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Evaluate Indico as submission software for Wikimania
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The Wikimania team has decided to look into alternatives to Wikis and EasyChair to manage Wikimania submissions.

They have identified Indico as a strong contender.

Indico is made to handle the whole lifecycle of any conference: submissions & review, scheduling, room booking, etc.

Nice to haves for submission process:

  • everything extractable
  • OAuth with Wikimedia account (our usernames, privacy policy etc)
  • Submission management (ideally publicly viewable)
  • Review committee (sub groups, chairs, private comments, triage/scoring, approval/rejection)
  • Communication with author stored in System

Other elements that would be beneficial but not part of the primary task for this:

  • Scheduling
  • hosting of the slides/resources for presentations
  • Room management
  • Registation management (potentially even PayPal etc integration for payment processing)
  • Use on the day in each room to display the relevant slides etc...

Potential for future use as a purpose built event management software that is available for other events throughout the movement to utilise, and for wikimanias in the future. Rather than the current situation of creating whole new wiki instances or cumbersome templates on Meta for each separate event.

Event Timeline

With Ellie, Irene, JamesF, Phoebe, we have identified several options to do this. A summary is:

  • MediaWiki (which was used for most wikimanias in the past, but has been deemed not fit for the logistical needs of wikimania and the templates managing submissions etc are not easy to operate. It also requires lots of secondary systems (spreadsheets) to track private info, conversations, acceptances...
  • third party hosted and paid software “EasyChair” has been used twice (esino Lario, Cape Town) and is very cumbersome, not tailored or tailorable to our needs. Very difficult to export from. However, as a hosted solution it was at least “ready to go” when we wanted to start.
  • some kind of “build our own from scratch” option - which might be ideal but not viable for the 2019 wikimania
  • Indico is a floss, host your own, system built by CERN for their own conference needs. Theoretically it can handle the whole conference lifecycle - from submission through reviewing, registration, scheduling and presenting - and with oAuth should mean we don’t need separate logins than the existing MediaWiki user accounts. However, it may require a lot of tweaking and database management to set up.
  • there are many other paid solutions out there, but they can become very expensive and are not future-proof because you can’t extract the data necessarily.

Is there any related project tag set for this task so it'll show up on a related workboard?

Relatedly: @Lea_Lacroix_WMDE & @johl recommended FRAB - - which has many of the desired features above (but not oAUth) and seems to have fewer technical dependencies compared to Indico (see a summary of these done by @JeanFred over on T210952) Also, we have connection to the developers (including Jens himself) as it's built by and for the Chaos Computer Club at their conference (Chaos Communication Congress).

User Manual:

Is there any related project tag set for this task so it'll show up on a related workboard?

Not that I know of ; there does not seem to be a #Wikimania either. Maybe Tools for the time being?

Background research...

Here is a tutorial video for setting up a “new conference” in indico
It’s a 30 minute tutorial, going through the basic tools. Importantly for us it covers a series of mandatory and nice-to-have things

  • creating event/tracks
  • call for abstracts
  • creating a submission form (tracks, closed response questions, type of submission, free text fields...)
  • creating a reviewing schema (questions, scores, comments to other reviewers, who can see what, status...)
  • creating a registration form (including payment system)

Note, this is based on the CERN in-house setup, so it accesses the staff database of usernames, and also their website style. If we set up on Wikimedia servers then o-auth would synch Wikimedia logins and we could use our own CSS to make it look “at home”.

Some things that are unanswered for me which are in our “important to have” category...

  • can the submissions themselves be made publicly viewable?
  • when multiple reviewers give scores, can those be aggregated/ranked?
  • can conversation email between submitter and reviewer be kept within the system, or must communication go via separate email system?
  • there was nothing about scheduling, just accepting and ‘calendering’.
  • can submitters edit their presentation’s page once it has been accepted?

Also, this is a 6minute promotional video which does imply that scheduling is a drag and drop activity.

I’d recommend others watch that promo video because it also is highlighting the specific benefit of this software for us:
that it can become a repository of past and future events, not just a wiki page with a program and “go to the commons category for slides of some presentations”. It also highlights the room-allocation module which could actually be especially useful for repeat venues.

This task and its subtask should not really be tagged Cloud-VPS as they are not related to the Cloud VPS infrastructure. They would be specific to a project (though there is not yet(?) a project)

@Wittylama: Any news to share about this task?

The news is that there was no progress on this and WMF didn't follow up either. So, we had to resort to using the wiki and templates for submissions. and all the awkwardness that that entails. A lot of this being dropped was because of the 100% staff turnover at the WMF in this team in the last few months. Now that the WMF has hired those people, after Wikimania THIS year, perhaps they will have enough mental capacity to take up this mantle once again.

Thanks. Which specific WMF team is (potentially) involved in this?

Thanks. Which specific WMF team is (potentially) involved in this?

The staff responsible for Wikimania are Isabel Cueva and Joël Letang. The person who was nominally involved in looking from the software side was @Jdforrester-WMF - but not in an official management-directive sense.
@JeanFred was looking into this as a volunteer.

Thanks. Boldly adding Events Team to this task so it's on their radar.

Thanks. Which specific WMF team is (potentially) involved in this?

The staff responsible for Wikimania are Isabel Cueva and Joël Letang. The person who was nominally involved in looking from the software side was @Jdforrester-WMF - but not in an official management-directive sense.

That'd be @Jdforrester-PERSONAL. :-)

Wittylama changed the task status from Open to Stalled.Mar 18 2020, 6:28 PM

@Wittylama: Heja, hmm, what exactly is this task stalled on?
Also wondering if this is should be tracked in Phabricator at all, as in my understanding the WMF Events Team does not primarily use Phabricator to plan/track work.

Thank for reminding me of this @Aklapper .
This issue should ultimately live with @JLetangWMF now as the owner of Wikimania, and as a phabricator ticket should probably be closed.

Short summary:
the traditional Wikimania submissions process was appallingly not fit-for-purpose and bespoke each time. I'd been trying to get some actual investment attention towards installing an opensource software for call-for-papers (which could be used for Wikimania, and ideally for other Wikimedia events too). But, because of the delays and staff-changes in the lead up to Wikimania Stockholm, all of these kinds of structural questions were thrown out the window as we scrambled to just hold things together during the transition.
A more permanent solution for how to handle call-for-papers in the wikiverse now sits firmly in Joel's remit for major event strategy.

Thanks a lot for the summary and info! Alright, let's do that...