Grants talk:Project/Rapid/GMRC/Project CLV

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Hi Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington. Apologies for the delay in reviewing your grant proposal. It is clear that you have a lot of experience as an editor and in organizing similar events. We have not seen a lot of activity, especially in terms of offline events in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam so the opportunity is exciting. However, we do have a number of questions about the project and look forward to your responses.

  1. We're interested to know why there is a focus on English-language contributors?
  2. It's great that you have reached out to local communities through through a number of different avenues. What has the response been? I don't see much engagement on Vietnamese noticeboard, Khmer Facebook group or on the mailing list. It seems that the success of the project depends on having strong local Wikimedian partners who can help recruit participants and also follow-up after the events. We would definitely like to see those local Wikimedians (as well as the organizations, educational institutions and vocational training centers mentioned) identified in the grant proposal and through the endorsements section.
  3. You have indicated you will be connecting with participants after the workshops via social media websites. Given that your project goal is to engage users residing in CLV, what steps will you take to continue offline activities amongst the workshop participants in your absence?

Best, Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 22:00, 20 October 2017 (UTC)

Thank you very much for the queries, and my apologies for the delay in getting back to you on this as well. I have included my responses below:
  1. While I believe that the three countries listed in my proposal have the largest potential to grow Wikimedia projects in their own native languages, i.e. Khmer, Laotian and Vietnamese, however given the general lack of availability of human resources at this point of time, a focus on the English language Wikimedia projects is the way forward. Once I am able to build stronger relationships with regional educational institutions and at the same time recruit interested editors and contributors, I expect that the focus will greatly shift towards local language projects.
  2. Since offline activities among the regional communities has seen a gradual decline over the past few years, it appears that there is a general lack of interest among the scattered and dispersed communities (at least in Cambodia and Vietnam). At the same time, I am confident that for events organized in Cambodia, I will be able to secure the assistance of at least one local Wikimedian as a resource person. I am hopeful that the organization of Wikimedia events in regional hubs (cities and towns that I have listed on my proposal) would reignite more interest among the community members to participate in future events. I also think it would also be fruitful to specially build relationships and make inroads with prominent educational institutions in the three countries to recruit newer and younger editors who would also be likely to have more time and interest in editing Wikimedia projects.
  3. Since I am based in Phnom Penh, I expect to be able to continue with the organization of local events and meet-ups in Cambodia. My medium-term aim is to be in a position to activate a community core that can execute a regional Wikimedia event in Phnom Penh within the next 1-2 years. As far as Laos and Vietnam are concerned, I expect progress to be slow, requiring medium-to-long term intervention to maintain offline activities (specially in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi). This can be attributed to to extraneous circumstances, which have meant that long-term contributors have generally remained shy of public exposure, preferring to maintain anonymity. This is also where having pilot projects in the English language would help the movement "test the waters", so to speak, and allow us to build trust with important educational institutions and pertinent local authorities.
Please let me know if you have any other questions or follow-up queries. Thanks. — Nearly Headless Nick {C} 15:55, 8 November 2017 (UTC)

Hi Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, thank you for your patience as we work through this transition period and appreciate you reaching out to us to follow-up on your proposal. After reviewing your responses to Alex’s comments I have a couple follow up questions and suggestions for you to move forward with this proposal.

  • I have checked on the activities on the Vietnamese noticeboard, Khmer Facebook group and on the mailing list since Alex’s comments and it still doesn’t look like there is much engagement there. While we appreciate your response about hosting these events to reignite interest in Laos and Vietnam for now we would like to encourage you to continue with the events you’ve planned in Cambodia. That’s still five events in three different cities, which is great!
  • You also mentioned you have secured an experienced Wikimedian in Cambodia so we hope that will allow you to garner more interest in your local activities.
  • Given that we would like you to limit this proposal only to Cambodia, could you please edit the proposal and the budget based on this suggestion?

Lastly, I also wanted to note that since Alex’s comment you’ve received support on the proposal page from community members and that’s great to see. Please let me know how you would like to proceed.

Best regards, WJifar (WMF) (talk) 01:41, 18 November 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for the response, though I have to say that I see very little reason behind it. You are saying that there has been little community response on the noticeboards. That is all well and true. But why would not make sense to organize Wikimedia-related events in these cities to see if we can generate some interest? I have been a contributor for over 11 years now and have had significant experience organizing offline activities all across India as well as cities in Cambodia and Vietnam. I have the built relationships with individuals at educational institutions in several cities which could potentially give the movement access to those who would be interested in contributing to the Wikimedia movement in the future. Frankly, the whole point of the grant proposal is to get some traction in the local communities by introducing new contributors as well as bringing out old contributors out of hibernation, which is something the existing community has not been able to do for a multitude of reasons. I have been on this "rapid" grants page since September and was told initially that this project is something that would interest WMF. So, I strongly urge you to reconsider. Thanks. — Nearly Headless Nick {C} 06:56, 18 November 2017 (UTC)
Hi WJifar (WMF), rather than refusing to fund Laos & Vietnam entirely, can the WMF at least agree to a compromise and meet Anirudh in the middle? For instance, would you consider funding half of the events in those 2 countries? After such a long wait for what should be a _rapid_ (micro-)grant of $2,000, let's not put a heavy hand on Anirudh and trust his proven record that he'll successfully implement this to the best of his ability. --Abbasjnr (talk) 11:46, 18 November 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for the vote of confidence, Abbas. I appreciate it. As this is a relatively small ask compared to the resources I have committed to expend on the project, I do not think WJifar's position is either reasonable or in good precedent. Community events as well as workshops strategically targeted at institutions of higher learning are a proven and effective means for identifying potential contributors as well as reviving communities. I do not see how the lack of "engagement", as pointed out by WJifar is a good reason for asking me to restructure the grant proposal, that is the whole point of the grant request. As I have also stated that the dormant communities in Vietnam and Laos will require medium to long term intervention, I view this as a pilot project that will serve as a learning experience and on which I will base my future requests. So I don't see the point of compromising on the grant amount here. I also do not have the time or energy for bureaucratic wrangling, and would rather spend these on more productive endeavours. — Nearly Headless Nick {C} 12:07, 18 November 2017 (UTC)

Additional Comments[edit]

Hello Nearly Headless Nick, first of all please allow us to apologize for the delay in response on this rapid grant. We do try to respond to these grant requests within a couple of weeks and we apologize for still taking much longer on this proposal. As Alex mentioned in her email to Rapid Grants applicants, I just joined last week and I hope to alleviate some of the capacity issues by being more responsive to requests. This week has been an anomaly with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us. Thank you for your response to my earlier comments. I do understand that you have a strong history of contributing to Wikimedia projects and I do recognize that you will have the skills necessary to start up offline events. However, we have seen in other projects that in order to have successful events that are sustainable beyond the first engagement you need a dedicated group of people who will continue your efforts in the places you host the event. This is why we have our selection criteria in place, specifically #4. It asks if you have sufficient volunteers to complete the project and endorsements from community members. While I understand that it is hard to get those endorsements online from CLV communities specifically, hence the lack of responses on message boards, it would still be helpful in order to proceed with this grant to get some sense of the partners you already have in place in Vietnam and Laos per your comments on built relationships. If the users in CLV do not want to be named in this discussion page then you can also send it to us through email so we have a better sense of your plan for these events. Does that sound agreeable to you? We can then proceed with your proposal as you have structured it here. Thank you, WJifar (WMF) (talk) 21:59, 22 November 2017 (UTC)

WJifar (WMF) - Thank you very much for your response. It seems like we have been going around in circles. I have made a grant request here with the aim of initiating the process of helping revive the existing Wikimedia communities in CLV countries, as well as to attempt to attract potential new contributors for our projects. I have stated that the existing communities are dormant as far as offline activities are concerned, (which explains the lack of user activity on the meet-ups page in general rather than just my post alone), and that these events (and future events) which I have planned are targeted at reviving the local eco-system. In this context, I have included evidence of events which I have organized over the past few years, where I have been supported by organizations that have provided venue and other resources, as well as assisted by volunteers who provided basic logistical support in both Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City. These volunteers have been, by and large, non-Wikimedians, who were genuinely curious to learn more about Wikipedia/Wikimedia and enthusiastic supporters when it came to event management. I have also stated that I have built relationships with individuals at educational institutions and vocational training centers who would be interested in providing venue, classroom facilities, access to volunteers and potential participants for the programmes. (I will be sending a list of these institutions via email. Please note that without affirmative confirmation from my side {predicated on this grant being approved}, my acquaintances at these organizations will not be able to apply to seek requisite permissions from relevant internal and external authorities, including, where necessary, the local police. Therefore, this list ought to be treated as tentative.)
To the above, your and Alex Wang (WMF)’s response has been rather baffling. Alex Wang (WMF) takes note of the fact that she has “not seen a lot of activity, especially in terms of offline events in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam so the opportunity is exciting”, yet a few sentences later she says “[i]t seems that the success of the project depends on having strong local Wikimedian partners who can help recruit participants and also follow-up after the events. We would definitely like to see those local Wikimedians […] identified in the grant proposal and through the endorsements section.” Seriously, what? If there already existed “strong local Wikimedia partners who could help recruit participants”, then what would be the rationale for intervention by someone living in a neighboring city? (Here is a link to another discussion on a VI.WP group on Facebook where I have received moral support, but no explicit agreement on participation except from two individuals in Hanoi and one in HCMC via private message.) In a similar vein, you have added above: “However, we have seen in other projects that in order to have successful events that are sustainable beyond the first engagement you need a dedicated group of people who will continue your efforts in the places you host the event.” This dedicated group of people who can support offline activities *does not exist*, because these are “communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege” (to use a phrase that features prominently in your #Wikimedia2030 strategic direction document). These communities require medium-to-long term encouragement and guidance until more experienced users from their own groups can come in and fill in the gap in a sustainable way. This form of support will rely largely on online communications via wikis and social media channels, as well as periodical meet-ups and workshops for capacity building and strengthening morale.
"Our structures and governance will rely on the equitable participation of people across our movement. We will extend the Wikimedia presence globally, with a special focus on under-served communities, like indigenous peoples of industrialized nations, and regions of the world, such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America." (emphasis mine)
As far as selection criteria #4 is concerned, I have reproduced it below for your kind perusal:
Support and endorsement: Do you have sufficient volunteers to complete the project and endorsements from community members?
I do not see how this criterion is not already satisfied by my application. Yes, I do have support from (non-Wikimedian) volunteers who will help me organize workshops and other events in cities and towns specified in this grant proposal. Yes, I have received support from community members on the grant proposal including regional Wikimedians, as well as others from Asia, who have vouched for my experience and record, and my ability to execute this project. These are seasoned Wikipedians and Wikimedians with years of experience behind them, with edits to thousands of articles on various Wikimedia projects between them, alongside offline organizing and community building through activities and events.
Please let me know if you're satisfied with my response above.
Nearly Headless Nick {C} 22:05, 23 November 2017 (UTC)

Comments upon approval[edit]

Hello Nearly Headless Nick, thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions and comments both in this discussion page and through email. I will go ahead and approve your grant. Best regards, WJifar (WMF) (talk) 21:14, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

Requesting extension[edit]

I would like to request an extension for this project until 15 April 2018 as the Tet holidays in Vietnam have thrown me off the schedule a bit. The schools have closed and most students are on leave. This was a foreseeable event and I ought to have planned better. In the meantime, however, I have organized two workshops in Phnom Penh at Zaman University, Department of Media and Communications (Royal University of Phnom Penh); five workshops in Vientiane - Faculty of Law and Political Science (National University of Laos), Faculty of Economics and Business Management (National University of Laos), Clinical Legal Education Program (National University of Laos), Lao-Korea College and one targeted at expatriates in Vientiane (private space); three workshops in Ho Chi Minh City - University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City University of Science, Saigon Compass Hub (private space). I have another workshop planned in Siem Reap city next week at Build Bright University, and I am also waiting for another potential host to confirm. Thank you. — Nearly Headless Nick {C} 07:18, 16 February 2018 (UTC)

Miscellaneous costs[edit]

I would like to seek approval for the following expenses incurred as a part of the project:

  • "Letter of credibility": USD 10 (receipt available; this letter contains details regarding the account and has been sent to WMF staff)
  • Bank transfer charges: USD 25 (I received USD 1975 from WMF on 17 January 2018)

Nearly Headless Nick {C} 06:13, 18 February 2018 (UTC)

Approval of Extension & Miscellaneous Costs[edit]

Hello Nearly Headless Nick, thank you for updating us on your project's extension and these additional costs. I'm approving both your request. Best regards, WJifar (WMF) (talk) 20:47, 20 February 2018 (UTC)