Frequently Asked Questions
Q:What is Wikimania?
- A: A conference for people working on Wikimedia Foundation projects (primarily the world-famous Wikipedia) and other people who are interested in wikis, free and open content and software, and global development and education. See meta and Wikipedia for more.
Q: Where will this year's Wikimania conference be held?
- A: In Taipei, Taiwan, from August 3-5 2007.
See: Local Information
Q: What and where is Taiwan?
- A: "Taiwan" is the subject of some sensitive political viewpoints, but the most simple answer is that it is an island territory off east coast of "Mainland China" and south of Japan. The sticky part is that the People's Republic of China (PRC) claims Taiwan as its province as a consequence of winning the 1949 Chinese Civil War, but the government that controls Taiwan is officially the Republic of China (ROC). The ROC government once controlled Mainland China from 1912-1949, but retreated to Taiwan in 1949. Depending which Taiwanese politician you talk to, the ROC still officially claims all of "Mainland China" as part of the ROC.
- However, according to the US State Department website, the "authorities in Taiwan" do not challenge the reality that the PRC rules the mainland. If all this information is confusing, it is.
Q: Er, what does that mean politically?
- A: So that means there has been a standoff between the mainland and Taiwan ever since 1949. Most of the world recognized the ROC as the legitimate government of "China" until it was quite apparent the Communist PRC was going to be in power for a long time. In 1971, influenced very much by US engagement by US President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the United Nations switched recognition from ROC to PRC, and so did most of the rest of the world. That left "Taiwan ROC" a bit out in the cold. Many groups interested in the entire China/Taiwan controversy insist on maintaining the "status quo" to prevent the standoff from deteriorating further.
- The definition of the status quo is open to interpretation, again depending on whom you talk to. Most countries in the world recognize the PRC as the legitimate "China" and take note of the PRC position that Taiwan is part of China. In the subtleties of diplomatic language, they do not necessarily recognize the PRC position that Taiwan is part of China, however. See the Political status of Taiwan for all the intricacies. That's why there are no real Taiwan or ROC embassies around the world and relations between Taiwan and the rest of the world is mostly unofficial, because the PRC would never be happy otherwise. In turn, this makes visas for getting to Taiwan ROC a bit tough to obtain, although Taiwan has a thirty-day visa-free waiver program for most developed countries in the world.
- Do not engage in talk about Taiwan's political status lightly as certain people can be very passionate about it. When talking about China and Taiwan, it is common to use "the Mainland" and "Taiwan." Ironically, people in Taiwan are used to the term "Made in China" for something made on the Mainland and will sometimes say the term "Made in China" in English if someone asks them where something is made.
Q: What do they speak in Taiwan?
- A: They speak mostly Mandarin Chinese (or "Guo Yu" [national language], also referred to in the PRC as "Putong Hua" [common speak] or "Hua Yu" [Chinese language] in Malaysia and Singapore), though there is also a local dialect referred to as "Taiwanese" (see zh-min-nan.wikipedia.org), which is also known as Minnan or Hokkien. So "Mandarin" is the simple answer, though locals can be staunchly "pro-Taiwanese" since Mandarin is the language the 1949 ROC government imposed on the populace. Other dialects you might have heard of: Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and southern China. It's also what you're likely to hear in old Chinatowns of the United States, Canada, London, etc. since the earlier Chinese immigrants to the West tend to be from southern China. It's not spoken in Taiwan, though Cantonese pop culture (music and movies) is so widely influential, you may hear it blaring out of the TV set or DVD stores. (More info: Local_information_11:_General_Conversation). Note: whether the languages in Chinese world should be classified as dialects or languages can be a contentious issue.
Q: Do folks speak English there?
- A: In the professional and high end tourism fields, yes. Younger folks tend to know it.
Q: What's up with the written language, and all those pictograms?
- A: The Chinese use "logographic" characters to represent words. Even though spoken dialects of Chinese can be mutually unintelligible, the written Chinese is largely the same.
Q: What's the weather like in August?
- A: Cannot sugar coat this at all -- hot and humid. Really humid. Bring bug spray, carry a bottle of water with you, wear light clothes. If you go downtown, though, everything is super air conditioned. It's not unusual to go from 95 F (35 C) to 65 F (18 C) in a few steps, as you enter stores or restaurants. So oddly enough, some people will bring sweaters with them in the height of summer.
Q: What should we wear?
- A: As for appropriate attire, Taiwan is quite liberal. During the conference one can be pretty casual. Otherwise for women most anything goes, you will see skirts as short as anywhere else in the world. But if you venture into town at night, for men usually hard soled shoes and long pants are a requirement for fancy venues or bars. Yes, even in scorching heat, long pants.
Q: What electricity and telecom do they use there?
- A: Surprisingly, they use 110 V, with the plug just like the United States and Japan. So plan accordingly. Most every laptop power supply will handle this fine. Most "travel chargers" for cell phones will too. Your hair dryer or water boiler won't. Don't bring them.
- As for telecom, they do use the GSM system in Taiwan, so your GSM phones that contain the SIM cards should work, albeit with really expensive roaming costs, depending on your own carrier.
Registration and Lodging
Q: Is there lodging on-site?
- A: Yes, in CTOYAC, but accommodation is limited -- see Registration
Q: What room do I have?
- A: You'll be assigned a room at check-in
Q: Are meals included?
- A: Lunch is, dinner is not.
Q: I got a scholarship. How do I get reimbursed?
- A: Look for an email with more information before the conference. Reimbursements will happen at specific times during the conference. BRING YOUR ORIGINAL TRAVEL RECEIPTS.
Q: Do we have to bring our own towels? (per lodging: "Every rooms come with personal hygiene items , including toothbrush, tooth paste, comb, razor, soap, shampoo, cup, towelette, hair drier, and plastic slippers. You need to prepare your own bath towel, shower cap, body wash, shave cream, etc.")
- A: ?
Q: When is check-out time for CTOYAC?
- A: The morning of the 6th. The last night is the 5th.
Q: Is there a gym or exercise facilities at/near CTOYAC?
- A: ?
Transportation and Visas
Q: Are there any additional documents I need for the entry of Taiwan except Passport?
- A: Citizen of the selected 31 nations is eligible for the visa-waiver program. Citizen of the rest would need to apply for a Visa for your entry. For further information please consult Visas and Visa_On_Arrival if you have difficulties on getting one.
Q: How are the international flights?
- A: China Airlines and EVA Airways, the two major airlines of Taiwan, provide services worldwide. Foreign carriers are mainly Asia-based, for example, Cathay Pacific Airways, Dragon Airlines, Air Macau, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Thai Airways, Philippine Airlines, etc. US airlines include Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and Northwest Airlines. The only European airline is the KLM Royal Dutch. You probably need to make a connection at a nearby hub like Bangkok, Hong Kong, or Tokyo. For details, consult Visas#Flights.
Q: Help! I'm at the airport. How do I get into the city?
Q: Help! I'm in Taipei. How do I get to the venue?
Q: Help! I need to get to the venue in a cab.
- A: Hail a taxi and show the following Chinese words to the driver : 劍潭海外青年活動中心 (Chien Tan Overseas Youth Activities Center).
Conference and Schedule
Q: Who's speaking when?
- A: see the schedule
Q: When is the big party for attendees?
- A: Saturday night, the 4th, at the Red Theater. See Wikimania Party
Q: When is the Film Festival?
- A: At the party on Saturday night.
Q: What other related events are there?
- A: Quite a few. See Social Events.
Q: What is there to do before/after the conference?
- A: Lots of things, including tours
Q: When will other people be there?
Q: Do I need to pre-register for a tour or do I register on-site?
- A: Tours were cancelled. If you'd like an informal tour with other Wikipedians, please see the Little Angel Program.
Q: All important -- what is food like there? I'm a vegetarian, what about me?
- A: See food. Also see en:Cuisine_of_Taiwan; don't forget your squid on a stick, en:stinky tofu and en:oyster omelette.
Q: Should I bring my laptop? Will there be wireless?
- A: Many people will (this being a Wikimedia event). There should be wireless at the conference. According to the local info page, "Taipei enjoys citywide internet wireless access, including within its subway/metro system." Bringing a laptop gives you the chance to edit with friends!
Q: I'm a presenter; how should I bring my presentation?
- A: This is not an official answer, but if you don't have a computer, on a flash drive is always useful.
Q: How do I get announcements about Wikimania?
- A: Watch this site or sign up for wikimania-l, a low volume listserv.