So it is around half a year ago the WikiSym 2010 and Wikimania 2010 conferences took place in Gdansk. Before the conference I paid the registration for WikiSym. In another transaction I paid Wikimania registration and the shared dorm via PayPal. They were good meetings and I have written a bit about them here and here (I still seem to miss a rightup of the Wikimania meeting).
When I got back to Danmark I wanted to get my travel expenses reimbursed from my university. Just as I was handing in the information August 3rd I got an email saying that my PayPal transaction was reversed, so I stopped the reimbursement. Apparently, I was not the only one it happened to. Jon from Norway reported it too, as well as a number of others. No one on the Wikimania mailing list seemed to know much, and in the end of August Jon seemed to have been the last to ask Any news on this? with no reply. One should think that someone is missing these money? Somewhat of a mystery.
Well, I waited. I waited so long that my university changed travel reimbursement system and the papers that I had filled out were no longer valid. At new year 2010/2011 I still hadn’t heard of what to do, so I began to to use the new online reimbursement system. I had an initial login problem there and got around nine to ten people involved in the problem stretching over several days. Finally, our system administrator superman came up with a useful guess that solved the login problem and I smoothly completed my travel reimbursement for WikiSym.
Not long after I had completed the reimbursement (was it within hours?) I got an email from an executive assistant at the Wikimedia Foundation saying that they were missing the payments and could I please pay! The payment should go to another PayPal account. Just to check I looked at the email header and saw that the email didn’t seem to originate from the Wikimedia Foundation but instead from Gmail. I had then already emailed the person and received a reply, so I guess things are alright. :-) There must be email forwarding somewhere. After trying to pay the second time I got acknowledgment both from the Wikimedia staff and PayPal around January 21st.
Registration payment hows and wheres were not the only mystery of Wikimania 2010. The movie mystery was another. The Polish company iStream setup parallel realtime streaming. Neat. (The image above shows me while I screengrab an image of me) However, as far as I understand the recorded movies should also be ogg-theora’ed and put on Wikimedia Commons Open Access media archive. This step seems never to have happened. I have seen a few emails on a mailing list asking about the videos but now one has an explaination. The realtime streaming was fine as the rest of Wikimania. However, I was looking forward to see how silly I looked on video. Maybe the video people have taken a look on my performance and found it best not to make it public to spare me the embarrassment. Then thanks.
Organizing Wikimania is a tough job done by more or less volunteers with perhaps little conference organizing experience. I don’t envy the organizers. Scientific conferences, such as the Human Brain Mapping conference, usually have an organization behind with paid staff, pays an event organizer company for management, pays a publisher for handling incoming manuscripts and have an overlapping organizing committee. The conference registration fee for such conference is typically also much higher than Wikimania. Wikimania is really a bargain.
There has recently been some discussions on the Wikimania mailing list beginning when Harel Cain suggested having the conference every second year. The most constructive handle on the Wikimania organizing issue came perhaps from Phoebe Ayers that one rainy Saturday afternoon sat down a drafted a Wikimania Handbook. Hopefully that wiki-approach will help the organizers. Lets hope for some more rainy days for Phoebe Ayers in Davis, California. I thought it never rains in California. Maybe its a Northern/Southern California thing.
BTW there is a call for papers out on WikiSym 2011. This time WikiSym will not be co-located with Wikimania. WikiSym will take place at the Microsoft Research Campus in Silicon Valley. — that is, in the part of California where it probably sometimes rains.