerful tools to help in noticing participants' messages. We can just visit talk pages more often or use the watchlist button. It's really nice when in a discussion the organizers are the first to participate, without pings after weeks etc.

Don't boycott software freedom[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia is up and running thanks to GNU/Linux, not only because it works better, but because it's the way to keep control of every brick on the Wikipedia wall. Keep GNU/Linux support as high priority, not in the bottom of your TODO column.
No one can support every operating system in the world but there is a problem if you don't support even one GNU/Linux operating system (like the one in the image) and if you recommend proprietary software instead.
What's the problem
Wikimania 2021 was held on a proprietary tool called Remo. One of the problems of this solution is that it officially didn't support any Free/Libre operating system like GNU/Linux and, instead, it encouraged to 2000 Wikimedians the use of proprietary operating systems, like Apple macOS and Microsoft Windows.[6]
Why it's not good
While it's not needed to be as awesome as Wikipedia (supporting lot of weird browser webs on whatever operating system, on any device and toaster), the Wikimedia movement should fight a web "supported only on Internet Explorer" or "not supported on Linux" or whatsoever. Such statement simply boycotts free/libre activists and simply ask lot of Wikimedia volunteers to stay out.
☐ FLOSS-0 · Participation must be allowed with Free/Libre software
e.g. While it makes sense to focus development on just a few browsers; putting a red message telling to do not use GNU/Linux in any form, or saying to just download "Google Chrome" (instead of any free/libre browser web like Firefox or Chromium etc.) is a discrimination that just cannot be tolerated[6]

Proprietary software is a bug[edit | edit source]

It's not just a matter of a license. Proprietary software can perform digital surveillance and control over participants, by design, and can be very difficult (if not impossible) to discover and remove.
What's the problem
The use of proprietary software was the official way to participate in Wikimania 2021. In addition, no Free/Libre solutions had been provided for most operations.
Why it's not good
Wikipedia is designed by Free/Libre Software. Our developers work from all over the world, listed in the credits file for the glory of the centuries. They have lot of power and can do really terrible things once they land on your CPU, but they try to respect you and have as little control over you as possible. They work for your freedom even if you don't care, and even if some people do not consider it a priority, in order to have every feature of your favorite encyclopedia in your hands, without sending data to external companies, without executing any proprietary line of JavaScript, without running proprietary trackers or any hidden bitcoin miner. We believe in an accessible web where Free knowledge is not delivered to you in an attempt to own your device. It's important to have tools that can be used, modified, disseminated for any purpose. You should not have negative technological influence over hundreds of other people just because it's simpler for you. Proprietary software is a bug and we should fix it.
☐ FLOSS-1 · Invest on Free/Libre and Open Source software, in any case
e.g. if Wikimania invested on proprietary software, the same fund, or higher, should be allocated in Free software (development, donations, ecc.). Otherwise, the problem will never be solved with Free software since no virtuous circle is created.
☐ FLOSS-2 · Be careful when imposing proprietary software on all participants and organizers
e.g. consider to fix, redesign, postpone the conference, ask for help, etc. instead of making the Wikimedia movement less consistent with the Wikimedia Foundation technology statement.[3][7][8]
☐ FLOSS-3 · Consider proprietary software not as a feature but as a bug
Yes, a bug can be useful sometime… but it remains a bug and should be fixed.
☐ FLOSS-4 · Involve Free/Libre experts and give them a budget and responsibilities
e.g. some people are good at managing a conference schedule, others are good at securing people's digital freedoms. Hardly everyone in can do both. That's why it's important to involve experts about Free/Libre and Open Source software, able to evaluate technological choices to protect participants' digital freedoms. Also, it's not smart to say "in point of fact, there does not seem to *exist* a non-proprietary platform that can host a 2000+ online conference"[9] because it's just untrue, without contacting anyone publicly, without involving LibrePlanet, FOSSDEM, or any other local expert who have done similar conferences. Contacting in private a couple of technicians for an opinion has proven to be a failure. That's why it's important to have more Free/Libre and Open Source experts and assure them a sufficient budget and leeway.

Software post-mortem[edit | edit source]

Technology proposed by Wikimania 2021 organizers Sustainability problems Available solutions Accepted replacement during Wikimania 2021
Google Forms
  • it does not work without executing proprietary JavaScript
  • embedded proprietary user tracking (Google Analytics)
  • Google profiling (users logged into Google do the questionnaire anonymously but Google knows exactly who they are)
WMIT LimeSurvey
  • it does not work without executing proprietary JavaScript
  • embedded proprietary user tracking (Cloudfront Analytics, Linkedin analytics, ...)
  • controversial unclear / proprietary / minified / specially obfuscated external dependencies
    • Amazon AWS
    • Amplitude
    • Datadog
    • Bugsnag
    • ChargeBee
    • Clearbit
    • CloudFront
    • Facebook
    • Fastly
    • Firebase
    • FirstPromoter
    • FreshWork
    • G2Crowd
    • Google
    • Hellobar
    • HS Analytics
    • HubSpot
    • IPfy
    • LiCDN
    • Miro
    • OpenTok
    • Run.app
    • Split.io
    • Unsplash,com
    • websiteFiles.com
    • ...
  • pay Remo to convert it as Free software
    • on-premise
    • self-hosted
  • adopt WorkAdventure[10]
    • on-premise
    • self-hosted
  • adopt anything else Free software
none (discussion)
  • it does not work without executing proprietary JavaScript
  • controversial unclear / proprietary / minified / specially obfuscated external dependencies
    • Facebook.com
    • Google.com
    • Amazon AWS
    • fastly
    • cloudfront
    • ...
  • embedded proprietary user tracking (Google Analytics)
none (discussion)
Jitsi Meeting
  • sustainable
    • respects digital Freedoms of users
    • warning: some providers can taint the software with Google Analytics

Not necessary but we can also:

  • adopt BigBlueButton
  • adopt EduMeet
  • adopt anything else Free software
Jitsi Meeting
  • it does not work without executing proprietary JavaScript
  • embedded proprietary user tracking (Google Analytics)
  • controversial unclear / proprietary / minified / specially obfuscated external dependencies
    • Cloudflare.net
    • Google
    • Fastly.net
    • newrelic
    • Pingdom.net
    • realtimeboard.com
    • Wistia.net
  • other risks unclear (nobody verified)
none (discussion)
  • it does not work without executing proprietary / minified / obfuscated JavaScript
pending discussion[11][12]
  • sustainable
    • respects digital Freedoms of users
    • hosted by Wikimedia
    • warning: pads may disappear and are not stable so information should be transferred to a wiki (the same is true of Google Docs)

YouTube (live)

NOTE: There is nothing wrong in having also a video on YouTube, but the conference should not require YouTube.

Having said that:

  • YouTube does not work without executing proprietary JavaScript
  • YouTube does not support the Wikipedia license (CC BY-SA) and also it does not support public domain (CC0)
  • YouTube applies DRM on our libre contents
    → this is against CC BY-SA


  • Invidious: it's a great, unofficial, FLOSS, YouTube frontend, but it can be censored by Google at any time since Google does not approve it in their terms of service. So, just using YouTube, since we can adopt Invidious, is not feasible.
no stream solution adopted
  • Green
  • Red
  • bold
    controversial topic
    • e.g. expose participants' data to companies with declared interest in mass profiling for advertising purposes
    • e.g. risks of remote code execution via proprietary obfuscated JavaScript from third parties
    • e.g. extension of the privacy policy to a large number of employees or non-obvious sub-corporations
  • thanks to Wikimedia Italia for proposing their LimeSurvey as alternative to Google Form after the first Wikimania Google Form has been published
  • thanks to user Elfego who worked hard to migrate from Google Form to WMI LimeSurvey together with the WMIT tech community
What to do
  • reach all the Goals listed above
  • fix all the problems listed in the column Sustainability problems. Examples:
  • participants need to register without proprietary software and without being tracked and identified
    → e.g. consider discontinuing Eventbrite immediately with one of the many proposed solutions[3]
  • Remo has a big slice of the conference but participants may not want to have their Wikipedia identity connected to a myriad of third party companies like oogle, Facebook and Amazon
    → e.g. pay Remo to fix this problem / don't adopt Remo / involve LibrePlanet organizers, FOSSDEM organizers, Free/Libre and Open Source experts, to receive help / ...
  • ...

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. You may not offer or impose any additional or different terms or conditions on, or apply any Effective Technological Measures to, the Licensed Material if doing so restricts exercise of the Licensed Rights by any recipient of the Licensed Material.https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode
  2. https://www.youtube.com/static?template=terms
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 2021 talk:Registration#About registration (period, free software, ..)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 wmf:Talk:Wikimania 2021 Registration Form Privacy Statement#Purpose is still unclear
  5. https://t.me/wikimaniachat/12096
  6. 6.0 6.1 https://help.remo.co/en/support/solutions/articles/63000251000-what-operating-devices-and-browsers-are-supported-on-remo-conference-
  7. 2021:Submissions/Help_desk#Remo is Free software. Isn't it?
  8. https://wikimediafoundation.org/technology/
  9. https://t.me/wikimaniachat/10094
  10. WorkAdventure SaaS has proprietary trackers at the moment. WorkAdventure on-premise has Free JavaScript.
  11. https://t.me/wikimaniachat/12046
  12. m:User talk:JLetang (WMF)#Wikimania 2021, last survey: can we migrate to LimeSurvey?

See also[edit | edit source]