CIS-A2K/Meetings/Minutes of Meeting between CIS, WMF & FDC

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

CIS-A2K (Centre for Internet and Society - Access to Knowledge) is a campaign to promote the fundamental principles of justice, freedom, and economic development. It deals with issues like copyrights, patents and trademarks, which are an important part of the digital landscape.
If you have a general proposal/suggestion for Access to Knowledge team you can write on the discussion page. If you have appreciations or feedback on our work, please share it on feedback page.

Date: 11th-12th Feb 2014. Time: 10am - 6pm
Location: Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore


  • Anausya Sengupta, Senior Director of Grantmaking Wikimedia Foundation
  • Garfield Byrd, Chief of Finance and Administration Wikimedia Foundation
  • Sydeny Poore, Member of Wikimedia Funds Dissemination Committee
  • Subhashish Panigrahi, CIS A2K, Team Member
  • Nitika Tandon, CIS A2K, Team Member
  • Muzamiluddin Syed, CIS A2K, Team Member
  • T. Vishnu Vardhan, CIS A2K, Program Director

- Dr. Nirmita Narasimhan, Accessibility Director was present to give an overview of CIS’s work to the visiting team during the first half of 11th February, 2014.
- The visiting team had a separate meeting with the A2K Program advisor Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana on 12th February, 2014 for about an hour.
- The visiting team had a separate meeting with the CIS Statutory Auditor along with the Program Director for about an hour on 12th February, 2014.
- Dr. Pavanaja could not attend the meetings due to illness.
- Rahmanuddin Shaik could not attend the meetings as he was in Vijayawada helping with the TeWiki10 celebrations.


  • Understanding current state of A2K—basic facts (finance snapshot, organizational context within CIS)
  • Financial review of CIS-A2K, per grant agreement
  • Reflection on past year—successes and challenges in activities
  • Reflection on past year—spending vs. plan
  • Discussion of the preparation for funding via the FDC process; Q&A
  • Reflection on relationship with various communities—successes; obstacles; gaps
  • Discussion of A2K's current resources: staff, funds, engaged volunteers; discuss actual plans; discuss path according to road map

Key discussion points[edit]

  • A discussion on the overview of the the CIS’s larger work and possibilities of integrating or leveraging it for the Wikimedia movement.
  • Discussion around CIS’s work during 2013-2014
    • Mission for 2013-2014
      • 5 core Indian languages to invest time and effort. Doesn't necessarily mean that we are not supporting other languages. More details here
  • Made a very detailed and granular plan for these 5 languages.
  • How were the 5 languages were chosen: here
  • CIS-A2K could only work in 4 out of the 5 selected language areas.
  • Discussion around strategies adopted by A2K
    • Community building
      • started even before work plan started to build relations with WMIN and Community.
      • There was a negative sentiment in the community and Chapter because of the past catalyst program
      • There was a feeling of India Program adopting "Helicopter intervention model" - Light-touch approach of outreach/program implementation. There was a lack of taking effort to sustaining programs. CIS-A2K took initiatives to take away that negative baggage.
      • Strategies - Institutional partnerships, re-release of content, outreach, community meet-ups and events etc.
  • Discussion around building linkages with WMIN
    • Involved WMIN in the Program Director hiring process (1 community , 1 Foundation, 1 Chapter rep on the interview panel)
    • Involved them during PO - Muzammil's hiring process.
    • Involved the WMIN along with some volunteers while hiring the Community Communications Consultant, which is a useful model.
    • Agreed upon doing quarterly meeting with WMIN. First was in February 2013.
    • Working relationship building with WMIN by building trust and agreeing on proposals given by EC.
    • The complementarity between CIS-A2K and WMIN needs to be worked out in greater detail. It is important to recognize that the nature of each of the entity is different. Each bring on board certain strengths. Going forward this aspect should be given a serious thought.
    • CIS-A2K deeply believes in strengthening WMIN and any volunteer driven groups in India and does not position itself in competition with such entities.
    • However, some volunteers see CIS-A2K and WMIN as competitors for funds. It was clarified to CIS-A2K that there is no single pot of movement resources that is allocated for India and WMF looks at each organization on its own merits and wants to build partnerships in the best interests of the movement in India.
    • Some open questions for further thinking. Is it possible for WMIN to take up some language communities and CIS-A2K to focus on some? Or can there be joint work-plans or activities?
    • CIS-A2K feels the SIG and CIG model of WMIN is infact a good one but probably may not better managed/executed. CIS-A2K has benefited from interacting and in some instances working closely with the SIGs and CIGs. We need to collectively think through about this model. There is an opportunity here for WMIN to leverage.
  • Discussion around building linkages with the community:
    • Padyatra - Went around different cities and meet local communities to understand the local context and challenges. This also helped in developing the work plan in March 2013.
    • Not all communities were open to interact with CIS-A2K. We respected this decision of the language communities. This also helped us choose language areas. Some closed communities started to interact with CIS-A2K team over a period time.
    • Work plan discussions mostly happened offline rather than on Meta (A2K was also criticized for not doing it online). There are lot of challenges for the Indic communities to come and discuss on Meta. We have discussed these in the narrative report. Also this type of structure planning was not attempted in these communities before.
    • Reorient A2K team - Putting tangible deliverable against each language work plan.
    • Transparency with community - shared budged, open calendar, travel dates and info, send travel agenda to local communities.
    • Accountability measures: monthly newsletters, quarterly report, mid-term report, narrative report.
  • Discussion around newer challenges in community building
    • Diversifying communities is a major challenge.
    • The leaders of community indulge in discursive debates about A2K's failures on mailing list, Meta pages. However there is never a discussion about achievements or appreciations for the program. Appreciation is given quietly or one-on-one. Negativity in public and positivity in private.
    • Sensitivities around who takes the credit. CIS-A2K is still learning on this front. Over the last 10 months we have had setbacks and success. Initially we were accused of credit grabbing by some volunteers. We have taken various measures on this front. In most of the media interactions we encourage the reporter to interact with the community and highlight the volunteer effort. We make it clear to the media personnel that we are paid employees. Whereas media like to quote a Director of a Program or a President of a Chapter than a volunteer. However, this is changing over time slowly.
  • Discussion around Work Plan Development Process
    • Cannot have one model for the country. Was necessary to develop plans for individual communities, having understood the challenges they were facing, current situation of the community and what they wanted to achieve. This does not mean the plans are mutually exclusive and disparate.
    • In the work plan A2K has also listed down names of all the key people/ Wikipedians across communities who have helped us develop this plan.
    • A2K had put up tangible outcomes against each language work plan. We know sometimes it is difficult to predict outcomes, but we chose to put projections as it will give us a sense of direction.
    • Budget revision - current budget was mapped to the lang work plan.
    • Important to realize that there are no baselines existing. We are rather creating baselines.
    • Can we create metrics for ROI in this part of the world? It’s a challenge but no harm in exploring.
  • Discussion around challenges in knowledge production
    • Most Indian languages are more or less oral languages. Knowledge production in Indic languages are more oral and encyclopedic documentation
    • ULS is not available at times.
    • Not many people know typing in regional languages
    • Question by Sydney: Is A2K working on Commons? Wikisource? Answer by Vishnu: We did need assessments for Wikimedia projects in diff languages. In Konkani we are actively promoting Wikisource. In Odia there is no Wikisource and hence most work in done on WP, in TE both Wikipedia and Wikisource projects are active.
    • Other challenges are like English as the aspirational language for Indians. People would like to get trained on EN WP against Indian language WP.
    • Lack of WP standards that are transferred to Indian WPs. For example, no clarity on what's a stub.
    • Translation is a huge challenge. The process of translation from one Indian language to another is not happening. Because for an article to be translated from one Indian language to another it needs to go through English. Very few people would be comfortable with multiple Indian languages and will be able to help us with this.
    • Working with bilingual contributors - can be key connectors between local and local; and local and global - can work as a catalyzing process.
    • Cross pollinating ideas amongst communities is also a challenge.
    • Internal diaspora is also an issue - Enough Telugu writers in Bangalore but its difficult to tap into them. Looking beyond the region and looking at language level. There are lessons from Tamil and Malayalam that one should understand better.
  • Discussion around institutional partnerships
    • Growth of educational institutions has multiplied by 10 times in the past few years. Offers huge potential to Wikimedia movement.
    • In most institutes students have to learn at least 1 Indian language
    • Offers an opportunity to A2K to tap into this system and harness students' time for Wikimedia projects.
    • A2K is aiming at building strong institutional partnerships in key languages in which we are working. Built partnerships in OR, TE,
    • GOM and KN. BN in the pipeline.
    • Thematic partnership and plans implementation model (e.g. On-course-module-editor engagement at Christ University)
    • Some examples: GOM - Goa University, OR - KISS and KIIT, KN - Christ University
    • Women's Studies lens - Pune, TISS and Jadavpur will be joining hands with A2K. Work is being done on women's participation on Wiki, gender gap.
    • Question: Is A2K targeting classrooms in which there are significant number of women? Answer: In Indian scenario, almost 50% of them are women except for maybe engineering colleges. In goa 90% of them are women.
    • Long lead time before an MOU is actually signed - multiple levels of meetings, persistently following up with institutions can take upto 5–6 months or more.
    • There is no one single model of institutional partnership.
    • CIS-A2K has been successful with some institutional partnerships because it could show how it can add value to the institution. A win-win scenario is often key for a successful institutional partnership.
    • CIS-A2K feels if it continues the work during the coming year it would be useful to deepen the partnerships than to go on increasing their number. Look at models where Wikimedia projects could be integrated into the institutional systems such that there are long term benefits to the movement. E.g. Christ University.
  • Discussion around outreach
    • Earlier approach - carpet bombing and light-touch approach. A2K has refined its approach - intensive programs; at least a day long. Integrate online and offline outreach - FB, Mails and other digital platforms. A2K does not see offline and online outreach as separate activities. It has been productive to club these.
    • A2K's reach since 2012 Sep is close to 3500.
    • A2K should use Wiki Metrics and to quickly analyse the impact of the outreach than its current models. A2K should approach the WMF Metrics team for a training.
    • Community members show high level of skepticism about the team being capable of providing Wikipedia training? Flip side in many cases community members themselves are not capable of effective outreach.
    • Online-offline spectrum: Credibility of editors who do not primarily contribute in articles but other places.
  • Discussion around creating awareness
    • Higher print and electronic media >100 print media mentions, 4 TV programs, 3 radio programs. [Discussion for later : But how we de leverage this? What does it translate to in terms of number of editors or readers?]
    • Actively used social media - FB group for all languages are active. Twitter handle handled by Subha.
    • Wikipedians speak - audio, video recordings of Wikipedians.
  • Discussion on CIS's Institutional and Financial Systems
    • A review was undertaken of the CIS’s institutional and financial systems by the visiting team.
    • They have gone through the processes adopted at CIS.
    • Some examples were taken to understand the entire value chain of how the spending it incurred.
    • CIS’s Accounts showed how the accounts are maintained on Tally and various registers kept.
    • It was also informed that CIS does an open disclosure of its annual and audit reports on its website.
    • The visiting team also saw the openly displayed details of the funding at CIS premises.
    • Grant utilization statement verified by the statutory Auditor was shared with Garfield.
    • The visiting team discussed with the Auditor the complexities of the Indian accounting system and the FCRA regulations on non-profits
    • The On Site Financial Review Report by WMF is available here

Key action points for CIS-A2K[edit]

  1. Training Wikipedians and having more experienced wikipedians, Tea house project, Chatasabha could be exciting programs for smaller Wiki projects, see projects where admins or syspos can help in running programs.
  2. A2K should get training session organized on Wiki Metrics by WMF.
  3. Make video tutorials similar to the Hindi and Kannada Wikipedia tutorials in other Indic languages.
  4. A2K will keep Chapter informed with every major decision we take - organize an event, help local communities in celebrating events (physical or financial)
  5. Finalize communication protocol with WMIN: agree on channels of communication. frequency of meetings etc.
  6. Acknowledge the Chapter in all events. Helping them build their brand as well.
  7. Trust building in Indic language and English communities by not repeating 'Wiki-copter model' and doing sustainable programs.
  8. Develop individual and granular Indian language plans for the next year.
  9. Question: Has A2K put in effort to record oral traditions and oral citations on Commons? Answer: not much yet! But it's in the pipeline. Achal is working on oral citation projects and oral knowledge ('People are Knowledge' film'). It was very controversial to begin with but debate has not quietened down. The community seems more receptive to the idea now. Maybe CIS could look into this.

Key lessons[edit]

  1. What’s the good entry point? Wikipedia or Source? In Christ: For 1st years students who don't know how to type: 1st semester learn typing on Wikisource and them move to Wikipedia in following terms. In KISS: Pictures excites children so taking them to add pictures of tribal India on Commons, then take them to Wikisource and eventually to Wikipedia. Also looking at age (high school, masters, or bachelors) and defining a good entry point for them. Even in ML they worked with schools kids on Wikisource first. Wikisource may be a very good entry point for global south communities to start becoming comfortable on Wikimedia projects and then move to WP.
  2. A2K can help integrating Wikipedia into the pedagogy and be a change agent in higher education scenario. Entry point in WEP is content driven and not always to build community.
  3. No uniform structure of institutional partnerships - depends on institutions - flatter organisation or hierarchical organisation - formal V/s informal. Goa University V/s Hyderbad University.
  4. Building partnership not in isolation but collaboration with community is important.
  5. What works in institutional partnerships: One leader or anchor who understands the importance of open access and open knowledge and he/she helps drive the programs. We need to have a strong anchor in each partner institution.
  6. Question: Are multiple institutional partnerships sustainable for A2K? Answer: most of them are informal partnerships, but working as catalyst we are hoping that they become self sustaining and we don't need to continuously support them.