Wikimedians from Central and Eastern Europe gathered in Kyiv, Ukraine for their third annual meeting. "Closing ceremony photo" by Ilya, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Wikimedians from Central and Eastern Europe gathered in Kyiv, Ukraine for their third annual meeting.
“Closing ceremony photo” by Ilya, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0

​​​​On December 19-21, the Wikimedia Central and Eastern European Meeting 2014 took place in Kyiv, Ukraine. This was the third annual meeting of Wikimedians from all over the region, this year organized by Wikimedia Ukraine. Around 70 participants from more than 20 countries took part in the conference.

Many countries of Central and Eastern Europe are not only related by their geographical proximity, but also share many traditional and historical issues. The region covers an area that previously experienced a wide cooperation among the different groups of people living there. That’s important because through cooperation, all Central and Eastern European wikis can grow more effectively.

This meeting was a follow-up to meetings held in previous years: 2012 edition in Belgrade, Serbia, and 2013 edition in Modra, Slovakia.

The main goal of this meeting was to bolster interstate and international collaboration between various Wikimedia chapters, thematic organizations, user groups, and other communities in Central and East Europe and its regions.

Many different topics were discussed in the parallel sessions of the conference. Some of these included:

  • Wikipedia Education Program, which uses Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects as a teaching tool. This session was moderated by Anna Koval, manager of the Wikipedia Education Program, and was devoted to various education collaborations in CEE countries.
  • WikiCamp projects. For example, Susanna Mkrtchyan shared Wikimedia Armenia‘s experience in organizing WikiCamps for school children where they learn to write articles.
  • Freedom of Panorama, i.e. having right to take photos of buildings and monuments without permission. Making FoP legal is vital for Ukraine in particular, where its absence interferes with e.g. Wiki Loves Monuments photo contest.
  • Gender gap, imbalance of male and female editors in wiki projects. As women contribute less to Wikipedia, different topics particularly connected with them are still covered insufficiently: pregnancy, childhood diseases, women’s vocations and hobbies etc. Meeting participants, Hanna Baradzina from Belarus and Greta Doçi from Albania among them, agreed that the stereotype about Wikipedia being harder for women is only a myth. The number of women participating in CEE Meeting itself did much to dispel this myth.
  • GLAM, article contests, making small Wikipedias grow and many other topics besides.

 

Of course, failures and problems received just as much coverage as successful projects. Chapters and volunteers often face lack of understanding from the side of state institutions, difficulties with lobbying amendments to the laws (eg. introducing CC licenses), or lack of volunteers ready to donate their time and efforts. Asaf Bartov from Wikimedia Foundation moderated a separate session on recruiting new volunteers and avoiding delegation trap leading to burnout.

Participants collaborated via Etherpad to document each conference track together. You can read the notes at http://etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/ceem14. Also, a number of delegates met Wikimedian peers from outside their own community for the first time, and this was the very first time some entire communities were represented at a Wikimedia working conference (e.g. Latvia, Albania, Georgia). One of the results of the conference was the idea of Wikimedia CEE Spring 2015, which is already being prepared by Kaarel Vaidla and Wikimedia Eesti.

Organizers from Wikimedia Ukraine are particularly thankful to Wikimedia Foundation for funding the event, Wikimedia Polska for their invaluable help, Kyiv National Linguistic University for providing the venue, National Cultural-Art and Museum Complex “Mystetskyi Arsenal” for the guided tour and Kyivstar company for offering Internet connection on the sessions for free. We also thank all the volunteers whose work made this event possible.

The main hall at the Wikimedia Central and Eastern European Meeting 2014 in Kyiv, Ukraine."Main Hall Panorama" by Taras r, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

The main hall at the Wikimedia Central and Eastern European Meeting 2014 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
“Main Hall Panorama” by Taras r, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0

More photos are available in this Commons category: Wikimedia CEE 2014 photos.

On behalf of the WMCEE 2014 organizing team:

 

Vira Motorko, Wikimedia Ukraine