Grants:Project/Chinmayisk/Community toolkit for Greater Diversity/Midpoint
Welcome to this project's midpoint report! This report shares progress and learning from the grantee's first 3 months.
Community Toolkit for Greater Diversity is an effort to create a set of learning modules for editors to identify and address diversity gaps, and increase participation and content pertaining to underrepresented demographics on Wikipedia and its sister projects.
The learning modules we have created are in various stages of completion. We have recruited 7 module writers across the spectrum of underrepresented groups identified in the grant proposal: gender, sexuality and sexual identity, ethnicity, and caste. “Disability”, a topic not originally present in the grant proposal was added. We made a conscious effort to hire from different social, cultural and economic backgrounds, ethnicities, geographies, sexual identities, etc.
Rohini Lakshané and Chinmayi S K from the team delivered a session titled “Lessons from creating a diversity toolkit” at Wikimania 2018 held in Cape Town: []
Methods and activities
The project team comprises 3 paid members, one pro bono member, and five advisors.
- Guiding and managing 3 volunteers who were active at different points in time during the project
- Set up a team of advisors to the project after identifying a pool of individuals with relevant expertise and experience
- Identified topical modules for the toolkit
- Identified potential module writers and contracted with 6 of writers to write a total of 10 of sub-modules
- Learning modules are in various stages of completion
- Ongoing peer review of the draft modules by the team and advisors
- Confirmed the venue for the training programme after a site visit
- Accommodation for participants and organisers booked
- Drafted the preliminary design of the event
- Identified potential participants
- Ongoing discussions and collaboration with local trainers and artists who would participate in the event.
- Community review of the list of modules and structure of the toolkit
- Identifying and contracting with module writers from the Wikimedia community
- Identifying potential facilitators from the community
Literature survey []
List of learning modules []
List of module writers and advisors []
Additional paid member of team: We recruited our third staff member who was not indicated in our project grant proposal. This staff member now acts as a module writer and would serve as a facilitator for the training event. We needed another person on board because we anticipated a large amount of editing and coordination with the writers, which was above our capacity.
Rise in estimated expenses for training event For the training event, we expect the logistic costs to be somewhat higher than we had budgeted in the grant proposal. While we could have done a generic training event in a Tier 1 city (Bengaluru), the team has decided to move the event to a smaller city, Mandrem in the state of Goa, for two reasons: Differences and biases (regarding gender, privilege, language, et cetera) are more prominently visible in a small city than in a metropolis. The team intends to engage local communities and broaden the utilisation of the toolkit. While Wikimedia communities are the primary focus of the toolkit, it is essential that all community-led movements understand the nuances of diversity and engage with this toolkit.
Accordingly, we may need to decrease the number of participants in the training programme from 24 to 18. This decision was made at a team meeting called for drafting the design and structure of the event.
Repurposing budget for interpretation As the training event currently does not need an interpreter, we plan to use the funds reserved to pay interpreter fees to pay artists. There artists would create installations that would make the event more interactive and include better learning paths for the participants.
- We tried our best to recruit module writers from the Wikimedia community in India and issued public calls. However, only one of our module writers is an experienced contributor to Wikipedia and its sister projects. (We are discounting the members of the project team who are all involved in writing one or more learning modules.) On one hand there was considerable resistance on the discussion page of our grant proposal from certain quarters in the community; on the other hand the lack of members who could fit the bill as a potential module writer indicates a need for sensitisation and capacity building within the community.
- Compared with the amount of engagement shown on the grant proposal, there has been very little by way of feedback, comments or participation from the community since the project started.
What are the challenges
Hiring writers To write the modules has required us (the main team members) to be conscious of our own privileges at every level. We have tried to be as representative as possible by hiring writers from different backgrounds. However, we do expect slip-ups since understanding one’s own privileges and its impact is a lifelong process.
Time Schedules As module writers were not experienced Wikimedians or even active editors/ contributors, it involved significant overhead in terms of project time and effort to first orient and acquaint writers with the goals and nature of the project and the intrinsic issues on Wikipedia that the project targeted. Owing to this, we have not been able to stay on schedule for the project. The collaborative nature of this project also meant constant discussions with the writers over various ideas to suit the universe of Wikipedia and that took time as well.
What is working well
Next steps and opportunities
Community building Building a community is always incremental work. We believe that this project in its context is a positive first step in improving the health of the community. We think that this work should not stop with the end of the project. Instead, more people need to be involved to adopt and expand it by localising it to their respective contexts, translating it to different languages, and incorporating more types of imbalances (such as race), and converting the toolkit to various formats (audio, video, and illustrations). We hope to use the training event as a platform to grow this community and the skills it needs.
Training modules We have tried to be as extensive as possible with the material we have created during this project. But we also know and understand that this material requires additions based on new learnings. Also, despite our best intentions we know there are topic we haven’t been able to cover due to time and resource constraints. We hope to be able to have contributions to this end in the future.
Future training events Because of budget constraints we have been able to interact with only a limited number of Indic language communities. We hope that with the outputs we demonstrate through this training program there shall be a opportunity for us and other people in the group to hold more such events in India and expand the scope of the project to other parts of Asia.
Learning from experts We were fortunate to have five experienced advisors on board for this project. Our advisors have been very accommodating and generous to provide inputs gratis. Their feedback has definitely made us examine areas we would otherwise have overlooked. It has also helped us maintain checks and balances on our work. The next time propose another project on the same lines, we hope to be able to accommodate the advisory component of the team right from the proposal phase.
Support from the WMF As a funding organisation, WMF staff have gone above and beyond to help us in this project. Members of WMF staff have volunteered their time and skills for parts of the project that were not funded in the approved budget. For example, Maria Cruz helped us with the layout design and organisation of the website. Danna McCurdy has agreed to help us to write modules on evaluations. Similarly, other members of the grant teams have been helpful by providing inputs.
Support from the community In spite of us not having the complete support from the community (during the proposal phase), some community members offered their feedback, comments, and helpful advice privately. This is very heartening. We understand the price someone would have to pay in the scheme of things within communities to publicly support a project such as this one. Such support and solidarity provides validation to our work. This project has grown and strengthened our circle of trust and network of allies within and outside the Wikimedia community.