Talk:Submissions/Discussion Room

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30-40 minutes is insufficient for a group of people to discuss a topic about which several of them have strong and complex opinions. You might go once around the circle and let everyone make one point, but you'd then have a bunch of people wanting to respond to others. WereSpielChequers (talk) 07:51, 26 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm not so sure about it. You make a few assumptions here. I don't think it is necessary for a good discussion to let /everyone/ talk. There are always many people who don't want to say something, but want to listen or be /able/ to say something. Also, we'll have to make sure that people are making short contributions - I know that in WMUK events this wasn't always a success, but we'll just need some tough love moderation here. In my experience, discussions usually tend to become dull after 40 minutes, so I would really plea to keep it at maximum that length. Effeietsanders (talk) 17:45, 26 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Desperately needed

Thank you for submitting this proposal. I dream a day when most of Wikimania days and rooms will be a discussion day room. :)

  • As shown by m:Wikimania/Target and m:Wikimania/Submissions, we have many kinds of participants and sessions, the focus on a single format (satisfying mostly a single class of participants) is short-sighted and as Manuel said I "found this funny, like having a conference where everyone is talking and nobody listening".
  • It would be useful to estimate what kinds of needs this room is meant to cover and for how many people; the only estimate I can find is m:Wikimania 2015 bids/Esino Lario/Participants#Hypothesis main interest of the participants and I think about 40 % of attendees would be interested, with half of them not satisfied by standard meetings (which are mainly for the Wikimedia governance side).

--Nemo bis (talk) 10:52, 26 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Nemo,
I hope that you're meaning with your first point that this is a valuable addition to the format scope :) I think some consistency with how we have discussions would also be helpful, because it gives people an anchor to hold on to, if they are not native. They know what to expect.
I agree it would be good to think a bit about the perfect room, but personally I would like to limit the discussion room somewhat in size. Larger is not always better, especially for discussions. I rather have less people participate, but more intense discussions. Effeietsanders (talk) 19:51, 3 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The suggestion I received from a trained facilitator for discussions is to clearly define an objective. This helps to properly use time and to create a direct link between expectations and results. Just to give some examples objectives can be

  • Brainstorming. Collecting ideas on a specific topic. For example you can browse with the participants opportunities, problems, approaches (new and already implemented). the result would be a report with a collection of hints, a SWOT analysis, a contribution to an existing project page on Wikipedia or other project or a contribution to an existing or new page on meta.
  • Decision. Defining a "next step". For example a browsing possible approaches and activities and choose which one people are interested in contributing to.
  • Filling in a comparative table of information. Collecting offline and online data about what is going on.
  • Contributing to a casa study. You select a case study and the discussion contribute to analyze it, evaluate it and provide ideas and links to support it.

I think it can be useful also to link the discussion space to one or more presentations: the discussion can be a follow up of the topic(s) introduced in presentations.

Personally there are some discussion methods I like; there are plenty and maybe it is worth having a look to them. those are the ones i like the most and i find very easy to use:

  • Six Thinking Hats. People do not need to wear a hat (you can simply have a piece of paper of that color which symbolizes it), but leading people in focusing on specific kind of content (information, emotions, critical aspects, opportunities, ideas and decisions) helps orientating a discussion. It is also a useful system to encourage people to take a different perspective on a topic (often in discussions people wear a mask: you have the person who is always critical, the one who is emotional and so on; asking them to metaphorically wear a different hat encourages them to focus on something different for a limited time). It is also quite surprising to notice that a lot of people have trouble distinguish information from other kind of content (information is indeed our NPOV).
  • people stand-up on a line: you ask questions and if the answer is yes they move one step forward. It is a fast way to have a sense of the participants' background information. You can not ask very personal information but - according to the topic of discussion - you can ask questions like do your library have internet connectivity? did you have to take a plane to arrive to the conference? do you speak more than one language? or you can ask more specific questions about a presentation or a topic. it is nice to ask at the beginning a series of questions you expect people to all answer with a "yes". it is a way also to get started.
  • you ask a question and you ask people to move in different corners of the room according to their answer; the answers and corners are "yes", "no", "maybe", "i have something to say". this is a nice way to allow people to speak. Moving to the corner "i have something to say" is easier than having to conquer a space in an animated discussion with the same people always talking. It is also surprising to see how people who are often silent they find more easily their chance to say their opinion.

there are plenty of other systems but i think those ones are quite light (they are not too "club med experience") and they can allow us to test some new ways to get together and exchange. --Iopensa (talk) 08:18, 4 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for the thinking along!
I agree that objectives are very important. Each discussion should have a defined objective (which can depend on who participates).
However, I am no big fan of too visible methods. It could be good to think a bit together about the most effective ways to have discussions, but things like thinking hats etc require imho too much time to explain (especially when not everyone is used to it - and that will be boring to the ones who already joined a few), and create a threshold themselves for participation. The same goes for other methods that require a lot of interaction.
So maybe to clarify: with 'facilitated' I primarily mean that there's a discussion leader in front of the group making sure the native speakers don't overspeak, that the discussion is going somewhere and that the conclusions are clear. I didn't want to suggest that we should try different 'techniques' even if we could try those in different settings. I would really prefer to find methods which are 'invisible' to the participants. Do you have some suggestions for that too? Effeietsanders (talk) 18:21, 4 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This room is great as a meetup room for other projects, such as the help desk or film group. Geraldshields11 (talk) 12:57, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

the abstract and talk page were informative. Geraldshields11 (talk) 15:00, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't understand the relevance of your initial suggestion for the proposal. I actually don't think it would be useful at all to use this as a 'meetup room' for any groups - I assume there will be plenty of much more suitable places available for that. I'm glad you found the abstract informative though, and hope you will elaborate what you mean, because perhaps I simply don't understand your suggestion at all. Effeietsanders (talk) 21:02, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The description states that each discussion would have a clear goal. However, the discussions proposed so far are only general topics, with neither specific questions nor stated goals. When is it planned to have such goals? Speaking only for myself, the presence and practicality of such goals would determine whether I choose to participate in [parts of] this session. Ijon (talk) 20:49, 7 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Ijon,
Sorry for not spotting this more timely. Iolanda and I tried to make the topics a bit more specific indeed, but they are still overarching discussion topics, not very specific with clear goals. That is something to work out further. However, the goals could probably still even change in the room, if people clearly indicate they want to go in a certain direction - it all depends on who shows up. Thanks for your input! Effeietsanders (talk) 06:04, 21 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see. Thanks. Ijon (talk) 19:38, 22 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

input moved from the submissions page

This greatly helpful input was moved from the submissions page, to make navigation easier.

Suggested discussion topics

(please only add topics here if you're genuinely planning to attend the discussion)

  1. Welcoming new users on Wikimedia projects - support: Effeietsanders (talk), ...
  2. Reinvent commons - Needs and wishes for a Wikimedia media database. Lyzzy (talk) 21:03, 17 June 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  3. How do we deal with notability (or relevance, criterias for inclusion) - exchange of (best?) practices and ideas in communities.--Elya (talk) 10:49, 4 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  4. Do we still need categories in times of Wikidata? If so, are there any synergies? --MB-one (talk) 11:46, 9 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  5. Explaining Wikipedia: best practices for dealing with media and the public. What information do we need to spread and how do we do it? /Julle (talk) 12:09, 9 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  6. Admins (Sysops, Bibliotecarios, etc.) as leaders; Admins versus leaders; comparative views of the roles of admins on different projects; dealing with admin abuse, real or perceived; senses of "class struggle", etc. Ijon (talk) 19:29, 15 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Please leave your feedback on this track here:

Iolanda Pensa's feedback

My impressions of the discussion room:

  • Overall: very positive. Nice atmosphere, people open to interact and share their point of view, no need to trigger participation (people appeared to be there to provide their impressions and perspectives), very respectful and kind even when topics were related more to emotional and negative experiences (i.e. delation). Thank you everybody for the very interesting contributions and for creating such a nice atmosphere.
  • Number of attendees: Beyond our expectations (around 50 people each session; we expected 25-30). Managing a 40 minutes discussion with over 30 people does not allow everybody to speak and it does create
  • Structure: I think a simple and regular script is a good system to frame the discussion
    • Introduction with few and simple rules
    • Topic, objectives and timeframe
    • Key questions. For each discussion, we asked at the very beginning 3 questions and people answered by rising their hand. I really liked this part and i think it should be developed further: we can ask people to add questions, we can make questions more precise, and we can link more the questions to the discussions. It is an interesting part of the discussion because it is very rare to get a sense of what people think (or where they stand) in such a simple way. Of course it is extremely basic but it is something we don't get much online. it is an ide-breaker, it helps creating a group atmosphere, it is often a chance to laugh (people add comments and jokes), and it provides some general information (who we are, what is our initial position on a topic).
    • When necessary some background information. Andy was great in providing short explications of policies on Wikipedia in English (thanks Andy). Providing background information does set the tone of the discussion and it can be particularly helpful when a topic has some specific complexities. At the same time the background information
    • Discussion (around 20 minutes). Very important to have a clear goal (this is an issue mentioned also during the planning). I think having two discussions in one session on the same topic but with different angles can be particularly interesting (i.e. first session about new users): it allows to explore a topic better and it provides more time to get into it.
    • Conclusions. Telling people what they talked about is not great: you can summarize few topics and sentences but the reality is that you produce a very partial and superficial summery. I think the conclusions of the first session with a roundtable of the participants telling what they wanted to work on was much more interesting. The conclusions are by the participants, everyone gets the chance to speak and the conclusions are focused on the future and on getting things done.
  • Overall objective. The discussion room is not an informal session: it is a moderated discussion. Discussing is what all attendees at Wikimania already do, but a moderated session can provide something different and it can support informal discussions. We expected the discussions to offer a platform to interact. When planning the topics, we had doubts about what they could produce and their eventual fall-outs. My impression now is that the discussion room can produce:
    • Meetings with people you do not know. You ca get a general sense of people you never met before. This a very interesting because the Wikimedia movement works in clusters and it is not so easy to meet people outside your groups (national, linguistic, thematic, project-related, task-related).
    • Content. The discussion room can be an ice-breaker for further discussions, it can help introducing a topic, it can collect ideas through brainstorming (on an etherpad), it can be also a space for new users to talk about issues which are constantly at the centre of their experience (in particular delation, notability, sources, expertise: it is healthy that at Wikimania we allow people a space to talk about issues which are closed to their user experience. certain topics can be repetitive for more experienced users but it is healthy to have them because they do have a central role in particular for new users). It is also a chance to hear briefly about projects which are going on and to trigger interest on them (somehow related to lightening talks - but with an extremely limited time to tell about projects).
    • Brainstorming: the brainstorming sessions are particularly interesting. I think setting a quantitative milestone worked well (at least 30 ideas): it encourages people to spit ideas out and it creates an happy ending when you reach the quantitative goal.
  • Critical issues
    • Not all people got the chance to speak.
    • More critical issues did not had much space to be presented.
    • Guiding the discussion produces what you expect, it is not an open platform.
    • You only get the title of relevant projects going on, not much about them.

For the future I would suggest:

  1. One session with two discussion on the same topic but with different angles.
  2. Maintaing a regular and repetitive script (introduction, topic, questions, discussion, conclusions).
  3. Concluding the session with a roundtable of comments related to "what is next; what I will do now"
  4. Considering discussions for advanced users (on specific projects) and for beginners (on issues which are always at the centre of their experience – important to include in those discussions some background information)
  5. Liking the discussions with other sessions (workshops, presentations, panels, lightening talks) to make sure the discussions can nourish other sessions and contribute to them.

--Iopensa (talk) 08:28, 20 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]