2023 Turkic Wikimedia Conference Report

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Turkic Wikimedia Conference 2023 was a 3-day international Wikimedia event held between 20-22 October 2023 at Istanbul.


The event was designed for bringing the active volunteers of the Wikimedia projects from Turkic world together for the following purposes :

  • increasing wiki-skills of participants to employ in different Wikimedia projects
  • creating awareness about and increasing sense of belonging to the global Wikimedia Movement
  • providing a floor for getting to know each other and discussing any Wikimedia related issues
  • celebrating 10th birthday of Wikidata!

The event was open to anyone who register in advance. The target audience was the active contributors of a Wikimedia project and Wikimedia volunteers in any capacity from the Turkic world and regional communities. A number of scholarships were offered to cover the cost of selected individuals' travel and accommodation to attend training days using funding provided by the Wikimedia Foundation. The participants from the Turkic and regional communities, as well as participants from Turkey who live outside of Istanbul were eligible to apply for scholarship. The event ended up hosting Wikimedians speaking those Turkic languages: Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Saha, Tatar, Turkish and Tuvan.

Language(s) of the event

This was a three-language event. Two parallel sessions were held during all three days. In the larger hall the presentations were made in one of those three languages and live interpretation was offered to other two: Turkish, Russian, English. The workshops in the second hall were in English.

Organization Team

The event was organized by the Wikimedians of Turkic Languages User Group in cooperation with Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey with the financial support of the Wikimedia Foundation. The program team was composed of seven people from those user groups.


Second meeting in Istanbul

This event was the second time Turkic Wikimedians are meeting in Istanbul. Exactly one year ago, the same team organized another three day event focusing only on Wikidata: The Wikidata trainings for Turkic Wikimedians. This year's event was based on the experiences and the self-confidence resulting from the success of that event. The organisation team planned the event at the same venue (though at the last minute it's required to move a nearby hotel), and used previous year's relations and know-how for organizing a similar event to organize even a better one.

This time, two parallel sessions in two different conference rooms were planned. Again, the committee decided that the event had to be a three-language event; therefore simultaneous interpretation were provided in three languages: Turkish-English-Russian.

The logistics were managed by members of the group; it was the team members living in Turkey who mostly played a role on finding a suitable venue and translators, making accommodation and food arrangements, planning the social events.


The venue of the event was the Mercure Hotel in Üsküdar district of the Istanbul on the Asian side of the city. This venue was preferred because of two reasons: First, it is very close by Üsküdar University where volunteer conference assistants and some members of the organisation team are coming from. Secondly, the hotel was previously accommodated the participants of the Wikimedia event successfully. This time the participants did not accommodate at this hotel but all coffee-breaks, lunch and dinners except the social night offered at the hotel.

Assistant students

The organization team enjoyed the advantage of easily forming a team of volunteer conference assistants. The Üsküdar University, nearby the conference venue is home to the first Wikipedia student club in the country. With the help of the club, a 15-member team consisting of Turkish and international students were formed. All of them did speak Turkish and English; and two of them could speak Russian. Some students were experienced about the event from the previous year. They helped the organisation team at the registration desk and in the conference rooms during 3 days.

The organisation team arranged a meeting with the assistance team before the event to explain and share the tasks. We also shortly talked about the Wikimedia movement, the Wikimedians, the global and regional Wikimedia events, the projects including Wikipedia and Wikidata. Some were already familiar with all those as they were involved in Wikipedia Student Club activities. The event was successful at sharing positive atmosphere and the wiki-spirit through conference-assistant students as proved by the mother of one of the students sending home-made food for the sweet table at the second a day.

The hotel

During the event, the scholarship recipients and staff were accommodated at Hotel Aspera Altunizade which is next to bus & metro stations and at walking distance to the conference venue. Considering traffic problems in Istanbul; having the hotel within walking distance to the venue and the public transportation was effective for ensuring the conference sessions with no delay.


During the conference 2 interpreters worked to and from Turkish, English and Russian languages. They had been previously involved in Wikimedia projects and Wikimedia events such as 2022 Wikidata event in Istanbul and 2023 CEE Conference in Tbilisi; therefore were familiar with the terminology employed in the projects. The organisation team shared the presentations available to them with the interpreters before the event to help their prepration.

Travel arrangements

The members of the organization team organized the travels for all participants. Main difficulty was the cancelations in flights due to ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants as there were two invited speakers from that region. The last minute arrangements were made to make sure that all participants arrive safely and have the conference program as scheduled. The organisation team members made sure that the disabled participants were met at the airport by the local group members.

Social events

Program included a 4-hour boat trip at Bosphorus at the end of the 2nd day. The sessions were scheduled to end earlier on that day allowing more time to enjoy the beauty of the Bosphorus. The conference participants were taken to the seaside after the conference and took a dinner cruise alongside the Bosphorus Strait overlooking the Asian side and European sides of the city.


The Objectives

The program of Turkic Wikimedia Conference 2023 was designed to include sessions that would help Turkic language speaking communities in the following:

  • creating awareness on how global Wikimedia Movement work and increase the feeling of belonging;
  • raising awareness about and improving the skills required to contribute Wikimedia projects less known and contributed in Turkic-speaking world;
  • organising successful outreach events by learning from the experiences of organizers from other communities;
  • discussing Turkic Wikimedia Hub formation at an in person meeting with the colleagues from the region;
  • learning more about the artificial intelligence and to be able to disscuss perceived opportunities and threats for Wikimedia projects.
Submissions and program scheduling

The organization team called for submission in July, later contacted some prospective speakers; suggested to present for Turkic communities and asked their availability for participation to host a session in the event. From the very beginning the plan was having two tracks; one for presentations, panels, discussions and other for hands-on workshops.

In making the program, the team first grouped the sessions in terms of which of the above listed considerations they met; tried to observe a balance between those categories in terms of time allocated. Also tried to arrange the schedule in a way that would allow a participant first join a session giving more basic information, and then enter a hands-on workshop about it if interested. However, it must be added that during the event many last minute changes were made because of the delayed flight, speaker who fell ill. The team was flexible to make those changes and announce through event -telegram channels. When there was an unplanned free time at one of the rooms, even a small piano recital were spontaneously given by a user group member

The final part of the program-building was preparation of the opening and closing sessions. No outside speaker were invited to give a speech for the opening or closing session. They were rather collaboratively facilitated by the members of the organisation team.

Athmosphere-building activities

The opening session mainly included ice-breaker games. Those games worked very well in making participants getting to know each other and create a collaborative environment.

Additionally, at the end of the first day there was a cake-cutting ceremony for wikidata birthday cake and a fun knowledge quiz about turkic world and Istanbul prepared by a user group member. All this contributed to creating a fun and friendly atmosphere.

The closing session included a flag handing-over ceremony where the user group flag was handed over to Azerbaijani delegates for organising & the next Turkic Wikimedians Conference at Baku in 2025.