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What is Wikimedia?
The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of knowledge. Its projects include Wikipedia, the encyclopaedia that anyone can edit, the fourth most visited website in the world. All of the Foundation's wiki based content are freely available to the general public under free licenses, such as GFDL.
Wikimedia UK is the local chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, covering the United Kingdom. It is an independent organization whose goals are in common with the Foundation, and it is incorporated under the name "Wiki UK Limited", using Wikimedia UK as an operating name. It was approved as a chapter by the Wikimedia Foundation Board on 12 January 2009 and is in the process of gaining tax exempt charitable status.
What is Wikimania?
Wikimania is an annual international conference held for users and supporters of the Wikimedia Foundation projects, including Wikipedia, Wikinews and Commons. The first conference was held in Frankfurt, Germany, on August 4-8, 2005. Since then the conference has been held on five continents and last years conference in Alexandria, Egypt saw the largest number of attendees with over 620 people attending the conference. Wikimania 2009 is being held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The topics of presentations, papers and discussions include the Wikimedia Foundation projects, other wikis, open source software, and free content. Over the last 4 years, key note speakers important to the free and open source have included Ward Cunningham (developer of the first wiki), Richard Stallman (founder of the GNU project), Joi Ito (CEO of Creative Commons) and Lawrence Lessig (founding board member of Creative Commons).
2010 Oxford Bid
This year Wikimedia UK are overseeing a bid to bring the conference to Oxford. Each year the conference is typically hosted on a different continent, and given that it will have been 5 years since the conference was hosted in Europe our chance of success are greatly increased.
We are looking to host the event in the town hall in Oxford which we will be at a 50% discount for non-profit organisations. The venue can host 700 people, which we aim to fill. Accommodation for the conference will be in two forms: University of Oxford halls and local hostels. In total 400-450 rooms will be provided to national and international delegates, although this may be increased if there is a demand for it.
Talks and papers will be in line with previous years, with the purpose being to discuss and further the creation of open source and free software, wikis, and collaborative projects.
The conference gathers interest at local, national and international levels due to the prominence that the Foundation projects have achieved, especially with the only non profit site to have a website in the top 10 most viewed web page in the world. Previous conferences have been covered by the BBC, NBC, The New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and others.
As with the running of the Wikimedia projects, the Wikimania conference is run entirely from sponsors and donations. Over the last 5 years, nearly £500,000 has been donated to support the conference with most of the support being derived from technology and communications companies. The sponsorship is used to offset the costs of the venue, accommodation, technical facilities, catering, and a number of scholarships to assist people in attending the conference who cannot afford the travel costs.
Typically, each year the sponsorship is structured with greater product and brand placement available as the amount donated increases. Although donations can be in the form of technical facilities, we greatly value donations in cash form as without these, the conference would not be able to run. We would also greatly appreciate donations of admin staff time, since the administrative burden of organising a conference on this scale is considerable, particularly because of the scholarships offered. Our aim is to have one, perhaps two main sponsors (depending on the value of donations) and then several smaller sponsors.