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The 1st Wiki-Conference New York was held over the weekend of July 25-26, 2009 at New York University, and hosted by Free Culture @ NYU and Wikimedia New York City.

The location for the conference was Vanderbilt Hall, and sponsored by the Information Law Institute at NYU Law, in Greenwich Village. This hall is opposite the southwest corner of Washington Square Park. For a map see [1], where Vanderbilt Hall is marked as number 1.

All participants were encouraged to give their own ideas for topic sessions. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales gave Saturday's keynote, and Ira Brad Matetsky (User:Newyorkbrad) gave Sunday's keynote.

Event format[edit]

NYU buildings in the area, just behind the Washington Square Arch
Vanderbilt Hall, 2nd Floor
Rooms 202, 208, 210, 220
     _         _
    | |       | | 220
    | |  202  | |
    | |_______| |
208 |  _______  |
    | |       | |
    | | stair | |
210 |_|       |_|

There were 2 days of events, held over a weekend in meeting rooms in Vanderbilt Hall at the New York University School of Law; check-in and a casual chat opened at 9 AM each morning, with the official schedule starting at 10 AM.

Participation was free, with more than 100 participants joining us. All were welcome, but active Wikipedians/Wikimedians were especially invited to join us. We also hoped for the participation of our friends from the Free Culture movement and from cultural institutions interested in developing Open Education projects.

The event was a modified unconference, with dedicated panel discussions (organized on this wiki), lightning talks to the whole assembly, two keynotes, and of course open space sessions. The Panels were finalized on-wiki; the Lightning Talks and Open Space were determined during the event itself, so people brought their ideas with them.

There was wifi access, and log-in details were provided on-site. Projectors were also available for use by the various presenters.

The Keynotes, the Panels and the Lightning Talks were video-recorded (but not the Open Space). Speakers were informed, "If you have concerns about privacy let us know, and we will edit your Lightning Talk accordingly."

Event coordinators: Pharos (general), Reagle (panels), Johndbritton (open space and lightning talks).

Schedule of sessions[edit]

Room A: 210 Room B: 220 Room C: 202 Room D: 208

Saturday, July 25
09:00-09:55 Registration, hanging out (C)
10:00-10:15 Intro Remarks (C)
10:15-10:45 1st Day Keynote:
Jimmy Wales (A)
10:45-11:00 Intro to Open Space (A)
11:10-11:40 Translation (A - 210) What is consensus? (B - 220) Wikipedia and libraries
Phoebe and DGG (C - 202)
Notability (D 208)
11:50-12:20 Nina Paley : art as free culture (A) What is left to write about? (B) Non-profits workshop (C) Wikipedia in academia (D)
Lunch & video showing (A)
1:00-2:30 Lightning Talks (A)
2:30-4:00 Panel A-1
Mapping in MediaWiki (A)
Panel B-1
Quality and Governance (B)
4:00-5:30 Panel A-2
Chapters and Outreach (A)
Panel B-2
Collaboration and WikiProjects (B)
6:10-6:40 OTRS (Cary Bass) Contributing Featured Content (Nishkid64) WMF Strategic Planning (sj and Phoebe) Semantic MediaWiki (Yaron Koren)
6:50-7:20 Starting your own wiki (GreenReaper) UK National Portrait Gallery Wikipedia offline (sj) Reforming Wikipedia (Harej)
7:30-8:00 Highway articles on Wikipedia (Mitch) Signpost creation (Ragesoss, Phoebe) Not what Wikipedia is not
(After-hours discussion
and bonus sessions
at NYU until 11)
Sunday, July 26
09:00-09:55 Registration, bagel dunking
10:00-10:15 Intro Remarks
10:15-10:45 2nd Day Keynote:
Ira Brad Matetsky
10:45-12:15 Panel A-3
Neutrality and Activism
12:30-1:00 NY Brad's Talk Continued Open Space Systemic bias (sj et al.) Open Space
Picnic in Washington Square Park
(until 8)


Two keynotes were presented. Jimmy Wales presented a keynote on Saturday morning, while Ira Brad Matetsky (User:Newyorkbrad) provided the keynote for Sunday morning.

Jimbo Wales at the keynote.
We are now the 4th largest site in the world, but expect to soon to be overtaken by AOL because of their steady innovations. In actuality, Facebook should be passing us soon. Jimbo is very much for BLP and against copyfraud. Ann Coulter reminds us that it is ensuring small facts are correct that matters as much as surprising true statements in their bios.
Spoke on "BLPs, Wikipedia, the Internet, and the Future of Privacy", including how Wikipedia's handling of BLP issues relating to privacy issues contrasts with how similar issues have been addressed by other media and by the legal system, with an interesting legal sidelight into the life of William James Sidis.


Panels are an opportunity to gather participants speaking on a related topic and discuss it in more detail than permitted by a lightning talk. However, we still want engaging and dynamic presentations. Panels at the NY Wiki Conference lasted approximately 90 minutes; we recommended single presentations last ~10-15 minutes and that plenty of time be left for discussion.

Participants are encouraged to link to their presentations or abstract, to discuss/organize their panel before hand, and to find a moderator who can keep them on time.

Panel A-1: Mapping in MediaWiki[edit]
  • Aude - OpenStreetMap integration with Wikipedia
  • Yaron Koren - Mapping with Semantic MediaWiki - mapping data with Google Maps, Google Earth, Yahoo! Maps and OpenLayers, using the new Semantic Maps extension
  • Dan Thomas - toward GeoWiki: a fresh look at conducting projects using mediawiki, semantic model & GIS
Panel B-1: Quality and Governance[edit]
Panel A-2: Chapters and Outreach[edit]
Video of Panel A-2 here.
  • Pharos - chapters, photo contests, museums, libraries
  • Mitchazenia - photo contests & events, future events
  • +sj+ - universities, research institutes
  • Whiteknight (books) (page) - Chapters committee and international activities
  • Phoebe - libraries and Wikimedia
Panel B-2: Collaboration and WikiProjects[edit]
  • GreenReaper - When, why and how to start a WikiProject (or a separate wiki); finding and supporting project members; the importance of focus. (slides)
  • ClockworkSoul, The Stages of a WikiProject's Life (or How To Keep Your Project Alive). Every project passes through a number of developmental phases as it matures, each with its own management needs.
  • Invertzoo - I will talk about WikiProject Gastropods, how it started and how it grew collaboratively, especially how it has changed and grown over the last 2 years. (I also want to touch on the issue of intelligibility (of science and math articles) to the non-specialist reader, and mention that taxoboxes will have to adapt and evolve radically in the age of cladistics.)
Panel A-3: Neutrality and Activism[edit]

In this panel we will discuss the principles and practice of Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy. What is it, what are its benefits, and how might it be abused?

  • Moderator: Phoebe
  • David Shankbone, From porn to Palestinians: What is neutrality? What is NPOV in images? The difficulty with conceptions of truth; problems with relying upon "reliable sources" to establish neutrality; NPOV's relationship to truth; and the wisdom of "Verifiability, not truth" to form some sense of neutrality.
  • Joseph Reagle, Responses to Common NPOV Criticisms. How might one respond to NPOV criticism and complaints of naiveté, bias, and abuse?
  • Ragesoss, Activism and Neutrality. How Wikipedia editing can be both activism for a cause you believe in and mesh with the community norms and institutional goals of the project; NPOV as a rhetorical strategy for achieving social change ; WMF institutional activism and what it means for the community.

Open Space[edit]

Add ideas you will bring for open space and sign up below (actual schedule for open space will be determined the day of). Last-minute entries always accepted!
Saturday's Open Space sessions

Lightning Talks[edit]

Video of lightning talks here.

Add your 5-minute lightning talk topic you can personally present on Saturday afternoon (actual schedule for lightning talks will be determined the day of). Last-minute entries always accepted! We'll also have a vote and a symbolic prize for the "awesomest" lightning talk.
  • Ragesoss - "The Wikipedia Gender Gap: Why We Have It and How It Hurts Us" - draft
  • +sj+ - "Systemic Bias, Year 6. Middle Earth v. Middle Africa in the age of Twitter" (replaced by a discussion on transition of license from GFDL to Creative Commons)
  • GreenReaper - "Making MediaWiki Fly; or, How to Run Ten Wikis on a Shoestring" (slides)
  • WikiPaths - "Demo of a Wikipedia scavenger hunt game"
  • Agradman talk/contribs My school project: Getting lawyers and law students to rely on (improve) Wikipedia
  • Phoebe and Ragesoss - "Keeping up with the community: Or, how to write for the Signpost"
  • J.delanoy - "A fool's guide to using Huggle accurately and effectively"
  • Mitch/HC32 - "The 1993 Effect: Ageism in Today's Wikipedia"
  • WEBrawer- "Connecting Green Map's locally-led Global Movement"
  • DGG (talk) Making articles with bots
  • Risker - "Arbcom: Not just the fun-loving cabal everyone thinks we are" (A review of the Arbitration Committee's activities in the past six months)
  • Phoebe -- "the Wikimedia Foundation's Strategic Planning initiative -- what's going on, and how you can help"
  • WNYC's Brian Lehrer - giving a presentation on Crowdsourcing and the BL Show's other innovative approaches
  • user:Mike01Wiki -- "using wiki's to improve public health outcomes for neighborhoods"
  • Hogmanay and friend - a bilingual team's effort to improve the article on the Chinese poet Xin Qiji
  • Daniel Case "Replaceable Fair Use Disputed: The Implications of the National Portrait Gallery Incident For Wikipedia And Free Content"
  • Fred Benenson "Creative Commons developments that might be interesting to Wikipedia."
    • Please sign up here!
  • TheDevilOnLine (talk) - Do the wave... ... ...

Regional initiative[edit]

Wikimedia New York City is the 1st Wikimedia chapter in North America, and has adopted a sub-national model more suited to the region's population distribution, different from most of the international chapters. Though based in the city, Wikimedia New York City's region also covers neighboring parts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, with subgroups currently organizing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Hartford, Connecticut. There has also been some discussion of extending this effort to the other Northeastern urban centers of Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

It is hoped that meetings here can also spur efforts to further new sub-national Wikimedia chapters throughout the United States (see Wikimedia United States Chapters Council), and possibly in Canada as well. So, it is hoped that we can attract a good representation from aspirant chapters from all over North America.

Picnic, extra-curricular and accommodations[edit]

Not only was this our 1st 'Wiki-Conference New York', but it was scheduled to be our 3rd annual 'WikNYC Picnic'; after 2007 in Central Park and 2008 in Prospect Park. Original intentions were for this year to feature a return to tradition by meeting at the southwest corner of the Great Lawn of Central Park; however, the threat of heavy rain led to a small picnic in Washington Square Park instead. Food was brought in (pizza etc) for the informal lunches and dinners at NYU.

For accommodations, those on a limited budget were directed to: nearby hostel, and we also looked at a couchsurfing system — if you can offer a place to stay for future events, please leave a note. There is also HI hostel uptown. Look here for YMCAs. (Three in Manhattan; closest at E 47th St.) There were also some informal outside touristy activities planned with the participants.

Leading up to the wiki-conference there were a pair of Wikipedia at the Library classes at the NYPL where we taught library-goers about using Wikipedia. The classes filled up immediately, and response seemed very positive from both students and library staff. For our course outlines, see User:DGG/NYPL. The library would welcome us back.

Sign-up lists[edit]

Keep me notified! and registration[edit]

On-wiki Registration

The following Wikipedians/Wikimedians have expressed an interest in attending:

List of attendees that are Wikipedians[edit]

User Days attended
Pharos Saturday, Sunday
Reagle Saturday, Sunday
Johndbritton Saturday only
SJ Saturday, Sunday
Wikimedia foundation
Jimbo Wales Saturday only
Bastique (Cary Bass) Saturday, Sunday
Mindspilage (Kat Walsh) Saturday, Sunday
Arbitration Committee (former and current)
Newyorkbrad Saturday, Sunday
Risker Saturday, Sunday
Kirill Lokshin Saturday, Sunday
Mitchazenia Saturday, Sunday
Jim.henderson Saturday, Sunday
Ragesoss Saturday, Sunday
DGG Saturday, Sunday
Daniel Case Saturday, Sunday
Phoebe Saturday, Sunday
David Shankbone Sunday only
Jdelanoy Saturday only
Thingg Saturday only
Chaoticfluffy Saturday, Sunday
Aude Saturday, Sunday
Invertzoo Saturday only
Nishkid64 Saturday only
RoyGoldsmith Saturday, Sunday
Becksguy Saturday only
MBisanz Saturday only
Harej Saturday, Sunday
GreenReaper Saturday, Sunday
Gmaxwell Saturday, Sunday
Whiteknight Saturday only
Jeff G. Saturday and Sunday
Yaron K. Saturday and Sunday
Dank Saturday only
Geoobject Saturday only
Mecredis Saturday and Sunday
Hogmanay Saturday only
Firestorm Sunday only
Izno Saturday only
ClockworkSoul Saturday only
Wasted Time R Sunday only
Emufarmers Saturday and Sunday
Dm Saturday
Marozols Saturday only
Abd Saturday only
Y Sunday only
Clifford Anderson
Salmon1 Saturday and Sunday

Marshals: I'll help[edit]

If you'd be interested in helping as a conference marshal, please sign up here. While this is an unconference, we'll need help with registration/welcoming (e.g., name tags), coordinating logistics (e.g., lunch), passing messages, and helping with technical issues. We will be meeting at 8:30 AM Saturday morning at NYU.

Videos, tags, categories, and social networking[edit]

Twitter / Identica tag
Wikimedia Commons category
Commons:Category:Wikiconference NYC 2009
Flickr tag
Videos (many more to come)
on Internet Archive

What Did You Learn at the NYC Wiki-Conference 2009[edit]


I learned that the wikis are truly governed by consensus. The Wiki Foundation does little to tell us how to run our wiki (except for copyright and other legal issues). So, for example, the English language Wikipedia has different rules about, say, citations than the German WP. There really are no "laws" that can't be changed by consensus. Of course, this means that you're at the mercy of the majority: there are no laws to protect what you've written.

Now consensus is really "wiki-consensus". All editors do not contribute equally. Certainly the editors who have been around for years have more weight than newbies. The amount of time you have to devote to wiki matters is also a factor. If you are active on the talk pages and about the resolution of problems, you'll certainly be listened to more carefully than someone who just prepares featured articles, one right after another, year-in, year-out.

And, in spite of what they say, I believe that administrators, bureaucrats and stewards have more influence than simple editors. Of course, that may be because they're better trusted because of the designation as administrators, even by people who don't know them. And maybe that's a good thing.

RoyGoldsmith (talk) 10:07, 27 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I learned never to trust Newyorkbrad's estimations of distance...

No, but seriously, I was impressed by how even people who spend most of their time disagreeing with each other on-wiki can come together and work in person and achieve, if not a consensus, at least a good-faith discussion. It's a lot harder to dehumanize someone in your mind when they're sitting two seats down from you in the lecture hall. keɪɑtɪk flʌfi (talk) 17:22, 27 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I learned that a 60-minute talk can't be given in 30 minutes, or even 45, no matter how fast I try to speak.

I learned that NYU Law School is further west than I had thought.

I learned that Henry W. Goddard needs expanding, because I looked it up in preparing my talk and I thought to myself "this article is barely a stub and needs a heck of a lot more work" ... just before I remembered that I wrote it myself.

I learned that we don't have a consensus on the meaning of "consensus" ... nor even a consensus on how to decide what "consensus" means ... nor even a consensus on whether we should seek a consensus on setting up a process to define "consensus" ... which might or might not operate by consensus. (I'd go on in this vein, but I'm finally coming to my sensus.)

I learned that after 8:00 p.m., a group of Wikipedians will laugh at practically anything.

I learned—or I should say, I already knew, but I reminded myself—what a fun and learned and diverse group of people we are.

The great New York attorney Harrison Tweed once wrote some kind words about the members of his profession. He said, "I have a high opinion of lawyers. With all their faults, they stack up well against those in every other occupation or profession. They are better to work with or play with or fight with or drink with than most other varieties of mankind." Sorry it's not gender-neutral. Tweed, contrary to popular belief, actually had a point about lawyers. But I would say the same thing about Wikipedians. Newyorkbrad (talk) 20:54, 27 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I learned that the term "Wikipedian" can be applied to an incredible variety of people of all ages, backgrounds, and degrees of social aptitude, each and every one of which genuinely and sincerely loves knowledge in her or his own way. Furthermore, I was reminded that no matter how obscure or seemingly trivial a topic, there will always be enough people who care about it enough to argue passionately about it.

I learned that NewYorkBrad is the only Wikipedian with both the desire and ability to wear a tie in 85-degree heat and 90-plus-percent humidity.

I learned that I can give a presentation after two days of being awake and still sound reasonably intelligent (or at least fake it).

Finally, that I really should know better than to waste my time trying to correct the worldview of a guy who insists on telling me why "you scientists have got it wrong." (I started a list. Help me add to it, and feel free to be funnier then I am).


I learned that the great majority of Wikipedians (at least those who show up at a conference) are brilliant free-thinkers. I have to say: these are some of the very best minds I have ever encountered (and I spent 15 years around world-class academics at the University of Cambridge, and at Yale, and Harvard.) It was so great to spend a day marinading in such a high IQ environment! I love it! And these are all people who give away their hard work in a good cause! Fantastic!

I also learned that (even if I live to be 108) I will probably never be able to simultaneously understand all the different facets of the functioning of Wikipedia/Wikimedia.

I learned that I myself am probably in the right place (the right place for me anyway) in Wikipedia, which is "down in the trenches", where articles are created and fixed up.

I learned that no-one has a theory yet as to why Wikipedia has so few women editors.

I learned (if I didn't already know) that I am very happy to be one!

Best wishes and thanks to all, Invertzoo (talk) 18:50, 28 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I learned that two fine users are twins from Binghamton.

I learned that Jimmy Wales has a sense of humor.

I learned that Wikipedians hate humidity.

Bearian (talk) 14:06, 29 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Insert your comments here as separate sub-sections.

External links[edit]