Grants talk:Programs/Wikimedia Community Fund/Youth Skill Development Program to Document Oral Culture in Endangered Indian Languages
Observarions and questions from Bodhisattwa
I have multiple observations and questions regarding different aspects of this grant proposal. Personally, I have found the proposal very expensive yet unclear and porous, so I will try to objectively write them down as much as possible.
- Has the team considered reducing the expenditure considering the gigantic amount asked?
- I would suggest to bring the budget breakdown on-wiki for documentation, archiving and future reference.
- The proposal gives salary/remuneration to 13 persons and fellowships to 5 people, so 18 people in total. Why so many people will be paid monthly with donation money?
North East India
- Why did the grantee choose North East India which is located thousands of kilometers from their place? North East Indian state of Manipur is around 2800 kms away from Punjab and nearby areas where most of the team members are located.
- Why did the grantee not consult and engage Wikimedia communities from Assam or West Bengal which are located near North East India and worked on this part of the country before? That would save a lot of time and money for travel.
- Does the grantee and team understand the community dynamics of Bishnupriya Manipuri and how the project is managed?
- How many people speaking the endangered languages of North East India mentioned in the grant proposal are in contact with the grantee and the team? Do the majority of team members including the grantee understand any one of the North Eastern languages and culture which they are going to cover? Did any of the team member actually work on any North Indian languages or collaborated with any North Indian language volunteers before on any wiki? Is there any background work in North East India by the grantee and team? If yes, please link the documentation.
- Why should Wikimedia donation money be spent to give INR 100,000/- per month salary to a minimally active on-wiki editor (around 5-10 edits on Wikisource or Wikimedia Commons last month.) with only just less than 550 global edits till now, who is also fairly new to the movement?
- What is the responsibility of the project coordinator and why it is not mentioned anywhere on the proposal?
- What is the responsibility of the project coordinator in this grant project and why it is not mentioned anywhere on the proposal?
Researcher and Observer (North India) & Researcher and Observer (North East India)
- What is the responsibility of the Researcher and Observer (North India) & Researcher and Observer (North East India) in this grant project for which they will draw monthly money and why it is not mentioned anywhere on the proposal?
- Why is there a researcher needed in a cultural documentation project? Considering the need of a Researcher, what researches are going to be done in this project and why it is not clearly mentioned?
- Why salary will be given for observing (considering the title of the role)?
Project Manager (Anudip) and Mentor cum Marketing executive (Anudip)
- Why was Anudip Foundation contacted and selected as a partner in this project over others? Is there any relationship including financial relationship between any of the grantee team including WMF staffs in the team and this organization?
- Why will Wikimedia movement money be spent to give salary to 2 persons from an external organization like Anudip Foundation? Was there any prior contract or understanding between WMF and Anudip Foundation?
- What will be the responsibility of Project Manager from this organization? What will be the responsibility of Mentor cum Marketing executive from this organization?
Archival services and support (Wikitongues)
- Why will Wikitongues staff draw excessively high money of 375000 INR for one month? What kind of archival service be given by the said staff?
WMF staffs in the team
- Do the grantee and team consider the presence of WMF staffs as conflict of interest as paid employees from WMF, the organization which will approve the funding?
- Q. to Grants team and committee: Will the presence of WMF staffs in the team affect the decision making of the grants committee?
- Why new equipment is needed again and why will not the laptops, cameras, recorders etc. donated to the Punjabi Wikimedians User Group and other Punjabi community members for their projects previously on different occasions utilized in this project?
- What will happen to these equipment after the project ends and who will take care of them?
- Why was the Punjabi Wikipedia and Wikisource notified on village pump even though the target languages are not Punjabi dialects or from Punjab? Why were not other communities from India including communities located near Manipur and/or communities and affiliates working in these area notified then?
- Why was not the larger community from India notified on mailing list?
- Even if two of the communities and two users were notified, wrong links were provided on Punjabi projects and no links were provided on Bishnupriya Manipuri projects. I suggest to provide correct links there.
Oral Culture Transcription Toolkit
- This proposal cites Oral Culture Transcription Toolkit as pilot and base project. The grant period for the toolkit ends on December 30, 2021 and the toolkit itself is not finished. Why is then an incomplete project cited? Why not end the previous project first and get it reviewed first? What's the rush?
I have tried to jot down my observations and questions above. There might be some left which I have missed or forgot. I will add those if they come to my mind again. In the mean time, I am really interested to get clear answers about my queries. -- Bodhisattwa (talk) 11:39, 7 December 2021 (UTC)
Reply from grantee
- Thanks @Bodhisattwa: for taking time to ask your doubts and clarifications about this proposal. We must also inform you of the new process of the grant application via an external platform called Fluxx. It was not possible to add more context specially because of character limit on the Fluxx platform. That is why we were unable to elaborate a lot on the project. We will try our best to reply to your concerns in the same sequence.
- General Finance
- Yes, we have tried to keep the expenditure to a minimum. However, we have a large team of experts who are being paid on hourly and monthly basis. We have reduced their salaries as well upon discussion, it could have been inflated if we had not reduced them. Considering that we are going to be working in a comparatively new area, we believe its important to engage language experts from the regions, experts in training youth as well as experts in filmmaking techniques.
- We did not add anything to the page on our own. It was all automatically generated from Fluxx!
- We believe that all the 18 people who will be involved in this project are experts in their respective fields, meaning that there would not be any possibility of lags or incompetence. We are paying them on a monthly basis and based on different hourly commitments. Some are full-time while most of them are either at 20 hours per week or less. Each of these people would be carving out time from their busy schedules for this project which would last for a few months, we would only be remunerating for their expertise for this short-term project!
- North East India
- North-East India is home to the most endangered languages in India according to the UNESCO. We have already engaged with a researcher and advisor, Albert, who is from Manipur and currently researching folk songs, teaches English, and expresses concern over his language. Also, the project coordinator is from Bihar, not Punjab.
- We are working with Anudip Foundation, which is from West Bengal. They have offices in Assam and Meghalaya, and have experience in working at the grassroots level in North-East India. They have experience in building curriculum for digital literacy workshops and we will closely work with them to develop a curriculum for this project. Additionally, Viresh (User:Innocent Bunny) is from WB who is involved in our current funded project and helping with reviewing Hindi translations and translating our toolkit into Bengali. We would love to work with more Wikimedia communities from Assam and/or West Bengal.
- Sadly, we don’t have any experience with the Bishnupriya Manipuri community. We did leave messages to some of the sysops on those projects. This project does not intend to directly work with that language but if you have more context around that, we would love for you to share that with us.
- As we have mentioned, our advisor and researcher Albert, speaks Mao (one of the 197 languages in danger according to UNESCO), and he will help us not only in recruiting regional youth but also with translation. We are training the youth from NE to become self-sufficient in cultural documentation. It is not entirely about Wiki, we are trying to bring communities with little or no representation on Wikis. We will be introducing them to Wikisource and Wikimedia Commons. Also, considering how mainstream Wiki tends to be in terms of representation, always looking for familiarity for engagement is only going to impede initiatives such as ours.
- Project Coordinator
- Are there any minimum number of edits required for someone to submit project proposals? I am the Wiki editor you have mentioned, from Bihar. I am a newbie to the movement and as my language has been underrepresented, I am trying to help others navigate this as well. We have built the toolkit and have also trained three people already on working with oral knowledge on Commons and Wikisource. In context of this project and language documentation, I have facilitated workshops for Rising Voices in India. I was a panelist on IGF 2021 and I have collaborated with Wikitongues and OpenSpeaks. I have been a University lecturer for English language and literature and I am going to pursue a Masters in Linguistics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University. The monthly salary for this role has been calculated at 625 INR per hour for 40 hours per week. For comparison, a NET qualified lecturer at most Indian universities gets a minimum of 1000 INR for a one hour lecture. This and all the other roles are very much different from that of a lecturer and involves multiple responsibilities that have been mentioned below.
- One of the editors engaged as part of the previous project was User:Anjalinegi07, who has contributed 66 edits and has uploaded 10 media files to Commons wikis related to Rongpa language and Bhotiya culture so far.
- Because of the character limit, we could not expand on the responsibility in the proposal. Thanks for asking this question, now, I can elaborate my roles and responsibilities here:
- Comms (Writing blog posts and sharing updates on Social Media)
- Managing partnerships (Regular check-ins with existing partners and reaching out to new partners)
- Logistics for in-person events (Bookings, Travel etc.)
- Organizing Workshops (Program, Speakers)
- Volunteer coordination (Recruitment)
- Primary focus region - North-East India
- Project Consultant
- As we have already mentioned, there was a character limit on Fluxx, so we were not able to elaborate on the roles there. We will reply to your query here though,
- Working in tandem with the project coordinator
- Co-organizing workshops
- Wikimedia community engagement
- Primary focus region: North India
- Researcher and Advisor North India and Researcher and Advisor North-East India
- I will reiterate here that we did not mention those details because of character limits in the template. Thanks for asking the question though, we will elaborate here. NE- contact academicians, locals, help with accommodation, guide with which areas to cover. North India- academician, researcher, expertise in technical aspects, runs Punjabipedia, researched on languages in North India, he will guide and accompany us to visits, selection of scholars and students. He is also going to support us with some equipment, hardware support and venue.
- The people who have already worked on culture as researchers have experience with them. They will use the learnings of this project as well for the report. The term research is not academic in this context.
- There not just observers but would rather be involved in various aspects such as recruiting fellows and volunteers. We believe they deserve remuneration for the time and energy they would put into it.
- Project Manager (Anudip) and Mentor cum Marketing Executive (Anudip)
- Anudip is suitable for this project as they work with youths from the NE already. They help youths with digital literacy and employment. Their goal is the promotion of knowledge equity through a community-driven grassroots involvement program that will pay attention to local needs.
- They will help with finding youths and involving them in the project. They will also provide digital literacy skills to the youths via training sessions. In addition to these, they are also experts at local communication via the usage of local means of transportation and communication, thus ensuring inclusivity in participation of the youths. In order to maintain consistent and qualitative engagement of the youths they also have a monitoring and evaluation program in place. I believe there is some engagement with the WMF and Anudip Foundation.
- The role of the Project Manager will be on overall supervision and accountability for the Anudip Foundation. The manager will be the one point contact for the organization and will also be responsible for ensuring all necessary reports, documentations and communications reach the coordinator on time and that there is a constant synergy between the project mandates outlined and the implementation. The project manager would also coordinate between different functions within Anudip – including operations, finance, admin etc. as necessary to meet the commitments. The Trainer/Mentor/Marketing Executive would be a local resource who would be recruited on ground to manage the project activities. They would be responsible for reaching out to and mobilizing the right beneficiaries, providing the right training and also in motivating and retaining these beneficiaries as they get trained by Wikipedia and start contributing content. This role would be essentially responsible for holding the on ground activities – end to end and we will focus on a local resource so that they know the local sensibilities and can therefore connect better.
- Archival services and Support (Wikitongues)
- The Wikitongues staff are being paid as per US norms. They will aid with the archival of cultural documentation. They are experts at language documentation.
- Wikitongues will contribute to this project by offering archival support for all video documentation elicited by this project. This will include structuring and processing metadata for individual video files, and by backing up all documentation within Wikitongues archives and at the U.S. Library of Congress. Wikitongues will also contribute to technical training for more complex aspects of oral culture documentation, such as video captioning.
- WMF staffs in the team
- Two WMF staff are advising on this project and we believe that this ensures quality of the project with their expertise in Wikimedia projects, language documentation and partnerships. As you might be aware, working with WMF staff on projects is a common practice. As the WMF is not the decision-making body, the grants committee is, there shouldn't be any COI in that regard.
- The equipment with the User Group is pretty outdated now. Most of them such as the camera, recorder and community laptop are around 5 years old. There are some chromebooks with individual contributors but those won’t be useful for this project as this involves storing, editing and uploading large files. The equipment will also be required for running the project in North-East India.
- We have plans to continue this project in more languages and regions. If not, we would be more than happy to work together with the Punjabi Wikimedians to utilize the equipment in their future activities.
- Community Notification
- Because the targeted languages have historical relations with Punjabi Language. At Punjabi University, Punjabi and linguistic departments also give the platform to scholars for research on North Indian languages. User: Nitesh Gill is an active Punjabi Wikimedian involved in the proposed project, therefore we also want to engage other Wikimedians from the Punjabi community as well. And this project is also about Wikisource, so, we want to involve some Wikisource editors with it because they can guide or teach about the same project to newbies. Our major institutional collaboration is also with the center of Punjabipedia which is situated at Punjabi University, Patiala. We posted a message on Bishnupriya Wikipedia and introduced the community to the project. We also sent messages to contact persons on their talk pages.
- We have tried notifying the communities from the regions in which we will be working with, on-wiki itself.
- We notified the communities when we applied in the fluxx platform and the meta-wiki page was not generated back then. We have updated the links on those pages now.
- Oral Culture Transcription Toolkit
- Thanks for mentioning these questions. As you already mentioned the end date is December 30, 2021 for the project, we have a few days to finish the project. We had proposed the last date for that project as 30th November and it was upon the advice of the grants team that we extended it up till 30th December. We have created Oral Culture Transcription Toolkit and tested it with a few individuals. The learnings from that project has been accommodated in this proposal. It is in the process of being translated and reviewed into Hindi, Punjabi and Bengali as of now. We will be sharing the report for that project in the coming days, well before the deadline for that. Talking about this project, if it is approved, it will not start before February 2022. So, we don't think that we are rushing things here and this project will ideally coincide with UNESCO's decade of Indigenous languages (2022-2032).
- Thank you so much for for your interest in this project. We would love to learn from your expertise on the region and work with you to bring more languages and their speakers to the Wikimedia movement. Amrit Sufi (talk) 13:51, 14 December 2021 (UTC)
Observations and summary from questioner
Thanks for the reply. I will try to point out my observations below.
- Character limitations on Fluxx platform has been made responsible for all the lack of clarity in the proposal including the different roles and responsibilities for all the salaried persons. I would like to request @THasan (WMF): to look into this matter. Maybe grantee needs to give a detailed proposal on meta separately if Fluxx is not enough or maybe a different platform other than Fluxx can be sought. It is utmost importance to have clarity and transparency in any proposal.
- I find it extremely concerning to pay monthly salaries(!) to such a large team with almost no on-wiki volunteer experience before. The number of people going to be paid is far more than almost all affiliates in the Wikimedia world. Needless to say, it is going to be the largest paid team among Indian WIkimedia communities, affiliates and partners. It can be argued about any clause which requires minimum number of edits to ask for a grant, but it requires a lot of trust among the community to ask for such huge amount of money. I think, the lack of on-wiki experience is directly proportional to the lack of community trust. As a community volunteer, I think, this is utmost important.
- There had been no ground-work in North-East India by this team for Wikimedia projects before as it is clear from the reply by the grantee. There is only one person in the team who speaks an endangered language from Manipur, but who do not reside there but other than that, the entire team has no experience working there.
- There had been no communication in the all India mailing list which I think is utmost necessary for such a huge grant to get feedback from the India community.
- There had been no communication with local Wikimedia communities and affiliates operating from Assam and West Bengal on-wiki and on mailing lists, even though it is claimed in the reply by the grantee. These communities had experience working in North-East India before with volunteers only without any paid staff and it would be interesting to get their opinions on this proposal.
- It is still not clear why a Wikitongues staff need to be paid for archiving work. Archiving videos and management of metadata can be done free of cost on Wikimedia Commons or Internet Archive and has always been done by volunteers. There is no need to pay them extra to do these simple tasks. Archiving at Wikitongues archives and LOC should not be a concern of WMF funds as it outside of Wikimedia world and do not guarantee open licensing.
- It is still not clear how WMF is engaged with Anudip Foundation and how they are related. There had been no such notifications regarding this partnership on India mailing list. I couldn't find anything on Meta too. If I am missing something, relevant links are needed.
- I am curious to know about what happened to the "outdated" equipment (as mentioned in the reply by the grantee) in the Punjabi community. If they are not in use, what will be their fate now?
- Sorry for my wording. It is true that the grants committee and not WMF will approve or reject this proposal. WMF will fund it, if approved, so the question still stands about the conflict of interest. I would also like to get the point of view from the grants committee if the presence of WMF staffs in the team will actually affect the decision anyway.
- The toolkit is said to be finished by now by the grantee. However it requires an extensive review and feedback by the community about any shortcomings and errors. Before that, to me, its still not finished.
So, to summarize, although I find the project topic to be extremely necessary as documentation of endangered language in digital platform is vital for their preservation, the project itself is over-ambitious and over-expensive. A grant proposal such enormous requires much more clarity and details. The project seems to be have no background work and no evidence of previous work in this field and in the geographical regions mentioned. There is considerable lack of experience on-wiki by the team members; a few uploaded videos by the grantee on Wikimedia Commons is not sufficient to ask for such a huge grant. I am still overwhelmed by the huge number of paid staffs required for this project which greatly over-shadows the staffing of almost all Wikimedia affiliates in the world. It is also distressing to see that there is lack of intention for volunteer effort in the project. There is almost no communication with Indian communities in any way esp. with those who had previous experience working in North East India in volunteer capacity, which leads to lack of feedback from communities. The geographical distance to just reach the project area by the team members is also so huge, that it is definitely not recommended to allot so much money to physically move a huge team multiple times to run the project. There is also lack of clarity about Anudip Foundation and how WMF is related to them financially or in other ways. Personally, I can only Strong oppose this proposal for now. Maybe, after next few years of consistent pilot projects specific to one language at a time in a nearby area of the team members with reasonable deliverables and at feasible costs involving more volunteers than staffs can change my mind. The rest is upon the committee to decide. -- Bodhisattwa (talk) 07:41, 28 December 2021 (UTC)
Feedback by the SAARC Regional Grants Committee
Thank you for the proposal. Upon initial review the committee has asked for further clarification on the following topics. Please note that a member of the Community Resources Team is posting this feedback on behalf of the SAARC Regional Grants Committee. The committee would be happy to meet with the applicant/s if they feel that a discussion will be more fruitful in responding to the feedback. Summary of these discussions will be posted on meta upon the consent of the committee members and applicant/s.
Scope and Engagement: The proposal has three aims which are each adventurous, independent of each other, and each of which worthy of being carried out by themselves. However, no proper methodology has been provided, so no clarity could be obtained as to how these will be achieved. The scope is too vast to tackle many endangered languages at one time, in addition to being geographically overreaching. The nature and the purpose of the project require it to be a continuous, progressive set of smaller, tightly-focussed projects, not a single undifferentiated single year grant.
This project not only require researchers or professors but involvement of elders from every tribal community to guide about language and their ancient culture. This would require a high degree of engagement and depth of involvement. This further requires coordination with local communities, government agencies, large multi-year planning and continuous engagement with on ground personnel in that region.
It has been observed that Community involvement at this stage of the proposal is superficial. The project hasn’t evolved over time with community discussion and participation; in addition, communities are just given an informatory message before the grant application is posted, which precludes any discussion on the topic. The remedy for this is in depth consultation with the Indian Community.
Experience and Capacity: Heritage collection has to be meaningful in that its collection furthers the body of knowledge about the language, of a quality and scope which requires academic papers to be published), which would then form the basis for government/societal action to preserve them. The geographic spread, socio-cultural aspects, linguistic characteristics and conservation needs for each language are so different that each language should be tackled separately. Initially only one North Indian endangered language should be considered. Once a successful project in one language is done, then other languages can be taken up, one at a time, over a period of years.
Output and Return on Investment: The proposal claims to further work done with respect to the “Oral Culture Transcription Toolkit” grant. Presently, the project is still in progress and no visible outcomes of this are seen in Commons or communicated in Meta or on Wikimedia-India list. As such the grant request for this toolkit project also does not commit to any specific deliverable, which makes it difficult to understand how this project would “build” upon this previous work. Should the grant applicants choose to make this as the basis for a grant, then logically the project needs to be completed, its report finalised and impacts informed to WMF and the Community, the outcome analysed by all, lessons learnt identified and communicated; only after this then can this “toolkit” be accepted as a building block for the current proposal.
If such a large staffing ( in excess of even CIS-A2K staffing) and funds are sought (unprecedented in the quantity asked for), then a project methodology for this aspect needs to be done, with previous state of the heritage, previous work done, aims, methods, privacy concerns, deliverables, deep impact on the heritage, etc... Once the language research, aims, methodology, and course of action etc. issues are resolved, a pilot project should be initiated. The lessons learned from the pilot project should help form a full-fledged one year project, upon the success of which a follow-on action be taken.
Resources and Budget: The project is grossly over-budgeted. Almost 100,000 dollars for 100 videos, only half of which will be captioned (why not all?). The personnel staffing is bloated - 18. The number of staff and rate of emoluments are not explained or justified. Hiring the services of two Anudip Foundation staff members (@Rs 50,000 pm for 9 months & Rs 20,000 pm for 9 months) for functions that can be fulfilled by volunteer services is objectionable. In addition, a sum of Rs 45,000 for Welfare expense (ser 25), and Rs 4 lakhs for unforeseen expenses to Anudip Foundation are absolutely objectionable.
WikiTongues can be independently funded by WMF and should cooperate ‘gratis’ to a project such as this.
- @THasan (WMF) Thank you for the reply and feedback, we understand that we need to elaborate more about our project goals. The plan we have thought of is to enable youths to document their culture and knowledge themselves. We are focusing on languages since they are carriers of culture and knowledge, thus documenting them via audio-video is a powerful means to not only preserve but also disseminate them. We are hoping that it will help normalize the languages and encourage the usage of endangered languages on online and offline platforms. Working with youths on grassroots level and making them self-sufficient is the aim here. On the other hand, we are also going to engage academicians so that they can share their learnings and skills by utilizing their experiences. We are looking forward to decentralizing language documentation and bridge the gap between formal documentation of languages and self-driven volunteerism. This project will ideally coincide with UNESCO's decade of Indigenous languages (2022-2032)
- As languages disappear quickly, it is imperative that quick action is taken. Once the indigenous communities are informed and aware, they can begin working on their language in-depth individually. Our current project to build Oral Culture Transcription is now finished, we will be building upon it and implementing it with communities in this project. We are sharing a tentative timeline for the project below:
- Tentative Timeline
- Initial research
- Partner and institutional engagement
- Volunteer and Researcher Recruitment
- Curriculum development
- Training in digital literacy
- Training in Photography, Videography and editing
- On-field Documentation, Photowalk
- Wikimedia Training (Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource)
- Content uploads on Wikisource and Wikimedia Commons
- Analysis and comparative study of the two approaches (Academic and Grassroot organisations)
- Improvements to the existing toolkit based on the learning of the project
- Next steps
- Also, in order to have a clearer and detailed conversation on the concerns mentioned, we would like to have a meeting as suggested by you. Looking forward to your response and to learning from your expertise and recommendations for improving this project! Amrit Sufi (talk) 11:44, 26 December 2021 (UTC)
- Hello again, I am posting the responses to the feedback provided by the committee, responses to a few outstanding questions by the committee members during the meeting held on 10th January 2021, and proposals for changes based on the discussions and concerns raised during the meeting, in that order.
- Scope and Engagement:
- We have proposed this project with two different regions and methodologies with the following aims:
- A. Understanding and attempt at bridging the gap between academia and volunteer-based language documentation. The language research done by universities is usually regarded as personal property, however, the skills a researcher is adept at would be useful to native speakers in language documentation. We plan to carry a comparative study of the academic method and grassroots method carried in North India and North-East India. Thus, this project would bring together the two different approaches and enable learnings between the two groups.
Once the indigenous communities are informed and aware, they can begin working on their language in-depth individually. They can put up projects of their own, and we will support them with it. the goal of bridging the gap between academia and volunteer-based language documentation The language research done by universities is usually regarded as personal property, however, the skills a researcher is adept at would be useful to native speakers in language documentation. This project would bring together the two different approaches and enable learnings between the two groups.
- B. drawing comparisons between researchers-driven language documentation and grassroots-level language documentation by native speakers. We do not aim to research endangered languages, rather we are working in accordance with the Wikimedia spirit of enabling people and a community-driven approach to knowledge. There lies the reason why we are involving audio-video documentation training, thus making the youth self-dependent in language documentation. Therefore, we believe that involving the speakers of these languages will ensure that wider, on-ground documentation happens which will be based on volunteership. This project will ideally coincide with UNESCO's decade of Indigenous languages (2022-2032)
- C. As languages disappear quickly, it is imperative that quick action is taken. Once the indigenous communities are informed and aware, they can begin working on their language in-depth individually.
- Anudip is going to involve local people via local means of communication and transportation, in the process they will also train the youths in skill development like using computers, internet and other related skills. Here is an example of their work.
- Anudip needs those staff and we will co-create a curriculum for digital literacy, filmography and Wikimedia
- Our proposal does not aim to do in-depth academic research, rather to train young people in preserving their own cultures via the means available.
- Community involvement:
- Before this informatory message we talked about our pilot project and this proposed project in conferences, like,
- Talked about the Oral Culture Transcription Toolkit project at IGF session, WikiVibrance, Wiki Indaba, Maryana’s Listening Tour, we also discussed our proposed project.
- Before messaging we also talked to the Punjabi community in meetings and volunteers will continue with us who participated in the previous project, Oral Culture Transcription Toolkit.
- We only know about the Bishnpuriya community from Manipur, so, we dropped a message on their VP and dropped messages on the talk pages of admins.
- Wikimedia Commons community and Wikimedia language diversity telegram groups.
- We sent an email to the India mailing list after the committee’s feedback. Our first email was not approved by mailing list handlers for three-four days. Then we sent again and got a response from an Indian Wikimedian volunteer. Three volunteers showed interest globally and signed up on our project page for volunteering.
- Experience and Capacity:
- We are aiming for the empowerment of individuals via this project which has a hands-on approach. We are aiming to work directly on around 12 languages while there are 197 languages endangered in India.
- Time is a vital component in language documentation, the loss otherwise would be exponential as languages disappear quickly if left unattended. We are hoping that this project and the resulting toolkit will spread and help efforts at preserving other languages.
- Output and return on investment:
- We must inform you that we have finished the toolkit, we are sharing the link to it here: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Oral_Culture_Transcription_Toolkit. We updated it first on Meta on 4th December 2021.
- We have also created a report on it with the details and learnings, here is the link to it: Report. We are aware that the lack of any tangible evidence with regards to the toolkit we are going to build upon creates confusion. Please have a look and let us know your suggestions. Report finished and rapid grants community informed at Rapid Grants <firstname.lastname@example.org> on 5th January 2022
- Informed Conferences, Telegram groups, India mailing list, 2 people have responded to it via telegram- volunteer and usage
- Next Plans:
- We are writing a blog post and will publish it on Diff. We will inform communities via VPs about the completion of the toolkit with the help of this blog post.
- We are going to submit our proposal for Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2022. Because CIS-A2K wants to engage Indic communities or Wikimedians at the common platform, so, it is a great opportunity for us as well. We will propose our idea and if it is selected then we will talk to communities or individuals directly.
Response to the committee after the meeting
- Based on your feedback during the meeting and the concerns, we have made the following changes to the proposal:
- We will reduce the scope of the project in terms of the number of participants and the number of languages to be covered among other things.
- Considering the pandemic situation, we will now be focusing on one endangered language in North India and one endangered language in North-East India.
- Also, we are going to remove the following elements:
- Archival services and support from Wikitongues
- 5 Fellowships in North India
- We have made changes to the following:
- North-East India from 20 participants to 10 participants
- We are also reducing field visits in North India from 5 to 2 visits, unforeseen expenses from 4 to 3 lakhs.
- Since the number of field visits is being reduced, we are also reducing the number of months of engagement of the researcher and advisor of North India from 7 months to 5 months.
- The number of months of involvement by Project Manager and Mentor cum Marketing Executive from 9 months to 7 months.
- Below we have answered some of the outstanding questions from the committee:
- About the Pandemic situation- Considering that the pandemic is at a worrying stage, we have made a few changes in terms of the number of participants and field visits.
- About the number of languages- We have reduced the number of languages to be covered to 1 each in North India and North-East India.
- About Anudip- We think Anudip is an appropriate partner in this context since they work around youth skill development and our project also aims to involve youths in skills training. Also, they will be training the youths primarily in digital skills, they will also hire a mentor cum trainer who is from the North-East itself and knows about their culture. We believe that they will also learn about the Wikis during this project. They will also be working with us on curriculum development. They are a mission-aligned organization and having an FCRA license makes it easier to receive funding for this project in India.
Observations about modified budget from User:Bodhisattwa
- The budget breakdown is still not on meta, so it is difficult to track what exact changes are made. @THasan (WMF) and DSaroyan (WMF):, please look into this.
- The modified total budget is still not on meta. @THasan (WMF) and DSaroyan (WMF):, please look into this.
- The project is still over-budgeted considering the target outcome.
- There are still too many salaried person involved, 12(+?2) in total.
- The administrative expense is still very high in proportion to the actual project expense.
- The grant proposal has opened up space for volunteers but the entire team is salaried and have no intention to be a volunteer in the project. I am wondering what the volunteers will do in the project.
- The North-East India part of project is still on, which greatly increases the expenditure of the project with respect to travel and logistics. Concerning the lack of experience before in heritage documentation and as per previous suggestion, it is strongly recommended to have a pilot project in one language for at least two years in North India first with reasonable expenditure, show results and then go for another language.
- As previously mentioned, the Project Coordinator is not experienced and still expects to draw INR 100,000 per month to run the project.
- The toolkit created by the previous grant requires extensive study by the community volunteers to see if it is at all useful. Few days notice should not be enough to finalize it.
- Even after committee's strong objection and recommendation, two persons from Anudip Foundation still expects to receive salary along with money to be given to them for welfare expenses, curriculum development etc. Interestingly, Anudip Foundation has asked for huge amount of money for another of their proposal and there is growing concern about that too. It is recommended to find a FCRA organization instead which don't work for massive amount of money only and has value for volunteering. Seeing these two proposals asking this gigantic amount of money together, it is too hard for me to find these connection co-incidental and too difficult to not believe that they might be a proxy to one another, hence making both of them untrustworthy for me, personally.
- I request to maintain a civil environment here. This conversation has been from the beginning quite hostile, harassing and discouraging. I see this as gatekeeping and discouraging new individuals. I am disheartened to see that a project proposed with good faith is being overly criticized from various angles, there is no support and acknowledgement but challenging the individuals for even putting up a grant.
- I was going through Maryana’s Listening Tour Puzzle #2 shared yesterday and the observations resonated with me, especially some quite relevant to this situation, I am sharing some of them here: “Too many women have left the movement because they have felt uncomfortable…This cannot be left to the communities.”
- I am replying to the comments posted on the Discussion page however since they are in public and can impact public opinion, so I am providing the minimum reply in order to defend the project.
- It is not fair to consider the outcome as just 100 videos/on-wiki content produced at the end of the project. Several types of learning materials will be produced at the end of the project. Curriculum can be used by everyone, audio-visual docu training will be recorded, edited toolkit, and a lot of learning material will be produced. It is to be looked at from a research angle, not just the number of edits. Maryana’s quote: “...so much of our 2030 strategy implementation – to advance knowledge equity, innovate in free knowledge, grow our global reach, diversity and impact – will require contributions that take many different forms beyond edit counts”
- How do you define salaried? The project itself will last for a period of 9 months, the majority of the people involved will be compensated for less than 9 months, there are only 6 people employed in this project. We are engaging 6 experts for a specific set of workshops only and they absolutely cannot be called salaried people, they are skilled people being involved based on the needs of the project.
- To answer the question about what the volunteers will do: the volunteers will learn from the project, they will be updated regarding developments, given one-on-one suggestions, help by the project co-ordinator and the project consultant to work on their own languages. They can provide help with their skills wherever applicable during the project. A few people have signed up as volunteers and belong to various global communities. For the North Indian region, we expect to engage around 10 volunteers (veterans and newbies). Some of them have already participated in the previous pilot project. We are also planning to build capacity, some of the volunteers to train the newbies being engaged in the project.
- Our project is focused on two strategies and a comparative study of both. Removing that altogether would make the entire project meaningless for us. We have scaled down the project and reduced the budget by at-least 33%. We are also focusing on on-ground training and documentation. Our project draws from multiple movement recommendations such as https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Invest_in_Skills_and_Leadership_Development and https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Innovate_in_Free_Knowledge
- And we are focusing on free knowledge and skills development in this project.
- Another quote from that page “We are the possible factor of change here, by giving new data and tools to communities, to just go beyond the edit count.” Another quote from that page: “We have the same shared struggles across communities: it is difficult to recruit, retain and keep people motivated. [Yet] our experience is that experienced editors are actually not good at recruiting new editors.”
- We are a team of people with different skill sets that count, in addition to editing. There are people who have been editing for years and there are newbies like me. A project requires people of varying skill sets and experience working together for its success. Amrit Sufi (talk) 14:57, 15 January 2022 (UTC)
@Amrit Sufi:, thanks for the response. It is unfortunate to see the confusion. My intention was to raise valid concerns as a community volunteer regarding the grants proposal only based on what you have or have not mentioned in your proposal. Please note, every Wikimedia grant proposals which are in review phase are open for community feedback, there is no exception. I have always tried to talk in a passive voice and I can't remember that I have ever attacked or harassed you personally for your gender and hence bringing the gender aspect here is utterly unnecessary, IMHO. Regarding acknowledgement, I think, you have missed the portion where I have said that, "I find the project topic to be extremely necessary as documentation of endangered language in digital platform is vital for their preservation,..." where I have acknowledged the need for this proposal. But, to me, it is also true that there are many points which needs further reviewing and improvement. If my points seemed unfair, you can see that the grants committee has also raised almost the same points as me and I have only echoed them again when I saw the revised budget where many of the committee recommendation were unattended. Anyway, you don't have to worry about me as the committee will be the one who will be accepting or rejecting the proposal, and not me. Lastly, if you feel uncomfortable with my style of objectively questioning, I will refrain myself from more commenting here. Good luck for your proposal. -- Bodhisattwa (talk) 15:38, 15 January 2022 (UTC)
Final recommendation by the SAARC Regional Grants Committee
After interaction with the grant applicants, taking into account the explanation offered by the applicants on the discussion page and due consideration, the SAARC Regional Grants Committee has decided not to fund this project.
The Committee appreciates the intention of the proposal to further the preservation of endangered languages in India.
The proposal has an ambitious scope of engagement — it wanted/s to work with multiple endangered languages and has a wide but unwieldy geographical scope. Lack of involvement of experts (academicians, archivists, linguists) who can advise on endangered local languages makes the proposal untenable. Non-engagement of Indian Wikimedian communities for input towards creation of the proposal and lack of expertise in project management are some of the concerns identified by the committee.
Involving an external agency without expertise and knowledge of the Wikimedia movement will be counterproductive to the stated objectives of the proposal. The said external agency does not have Wikimedia-related knowledge, skills, or experience at present, and has no apparent presence in the Northeast. There is a fundamental objection to outsource activities that can be done by volunteers in the normal course of Wikimedia activity.
This proposal should present a plan to achieve concrete deliverables, which may be decided after interaction with academics/experts in fields of linguistics, anthropology, history and sociology who are involved in preservation of endangered languages and culture. There is also a need to have deep engagement with the elders and community leaders of the communities who are using the endangered oral language.
The committee recommends that the proposal arrive at a level of scope (engagement and geographical) that can be handled effectively. The proposal must include much more than just teaching technical skills so that the activity results in more concrete outcomes. Engaging the pan-Indian communities and deep engagement of the local community to obtain the support and insights, and their input in shaping the proposal should be embedded in the methodology of the proposal.
Grant applicants need to be directly involved in the preservation of oral heritage preservation project and responsible for the success of this project; the metrics also need to reflect the work done towards actual preservation of oral heritage of endangered languages. It is not feasible to leave the actual archival/preservation of heritage role to second stage activists, namely, a small number of selected local youth who would be trained but who are presently not involved in preservation of local cultural heritage and are not already motivated for the same.
The committee recommends that the applicants put up a pilot project restricted to one language in a safe and easily accessible geography with a well thought out methodology. Based on the lessons learned in the pilot project, the methodology should evolve so that further action in the field is much more effective and purposeful. The recent changes/scaling down of the proposal does not address the structural concerns identified by the committee. While there has been a reduction in the number of languages and resources being requested, these changes seem to be adjustments rather than well thought out changes.
The committee recommends developing a multi-year proposal (upon the successful completion of the pilot project) rather than a single-year proposal if the applicants wish to make the stated impact in the many endangered languages mentioned in the scope. The project deserves to be a long standing project with ambitious, achievable aims which will make a significant difference in both the preservation of the endangered language and also develop Indic Wikimedian communities, and further the goals of the Movement Strategy.
Note on feedback and review
Thanks to the SAARC Regional Committee for the decision. In conjunction with this decision, I wanted to remind all participants here that the Community Resources team has specific expectations regarding discussion about proposals in this space.
In the Community Resources team's behavioral expectations for proposals and grant discussions, anyone with concerns about a proposal is welcome to express them in a constructive and supportive manner. However, to the extent that feedback is excessive, contains personalized or disparaging remarks about the applicant or their organization, or if the concerns are expressed in an hostile or punitive manner, they may be removed from the discussion page partially or entirely. The goal of discussion is to build shared understanding and work together with applicants to improve their proposal. It is not to engage in discussion that is confrontational or aggressive, even when there are genuine concerns. Relatedly, participants should follow the Universal Code of Conduct, which contains the minimum level standards for communications and behavior on Wikimedia projects generally. With thanks, THasan (WMF) (talk) 11:01, 14 March 2022 (UTC)