Wikimedia Developer Summit/2017/Unconference

An unconference-style participant-driven small-group discussion
Unconference agenda building

What is an unconference?Edit

An unconference model relies on this theory that when a group of people gather for a shared purpose and hold the freedom to self-organize and govern, leads to meaningful outcomes. Instead of a top-down approach to information delivery by individuals who are known as experts in the room, this model encourages a bottom-up and a participant-driven approach for conducting a discussion. In an unconference, everyone contributes to building the agenda which remains undetermined until the event begins. On the day of the event, before the kickoff, participants gather around a physical whiteboard and propose topics they are interested in either facilitating or attending.

How to contribute to the Developer Summit unconference agenda?Edit

Through the Call for Participation, we've gathered a lot of interesting discussion topics for the Unconference. Though we already have these topics; we will give a chance to more participants to pitch their ideas at the summit. We would also encourage session proposals that would bring in diverse perspectives and would come from newbies, or people proposing for the first time. With these ideas, we hope to address the interests of our community members, draw useful action items from these sessions, and continue discussions on them even after the summit.

Monday, January 9thEdit

8:30 - 9:30 am

  • Unconference planning for sessions to be scheduled for Day 1 will take place.
  • We expect participants interested in the unconference planning to be present at the venue during this time.
  • During the planning phase, we would invite participants to propose session topics on the fly on a physical wall with post-its. Other participants will be given the opportunity to vote on a session they are interested in attending.
  • For adding a session slot to the agenda, we would give preference to facilitators who are present at the venue during this time, get the most votes from participants, own a session on Phabricator with tokens; that has ongoing discussions and considerable interest drawn from attendees already.
  • For any remaining session slots for Day 1, we'll encourage session proposals from others present in the room.
  • All session facilitators will get 20 seconds time for pitching their topics during the event opening.

9:30 - 11:30 am

  • Event organizers will post the highest ranked unconference sessions on the schedule and all remaining unplaced sessions will be saved to be ranked against sessions proposed for Tuesday.

12:30 pm - 5:30 pm

  • Unconference planning for sessions to be scheduled for Day 2 will take place on the same physical wall at the venue.

Tuesday, January 10thEdit

8:30 - 9:30 am

  • Unconference planning for sessions to be scheduled for Day 2 will take place on the same physical wall at the venue.

9:30 - 11:30 am

  • Highest ranked sessions will be posted on the event wiki by organizers.

For more information about the unconference rooms, and an updated schedule, check back later on the Program Schedule page.

Frequently asked questionsEdit

I want to lead an unconference session and have proposed it on Phabricator already. Why can't I pre-schedule my session and how can I confirm that I have a spot?Edit

Unconferences sessions as defined cannot be finalized in advance of the event. If you proposed a session on Phabricator, it is confirmed for a running spot and because of which it will have a leg-up on other proposed sessions. We will not be scheduling time spots for any unconference sessions until event participants have had a chance to vote on which sessions they are interested in attending. Otherwise, we would be blindingly scheduling sessions with no idea if anyone will show up. Unconference sessions are chosen by the participants of the event and not by the people who want to lead the sessions as the point of unconference is to react to the needs of the event as it goes on.

To counteract this, we have also included the pre-scheduled track which allowed for sessions to be proposed and finalized early on so that those session owners could prepare.

To set yourself up for getting an unconference spot, learn how to contribute to the developer summit unconference agenda and talk to people at the venue about your session, get them excited and wanting to attend so that they can vote for your session.

What if my unconference session is not accepted on Monday? I really want to run a session!Edit

All sessions that were proposed for Monday but not accepted will be allowed to run again on Tuesday! We will even keep your post-it for you and update the timeslots. Please remember that unconference sessions are accepted because of high participant demand and without that they do not take place unless we have extra space.

How do I know if I need to prepare to run my session or not if it is not confirmed?Edit

Unconference sessions have less preparation than pre-scheduled sessions. They will not be expecting a beautiful slideshow or a well-rehearsed speech. Many times unconference sessions end up being group discussions and idea generating spaces. You are welcome to spend as long as you want to prepare for your proposed unconference sessions in advance but please understand that you are not guaranteed a spot.

I want to run an unconference session but don't have a Phabricator task. Can I still propose a session?Edit

Yes, you can still propose a session. But, if your session is approved, you must submit it as public tasks following a common template in Wikimedia Phabricator. See the instructions listed in the section: Session Template for Phabricator task.

If my session is not going to be a discussion but rather a tech talk, could I run it as an unconference session?Edit

Absolutely! As long as you get people to vote for your session you can run any kind of session that you like.

How is the physical session proposing and voting going to work?Edit

Each session organizer will physically write the name of their session, the Phabricator # of their session, their name and top three time and room choices on a large post-it. All event participants can vote for the sessions that they want to attend by adding their name to a list of interested people. The sessions with the highest numbers of votes will be given priority and their top choice for time and location.

Session template for Phabricator taskEdit

All approved unconference sessions must be submitted as public tasks following a common template in Wikimedia Phabricator. You will need a Phabricator account, which you can obtain simply by using your Wikimedia account. If needed, check Phabricator/Help.

  1. Create a task description on Phabricator following the template below:
    • Session title
    • Main topic
    • Type of activity
    • Description Move ‘The Problem,' ‘Expected Outcome,' ‘Current status of the discussion’ and ‘Links’ to this section
    • Proposed by Your name linked to your MediaWiki URL, or profile elsewhere on the internet
    • Preferred group size
    • Any supplies that you would need to run the session e.g. post-its
    • Interested attendees (sign up below)
      • Add your name here
  2. To maintain consistent typography, refer to the template of the following task description:
  3. Only if your session is approved and updated on the wiki schedule, visit the Wikimedia Developer Summit workboard on Phabricator and move your session to the 'Approved Unconference Sessions' section on the Phabricator workboard.

Session GuidelinesEdit


If you've any questions about the developer summit unconference planning, post on this article's talk page.