European Wikimedians gathered in Tbilisi

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Friday, September 29, 2023

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Closing session, September 17, 2023

On September 15–17, 2023, the annual conference of Wikipedians (Wikimedians) of Central and Eastern Europe — Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2023 was held in Tbilisi. The organizer was the Georgian user group.

Let us recall that the very idea of such large-scale conferences arose at an informal meeting in 2011 in Haifa. The first such conference was organized in Belgrade (2012), then in Modra (2013), Kiev (2014), Voor (2015), Dilijan (2016), Warsaw (2017), Lviv (2018), Belgrade (2019), two online meetings were held during the COVID-19 pandemic and the last one was held in Ohrid (2022). Traditionally, the conference is held in the following formats: lecture, seminar, workshop, round table (discussion). All meetings were held in parallel in 3 halls, one of which was provided with simultaneous translations into Russian. The speeches of those present were recorded. Delegates were chosen by their user group by voting. User groups that did not make it to the conference could present their activities with a poster, as did the user group of Local historians of the North-West of Russia.

The conference venue was Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, the oldest in the country. Located in the city center, within walking distance from the delegates’ accommodation. All days of the conference, program volunteers were an integral part of it.

At the conference, Wikimedia Foudation's “Universal Code of Conduct”, “Youth Safety Policy” and “Data privacy policy” were in force.

The conference itself was preceded by a training session where issues of conflicts of interest and their resolution were discussed.

Tbilisi greeted the guests with warm weather and two rains. The delegates traditionally brought national sweets for the "sweet table" Some delegates wore national attributes. At the beginning of the conference, an official joint photo of all participants was made according to tradition:

Family photo of the Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2023
Family photo of the Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2023

Among the topics covered at the conference: sign language as a new form of knowledge transfer, the basics of electronic security, the “big funnel” — a new approach to coverage, Tatar culture and Tatar Wikipedia: parallels, processes and values. Recordings of these and other speeches can traditionally be found on Wikimedia Commons: c:Category:Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2023. The conference address on Meta-wiki is m:Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2023, read the event programme here: m:Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2023/Programme. On YouTube, recordings are posted to the channel @wikimediacee7298. Currently the following videos have been uploaded:

To translate videos into Russian, turn on subtitles in YouTube and turn on their translation into Russian. If you use Yandex browser, it can make its own translation of the video (not YouTube's), including with voiceover.

Here is a brief summary of the event as a whole from the Russian Wikipedia forum from one of the conference participants:

«At the conference, I heard a number of ideas that I would like to mention; some of them, I believe, have already been voiced:
  • Making decisions in difficult situations not alone, but at least in pairs to reduce the severity and burnout of administrators. Of course, we have already formalized a number of such mechanisms. For example, mediation, but the blockages on the AfD show that further expansion is possible. Sometimes both the use of the duckling method and literally the search for a companion by administrators and two signatures under the total as a result of the discussion (it is possible that the discussion between them is held in a closed chat, but the fact of this discussion is clearly demonstrated).
  • I have long been interested in an idea that is visible from the outside, but which I have not read about before: in English Wikipedia, discussions are closed on a timer thanks to the idea of "default" solutions. For example, the criteria for deletion are not sufficiently shown and the article is left after a week, even if no one objected to the nominee; however, you can open the next discussion for a week, of course. It is important how the choice is made in favor of "default solutions": if arguments for deletion should be shown in the discussion, "no significance, signature" is the absence of arguments that leads to the article being abandoned in a week. They say it's very refreshing to discuss. General idea: if a problem can't be solved in 14 days, then it can't be solved in 15.
  • experience in confirming administrators against burnout with reduced toxicity of confirmation: all flags are temporary, for three years, after three years, only the number of votes for confirmation is considered-such as yes, you're cool, stay. "No, go away" votes are not accepted. If the administrator is active and there is support — he or she remains with the flag, but there is no need to wash for a long time after the discussion.
  • In order not to overwhelm communities, and especially small languages, with the amount of translation of English-language organizational materials, you can select key points that are marked for translation, and leave everything else aside.

Other conference participants interviewed by Wikinews gladly mentioned the wonderful excursion to the Jvari monastery near Mtskheta at the confluence of the Aragva and Kura, which is considered the setting of M. Yu. Lermontov’s poem “Mtsyri”, as well as Georgia’s first world heritage site. After the excursion, a large, traditionally rich Caucasian table was set for the guests in a local restaurant.

Participants warn: when you walk around Georgian cities, be careful — there are a lot of imposingly sleeping dogs on the streets. They are chipped and it is not customary to drive them away, it is customary to carefully walk around them and they will be everywhere: at the airport, on the main street, in the courtyard of the university, on the steps of banks and shops. Be careful and watch your step.

If you like second-hand bookstores, then you don't have to look for them: old book dealers are located right there along the streets in long rows. You will find many books in Russian, Georgian, English. What was found? For example, Boris Pasternak “Georgian poets. Selected translations" 1947, publishing house "Zarya Vostoka".

The poster of the Wiki user group Local Historians of the North-West of Russia, which was displayed at the conference:

Плакат для конференции Викимедиа в Центральной и Восточной Европе 2023 года, посвященный группе Вики-краеведов Северо-Запада России
Плакат для конференции Викимедиа в Центральной и Восточной Европе 2023 года, посвященный группе Вики-краеведов Северо-Запада России


Original Reporting
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