User AmWasser, active in Wikipedia since 2004, helped organize the WikiCon as a volunteer. Here, he talks about what makes the event so magical – and how pizza can help to calm the mood.
AmWasser: “It was my first WikiCon ever. Honestly, I was thrilled. I have a lot of respect for everyone who traveled long distances to be there. For most people, Stralsund is not exactly on their doorstep. From the south of Germany, the train ride already takes quite a few hours, but there were even Wikipedians from Switzerland and Austria.
We had a really special atmosphere on site. There was not enough time to get into conversation with everyone, but I met a lot of people I had only known by their usernames before – and now I was able to put faces to those names.
I decided to help organize the WikiCon because Stralsund is my hometown. And because I know from my work on Wikipedia that nothing can be achieved with the attitude ‘You do it’. An event like this only works as a joint effort, and my motivation was to give something back.
As a native of Stralsund and a Stralsund fan, I helped to establish contacts with the locations and made suggestions as to what people could see outside of the WikiCon. Sure, we had a full program, but right next to the city hall, which was also the venue, there is Hackert’s Tapetensaal, for example, which is definitely worthwhile for those interested in culture and which is not listed among the city’s sights in every travel guide.
The atmosphere during the event was characterized by the commitment of the people. Many of the volunteers had prepared presentations and contributed their topics. But of course Wikimedia Deutschland also deserves a lot of thanks and praise. Sandro, Anna and the entire team have consistently and stringently pulled off the WikiCon, taking into account all the sensitivities of us Wikipedia authors. When there was criticism about the food, pizza was ordered without much discussion – and in the end everyone was satisfied. The good thing about the WikiCon is that you meet in person. If you only exchange ideas online behind a
username, it’s easy to assume that the other person has bad intentions – even though that’s usually not the case.
Networking is the most important thing at the WikiCon. This togetherness of all the Wikipedia activists – not just the authors, but all the people who contribute in various ways, who correct articles, who take care of categories – this collaboration really solidified the event in Stralsund.”