Grants talk:APG/Proposals/2013-2014 round2/The Centre for Internet and Society/Proposal form

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Community review has ended. You are still welcome to comment on these proposals, but the FDC and the applicants may not be able to respond to your feedback or consider it during the deliberations.

Please do not edit this proposal form directly. If changes are needed, applicants can request them on the proposal form's discussion page. Thank you!

Proposal by The Centre for Internet and Society to support its annual plan with Template:Usamountrequested/2013-2014 round2/The Centre for Internet and Society.

Template:Summary/2013-2014 round2/The Centre for Internet and Society


Thank you for this proposal[edit]

Thank you for submitting a complete proposal form by the proposal submission date! We realize that you put a lot of effort into creating this proposal, and many of us are looking forward to reviewing it in-depth. The Centre for Internet and Society's proposal will be considered by the FDC in Round 2 2013-2014, provided The Centre for Internet and Society remains eligible throughout the course of the FDC process.

Please do not make any changes to your proposal at this time without requesting those changes first here on this discussion page, so they may be reviewed and approved by staff. We will consider changes that greatly enhance the readability of your proposal or correct important factual errors or broken links, but you need not worry about making minor corrections to your proposal form if you notice them after the deadline. The FDC will be looking at the substance of your proposal rather than focusing on the language used, and so these types of minor changes are usually not needed. This is also done to ensure that any changes made to a proposal are really intended by the organization submitting the proposal. Thank you for your cooperation, as this helps keep the proposal process fair and consistent for all organizations.

Please monitor this page for questions and comments from the community, FDC members, and FDC staff. Engagement during this part of the proposal process is important, and will be considered by the FDC along with other inputs into the proposal process. Follow up questions from FDC staff should be expected early next week and community review will continue until 30 April. Staff proposal assessments will be published on 8 May 2014 and linked to from your proposal hub page.

Please contact us at any time if you have questions about your proposal or the review process. We are here to support applicants throughout the process.

Best regards, Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 18:52, 2 April 2014 (UTC) (on behalf of FDC Staff)Reply[reply]

Questions about this form and the relationship between CIS and Wikimedia[edit]

As of today, the form isn't complete. Most questions haven't been answered yet on the form. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 20:10, 31 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Ad Huikeshoven, thanks for visiting the proposal page. It is complete in all aspects now. Appreciate feedback.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:51, 2 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Visdaviva, browsing today I don't see obvious gaps in the form. How CIS relate to Wikimedia India today? What are your plans to partner with Wikimedia India in any activity? Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 09:55, 2 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for engaging with our proposal Ad Huikeshoven. CIS's relationship with the Wikimedia India Chapter (WMIN) has always been cordial and complementary. We have extended help to WMIN whenever asked for and the Executive Committee (EC) of WMIN has been generous to give us inputs and feedback on our plans and activities since September 2012, when the WMF gave a grant. During the last 18 months we reached out to the WMIN EC periodically and had consulted the EC before executing key activities and extending significant support to volunteers and communities in India. We also collaborated with the WMIN and in organizing events like the Creative Commons India re-launch. CIS will continue to engage with the WMIN. For the coming year we specifically propose to more actively work with WMIN in the following activities.
* One out of the 7 Language Area Plans which would be Bangla.
* In extending general support and service to the movement in India.
* Med GLAM Project
* Gujarati Wikisource Project
* Wiki Loves Public Arts, India
During a recent discussion meeting (in February 2014) with the WMIN EC we have also discussed how the complementarity between us could be further improved and we are in the process of mutually agreeing upon certain protocols. CIS has also agreed to help in growing the Chapter membership by informing the new volunteers about WMIN membership, as part of our various activities. --Visdaviva (talk) 10:52, 2 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The cost of Gujarati Wikisource project seem to be high due to project staff's expenses as well. As per the discussions we (Gujarati community representatives) have had with WMIN EC Member and CIC-A2K representative, most of the work would be facilitated by the local community member, who will be volunteer. If that person from the community is acting as a resource person, why is there a huge sum of 302,000 INR budgeted for staff expenses? Also length of the project is not clear, as in a footnote of the bugget is states that "it was decided to have a Program Assistant level person to work on this project full time for 6 months period", does it mean the program is going to run for 6 months and we are aiming to digitize 100 books within this period? If so, the staff salaries/expenses are estimated as 5% and 10% of their annual salaries, which doesn't correlate with the length of the project.
Moreover, it has been stated with my name that I, along with another wikimedian, advised that the OCR conversion is decent and could be beneficial to have it used to enrich Gujarati Wikisource. I would like to add my disclaimer here that I did not mention this as I have never tested the OCR facility at the MSU, neither I have seen the results of it.--DhavalTalk 22:49, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Dsvyas, please see the minutes of the discussion meeting in which you and Sushant_savla took part over skype here, where CIS-A2K was specifically requested to support the Gujarati community "by providing scanning infrastructure facilities, human resource support (if required) and training support to community".
  • In addition to the above minutes, could I also remind you of your e-mails dated September 4 and 11, 2013 which mentions about decent Gujarati OCR conversion developed by MSU.
  • Please also note that the link to the draft of this plan on Meta was shared with you on March 22, 2014 vide e-mail, where in I wrote "Please help with suggestions for improvement. I have acknowledged your contributions in taking this idea forward as a contributor. Please let me know if the budget requirements are optimal.". In response to this, you have sent an e-mail dated March 27, 2014 stating "I am happy with it as well. Thanks Vishnu for preparing the same."
  • May I also once again bring to your notice that a significant portion of the proposed budget (77%), CIS-A2K has committed to raise funds from other sources. For your information we have already done significant work for this activity. If you and the Gujarati Wikisource community have second thoughts, please let us know and we will still respect your decision and drop this activity. Thanks! --Visdaviva (talk) 23:34, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Clarification around the financial tables in this proposal[edit]

Greetings, and thanks again for this proposal. You may expect some more detailed questions from us by next week; however, in the mean time we need some clarification about the financial information in this proposal.

  1. We are not certain, but it appears that you have completed Tables 8a, 8b, and 9 for the fiscal year CIS just completed at the end of March; however, these tables are intended to describe CIS' planned expenses during the upcoming year (for you, the current year) during which CIS is requesting funding. We think this may have been a result of confusion about what is asked in the proposal form, and so you have our permission to edit these tables in order to provide the information requested for the upcoming year. Please let us know if this is not the case, so we can better understand your numbers.
  2. We noticed that you linked to this document in the table, where a link to annual plan, including a budget was requested: India_Access_To_Knowledge/Work_plan_April_2013_-_June_2014; however, we could not find the financial information for the current year's budget here in this document. Would you be able to point out where the budget is available? We apologize if that was included elsewhere in the proposal and we missed it! We did find CIS' detailed budget for the upcoming year, so thanks for providing that. You may provide the link here on the discussion page, or request permission to add it directly to the proposal form.
  3. Finally, we noticed that the planned and actual spending and revenue listed in Table 3 for the recently completed year match exactly (we are currently assuming this period covers 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014). Does this mean that you spent and received the exact amount that you planned for at the beginning of that year, down to the rupee / dollar? We are just checking in about that since that is quite unusual!

Thank you for your attention to these questions and please do let us know if anything we are asking is not clear! Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 23:36, 4 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Winifred Olliff, thank you for these questions, which look very valid. Would need to consult our Accounts team to answer them accurately. As it is a weekend, will only to get to discuss the questions with the concerned personnel on Monday. So please expect to see the replies or corrections, if required, by Tuesday latest. Hope this is fine.--Visdaviva (talk) 14:05, 5 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Understood! An update next week will be very helpful indeed. Thank you kindly for posting this update here, and for your swift attention to our questions. Cheers, Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 19:55, 5 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Request to Make Changes in Financial Data[edit]

Hi, thanks again for the questions on the financial data. It gave us an opportunity to thoroughly examine the financial details with our accounts jointly. Even our accounts has noted that your observations are correct. The data given in 8a and 8b was for the previous year (2013-14). Even data in table 3 planned budget should change. Also our accounts personnel suggested corrections in Tables 2, 4, 7 and 9. We request permission to change these tables to provide accurate information.
We also request to add the link to the planned budget for the work plan April 2013-June 2014 in the proposal form. Apologies for missing this. This is available here on Commons--Visdaviva (talk) 18:03, 8 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks to you and your team for looking into this right away, Vishnu!
  1. The changes to the financial tables 3, 8a, 8b, and 9 are approved, since we need the information for your upcoming / proposed year to understand your proposal. (Normally we use strikethrough to denote changes, but due to the extent of the changes and the complicated nature of these tables, we think it is better in this case if you just replace the tables.)
  2. The request to add the link for the 2013-2014 budget is also approved.
  3. Would you explain more about the changes needed to Tables 2,4, and 7? Do these have to do with the corrections to be made in Table 3?
Best regards, Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 08:09, 9 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Appreciate the quick revert on the request, Winifred. Thanks for allowing us to do the changes. We have updated tables 3, 8a, 8b and 9 with the current financial year details.
Regarding Tables 2 and 4, please note that we are also expecting revenues from two more donors which was not factored in the earlier figures in table 2 and 4. However, this is now reflected in table 9 as total revenues.
In table 7 we need to correct the data as some of the payments were mistakenly considered as long term contractors and we would like to give the accurate picture.
Please let us know if we could do these changes so that we could provide accurate information for further perusal. Thank you--Visdaviva (talk) 19:24, 9 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you for this explanation and for your request! We would like to get the most accurate picture of your financial data possible, and so these changes are also approved. Cheers, Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 11:15, 10 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Have done all the changes. Thanks! --Visdaviva (talk) 11:56, 10 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Growth rate[edit]

Thanks for your very interesting and promising plan. This is the first time I review a plan from CIS and I am impressed both of the type of programs/results and also that you have major fundings from other sources then FDC. My question is of your planned growth in funding from FDC. Why have you planned for exactly 7 language areas as against last year's 4 , and why exactly 3 Community Strengthening Initiativesa and 8 Stand-alone Wikimedia Projects. What would these figures be if you instead of a 26% increas got an increase of 0,10,15,20%?Anders Wennersten (talk) 12:07, 5 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Anders Wennersten, thank you for very closely engaging with our plans and the encouraging remarks and pertinent questions. The reasons, for the growth in plans or selection of certain number of projects, are varied as shared below.
Language Area plans: We believe our granular level language area plan strategy was successful and we are cautiously scaling it up. Also in the 3 new language areas (Bangla, Hindi & Marathi) we have already done some work so far, which was an unplanned outcome. There are also some institutional partnership opportunities that have come our way in these 3 language areas, which we would like to leverage. Moreover, we have built some interactions with these language communities during the last year. Based on these factors and after an internal due diligence we have decided to take up 3 more language areas.
Community Strengthening Initiatives: We have done some amount of ground work already on these. Of the proposed 3 initiatives we implemented 1 initiative last year and based on the experience and results we are proposing to do it again this year with a better design. The other initiative has been planned to address a need that we have observed across Indic communities. The third initiative is something that came to us as an opportunity, which could potentially create multi-lingual Indic projects. Our learning, experience & opportunities are the key factors that determined our selection of the initiatives.
8 Stand-alone Wikimedia Projects: Many ideas came up for consideration, we have vetted them and short-listed 8 projects. Some or all of the factors that determined our selection are: a) good probability of success and relatively less risk of failure; b) some initial work done by CIS-A2K; c) will offer learning to CIS-A2K, WMIN and other Indic Wikimedia communities; d) potential for replication; e) optimal utilization of movement resources (including CIS-A2K program personnel time); f) ease of raising in kind support from other sources; and g) open up new language communities and institutions for CIS-A2K to engage going forward.
Budget increase: As mentioned in the methodology section of our work plans "each plan has an independent budget and is closely mapped on to the implementation plan. An attempt is made to correlate why we are spending a certain amount on a certain activity. Thus all these budgets are very optimally planned and the overall budget is an assimilation. CIS-A2K believes that this will give mission level transparency to our work and provide a clear structure of accountability to the movement." So the proposed increase is the result of the work planning exercise with minimal tweaking and we have not set out a budget and then tried to reverse-engineer it to fit the plans. Thus we ended up with a certain per cent increase in the budget.
Please let us know if you have further comments or observations on this and the plans in general. Thanks again! --Visdaviva (talk) 15:10, 5 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks, can you answer the second part of my question, if you wre to be given a much smallaer increase (0 or 10%) how would the figures 7 language areas as against last year's 4 , and why exactly 3 Community Strengthening Initiativesa and 8 Stand-alone Wikimedia Projects be effected?--Anders Wennersten (talk) 17:28, 5 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We will still try our best to execute these plans by raising more monies from other sources, if possible. Otherwise, we may drop-off one new language area plan and 3 stand-alone plans and proportionately cut down efforts in Creating Movement Resources--Visdaviva (talk) 02:26, 6 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Questions and clarifications from FDC staff for CIS[edit]

Thank you once again for this proposal. Please take the time to respond to a few questions about your programs and your finances, so that the FDC can better understand your proposal. We know this process takes time and we thank you for your attention. We would also like to emphasize that we are available to clarify anything asked or stated here. Thank you, Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 09:57, 11 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Winifred Olliff, thanks for these questions, which will require detailed replies. I have been travelling on work and could not take focussed time out to engage with them adequately. We will do so through this week. Cheers!--Visdaviva (talk) 03:22, 15 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Questions and clarifications about the financial information in CIS’s proposal[edit]

We need a few more clarifications to better understand the financial information in your proposal:

  1. Please publicly clarify the amount of grant funds received from WMF in the past fiscal year, so we may confirm your proposed growth rates. Please also clarify the term (start date and end date of this grant).
  2. If your grant term is longer than 12 months, it would be helpful to know what your projected expenditure for WMF activities is during the last 12 months of your grant. We will use this to calculate your year on year growth for the purposes of our financial analysis.

Thank you! Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 09:57, 11 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi, please note that the Grant commenced on September 1, 2012 and is upto June 30, 2014 - a total of 22 months. A total of Rs. 26,000,000/- was approved for the 22 month period. As per the contract with WMF the grant was to be disbursed in 3 instalments. The first instalment was to be Rs. 11,000,000 (which is for the first 10 months period), Second instalment Rs. 7,500,000/- to be disbursed in July 2013 and the third instalment for Rs. 7,500,000/- to be disbursed in January 2014. However, the actual amount received is lesser because of dollar to Indian rupee conversion.
We have received the following amounts from WMF. First instalment Rs. 10,959,124/- in September 2012; Second instalment Rs. 7,497,928/- in July 2013; and Third instalment Rs. 7,324,980/- in January 2014.
The projected expenditure for WMF activities for July 2013 to June 2014 was about Rs. 18,800,000/-. Thus it should be noted that we calculated the proposed increase (of 23%) in the budget for the period July 2014-June 2015 against the planned disbursal of Rs. 15,000,000/- by WMF as per the Grant agreement. There was an under-spending in the first 10 months of the grant as it took sometime for us to kick-start the program, which is being utilized. There would be negative growth of 2%, if we were to use the projected expenditure for WMF activities during the last 12 months of the grant to calculate year on year growth in the budgets. Please let us know if you need any further details.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:18, 15 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for this information, Visdaviva! We agree that calculating the growth rate in this way does make sense. We will use the 15,000,000 INR amount as the basis for the annual growth rate, which approximately represents the funds granted in a comparable period to the period used as the basis for the growth rate calculated for other entities. This means that our numbers do also match those in your proposal now, yielding a proposed increase in movement resources of almost 23%. Cheers, Winifred Olliff (FDC Support Team) talk 22:07, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

CIS’s proposed large growth rate beyond the recommended guardrails[edit]

We need some additional information about CIS’ finances before confirming this exact growth rate, but we know CIS is planning significant growth in budget and programs related to its Wikimedia work.

  1. What are some of the challenges CIS anticipates it will face in growing its programming so intensely in the coming year?
  2. How is CIS equipped to address these challenges, and accomplish this growth?

Thank you! Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 09:57, 11 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Winifred Olliff, we anticipate the following challenges and will try to address them to the best of our capacity.
  • We have proposed to mobilize significant in-kind support and other source funding. Delays and failure on this could affect the pace of the plans, especially projects like this. Fund-raising for purposes like open knowledge in India, especially in Indian languages, has not been attempted yet. CIS leadership has put concerted efforts over the years in expanding our donor base and networks to successfully raise funding. We hope to meet this challenge too successfully and probably create funding avenues or channels, which could be leveraged by the Wikimedia communities, WMIN and any interested stakeholders.
  • CIS had to a put a significant effort in grooming the A2K team, some of whom came from the earlier program. Loosing trained personnel from the team would be a major challenge, especially to meet the growth trajectory we have set forth. All the A2K team staff are given contracts that are tied to the program and the team works under a lot of uncertainty about the continuity of their contracts. CIS offers liberal working space, industry level competitive salaries and ample learning opportunities which we believe help in retaining the team members if we continue the program.
  • A related point to the above is to find and groom suitable language plan anchors for the three new language areas (Bangla, Hindi and Marathi). Each language area plan anchor plays a critical role in the successful implementation of the plan. In addition to the usual skill-set of a professional, we expect the language anchors to have: a) a good understanding of the cultural and knowledge universe of the particular language; b) passion for the mission of the Wikimedia movement; c) ability to integrate and understand the complexity of the language community; and d) to be a community player and walk along with the community. It is not very common to come across suitable people and also it is equally difficult to identify a language anchor with a good mix of these qualities. A language plan may not progress well if we do not find a suitable anchor. CISA2K has developed a selection model wherein we involved WMIN EC members and some members of the Wikimedia community in the selection process, in addition to a rigorous three step process that we use internally. CISA2K also actively scouts for potential talent among the Wikimedia communities and the institutional partners. We believe this will work, like it did when we recruited a team member last time.
  • Some of the plans are dependent on building successful institutional partnerships. Building institutional partnerships is easier said than done. Failures and delays is another big programmatic challenge. CIS-A2K has been successful in building institutional partnerships in the knowledge sector and has gained experience, which will be leveraged in meeting this challenge.--Visdaviva (talk) 19:35, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you, Visdaviva, for the thoughtful response, and for delving into some of CIS-A2K's anticipated challenges and strategies around growth. Cheers, Winifred Olliff (FDC Support Team) talk 22:04, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Questions for CIS about programs[edit]

These questions and requests relate to your programs and strategy:

  1. Please explain more how Wikimedia volunteers are engaged in the planning of A2K activities.
  2. We greatly appreciate that you have conducted needs assessments as part of your work on the language plans. Are any of the needs assessments conducted as part of planning this work on the language plans publicly available? If the needs assessments are not publicly available, is CIS willing to share some insights into how it conducted and structured the assessments? What are the learnings from this specifically for the Wikimedia movement?
  3. CIS has put significant effort into its language strategies, working with an expert advisor and community members on customising its approaches to different language communities. This is appreciated and unusual in the global Wikimedia movement; please explain in greater detail what you believe are the critical lessons learned from this strategic process for the Wikimedia movement.
  4. Thank you for sharing the success around mobiliizing work on the Konkani language Wikipedia. Considering the size of this Wikipedia and the editing community, what does CIS think will be the impact of this work on the movement’s strategic priorities?
  5. Thank you for sharing that “CIS-A2K soon realized that building an institutional partnership is a time taking task but had a huge long term return to the Wikimedia movement if successful.” How does experience show that investments in institutional partnerships are worthwhile despite the costs? How has CIS leveraged these partnerships to further the goals of the Wikimedia movement in India?
  6. Please describe in more detail the statement that some of the “Various transparency and accountability measures were taken up by CIS-A2K during the last year to address some of these concerns.” Are you able to describe the concerns in a little more detail here?
  7. Please provide some details about how CIS has revised its approach to small city outreach for Telugu wikiprojects. Why do you believe this approach will be more successful now than it has been in the past?
  8. Please explain how wikidata training for volunteers will improve the quality of articles.
  9. Does CIS have any preliminary results to share about its train the trainers work? (We noticed CIS linked to a detailed plan for this program that does not yet include the results of the work.) What does CIS expect the impact to be of this work: for example, how many Wikipedians might these trained Wikipedians be able to reach as a result of this training program? Is CIS planning on tracking this number over time in order to better understand the impact of this program on Wikipedians and the projects?
  10. Relatedly, CIS notes that 40 community members trained through its programs could influence 800 volunteers? How does CIS plan to track and document this?
  11. We noticed that CIS only provided baseline data for one of the language-area plans. Is there baseline data available for the other languages that can help us understand the context of this work, and could you provide it here so that we have more context for CIS’s targets in these areas?
  12. How, if at all, does CIS’s work in the education sector relate to the Wikipedia Education Program as it is being implemented elsewhere in the world? Is CIS creating new materials for this work, or using and building on already existing materials?

Thank you once again for your responses! We greatly appreciate your engagement in the proposal process, and are available to clarify anything we have requested here. Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 09:57, 11 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Replies to FDC Staff about CIS Programs[edit]

Hi Winifred Olliff, thanks for the engaging questions, which look pertinent and exhibits an in-depth analysis of the proposal from your end. Appreciate the earnest effort the FDC staff has put into this. It surely gives us an opportunity to reflect more on our work. Please find below the replies to the questions in the same sequence. Apologies in advance as some of the answers could be longer.
1. We have assumed that this question is pertaining to the development of the draft work plans for July 2014-June 2015. We have tried to engage the volunteers in the following manner:
  • Discussions during meet-ups and community events with CIS-A2K team members. For example, see discussions during community events in Telugu and in Odia.
  • One on one discussions with volunteers that CIS-A2K could reach out to via telephone, e-mail and face to face meetings.
  • On-wiki discussions pertaining to plans and activities. The plans are still drafts and we will continue to seek feedback from the community until June and then refine the plans wherever required.
  • Links to all the language plans were posted in respective language Wikipedia village pumps (except for Konkani, which does not have a live Wikipedia project) and mailing lists.
  • We have also reached out to Wikimedians through social media platforms like Facebook.
  • The current ongoing FDC proposal process is also very useful.
  • We plan to conduct IRC discussions/google hangouts on the plans with Wikimedia communities during May and also reach out to volunteers to the best possible extent, based on which we would like to undertake necessary revisions to the plans.
Wherever possible we have listed the contributors who gave inputs to the plans and were part of the discussions so far, and will include more volunteers' names in future. This is a generic answer and the exact process for each plan would vary.
2. It is not possible to keep the methodology uniform across the plans as we are at different levels of progress in each of the language plan and community engagement. In Telugu some of the needs (though not stated using the same terminology) discussed by the community are publicly available. See this as one instance. We hope (or rather encourage the communities) to document these more across various language areas in future.
  • How do we do the needs assessment? 1) We track and study the discussions and debates the community is involved in that particular language Wikipedia village pump during the last year or so. 2) Go through the Wikimedia statistics for the past 2-3 years for the most active projects in that language to understand the trends. 3) We discuss (informally) with the most active Wikimedians in that language typically over social-media, telephone, e-mail and in face-to-face meetings (if we get to meet them). 4) We also try and reach-out to some active Wikimedians who have left or have taken a long Wiki-break. 5) In the 4 language areas where we have good institutional partnerships, interactions with them are also taken into account. 6) We also reach out to academic experts to understand the larger needs of the cultural and knowledge universe of that particular language. And last but not least 7) The discussions with other Indic Wikimedians about their understanding of other Indic communities and projects are also helpful.
  • Lessons - We got these lessons to share. 1) Needs assessment should not be seen as an activity that one will undertake at a specific point of time. It is an ongoing activity in the Wikimedia world. For instance, the need to try out a massive Wikipedia awareness building program like Telugu Wiki Bus was discussed during a meet-up of Telugu bloggers and Wikimedians in Bangalore during October 2013. We captured this and developed a plan based on it. 2) A related point to the above is that you cannot always structure a needs assessment, though it is important to do that. The community or volunteers throw-up interesting observations and ideas during informal meetings and often there is no mechanism to capture and follow-up on these. CIS-A2K tried to play this role whenever it got an opportunity. 3) In some communities (especially when they are not diverse) there is a shared understanding of what the community and project needs are. While one should respect that, one should also look beyond them. Discussions with institutional partners and important knowledge stakeholders in that language will be of help. 4) There are needs that could be addressed in a time-bound manner and there are some “permanent” in nature. 5) Finally, this is a learning from within the CIS-A2K team. Sometimes a language anchor ends up doing the needs assessment as a prescribed activity that has to be done. Then you miss the whole point of doing a needs assessment. The needs assessment has been more productive when it was done with an open and critical mind to learn about the community and the projects. One should be like a “Seeker”. An ideal example that is similar to what we are attempting to do (though at a smaller level and with possible imperfections) is the Chapters Dialogue.
3. The language area planning strategy has given us the following critical lessons.
  • One size does not fit all. Each language has its own preferences, priorities and needs. Something that works for one language may not work for some other language. Each language has its own community and its own way of working. This does not mean we will not look at cross-cutting strategies. There are questions that have come-up on this page about similar looking plans. As stated in the methodology section of the work-plan, at a cursory glance one may get the impression that some plans look similar, but they are not. The substance of each language plan differs from the other language plan.
  • Community interaction: Very few active volunteers across all Indian language communities are active on Meta and even less on Indian mailing lists. Also to have plan level discussions even if it is on their respective language Wikipedias has not been easy. During the informal conversations some community members expressed that it is too much of an additional burden to read and engage with the plans, also visit Meta and provide feedback. Taking into consideration that most of the Indian language communities have less than 50 active volunteers, pragmatically speaking it is a huge ask to expect them to actively participate on Meta or mailing lists. Thus one cannot have a uniform standard and uniform mode of communication with different language communities. There are of course a few enthusiastic Wikimedians who do put in effort to engage and discuss on-wiki. Though we do recognize the importance of on-wiki engagement, yet, we do not restrict or insist that the discussions should only happen on wiki. What matters primarily is the interaction to happen and not the medium. Thus, in addition to on-wiki, CIS-A2K explored various means of engaging with the Wikimedia community in India and adopted a mixed channel approach of seeking community feedback and engagement. Though this requires additional efforts on the team, we felt it is essential to do it. Our experience has shown that face to face discussions have been more productive so far, when it comes to planning. We have tried to leverage the community meet-ups/events to have discussions and consultations. See this for instance. Within the small wiki context it is not necessary to see less on-wiki interactions as a failure. What CIS-A2K has aimed to do earnestly was to make sure participation was solicited, encouraged, and made possible. Of course ideally we would want higher participation on-wiki, but CIS-A2K is careful not to confuse and turn higher participation into a goal in itself.
  • Leverage external expertise: There are experts in every language who may have a better understanding of the knowledge production processes, resources and important stakeholders in that particular linguistic universe. Useful feedback on the plan, especially an insiders knowledge of what could work and what cannot will reduce the risk of failure. This also helps in building useful contacts with institutions and interest groups, specifically within the context of small wikis.
  • Activity plotting: We have realized that there are broadly following types of activities in each of the language area plan. a) Activities, which the community is currently doing by themselves that does not require external support. b) Activities, which the community needs to be done but cannot do by themselves (could be currently) and would like support. c) Activities, that community is not thinking to do but CIS-A2K feels the need to do them based on its understanding of the language area. d) Activities, that are not currently done by the community and are suggested to CIS-A2K but for some reason CIS-A2K is not able to take them up. This plotting could be different for each language community. It is highly beneficial to do this kind of activity plotting in consultation with the community. Though the idea may look simplistic getting clarity is easier said than done. However, it is productive to attempt this so that the community knows exactly what to expect from the program and in building accountability and transparency. We are attempting to do this (earnestly but without raising undue expectations) in at least three of the proposed seven language area plans.
  • Comparison: When working with multiple languages it is inadvertent to have comparisons between languages. Especially in India there is a competitive scenario among languages in general. Some volunteers have even started to compare and contrast the language plans and a few even said that we are doing more investment in particular language areas than others. We made it clear that each language plan was developed taking into account: a) the specific strengths and opportunities that CIS-A2K program could build on; b) particular needs for support to which we could respond; and c) specific challenges that require localized solutions. Similarly, the size and participation of the community is also very central in determining the substance of the plans. We also made it clear that we tried to maintain parity in terms of programmatic investment into each of the language plans.
In terms of assessment of impact or progress, it is less productive to compare one language plan with another, though it could be attempted. Rather, a comparison about how the language Wikimedia project has fared compared to its past year growth would give better insights into what has worked and what has not worked in a language plan.
  • Language Anchor: Each of the language plan is anchored by a team member within CIS-A2K, who plays a crucial role in the successful implementation of the plan. Our experience tells us that there are certain skills set ( mentioned above), which are essential. In addition to this if the language anchor is a native speaker then s/he can certainly add a lot more value.
4. Impact of Konkani work on movements' strategic priorities:
The impact of this will be primarily on the strategic priority of Encouraging innovation. It is an interesting case for us, and also we believe for the movement, where a Wikipedia in incubation, with relatively small number of speakers is being catalyzed. We believe there will be lessons that could be of relevance for the larger movement.
CIS-A2K has involved institutional partners as stakeholders in growing this project from scratch, which we believe will impact the movement’s strategic priorities of stabilizing infrastructure and increasing reach. We have been working with institutional partners who are passionate about knowledge production in Konkani. If we could successfully integrate Konkani Wikipedia into these institutional ecosystems, which we propose to do, it would result in creating stable infrastructural support and long term growth of the Wikipedia beyond the support of CIS-A2K.
As can be noted from the plan, we have involved academic experts from various backgrounds in growing the Konkani Wikipedia and because of their active interest and involvement they would ensure the growth of quality articles which will impact the movement’s strategic priority of improve quality.
5. On institutional partnerships:
Once an institutional partnership is built if nurtured properly the benefits to the movement could go on for a long time with less/diminishing costs. For example, with Christ University, Bangalore we have built a partnership, as part of which we have introduced Wikipedia in the second language undergraduate classroom. As part of this program we have trained all the language faculty and conducted trainings for students (about 1200) who took part in developing new articles or enhancing existing articles on Hindi and Kannada Wikipedias. Based on an internal assessment the Christ University felt that the program brought new energy to the second language undergraduate classroom. Though we are revising the model Christ University management is committed to integrating Wikimedia projects into its language pedagogy. Christ University is clear that we work with them to do 2 iterations of this program to further refine the model after which the institution does not want to depend on CIS-A2K. This we believe will ensure sustained and quality contributions to Wikimedia projects at a larger scale. The long term benefits from such institutional partnerships would significantly be larger than the cost of current investment.
CIS-A2K has so far leveraged the institutional partnerships in the following ways:
  • to get Indic encyclopedic content donation/re-release under CC-BY-SA 3.0 license which will grow the Indic Wikipedia qualitatively and quantitatively. See this and this for example.
  • to create significant content on Indic Wikimedia projects.
  • to help grow the new editors on Indic Wikimedia projects
  • to provide in-kind support (infrastructural and housing) for community events and meet-ups
  • to provide in-kind support to CIS-A2K team; and
  • to provide their infrastructure to create resources that could be used by the movement.
6. Transparency concerns and measures taken:
Indian Wikimedia community and WMIN Chapter have raised concerns and questions around transparency and accountability of earlier India Program. Along with the questions even these questions got transferred to the CIS-A2K program. Some of these concerns were:
Transparency in the amount of movement funds spent on the program (by the previous India Program run by WMF) and later by CIS-A2K.
Concerns about lack of transparency about the salaries the staff is getting paid and their value add to the movement.
Undisclosed travel and program related expenses.
Lack of team’s communication with the community.
Undisclosed information about staff’s travel plans and dates
Undisclosed information about financial and non-financial help provided to various Indian language communities and volunteers.
Lack of community involvement in decision making processes.
CIS-A2K has taken note of these concerns and put in place the following measures towards addressing some of these concerns:
Discussions with community and volunteers about the work plans and activities.
Being available to the Wikimedia community members across various channels.
Openly disclosed the entire program budget and staff salaries.
Openly disclosed the program related expenses.
Made the CIS-A2K’s staff calendar public.
Periodically published blogs and videos to provide program updates.
Shared monthly newsletters on Wikimedia mailing lists.
Created "Requests" page to openly discuss and document all the support provided to Indic Wikimedia volunteers and communities.
Involved Indian Wikimedia community and WMIN to hire CIS-A2K Program Director and other staff members.
Over time began to actively respond to questions about the program and activities on Meta.
In the current plans we have provided budgets at a granular level, which could allow for an ROI analysis.
7. In the Telugu plan we have stated that except for Vijayawada, Guntur and Tiruvur much could not be done with regard to small city outreach. This was mainly due to the uncertain political context. There is no change in the approach and we will be in a better position to comment on this in future, after we implement this activity.
8. About Wikidata and quality improvement of articles:
Most of the Indic communities are smaller in size and often maintaining up to date data, infoboxes, templates and adding relevant images on small Wikimedias is a challenge. Also is the finding relevant citations on a particular topic. It will be a huge advantage if the volunteers on these small wikis can get higher throughput with lesser efforts. This is where we see the role of Wikidata in Indic communities. Most of the Indic communities are not yet exposed to the potential advantages of Wikidata.
Currently Wikidata enables one to add inter-language links of articles. This could help create inter-Indic Wikipedia projects. For instance, projects like Lilavati’s Daughters could have been better coordinated. Adding relations between articles could enable creation of new articles and help see the quality of articles in other Wikipedias. Similarly, currently Wikidata, if a label is added, shows up at least a one line article even if it does not exist on that particular language Wikipedia. This is a huge advantage for a smaller Indic Wikipedia projects and could trigger creation of these articles. Wikidata also shows related content across all other Wikimedia projects for the search term, which could give good visibility to the sister projects in that language.
If we the Indic volunteers could put efforts on Wikidata now, in future it will help with auto updation of data and centralized maintenance of data that can significantly save time of Indic Wiki communities. Lists can be generated that will help in auto-categorization of various Indic Wikipedia articles. Creation and quality improvement of infoboxes and templates is currently a huge maintenance task in general and it is more intensive for smaller Indic Wiki communities. Wikidata will provide the framework to automate these tasks. Most of the existing articles on Indic projects lack in sufficient images and Wikidata promises to enable enriching of articles with images from commons in future.
Editing Wikidata as such is fairly easier than editing at Wikipedia itself, tools such as Reasonator with WiDaR makes it more simpler to do labelling and adding descriptions to items at Wikidata. The initial hitches faced by new editors learning wiki mark-up may not be seen in editing Wikidata.
We feel a lable-a-thon could be a simple activity to get new editors on board. We had done some basic demonstrations to hundreds of engineering students and they showed a lot of enthusiasm to participate.
9. We have not followed any formalized tracking of the impact of the previous Train the Trainer Program. We intend to do so for the next iterations under the proposed plans. These are the preliminary results of the previous TTT program that we have noted so far.
  • The 3 Telugu Wikimedians who took part in the program were part of the following 5 Telugu wikipedia outreach programs; Some of these are: a) in hyderabad; b) in Vijayawada; and c) in Tiruvur. Two of these Wikimedians did not organize any outreach before the TTT program. One Wikimedian actively supports the organization of monthly Telugu Wikipedia meet-ups in Hyderabad.
  • These 3 Telugu Wikipedians later took leadership in organizing the Telugu Wikipedia 10th Anniversary celebrations.
  • 2 Odia Wikimedians (Mrutyunjaya Kar and Subas Chandra Rout) participated in the TTT program played leadership roles in organizing community events Odia Wikipedia 10” and “Odisha Dibasa 2014”. Both of them also trained other editors during Odisha Dibasa 2014. Of late, they are leading in creating user groups for more focussed activities in their respective cities. Subas also has actively mentored editors at KISS and KIIT University and organized community discussion(s). Lilavati’s project took off after his participation in the TTT program. It should be noted that both these Wikimedians were organizing outreach sessions even before they attended the TTT program.
  • 4 Wikimedia participants from Pune who took part in the program had organized outreach events in Pune including celebrating Wikipedia 13 that also has support from Wikimedia India chapter. It should be noted that some of these Wikipedians were organizing outreach sessions even before they attended the TTT program.
  • 2 Punjabi Wikimedians (Satdeep Gill and Charan Gill) who attended the event started the Lilavati’s daughter’s edit-a-thon in Punjabi.
  • Many ECHO messages were translated into Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, and Telugu during the event by the participating Wikimedians.
We believe the trained Wikimedians from the proposed TTT program will reach out to about 1,000 people in the immediate future (i.e. within 1 year after the program). We would like to develop a peer tracking and continuous learning mechanism whereby the trained participants will share their experiences and best practices of conducting outreach in growing the Indic Wikimedia communities. We are yet to come up with a design for this, which we intend to do with community consultation and building on models that are available within and outside the movement context.
10. As stated above we are yet to develop a design to track and document the impact of this program and we intend to do this with community consultation and building on models that are available within and outside the movement context.
11. The proposal lists one language area plan (Konkani) as a sample. We have provided the links to other language area plans. Please find the links to all the language area plans where we have presented the baseline data: Bangla, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Marathi, Odia and Telugu.
12. CIS’s work in the education sector and WEP:
Some aspects of our work with institutional partners in the education sector is similar to the Wikipedia Education Program that is being implemented globally. However, there could be differences in the design of the programs. We often tweak the program design depending on the strengths and opportunities the institution, faculty and students provide. For instance, we are looking at introducing Wikisource at an institution as a primary starting point for the students to get familiar with the Wikimedia projects. Similarly, we could start with Commons or Wikipedia depending on what in our assessment suits better. Also we do a thorough due-diligence before we commit to programs like this and assess aspects like availability of soft and hard infrastructure; student motivation levels and capability; faculty involvement and capability; institutional buy-in; etc. Also we do not always run a WEP to just build a community. We are open to programs that could create content on Indic Wikipedias without compromising on the quality. Moreover, we are looking at creating successful models (which would emerge after 3-4 iterations) whereby Wikimedia projects could be integrated into the pedagogic models of that institution and could survive beyond CIS-A2K's or community support. These could then be replicated by other institutions or even government. However, it is important to note that we are at an initial stage and are constantly and quickly learning from our success and failures.
CIS-A2K always looks at using and building on the existing WEP materials. But wherever the program implementation requires creation of new materials we have and will continue to create new materials and make it available under CC-BY-SA 3.0 for free use by the movement and other interested stakeholders.--Visdaviva (talk) 10:29, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you![edit]

Thank you for these detailed responses to our questions and clarifications. We appreciate your engagement during the community review period! Best regards, Winifred Olliff (FDC Support Team) talk 20:01, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Long-term organisational plans?[edit]

Hello. Many thanks for submitting this proposal. :-) I'm curious to know your long term thinking/plans for the wikimedia organisational structures in India. Do you envisage the CIS continuing with this work in the long term, or are there plans to move work over to the India chapter or another separate organisation from the CIS at some point in the future? If the latter, is that something that e.g. new staff contracts would enable?

Additionall but relatedly, is there systematic knowledge transfer going on between CIS and Wikimedia India so that both organisations can learn from the experiences of the other? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 10:43, 11 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Mike Peel, these are short but critical questions and would require elaborate answers or rather sharing of our thought process. Been travelling on work. Will get back soon. Thanks! --Visdaviva (talk) 03:31, 15 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Mike, to give some history to you, India Programs when it was handed over to CIS did not enjoy healthy relationships with WMIN. When CIS took over and it became A2K, Sunil, the ED of CIS promised WMIN that there would be no extension in the A2K term of 2 years and that A2K would be handed over to WMIN after 2 years. He expressed his desire that given CIS has been having cordial relationship with WMIN that we should collaborate with A2K. Our board was divided on this, because of the sour relationship between India Program employees and the community and it was in Sunil's word that tilted or made us decide in CIS's favour. It was also because of Sunil's personal assurance that CIS would handover A2K to WMIN after the end of 2 year grant period, we thought it was in our interest to collaborate with them. There was a lot of negative stuff going on at that time and we though it was in the betterment of the Indian community.
Vishnu, given that you have broken your word by applying for this new grant, please give Mike and the FDC team a proper long term goal and also reasons why they should believe you and trust you given that you have already gone back with your promise to WMIN once. -- ♪Karthik♫ ♪Nadar♫ 18:45, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks User:Karthikndr for the background from your perspective here. I'd be keen to hear CIS's perspective on this history, please. Additionally, I understand from an email from Pranav that an agreement exists between WMIN and CIS - please could that be shared here? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:09, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You can find mention of the IP-Community relationship in the concerns section here. You will also find some details of the agreement in the last section. Do note that this is over a year old and certain things have changed. I will note that Sunil has been gracious enough to accept mistakes. For example, when Pavanaja was hired without informing the community and the community was not happy about the same, Sunil offered to forego the 5% cut they get from the current WMF grant (or the "institutional development fee"). However, I will also note that "mistakes" have occurred far to often for our liking. Thanks, AroundTheGlobe (talk) 06:06, 23 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On Long-term Organization Plans, Exit & Handover[edit]

Hi Mike Peel, apologies for this much delayed reply. Apologies again as this is going to be a long reply. We feel first it is good to get clarify about the background shared by our friends from the WMIN EC (Karthik; and AroundTheGlobe), before we share our thoughts as a program on the critical questions you have posed.
About the handover of the CIS-A2K program to WMIN: None of us in the CIS-A2K team were aware of this background or alleged promise until February 2014, when WMIN EC brought this up during our joint meeting with WMF-FDC visiting team to India. As the WMIN EC claims that this promise was made by Sunil the ED of CIS, we have asked him for a detailed reply and this is what he has communicated.
"Dear Vishnu, This promise as far as I remember was made to a member of the EC during an unofficial visit to CIS in a one-on-one conversation. I don't remember making this promise again in any of the formal meetings that were held with the WMIN EC or in any written communications to the EC. However, given my age and fading memory - I may be wrong. I would request friends from the EC to remind me of this promise in it's exact formulation.
In any case - I regretted making that promise almost immediately because it was a promise I was not able to honour for the following reasons: Even though CIS might be willing to hand over the WMF supported component of it's A2K programme to WMIN.....1. WMF/FDC may not be willing to give the required grant to WMIN to ensure continuity because as far as they are concerned we are distinct entities. 2. There may be institutional concerns [rotation of board, institutional capture and lack of empowered chief executive] and statutory compliance issues [FCRA, 12A] that prevent handover. 3. Lack of compatibility in institutional ethos would prevent the team from continuing with equal effectiveness. CIS is top-down, hierarchical and authoritarian and WMIN is bottom-up, peer-to-peer and democratic. 4. The team may not be willing to leave in which case we will exit but not be able to hand over. That is we will publicly commit never to raise funds from WMF and we could hand over all the institutional learnings to WMIN but we wont be able to force staff members to shift. In which situation we will have to terminate their contracts and WMIN would have to hire a completely new team or partially new team.
There are also other factors that should be taken into consideration. 1. Should the handover/exit happen after CIS has sufficiently proven the model ie. how civil society organisations can contribute to the movement? Currently as is obvious from the feedback on meta and the list - there is still some scepticism regarding value for money. 2. Is competition between multiple entities serving and working alongside the community a good or bad thing for the community? Is the diversity of models a plus or a minus? 3. Should we handover/exit to WMIN or at the language community level since that has been our focus in the last year?
Having said all of this - I still believe that CIS would definitely have to handover or exit [as may be the case] when the conditions are right. In other words, we take our stewardship of the openness movement in general and Wikipedia in particular very seriously - we would not want to betray or take lightly the trust that has been placed on us by the Foundation and some members of the community.
Finally, over and above the specific deliverables at each plan level, we also would like to pass on larger lessons and models for the movement and WMF through this grant. As many of you know - we are deeply committed to certain central Wiki values for example - transparency. We believe that we are more transparent than the Wikimedia Foundation and many movement entities. We hope that our best practices, like the mission level transparency that our current plans have, will be main-streamed across the Wikimedia movement thus building trust and strengthening the movement globally.
Best wishes - Sunil"


  • About the top-down and bottom-up model:
Dear Vishnu, As I have said before - bottom-up, peer-to-peer and democratic movement entities and top-down, hierarchical and authoritarian organisations like CIS are both important components of any movement. I believe that bottom-up models enable greater ownership and process-quality. Top-down models result in greater agility and greater quantum outputs.
I would like to use blood donation as analogy - in Yochai Benkler's book "The Wealth of Networks" he cites the research of Richard Titmuss which establishes that volunteer-based blood donation [model in the UK] was of better quality than payment-based blood donation [model in the US]. This of course sparked the "Titmuss-Arrow debate of the early 1970s" but that is not essential to the point I am trying to make.
So volunteers, to stretch the analogy, are the life-blood of Wikipedia, FOSS, Open Standards, Open Content, Open Access, Open Data, Open Education Resources, Open Access to Law movements. There is no disputing that!
But all of these movements also have private sector, civil society and on occasion government participants as well. Just like corporations,NGOs and independent hackers have found different ways to contribute to free software - we must ask if a multiplicity of stakeholders would also be good for the Wikimedia movement.
To revisit the analogy - while blood donation in the US shifted to the volunteer-based model - there are many actors in the supply chain between the veins of the donor and the veins of the recipient in both UK and US who are paid professionals. Therefore we believe both top-down and bottom-up interventions are required and necessary for the health of the Wikipedia movement. Best wishes, Sunil

--Visdaviva (talk) 11:49, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Firstly, just wondering why Sunil emailed you and not posted here himself. I do not like the use of the word "alleged" especially since Sunil acknowledges it was made. That none of the team were aware is not our concern, as far as we are concerned someone higher in the hierarchy made the promise and expect CIS to stand by it. I would like to ask whether a promise made to one person during a non-official meeting is different from a promise made during an official meeting? Not only was the promise made but Sunil also asked the said EC member to share the conversation with the rest of the EC. This was duly done. For us this was enough as we trusted Sunil given the existing relationship between WMIN and CIS at that point in time. Should CIS have some other protocols, kindly let us know for future reference. This sounds like beating around the bush and trying to wriggle out anyways, thank you for confirming that there was a promise made which is the moot point here. To clarify, this is the first time we hear Sunil regretted making the promise. To remind Sunil, he mentioned the promise and that he was unable to keep his word when he told us about your FDC proposal during the February meeting. The February meeting was iirc the first time we were officially told about this application though the letter of intent was submitted in November 2013. Whatever the case or reason, I feel it would have been better to consult WMIN about the issue(s) you thought stopped you from handing over the program to WMIN instead of making a unilateral decision like you have.
About WMF not agreeing, WMIN was not consulted when CIS was given the program *despite* a legally binding agreement requiring WMF to do so, bias is very clear at the outset. CIS could help WMIN tattle institutional concerns instead of making it an excuse. WMF itself has a bottom-up approach. As for staff, that is normally an issue during merger of 2 entities. Those committed to the movement would stay and some paid professionals may want to move on, CIS could have helped handhold replacements. Anyways lets not talk about all this, I would like a very specific answer on something. You have been given an exclusive opportunity though there may be similar or better equipped organisations in India willing to take up this opportunity. I would like to ask Sunil on what basis should FDC trust CIS on anything in this proposal given that you have broken a promise to WMIN by applying in the first place. What is the guarantee on basis of which CIS could be trusted with the money it asks for? AroundTheGlobe (talk) 16:07, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

┌─────────────┘
This alleged promise of handing over was made by Sunil at the WMIN-CISA2K joint meeting in February 2013 in my presence. ----Rsrikanth05 (talk) 16:52, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi AroundTheGlobe and Rsrikanth05 here is Sunil's reply: "Regarding, why I am not on Wikipedia. The answer to this question is the same as the answer to a very similar question - why I have not contributed a single line of code on an existing free/open source software project.
I believe that I have been a steward for the Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) movement for the last 13 years. To verify my free software credentials, you could check with RMS. You could also check with 178 people that have have endorsed me for "Open Source" on LinkedIn even from the Asia-Pacific region amongst many others. Of course if you asked RMS about "Open Source" he would tell you that the correct term is "Free Software" - which I also prefer. But for practical reasons I also use the umbrella term - FOSS which genuflects to both ideological camps.
I have been part of the founding team at two organisations (cis-india.org - 6 years old and mahiti.org - 16 years old) that promote free software at the policy and practical level. I have served as an advisory board member at Open Society Foundations - Information Programme for 7 years [with a break] which has supported many FOSS initiatives with millions of dollars. I managed the International Open Source Network for UNDP-APDIP between 2004 and 2007 which promoted free software in 42 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. I have contributed to national free software policies and projects in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Moldova and Tajikistan. This year I am hoping to get started in Myanmar. CIS has raised more than a Crore of Rupees to develop neglected but important FOSS projects. Every year I make at least a dozen presentations to senior government officials in India and across the world pushing for free software adoption. I have also written code on internal projects and trained perhaps a hundred employees that worked over the years at Mahiti in Python. But I have always felt that I am more useful to the global free software movement when I am not writing code.
I don't believe in Linus Torvald's statement "Talk is cheap. Show me the code". Some talk is very important. Talk that gets things done. And similarly, I don't believe you need to be on-wiki to be a steward of the Wikimedia movement.
Regarding the promise, again it was made to one member of the EC during a 5 minute conversation during a rather busy day in Bangalore. We did not get an opportunity to get into any details or specifics in terms of time-frame and other details. To clarify this was not a promise made in institutional capacity. I have no recollection of asking the EC member to communicate the promise with other members of EC. I don't remember saying that CIS will never apply for funding from WMF again. I am not disputing the EC member's version of events. But I don't remember making such an elaborate promise. Since I never heard of the promise again till the February 2014 meeting - I assumed that it remained a personal commitment between me and the individual member of the EC. When I was reminded of it during the February 2014 meeting - only then did I realize that WMIN was treating it as an institutional commitment. It is indeed strange however, that if we were indeed 4 months away from exit or handover - there was no discussion between WMIN and CIS-A2K on this before the February 2014 meeting.
Again as before - I apologise for not being more careful during personal interactions with WMIN EC members. In the future - I will treat all personal conversations as official ones. Best wishes, Sunil."--Visdaviva (talk) 09:56, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Firstly, I did not ask why Sunil does not edit Wikipedia. I asked why he is not posting here directly on questions directed to him about a grant his organisation has requested. Very different from editing Wikipedia or writing code. Neither did I ask for his or CIS background. We have worked with Sunil enough to know that. That sort of thing can give you an opening initially but this is about extending a grant. I asked a very specific question which I repeat, "I would like to ask Sunil on what basis should FDC trust CIS on anything in this proposal given that you have broken a promise to WMIN by applying in the first place. What is the guarantee on basis of which CIS could be trusted with the money it asks for?". Please give a specific answer rather than your background. About the promise, enough has been said and I trust the FDC to summarise what has happened here. AroundTheGlobe (talk) 16:13, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Mike Peel, apologies again for this delayed response to your questions. First, we would like to reflect on what is it that we are doing and then get to your questions about long term thinking.


Our current thinking about exit/handover[edit]

The A2K program at CIS was there since its inception in 2008, which shows that CIS was committed to open content and volunteer driven movements like Wikimedia. When we were approached by the WMF representatives to take on the India Program, we were excited that we are able to work for the Wikimedia Movement in India. Once we took over the grant, it took sometime for CIS to find the right leadership for the program. We have involved the WMIN, WMF and the representative of the Wikimedia community in selecting the Program Director to lead this program. This process alone took 6 months of time. We had also put in place various transparency and accountability measures in line with our institutional values in executing this program. It was in March 2013 that we started with the language strategy. All the draft plans were shared for community feedback and every effort was put to solicit and encourage community feedback. Please see the lessons we have learnt. We soon realized that most of the Indian language communities required much more support and at various levels than what we anticipated. For instance, there were only two Telugu Wikipedia outreach workshops in a large linguistic universe like Telugu with 80 million. In many of our outreach programs we have realized that 95 out of 100 people did not know of the existence of Indic Wikipedias. All these pushed us to travel in the trajectory of a high-touch implementation program. Whereby we worked at various levels: a) conducting outreach; b) on-wiki mentoring; c) liaising with the community; d) building awareness about the projects through press, media and social-media; e) technical support; f) facilitating meet-ups and community events; g) one-to-one support, etc. in addition to building institutional partnerships and getting content re-released under a free license. Of course we do recognize the criticism that many of these activities would otherwise be done by volunteers. But the fact of the matter is, they were not being done and there are larger socio-economic-cultural factors at play, which a catalyst program like CIS-A2K could more effectively address. The four language communities that we worked with do know our efforts much intimately and appreciate it. We surely have our own share of failures and activities that did not go well and we as a program learnt and are continuously learning from every opportunity. It is hardly 10 months of this high-touch approach with language strategy and we believe that there are good results (surely these vary from language to language). However, we soon realized that we cannot continue this high-touch approach for ever and need to build community level leadership primarily for outreach and technical support and ensure sustainability of the growth achieved. Thus we organized the Train the Trainer program, which otherwise was not part of our last year’s plans. Based on this experience we have proposed to continue our high-touch language strategy approach and additionally brought in two components Community Strengthening Initiatives and Creating Movement Resources. These two components we believe will work towards ensuring sustainability of the growth and will ensure that the growth momentum that the CIS-A2K program has catalysed continues into the future. So for us exit/handover is more at the level of the language plan. As a program we would like to exit a language plan when it reaches a certain mass, momentum and maturity. We still need to work on this to better state what kind of mass and momentum we are thinking of. But we hope to gain this clarity in the next year. Our current thinking tells us that we need to stay invested in a language area plan for 3-5 years to achieve meaningful impact. This does not mean we will continue being invested in a language plan in spite of repeated failures or lack of progress. Also we would like to phase out than to suddenly exit. We are yet unsure after we exit, whether there will be a handover (especially of the institutional partnerships, language anchor and other networks) to the WMIN or to the language community (if a User Group emerges). This is something that should be openly discussed with WMIN. Beyond these language plans CIS-A2K would like to move onto other areas of work that not necessarily follow the language strategy. We are deeply interested to learn and understand how a program like CIS-A2K could add value to the existing English Wikimedia community in India. We have proposed seven language areas in the current plan and there are questions about other language areas. We will continue to offer need based support to these language areas and would be quite happy to work with WMIN to develop language specific plans should they be interested to support these language areas.

Long term thinking/plans for the Wikimedia organizational structures in India[edit]

We are at an interesting juncture in terms of production, consumption, dissemination and constitution of knowledge in Indian languages and CIS-A2K program sees tremendous role the Indic Wikimedia projects could play in the knowledge sphere. To enable this, it is important for the Wikimedia movement to think of language specific strategies and organizational structures. Some more mature Wikimedia communities like Malayalam and Tamil have some unwritten strategies or shared understanding of where they are and where they would like to go. We feel some form of organizational structures at these language levels is a good way to go. For instance, these language level entities could champion open knowledge in their respective language, bring policy changes that could impact the larger knowledge ecosystem, leverage funds allocated for language improvement, etc. It is very important to note that there are few open knowledge stewards in Indian languages. WMIN is better positioned to champion this diversity of organizational structures and can create a ripple effect in open knowledge movement in India. WMIN has a very interesting SIG model that could be made more agile, independent and strong.

Systematic knowledge transfer between CIS-A2K and Wikimedia India[edit]

This is critical for the growth of Wikimedia movement in India. Unfortunately, whether one likes it or not, it is important to take note of the “competing interests” argument between WMIN and CIS-A2K, as this is being very visibly held by some members of WMIN. It is important to first address this concern once and for all. In the past we have reached out to the WMIN EC and built a cordial relationship. But with this FDC proposal some of that relationship seem to have been lost and we will put every effort to rebuild it. It is a mix of various things from the past that clog the process of building the complementarity between WMIN and CIS-A2K and unfortunately there is little that CIS-A2K did to creating this clog. In the interest of the movement and the mission that we are all collectively committed to, it is important that the relationship building between WMIN and CIS-A2K be done in a more transparent manner with significant community input.--Visdaviva (talk) 13:34, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Concerns at Wikimediaindia-l mailing list[edit]

Questions from an Indian Community member to WMF and CIS-A2K[edit]

Questions for WMF[edit]

Q1a[edit]

Where can I find WMF's open assessment of the work done by CIS-A2K in the previous year? Ravi (talk) 11:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WMF has been following the work done by CIS via monthly check-in conference calls (which have no public record) and through the interim report provided by CIS, reviewed and accepted by WMF staff. As with other grants, there is no independent public WMF assessment of the grantee's work. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 02:32, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Asaf, first of all, thanks for responding to all my concerns in detail.

//monthly check-in conference calls (which have no public record//

Isn't this lack of transparency for a huge grant like this? Can we expect a change in future to ensure transparency and community input?

// through the interim report provided by CIS, reviewed and accepted by WMF staff. //

I don't see any open review by WMF grants team at the corresponding talk page. Only community members have responded including a concern about spending choice.

//As with other grants, there is no independent public WMF assessment of the grantee's work.//

Just to clarify: So, you don't review the performance / usefulness / truth of the achievements claimed and ROI of the grant amount by any reasoning but only verify the finance, governance structure, following of due procedures by the grant receiving organization. --Ravi (talk) 06:40, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q1b[edit]

Why wasn't there any transparency about the rationale and process for transfering the former Wikimedia India program's work to CIS-A2K? Ravi (talk) 11:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Let me start by acknowledging the transition could have been handled better, in several ways, including communication and degree of community involvement.
The rationale, however, is largely the directive given WMF by its board via the board resolution on 'Narrowing Focus'. Focusing on achieving local impact via grants to mission-aligned partners (whether chapters, thematic organizations, user groups, or non-Wikimedia partners) has become our main vehicle, replacing the previous "Catalyst" model, which relied on WMF contractors working directly in priority regions.
Given that directive, a suitable partner was sought, that could take on some of the existing contractors and continue work in India, but also change the model and work plan to incorporate lessons learned from the "Catalyst" project and to hire a new project lead. The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), a reputable non-profit operating in fields well-aligned with our values, and familiar with and supportive of Wikimedia efforts in India (and, in particular, an ally and generous supporter of the Wikimedia India chapter since before its inception), was selected as that partner.
There was some involvement in that process by specific community members, but unfortunately without public record, and without a general community consultation process. I was not personally involved at that time, so I cannot offer more information, but I trust this answer the basic question about the transition. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 02:32, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

//The rationale, however, is largely the directive given WMF by its board via the board resolution on 'Narrowing Focus'. //

Agreed.

//a suitable partner was sought//

The whole question is why this process was not transparent.

// The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS)... selected as that partner. //

  • Please provide names of all the organizations that applied to get this grant. If there were no formal and grant applications by competing organizations and CIS was selected based on an internal review of potential partners, why can't we see CIS-A2K as a proxy program for the former WMF India operations sans any accountability? The complete lack of transparency in initiation, monthly reviews and annual assessments confirms this concern.
  • If there were no formal grant applications by competing organizations, CIS was selected based on an internal review of potential partners, how do you address the Conflict of Interest concern raised by WMIN regarding a WMF grants team staff being a past employee of CIS? I take back this question as the explanation here answers the COI concern.

Though you were not involved at that time, I hope some one from WMF can furnish these details.

Was WMIN a part of the community consultation process . //There was some involvement in that process by specific community members//

// I trust this answer the basic question about the transition.//

Not yet. I would like to get the details for the above questions.--Ravi (talk) 07:02, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Ravi, thanks for these questions. I'll answer them as best as I'm able, though I too was not involved in the early stages of this grant. The transition to CIS of the former Wikimedia India program was managed by Barry Newstead (the former Chief Global Development Officer at WMF), and explained in detail by him here. Barry left WMF at the end of August, at which point I took over the CIS grant. Later, when I started developing a full-fledged Grantmaking team through the Narrowing Focus exercise (September-November 2012), I asked Asaf to oversee it as part of his Global South responsibilities. I joined WMF in July 2012, and like Asaf, was not involved in either the selection process or the final grant agreement with CIS. Since then, of course, both Asaf and I have been involved in working with CIS - as we have with WMIN - and in ensuring the terms of the grant are fulfilled.
As Barry states in the FAQ, 26 different organisations were approached; he states that the reasons for not sharing this list was that "These discussions can be a little sensitive for both parties, since they sometimes touch on issues like organizational strategic direction, organizational capacity, financial health and fundraising strategies. We wanted to be able to have candid, easy conversations on a pretty quick timeline." I think we should continue to respect these reasons, but I will say that learning from the India process, we approached the transition of the Brazil Wikimedia program (completed in November 2013) very differently and engaged the community in open consultation around potential partner organisations.
I will add that CIS has done its reporting entirely in accordance with the grant agreement that was created in July 2012. The informal check-ins were an additional process to discuss, as you suggest, CIS' progress against goals; as with Wikimedia organisations, this should be assessed both through its previous reports as well as this proposal. Clearly, one of the opportunities for CIS and the Wikimedia India community is the FDC process: because of the Board's approval of CIS' eligibility for the FDC process, CIS' proposal can be reviewed by the FDC - which is a rigorous peer-review process (as is already apparent from the start!) - and if approved, will result in a systematic and periodic review process that is being followed by all FDC/Annual Plan grant organisations.
I hope this answers your concerns. Thanks, as always, for your commitment to the Wikimedia India community. ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 03:06, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Let me start by acknowledging the transition could have been handled better, in several ways, including communication and degree of community involvement." We were informed of this grant application via an email from Vishnu to the Wikimediaindia-l on March 31 whereas the proposal submission date was April 1. I think the community would greatly welcome notice of at least 15 days notice so that the community may be involved at the evolution stage of the proposal with comments, if any. Prad2609 (talk) 18:15, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I am glad this question was asked and am satisfied with the answer here. I wish that this summary could be put in a public permanent record of this partnership because I think this information is fundamental to understanding the relationship between the WMF, CIS, and Wikimedia community. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:01, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q2a[edit]

What happens to the natural growth rate of the communities once a program like this shuts down?

The former Wikimedia India programs claimed Assamese Wikipedia as a success story. Now, you can look at their performance after that program was shut down.

So, how do you justify the spending for this program which is like spoon feeding. Ravi (talk) 11:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What happens is a return to precisely that -- natural growth rate, whatever that may be like for each community. That intervention did raise editorship (including "very active" editorship) for a while (peaking at April 2012), but as you implicitly point out, editorship fell back to (more or less) pre-intervention levels. Was the catalyzation attempt (call it "spoon feeding" if you like; I'm not sure that's a good description) worth the investment? Hard to say. We cannot (yet) associate a specific amount with the value of recruiting a single active editor.
For a tiny Wikipedia like Assamese, it's possible the temporary editing boost leading to a doubling of its size by article count and tripling of its size by contents was itself the seed of future growth, as the bootstrapping of a Wikipedia is also slow and not self-sustaining work, until that moment when a virtuous cycle kicks in and the usefulness of the resource begins attracting new editors "organically". We have perhaps not reached that moment with Assamese, and as you point out, the program is implicitly judged to be less valuable than other opportunities and has thus been discontinued.
I would be careful not to automatically consider the intervention a complete failure, though. We are very much at the beginning of our engagement in India, still refining our tools and improving our understanding of just what is the low-hanging fruit and what works in each community context. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 03:02, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If

//with Assamese, and as you point out, the program is implicitly judged to be less valuable than other opportunities and has thus been discontinued. //

was indeed a correct decision, then CIS-A2K doesn't seem to have learnt the lessons as it is focusing its efforts on even smaller and virtually non-existent communities in incubators. Please see

  1. Making the Tulu Wikipedia Live
  2. Making the Santali Wikipedia Live

--Ravi (talk) 07:17, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

LOL, new project should start with a request from the genuine active Community Member, Could CIS give us active community member from Tulu & Santali?.Jayantanth (talk) 17:21, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with Ravidreams and Jayantanth here. If CIS has any ambitions to undertake a project without the support of active Wikimedia community members then that project should be delayed until representatives from that community give input into the project design as equals to any other manager of the project. I am not sure what community exists already but I would like to see an explanation of existing communities and stakeholders tied to any project proposal. This is most natural in Wikimedia community development and to do otherwise would be unorthodox. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:04, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
With regard to Tulu and Santali this discussion could be of help.--Visdaviva (talk) 19:33, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see. In that discussion, it is asserted that community organizations representing Tulu and Santali communities contributed to these projects, and that would constitute community backing. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:18, 5 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q2b[edit]

The way Hindi Wikipedia seeks help for content management (fixing Google articles) confirms my concern of spoon feeding. Ravi (talk) 11:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm not sure what "spoon feeding" you're seeing here. My reading of that link is a suggestion by one community member for a specific on-wiki task that newbies coming through a prospective institutional partnership might be directed towards. What is your concern about this? How is it different, for example, from the English Wikipedia's Backlog master page, or, even more similarly, from the "To do" sections on most WikiProjects and portals on English Wikipedia? Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 03:02, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Asaf, spoon feeding is another term for handholding which CIS-A2K itself uses many times in it's reports. Google's translation project was banned outrightly in Bengali Wikipedia. Tamil Wikipedia took control of the situation and worked together with Google. But, irrespective of best efforts from experienced users in the community, even 4 years after the program was shut down by Google we are struggling to clean them up. Right now, we are having a policy discussion on our approach towards cleaning them up. Please check an instance of the disastrous effect the Google program had in Kannada Wikipedia. So, there is little any newcomer can help in fixing this let alone institutional partnerships which bring their own problems. Anyone with a vague idea of Google translation project's issues will neither seek or offer help externally.

At one end, CIS-A2K is taking pride in saying it is offering even phone based support for miniscule tasks, lets communities focus on productive tasks and on the other end communities are seeking external help for issues like these that are strictly in community domain. Once a program like CIS-A2K shuts down, I expect these unevolved communities to be directionless and leaderless. Similar concern is already expressed by CIS-A2K itself.

For Konkani,

//Since July 2013 CIS-A2K has invested a lot of time and effort to build and handhold the Konkani Wikipedia project and community. It is essential to make sure that we do not reach a situation where Konkani Wikipedia community is entirely dependent on CIS-A2K for its growth. The community should be able to sustain even if CIS-A2K pulls out of its Konkani work.

Thus, it is necessary that the existing Konkani Wikipedia editors take charge and build leadership to conduct offline and online outreach sessions, handhold new editors, conduct talks and events, prepare outreach material etc. The community should be able to generate enough momentum to grow Konkani Wikipedia with minimal external support.//

For Odia,

//ecause of the overload of work on a small community this project could not be continued. One learning from this failure was that if a couple of experienced editors might have been selected as leaders; they could have kept the enthusiasm high and motivated community members to participate actively.//

It is also interesting that you have noted above that the program in Assamese Wikipedia which was spoon fed similarly was discontinued after being judged less valuable.

Yet, CIS-A2K continues to tread that path of spoon feeding. So, where are the lessons being learnt implemented?

Spoon feeding or handholding brings few concerns:

  • Uncertaintly of the community's growth rate after the program is shut down which questions both the ROI and wisdom of this approach.
  • Wiping out the chance for natural community dynamics and emergence of leadership by training the communities to look up to a CIS-A2K like program for any issue.
  • Blurring the lines between volunteer work and top-down funded work which might also demotivate some community members as it happened with Google project and Kannada Wikipedia.

CIS-A2K and the communities should both have a clear idea and protocol on what falls under community domain and where collaboration is an option.--Ravi (talk) 12:36, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • I agree with Ravidreams that this should be articulated. Although most of the Wikimedia community wishes to avoid exchanging movement funds for content generation, I might support that if someone made an argument that it should be done. I would also support community initiatives for project development in all kinds of circumstances. Something that I would not be quick to support is handholding/spoonfeeding to create content through community channels which are not requested by the community.
I also would like more information about the philosophy behind establishing content generation projects as a recruitment strategy - if this is happening then that seems like an unorthodox and unproven outreach strategy. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:08, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q2c[edit]

If the cost if justified, then the actual communities and the content they have developed on their on own are worth many crores of Indian rupees. But, we face strict guidelines when applying for grants whereas NGOs like CIS don't have that strict criterion. Ravi (talk) 11:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What strict guidelines do you mean, precisely, and who are 'we' in that sentence? Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 03:02, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Asaf, WE are the people who edit. WE are the peope who donate. As a language community / user group, we cannot apply for grants beyond certain amount due to tax and foreign funding regulations. WE also are instructed on the type of work we can undertake. For example, Individual Engagement grants discourage spending money for content generation. But, organizations like CIS are free to sign MoUs promising paid content generation.--Ravi (talk) 19:39, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As you now concede, the limitations are "due to tax and foreign funding regulations" are entirely beyond our control. As for the type of work you can undertake -- that's correct, but the same expectation is made of other organizations.
Also, as you have been told below, CIS is evaluating the value-add of facilitating mass content ingestion (quite different from article-writing) in the context of each language and case separately. I do not see this as "paid content generation". Ingesting a large pre-existing resource, for later (volunteer) curation, categorization, improvement, etc., may or may not be a worthwhile investment, but it is not "paid content generation" in my view, as the time one is compensated for is typically time spent facilitating a massive (and mechanical) process -- all the meetings, the negotiations, the meta-data, any bot activity, etc., that may be involved with getting that bulk of content online. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 20:10, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with Ijon. Content ingestion projects are entirely appropriate work for the paid staff of an organization. It is high-value work, tremendously boring and not the work of a volunteer or typical unpaid community member, and leverages the value of existing work produced by costly investment by organizations outside the Wikimedia movement. I also think that Ravi is mistaken here; if content already exists in large amounts and is just waiting for someone to upload and integrate it into Wikimedia projects, then there has always been funding available even for individuals without an organizational affiliation to request it if they would just put the content into Wikipedia. One of the examples is with the Konkani Vishwakosh Digitization Project, in which an entire encyclopedia in Konkani language is presumably waiting to be transferred into Wikipedia articles. I see that this work was digitized but not that it has been integrated into Wikipedia. It seems like a good project but I would want more updates on the status of it. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:13, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q3a[edit]

What is WMF's approach and strategy for growing Wikimedia movement in India? Ravi (talk) 11:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WMF's approach and strategy for growing the Wikimedia movement in India is, in a nutshell, to support all mission-aligned good-faith partners with credible plans, via our various grants processes. At the moment, these partners include two formal organization (CIS and Wikimedia India) and several informal groups (notably the Malayalam community, the Telugu community, and your own Tamil community). WMF's aim is to support each of these partners (as well as potential new ones, such as new user groups) in a degree and manner commensurate with the partner's capacity and track record.
I will stress we are not yet constrained for resources in a way that makes us have to choose one over the other, i.e. we are able to support all these partners at the same time, each according to their abilities, interests, level of planning, and track record. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 05:07, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Asaf, please note that the term "partner organization" is misleading and can be confused with the "movement partners" officially recognized as one of Wikimedia affiliates. The WMF board resolution on this proposal being eligible for FDC calls CIS as an organization in working relationship with WMF and not as a partner organization. More over, please let me know if there is a public page that lists all such working relationships of WMF. Do you have a guideline page on how more organizations like CIS from all the countries can apply for grants? Please note that WMIN is a community driven and reviewed organization complying to all regulatory guidelines specified for Wikimedia affiliates. Please note that majority of the people who donate to WMF after seeing community appeals like this and this have no idea of existance of such working relationships and money being spent on this without any community review. The FAQ page for donation mentions only about the chapters. So, I request you to make appropriate changes to inform and consult the community well. Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 19:45, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I see the term is perhaps confusing. I was using "partner organization" above in a casual, common sense -- groups we are working with. You are perfectly correct CIS has not yet been formally recognized as an affiliate in the "movement partner" category. I don't think it's been claimed otherwise.
I certainly agree donors don't know much about the Wikimedia movement (even its name), the organizations that make it up, the proportion between affiliated and unaffiliated individuals in the movement, and the scope of activities of different groups and organizations. This has been acknowledged in the past as well, and is to some degree difficult to avoid -- many donors just want to "support Wikipedia", and aren't actually interested in learning too much detail about how the movement is structured; I know our Fundraising department is interested in, and has been experimenting with, ways to showcase to donors (before and after a donation is made) more information about the movement (beyond the 'meet the volunteers' approach of previous years).
I take your point about the use of the word "chapters" in the FAQ; it has indeed become inaccurate, and I have now left a comment there, so it will get corrected soon.
I wonder if you have anything to say about the answer I offered to your original question. You seemed to have moved right along to different concerns, but I'm sure you have an actual reaction to my answer to this important question. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 20:27, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Asaf, thanks for acknowledging my concerns and taking appropriate measures. I appreciate the strategy of "supporting all mission-aligned good-faith partners with credible plans, via our various grants processes". Irrespective of the fact that none of the partners will compete for resources which are plentiful, my concern is that there should be an open and community approved process to bring more such partners in the scenario. Only then this can be considered a level playing field. It is in this context, I asked Do you have a guideline page on how more organizations like CIS from all the countries can apply for grants?--Ravi (talk) 21:57, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No, we don't have such a guideline page yet. (I did not intentionally leave it out of my previous response; just an oversight.) The two major partnerships so far (with CIS in India and with AE in Brazil) have been in a particular context that will not repeat: that of transitioning an existing team of WMF contractors to an external partner, and they were proactively approached by WMF (with much more community consultation in the [later] case of Brazil than in India, this being a lesson learned).
Any future partners, on the other hand, would enter into (or propose) partnerships without the added complexity of an existing team of contractors. This would allow careful evaluation of the intersection of interests between the prospective partner and the Wikimedia movement, public community consultation, and a strong emphasis on ensuring the community is likely to engage with the endeavors the partner would be engaging in. We are still thinking about what the process for such future partnerships might look like (within the parameters just mentioned), and so do not have a public policy page on it just yet. Rest assured it is something I will personally be developing in the coming months.
In the meantime, affiliate or not, we are, as stated above, open to working with, and funding (even if not via the APG process), absolutely any group or actor interested in mission-aligned work in India. Specifically, I think it is entirely possible (but certainly remains to be seen) that many smaller groups and/or organizations, with their own focus (such as your own Tamil community, which WMF has supported directly) are a better fit for the complexity of India than investing solely in national-level organizations such as CIS and WMIN. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 22:14, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Asaf, thanks for asserting that this model of working partnership won't be repeated. It is a widely understood fact that Wikimedia user communities like Tamil Wikipedia are eligible to apply for grants and there is an established process for that. My question was about understanding the process by which non-Wikimedia organisations like CIS which were not hitherto directly involved in Wikimedia work significantly be eligible for WMF funding as Anasuya portrays WMF as a grant making organization in justifying the institutional development fee. Thanks for clarifying that you will be working on this in the coming months. Having said that this model won't be repeated and based on your mail that you are open to answering questions regarding the MoU with CIS, I will appreciate if you would answer few of my concerns / doubts.
  1. What was the budget allotted for former Wikimedia India programs? Can you provide details of the amount transferred to India for executing this program? After the shut down of this program, how much was left and how much was transferred back to WMF's US account? Did you face procedural and regulatory difficulties in transferring this amount back to US?
  2. What was the rationale for the grant amount given to CIS-A2K? I assume they were given the grant and staff first and then asked to work on a plan?
  3. Was CIS asked to work on specific plans that were part of the Wikipedia India programs' agenda? For example, was CIS asked to work on Wikipedia education programs?
  4. Are there donors to WMF who specifically demand that their money be spent on specific geographic area or program like Wikipedia Education program?
  5. What was the need for transitioning an existing team of WMF contractors to an external partner? Why was it a condition for selecting a partner? Why not just shut down the Wikipedia India programs and leave? Don't organizations close operations and fire people?
  6. What is the need for renewing this partnership which is based on a model that won't be repeated again?
  7. How many years have been specified in the MoU about the continuing partnership? What is the exit clause? Does exit have to be mutually agreed?

Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 22:47, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ravidreams These are excellent questions and the community deserves answers, and if anyone can answer them easily then I would like the answers also. However, I expect that all of these things happened so causally and quickly that there might not be good answers for these things. The reason why I think this is that even now, CIS and WM India do not document things in a style that is expected according to Western tastes. From the WMF perspective and the WM community perspective, I think that just about everyone would prefer that any grant recipient's focus be on documenting what is done, and that from a Western perspective documentation is more important than actually doing activist work. The reason for this is that it is more important to track the use of funding than it is for something to actually be done. This strategy may not make sense in India, because activist organizations in India can do activism quite well but to do reporting according to Western or United States tastes would take a lot of training and expensive staff to manage. It might be more cost effective to see if any activist work can be done first in the relationship, and then over time develop documentation practices if the relationship seems to be working.
Ravi, to answer some of your questions - there is no process for describing how a WMF relationship works with other organizations. However, if you find a well-managed organization in India that wants to apply for funding then you can go to the Wikimedia community and ask for review, and if the community supports that organization's grant requests then that would give the organization favor in the WMF review process. If you like, you can message me and I would talk more with you about this. I have no affiliation with the WMF but I care a lot about community development in India and the Wikimedia community, and would like to see more grant requests from more organizations come from India. If you want step-by-step instructions, I might recommend having an organization request a small grant for a small project, then increase their grant requests to their work capacity over time. Neither CIS nor WM India did this but I assure you, the entire Wikimedia community looks at India and wants something to happen and for Indian people to take more leadership roles internationally. CIS is an appropriate candidate for considering a long term partnership and I hope everything works with them. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:25, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Blue Rasberry , thanks for the help. Asaf, I will appreciate if you could answer my questions above. Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 12:22, 5 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Below, I do my best to respond to your questions, @Ravidreams:. Two things that make it a little more difficult than it otherwise might have been are the fact I was not involved in the early days of the intervention in India whereas those who were (from WMF's side) are no longer involved in the movement, and the fact that I feel this is a waste of everyone's time, as your behavior in this discussion so far suggests no set of answers would satisfy you that this proposal is at least legitimate enough to be put before the committee and judged on its own merits. Nevertheless, I do my best to answer:
1. What was the budget allotted for former Wikimedia India programs? Can you provide details of the amount transferred to India for executing this program? After the shut down of this program, how much was left and how much was transferred back to WMF's US account? Did you face procedural and regulatory difficulties in transferring this amount back to US?
I don't know what that budget was, and don't have details of those amounts, as I was not involved at the time. The data does exist at WMF, of course, but is not readily accessible to me; someone from Finance would need to spend some time retrieving data from previous fiscal years' general ledger to get the figures, and then those of us at Grantmaking who are still around would have to do our best to interpret those numbers, to answer this question. I do not think it a good use of our time, at this point, nor do I think any particular concrete response would change your position.
What I can say is that there are indeed procedural and regulatory difficulties in getting money back from India, and we have encountered this with underspending in grants to Wikimedia India and to individuals as well. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 06:55, 18 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
2. What was the rationale for the grant amount given to CIS-A2K? I assume they were given the grant and staff first and then asked to work on a plan?
Again, I was not involved at the time, but as far as I can tell, it was based on a combination of the existing India Programs team budget (see above), this document (no budget, though), and rough planning with CIS before the grant was agreed upon (in a non-public process we have long since acknowledged was a bad idea, and have replaced with a public process in the recent Brazil partnership grant).
Beside staff costs, the main line items were as follows: Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 06:55, 18 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Item Amount (INR) Notes
Administrative expenses 15,96,160 Office rent, utilities, office expenses
Programme-related travel and accommodation 43,55,248 International and domestic
Programme expenses 37,68,600 printed materials, design, volunteer development, supplies
3. Was CIS asked to work on specific plans that were part of the Wikipedia India programs' agenda? For example, was CIS asked to work on Wikipedia education programs?
Yes and no. Certainly, some India Programs initiatives were to be at least maintained, while a new work plan was being developed by CIS after a program director would be hired, but the lessons from the India Programs Education Program Pilot were certainly learned, and it was understood any additional attempt (CIS was not instructed to attempt one) to deploy that program would take those lessons into account, especially in terms of much more rigorous expectation-setting. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 06:55, 18 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
4. Are there donors to WMF who specifically demand that their money be spent on specific geographic area or program like Wikipedia Education program?
Not these days, as far as I know. Back in 2010, the Stanton Foundation did fund the Public Policy Initiative in the US, which succeeded greatly and became the general Wikipedia Education Program model. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 06:55, 18 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
5. What was the need for transitioning an existing team of WMF contractors to an external partner? Why was it a condition for selecting a partner? Why not just shut down the Wikipedia India programs and leave? Don't organizations close operations and fire people?
The transition of the India team had (at least) two causes: 1. The WMF board instructed us to narrow our focus, including the transitioning of our programmatic contractor teams (in India and Brazil) to grant-based partnerships. 2. India remained a priority region, identified as such in the Wikimedia 2010-2015 strategic plan. This also answers your question about why WMF did not "just shut down [...] and leave". I understand that would have been preferable, in your view. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 06:55, 18 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
6. What is the need for renewing this partnership which is based on a model that won't be repeated again?
Correction: the partnership model is not what won't be repeated again. What I stated won't be repeated again is the creation of a partnership without a public community consultation process. And here we are, having a public community consultation. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 06:55, 18 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
7. How many years have been specified in the MoU about the continuing partnership? What is the exit clause? Does exit have to be mutually agreed?
The MoU only set out the two-year grant ending soon. It further explicitly states the MoU constitutes no promise of future funding. So the "exit clause" is simply the expiration of the contract. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 06:55, 18 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Asaf, thanks for the answers. I asked these questions as you welcomed specific questions on MoU with CIS. In this context, your observation on my behavior in this discussion is unwarranted. I would like to clarify few things: 1. The question about the budget for former WMF India programs was essential to understand the role of Wikipedia India Trust. However, Sunil has clarified that it was never operational. So, I need no further details on this. 2. Transitioning the former WMF India Programs employees to CIS with same salary structure has introduced lot of imbalances in Wikimedia movement in India. It is in this context that I asked why couldn't they be fired and CIS could have found new hires or rehired the same people with a salary structure that makes sense locally. It is not my intention to say that WMF should have no activity in India either on its own or through other Wikimedia affiliates. 3. That you plan to continue this partnership model with non-Wikimedia affiliates without a wider consensus (like the Wikimedia affiliates guidelines) from the global community is disappointing. --Ravi (talk) 11:18, 18 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q3b[edit]

Will there be any end date for the CIS-A2K program or will there be never ending annual renewals? Ravi (talk) 11:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The current grant ends June 2014, so that's one end date. CIS is applying for additional funding to continue the work along the lines set out in this proposal, and the results of this community-informed deliberation process, culminating in a recommendation from the Funds Dissemination Committee to the WMF's Board of Trustees, will determine if the A2K project continues for another term, and at what scale. I repeat: there is no guarantee of "never ending annual renewals" for any program, including the CIS partnership. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 05:07, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for clarifying this. WMF's interest in India is part of it's five year strategic plan. WMF India Programs was started for executing this interest and the grant awarded for CIS-A2K can only be seen as it's continuation in another mode. So, irrespective of your assurance that there are no "never ending renewals", I expect CIS-A2K's presence in Indian Wikimedia movement for the full term of five years. Let us see :)--Ravi (talk) 12:44, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q3c[edit]

I have an eerie feeling that the community development work in India is getting outsourced to non-community agencies like CIS at the cost of crippling budding local chapters like WMIN. For example, there is liberal funding for staff salary here but WMIN chapter was refused even one full time manager and ultimately the chapter is facing a slow death now. Forget the cost and value of all the volunteer work done by all the EC members and general members since the beginning of the chapter. Is WMF adapting double standards for assessing grant requests? Ravi (talk) 11:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I disagree with you (and with Wikimedia India, apparently) about there being any 'crippling' of WMIN, nor do I think it is facing "a slow death". The WMF is not adopting double standards, certainly not in favor of CIS; indeed, if anything, it may be argued WMIN has enjoyed great leniency. I think a careful examination of the facts would reveal the chapter received much support in the form of funding in advance of exhibiting significant capacity, and has been successful in securing additional funds continuously throughout its existence, quite in excess of the merit suggested by its track record.
You may or may not know it has exhibited poor judgment and poor governance in the past, for example when it unilaterally hired an "executive manager" with the intent of paying his wages out of (unrelated) WMF grant funds without so much as mentioning this to WMF staff (I learned about this by reading the chapter's September 2012 report). Despite this serious misstep, WMF retroactively approved the expenditure (though it might not have agreed about the need for an employee had it been consulted in advance), which I think was forbearing and supportive of the chapter's attempt to develop.
As far as I can tell (I'd be interested to know if you think differently -- though I hardly see the relevance here, in what should properly be a discussion of the merits or flaws of this APG proposal, by CIS), WMIN's track record during the executive manager's tenure remained modest, and comparable to its track record before hiring staff. The chapter leadership was largely passive, and the greatest bursts of activity I could see (barring the excellent contribution to the release of educational materials under a free license) were bureaucratic and high-drama concerns over the possibility that some Wikimedians might self-organize outside the aegis of the chapter (which I contend are in fact harmful to the mission, and not just not impactful).
In other words, despite a lot of leeway, good will, and patience, the chapter has not exhibited significant leadership of the various Indian editing communities, nor developed a credible national or state-level strategy, nor engaged with its own members (as far as I could see, publicly) in a strategic conversation, nor attained significantly more impact than it had before it had staff. Additionally, it exhibited bad governance around its last executive committee elections, and despite strong encouragement from the Foundation, resisted any admission of wrongdoing for months, although it ultimately accepted blame and promised reform.
All this adds up, I contend, to a partner that's still very much in its infancy, and not ready to take on work at any significant scale. I look forward, and I have said this to the chapter on numerous occasions, on- and off-wiki, to the time WMIN would be ready to do more significant work, at which point it will be funded to do so. That time would come when WMIN enjoys leadership that is interested in developing the kind of strategic engagement I mentioned as lacking above, and is prepared to plan and execute activities likely to produce impact on our mission in India, as well as show community engagement and support for its initiatives. I am committed to continue supporting Wikimedia India, as I have so far, in a manner commensurate with its capacity and with the credibility of its proposed activities. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 05:07, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That you chose to come here and post the above comment speaks volumes on who you support and who you do not. Have you ever made a public statement defending WMIN the way you did here and prior to this for both CIS A2K and its predecessor India Programs? I need not say more. As for the Executive Manager, we had enough alternate funding had WMF refused permission to repurpose and it was a non-issue. You obviously have not read our Annual Report if you say we have just done one impactful project recently. Has WMF or CIS exhibited leadership in India? Has WMF not accepted the fact that its India office caused a lot of damage to the chapter and community? We have always refuted any wrongdoing during the last elections and continue to do so, we have agreed that our rules could be strengthened and have committed ourselves to that. We resent your trying to bully us in this matter. AroundTheGlobe (talk) 15:59, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I posted the above comment because WMF was specifically asked a question by a community member, in my area of responsibility, and I respected the question and the asker by providing an honest answer. I understand it does not please you. I have acknowledged in advance that my evaluation of WMIN differs from WMIN's self-evaluation.
I would also like to acknowledge that an evaluation of WMIN is not strictly on-topic in this conversation, which is supposed to be about the merit or flaws of CIS's APG proposal. It is not I who keeps bringing up this narrative of woe and mistreatment of WMIN in conversations about CIS. As I hope I made clear above, I judge each organization on its own merits, and pursue a partnership with each that is commensurate to their ability to deliver impact on our mission.
Of course WMIN has had more than one achievement (e.g. there was a fairly successful WLM), and there is at least one promising planned partnership with a major archive. I don't think I misspoke above when I asserted WMIN has had a modest track record.
I am sorry to see, and not for the first time, a regression from mistakes admitted in the past, back to this entrenched self-justification. If you still think hiring an employee on the basis of grant funds (it was explicitly stated to me that unrelated WMF underspent grant funds were intended to pay for this position) without notifying WMF was blameless, we shall have to disagree. Likewise in reverting to complete denial of any wrongdoing around the elections, despite having already come to admit it was bad governance, though not wilful election fraud (which was never alleged). So we can disagree, but I'm afraid you're not helping the case for WMIN's maturity as a partner organization.
All that said, I will emphasize that WMIN, unlike CIS, is a community-built organization, in the traditional chapter model, and that it is normal and reasonable for it to take some time to mature and come into its own. Indeed, acknowledging this is so is what begat the "Catalyst" models in the first place. As I stated above, I look forward to the time when WMIN is ready, interested, and committed enough to sustain engagement with supporting the mission on a larger scale. So far, the actual capacity and level of commitment has not matched the ambition.
I also offer my own help in thinking strategically about how to grow from WMIN's current position, and would be happy to instate e.g. monthly calls with the WMIN EC to that end. I understand you feel I am not "on your side". I can assure you I am; I am not biased against WMIN, but for impactful work. The sooner WMIN is interested in discussing that with me, rather than slights real and imagined or how the India Programs are Original Sin, the sooner we can establish agreement on worthwhile (and fundable) efforts for WMIN to pursue. I urge you to look past what you term your resentment. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 17:13, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I did not ask why you answered the question at all, I asked why the question was on double standards and outsourcing and you chose to attack WMIN instead of answering the question directly. Thank you for acknowledging that this was off-topic. I challenged India Programs in public to compare what they achieved to what the chapter/community achieved and do a cost/ benefit comparison. They refused because they knew it would show how much of a better job was done by the chapter/ community. I challenge you to do a comparison between what CIS achieved in the last 2 years of the grant and what the chapter achieved and do a cost/ benefit analysis. You will know who did a good job and who has done a modest one. When the board rejected our FDC appeal they applauded our work at the same time whereas you said something different in your initial statement. Thank you for acknowledging the fact that we have had more than one successful project in the last year. As I said we did not employ the person just on the basis of grant funds, there was a plan B for backup. Yes, the then EC misunderstood part of the grant usage rules and we made requisite requests which you graciously accepted. My moot point is there may have been a misunderstanding on how funds could be used, however there was a backup plan and we would have been able to clear dues had WMF not repurposed the grant. We have not admitted anything of that sort, we admitted there was a lacunae and have committed to filling the gap. We have strategic plans in place, we do not have money to hire full time staff to execute them. And no, it is not possible for volunteers to fit in, if you feel that it would be possible I invite you to come with open arms and try to do so in India. What will we do with the car you offer when there is no money for petrol? We are tired of pushing the car in the hope of getting petrol along the way somewhere. Anyways, this is not the right forum for this conversation and I will not be commenting further. Thank you for your response to my initial comment, I appreciate the positive change in your tone. AroundTheGlobe (talk) 17:51, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My apologies for coming to this conversation late; I have been travelling on work and had asked Asaf to respond on my behalf. I have a few overall comments to make, and I hope they will not be seen as off-topic.
First, that we (Garfield, Sydney and I) had very constructive conversations with both CIS and WMIN (Bishakha joined us for the meetings with WMIN as an observer; Asaf unfortunately had visa difficulties and couldn't join us) in February. We also had a community meetup in Bangalore, and three IRC conversations with community members. As I've said on the mailing list, we made the decision not to publish 'official' site visit reports this first year of the process, in which we are all learning and building trust together. CIS and WMIN are welcome to publish any part of our shared note taking or report back as they see appropriate, and I think they are working together on this. I'd like to believe that particularly with the WMIN conversation, we laid a significant portion of the past to rest, seeing it as unproductive and unhelpful to the progress of the chapter and the Indian community/communities to keep repeating complaints and strictures against situations that many of us were not involved in at the time.
Secondly, we all agreed that the potential for growth in India and its importance in the global community) is so immense - and its complexity and diversity simultaneously such a challenge and opportunity - that there is more than enough for us all to do: whether volunteer, paid staff, chapter or allied organisation. Obviously the challenge is how to coordinate and complement this work well. As someone who has worked most of my life in India as both an activist and paid staff in multiple movements and communities, I'd like to reiterate that a range of combinations is helpful - agile, volunteer-led work (campaigns, for instance) to more cumbersome and repeated work by organisations (partnerships, for instance) to supporting volunteer-led growth with resourced (staff, money, tools, data...) interventions (a combination of campaigns and partnerships, for instance). I strongly believe it's unhelpful to think of this as an 'either/or' situation, rather thinking of it as a 'both/and' or win-win process when it works well. Obviously the work of the different language communities, WMIN and CIS are offering us lessons on what works and what doesn't, for both content acquisition and production and community generation and growth.
Finally, good governance and effective financial systems are a key foundational aspect for programmatic effectiveness (though I agree, not the only aspect), and we are committed to supporting the chapter build these as it continues its work in the community. Again, I'd like to repeat Asaf's point that we exist to support impactful work; I would like to believe that the positive tenor of our conversations in February continues as we do so. thanks, ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 05:59, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I have just one request, make WMF's assessment of CISA2K public. Bring transparency first, then think of this CISA2K proposal. Thanks. -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 18:26, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see no point in community engagement with this proposal to improve it without the knowledge of WMF's assessment. Trying to make improvements without any idea of the feedback will just lead to poor quality. Also, I do not see the need for this public grant application process when pretty much every thing else seems to be behind closed doors. I believe you (& WMF) will have a better idea on whether to fund this proposal or not based on your internal appraisal of the performance of CIS-A2K than community members here who have seen only the plan and only parts of the implementation of the programme by CIS-A2K for which they were already funded. Prad2609 (talk) 18:41, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • ansumang AroundTheGlobe Ravidreams One way to strengthen Wikimedia India would be to quit seeking comment from the Wikimedia Foundation and seek more comment from other Wikimedia chapters. If you report your expenses and projects to other Wikimedia chapters and you make friends in other countries who will review your projects, and if you review the projects of chapters in other countries, then it is much more likely that WM India grant requests will be funded more completely and with more confidence. Before you submit a grant request, say that "persons A and B in Wikimedia Pacific Ocean had these comments on our grant request and support our proposal", then there will be less problems. The Wikimedia Foundation is not seeking to lead the chapters or tell them what to do; their staff do not have time to manage and they want the chapters and organizations to sort themselves.
The CIS has a big advantage over WM India in that it is already an international organization with experience working with non-Indian people, and they are able to write for an international audience. There is a lot of difference between Western and Indian culture, because Western people want information that makes no sense to request from Indian people and likewise Indian people want to share information that Western people have trouble understanding. Also there are a lot of ways that the international movement just is not fair to people in India, and I wish for people to promote the Indian community more and become more fair. I as a participant in the United States would like to see more proposals come from small community groups in India such as WM India, and if you call on me, I will give comments on proposals and try to get others to comment also. Likewise, we in the United States would like comments from Indian editors on our proposals, because we need international comment as well.
If you think this is workable then stay in touch with me. I want to see all success for India. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:37, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My posts above were only in response to comments from WMF, since WMIN was mentioned I was forced to answer. Besides, for your information, myself and others from WMIN are in touch with several other chapters. Likewise, I met you when you came to India and remain open to engaging with anyone who believes in free knowledge. AroundTheGlobe (talk) 16:16, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
AroundTheGlobe Have WMIN apply for grants and when you do, ping me and I will bring your proposal to WM New York City for discussion and get you comments. Whatever support you already have I hope that you would like to get even more. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:21, 5 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q4[edit]

They put their report from the community's normal success. I am a Bangla Wikipedian, I know that for the Bangla Wikipedia, more contents comes from Bangaladeshi people ( only max 5 people including me works from India). So how can you put the stats for Bangla Wikipedia report represent your success?? Jayantanth (talk) 03:42, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(assuming your placing the question in this section is directing it at me.)
In my reading of the report, I am not seeing A2K taking credit for Bangla growth. In fact, I am seeing A2K explicitly state

"It is difficult for the CIS-A2K program to either take direct credit for the growth or direct blame for the lack of it in the Indian language Wikimedia projects. However, we believe that we have been one of the factors — and sometimes a key factor — in impacting the growth of the Wikimedia projects and communities in India since the commencement of the project."

That seems a reasonable statement to me, and the graph you point to also includes communities A2K does not even claim to have been involved with, such as Nepali. My understanding is that they are there precisely to provide context for comparison with "organic" growth. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 05:17, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If I assumed that they had not claimed that Stats as their success at their report, it means it was normal development by the active volunteers. So CIS failed/not achieved their project and plans. Are you agreed?Jayantanth (talk) 17:32, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Jayanta's concern is valid and the report is misleading. The section concerned is titled "Tangible impacts" but makes observations about Wikipedias where it had no role. For example, it says:

//It is important to note that Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Nepali Wikipedias where the number of Active Editors were declining earlier have shown a remarkable turnaround. The efforts of the A2K program, especially in Telugu and Kannada, over the last 4 months could have resulted in this positive change. //

By mentioning "especially in Telugu and Kannada", it intends to say CIS-A2K also had a role in Tamil Wikipedia. But, CIS-A2K had zero role in Tamil Wikipedia's growth. This kind of ambiguity in reporting should be avoided. General commentary on Indian Wikimedia projects shall be published as stand alone reports.--Ravi (talk) 17:43, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Eligibility Criteria[edit]

Winifred, from the Eligibility Criteria, the organization must ensure that:

 It has a record of either:
   Successfully completing two grants from WMF; OR
   Successfully completing one grant from WMF and participating in one fundraising campaign as a payment-processor; OR
   Participating in two fundraising campaigns as a payment processor;

How does CIS qualify on these?

Vishnu, I couldn't help but notice some troll comments on this discussion page which pointed out at the Rent (listed here as part of the expenses) going to a Advisory board member of Wikimedia Foundation. Is this true?

From the interactions I've had during the visits to the CIS office, I've learned that the CIS office is the property belonging to a WMF Advisory board member in Domlur, Bangalore. I noticed that Naveen has pointed out in one of the comments below that the same advisory board member is also part of the CIS's board as well. If this is true, does this not amount to sheer Conflict of Interest?

If I'm not mistaken, the Conflict of Interest violates the Karnataka Societies Act as well in Karnataka state under which CIS is registered? Can you clarify? Winifred, Has WMF taken a note of this? --H P Nadig (talk) 18:03, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi H P Nadig thanks for seeking this clarification. Please note that Achal Prabhala is a member of the registered society. He was also an initial member of CIS Board. However, when CIS office was rented from Achal Prabhala's family he was asked to step down from the board to avoid any violation under the Karnataka Societies Act. Please note that this office was hired much before the current WMF grant was made. Also note that the current WMF grant had budget for the Delhi office rent, which was earlier India Program's office. Moreover, we are seeking only part of the Office Expenses (i.e. Rs. 600,000/- out of Rs. 3,360,000/-) as housing costs of the CIS-A2K team. Please see here for a detailed disclosure and how we had arrived these housing costs. Hari, thanks again for flagging this important question. Please let us know if we could share more details. --Visdaviva (talk) 18:25, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, kindly shed more light on this.
  1. This lists him as the present Advisory board member of Wikimedia Foundation. Even if part of the funds provided here is going to an Advisory board member of WMF, does it qualify for Conflict of Interest or not?
  2. Is the WMF Advisory board member presently on the CIS board or not?
  3. Is the WMF Advisory board member receiving any part of these funds as rent or not? --H P Nadig (talk) 20:00, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
H P Nadig, most certainly.
  1. No. From the current WMF grant no money was/is being paid to Achal Prabhala, whether it be rent or in any other form.
  2. As mentioned above Achal Prabhala is not presently on the CIS Board.
  3. Same as no. 1 above.--Visdaviva (talk) 20:17, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, I'm afraid the responses are leading to something that is quite ambiguous. Again,
You have mentioned in the earlier comment the words when CIS office was rented from Achal Prabhala's family - does this mean the WMF Advisory Board member's family is the beneficiary of the rent that is sourced from these funds? --H P Nadig (talk) 03:40, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

U say achal has stepped down, but his name is listed as representative of CIS here on april 20, 14. : http://web.archive.org/web/20140501083830/http://netmundial.br/blog/2014/04/20/netmundial-announces-list-of-registered-participants/ --AdvisoryParty (talk) 10:47, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi, thanks for seeking this clarification and sorry to have sounded ambiguous earlier. Neither Achal Prabhala nor Achal Prabha's family received any money from the WMF grant. Hope this helps. --Visdaviva (talk) 06:39, 2 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Visdaviva: this is getting quite confusing for those reading this. Here is a summary that one gets. Please clarify if not correct.
  1. CIS is on property that belongs to Achal Prabhala? Yes from your earlier statement
  2. CIS has Achal Prabhala as a founder board member? Seems to be what is being said here.
  3. CIS pays rent to Achal Prabhala and therefore he was dropped from the board of members in order to conform to Karnataka Societies Act rules.
  4. Neither ... received any money from the WMF grant - putting the previous statement would suggest that you are stating that the rent fraction was paid for by some other agency.
  5. presumably the rent sought in this proposal would be used for a different location in Bangalore?
Maybe better to use the serial numbers in response rather than break the indentations and formatting with inline comments. Shyamal (talk) 08:50, 2 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Clarification about CIS Board and Rent[edit]

Here are some clarifications about the CIS Board as there seems to be some ambiguity that has stemmed because of the errors in CIS's Annual Reports 2013-12 and 2012-11. We apologise for this error and we are taking steps to correct these errors.
Please note that at the time of incorporation of CIS (on 4/7/2008) the following individuals were members of the CIS Society

Sunil Abraham – President
Achal Prabhala – Vice President
Lawrence Liang – Secretary
Nishant Shah – Treasurer
Atul Ramachandra – Member
Subbiah Arunachalam – Member
Vibodh Parthasarathi – Member

Achal Prabhala resigned from the CIS Board in Jan 2010 before CIS moved into its current office in Domlur, which belongs to Achal Prabhala's family. This was done on the advice of our auditors, and in CIS' own interests in continuing to uphold the highest standards of governance.
However, he was an invitee to the CIS Board Meetings dated December 18, 2010, March 23, 2011 and September 3-4, 2011. In the Annual Reports for 2009-10 and 2010-11 he has been correctly listed as an Invitee to the CIS Board Meeting.
Unfortunately while preparing Annual Reports for 2011-12 and 2012-13, a staff member in charge of communications cut and pasted from previous Annual Reports and continued to list him as Invitee, when in-fact he has never attended any CIS Board meeting after September 3-4, 2011.
He continues to be one of the Members of the Society. We have, after clearing conflict of interest with our Board, contracted Achal Prabhala to help with strategy, editing, representation at meetings etc., the most recent example being NetMundial in Sao Paulo [for which we only reimbursed costs]. For these services we have paid him using money from the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation and Kusuma Trust.

As on date the following individuals are members of the society:

Lawrence Liang
Subbiah Arunachalam
Vibodh Parthasarathi
Jayna Kothari
Kavita Philip
Sunil Abraham
Nishant Shah
Achal Prabhala

Please note, that as on date, there are only three individuals who are part of the CIS' Board:

Lawrence Liang (Chairman of the board)
Subbiah Arunachalam (Board Member)
Vibodh Partasarathi (Board Member)

Other persons listed as attending the CIS board meetings are invitees and they are not legally members of CIS' Board.
We are happy to answer any further questions.

About the confusion as to whether Achal Prabhala or his family got paid from the WMF grant to CIS: Please note that when the India Program was transferred to CIS, the Delhi office where the team was sitting was also transferred to CIS. The current grant from WMF has made provision to pay for the rent of the Delhi office, which will continue until June 30, 2014 (which is when the current grant will come to an end).

In the current proposal made to the FDC, we did not propose for any specific cost towards either the rent of the Delhi office or Bangalore office as the CIS-A2K team has completely integrated, and some members of the team sit in the Bangalore office and one member sits in the Delhi office. Instead, we have asked for hosting costs of the team members. We have explained in detail here to a question from a community member how we arrived at the hosting cost (which is mentioned as Office Expenses in the Budget). It should be noted that CIS incurs an estimated Rs. 280,000/- per month as costs, which includes rents of the Delhi and Bangalore offices and also utilities (electricity, water, office maintenance, etc.), communication costs (broadband & telephone), postage and courier and pantry/kitchen expenses. Out of this total monthly estimate, we have sought to budget Rs. 50,000/- from the FDC grant towards hosting cost that is less than the equivalent per-head proportion of the CIS-A2K team.
Please let us know if any further clarification is required.--Visdaviva (talk) 15:34, 2 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Vishnu, thanks for the details about the membership. It looks like the 6 year old organization registered in 2008 has only 8 members. Of which 3 founding members serve as board members for a term of 3 years without any election process and based on consensus. New members need board approval whereas all current board members are founding members. And these board members decide how the 10% organisational fee is spent. The current executive director is another founding member. Adding him with two distinguished fellows three founding members are in the organisations's payroll. Another founding member gets rental revenue. In all these 6 years, you have added only 2 new members. Asaf, since WMF and FDC place so much emphasis on good governance, how do you view this organizational structure? Why can't this be considered a coterie?--Ravi (talk) 03:24, 3 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, the explanation about rental is ambiguous again. The total office expense is 280,000 INR per month. You can say that WMF grant is not going to the Bangalore office's rent paid to Achal Prabhala only if you deduct 90,000 INR (Bangalore office rent) from this calculation. Then, the per head cost per month is 190,000 divided by 17 which comes to 11176 INR. Then, the 5 member CIS - A2K team needs to pay 55,880 INR only as monthly office expenses. Again, this is bloated as the Delhi office expenses is added in the calculation where only 1 CIS-A2K member is sitting. So, CIS-A2K needs to pay a lot less than 50,000 INR if you take in to account the COI case.
Also, could you explain why the office admin expenses for last year was 902,160 INR? This is 50% more than currently proposed amount. It has also a clear allocation for rent costing to 52030 INR per month. If this had to the Delhi office rent, then this is a waste of money for housing 1 CIS-A2K member. If this had gone towards Bangalore office expenses, then this is COI. all these calcualtions are irrelevant as you have conceded already that the 10% institutional development fee can be spent on CIS's operational expenses too.

Please explain.--Ravi (talk) 03:43, 3 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We completely understand the need to clear ambiguity on this aspect and we are committed to providing all the details to the community and to the FDC. Apologies, as we will be restating some of the facts from above so that the clarification is more cohesive.
CIS has rented Achal Prabhala's family property in February 2010, more than two years before WMF made the grant to CIS. Before renting the Bangalore office in 2010, CIS and Achal Prabhala took appropriate steps to avoid any potential COI within CIS by having him resign from the CIS Board and thus not play a role in day-to-day governance of CIS. From CIS' perspective there is no “COI” with the rent for the Bangalore premises it occupies. It may be noted that this is a step slightly in excess of what is required by the law that governs the societies such as CIS in Karnataka (the Indian state where CIS is registered in).
More than two years later, when the prospect of a Wikimedia grant for A2K came up, CIS was (as it has always been) open about the fact that it's Bangalore office is rented from the family of a former Board member of CIS. This fact was brought to the notice of the WMF along with other financial governance issues, such as the range of present donors, future funding proposals, CIS' positions on issues of public advocacy, etc. (It should be noted that Achal Prabhala's connection between both institutions also resulted in CIS having the privilege of helping WMIN get off its feet legally and organisationally, and in hosting numerous Bangalore community Wiki meet-ups, in keeping with CIS' mission, long before there was any formal financial relationship between CIS and the WMF). There was no further action necessary to stem potential or perceived COI, as Achal Prabhala is on the Advisory Board of the WMF, which – as clarified by the WMF in the FAQ issued at the time of the grant was announced – is “a role that is not involved in governance or management” of the WMF. Further to this, a clarification was also provided by Sunil Abraham (Executive Director, CIS) on the Wikimedia India mailing list in response to a query by a volunteer.
The ongoing WMF grant to CIS does not involve any payments for office expenses outside of the Delhi office, which, at the time in 2012, was solely used by A2K program staff. Since then, A2K program staff have distributed themselves between two offices and fully integrated within CIS. Our current grant proposal, therefore, includes a notional (accounted) cost of operation which we calculate as a fraction of the total operational cost of running CIS.
From CIS' perspective, there is no COI with including the cost of rental or our primary office space, one that CIS was renting for two years prior to the commencement of the current A2K grant, in our estimation of total operational expenses.
Please note however that, as already explained here, the total monthly operational costs of CIS are estimated at Rs. 280,000/-, of which the per-head proportional cost (for 17 full time staff members) works out to Rs. 16,500/-. For 5 CIS-A2K staff, the appropriate notional accounting cost of the team works out to Rs. 82,500/- per month. In our original estimation, we have asked for a sum of Rs. 50,000/-, which is proportionately less than the actual hosting costs of the CIS-A2K team. Under a situation where we exclude the cost of renting out primary office premises (i.e Bangalore) from CIS' total operational costs, we would be working with a figure of Rs. 190,000/- per month. The proportional per-head cost, with a 17 member staff strength, in this instance, would work out to Rs. 11,000/-. In this case the proportionate cost of hosting the 5 member CIS-A2K team would work out to Rs. 55,000/-. As you will see, this is Rs. 5,000 (or US$ 90) more than what we are currently asking for in the current proposal. Nevertheless, we would be happy to re-estimate according to figures as just described, if the FDC were to ask us to. It should be noted, however, that the budgeted operational costs of the CIS-A2K program as a proportion of total CIS operational costs is unlikely to go down or change.
If the FDC prefers or thinks that the CIS-A2K team hosting costs are beyond the scope of the proposal and suggests that we remove it in toto, CIS will honour this suggestion.--Visdaviva (talk) 05:38, 7 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Clarification about the eligibility of CIS for 2013-2014 Round 2[edit]

For more information about why CIS is considered eligible to participate in this round of the FDC process even though CIS is not a recognized Wikimedia organization, please see the board resolution. This document explains the WMF Board's rationale for including CIS in the FDC process during the current round.

In order to implement the resolution, the following requirements have been waived for CIS for this round of the FDC process, as indicated in the eligibility checklist for this round, since CIS is not a Wikimedia organization:

  1. It has been formally acknowledged by the WMF Board of Trustees as a Wikimedia-affiliated entity;
  2. It has a non-expired signed agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation (e.g., chapter agreement);
  3. It has a record of either:
    • Successfully completing two grants from the Wikimedia Foundation; OR
    • Successfully completing one grant and participating in one fundraising campaign as a payment-processor; OR
    • Participating in two fundraising campaigns as a payment processor;

CIS is still subject to the following eligibility requirements:

  1. It has submitted a letter of intent to seek an allocation from the FDC;
  2. It complies with contractual obligations agreed with the Wikimedia Foundation, such as those in chapter agreements, fundraiser agreements, grant agreements, or other formal agreements; and
  3. It complies with all relevant US and local laws.

Best regards, Winifred Olliff (FDC Support Team) talk 15:41, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Questions for CIS-A2K[edit]

Segregating organic metrics[edit]

How do you attribute or separate the performance of CIS-A2K from the organic efforts and the growth of the community? Ravi (talk) 11:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Ravi, as always appreciate your active engagement with CIS-A2K's work. Responses below.

Vishnu, thanks for responding.

Let me give few examples to illustrate my question.

You have mentioned Lilavati's daughters project which generated 23 articles as one of your performances against plans at

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/India_Access_To_Knowledge/Draft_Work_plan_July_2014_-_June_2015/Odia

But, the articles were infact written by community members. The same project runs in various Indic language versions where CIS-A2K is not involved. There are many such inter language projects like Translators without borders working on medical articles. Anyone can introduce such projects to any community and this has been long done without involvement of any agencies like CIS-A2K. How can regular content generation count this under your performance?

Please see the project page of Lilavati's daughters on Meta and in the individual languages to understand the on-wiki effort put in by the CIS-A2K team. It is important to note that just introducing a project is not enough.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:12, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


//In the past events, CISA2K has never produced any real exact outcomes after the event as it projected beforehand!!? And if there is any outcome in one or two events, it's because of the volunteers not A2K. But yes they can easily claim as A2K's achievement because it's working officially and there is no way we can measure that.

And there has been no growth at Odia Wikipedia because of A2K, as it claims. The active community is happy because it gets financial support easily for the events!//

- This is a comment from Ansuman, who is an administrator from Odisha Wikipedia where you claim to have done significant work.

Please see the larger discussion on this claim here. Another Odia community member has different things to say about CIS-A2K' work in Odia.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:12, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


//They put their report from the community's normal success. I am a Bangla Wikipedian, I know that for the Bangla Wikipedia, more contents comes from Bangaladeshi people ( only max 5 people including me works from India). So how can you put the stats for Bangla Wikipedia report represent your success?? //

This is a comment from Jayantanth, who is an administrator from Bengali Wikipedia, an EC member and I hope a key contact for your future Bengali Wikipedia plan.

I know you already have a disclaimer in place as follows:

//"It is difficult for the CIS-A2K program to either take direct credit for the growth or direct blame for the lack of it in the Indian language Wikimedia projects. However, we believe that we have been one of the factors — and sometimes a key factor — in impacting the growth of the Wikimedia projects and communities in India since the commencement of the project."//

Please see the clarification here. We understand the potential misreading and will be careful in future.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:12, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Nevertheless, 7 language area workplans is a major chunk of your proposed plan. Besides lack or impossibility of tools to measure your impact objectively, the ambiguity regarding CIS-A2K's relationshiop with communities as exposed by these comments is a concern.

One way to have a better idea of the impact of CIS-A2K's various programs is to submit bilateral reports from the respective communities and participants of the program.

For example, the language communities can be asked to submit half yearly reports describing the nature and results of collaboration with CIS-A2K. This needs to be an independent, community vetted (not written by one or two), ecxhaustive report profiling efforts, issues, failures, misgiving, results and to the level which the community would give credit for CIS-A2K's role.

The same can be done by participants of the Train the Trainer program after 6 months and 1 year registering their efforts, outcome and the level which they would give credit for CIS-A2K.

Right now, everything is unilateral report from CIS-A2K.--Ravi (talk) 09:07, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

These suggestions about reporting are very useful. In fact, when we began with the language strategy we did suggest a similar approach as part of program evaluation, last year. See the idea of Community Advisory Team and Quarterly Community Survey. However, in spite of our best efforts these ideas could not take off. For instance, we have written to Ansuman (from Odia community) to be part of this Community Advisory Team but he flatly denied. CIS-A2K completely appreciates the idea of bilateral reports from the respective communities. In fact there could be multi-lateral reports, which would include reports from WMIN and WMF. CIS-A2K program has brought in high levels of accountability and transparency to the movement and we would like to continuously learn and improve and correct ourselves at every given opportunity.
For Train the Trainer program participants, post event feedback was collected from all the participants and is available [1]. As you will note all our Community Strengthening Initiatives have a participant feedback component in the plans. Do share inputs on how we could do this better.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:12, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q5[edit]

What is the (subtle) pressure, if any, on the community to achieve the expected results? The plan is quite ambitious but looks completely top down in approach. Do you expect the community to be burnt out?--Ravi (talk) 11:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • It is difficult to give a simple and direct answer to the question about pressure and burn-out, as the experiences change from community to community and also within the community. For instance, some Wikimedians within a language community were concerned when an activity was not successful and get more involved and bothered, whereas some are ok and some just move on after doing whatever they can and so on. We have been following the strategy of focus language area interventions for exactly a year now and have not experienced a community level burn-out, which is a rare possibility. Even while doing off-wiki activities like community events, outreach, etc. we try to ensure that the CIS-A2K does majority of the leg work and conserves the volunteer time for more productive purposes.
We are cautiously ambitious about the plans. There were many more ideas that were thrown at us, which we could not accommodate. For instance, one of the Urdu Wikipedia admins wrote to us asking to take up the development of Urdu Wikipedia project by growing the community in India, we have requests from institutions to partner with us for Wikimedia work that we are unable to honour currently, etc.
Top-down approach: Could you please say more about the top-down approach, probably citing some examples from any one of the 21 plans? Thanks!--Visdaviva (talk) 17:36, 16 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My question about pressure and burning out were a result of the following observations:

Regarding Top-down approach,

Your own comments regarding Odia Wikipedia and the wording

//overload of work on a small community this project could not be continued// hints a top-down approach.

Many communities undertake many such to-do items based on their capacity. Some get done. Some don't. But it is never felt as work load.

Even for non-existent communities in incubator, goals and numbers are set

Example: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/India_Access_To_Knowledge/Draft_Work_plan_July_2014_-_June_2015/Making_the_Tulu_Wikipedia_Live

Who exactly sets these all these fancy numbers and goals for all these projects?

If this is a bottom-up approach, why do I see no unique program for each language? Why do all languages have the same formula of Institutional partnership + content donation + content generation + small city meetups?

If the same pill is given for each language, then indeed it hints at Top-down approach.--Ravi (talk) 09:07, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This does seem like a top down approach. There is not anything wrong with that depending on the project; lots of projects need a top-down approach. For CIS work to be sustainable though it does need to also have grassroots/bottom up participation also. Who are some of the community volunteers who support CIS projects? Why have they not yet commented on this grant proposal? Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:47, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q6[edit]

WMF considers yourself as one of it's mission-aligned partners. One of WMF's strategic priorities is to "doubling the percentage of female editors to 25 percent and increasing the number of Global South editors to 37 percent". However, your proposed work plan and past activities are focused on relatively low impact areas. Being a major partner of WMF, please clarify how you plan to achieve these strategic goals?. --Ravi (talk) 20:57, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Could you please clarify what you mean by low impact areas and also state what the high impact areas are? As one of the Wikimedia movement partners we would like to see that we collectively achieve the strategic goals and we are doing everything earnestly possible as is demonstrated in our work plans. Our projected goals against each plan are more informed by the strengths and opportunities of the Indic projects and associated communities that we have and would like to work with, than by the WMF's strategic goals. Moreover, all the goals cumulatively could be the sizeable two cents of contribution towards the strategic goals.--Visdaviva (talk) 18:57, 21 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, my question is very straight forward. Can you quantify your contribution for the WMF's goal of "doubling the percentage of female editors to 25 percent and increasing the number of Global South editors to 37 percent"?--Ravi (talk) 19:53, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Mission aligned goals are really hard to achieve or measure. I do not expect a definite answer from CIS about this and feel that the organization has already said enough on this topic. Most of their projects address this. I am happy with what CIS proposes to do. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:49, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
All proposed targets across the plans is what the language communities can contribute. CIS-A2K will play catalytic role.--Visdaviva (talk) 17:17, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q7[edit]

It is interesting that you mention

//CIS-A2K will do a value for money analysis to see if the workshop/training has helped the volunteers and the Wikimedia projects, based on which we will increase the initiatives that have been more successful in the coming year.//

Are there any such ROI analysis publicly available for your past activities? How has this learning influenced your future work plan?--Ravi (talk) 20:57, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

P. S. It is amusing that the only place you mention of an ROI analysis is where money was directly spent as scholarship for volunteers. Why can't I find evidence of such thinking for other programs where your staff are completely involved?--Ravi (talk) 06:13, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We do not yet have such an analysis and propose to develop some models.
Regarding the point about whether this is only being done for scholarship for volunteers... NO. It could be noted that each of our plans has a detailed budget and we have even mentioned that this will allow us for mission level transparency and accountability at each plan level, which would require ROI analysis. We recognize the fact that for some plans it is impossible to do such an analysis. Also this will be a lot of work and may not immediately result in perfect models. But we are open to learning. Will share and involve the community and WMIN in the process as and when we get to it and look forward to your inputs too. Do point to anything interesting that you have come across for us to examine.--Visdaviva (talk) 06:47, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, I agree that we cannot compare apples and organges. But, we can certainly compare organges and organges. Based on your internal analysis, if you were asked to sort your programs based on high impact for low cost, how would you tabulate them? Volunteer communities who have limited resources in terms of time, man power and money do this kind of math all the time. Just because we have plentiful resources availabe from WMF fund doesn't mean we shall indulge in repeated experiments with no way to measure the impact. Because, people who donate can definitely buy more organges for the same money :)--Ravi (talk) 20:02, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is difficult to do this tabulation. We have to look at this questions from multiple angles. The major defining parameters will be the size the population, current size and connect with the community, institutional partnerships and language anchors' capabilities. Sorry that we are unable to provide a simpler answer. --Visdaviva (talk) 22:41, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, Here is how I would do it. The plan for Santali Wikipedia aims to create 100 articles at the cost of 522,500 INR. Per article cost comes around 5225 INR. The plan for Telugu Wikipedia aims to create 4201 articles at at the cost of 1,570,000 INR. Per article cost comes around 373 INR. If you discount the articles that will be created organically anyway, the cost per article will go up drastically. For example, your next year goals for Odia has been surpassed already and goals for Bengali Wikipedia will be achieved by organic growth rates itself. If you compare this cost with the Tamil Wikipedia article contest, we had a target of expanding 500 stubs to 15 kb at the cost of 31,000 INR. The goal has been met. The cost per article comes around 62 INR. Here I am not comparing your language plan with community strengthening iniative. All costs are measured on the basis of article creation which is one of the very important output. So, I would this consider an orange to orange comparison. I am aware of the caveat that total budget is not spent on a sole goal of article creation alone. I will agree that the potential of each community to provide high impact for low cost varies and the need and right of a community to produce free knowledge should not be dismissed on the basis of cost alone. I won't claim my method is flawless. What I propose with this analysis is that there should be some kind of objective measure to analyse what you do and come with a cost / benefit analysis which will lead to redefining and prioritizing instead of flatly saying that objective measurement is not possible.--Ravi (talk) 11:13, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi, thanks for sharing this method. We will certainly take this into account. However, it is not clear why you think we are //flatly saying that objective measurement is not possible//. Isn't it the contrary that we have said above and precisely why we done the budget mapping the way we did.--Visdaviva (talk) 07:43, 2 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, Asaf had earlier mentioned here as follows: //Was the catalyzation attempt worth the investment? Hard to say. We cannot (yet) associate a specific amount with the value of recruiting a single active editor.// And you have mentioned that there is no simple answer. I will not blame you either as this is a surprisingly recurring observation by FDC for all the chapters too. Among the various parameters you have mentioned, you can redefine the size of the population parameter as pageviews generated by the project per article per unit population as a factor in calculating the benefit. Another way would be to do a cost / benefit analysis based on the number of very active editors (those who do 100 or 1000 edits per month) we plan to find and nurture. Unlike overall article count, this could be a data that can be easily tracked and proven. For example, we know our contributors whom we found using media contest, essay contests, news coverage etc., I appreciate the detailed budget and goals you have set which can make it easier to do a comparison. Even without such details, volunteers in communities weigh cost / benefits intuitively on the basis of time and effort al the time. --Ravi (talk) 13:30, 2 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q8[edit]

For each language community plan, you have listed the names of respective language community contributors who have given inputs. Yet there are no on-wiki discussions, feedback and evolution of the language plans. From my understanding speaking with some of those community members, most of the inputs were given personally in meet-ups and over telephonic conversations. You have mentioned that This discussion was an essential learning to work together with community. Yet, none of the proposed work plans have any sort of on-wiki discussion.

If this has been done, there should be no reason why Jayantanth from Bengali Wikipedia and Ansuman from Odia Wikipedia, both your language community partners, have to provide their feedback and criticism at this stage here.

Another concern is CIS-A2K's inability to engage the whole of Bengali Wikipedia community including contributors from Bangaladesh.

This casts serious concerns over how involved was each community in drafting the work plans. Based on numerous past experiences, any plan without active community participation and initiation will fail.

Please comment--Ravi (talk) 20:57, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Ravi, you are right about the observations about Bangla plan. However, in the case of Odia it is not true. The three new language plan drafts (Bangla, Hindi and Marathi) still need much more community consultation than the rest of the four language plans. Like last time, by June, we are committed to make sure that community participation is solicited, encouraged, and made possible to the best extent possible. We have been upfront about this and you will see that the three new plans do not yet list any contributors. Also as stated in the methodology section, a language "plan is not set in stone and will be periodically (right now quarterly) reviewed and revised if required. The intention of this work plan is to continually ensure better design and better engagement." Please also see our reply no. 1 here on this talk page. We do see the need to have clarified this better and thanks to your question we did it here :) --Visdaviva (talk) 18:33, 21 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Visdaviva, the expected target for Odia Wikipedia by June 2015 has already been crossed. It seems it will cross the dream target also soon. Isn't this a good opportunity to showcase how you revise the targets based on community input? Looking forward for a community discussion regarding this on-wiki in Odia Wikipedia.--Ravi (talk) 21:24, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have to clear my position towards CIS activities for Bengali community in India. as said Ravi that //Jayanta ---your language community partners//. I am not a partner with CIS, I am just trying to utilized their resources ( comes from WMF) towords my community for the shake of my mother tongue. Because being a EC member of WMIN, we could not do nothing without grants.

I am pointing out the main objection ,specifically Bengali Wikipedia/Wikimedia ( Wikipedia, Wikisource,Wikibooks,Wikitionary) project. Past two year CIS stretched their project without diccussion/suggestion from Indian Bengali Wikipedia Community. They had their own common plan & program for all Indic Wikipedia, pushed to us. They have not realized , they are always tried to give the dosed same pill for different Diseases.

As an example or the running year Work plan April 2013 - June 2014, they set their own imazinary goal which may be reached or not. But that is not our Bengali community desire.

This year the community proposed some suggestive plans, but they put their proposed Own Bangla work plan before submit our suggestion. Rather than concentrate community proposal , you are more concentrate your own plan and program ( like OCR..).So if this continuation will happened to coming year for specifically for Bengali wikipedia, It will be may be unacceptable to small Bengali Wikipedia Community ( Indian) to work with CIS. And we are doing very well without CIS at online work. Also I have to say their support in all respect in ground reality is brilliant with quick responsive of our past project. another aprt our community is very happy their so prompts action towards grants contingencies for Kolkata bookfair projects. And I shall continue my support towards CIS at my level best for my mother tongue. Jayantanth (talk) 13:57, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Jayantanth, we have always deeply appreciated your engagement with our work and the passion you have shown to develop the Bangla Wikimedia projects. We certainly take your feedback on the plans into consideration. While we managed to discuss the plans with community members in Telugu, Odia and Konkani, please note that the plans are still drafts. As we clarified here on this page, we will continue to seek feedback on the individual language plans until June 2014. So please continue to offer feedback and suggestions on the Bangla plan. Apologies for this confusion.--Visdaviva (talk) 15:29, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q9[edit]

Google Bus program is aimed at the "Telugu speaking region" of Andra Pradesh. Does it mean than all future small city outreaches and other programs of institutional building will be limited to the newly defined Andhra Pradesh state? Why leave out the Telangana state which is also a Telugu speaking region officially? Since your Urdu plans are focused in Hyderabad, do we expect only Urdu related efforts in the newly formed Telangana state?--Ravi (talk) 21:09, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Andhra Pradesh is not yet bifurcated. When it is done we will be focussing on both the future states. Urdu plan is a stand-alone project and is mostly centred around a potential institutional partnership in the making and is not tied to the region.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:14, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for clarifying. --Ravi (talk) 17:43, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q10[edit]

Wikimedia is an internet driven movement. We have ample examples from the communities globally and locally to design and execute programs completely online for zero cost. In this context, why do almost all your programs (notable exception: Resources creation project) involve an anchor staff and associated travel and stay expenses?

Please come up with more near zero cost programs that can be scaled, reproduced and followed by any Wikimedia community.--Ravi (talk) 21:09, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Anchor staff can be necessary. India is one of the most important countries in the world and has one of the least developed and organized Wikimedia communities. Something needs to change. I like the idea of highly-trained staff being on hand to respond to community requests to support training and outreach. CIS might be able to do that. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:13, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ravi, we fully agree with the suggestion about designing zero cost models and more programs that run completely online. There is a vast discussion needed for this topic. However, we need to have mixed approach based on the kind of target users. For example, while targeting all the bloggers, social media users/groups who majorly use Indic languages, online models work really well. We would like to draw examples of pilot projects on You can edit Wikipedia and Odia Wikipedia’s facebook group which were community and program staff driven. But, after running successfully for sometime these groups slowly became less active. We should explore how to sustain such initiatives in the long run. You could share the learning from Tamil community as well. It will be also useful if you could share which of the projects could be done by implementing zero cost models. If you closely look at some of our plans there are many zero cost activities (like using social media effectively for off-wiki engagement, and using social media to get new editors onto WP, social media campaigns, @WeAreWikipedia rotation curation on Twitter). So far we have been able to get massive media coverage (more than 150) for Indic Wikipedia projects in print, web, television and radio with near zero investment. Similarly we are working at the policy level to introduce the IT at School type of projects in schools, which will have more long term benefits. Another idea that we are working towards with TISS (one of our institutional partners) is to create a Digital Knowledge Hub in Indian languages, without any cost for CIS-A2K, which once up could act as a controlled channel to provide access to research sources in Indian languages. This said, there are many (at times first time) interventions which need travel and logistics. But, once it is built, follow-up and subsequent work will be mostly zero cost. Finally, we hope to nurture some of the institutional partnerships such that the benefits to the movement could go on for a long time with less/diminishing costs. --Visdaviva (talk) 15:19, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q11[edit]

Ansuman from Odia Wikipedia, which is one of your key work areas has this to say:

//I mop at Odia Wikipedia and I regularly visit and keep track of edits there. CISA2K has created a lot of mess which need to be cleaned up.//

Please comment--Ravi (talk) 21:49, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We have responded to this accusation and shared it with the larger Odia Wikimedia community on the Odia Wikipedia village pump. Please see here for our response. During our (Subhashish and I) visit to Bhubaneshwar post this accusation, I have even discussed with some Odia Wikimedians and urged them to be open and critical of CIS-A2K's role not just about these stubs but also in general and do hold us accountable keeping in mind the interest of the growth of Odia Wikipedia. During our interactions the active Odia Wikipeidans did not think we had any role in this. Thanks--Visdaviva (talk) 07:12, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Well I'm not talking about those stubs alone! In fact I didn't have that in mind when i said a lot of mess. The workshops which you have done at institutes, the articles which are created need clean-up. Almost all the articles. Few got deleted, few redirected, but still there are many articles.. Now don't ask for the links, help yourself. Go through all the workshop pages and find the articles since 2012. -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 09:58, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
ɑηsuмaη thanks for bringing this up. Would be useful to get a sense of the gravity of the problem. @Psubhashish:, who as you know anchors the Odia plan from CIS-A2K, could throw more light on this and suggest what has been the challenge and learning.--Visdaviva (talk) 10:16, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Creation of stub class articles by newly trained editors esp. students is a larger challenge across the movement. We did face this challenge even in Odia and the community is aware of it. We have had numerous discussions about this of which you also took part in some. Based on the experience of last year's work we have changed our outreach design which gave relatively better quality articles. Some of the Odia community members actively took part in these outreach programs. We will continue to learn and better outreach design.

I do not believe that the CIS-A2K program's in Odia created unmanageably large number of stubs on Odia Wikipedia as you seem to indicate. The total number of stub articles, articles without citations or any such articles you mentioned are significantly low in number (which doesn't mean CIS-A2K will encourage creation of such articles. But, new editors start editing with making a lot of mistakes and improve with time, effort, enough support on and off wiki and follow-up outreach sessions). Please do share any specific suggestions or experience which could improve the quality of articles created by new editors. --Subhashish Panigrahi (talk) 10:32, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, I went through most of the on-wiki discussions regarding CIS-A2K collaboration with Odia community. The glaring reality is that only Ansuman is talking and he is against many of your initiatives. There is no on-wiki community consensus supporting your claims. Asians are so hierarchy conscious that they would rarely speak even if they have a different opinion. A naive and evolving community like Odia Wikipedia could be easily mislead by the needs assessment and goals set by you and can have a direct or indirect influence in the way they create articles. I am not holding you responsbile for systematic creation of stubs. But, when article count milestones are celebrated without an assesment of article quality, it will only encourage more people to do that. Early years of Indic Wikipedias had such "races" :) and resulted in numerous one line stubs.
Subha, Odia Wikipedia has 56% of its pages less than 2 kb. 17% of articles don't even have 200 characters ( A tweet has 140 characters!). The very active editors having more than 100 edits are less than 3 and I would expect that they bear the cleanup burden. So, any education program that is not productive like this is a serious drain of their time and any education program that is poorly implemented and only improved in iterations is a serious burden on community's cleanup backlogs. Yes, newcomers creating stubs and other issues is a global issue. But, it can be managed by existing community only if newcomer enrollment is organic. The problem here is that more newcomers are introduced inorganically by programs and the existing community gets burnt out cleaning that up. The former education program by WMF India programs was heavily criticized by English Wikipedia community. A subsequent proposal for such a program was turned down by the Simple English Wikipedia community. Please don't mislead naive and tiny communities on the effectiveness of this approach and make them their guinea pigs to improve your process.--Ravi (talk) 13:18, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ravi, I completely agree with you that creating stub articles in the name of reaching targets is futile. CIS-A2K program and I personally deeply believe in creating quality open knowledge repositories (like Wikipeidas) in Indian languages. And almost all the Indic Wikipedia communities are increasingly becoming quality conscious. In collaboration with some communities we have explored various measures in encouraging the volunteers to focus on enhancing quality of articles, even if it is part of celebrating milestones like this. Even during our outreach/training programs we try our best to ensure that quality articles are produced by the participants. For instance, please see the articles created as part of one of our outreach workshops. Also you will note from some of the language plans that the communities are very keen to improve the quality of Indic Wikipedias and we are looking to use quality metrics going forward. While Subha may get back with more details about the Odia Wikipedia case in point, I would like to state that systemic creation of stub articles cannot be ascribed to CIS-A2K just because it is working in that language area and with that community. Though you state you do not hold us accountable but you are. And IMHO your points about the Odia Wikipedia community being "hierarchy conscious", that "they would rarely speak even if they have a different opinion", that "it is naive community" and that "CIS-A2K could mislead it" are wrong assumptions. In fact in our experience no Indic community that we have collaborated with so far would fit into this characterization. Let's please not have wrong assumptions about Indic communities.--Visdaviva (talk) 14:17, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, thanks for providing examples for the quality work CIS-A2K has done. The thing about hierarchy was a general comment about asians. Nothing specific to Odia people in particular. Naive is defined in Google this way: (of a person or action) showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment. All Wiki communities exhibit naivety at different instances and levels . Tamil Wikipedia was once naive enough to allow Google project while Bengali Wikipedia nipped it in the bud. Even English Wikipedia was naive enough (or not informed enough) to allow India Education program. So, there is nothing condescending in thinking of someone as naive.--Ravi (talk) 16:35, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Ravi, firstly, it is important to note that our efforts in Odia never created “massive” stubs. Secondly, we are constantly learning from our collective experience (that is Odia community and CIS-A2K program). For example, we have revised the design of the outreach programs with active community consultation to the best of our efforts and Ansuman’s feedback was also useful. See our learning here.
We have actively involved community in all institutional outreach. Upbringing new editors by experienced editors mentoring them during successive follow-up sessions was our focus. This was completely different than the IEP, which was a light touch model. If you even look at all the outreach that CIS-A2K conducted, as part of our existing Odia language plan, most of them had participation and mentoring from experienced editors. Will you then call them any kind of inorganic way of physical outreach? Please note again they were never stub creation-centric or just driven to reach any milestones. Your claim on behalf of the Odia community that it is a burden on them is not right. Odia community members are freely engaging in these programs because they see value to the project and to the community and not because you and I or CIS-A2K program tells them. They are much more in touch with the ground reality of the programs. May I once again state that most of the programs that we did in Odia are done with community consultation.
  • Some stubs articles do get created because teaching students about Odia typing and then writing encyclopedic content by using sources is a time taking process. As we all have experienced how new editors learn editing over time and this starts with the workshops. CIS-A2K has put some efforts for building relationship between new editors and experienced editors by facilitating meet-ups and along with the on-wiki help page "Chatasabha" and interactions over social media channels which are zero cost efforts. This table also captures the details of the contribution by the students recruited during the education program. Despite of all our efforts few stubs got created. But, this also reflects the learning from last WEP that was implemented this time to avoid stub creation. Most of the articles have citations. On the contrary the articles that were created during the regular outreach at KISS were merely stub class and mostly did not have citations - this explains why we are now more focussing on sustained long term programs rather than one-time outreach in Odia. The editor retention rate is also higher in the former case. Hope this addresses your concerns about Odia Wikipedia work, which is still a work-in-progress. --Subhashish (talk) 10:06, 25 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

┌───────────────────────┘
I still stand by my points, about Vishnu influenced stub creating as I stated earlier on his talk page. Above you have shown data just for one Outreach event, as you call it Education Program! And you had to clean up, tweak, redirect articles before you show us the data! What about other events at other Institutes? The previous EP was a failure, which you admitted. And this one is just above that failure, but the students were not taught properly, even the workshops you call it as advanced workshops, were not advanced! I don't understand what you guys really do? Like I previously said, you need the experience you lack, and till then whatever and however you do it, thats not going to work. Thanks. -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 06:54, 27 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ansuman, Addressing some of your concerns and seeking your feedback for certain aspects.. //I still stand by my points, about Vishnu influenced stub creating as I stated earlier on his talk page.// All you stated were based on your personal point of view without any kind of evidence of the same. // Above you have shown data just for one Outreach event, as you call it Education Program! And you had to clean up, tweak, redirect articles before you show us the data! What about other events at other Institutes? // Could you me guide to outreach for new editors where these tweaking, copy-editing, cleaning up and formatting is not needed. Some of the editors have evolved and have done them by themselves and some are done by experienced editors. Is that not a wiki-way? // The previous EP was a failure, which you admitted. And this one is just above that failure, but the students were not taught properly, even the workshops you call it as advanced workshops, were not advanced! I don't understand what you guys really do? Like I previously said, you need the experience you lack, and till then whatever and however you do it, thats not going to work. // Could you please specifically explain to what exactly you mean by this? What experience and why we need to replace experienced Wikimedians who actually mentored these students by doing all by ourselves? The way we went about WEP/outreach was to work with the communities and the partner institutions to design the program, schedule events and facilitating the outreach events. At places, I, myself also took part in the outreach. These mentor Wikimedians and myself might lack experience in mentoring new editors and I am saying this non-sarcastically because there is always room to learn more in this wiki-universe we all breathe in. You, as an experienced Wikimedians could point to things we, as a program team should learn. Similarly, you could also point to things that the Odia Wikimedia community should learn to execute outreach. If you remember correctly I have always insisted to you personally to train other fellow Wikimedians. I always have asked your feedback on-wiki, off-wiki, on social media and whenever I have met you in person. But, I am sorry to say this that you have not replied with anything that I personally or we as a program should do rather than finding flaws in everything. I have also admitted mistakes, shared learning about outreach programs that do not go beyond 2-3 workshops not being sustainable and not helping in long term community building. There is a need for long term programs that not only builds a friendly relation among new and experienced editors but also keep the wiki-vibe alive in the campus. Hope you have experienced this during the second day of "Odisha Dibasa 2014"? I also asked your suggestions there during the session for change for the upcoming outreach and you did not share any, not with me and not with the community. I am not demanding for any, but it will be really great if you could take out some time to share what should be done and what should not, your vision and goal for the growth of Odia wikimedia projects and community and CIS-A2K could change its approach and strategies to better the current work, to us and to the community which is beyond this proposal. That will be useful to re-design the work plan and find new needs if you could state them. Thanks. --Subha (talk) 07:49, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • That part of the discussion of Vishnu with few community members was not recorded on-wiki, even I was not there, and you know it. But members who were there with Vishnu told me personally that "Vishnu stressed on creating stubs". That's enough for me understand the situation. If you guys don't assume good faith anymore, let me know and don't respond to me further.
  • I know how Wikipedia works; but why do you always act when I point out the flaws, why do you show incorrect figures?
  • I have already said many times why I don't intend to give feedback (though I did few times) to A2K. You know "how you responded initially at meta, after months!" and "how you considered my points/concerns I raised (Vishnu made efforts, I appreciate that)". And when I point out mistakes, then only you seek feedback.
  • Can you show me on-wiki where you sought my feedback in general or for any work plan? I do suggest when I have a suggestion and I do pitch in where i felt the need.
  • You really think A2K holds the handle of the Odia Wikipedia, so I have to pitch in the work plans!?
  • You talk as if "CISA2K represents the Odia Wikipedia!" or "talks on behalf of the community!"
  • Ask me on-wiki as a Volunteer, i ll try my best. Thanks Subhashish. -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 20:28, 3 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well I see some misleading and some unexpected words from two experiences Wikipedians. The tale by Ansumang is very disappointing and I believe it is totally his personal view not a community voice. He is well aware of the community, the people, the work process and all. I feel that the outreach programs are very important for us to grow through an Organic way. We can spread the word Odia Wikipedia through them and many people are getting attracted also. Arranging the outreach programs were never easy and CIS-A2K has provided a great support by making regular interactions and arrangements. The community is not happy because they are getting money for the event(What Ansumang said) but they are happy because the community is getting more stronger and more interactive. I'm a member since September 2011 and I've seen a great change in the meet-ups and events. In those days we had meet ups but they were out-of-context but now we meet with an agenda and the events are for growth of Wikipedia. I don't believe that they have encouraged the stub creation as in 2012 or 13 once a user Monaj Sahukar who asked them to create article by machine translations and they disagreed with that proposal. I believe Odia wikipedia has grown. I remember once we were struggling and celebrated the 1000th article but now we have more than 7000 articles. Of course there are stubs and they will be developed by the course of time. So I'm totally disagree with the two sentence written by Ansumang. Let me brief the CIS-A2K's help for Odia Wiki Community.

  • Has given us a stronger community which we had not before.
  • Organised many events in two cities which may be difficult tasks.
  • Has given us an efficient officer for which we have organised some big events.
  • Introduced us with a university who has promised to take care of Wikisourece and we got a place where we can organise workshop meet ups etc.

I think in initial days the work of CIS-A2K was not so impacting but in later days they have made a lot changes and some good reflections for our community(My views).
The village project have not worked too.
Ravi If you are telling some extraneous words influenced by someones's personal view then the the word "NAIVE" better suits you. I believe you are an experienced Wikipedian and you should encourage each people and you words "tiny" and "naive" for a community shows your quality. I believe each Wikipedia also have gone through this number and situation once. I suggest you to ask as many question to CIS-A2K but please don't underestimate any other community. And people of our community are also human don't consider them as guinea pigs. From your experience some mature words are expected.--Jnanaranjan sahu (talk) 03:12, 27 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, if I can't talk on behalf of the community, how can you? I'm well aware of the growth and how it's happening! The help you briefed, I'm not agree with half of them. And other half, is not the real reason CISA2K exists. About Ravi's comment, I already explained it to you at group chat where you have raised your concern first. You mistaken the words on different context, he didn't mean what you think. I'm sure he will clarify if needed. Thanks. -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 06:54, 27 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please see I've mentioned them as my views. You are well aware of the things that are happening online but what about offline work, managing an outreach, meetups, contacting media, people etc are not small tasks. Hope you have experienced something in the last event. There are many people who ask/comment on why the event was not successful, but they never see the effort that has given to make an event successful. You may not agree that is your point but I'll say Odia Wikipedia couldn't be there, where it stands now, if the same process has been going on. There is a change of process in Odia Wikipedia plans and programs after introduction of CIS-A2K and I believe that has worked. The growth may not be a massive but effective. About Ravi's comment and the group chat : In the group you didn't answer my question that, "why have you written that community is happy because they are getting money for the event." (How many people have you consulted with ?) you told me that you don't want to speak anything on that because you have stated everything in meta page. Here you are telling that you explained everything there. Sounds fuzzy. I also requested you to explain the real scenario (what you think) to our Odia Wikipedia family and also told that we are ready to understand your thoughts, but you are still silent on that. As an admin you can show us the path if we are in dark. --Jnanaranjan sahu (talk) 11:26, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You mix up everything, that is one of the reason i try to avoid discussing with you! I had said, "I have explained about Ravi's comment" not about my views. Please re-read above, I didn't say i explained everything there! That was my personal view, what I saw and felt I shared. Actually by saying that I meant "A2K is only able to help financially". I don't need to consult with the community for that. You are free to contradict. Please be patient, even this paid team takes months to answer and explain things. If you have any specific questions on Odia Wikipedia and its scenario please ask them at my talk page, I ll respond after 3rd May. Meanwhile please elaborate "There is a change of process in Odia Wikipedia plans and programs after introduction of CIS-A2K" Thanks. -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 18:31, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ansuman my words are quite clear and straight rather you are changing your words about what you've said and what you mean. Please read my first comment on this question I've already given a hint about the change in process. I hope you are intelligent enough to figure out. Before asking for any elaboration on anything please remember I also have asked you to explain your thoughts to me and all Odia Wikipedians if you think something is not good for our community. So I hope let the first question should be answered first. You know well that we people in Odia wikipedia are very open minded and ready to discuss anything. I also requested you to discuss all matters with us. Still If you want a broad elaboration from me then let's make a plan so that we and some other Wikipedians can meet and discuss the matter to the deep including some other fields of Odia wikipedia's improvement. Avoiding someone may be a reason of communication gap.--Jnanaranjan sahu (talk) 05:55, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Jnanaranjan sahu, please be precise and state in points. "The change you're talking about, is not the effect of CISA2K, it's the effort of volunteers like you." "I understand Subhashish as an employee devoted more time to organize which made the process easy, but that should have been done by volunteers. We can't always rely on such paid help." "And I've already said, if you really want to know my views, what's good and not good for the community, please ask on my talk page, let's continue there." Thanks. -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 21:09, 3 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Hi Jnanaranjan sahu, all my comments are based on stats like these and on-wiki discussions like these. Please point me to any discussion in the community that gives me an alternative view. I will appreciate a brief summary where the discussion is in Odia. Tamil Wikipedia has more than 1000 editors and has peaked up to 34 very active editors (those who make more than 100 edits a month) a month. We have engaged in joint programmes with the State Government of Tamilnadu, Google and have developed institutional partnerships and content donations from public institutions. Still, I would consider my own community as tiny and naive at a different level :) Calling someone a guinea pig hints nothing disrespectful. It just sympathises that they are being experimented upon. I hoped to speak for many other communities which are still young and it needed lot of straight talk. The last thing I want to see is a Tamil Vs Odia divide or something on those lines. So, if I have offended Odia community or any other community in any way, let me offer my unconditional apology. The growth curve of Odia Wikipedia seen here can be compared to the growth curve for Tamil Wikipedia had. What you consider a result of CIS-A2K intervention might have happened very well organically. CIS-A2K started intervening from May 2012 in Odia Wikipedia. Coud you do me a favour and tabulate year by year growth rate in articles and users based on this data? Please also note that the expected target for Odia Wikipedia by June 2015 has already been crossed. It seems it will cross the dream target also soon. So, I am not sure how much of the needs assessment are the real needs of the community. To draw a parallel to Tamil Wikipedia again, until 2009 we almost had no off-wiki outreach, institutional tie-ups and we registered a healthy growth. If you are interested, I have some lessons drawn from our ten years of growth. With this, let me conclude my remarks on CIS-A2K's engagement in Odia Wikipedia. Wishing all the best for the Odia community.--Ravi (talk) 05:59, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Subha, regarding your question how do I see an outreach / education programme conducted with community participation as inorganic, let me quote the FDC staff:

an increase in program activity may attract new volunteers or motivate existing volunteers, but an increase in program activity may also worsen burnout and the danger of increased burnout may simultaneously lead to challenges in the execution of an ambitious activity plan.

An organic community won't commit to such ambitious plans at the risk of burning out.--Ravi (talk) 06:05, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q12[edit]

Can you describe the nature of work undertaken by your anchor staff during the 40% time allotted for language area plans?--Ravi (talk) 21:49, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

With no answer since two weeks on this, I assume that the "40% time allotted [thing]" was a mere show to bring-in numbers; nothing really happened/s. -- ♪Karthik♫ ♪Nadar♫ 18:59, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Karthik thanks for flagging this question, which otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
As you rightly noticed we are estimating that 40% time allocation of a program staff will go towards anchoring the language plan. We did not have this measure as of last year and have arrived at this based on our experience of executing the language areas plans. We believe that this will also help the CIS-A2K program staff to better allocate their professional time.
The typical role of the language anchor is to:
  • Act as a community liaison for the respective language community
  • Build institutional partnerships as outlined in the language area plans. This is a time consuming activity and is aimed at either one or all of these: cultivating new editors, creating content, content donation/re-release under CC-BY-SA 3.0/other libre licenses.
  • Constantly be in touch with the existing community over multiple channels (on-wiki, mailing list, IRC, over telephone, one on one meetings) to understand their needs and challenges and find ways of addressing them to the best possible extent.
  • Design and undertake outreach, if the community is unable to do it, to grow new editors.
  • Retaining new editors through editor engagement.
  • Help the community with necessary resources in executing projects. For instance, filing RTI or collecting relevant information that could benefit an existing on-wiki project
  • Providing Press, Media & Social Media visibility to the community and the projects.
  • Help support nurture projects that could be taken up by the community.
  • Introduce cross-community learning.
  • Help in organizing community events and meet-ups.
  • Technical support
  • Actively take part in creating resources for the community that could last beyond the CIS-A2K program
  • Any other need from a volunteer or community that could help in the growth of projects.
Please note that these be not read in any chronological order and each language anchor, based on the needs of the community and the project, could stress on certain activities than others. For instance, Pavanaja took lead in conducting outreach for the Kannada Wikipedia across Karnataka as it was the need that he could cater to as a language anchor. Similarly, there are communities which already take lead in some of the above activities and the language anchor would refrain from doing those activities.--Visdaviva (talk) 07:13, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q13[edit]

Please comment on the conflict of interest arising between CIS-A2K, WMIN and language communities as you have mentioned of hiring talented people from the community as a strategy--Ravi (talk) 21:49, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not sure if we understand the question entirely. Could you please elaborate? Thanks--Visdaviva (talk) 08:10, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let me give you few real case examples without naming. 1. A chapter's regional volunteer group head is hired by CIS-A2K. The chapter then loses one of its valuable resources. I agree that volunteers are free to join any position they would like. But, by unquestionably funding non-volunteer agencies like CIS in a liberal and disputable manner, WMF is creating an unhealthy competition in the regional wiki ecosystem. 2. The most capable volunteer of a community gets hired by CIS-A2K. Then, he starts implementing your plans instead of thinking and speaking for the community. The community thus loses a valuable leader. This is critical in very tiny and evolving communities. 3. Two instances where the confusion caused in community dynamics when money enters and some contributors are selectively paid: The rich and poor of Wikipedia, On how Google irreparably wounded Kannada Wikipedia. I may provide one more example, when I get an answer for my question here.--Ravi (talk) 12:35, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • About the conflict of interest: We have adopted a participatory hiring process, wherein we have involved the WMIN EC and community members. But unfortunately on one occasion (in March 2013) we forgot to following this process. Since then we have been much more careful. Hopefully this measure will address anxieties around hiring from the community.
  • //The most capable volunteer of a community gets hired by CIS-A2K. Then, he starts implementing your plans instead of thinking and speaking for the community. The community thus loses a valuable leader. This is critical in very tiny and evolving communities.// This question assumes that most capable volunteers will always be willing to join CIS-A2K. In addition it assumes that capable volunteers are ethically compromised and will work against their communities.
Perhaps it is best that we clarify that CIS even though it is authoritarian from a process perspective values diversity or pluralism. Our mission statement reads "The Centre for Internet and Society will critically engage with concerns of digital pluralism, public accountability and pedagogic practices, in the field of Internet and Society, with particular emphasis on South-South dialogues and exchange." CIS staffers are free to publicly disagree with us. And with most of our projects we are happy to change things mid-course if we are convinced of a better strategy and the change has the donor's approval.
  • //Two instances where the confusion caused in community dynamics when money enters and some contributors are selectively paid// This is the line we hope never to cross. We never pay anyone to edit Wikipedia. We only reimburse costs. When we hire someone from the community - we are not paying them to edit Wikipedia. It is not part of their KRAs. However, all CIS-A2K employees are encouraged to edit in their respective language Wikipedia as this helps in building/continuing the connect with the respective language community. --Visdaviva (talk) 07:33, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Vishnu, two of your full time staff are sysops and very active community members. I would regard them as some of the most capable in the pan-India Wiki community. None of your staff have dedicate user names with CIS affiliation. It is hard to segregate what is their program related activity and what is their contribution as a community volunteer. Is there a way to look at their monthly edit activity before and after joining CIS-A2K? This would give an idea if their volunteer activity had gone up because of paid support. I never assumed that anyone would be ethically compromised but I couldn't find any on-wiki discussion where your volunteer turned staff disagreed with your plans openly.--Ravi (talk) 06:14, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Some groups have separate usernames and some do not. I do not think it is always best to have separate work and personal accounts, despite the WMF and other organizations doing this. For people who participate in Wikipedia it can be hard to separate work and personal life, especially if someone is paid to do things that they have done in the past for fun. I myself am paid to participate in Wikipedia by an organization, and I do not have separate work and personal accounts. It takes extra work to maintain separate accounts and the benefits are not certain. It seems like a reasonable choice to have just one account per person, and it would be reasonable to have multiple accounts per person if there was a cause to do so. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:17, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We don't see that it is highly useful to maintain different Usernames. The communities we work in are small and most of them including new editors quickly get to know that we are paid volunteer professionals. We were asked about this on Telugu Wikipedia and we clarified that all edits that we do in article name space should be seen as our personal contribution and the rest as CIS-A2K staff. We were also mindful to not add "one more active editor" by maintaining two ids and then later fight an endless battle. As staff we mostly get to contribute to our own Wikis during non-office hours.
Like any other team, disagreements do come-up even within CIS-A2K team.--Visdaviva (talk) 16:39, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q14[edit]

Wiki-Data India Marathon progam and its budget puzzles me. Can't a simple video tutorial either made by CIS-A2K or the Wiki Data team itself be floated across key community areas to spread awareness? Why not consider a webinar which is more cost effective and inclusive for the community members spread across the world? This is an instance which seriously emphasizes CIS-A2K should design programs that work completely online and with near zero budget.--Ravi (talk) 21:49, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Being a Wikidata editor, I know that a special program is NOT really needed. Wikidata sessions have been held [in India] in the past, most recently during the Women's History Month. If every Wikipedian just knew that he/she just had to create a data item, the matter would be sorted in no time. Why money? ----Rsrikanth05 (talk) 13:34, 23 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please see reply no. 8 here where we discussed the potential benefits of Wikidata for Indic projects. Please also see this thread on the India mailing list. We appreciate the spirit of the suggestion to have cost effective programs. However, this has been planned as a community strengthening initiative than as a simple training program. A marathon we hope would excite communities and will also help us draw on open-data communities and linguists who could potentially get onto Wikidata projects and in turn contribute to Indic Wikimedia projects. We will still do a community consultation before we actually roll-out this program to optimally utilize the movement funds. Thanks.--Visdaviva (talk) 16:01, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q15[edit]

Your workplan for Gujarati Wikisource includes a dedicated paid resource person. Can you describe the nature of his work? Doesn't this come under paid content generation? Are there precedents for this at least in the global Wikisource movement?--Ravi (talk) 21:49, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

During the discussions with the two Gujarati Wikimedians, who are admins, it was suggested to hire a dedicated person who could do tasks like: a) gong through the catalogue and collection at Gujarati Sabha and identify the 100 books that are of encyclopedic in nature and are copyright lapsed; b) undertake digitization of these books and more if given by Gujarati Sabha; c) run Gujarati OCR software and do the conversion of scanned images; and d) create and catalogue the converted books and make it available for the Gujarti Wikimedians. It should be noted that the Gujarati Sabha only has two personnel and cannot dedicate resource for this. The person will be selected in consultation with the Gujarati Wikimedia community. The incumbent will have to go through training in using and running Gujarati OCR at MS University and may also have to get training in digitization best practices.
Not sure about the paid content generation examples. Faintly remember to have heard something on a much larger scale in Arabic. @Ijon: could throw more light on better examples, I think.--Visdaviva (talk) 07:41, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Could you also please furnish details about the remuneration provided for 30 students during the Konkani encyclopedia digitisation project?--Ravi (talk) 17:43, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Ravi we expect to spend about Rs. 100,000/- towards the digitization of the 4 volumes of Konkani Viswakosh.--Visdaviva (talk) 18:10, 21 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, thanks for this information. Based on the digitization project page details, then this work is expected to be done at the rate of 27.53 INR per page. This benchmark will be useful if any other Wikisource community decides to go this way. I leave it to the global Wikisource movement, WMF and the individual language Wikisource communities to choose the way they want to grow their project. Both paid, unpaid and a mix of both approaches have their own possibilities and long-term consequences. Thanks, again.--Ravi (talk) 10:39, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ravi no you cannot set benchmark this way. For instance, when you say a page, the size of the page and the amount of content that requires digitization, etc. comes into picture. While you may have arrived at a rough cost per page, it does not help in setting a good benchmarks. We will definitely share with the community about the exact details once the project is completed, which could help.--Visdaviva (talk) 18:09, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q16[edit]

For a completely technical subject like Nurturing Mediawiki and Tech Talent in Indic Communities, please consider leveraging already available global open learning courses, local FOSS networks. This has more leverage if done completely online which can then be documented, repeated and be inclusive for more people across the world. Please note that a significant portion of Indian language communities reside globally. Ideally speaking, all your community strengthening initiatives should be happening online with minimal cost and more ROI.--Ravi (talk) 21:49, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please also note that even before the arrival of WMF India programs / CIS-A2K, emergence of WMIN, the Indian Wikimedia community was well networked to meet our technical needs. For example,

  • Malayalam Wikimedians spearheaded the language typing tools and customized it for each langauge and layout. Completely enabled through peer to peer interaction across communities. Later, this was adopted by WMF tech team as Narayam extension
  • Tamil Wikimedians played a key role in testing, improving the web fonts implementation in their first implementation during 2011 (IIRC)
  • Tamil and Malayalam Wikimedians resisted the webfonts implementation during both first and second rounds in 2011 and 2013. Many of the inputs we gave helped to improve the ULS typing tool and web fonts implementation.

Most of the Indic related technical issues are not specific to one language. So, there are more people available to help. This is one area where WMIN can form a centralized help desk and connect the volunteers.

So, instead of spending resources on training people, the right approach should be to connect the tech volunteers across languages and bring more FOSS people inside the movement--Ravi (talk) 17:43, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Nurturing Mediawiki and Tech Talent in Indic Communities is not designed as a one time event. The project execution already states that it involves both pre and post-event collaborative work and support to the potential participants. Also we want the potential participants to be nominated by the Indic communities. Other than the 4-5 day workshop space that we will create, the rest of the program will be done online. The primary intention is to create a peer network and the proposed workshop would go a long way in strengthening it like we see from our Train the Trainer Program experience.
Some of the technical initiatives you have mentioned in Tamil and Malayalam are relatively less known among the other Indic Wikipedia communities. Also the people who were actively involved in these efforts are unable to dedicate focussed efforts to mentor enthusiasts from other Indic community. We believe this will be an opportunity to create that. It is useful to note that these earlier efforts were done without discussion or consensus in other language communities. For instance, Narayam extension had a different typing layout for phonetic Telugu. Telugu had an integrated phonetic typing feature well before other communities started to think in this direction. Without discussing with the Telugu community, Narayam was enabled on Wikimedia projects. The peer to peer interaction was limited to selected few. No cross-community discussions were made. Similarly, with regard to Web fonts, there were 3 web fonts in Telugu (Pothana, Lohit Telugu and Vemana) during the initial roll-out, of which only one (Lohit Telugu) is now available. Telugu wikipedia community welcomed web fonts feature but it was withdrawn without their knowledge or active consultation and the two other web fonts are no more available. What we need to recognize is that many technical issues in Indic languages are language specific and we do not yet have a mechanism to understand the complexity. Building technical leadership in these communities would go a long way in this direction. As you have stated we only have technical volunteer experts in Tamil and Malayalam communities. The core idea behind this plan is to create technical volunteer developers. Cultivating such developers would require some amount of face to face training.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:52, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
//Some of the technical initiatives you have mentioned in Tamil and Malayalam are relatively less known among the other Indic Wikipedia communities.//
Please see here and here. They need not know what we did. Nevertheless, they do experience the improvements contributed by us.
//It is useful to note that these earlier efforts were done without discussion or consensus in other language communities. For instance, Narayam extension had a different typing layout for phonetic Telugu. Telugu had an integrated phonetic typing feature well before other communities started to think in this direction. Without discussing with the Telugu community, Narayam was enabled on Wikimedia projects. The peer to peer interaction was limited to selected few. No cross-community discussions were made. Similarly, with regard to Web fonts, there were 3 web fonts in Telugu (Pothana, Lohit Telugu and Vemana) during the initial roll-out, of which only one (Lohit Telugu) is now available. Telugu wikipedia community welcomed web fonts feature but it was withdrawn without their knowledge or active consultation and the two other web fonts are no more available.//
Please provide evidence that these were a result of community led efforts. All community led efforts can only be done with local consensus and help of sysops. Only WMF tech team has the capability to push top-down implementations like ULS. And, when communities have issues with that more than the tech knowledge and nitty gritties like bug filing, what is needed is solidarity in the community to pass resolutions like these. There is no dearth of tech talent in the enwiki community and yet they had to revolt against Visual editor implementation. What we need are strong communities and a responsive tech team that works in the true spirit of collaboration.
Isn't it an irony that WMF's tech team creates issues and WMF's grants team would run training programs on how to counter it ;) --Ravi (talk) 20:32, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q17[edit]

Urdu WEP at MANUU mentions

//Since the institutions aims to showcase itself an entity research entity and requires learners to come up with research articles, a Wikipedia programme can possibly be rolled out where valuable research content from scholars can become part of the encyclopedia. //

Doesn't this contradict with Wikipedia's "No orginial research" policy?--Ravi (talk) 21:49, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Here research means the very process of writing a Wikipedia article with required citations, references, images, etc. and not original research. We will re-phrase the sentence to avoid misunderstanding.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:09, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for the clarification, Vishnu. Please do re-phrase.--Ravi (talk) 17:43, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q18[edit]

Could you please give me/us what you done for Bengali Wikimedia Project past two years?? Are those project was derived from the community or push your project to community? Give us the stats in details of your success. Clearly I want your success only for Bengali Wikipedia, wikisource,Wikibooks, wikinary.Jayantanth (talk) 05:27, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Jayantanth not sure if we understand where your concern is stemming from? If you are referring to India Access To Knowledge/Reports/CIS-A2K Narrative Report: (September 2012 – June 2013) please let us know any wrongdoing on our part and we are open to correct ourself and I will apologise to the Bangla Wikimedia community. As you may have noted we have been rather upfront about our inability to implement the last year's Bangla plan due to lack of human resources. We have stated this in all the quarterly reports, the proposed Bangla work plan, in the group mails sent to the Kolkata based Bangla community and during our various meetings. Whatever little we did is clearly stated in the plan. Look forward to our continued engagement with the Bangla plan here. Cheers!--Visdaviva (talk) 08:31, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I had gothriugh with this reports, but there are no Bengali specific report. But I found some data/stats of Bengali Wikipedia, which was Bengali wikipedia normal growth. Jayantanth (talk) 12:10, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I would like to see CIS engage with the Bangla community, both in Kolkata and also with WM Bangladesh. I think it would be a great idea to have people from WM Bangladesh visit the CIS office if that could be arranged, and perhaps WM Bangladesh could be engaged in any Bangla language project that CIS does. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:19, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Jayantanth we understood the confusion the graphs are causing and henceforth will stop putting any graphs about Bangla Wikipedia. Thanks for your feedback. Please feel free to advise us on such matters.--Visdaviva (talk) 19:43, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q19[edit]

Could you explain the rationale for the proposed salary structure? Could you provide industry references? How does the salary structure of CIS-A2K members compare to the salary structure of other employees of CIS-A2K? Could you please tabulate the academic / professional qualification, years of relevant work experience, work title (staff name not needed) and the salary received by all the 17 full time staff and 4 distinguished fellows mentioned in your proposal? I am aware of the 10% proposed raise from last year. But, my concern is how the salary for the last two years were determined first of all. I am sorry if I am asking too many details. But, a little transparency can help a lot in building trust with all the stakeholders--Ravi (talk) 18:55, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Ravi, some replies to the questions about the staff salaries at CIS and CIS-A2K program.
Since we inherited the team - we were not able to homogenize salary structures with other CIS staff members who salaries come from other donors.
Overall CIS-A2K team draws higher salaries compared to other Programme Officers, Programme Managers and Directors at CIS. Since people were already working at those scales we were not able to reduce them further without losing them.
Distinguished Fellows: Their qualifications are briefly described here. Of these the paid fellows are Prof. Subbiah Arunachalam, Lawrence Liang, Shyam Ponappa, and Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana. Distinguished fellows are not expected to do any structured work for CIS. They are being supported by CIS to continue doing what they do. Since they have many institutional affiliations - CIS does not take credit for the work they do unless they explicitly ask us to do so. If we do take credit for their work then that is reflected on our website. Prof. Arunachalam is a tireless champion of open access even though he 73 and in poor health. Lawrence Liang is one of India's foremost scholar when it comes to access to knowledge, freedom of expression, media regulation. Shyam Ponappa writes a monthly column on Telecom and allied subject for Business Standard. He is a champion of shared spectrum and shared back-haul infrastructure. He occasionally attends TRAI and DoT meetings and provides research input. Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana is the only distinguished fellow that provides hands-on guidance and input to the A2K programme that is supported by WMF.
It would take some time and effort to tabulate the details about the staff. Give us some days.--Visdaviva (talk) 12:41, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, thanks for the details regarding distinuguished fellows. Please take your time to provide the tabulated data I asked.
Thanks for acknowledging that CIS-A2K staff is getting over paid. As a community member and donor, I have few issues with this: 1. This is unnecessary spending of money donated to WMF when more qualified talent is already available for less money. 2. There are only two inherited staff now, but the inflated salary structure will be applied for all current and future staffs. 3. By offering above industry level salaries, other stakeholders like chapter cannot compete in a fair way to acquire talent. 4. Even after paying inflated salary, we don't have any tools or processes to measure employee's productivity and performance. At least, such records are not publicly available.
I would highly urge the FDC and CIS-A2K to revise the salary structury based on industry standards. CIS-A2K's inherited 2 years grant will be expiring soon and there is no need carry over unnecessary legacy. If any one of the team members would like to leave because of the revised salary structure, I welcome them to serve the Wikimedia movement as a volunteer :) --Ravi (talk) 13:33, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, I need a clarification. the budget document here mentions Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana receiving a monthly adviseory fee of 44,000 INR. Is this in addition to the 48,000 INR she gets paid as distinguished fellow for CIS? --Ravi (talk) 15:48, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Vishnu, can you please explain why you get paid more then Sunil; the Executive Director of CIS? Also want you to explain why Nitika gets paid more than double of any other program staff: surely while they are of the same level? -- ♪Karthik♫ ♪Nadar♫ 18:29, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ravi CIS pays Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana Rs. 44,000/- every month as a Distinguished Fellow, who offers guidance and input to the CIS-A2K program.--Visdaviva (talk) 18:39, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Karthik, we explained above about the inherited salary structure.--Visdaviva (talk) 18:39, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Ravi, this is just to say that we have taken note of your suggestion about revised salary structure.--Visdaviva (talk) 12:04, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Vishnu, what you have inherited is your present grant. Surely it can now be updated to industry standard in the new proposal. What you currently propose is better than what corporate India pays and is very even within your team. -- ♪Karthik♫ ♪Nadar♫ 17:15, 27 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Hi Vishnu, thanks for the clarification about the fee for Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana's work. The lines //Distinguished fellows are not expected to do any structured work for CIS. They are being supported by CIS to continue doing what they do.// and //Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana is the only distinguished fellow that provides hands-on guidance and input to the A2K programme that is supported by WMF.// made it appear as though she was giving free service to the Wikimedia movement. --Ravi (talk) 19:34, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
CIS Staff details[edit]

Hi Ravi, as per your request please find below the table which gives all the CIS staff details with their names.

Name Designation Educational Qualification Work Experience Salary
INR USD*
Sunil Abraham Executive Director Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial and Production Engineering (Dayananda Sagar, Bangalore University) 17 years 188,000 $3,104.87
Dr. Nishant Shah Director-Research Ph.D. Cultural Studies (Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore), MA (English Literature) and PG Diploma Women’s Studies, (Pune University) 15 years 116,685 $1,927.09
T. Vishnu Vardhan Program Director (A2K) Ph.D. (University Ulster, UK (due for submission)); Ph.D Cultural Studies course work (CSCS, Bangalore); MA (Media and Cultural Studies), EFLU, Hyderabad and B.A. Osmania University, Hyderabad 12 years 200,000 $3,303.06
Dr. Nirmita Narasimhan Policy Director Ph.D. (Faculty of Music), University of Delhi, M.Phil (Faculty of Music), University of Delhi, LLB, University of Delhi, and B.A.(Hons) German, Jawaharlal Nehru University 10 years 77,000 $1,271.68
Pranesh Prakash Policy Director B.A. LLB. (National Law School of India University, Bangalore) 6 years 77,000 $1,271.68
Nitika Tandon Program Manager MBA (Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management) 6.5 years 117,000 $1,932.29
Elonnai Hickok Program Manager Specializing in international development studies from the University of Toronto 4 years 63,250 $1,044.59
Nehaa Chaudhari Program Officer B.A. LLB (NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad) 1 year 44,000 $726.67
Prasad Krishna Publications Manager M.A. English from Annamalai University, PG Diploma in Journalism from YMCA, Diploma in Information and System Management (Aptech), B.A. (Hons). English (Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi), and LLB (University of Delhi) 12 years 44,000 $726.67
Ajoy Kumar Administrator B.A. LLB. (Bangalore University) 25 years 34,000 $561.52
P.P. Sneha Program Officer M.A. English (Bangalore University) 4.5 years 44,000 $726.67
Usha Nandini Accounts Officer B.Com (University of Bangalore) 12 years 30,000 $495.46
Royson Velankanni Office Assistant Higher Secondary (Bangalore) 10 years 20,000 $330.31
Dr. U.B.Pavanaja Program Manager M.Sc (Mysore University), PhD (Bombay University) and Post-doctoral Research (Taiwan) 35 years 144,000 $2,378.20
Subhashish Panigrahi Program Officer Bachelors in Engineering 4 years 68,800 $1,136.25
Rahmanuddin Shaik Program Officer B.Tech (Computer Sciences) 4 years 58,800 $971.10
Geetha Hariharan Program Officer B.A. LLB (National Law School of India University, Bangalore) 4 years 50,000 $825.764
Jyoti Panday Program Officer MSc Public Policy, Queen Mary, University of London, PG Diploma Ad and PR, Indian Institute of Mass Communication and BA English Literature, St Xavier’s College, Calcutta University 7 years 55,000 $908.34

* Refers to Exchange rate of USD 1 = INR 60.55, as of April 28, 2014 (Mean of exchange rates given at Google conversion)
Most of the staff resumes can be found here--Visdaviva (talk) 09:15, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Vishnu, I really appreciate the time, effort and sincerity in providing this data which brings more transparency and accountabiity. If you may allow, I would like to make the experience and salary columns sortable and highlight the names of the CIS-A2K staff--Ravi (talk) 21:30, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi All, I see some huge contrast in salaries paid to the WMF funded program staff and non WMF program staff, where in a Program Manager is paif a lot more than a Director. Is this a common practice in NGO sector? I have worked in NGO in India for nearly 10 years and have seen EU funding to our organization, but we never were budgeting salaries higher than the corporate sectors. Has WMF and FDC ever reviewed salaries paid in corporates and NGOs in India before approving the previous grant and/or has any plan to do so while deciding on this grant request?--DhavalTalk 22:37, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Salaries are not uniform in the NGO sector. Rural organisations pay less than urban organisation. Research organisations usually pay more than implementation NGOs. Finally it is a question of attracting the required talent. At our current salary scales we still struggle to get qualified people. Since CIS does not have many domestic peers - it is difficult to say exactly what we should pay as NGO standard.
As far as CIS-A2K is concerned - we reduced the Program Director's salary from foreign scale to Indian scale. Other directors, managers and officers earn consultancy income over and above their CIS salaries. For members of the A2K team - the work load is so high that there is no time for additional consultancy income - therefore we have kept salaries higher than others since this was already the case. We have also reduced per diem from international scales to domestic scales. -- Sunil"--Visdaviva (talk) 07:48, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Ravi, we have made the table sortable and highlighted all the CIS-A2K program staff. Hope this is of help. --Visdaviva (talk) 09:15, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, I tend to agree with others here who have pointed out that the salaries for staff working on programs that are not funded by WMF is on much higher side in comparison. The salaries for A2K team has been quite extravagant. The average salaries of Program Officers and Program Managers in India: [2] [3] --H P Nadig (talk) 15:51, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Reply about salary structure[edit]

Hi, we escalated the above suggestions about the CIS-A2K team salary structure to Sunil, Executive Director of CIS. Please find below his reply.

"Remuneration at CIS is not always a function of qualification or work experience. Remuneration is mostly based on donor's budgets. That is why you will not see any clear pattern between position on the institutional hierarchy and remuneration.
Also all CIS contracts with staffers and consultants are non-exclusive. That means people like Nishant Shah, Pranesh Prakash, Nirmita Narasimhan, Elonnai Hickok etc. are earning additional consultancy income. This additional income is not possible for the CIS-A2K team members because of workload and that has been one reason why we have not decided not to reduce salaries.
The other reason is that there is no equivalent industry scale. There are very few similar organisations that operate independent of government or academia. The organisations that are similar to us don't always disclose their remuneration details. We would be very grateful if community members could gives us data-sets of similar organisations so that we can ensure that our pay scales are not extravagant.
The final reason is because reducing salaries after hiring people is really bad form. Those who have joined us have already made plans and may have taken bank loans etc. Lowering their salaries is not an option for us. One option would have been to hire a completely new team before we got started in September 2012. But that option was also not on the table when we negotiated the terms of the grant with Barry Newstead at the start of the project.
However, this does not mean that we don't expect value for money from our team members. Expectation of team members are indeed a function of the remuneration. And since we have made an open disclosure of salaries there are similar expectations form the general public and from Wikimedians. If a team member repeatedly fails to deliver on those expectations their contracts will be terminated. When we hire replacements we will strive to get people for as little as possible.- Sunil." --Visdaviva (talk) 07:38, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Brilliant. Go looting donor money for the mistakes you do.--Ravi (talk) 08:09, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ravidreams I fail to understand why you would call this looting. This seems like a reasonable explanation. As a person in the United States who does not understand salary structure in India everything here seems reasonable. I see that people with WMF funding get paid a lot more than people without WMF funding, but these people are also held to a different standard and are expected to be able to do things that perhaps others cannot do. Also, the pay going to different individuals seems appropriate for a nonprofit organization. What is the problem here? Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:24, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Bluerasberry Agree with you on the fact that people should be paid more if they're held to different standard and are expected to be able to do things that others cannot do. However, going through what has been delivered so far, I'm afraid it doesn't seem remarkable. This is where perhaps the displeasure lies.
While the presentation of the work done has been delightfully professional and detailed, the impact lacks lustre. The extravagant salaries do seem outrageous under these parameters --H P Nadig (talk) 16:06, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
HPN It takes a while to sort out work strategies. I agree with you that the reports so far are not up to the expected standard, and I hope that work quality improves. If it does not, grants ought to be cut in the future, but right now, CIS is a respectable organization and the best option of any organization which submitted a grant proposal. I think that it would be discriminatory and wrong not to fund some project in India. I do not fault CIS for making a proposal. Of course I wish that other organizations in India would do this also, as the proposal process is open to anyone. If you feel that this pay is high and that other people could do better, I encourage you to have them make their own proposals. I will try myself to comment on any proposal from India as I care a lot about the community in India. Whatever problems this proposal has, it seems to be the best proposal from India right now. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:18, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q20[edit]

Could you please provide details of the expenses alloted for rent? I would like to see the split for Delhi and Bangalore offices. Is CIS housed in an own building or rented building in Bangalore and Delhi? Please let me know the rationale for the share of rent A2K program pays. --Ravi (talk) 18:55, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

CIS does not own any immovable assets like building or land. We are housed in two rented buildings. The below table gives an estimate of the average monthly Office expenses incurred by CIS.
Expenditure item Delhi Bangalore
Rent* Rs.43,000/- Rs.90,000/-
Utilities (Electricity, Water, office maintenance, etc.) Rs.8,000/- Rs.48,000/-
Communication costs (broadband & telephone) Rs.5,000/- Rs.40,000/-
Postage & Courier Rs.1,000/- Rs.2,000/-
Office Pantry Rs.8,000/- Rs.35,000/-
Total Rs.65,000/- Rs. 215,000/-
* Rent for Delhi office may increase by 20% post May 2014.
The total Office expenses on an average come to Rs. 280,000/- every month. Of this Rs. 50,000/- is sought from the FDC grant.
Rationale: There are 17 full time staff who sit in these offices of which 5 are CIS-A2K program staff. We have done a rough per person housing cost which comes to about Rs. 16,000/- per person. For the current team of 5 people it will be Rs. 80,000/- per month and we chose to budget Rs. 50,000/-. Also the CIS accounts and administrative time, which will be utilized for this program, is not budgeted. Instead we chose to include a broad 10% Institutional Development fund, which gives us flexibility in utilization.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:18, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, I appreciate the details. Could you please clarify the number of non CIS-A2K staff employed at the Delhi office? // Also the CIS accounts and administrative time, which will be utilized for this program, is not budgeted. Instead we chose to include a broad 10% Institutional Development fund, which gives us flexibility in utilization// Doesn't this mean, the grant is paying for the operational expenses of CIS besides paying it's share of rent/utilities ? You had earlier said that this 10% institutional development fee goes to similar mission aligned activities. --Ravi (talk) 09:20, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Delhi office has three more staff other than 1 CIS-A2K staff. We have made it sufficiently clear below here for what purpose the 10% Institutional Development fund is meant to be used for. As stated "CIS will have freedom to use the 10% with approval from the Board, for purposes that are undefined in the grant agreement." Please let us know if you need more clarity on this. --Visdaviva (talk) 09:34, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, thanks for the details. I am clear now that CIS's freedom to spend the 10% grant money includes the freedom to spend on its operational expenses :)--Ravi (talk) 10:02, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
why do u need to spend 43000 on a delhi office? how many people work out of the delhi office? what programs are held out of there? --OhHellYeahYes! (talk) 13:23, 23 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
also, the bangalore office belongs to CIS, CIS has been here from before. why is this rent [whoch goes to a member of WMF advisory boards, again conflict of interest] have to be funded out of FDC? --OhHellYeahYes! (talk) 13:27, 23 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Is it correct that rent is being paid to a member of the Wikimedia Foundation's advisory board? Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:26, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Blue Rasberry thanks for seeking this clarification. We have clarified this here. Please let us know if we could share more details.--Visdaviva (talk) 18:34, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Visdaviva Thanks. That answers my question completely. It seems like you have appropriately noted this. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:58, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q21[edit]

Wikimedia is an internet driven movement. Yet, you have a travel and stay budget of 1,680,000 INR which is almost 10% of the proposed grant. Please explain.--Ravi (talk) 18:55, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As can be noted from the work-plans, the language anchor would be required to spend quite a bit of time in the field and in undertaking various activities as proposed in the plans. This is because of the high-touch work that CIS-A2K has committed to doing. Given the expansive geographies and based on our experience during the last year, we estimate to incur Rs. 2,970,000/- as expense for the CIS-A2K program team travel and stay. Of this we propose to raise Rs. 1,290,000/- from other sources and in-kind support.--Visdaviva (talk) 06:08, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, here is an example on how community does it. 10 locations across the country. 100s of people. 2 volunteers. Per location cost for the whole event (not just travel and stay) comes around 13,830 INR --Ravi (talk) 21:36, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Travel is expensive and I do not expect staff to travel in the least expensive conditions. There has to be a balance between doing activism and saving money, and it seems okay to spend more money if that can result in better outreach. The two volunteers who did inexpensive outreach in the past or any others like them should apply for grants to replicate what they have done in the past, if it is possible to replicate that kind of work.
I hope that CIS also participates in international events and meets Wikimedia community members outside India. I hope that when CIS travels they also fund a volunteer outside of their regular staff, because without volunteer participation it is difficult to sustain a community movement. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:30, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Ravi, thanks for sharing this very useful link. It could be useful to set baseline for outreach in India. We will study it more carefully and will definitely take lessons from it.--Visdaviva (talk) 19:51, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q22[edit]

I see you have a massive plan lined up for Kannada. From what I have seen in the last six months, one of the employees, Dr. Pavanaja has done nothing but hold workshops in Karnataka. This is something volunteers can do. Why is so much money being spent here? ----Rsrikanth05 (talk) 05:05, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dear Rsrikanth05, first of all thank you very much for going through the plans and offering your comments. It is true that I conducted many outreach programs to instill an accelerated pace to the growth of Kannada Wikipedia and the Kannada Wikipedia community. Apart from the outreach programs I also took care of technical aspects like bugs reporting and resolving, issues related to ULS, taking Echo notifications to the community, participating in beta programs like Visual Editor, Media Viewer, etc. The partnership with Christ University was another activity where major time was spent by me which included design and rollout of the program, creating training videos, training the faculty and students and helping the students. One of main outcomes of this program is the creation of training videos for Hindi and Kannada Wikipedias which are released under Creative Commons license and are available to the community. My efforts supported by CIS-A2K team resulted in signing the MoU with University of Mysore to bring the first 6 volumes of their encyclopaedia under Creative Commons license. --Pavanaja (talk) 11:36, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Pavanaja, this announcement from CIS notes that you are a long time contributor to Kannada Wikipedia.
//It is true that I conducted many outreach programs to instill an accelerated pace to the growth of Kannada Wikipedia and the Kannada Wikipedia community. Apart from the outreach programs I also took care of technical aspects like bugs reporting and resolving, issues related to ULS, taking Echo notifications to the community, participating in beta programs like Visual Editor, Media Viewer,//
Aren't these general activities in volunteer domain? Why do you have to put this under program activity when Kannada Wikipedia is a reasonably grown Indic community. What stops you from doing these as a volunteer? It is also noteworthy that Kannada Wikipedians have reported demotivation in volunteering activity following paid interventions like these. Please see The Rich and Poor of Wikipedia in India, On how Google irrepairably wounded Kannada Wikipedia.
This is a genuine concern in all parts of the free {knowledge, software, culture, etc.} world. At least some of the conflicts that exist in the world of free software and free culture don't exist in the world of Wikipedia. In the world of free software, paid contributers and unpaid contributers generally provide the same input: code; whereas in the world of Wikipedia, paid contributers don't edit Wikipedia as part of their paid work, while unpaid contributers mainly edit Wikipedia. The-solipsist (talk) 02:58, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
User:The-solipsist --H P Nadig (talk) 14:36, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Bringing works from institutions under CC license - Does CIS promise these institutions in their MoU that CIS will help in digitizing them and putting in Wikisource as you did in KonKani Wikipedia? Can I have a look at this MoU? Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 18:39, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The MoU is available here.--Pavanaja (talk) 10:00, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • The technical works which Pavanaja mentioned, most of them were not necessary hence don't count (Except ULS and VE). WMF tech team is already looking after the issues, and merely filing bugs and following up, which we volunteers also do, is not the work you should be claiming as an employee. -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 07:18, 27 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"which we volunteers also do". This is a wrong-headed way of looking at things, imho. There is no part of Wikipedia (including running of the technology) that isn't being done, at least in part, by volunteers. That would mean that there need be no need for donations beyond the bare mnimum of the electrictity and bandwidth costs of Wikimedia servers. If a paid employee takes care of some tasks that makes the lives of the volunteer editors easier, then that shouldn't be discounted just because the volunteers could have themselves done it. If the paid employee doesn't do a good job of it or add any value, then that's a different matter. However, it is unclear which one of those two is your claim. The-solipsist (talk) 02:58, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
User:The-solipsist --H P Nadig (talk) 14:36, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi The-solipsist, let me ask you a simple question. What % of WMF tech work is being done by paid employees now? Has the volunteer tech contribution % increased or decreased after WMF tech team's formation? On similar lines, Vishnu, can I know the details of outreach programs arranged in Telugu, Odia and Kannada that didn't have any link to CIS-A2K program or personnel in the last year? How does it compare to the number of events in the years before that?--Ravi (talk) 22:06, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't have an answer to your simple question. It might be better being addressed at the WMF. My point is: you can't say it's a good thing if the volunteer tech contribution % has increased, nor can you say it's a bad thing if the volunteer tech contribution % has decreased. If the volunteer tech contributers are freed up to be more productive in other areas by paid employees, then that is a net positive. If the volunteer tech contributers get even more involved, even that might be a net positive. It depends completely on what the objectives are set as. We don't seem to have any agreement on that. -- The-solipsist (talk) 16:00, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
User:The-solipsist --H P Nadig (talk) 14:36, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
//Bringing works from institutions under CC license - Does CIS promise these institutions in their MoU that CIS will help in digitizing them and putting in Wikisource as you did in KonKani Wikipedia? Can I have a look at this MoU?// Ravi No, not always. It depends from case to case. For instance, in Konkani case the value add of the content to making the Konkani Wikipedia is much higher and CIS-A2K felt it is a judicious investment. @Nitika.t: could we please provide the Goa University MoU link?--Visdaviva (talk) 07:00, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The MoU is available here Nitika.t (talk) 12:28, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
//can I know the details of outreach programs arranged in Telugu, Odia and Kannada that didn't have any link to CIS-A2K program or personnel in the last year? How does it compare to the number of events in the years before that?// Hi Ravi, would need more time to get this data for Odia and Kannada. In Telugu totally 2 Telugu Wikipedia training workshops were organized before CIS-A2K program started. During the last year Telugu Wikipedia volunteers were involved in most of the Telugu Wikipedia training workshops organized by CIS-A2K. Independently the Telugu Wikipedians have organized more than 12 meet-ups and 2 Telugu Wikipedia training workshops since March 2013. Hope this helps.--Visdaviva (talk) 20:01, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q23[edit]

Your current grant expires this year and yet you have signed a 3 year MoU with Christ University 3 year MoU with Goa University which should extend until 2016. This means CIS-A2K may have Konkani langauge plan as a budgeted item for the next 3 years besides the 2 years it has already worked on it.

  • Will this not limit the overall CIS-A2K program from shifting focus to other languages and areas as definite resources are locked in this area for next three years? At least, you cannot work on more areas without an increased budget. Is this an agile approach?
  • When paid professionals are doing all the work for 5 years, how do you expect the community will develop its own leadership? Where is the space for the community to evolve in a holistic way? Right now, you expect the community to do only the "productive work" of editing wiki? Huh, "productive work" that helps "meet your targets" comes from volunteers who work for free :) Even birds hatch their chicks in few weeks. When do you plan to stop work in individual language communities and let them find their way on own?--Ravi (talk) 18:50, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
1. There's a slight Catch-22 here: If CIS-A2K team members aren't Wikipedia editors and are completely detached from the community, then there will rightfully be criticism. However, if CIS-A2K team members are mainly Wikipedia editors, then they should rightfully be criticised as engaging in paid editing. So, would we want any person who gets money from a grant to stop editing Wikipedia?
2. Some if not many of these people are not "paid professionals" from outside the community, but community members themselves doing this as a full-time job rather than part-time volunteer work. Are there many instances of community members who have been hired by either the Brazilian or Indian initiatives and have completely stopped being involved with the community upon leaving their paid jobs? The-solipsist (talk) 02:58, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
User:The-solipsist --H P Nadig (talk) 14:38, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Ravi, firstly some correct facts. a) The MoU with Christ University has nothing to do with our Konkani work-plan as you seem to perceive; b) All our MoUs come with an exit clause of one month notice; and c) The language strategy that we have adopted is not even 1 year old. The language plans have been developed during the same time last year.
  • CIS-A2K may or may not continue to work in the same language areas. It is just one year since we have started working with a language strategy and it is too early to say which of the language area plans have worked and which have not. Hopefully in the next 9-12 months we would have more clarity and accordingly may take the decision of exiting a particular language plan. Other than the 7 language plans we are proposing to undertake activities in other language too. Thus we are already looking at reaching out to 11 Indian languages. In past we have given need based support to language communities that were not part of the focus languages areas, which includes the Tamil community that you come from. So as a program we are quite open to exploring and expanding our support and service to all the Indic communities to the best extent possible.
  • If your concern is about sustainability of growth, then it should be built into the program design. As a catalyst program we are constantly learning and believe that we have brought in a decent amount of traction in the four language areas. Do note that rocks don't melt for years and require additional effort. We are quite committed to sustainable growth of the projects and communities. Whether we succeed or fail with our approach there are lessons for the movement.--Visdaviva (talk) 06:33, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The-solipsist, two of their full time staff are sysops and active contributors in respective language communities. But, they do not have a separate user name with CIS affiliation mentioned for carrying out their programme related activity. So, it is hard to segregate their regular editing done during their working time from the organic growth of the community. The problem is not paid professionals stopping editing after they exit the program. The problem is that hitherto inactive volunteer editor like Pavanaja counts a usual volunteer activity under his paid work . This also demotivates other volunteers to engage in volunteering and spoils the community dynamics. Please also note that there was a recent policy in meta wikipedia regarding paid contributions. --Ravi (talk) 18:54, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ravi, HP Nadig's viewpoint is precisely what I've tried addressed in multiple responses. My contention is that HP Nadig's point about demotivation is definitely one possibility, but that is not by any stretch of imagination the only possibility. In many other areas of commons-based peer-production, volunteers and paid employees work together productively on the a common project. Is your contention that Wikipedia is the sole exception and that HP Nadig's viewpoint on this is the only one, and that paid employees will always end up driving out volunteers?
I'd agree that usual volunteer activity should not count as paid work. But asking for separate accounts is unrealistic since they aren't watertight compartments. Please see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Dominic/FAQ It seems you are completely ignoring the large history of this discussion in the Wikipedia space. This is not the first time these issues are cropping up. -- The-solipsist (talk) 16:00, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
User:The-solipsist --H P Nadig (talk) 14:38, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Vishnu, I have fixed the typo regarding Christ University. I appreciate the transparency measure in providing a copy of the MoU. It is good to know about the exit clause so you are not unnecessarily bound to a program. A project like Assamese Wikipedia, out of incubator and an official language of a state with a concentrated popuation, has not shown sustainable growth even after intervention from former Wikipedia India programs. So, I wonder what kind of results, both positive and negative, would convince you to exit a language plan. Even after one year of support to Konkani, it is disappointing that it has not come out of incubator. By the way, thanks for the metaphor about melting the rocks. People like us from the community who speak for organic growth recognize rocks as part of an ecosystem and know that plants have no difficulty fixing their roots through them :) It just doesn't happen within the goals and targets fixed by others :)--Ravi (talk) 19:04, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The-solipsist hmm... [4] has your ID been created for just this discussion? --H P Nadig (talk) 16:53, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
H P Nadig: Yes, since I didn't have a Wikimedia account so far. -- The-solipsist (talk) 21:38, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Ravi, //Even after one year of support to Konkani, it is disappointing that it has not come out of incubator.// Firstly, it is not yet a year since we have started working in the Konkani language area. We are reasonably hopeful that this project may go live because of the enthusiasm shown by the emerging group of Konkani editors. --Visdaviva (talk) 22:05, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q24[edit]

If for any reason the grants from WMF be stopped or cut considerably now or in the future, what is your commitment for the Wikimedia movement in India?

What would be a tentative scale of that as I gladly note that you are able to pool almost 10 million INR as in kind support now? How would you re-align your work plan and approach in that case?

I am aware and thankful for the fact that CIS has generously hosted and supported the Bangalore Wikimedia community and the WMIN formation and hope it will continue supporting the movement in any possible way.

But, I need to ask this question as most organizations work in the field, come up with a work plan and then apply for a grant.

Whereas, in CIS's case it was "selected" top-down, the funding and staff came first and they were asked to work on a plan that matches WMF's strategic priorities and justifies the spending of the alloted budget.

Plainspeak: Are you working for the Indian Wikimedia movement in this scale just because you are getting the fund? Without funding from WMF, what can we expect?--Ravi (talk) 18:50, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Ravi, this is a real scenario we work with on a day to day basis not just for the A2K program but for other programs too. Yes CIS programs are dependent on grants from Donors, like the A2K program is dependent on the WMF grant. But that does not mean we will take or develop up any odd program just because we need a grant. CIS has certain core focus areas and interests and Open Content (of which Wikipedia is a crucial component) is one of areas. We are excited that we are able to work for the Wikimedia Movement in India because of the ongoing grant from WMF. We are equally aware that there is no guarantee of funds from FDC to continue this work into the future. As an institution CIS does believe in continuing the A2K program. In case there is a considerable cut or if the FDC decides to not fund the program, we will explore to raise funding from other sources. If required we will scale-down the plans. There are many possibilities that we work with. And of course as you said CIS will continue to support the movement in any way possible.--Visdaviva (talk) 06:48, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, I appreciate your candid reply. Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 18:42, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ravidreams I am not sure of the details, but so far as I understood A2K was a program funded by an organization with which I work, Consumers International. I am still learning what CIS does and has done but they seem to still be doing A2K with other funding despite the relationship with Consumers International having ended. I thought that Consumers International organized A2K - I could be wrong. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:32, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Blueraspberry That's not quite so. Access to Knowlege, or A2K, is a large global movement, with entire books written about it. Consumers International was one of the contributors to that global movement.

Q24[edit]

The English Wikipedia community in India, the Malayalam and Tamil Wikimedia communities (if I might add my own community to that list :) ) are some of the Indic communities that are known for being resourceful and autonomous. Some work plans in these areas can be more impactful with minimum investment. Yet, I see no program that engages these communities specifically. Even the Bengali plan engages only the tiny part of the community present in India and not the huge and resourceful community present in Bangladesh. You cite lack of interest from the community at the moment and lack of staff who has an experience dealing with these languages / communities for not extending your language plans to these areas. Or, is it a lack of capability of the CIS-A2K program and present team to engage bigger communities well?--Ravi (talk) 18:50, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We are afraid your assumptions and conclusions are wrong. We were given to understand the WMIN would take lead in working with the English Wikipedia community in India. Through this year we would like better understand how we could support the English Wikipedia community in India and we would welcome suggestions and ideas on this front. During our meeting with the WMIN EC in February 2013 (when we began to develop our language strategy) we were told to look beyond Tamil and Malayalam language areas. There was one active Tamil Wikipedian and one Malayalam Wikipedian in the EC at the time of our discussion. So you should know that we were looking at these two as potential language areas. That said we were always open to offering need-based support to these communities. As you well know we have supported one community event of Tamil Wikimedia community, two community events of Malayalam community and one on-wiki event on Malayalam Wikisource. It is difficult for us to spend money on Bangladeshi community due to the FCRA rules.--Visdaviva (talk) 08:08, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Vishnu, since you have mentioned about the support for Tamil community at many places, I would like to describe the nature of support for the global audience here. Tamil Wikipedi celebrated its 10th anniversary which was supported by a Wikimedia grant. Since we had difficulty receiving the grant amount in time (entirely our responsibility, WMF grants team was very supportive and responded well), we placed a request to CIS-A2K to provide us a contingency fund which we will repay after receiving the grant amount. We are thankful that they helped us during this emergency. Now, we have repaid this fund back to CIS-A2K. Apart from this, we are glad for the swag support and participation of CIS-A2K in the two day event where the community had ample time to understand CIS-A2K's programs. WMIN also extended support for us in all possible ways but they couldn't help with the contingency fund due to their limited budget.
Having said this, I should register that, any organization, be it WMF / WMIN / CIS-A2K should find a better term than calling this as community suppport. All these organizations exist first of all because volunteers create the work for which donations are given. The prime purpose of these organizations is to grow the movement and facilitate volunteer activity. Volunteers are the core of the movement and all these organisations came into existance because of the volunteers and not the other way around. We should stop portraying volunteers like hunger struck poor people in third world countries and all these organizations as rice bag carrying NGOs from the developed world :)
Coming back to the subject, Vishnu, it is news for me that WMIN asked you to look beyond some communities. Based on the same logic, do you also choose to work on specific areas based on request from donors like WMF? For example, were you specifically asked to work on Wikipedia education programmes?--Ravi (talk) 18:40, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I want CIS to work on education programs. I want everyone to work on everything. For people in India I expect that there is special international favor for project proposals and that there are enough people in India that anyone can work in any sector and not overlap with the work of others unless they wish to do so. I wish that all organizations in India could work together but if not, I wish for them all to apply for their own grants and design their own projects. Ravi - you must be knowing that India itself donates a lot of money to the WMF, which in turn sends that money back to India from where it came. I do not wish for there to be a relationship in which other countries tell India what to do because people in India can manage themselves well enough.
There is enough work and projects for everyone who wishes to participate. I have never heard of a well-managed project in India which had community support being denied support from the WMF. The WMF is supposed to act at the behest of the community, and I would like to see an organized community in India make more demands. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:38, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Ravi, we are glad to be of service to the Tamil Wikimedia community for the TA Wiki 10 event. Twice we have mentioned about this service, that too as part of a response. Apologies if you think we have overstated it.--Visdaviva (talk) 17:40, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q25[edit]

Can you tell us about the role Muzzamil, Hindustanilanguage played in a bit detail. The project he was hired for was never started. I read, he was helping with the plans for "Christ University" partnership and language plans. And he was helping users at Hindi and Urdu Wikipedia on-wiki. What exactly did he do in that period? How he helped the users at both the Wikipedias? And since he was active at Urdu Wikipedia, can you tell us why the Urdu community decided to have such a large number of bot created articles? What was the rationale? And beside plans and on-wiki assistance what other works he had done? -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 07:40, 27 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ansuman, Muzammil was hired for the Performing Arts in India pilot project that we had planned last year. Due to various problems like not having much interest from the community and finding the suitable institutional framework as partner for a mass-scale project like this we could not have him anchoring this plan. Muzammil, being a long time Wikimedian helped us with the Christ University project for UG classrooms starting from strategizing the plans to executing the program in recruiting new editors, active outreach by incorporating the plan in the pedagogy for two languages: Hindi and Urdu and Hindi Wikipedia video tutorial production. He also was involved in on-wiki community level discussions for feedback and support to new editors during this program. He has taken part in various other outreach for Urdu including building initial level of partnership with Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU). There is a stand-a-lone project has been drafted under our current year's work plan. Our programmatic efforts have nothing to do with the article creation on Urdu Wikipedia and we have already clarified in the here in the mailing list discussion. --Subhashish (talk) 06:53, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Q26[edit]

You are trying to live tulu & santali wikipedia, but why there are no plan for already live wikipedia like Bishnupriya Manipuri, which is closely towards dying now.Jayantanth (talk) 14:12, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Jayantanth it is a very valid question. Please note that unlike our language area plans, Tulu and Santali are stand-alone projects. As stated in our work plan here these came up as potential additional opportunities and as unplanned outcomes of our work during the last year. For instance, as part of our Kannada language work some interested Tulu speaking people and organizations that promote Tulu approached us. Similarly Santali came up as part of one of the institutional partnerships in Odia. On the one hand, we see that taking up these stand-alone projects will feed into the larger language area plans (i.e. Kannada and Odia. For instance, most Tulu speakers also know Kannada) and at a much lesser cost. On the other hand the incubator projects could benefit from these neighbouring Wikimedia communities. Trust you will appreciate our rationale for taking up these incubator projects. It would be great if you, from WMIN, could revitalize Bishnupriya Manipuri and we will be of assistance. --Visdaviva (talk) 18:01, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Program-related and meta questions/comments[edit]

First, perhaps a general comment. This is a top-down implementation of a WMF strategic decision to get involved in India. I do not see much point in the existence of such agencies since all they seem to do is energize certain areas with the capability of being able to fund events and projects. Be that as it may, I see no gains in trying to fight this as others have been doing in the comments as it has only drained me of my energy and vitality for editing - which is my core concern and which I have neglected for long as a result of burn-out in trying to push the agenda forward offline. I place my comments here having read the Grants proposal and you are free to take them or ignore them.

  • As stated above, I am fundamentally against having an external agency catalysing the growth of Wikipedias. I believe this happens best naturally from the work and efforts of Wikipedians. Help to be offered only if sought and not to be imposed because you are not happy with the rate at which it is growing. External agency influence distorts the growth of Wikipedia and causes a lot of pain that might take years to recover from and come to terms with.
  • You have showcased Konkani as a specimen of success of your strategy of Language Area Planning. It is to be noted that this is a Wikipedia with a small community which is still in its infancy and you have had control of its growth from 3 to 13 editors. Do you think the same or even a similar strategies would work on Wikipedias that are already in existence for more than 10 years and have a history and heritage of their own and which you wish to tackle in your forthcoming year like Marathi?
  • On a related note, for the graph shown in Konkani Wikipedia for the editors and edit count per month. There was a spurt in August 2013 and then a long period of low activity followed again by a spurt in activity and editors in February 2014. The number of editors has fallen from 37 in August 2013 to 32 in February 2014, though not a significant fall. If these spurts in activity map to your interventions here do they not support the hypotheses that these Wikipedias will collapse once you exit the stage? How would you ensure that this is not repeated in the upcoming year in Konkani and other Wikipedias?
  • The Train the Trainer programme was an interesting effort on your part in the previous fiscal. How sustainable do you think the programme is as designed now?
  • The idea behind institutional partnerships seem to be too vast and I wish you narrowed it down. Using institutional partnerships as a way to do editing sessions in colleges and universities has not been effective when we tried it out. Do you have numbers to support that recruiting or getting new editors through such institutional partnerships is sustainable? What happens after the partnerships run out?
  • I think you need to stress on using institutional partnerships to help liberate content as you have done with Konkani Vishwakosh would be a more effective for the growing of free knowledge communities and more sustainable. Even if not used on Wikipedia, I am sure they will find themselves to have interesting applications beyond.
  • You are quite bold in admitting that there is concern that CIS and WMIN seem to be competing for limited resources. WMF and its staff has sought to allay these fears by engaging such comments. I don't think these comments emanate from the idea of competing interests but look at impact or return on investment on the magnitude of investments being made here, when converted into the Indian context, where the presence of big money flowing in has been viewed negatively.
  • There seems to be a confusion among wanting to create movement resources and wanting to develop Indic Wikipedia in your workplan. While I understand that the lack of resources is present, it is not crippling to the growth of Indic Wikipedias. Grow the Wikipedia community and eventually community members will take leadership in creating and maintaining (this is more important) movement resources. Given the problems you seem to face in growing Wikimedia communities (eg. Assamese, Odia etc.) I would not stress on creating movement resources yet.

Good luck with the grant. Prad2609 (talk) 18:16, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1000+ likes. Brilliant and spot on analysis. Perfectly captures what is wrong with the whole model.--Ravi (talk) 19:59, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree with Prad2609 -- Tanweer (talk) 18:12, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Very valid points. While I strongly disagree with the first (on wanting only 'natural'/'organic' growth) since that privileges the status quo and the elite, I would be very curious to see responses to the specific criticism of the Konkani Wikipedia.
Hi Prad2609, appreciate your engagement and the concise comments offered on our proposal. These did help us to think through some pertinent questions that we have been grappling with. While it is not an opportune moment for us to respond about your core concern of whether a funded program is required in a voluntary movement, we will definitely share our thoughts with the community post the FDC decision making is done, irrespective of the outcome on the proposal. We have briefly commented about the need for mixed strategy here. For now we would like to share the below responses to some of your comments. We have used the same sequence.
  • You seem to assume a certain insularity while imagining the Indic Wikimedia communities. Some of them have less than 20 active Wikipedians after being in existence for more than 8 years. There are larger problems one should take into consideration while imagining creating open knowledge repositories (like Wikipedias) in Indian languages. A useful contrast will be that of the print history in Indian languages and the role played by the external stimulus.
  • We are afraid your observation here is wrong. You are mistaking the similarity of structure to substance. Please see the methodology section of our work plans here, where we have clarified as to why we have tried to come up with a unitary structure. This does not mean we will not look at cross-cutting strategies. As stated in the methodology section of the work-plan, at a cursory glance one may get the impression that some plans look similar, but they are not. The substance of each language plan differs from the other language plan. Also the four previous year’s language plans have matured compared to last year.
  • A fact: the spurt in activity in August is because of various activities that CIS-A2K program has undertaken, but there is no activity that specifically caused spurt in February 2014. That aside, the question you pose about sustainability is very important and a challenging one. The sustainability of the growth, though difficult, has to be built into the program design. For instance, we are reasonably sure that even if the CIS-A2K program exits from the Telugu plan, whatever growth that is achieved during the last year 30 to 70 active editors, will continue. The language strategy that we have adopted is not even a year old and we are open to learn from our failures and success and are constantly mindful of creating sustainable growth. It would take some more time for us as a program to decide on exit from a particular language area. We are not aware of any baselines that exist on these aspects and probably the CIS-A2K program could offer them.
  • TTT program is the first of its kind in India. We have learnt some lessons from the past and are in the process of changing the design of the proposed workshop. We think, this is one of the useful programs that the movement should invest in India.
  • Could you please see our reply no. 5 here
  • We appreciate your suggestion about using institutional partnerships to liberate content. However, our experience has proved that institutional partnerships could be used for diverse purposes, including content donation/re-release under free license. Please see the above cited link.
  • Whether one likes it or not, it is important to take note of the “competing interests” argument, as this is being very visibly held by some Wikimedians. That said, we think the transparency in our budgeting should allow for a better analysis of RoI in the Indian context, going forward. What is important here is to note how the big money is mapped onto the activities? Do we have any baselines or benchmarks in the movement about RoI? We need to collectively ensure that “big money” is effectively utilised for the movement, than be bothered by it.
  • We appreciate your suggestion. In our experience creating movement resources will be complementary to growing the Wikimedia communities and would be significant value add in grooming new editors. For instance, these resources could be used beyond the life of the CIS-A2K program. Of course the communities are always free to create more/newer resources and the resources that we create are not going to be exhaustive.
Look forward to your continuous engagement with our work. Thanks!--Visdaviva (talk) 10:03, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Prad2609 "As stated above, I am fundamentally against having an external agency catalysing the growth of Wikipedias. I believe this happens best naturally from the work and efforts of Wikipedians. Help to be offered only if sought and not to be imposed because you are not happy with the rate at which it is growing. External agency influence distorts the growth of Wikipedia and causes a lot of pain that might take years to recover from and come to terms with" I think that this is a valid concern and I worry a lot about this too. However, I do not think that it can be argued that India is not participating in the international Wikimedia movement as much as people would like, and natural growth is not happening fast enough. Whatever the reasons for this, some remedy has to be tried. The Wikimedia community in India should have more voice and power internationally but this just has not happened, and it is not certain how to make this happen in the future. How can natural growth be spread without an organizational partnership? In what ways is it possible to exchange money and funding to get people in India more involved and to take more leadership roles in governance internationally? Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:52, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Visdaviva, I wish the comment had come a little bit earlier than it did so that it offered me the chance to reply.
Bluerasberry, I agree that India's participation internationally leaves a lot to be desired. You are seeing a few members participating there with Indians on the WMF Board, on the FDC, on the several other bureaucracies of India. Given the experience, I am sure the participation will increase, albeit slowly. I think this can be partly be attributed to the fact that culturally we are more likely to stick to safe jobs in engineering and finance and that India has a very small history of voluntarism to build on. We will get there soon enough, I believe.
Historically, growth in India picks up as that language community socially reaches a particular phase where they are otherwise secure to enable themselves to contribute to society or in places where there is a strong sense of pride and where there is reasonable development. These are my thoughts and it is worth looking into why language communities in Malayalam and Tamil grow whilst languages like Hindi and Punjabi don't. They have comparable diaspora but are engaged in different trades - the South Indians being largely involved in engineering jobs abroad while the North Indians usually being business people and trades people not really that involved with technology other than mobile phones. This leads to a change in the way they volunteer efforts online.
It is worth exploring and researching these trends to understand what led to the spurt in growth of the languages that grew and the languages that didn't. CIS is uniquely placed to do such studies in my opinion. Apologies for posting here late and after the community review period.Prad2609 (talk) 06:39, 11 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Prad2609 I agree with you that CIS seems like a great choice for managing Internet outreach projects in India. I also feel that participation in Wikipedia in India is increasing, and I am pleased with all progress to now. Thanks. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:28, 12 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Greatest shortcoming of CIS[edit]

I think that the greatest shortcoming of CIS is that of right manpower - Hindi is the language of the federal government of India and you people don't have a single person on board who is either expert in the language or active on Hindi Wikipedia. Is there anybody who is active Hindi Wikipedian and at least in your reach? You've planned many standalone language plans but have you identified people who will carry CIS flag in the desired direction? --Sadhu Vaswani (talk) 14:57, 18 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Institutional Development[edit]

k and efforts of Wikipedians. Help to be offered only if sought and not to be imposed because you are not happy with the rate at which it is growing. External agency influence distorts the growth of Wikipedia and causes a lot of pain that might take years to recover from and come to terms with.

  • You have showcased Konkani as a specimen of success of your strategy of Language Area Planning. It is to be noted that this is a Wikipedia with a small community which is still in its infancy and you have had control of its growth from 3 to 13 editors. Do you think the same or even a similar strategies would work on Wikipedias that are already in existence for more than 10 years and have a history and heritage of their own and which you wish to tackle in your forthcoming year like Marathi?
  • On a related note, for the graph shown in Konkani Wikipedia for the editors and edit count per month. There was a spurt in August 2013 and then a long period of low activity followed again by a spurt in activity and editors in February 2014. The number of editors has fallen from 37 in August 2013 to 32 in February 2014, though not a significant fall. If these spurts in activity map to your interventions here do they not support the hypotheses that these Wikipedias will collapse once you exit the stage? How would you ensure that this is not repeated in the upcoming year in Konkani and other Wikipedias?
  • The Train the Trainer programme was an interesting effort on your part in the previous fiscal. How sustainable do you think the programme is as designed now?
  • The idea behind institutional partnerships seem to be too vast and I wish you narrowed it down. Using institutional partnerships as a way to do editing sessions in colleges and universities has not been effective when we tried it out. Do you have numbers to support that recruiting or getting new editors through such institutional partnerships is sustainable? What happens after the partnerships run out?
  • I think you need to stress on using institutional partnerships to help liberate content as you have done with Konkani Vishwakosh would be a more effective for the growing of free knowledge communities and more sustainable. Even if not used on Wikipedia, I am sure they will find themselves to have interesting applications beyond.
  • You are quite bold in admitting that there is concern that CIS and WMIN seem to be competing for limited resources. WMF and its staff has sought to allay these fears by engaging such comments. I don't think these comments emanate from the idea of competing interests but look at impact or return on investment on the magnitude of investments being made here, when converted into the Indian context, where the presence of big money flowing in has been viewed negatively.
  • There seems to be a confusion among wanting to create movement resources and wanting to develop Indic Wikipedia in your workplan. While I understand that the lack of resources is present, it is not crippling to the growth of Indic Wikipedias. Grow the Wikipedia community and eventually community members will take leadership in creating and maintaining (this is more important) movement resources. Given the problems you seem to face in growing Wikimedia communities (eg. Assamese, Odia etc.) I would not stress on creating movement resources yet. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by an unspecified user




Thank you for the detailed information presented here. I was wondering what role the "Institutional Development (10%)" item serves in the budget? As I understood, the existing CIS grant included in addition to programme and staff costs a administrative fee paid to CIS for hosting the A2K programme and team - is this related to that? Was that fee an indication that the programme was a "service" the CIS provided to the WMF, and would the direct request of funds change this "service provider" relationship and the use of additional fees? Apologies, if I misunderstood the situation, clarifications are welcome. --Bence (talk) 19:04, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Bence thank you for taking time out to engage with the proposal. Thanks for this question. Gives us an opportunity to clarify. CIS typically requests a 10% over and above the program costs from all its Donors when making grant requests. This is a standard procedure by most of the non-profits in India. When WMF gave us the existing grant we were requested to put it at 5% and we used the title "Administrative Fees". Across all the grants we have now decided to use the standard term "Institutional Development", as per our auditor's advice. What is the purpose of this? Most of the grants received by CIS (including the existing the grant from WMF) are designated for specific purposes/programs and while spending the grant CIS strictly adheres to the budget agreed with the Donor. Whereas, CIS will have freedom to use the 10% with approval from the Board, for purposes that are undefined in the grant agreement. We typically use these funds to support aspects of our work that we do not always manage to raise funding but are passionate about. For instance, CIS supported the WMIN Chapter during its inception stage from this pool of money (or reserves), which was some years before and at a time when we did not anticipate or receive the existing grant from WMF.--Visdaviva (talk) 21:09, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Bence, thanks for asking this question. Mentioning the funding given for WMIN is a clever example :) Given the fact that this 10% amounts to 15 lakh Indian rupees which is huge, could you please disclose the full details on how it was spent? If this is againt CIS's privacy clause agreed by WMF, please at least specify how much was spent for Wikimedia related activities including the funding provided for WMIN? Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 21:59, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ravi, I should have explained it better. Have clarified about the support to WMIN point above. Please note that the intention was to clarify about the nature of 10% "Institutional Development", which goes into a common pool and how CIS uses these reserves as unrestricted funds. The example of support to WMIN was to provide a relevant example which could be easily understood from this context. We could certainly ask our accounts to provide the details of CIS's support to WMIN and Wikimedia related activities in the past, before we got the existing grant. However, this would take some time as the accounts are busy with the fiscal year-end closure work and also they would need to go back and take out details from the past years. Let know. If you are asking for the budget of the existing grant and spending details of it, please note that we have already shared these on the India mailing list and will be sharing the latest financial reports in the future as and when we put out the next set of reports.--Visdaviva (talk) 05:32, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, I am not interested in knowing how much CIS spent for Wikimedia related activities before the A2K grant for Wikipedia materialized. Please also note that there are many institions offering in kind and monetary support for the Wikimedia movement in India for many years. I assume that nothing from this 10% during last fiscal year was spent for Wikimedia related activities. I am concerned that WMF would even entertain a mandatory 10% grant to spent in an unrestricted way for non-Wikimedia purposes. Are there any precedents for this in WMF grants? As Bence put it, this looks like " a fee that is an indication that the programme was a "service" the CIS provided to the WMF". --Ravi (talk) 06:11, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A quick clarification. As stated above it was only 5% under the existing WMF grant and we proposed for a 10% under this proposal like we do with other Donors.--Visdaviva (talk) 06:22, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Vishnu, could you please clarify the purpose research fee mentioned at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/India_Access_To_Knowledge/Draft_Work_plan_July_2014_-_June_2015/Budget#WMF_grant_budget_July_2013-June_2014 . Adding admin fee and research fee together it comes around 8.66% of the grant amount for last year? You have changed the name of admin fee which was 5% to 10% in the proposed grant. But, the research fee has disappeared. Please explain. Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 06:38, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It was to commission Wikimedia specific research and development efforts focussing on Indian projects specifically. Outputs 1) Indic Wikipedia Project visualizations; and 2) Supported costs of a CIS Intern to undertake research on Gender gap on Indic Wikimedia projects. See this session in Wikimania--Visdaviva (talk) 08:03, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for the clarification, Vishnu.--Ravi (talk) 17:43, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Ijon:, any precedent in WMF for paying "institution development" fee like this?. Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 18:29, 19 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Anasuya, Asaf, Winifred - Could you please clarify if there are any precedents for providing institutional development fee like this? Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 18:30, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Ravi, in the grantmaking world, institutional development fees of this kind are common, particularly as organisations work on different kinds of programs and issues, and funders support certain specific programmes as well as the overall administration and institutional development of the organisation. This is true not only in India but across the world. In this case, the reason that it is included is that only one particular programme of CIS is focused on Wikimedia related work (A2K) and therefore the line item makes transparent that the request includes some support for overall organisational development. It is unusual in the Wikimedia world, obviously, because all funds towards Wikimedia organisations are towards Wikimedia related programs, and WMF funds implicitly support both organisational and programme development from the start. You will find a similar line item in the budget of our Brazilian partner organisation. I hope this helps. ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 22:57, 25 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Anasuya, thanks for acknowledging that this is unusual in the Wikimedia world. You cite the budget of the Brazilian program as a comparison. But, please note that CIS-A2K was the first program created after dissolving the catalyst program and only after this the Brazilian program followed. So, in a way a bad precedent has been set here. I hope FDC would consider this concern.
Please note that the term "partner organization" is misleading and can be confused with the "movement partners" officially recognized as one of Wikimedia affiliates. The WMF board resolution on this proposal being eligible for FDC calls CIS as an organization in working relationship with WMF and not as a partner organization. More over, please let me know if there is a public page that lists all such working relationships of WMF. Please note that majority of the people who donate to WMF after seeing community appeals like this and this have no idea of existance of such working relationships and money being spent on this without any community review. The FAQ page for donation mentions only about the chapters. So, I request you to make appropriate changes to inform and consult the community well. Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 20:33, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Relationship with Consumers International[edit]

Hello! My name is Lane and I live in the United States. I am a Wikipedian in Residence employed by Consumer Reports, which is a nonprofit organization in New York. Consumer Reports is a major funder of Consumers International, and Consumers International is a funder of the Access to knowledge movement. I understand that the Centre for Internet and Society participates in A2K, so it might be the case that there is some connection between what your organization is doing and what mine is doing.

Is there someone on your staff who interfaces with Consumers International? If so, then I would like to talk with this person. Also, do you have staff who are attending Wikimania London in summer 2014? If so, would that person like to join me in visiting the Consumers International headquarters in London and also the local consumer organization, called "Which?"? If somehow our organizations are sharing an income pool then it would be great for us to be able collaborate on Wikipedia also.

Thanks for your attention. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:41, 21 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Blue Rasberry , good to hear from you! Yes CIS was a contributor to a2knetwork.org. We contributed to India sections of the CI-A2K Watch Lists. Also did the report on Consumer Rights in the Digital Age. Currently we do not have any ongoing project with CI. Please write an e-mail and I will put you in touch with the concerned from CIS. It will be great to explore collaboration on the Wikipedia front too! Let's touch base over e-mail. Cheers!--Visdaviva (talk) 18:03, 21 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comments (by Johnbod)[edit]

I should say I speak no Indic languages, & have had relatively little contact with Indian Wikipedians. This is a difficult proposal to understand. If I have got it right $297K is requested from WMF, but the only cost elements broken out for the Wikipedia programme are direct programme expenses at $88K, and travel at $29K was it. The staff and admin costs look to be pretty high, but what are they?

Surely when they said to use 5 decimal places on currency conversion they meant the rate, not the resulting $ figure? It is rather ridiculous to have 7 figure $ numbers with 5 decimal places, and makes the page even harder to understand.

Looking at various of the pages linked, and the discussion here, the results of the programme so far are in the cases of the larger languages very hard to disentangle from the normal organic growth one would expect, and not all that impressive. The talk page suggests a disconnect with the existing Wikipedia community, or parts of it, and the requests page is not all that impressive either - many requests for badges and stickers and small event grants fulfilled, but after that not too much completed. What does "organize outreach program" involve? Sending staff?

To showcase the Konkani effort seems odd as the language has very few speakers, and the results are not very impressive. The Bangla initiative hasn't amounted to much, but this year the plan is to tackle both Hindi and Marathi, with vast numbers of speakers.

I'm sympathetic to the aims, but.... Johnbod (talk) 02:31, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Johnbod, thanks for highlighting the huge spending on admin items. Vishnu, can you classify items in your past year expenses and future budget as admin and non-admin related expenses? I would like to see the percentage of admin related expenses. Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 06:10, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Johnbod, thanks for engaging with the proposal and for your comments. Some replies.
Budget: Please note that other than expenditure item number 11.1 and 12 listed in this table, the entire proposed budget will go towards the programmatic implementation of the proposed plans. It could be useful to compare with the budget as per program activities. CIS would otherwise will not require to spend this proposed budget but for this plans including the proposed staff costs. We see the staff as a programmatic investment and CIS cannot continue to employ them if this Program is wound up. We had clarified this here and stated that the staff costs are not separately "listed as we see the CIS-A2K team as a programmatic investment and each of the team member's time is budgeted against a specific activity or plan". Thus as per our understanding out of the proposed budget of $297k the programmatic component is $261k.
Decimal places - Oops! Thanks for pointing this out. Even we went through quite a bit of trouble entering these decimals :( Hope the FDC staff alerts us to such silly mistakes.
We respect your observations about the programs. We have shared some responses and will put our some more about our work in the coming days. As per our understanding we have brought a positive impact in all the four language areas during the last 9 months, created a lot of positive energy among the Indic communities and had significant learning, which we propose to use for the year ahead. Please keep engaging with our work, a good way would be to go through our reports and do offer suggestions and feedback.
About your comments on community requests... there is no precedent for us to compare this work from within India. Could you point to a similar work by any other comparable movement entity where we can learn from? "Organize outreach program" typically means that CIS-A2K tries to identify and send a willing volunteer to undertaken an outreach program. In cases where we do not find volunteers one of the CIS-A2K program staff does the outreach. Could we request you to please see our learning about Outreach in India and suggest how better this can be done? Thanks.--Visdaviva (talk) 07:18, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Ravi for the last year budget the admininistrative expenses are clearly stated. Please see this table. For the current year the administrative expenses are given as expenditure item 11.1 in this table. The percentage of administrative expenses for the last year is 4.8% and it is 3.3% of the current proposed budget.--Visdaviva (talk) 07:44, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, I beg to differ on the way you interpret admin costs. Based on your interpreation, other than expenditure item number 11.1 and 12 listed in this table, the entire proposed budget will go towards the programmatic implementation of the proposed plans. But, you have left item 12 while calculating the admin expense percentage. Including the 10% institutional development fee, the admin expense based on your interpretation stands at 12.35% and not 3.3% for the proposed budget. If you check the way WMIN has proposed its budget, staffing comes under chapter expenses and overheads. If you would re-tabulate your budget on these lines, your admin expenses would be HUGE. Actually, in my view, there are only very few items in your budget that cannot be seen as admin expenses. I request members of the FDC, WMF and other chapters to give clear guidance on what is usually classified as an admin expense with proper references and precedents.
// CIS would otherwise will not require to spend this proposed budget but for this plans including the proposed staff costs. We see the staff as a programmatic investment and CIS cannot continue to employ them if this Program is wound up.// This is precisely the issue with the CIS-A2K program. You inherited the former WMF India programs staff, their salary structure, budget and was asked to work on a program plan that would justify the spending on staff and allotted budget. For volunteer led organizations like the chapter, it is the other way around.--Ravi (talk) 09:08, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ravi, please note that we cannot consider "Institutional Development" as "Administrative Expense". Also we have made it amply clear while responding above to Johnbod that the "Institutional Development" (i.e. expenditure item 12) is a non-programmatic component of the budget. But that does not mean it comes under Administrative Expenses. We need to adhere to the accounting principles while receiving grants and cannot club these two expenditure items (11.1 and 12) under Administrative Expenses. Please also note that we are not using our own interpretation of what an Administrative Expense is. Rather we are strictly adhering to the accounting principles prescribed by our Statutory Auditor, which are similar in other non-profits in India. We have cross-checked with our Accounts and were given to understand that staff costs cannot come under Administrative Expenses. Hope this helps.--Visdaviva (talk) 09:51, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Vishnu, thanks for explaining the rationale based on professional opinion. I will still wait to hear from the members of the FDC, WMF and other chapters to give clear guidance on what is usually classified as an admin expense with proper references and precedents in the context of Wikimedia grants.--Ravi (talk) 10:28, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Grants:APG/FDC portal/Eligibility criteria#Definition of general funding here puts staff expenses apart from program expenses. Anasuya, Asaf, Winifred - Could you please clarify what are all the items in CIS's budget that will come under admin expenses and what is the generally accepted cap for admin expenses?--Ravi (talk) 18:28, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Greetings, Ravidreams. There is no cap on funding for operating expenses (which may also include administrative expenses) through the FDC process. Under this definition of general funding you point to, grantees may use funds to cover any of those three types of expenses listed (program costs, operating costs, staff costs) at their discretion. In the context of that definition, we listed those three types of expenses in order to make it clear to applicants and grantees that Annual Plan Grants may be used to support both operating expenses and program expenses in addition to staff expenses, and not in order to define if or how those two types of expenses are considered distinct. Grantees are required to separately identify non-staff and staff expenses in their proposal forms, but beyond that, grantees may define categories for other types of program expenses and operating expenses (which include administrative expenses) as they wish. Some other grantmaking organizations do have specific guidelines around overhead costs or operating expenses, but the FDC has not yet addressed this. Winifred Olliff (FDC Support Team) talk 23:29, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Winifred, thanks for this clarification. Though there is no cap after providing the grant, there are numerous instances where FDC has noted with concern about high operational costs and salary costs leading to more institutionalization. The FDC guidelines in particular talk about reducing institutionalization. Though CIS is at liberty to define admin expenses for audting purposes in India, in the Wikimedia grants context some consistancy should be followed. With this background, CIS considering full time staff expense as a programmatic investment and considering 10% institutional development fee as a non-programmatic and yet non-admin expense is flawed. I hope FDC would address this concern.--Ravi (talk) 20:16, 28 April 2014 (UTC) Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 20:16, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Punjabi Wikipedia[edit]

I think there should be a specific plan for Punjabi Wikipedia(pa.wikipedia.org) as well. --Satdeep gill (talk) 15:37, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Satdeep, it will be great if you and others in the Punjabi community could think of what you all collectively would like to achieve on Punjabi Wikipeida in the next six-months or a year. The Punjabi community could reach out to WMIN Chapter and WMF with requests for support. CIS-A2K is also there to help with anything specific. Please visit our community requests page. --Visdaviva (talk) 18:29, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comment from a Bangladeshi Wikimedian[edit]

I'm a Bangladeshi Wikimedian, active in both online and offline Bengali Wikimedia projects since 2009 (mostly in Bangla Wikipedia). I've gone through the Grant Proposal Form for 2013-2014 round2 and the draft work plan for Bangla for July 2014 - June 2015. I have some opinion regarding the expected target by CIS on Bangla Wikipedia.

  • CIS has mentioned in their draft work plan for 2014-15, that they expect 1,250 editors by June 30, 2015. According to Wikipedia Statistics, the increase in number of editor from January 2012 to January 2013 is 185 and from January 2013 to January 2014 is 211. If theoretically calculated, the increase in editor from January 2014 to June 2015 would be 299 (approx.). That means by June 2015, number of editor would be 1203. This data is based on mere statistical fact from the past. But number of editor in Bangla Wikipedia is naturally increasing at such a rate that, by June 2015, reaching 1,250 would easily be achieved without any special intervention or attempt. So how pragmatic it is to expect the increase in the number of editor to 1,250 by June 2015 involving the amount of money that has been stated?
  • The draft work plan also states that, CIS expects the total number of articles in Bangla Wikipedia to be 31,000 by June 30, 2015. We see from the Wikipedia statistics that yearly increase on number of articles is 4,000 (from 2012 December to 2013 December). The rate is on the increase (from 2011 December 2011 to 2012 December, it was 3,000). So is is anticipated that by June 30, 2015 the total number of articles would be 33,500 (at present total article stands at 29,500+, which would be 33,500 even if we consider the growth rate of past year). But the dream target of CIS by June 30, 2015 is 33,000; that is even low than the amount which would happen organically. So how justified it would be to invest the amount of money for such an purpose that happens completely naturally? Tanweer (talk) 18:07, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Tanweer, firstly many thanks for engaging with the Bangla plan and for sharing very pertinent observations. You are absolutely right in your observations. We got similar feedback from another Bangladeshi Wikimedian too on FB. As stated above we need to still discuss and refine this plan and your feedback is certainly helpful. We will continue to seek feedback until June, so please do point out to other lacunae and suggest inputs that could strengthen the plan. The proposed goals that we have put are mostly indicative of what we believe could be achieved with the activities mentioned in the plan. Thanks!--Visdaviva (talk) 18:22, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Tanweer Morshed There are different definitions of what constitutes an editor. Perhaps CIS should eventually define terms like this one, or perhaps the WMF should define these terms and tell every fund recipient should use the same terms.
I would love to see better connections between WM Bangladesh and efforts in India. Also, if WM Bangladesh ever wants comments from the United States then ping me and I will do what I can to get comment and support for Bangla Wikipedia. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:56, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks Blue Rasberry for your comment and positive intention to support Bangla Wikipedia. Everyone here in WMBD (Wikimedia Bangladesh) wants better relation and collaboration with WMIN or other efforts that happen in India, because that's beneficial for both of the entities and eventually for Bangla Wikipedia. Hope this would really happen in the upcoming days. Tanweer (talk) 23:05, 3 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Guiding vision[edit]

The plan looks very grand, with lots of projects to tap the languages of the most populous (linguistic) groups in India. I have a more fundamental question however on whether projects like these should look upon "providers of knowledge" as the key drivers or whether it would make more sense to tap the seekers of knowledge - who it would appear from the statistics provided by the proposal have currently no real motivation to use the Indic-language Wikipedias.

The basic vision seems to be to tap what are labelled here as "knowledge producers" - because schooling and education is big and growing business. I would however question the ability of the Indian education establishment to actually "produce" or even "synthesize" knowledge well enough at say even the GA level of the English Wikipedia. This is because the growing educational institutions (which I believe are mainly private institutions driven by profit motives) in India are in need of A2K projects. The vast numbers of the universities and their students (not to mention their faculty) do not even know about journals, leave alone have access to them. The situation with books is no better. Since a lot of specialist literature is in English, potential valuable editors in some areas are an extremely small number who know their subject, English, an Indian language *and* actually wish to share their knowledge for free by editing Wikipedia. Given this situation, it seems like it is better to actually provide services to the existing editors in Indian languages, for instance it might be worth paying for library services - getting scans/photocopies of sources on a topic - actual books or journals - and translation services (or a platform where this can happen through volunteer activity, again needing technology and legal decisions). The service could be provided to bonafide editors through a controlled channel (to overcome copyright issues) on the principle that provision of research sources would actually lead to article improvement - a condition that can be specified (as done on en:WP:RX). This kind of A2K service would be an incentive to editors and will draw on students from all institutions that lack libraries and who would otherwise never actually see reliable sources in their life. The vision here is to make an Indic-language reference desk / resource exchange to complement what we have on the English Wikipedia. I understand that the current manpower or style of functioning of CIS would not be able to deal with this. The seekers of knowledge have a genuine thirst but the producers of knowledge are mainly in a position where they accept their status quo. What would it take for the WMF and CIS to actually turn around and change its guiding vision so as to serve the countless anonymous seekers of information rather than the few so-called "producers" of knowledge who seek rewards to share knowledge? More money? Shyamal (talk) 08:20, 23 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Shyamal, I agree with your suggestion that a fundamental change in the approach is needed. Let me provide two examples from Tamil Wikipedia experience. One of our early days contributor was a daily wage earner who was spending all his hard earned money in browsing centres to contribute to Tamil Wikimedia projects. When some of the contributors realized this, we quickly pooled some money from our own pocket and donated him a computer with an internet connection. He has been a daily and active editor to Tamil Wikimedia projects since that day for more than 5 years now. He has more than one lakh edits. The cost of the system was around 25,000 INR. A one time investment / support for the knowledge seekers at the right place can make a lot of difference. For the last two years, some of the Tamil Wikimedians' activity went down considerably owing to frequent power cuts in that state. At that time, we even thought if we can sponsor UPS machines to some. Such kind of support systems may look weird for some and out of the Wikimedia's role but anyone who has an understanding of the socio economic scenario can understand the ROI in this. Occassional contests we run has also brought and retained some good editors for us. Though not strictly fitting your suggestion above, I hope these examples can illustrate how putting money at the other end on a genuine need basis can make a world of difference.--Ravi (talk) 18:12, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Shyamal, thank you for engaging with our proposal. We do not see the bright-line between the "Knowledge Producers" and "Knowledge Seekers" that you draw. Rather we believe that this line is increasingly thinning. We appreciate your suggestion about creating provision for research sources and services to the existing editors in Indian languages. There are really small steps we have taken in this direction. For instance see this resources page on Telugu Wikipedia, similarly this initiative we have encouraged. In Telugu, we also informally started sharing useful resources through google drive among the existing editors, a practice that might be existing in other Indic communities too. Importantly, we are also working with TISS (one of our institutional partners) to create a Digital Knowledge Hub in Indian languages, without any cost for CIS-A2K, which once up could act as a controlled channel to provide access to research sources in Indian languages. We would welcome specific suggestions or ideas that could be collectively explored with the community on this aspect. With respect to English editing community in India, we would like to learn more about how CIS-A2K program could support the existing editors. We are currently interested in gathering ideas and information on how could we add value to the English Wikipedia community in India. Thanks.--Visdaviva (talk) 17:43, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
User:Visdaviva, I completely agree with your observation there is no bright line, however the proposal seems to treat only formal institutions of learning and their faculty/students as "knowledge producers" and does not really seem to be gathering insights on what users are seeking. Are there any mechanisms evolved to "... learn more about how CIS-A2K program could support the existing editors"? Based on my very limited interactions with editors, I am quite sure this and numerous other interesting suggestions for high-impact and low-cost have been made for a while. Shyamal (talk) 02:55, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
//Based on my very limited interactions with editors, I am quite sure this and numerous other interesting suggestions for high-impact and low-cost have been made for a while.// Could you please be kind enough to point to locations where these have been documented? It would be very useful. Thanks.--Visdaviva (talk) 22:19, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, the suggestions of others have not been documented. On the other hand, I have tried to get people to solve my own problem of reliable source access (access to knowledge, if I might call it) for a good while. On meta, at least since 2013. Shyamal (talk) 03:23, 1 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WMF intervention[edit]

Anasuya of WMF has called me and tried to get me to endorse this. as a community member i am very uncomfortable with this kind of lobbying. --OhHellYeahYes! (talk) 13:18, 23 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

hm --Jan eissfeldt (talk) 05:14, 24 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not endorsing; but it looks like someone who is too hesitant to bring up more information and transparency. Stating that, it will always be better to be transparent and open enough unless you really feel some things might harm you. If Anusaya contacted you, please bring it here; unless she acknowledges that things were discussed, it will remain as a rumor. -- ♪Karthik♫ ♪Nadar♫ 19:09, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
ASengupta (WMF) Could you please share the message you sent out here? Also, could you please say something about the audience to whom you sent this message? Thanks. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:59, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Dear Karthik and Blue Rasberry, while it’s past the comments period, I am responding to these questions because you did ask them before the 1st of May (the end of the community review period). Apologies for the delay.
The only community member from India I’ve spoken to in the past few weeks is Ravi, because I was in Chennai (India) to renew my visa and thought it would be a good opportunity to meet Tamil Wikimedians, whom I have never met face-to-face. Knowing Ravi is an active community organiser in WP:Ta (and especially engaged in Meta analysis of WMF’s work in India), I reached out to him with this email: “I know you - and perhaps other Tamil community members - continue to have questions about our progress in India, and I want to honour your concerns and commitment. Would you (and any other members you feel might be interested) like to meet with me in Chennai on Monday?” Ravi wrote back saying he does not live in Chennai, and that other community members were not available to meet with me as it was a working day, but he would appreciate a skype call himself.
I then had a long and useful conversation with Ravi, on a range of issues from WMF’s approach to India, to the WMIN and CIS FDC proposals, to the Tamil community’s own history and strategies in Wikipedia/Wikimedia. I conveyed the key learnings from that conversation back to both WMIN and CIS in a joint email to Moksh (President of WMIN), Sunil and Vishnu (from CIS). Again, to quote myself: “I had a long and detailed meeting with Ravidreams today, in which he brought up some valid criticisms of all of us - WMF, WMIN and CIS - :-) - but essentially said that once CIS is being reviewed in the same way as the chapter is being (i.e. as is happening through the FDC process), he feels that helps, because otherwise the community feels CIS is getting preferential treatment, particularly when it is getting a large grant for staff and institutional development. Also, he asked CIS to do as much on wiki consultation as possible, knowing that there may not be much response, but that it's important for institutional memory. And finally, he really felt it was important for CIS to make its mark through both content acquisition (he was happy about the encyclopaedias, for instance) and tech-related policy (for instance, typing in Kannada to be pushed through the curriculum of the Karnataka education department, or work on fonts and ULS). He feels this is where the value-add of CIS is most obvious.”
I am liberally quoting myself in this response (a somewhat strange thing to do, I know), because I am frankly appalled at the level of unsubstantiated comments being made in this entire discussion on the CIS proposal and want to be as accurate in my own responses as possible; as Ravi himself says elsewhere on this page, this is “no way helping the community that is taking part in an intense and honest analysis of this proposal”. Knowing Ravi's own principles of transparency, the anonymised message you are both responding to clearly does not come from him.
Ravi himself, I hope, will respond if he feels I am representing his conversation with me incorrectly; he certainly would not, I think, characterise our conversation as ‘lobbying’. That was neither my intention nor my approach. I think it is appropriate to for me to reach out to community members as much as possible; I’m particularly interested in and open to hearing from valued community members who have criticisms of WMF’s role or strategies so I can learn from them. As someone who has been a long time volunteer myself (even if not on WP), I know how important it is for us as staff to listen to the concerns and suggestions of contributing members of our community and I am committed to doing so. ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 17:25, 5 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
ASengupta (WMF) Thanks for your response. I think that addresses the concern expressed and resolves the issue for now. What you did seems entirely appropriate based on all the information available here. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:16, 5 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let me once again condemn here on behalf of the community for the baseless allegations and personal attacks ASengupta (WMF) is facing. Such activity also puts the community in bad light and may indirectly undermine the legitimate concerns many other genuine community members are voicing.
The WMF grants team that visited India during Feb 2014 was interested in meeting the Tamil Wikimedia community in Chennai. We even fixed the venue and the date but the event was cancelled later due to scheduling problems of the visiting team. I participated in the last IRC meeting that the WMF grants team held with the Indian community. That was the first time I spoke to Anasuya and she was interested in talking to me after the IRC as a follow-up on the discussion. But, that didn't happen then. So, when Anasuya contacted me few weeks before when she visited India again, I saw it is a natural follow-up to the IRC discussion which was publicly held. As Anasuya has documented above, our conversation through Skype focused on a broad range of issues. She didn't initiate any question or comment on the CIS FDC proposal. But, she was open minded to answer many of my questions and concerns which included the proposal and the WMF-CIS partnership in general. She also encouraged me to reach out on-wiki if I needed any clarification in general. I don't consider her conversation as lobbying. Actually, I appreciate that a senior staff from WMF took so much time and effort to communicate with a community member. I hope that some of the inputs I gave finds merit and gets integrated into WMF's approach.
P. S. My comments on CIS's approach towards meeting the technical needs of Indic wiki community can be found here. I don't remember discussing or appreciating CIS's involvement with fonts / ULS etc., Otherwise, Anasuya's description of our conversation is fairly accurate.--Ravi (talk) 16:08, 6 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]