Concerns of the Hindi Wikimedia Community

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Importance of Hindi 

According to Google-KPMG Report - Hindi internet users are expected to outnumber those accessing the web in English by 2021, Hindi users are estimated to reach 201 million (20.1 crore) as against the English user base of 199 million (19.9 crore) in 2021.

Hindi is the world's 4th most spoken language. As evident from the map in India, Hindi is spoken in most of the Northern region. Around 258 million (258,000,000) people in India reported Hindi to be their native language.Hindi Wikipedia is biggest Indic Language Wikipedia with over 1,31,000 articles.

Background with WMF 

Hindi is one of the neglected communities in India. During India Consultation 2014, Hindi Wikipedians requested for special attention towards Hindi Wikipedia. Foundation promised support and help. While Hindi community was growing and developing - WMF appointed non-volunteer, non-Wiki organization to work on Wiki activities in India. These organizations hire paid staff members without consulting community and they work on large community projects such as Hindi Wiki program,etc in non-Hindi schools and cities. These programs have irreversible damage as massive poor quality content has been generated, violation of in-house editing rules, etc. Hindi community keeps putting a significant amount of time in cleaning and improving created by external forces.

Apart from these incidents - WMF successfully funded volunteer driven conference grant requests. These conferences were useful for improving community health and also organic capacity developments with new Wiki projects brought to light like Wikisouce. Such events created good-faith environment with WMF however it lasts for a short period.

In 2017-2018, WMF decided to launch TV Advertisement of ‘Hindi Wikipedia’ in India without taking community inputs. Community members were invited for participation at later stages while speaking with Advt agency. At this point, community had no say in who should create advertisement - community never got any chance to review proposals. On top that - non Hindi paid staff was allocated to work with Hindi Wiki community. Basic expectation was to have a mediator who understands Hindi.

Community members participated in several hangout calls with WMF and WMF listened to all concerns.

Following suggestions were given to WMF and WMF staff agreed to following points :

  • If any paid staff opportunity is created to work on Hindi Wikipedia - then WMF will put up notices on village pump about recruitment. *Fair chance will be given to existing community members.
  • WMF will consult Hindi Wiki Usergroup members before making any plans related to Hindi Wikipedia.

Community agreed to help WMF with roll out of TV Advt. WMF accomodated additional community members and TV Advt was published.

After this initiative, community was upset to learn that WMF launched new initiatives on Hindi Wikipedia and ignored the above suggestions. Community has shown concerns and trust issues related to WMF on village pump several times.

Going ahead 

Hindi Wikipedia growth is phenomenal and credit goes to volunteers who spend time on the site. Future of Hindi is bright. According to Google-KPMG Report - Hindi internet users are expected to outnumber those accessing the web in English by 2021, Hindi users are estimated to reach 201 million (20.1 crore) as against the English userbase of 199 million (19.9 crore) in 2021.

WMF has option of engaging volunteer community and leadership for betterment of Wiki movement in the Hindi world.

Dialogue always helps and WMF should meet/speak-with community members or at least to leaders on a regular basis to understand community needs. Dialogue through existing Hindi community members is useful.

About Google Project Toledo 

Community members have worked in similar direction through partnership with Government of India.

If WMF is serious about Google project then it should reach out to community members working towards the same goal. Kindly launch such ambitious projects during community gathering and then these initiatives can be discussed on Village pump for final approval from the community. Hindi community needs help and support from the WMF. We are always open for a dialogue through proper channels and mediators.