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Wikimania 2012 Scholarships

Every year, hundreds of Wikimedians descend upon a single city for an annual international conference: Wikimania. Its hackathon and presentation days are filled with workshops and discussions around Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) projects, the open source MediaWiki software, and free knowledge/content. The forum provides excellent opportunities for socialization and idea dissemination between Wikimedia groups from around the world.

It is imperative that a diverse, representative group is enabled to attend the conference, representing a variety of cultures, languages, and projects. To that end, the Wikimedia Foundation and some Wikimedia chapters offer a limited number of scholarships with the goal of making Wikimania a productive conference by enabling the attendance of a diverse group of participants in the Wikimedia movement.

As the movement continues to grow and expand around the world, it is unfortunately impossible to fund the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who have contributed, but each year we strive to support a select few who we think will both greatly benefit from the conference and contribute to the conference. A “Scholarship Review Committee” — entirely consisting of community volunteers — reviews a large number of scholarship applicants (over a thousand this time), scoring applicants on their activity in the Wikimedia projects and other compatible movements as well as their potential for future contributions in the Wikimedia movement. WMF looks at the recommendations of the committee and accounts for the diversity of the pool of candidates in order to support a diverse group of representatives from countries around the world, allocating more scholarships to global south regions, editors in smaller language projects, and women.

This year, we are pleased to announce that scholarships have been awarded to 130 individuals from 57 countries! We were able to sponsor so many people with the help of Wikimédia France, who also contributed directly to the general funds for scholarships. These representatives contribute to a variety of projects and will bring both old and fresh experiences into the conference.  Scholarships this year were awarded by region in an effort to ensure that we would have good representation from different countries. Partial scholarships were distributed based on the applicants’ indication of whether or not they could pay, and funds were distributed via partial scholarships where possible in order for the most people to attend. So for example, though North Americans make up 13% of the total scholarship recipients, they represent only 5% of the total anticipated funding because about 65% of those spots were only partial scholarships.

As always, the field was incredibly competitive, with 1113 applicants from 118 countries. The overall acceptance rate of applicants for the WMF scholarships was 12%, with Europe as the lowest at 8%. Note that the low acceptance from Europe was intentional, as a series of Chapter-funded scholarships for Europeans are about to be announced which will boost the participation numbers from this region.

While we are excited about the input our 130 scholars will provide this year to the conference, we wish that all the other excellent contributors who applied would be able to attend. The scholarships are in no way a direct reflection on one’s value in the community -it is a result of a very competitive process, where many deserving community members are unable to be funded for this year. We greatly value the participation of all in the Wikimedia projects and sincerely hope that all applicants will continue to participate in both local and worldwide conversations online outside of this event!

Jessie Wild, Liaison with the Scholarship Review Committee

5 Responses to “Wikimania 2012 Scholarships”

  1. clement segun says:

    leaders is not a mere status but ability the ability to withstand challenges

  2. Jessie Wild says:

    Hi Abbas – good questions!
    1) All the current members have come on board in few different ways: (a) an open call to volunteer happened in 2009[1]; (b) each year, there is a Wikimania team representative to help manage the process – that individual has the option of staying on in future years if they so desire; (c) a few people ask to be on the committee if spots are open; (d) as numbers were short this year, we specifically asked a few individuals who could help last minute.

    The committee is up for renewal, though, so we’re going to open a discussion on the best way to form a sustainable committee structure.

    2) Yes – that is correct. The rankings of the committee are invaluable in helping to determine the outcome of the scholarships. However, the reviewers tend to know more about EN:WP folks, resulting in some upward bias in the scoring. While respecting the scores of the committee as much as possible, WMF helps balance the representation of the scholars in terms of geography and projects as well as takes into account to whom funds have been distributed in the past. This isn’t a perfect setup, but it helps us improve diversity at Wikimania

    3) This was a new distribution process decided this year after lots of discussions regarding transparency and fairness (e.g., we have seen that individuals from the “global north” seem more familiar with scholarship applications). We introduced this way of allocating scholarships so that applications were competing against other individuals in their region alone – making it easier to compare applications. The allocations were determined this year by looking at the regional breakdowns of applications, acceptance rates, and funds distribution from 2010. We also took into account the regions chapter scholarships were channeled into in 2010.

    [1] http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2009-January/095104.html

  3. I want a scholarship so how can I apply please help desperate for a scholarship

  4. Abbas Mahmood says:

    Thanks for the blog, Jessie. I have 3 questions:
    1.) How is the scholarships committee formed? Is there a public call for volunteers to join it, as is the case with other Wikimedia committees?
    2.) Does it mean that the Committee doesn’t have the final say in selecting the recipients? I had initially thought that it was the committee that selected the recipients and WMF disburse the funds to those who were successful. If I understood you correctly, it is the WMF that has the final say on who gets a scholarship.
    3.) On what basis do you determine which region gets x% of total scholarships?

  5. l am somalian student who need tocomplet his education so ask you can get any free scholarships
    l was finished my high school education before year and so l came in sudan to get an education but dosn.t happened that
    and now l live in khartoum with out education so if you cant to give free scholarship l am ready to study any possible country even sudan
    so l wait you the answer my dear muslim than may allah reward you that

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