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Re-think the International Technical Events scholarship programs around report-backs
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I would like to re-think our reporting around technical events scholarships.

because of limited bandwidth and small scholarship numbers we have not recently (since 2017) required any reportbacks from scholarship recipients at our technical events.
Mostly we have between 20-30 scholarship participants and its easy for organizers to see that they are attending and participating in the event. As we grow our scholarship programs and hold more events we should implementing a better job of tracking recipients contributions and asking them to do a brief (and hopefully fun?) report back from the event.

Some ideas I have around this would be:
a) write a blog post
b) organize a tech talk about your hackathon project in collaboration with the technical advocacy team
c) organize a small local meetup at a cafe or library in your hometown (which we can re-fund up to $100 USD for snacks) about a wikimedia related technical topic
d) volunteer to help in an organizing capacity in next year mentoring program (we can only accept two new people per year to take this option)
e) some other options??

I just want to make sure that there are good options for all personality type. Introverts, people who don't feel comfortable presenting or writing in english, people that don't have a lot of time because they have full time jobs / families. But without to much more effort we can turn this into a really cool program.

We have some time to think this through as this obviously has to be announced in advance of giving someone a scholarship so they know what they are agreeing to (so this wont work for Wikimania) the next round of technical scholarships will be the techconf.

For now, lets discuss :)

Event Timeline

Rfarrand triaged this task as Medium priority.May 28 2019, 2:48 PM
Rfarrand created this task.
Restricted Application added a subscriber: Aklapper. · View Herald TranscriptMay 28 2019, 2:48 PM

I'm potentially derailing by going meta. Feel free to ignore this comment if too meta/off:

Can anyone explain (or point to an explanation) what the original motivation is/was behind requiring reportbacks?
(I'd love to even phrase this question as "Which problem(s) are reportbacks supposed to solve?" but that feels too rough.)

@Aklapper
I don't know our history here for sure, but I am guessing that report backs started here at Wikimedia because in the case of events like Wikimania where you have a very large number of people attending on a scholarship but no way to track if they actually showed up to the event, participated - asking them to write a summary of their time seems like better than doing no accountability tracking whatsoever.
I guess theoretically someone could take the flight, the hotel room & meals but spend their time in the city doing something unrelated to Wikimania.
For hackathons what I am interested in has more to do with finding pathways to help document, create more impact, or make it easier for the next round of newcomers / scholarship recipients by writing about what to expect. The reason I would prefer to provide multiple options around how to "report back" is to help find ways for it to be fun / not an annoying task that will never be read or used for anything.
For now we don't have enough scholarships attending hackathons to make it easy for any of them to get lost in the system. If someone didn't show up, we would know it. But if we grow the program - that may no longer be the case.

Anything more than asking for a blog post that lives on attendees personal blog feels like we are asking a lot. Instead, we investigate what more can we do on our end to follow-up/keep track of attendees participation during and after the event: give their posts some love and share it on social media, add them to some database/ CRM, keep them in the loop for future opportunities, etc. (some of this I believe we already do but maybe more thoroughly).

@srishakatux - yeah, totally. Writing a blog post would just be one of the multiple options that people could choose if they wanted to.

My main point is that I don't want to have zero reporting / accountability for attending as we grow our scholarship programs and can't track people individually as well but I ALSO don't want to make this reporting thing a worthless action or a burden.

So for some folks, if there were going to write a blog anyways - they can count that as their reporting action and call it good. But if they don't like writing / don't have a blog / don't want to use their personal blog then they could choose another of our multiple choices of actions that they could take and count it as their reporting.

I need help coming up with a list of things that makes the most sense... but the options could include things like (this is just some random brainstorming):

  • Write a blog about your experience
  • Identify an area to improve in our "what to expect when attending a wikimedia event" documentation and add a section (we should do better around documenting this kind of stuff anyways)
  • Email some feedback privately about how we can improve newcomer experience to Rachel and Srishti
  • Upload 10 quality photos from the event to the event's commons category
  • Something about continuing unfinished work from the hackathon in the next 6 weeks after the event
  • Some kind of action that Andre could easily track using user names
  • Something about holding a small meetup / training at their home university / technical meetup group around a simple wikimedia topic (we could reimburse for food and we would not expect many people to choose this option)
  • other things??

Ahaa, I see what you mean! Then, yes all the options are nice and makes sense. For now, I would like to add:

  • Email event organizers sharing a summary (4-5 lines) of the work you did and any relevant links.
  • Promote your hackathon project (if you ended up working on one) in Wikimedia technical spaces.
  • Participate as a mentor in Wikimedia outreach programs (in addition to helping with the mentoring program).

track if they actually showed up to the event, participated - asking them to write a summary of their time seems like better than doing no accountability tracking whatsoever.
I guess theoretically someone could take the flight, the hotel room & meals but spend their time in the city doing something unrelated to Wikimania.
For hackathons what I am interested in has more to do with finding pathways to help document, create more impact, or make it easier for the next round of newcomers / scholarship recipients by writing about what to expect. The reason I would prefer to provide multiple options around how to "report back" is to help find ways for it to be fun / not an annoying task that will never be read or used for anything.

To me that's partially covered by the feedback form (for organizers). But for the "next round of newcomers", do we provide any ways that they could find blogposts of last year's attendees? And I would have thought that is covered by https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Hackathon_2019/Participants#Three_steps_to_prepare_for_the_hackathon

For now we don't have enough scholarships attending hackathons to make it easy for any of them to get lost in the system. If someone didn't show up, we would know it. But if we grow the program - that may no longer be the case.

Hmm. Maybe in the long run, better "participants' activity tracking" might be the saner approach.

Anything more than asking for a blog post that lives on attendees personal blog feels like we are asking a lot.

Anecdote, not backed up by data: In pre GCI2018 editions I've seen us having a task asking participants to write a blog post at the end. I think pretty often people had no blog (because... that's gotten unpopular?), so they had to set up one, likely to not use it again afterwards. We might be pretty old school here. Given the rise of so-called 'social media' I'd maybe request authors to announce/share their blog post in their peer groups? (I don't think anyone would search, find, follow my blog if it wasn't aggregated on some popular sites.)

Rfarrand closed this task as Resolved.May 26 2020, 6:09 PM