OpenSym is an annual tech conference that focuses on wiki technology and free knowledge. It was founded in 2005 as WikiSym (short for Wiki Symposium) and got its current name in 2014 to reflect a broadening of the conference’s scope.

The inaugural WikiSym was held in September 2005 in San Diego, California, United States. It ran concurrently with ACM OOPSLA (Object-Oriented Programming, Languages & Applications), an annual research conference organized by the Association for Computing Machinery. The event was dedicated to wiki and Wikipedia research and practice. Speakers included Ward Cunningham (the developer of the first wiki), Jimmy Wales (the co-founder of Wikipedia), Ross Mayfield (the founder of Socialtext), and Sunir Shah (the founder of MeatballWIki).

The first symposium was deemed successful and it was decided to organize it annually. In 2014, the name of the conference was changed to OpenSym (short for International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration) to reflect that it scope had broadened to open collaboration research, including wiki and Wikipedia research, open data, free/libre/open source, and anything related. All conference’s proceedings are published in the ACM Digital Library.

OpenSym is held in a new country every year. Past host countries have included the United States, Denmark, Canada, Portugal, Poland, Austria, Hong Kong, Germany, and Ireland. The conference gathers speakers and visitors from around the world. It welcomes anyone and everyone interested in its main topics, including:

  • wiki technology and open collaboration
  • Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects (Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity, Wikivoyage, Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata, etc.)
  • open policy and open government
  • open education
  • open data
  • IT-driven open innovation
  • free/libre/open source software

Main sponsors of OpenSym are Google and the Wikimedia Foundation. It is also supported by local sponsors and partners in the host city of the year. For example, the 2015 symposium in San Francisco partnered with UC Berkeley, the 2016 symposium in Berlin collaborated with the Fraunhofer Society, and OpenSym 2017 in Galway was hosted by National University of Ireland.

In 2020, the event was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.




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