Previous discussions on mailing lists and IRC indicate that there is strong support in the Australian Wikimedia community for holding some kind of conference, but no strong idea of the details of what it would involve. A successful conference would provide momentum for further events, including a future Wikimania bid.
Broadly speaking, there are three possible scopes for an Australian Wiki Conference.
Wiki community (small scope)
This would be similar to having a large face-to-face meeting. Members of the community would meet and discuss various topics. Might be similar to a BarCamp. Extremely easy to organise, but not likely to have a huge payoff.
Related community (medium scope)
This scope would include groups with interests that broadly intersect Wikimedia Australia's, and would probably include organisations that promote free content, open source software, and perhaps some educational groups. While requiring some effort to run, it would hopefully prove useful in making connections.
Broader community (large scope)
This scope would resemble a full-blown Wikimania. Open to all/most, a convention of this scope could attract members of the general public who want to know more about the Wikimedia philosophy and would cover a broad range of related interest. Requires a large amount of effort, but if successful would be a huge outreach and provide an extremely strong precedent for a Wikimania bid.
In addition to picking one of the three scopes, discussion is needed into whether to consider gearing the conference to people and groups outside Australia. In particular, how much effort should go into contacting Wikimedians in nearby regions such as New Zealand and South-East Asia?
As all of the potential scopes presumably involve a large amount of Wikimedia Australia being physically present in one location, it would make sense to organise the AGM to coincide with the conference. This affects the timing (July to November).
Many potential venues have been discussed with regard to this conference, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Likely candidates include:
In one IRC meeting, there was no real opposition to having Canberra host the event, although as Chris (User:ConMan) is the only financial member as of January 2009 this may prove an issue. Canberra is home to several Wikimedians who are not WMAu members, though, who may be able to assist, and members from nearby locations (e.g. Sydney) could also come to help, or even take care of organisational issues that can be mainly handled without a physical presence (e.g. contact potential sponsor via phone/email).
Also, Chris has made prior contact with the Canberra Convention Bureau, who would be invaluable in setting up a medium or large scope conference.
Brisbane put together a bid for Wikimania 2009 (Bid page), and some of the sponsors of that bid may still be interested in a smaller event.
As mentioned above, if the conference is held in conjunction with the Wikimedia Australia AGM, this would restrict it to being held between July and November. Other factors involved in deciding the timing include:
- School holidays (avoid or coincide with them?)
- Weather (depends on hosting city - e.g. Canberra can get very cold in winter, Brisbane less so)
- Time required to organise the event (the larger the event, the more time needed)
In discussing this event many names have been used, generally shorthand for something similar to "Wikimedia Australia Conference" or "Australian mini-Wikimania". Any suggestions for a catchy name are welcome.