2021:Present and future

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This page proposes a list of goals for the future of Wikimania after Wikimedia 2021 online. Read more and feel free to contribute.

Most of these notes also apply in the case of a live Wikimania, but especially for an upcoming online Wikimania.

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 had to disclose to organizers (and to third party companies) their first and last name.
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, hide your IP address, encourages 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 are anti-terrorism laws requiring identification but, on the Internet, Wikipedia teaches that human identification can be just unuseful, bad or dangerous.
Goals
☐ Reduce the 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.
☐ Explain what data is mandatory and what is 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.
☐ Don't ask for personal data giving too general purposes
e.g. many governments apply mass surveillance "for security reasons" but we don't work that way. Clarify detailed purposes.[1][2]
☐ Purposes for data collection must be provided prior to the event
e.g. make sure there is a designated person so that each reported privacy criticality doesn't hung for a month or until the beginning of the conference.[1][2]

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.[1][2] 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.[1][2]
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.
Goals
☐ Publish ideas as soon as possible
e.g. don't communicate only with final decisions via late announcements. Discuss early, share your 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 normal feedback.[1][3]
☐ Free/Libre license as default
e.g. make sure that, by default, organizational contributions are freely licensed except where noted, because most information are useful to improve and replicate the event.
☐ Work publicly and invites others
e.g. don't keep all meetings on private "Google Meets" or confidential documents on "Google Docs"; take advantage of the Linus's law instead.
☐ Transparent triage
e.g. If help is needed, say it. If the person who asked the question can help, let them help. 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.
☐ Listen proactively
e.g. There are simple but powerful tools to help you in noticing participants' messages. Visit talk pages more often. Use the watchlist button. Etc. It's really nice when in a discussion the organizers are the first to participate, without pings after weeks etc.

Don't boycott GNU/Linux[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 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.[4]
Why it's not good
Wikipedia is a great project designed with a very wide support in mind, to lot of weird browser webs on whatever operating system, on any device and toaster. While it's not needed to be as awesome as Wikipedia, the web has struggled enormously to end the times of "supported only on Internet Explorer".
Goals
☐ Avoid solutions excluding any Free/Libre operating system
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 is a discrimination that cannot be tolerated.[4]

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.
Goals
☐ 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.
☐ 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.[1][5][6]
☐ 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.
☐ 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"[7] 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 Proposed solutions Accepted replacement
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
Remo
  • 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[8]
    • on-premise
    • self-hosted
  • adopt anything else Free software
none (discussion)
Eventbrite
  • 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 BitBlueButton
  • adopt EduMeet
  • adopt anything else Free software
Jitsi Meeting
Miro
  • 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)
Qualtrics
  • it does not work without executing proprietary / minified / obfuscated JavaScript
pending discussion[9][10]
Etherpad
  • sustainable
    • respects digital Freedoms of users
    • hosted by Wikimedia
    • warning: pages may dissapear and are not stable so information should be transferred to a wiki (the same is true of Google Docs)
Etherpad
Legend
  • Green
    Sustainability
  • Red
    Unsustainability
  • 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
Credits
  • 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[1]
  • 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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 2021 talk:Registration#About registration (period, free software, ..)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 wmf:Talk:Wikimania 2021 Registration Form Privacy Statement#Purpose is still unclear
  3. https://t.me/wikimaniachat/12096
  4. 4.0 4.1 https://help.remo.co/en/support/solutions/articles/63000251000-what-operating-devices-and-browsers-are-supported-on-remo-conference-
  5. 2021:Submissions/Help_desk#Remo is Free software. Isn't it?
  6. https://wikimediafoundation.org/technology/
  7. https://t.me/wikimaniachat/10094
  8. WorkAdventure SaaS has proprietary trackers at the moment. WorkAdventure on-premise has Free JavaScript.
  9. https://t.me/wikimaniachat/12046
  10. m:User talk:JLetang (WMF)#Wikimania 2021, last survey: can we migrate to LimeSurvey?