Grants talk:Project/Rapid/VVIT WikiConnect/Annual Plan (2018–2019)/Report

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Feedback from Wiki Education Foundation[edit]

KCVelaga asked me to review the report for VVIT WikiConnect and offer any feedback or suggestions based on my expertise, as part of Wiki Education Foundation's consulting services, as noted in the report. I've sent it already via email, but we agreed it would be helpful on the talk page too, so I am pasting here as well. First, some general thoughts:

  • You do an excellent job report formatting -- there are lots of great learnings here, and it's presented extremely well!
  • It's great that you're using the Dashboard to manage all your programs; this seems to work well, and it's a great way for others to clearly see your impact too.
  • Diverse activities that will attract different types of volunteers is really important: Writing Wikipedia article, especially in English Wikipedia where the standards are really high, isn't for everyone. Wikidata projects, photowalks, GLAM, translation of Wikidata labels, technical contributions to MediaWiki, video dubbing, SVG image work... this is all excellent and shows you are doing well at bringing in different types of people who might be interested in contributing to the movement in different ways. I like the idea of adding Wikisource too and encourage you to prioritize this next year (as you identified). But I'd encourage you to pick maybe 3-4 of them and get *really* good at giving workshops in those, then expand out to others. Maybe pick the 3-4 that were the most successful last year, and focus on doing 2X as many of them next year?
    • Yes, we partly implemented this last year. I trained four of the active editors to conduct Wikidata workshops. I will do similar training for workshops on other projects as well. This is really a good suggestion, by doing so the club will have in- house resources, instead of calling people from outside every time.
  • Coordinating with CIS-A2K to issue certificates is great: Providing some sort of support like this is really important to help newbies see the value of their work. See my comments later for another idea about this.
  • It's a really important learning about teaching students the community aspects of Wikimedia work too (talk pages, notifications, etc.); this is also obviously an important part of making them stick around. I'm glad you were able to work this out by emphasizing it in future workshops.
  • If you do want to create the list of items and channel participants that way, you can use the "Available Articles" feature on the P&E Dashboard.
    • Wow, I didn't realise this feature. We will use this from next time.
  • English Wikipedia is a challenging place to edit for newcomers, regardless of whether it's in person or online. We recommend a minimum of 6 weeks to fully understand how to contribute, and recommend 12 weeks for our courses. I think you can reduce it from six months, but I think sustained ongoing course work like this is really important to build actual good content that will stick on English Wikipedia — the rules are just too labyrinth otherwise.
    • Yes, I felt six months is too much. The participants were OK, but I found it a bit tedious by having this for so long. One of the reasons was that the students took the time to adopt the writing style of the English Wikipedia. I spent a quite a lot of time helping them understand encyclopedic writing. 12 weeks sound good, do you have any links to share about your courses?

Specific feedback on practices:

  • Leadership: Do your coordinators have formal roles that speak to their abilities? It sounds like you've done an excellent job of wearing all the hats for the organization, but think of whether there are some members who have different skillsets that could be in different roles. For example, do you have one who is particularly good with managing a budget, so could be responsible for the Rapid Grant in the future as your finance coordinator? Maybe someone is particularly good at getting people enthusiastic about coming to events, and could be your publicity coordinator. Maybe someone else is good at organizing event logistics, and could be your event coordinator. Not everybody will enjoy doing all parts of the club, so I'd recommend identifying a list of the kinds of roles your club needs, and then ask coordinators to volunteer for specific roles. That ensures someone is responsible for all the important things, and hopefully pairs people more in line with what they're most interested in doing for the club. I like the rotating "lead coordinator" who's in charge of everything, but think of defining specific sub-coordinator roles.
    • That sounds like a good idea. Apart from the general duties as coordinators, I think it would be great to have additional hats as you said, finance, events, publicity etc. I am also thinking of having project-wise coordinators. For example, they will be from the coord fold itself, but exclusive to a certain project. In practice, this would be; a coordinator will be responsible for the planning and execution of all Wikidata related activities, another will be responsible for all the thematic edit-a-thons, and so on.
  • Leadership: Your work in joining with larger Wikimedia events both within India and globally is great. I know you're on the board of the Wikipedia & Education User Group, and I'd encourage you to make participation in that group a formal part of your wiki club, not just something you do. For example, can you explicitly set as a club goal to mentor another student club in another part of the world? That can help share your club's knowledge more broadly in the Wikimedia ecosystem; it also means if there's a drop in activity in, say, 3 years, for your club, then maybe your work will live on in other clubs you've mentored, who can in turn mentor future students at your university if there is a break in activity there. Think of your learnings as living on in the movement, whether it's at your school or not.
    • Getting involved with Education UG is a really good idea. Connecting with another club and mentoring them would be awesome. It helps these people to get connected with the national and global communities, and most importantly, as you said, the work will live on. I will think more on this and decide the best way to do this.
  • Communications: We use Slack and love it, so I see the value in that — but in general, I'd say if what you're doing is currently working, don't add another channel. It's better to go where people are than to create a new communication channel they also need to check. If people are reading things on WhatsApp and Facebook because they use them daily anyway, then use those two, and don't worry about email or Slack.
    • My problem with WhatsApp and Facebook is they don't have archives. We can go back through messages, but it isn't really the best way to keep a record of previous discussions. I am also thinking of Google groups.
  • Communications: The Education and GLAM newsletters are great way to share your learnings with the broader Wikimedia ecosystem, and I'm glad to see you doing that! I'd encourage you to post an article about this grant report there too — it's excellent and full of lots of great learnings that others in the Wikimedia movement should read. :)
  • College authorities/CIS: Could the college or CIS offer you some sort of official letter that could help with your GLAM needs to be a little more formal?
  • Annamayya Library: This seems like a great resource for you. Could you schedule your next event before you leave the previous event at the library so while you're there for one event, you can do the in-person scheduling for the next one?
    • Wow! This is a wonderful suggestion. Yes, this solves our problem. Since we anyways write down our annual plan at the beginning of the year, with an approximate date for each activity, we should be able to inform them. We try this approach next year.
  • Retention: Can you create various levels of certificates? Think of like the different badges the Wikipedia Adventure offers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:TWA/Badgeometer) -- think of names that work in your context, and the more events you attend or the more edits you make to Wikimedia projects, you advance in your certification? If you've seen people are motivated by certificates, having different levels of certificates to achieve can help. This also introduces gamification elements to your work, which can be fun. Think as well of crafting a workshop or event schedule that builds upon previous events. Maybe the first hour is for newcomers, and experienced people show up for the second hour?
    • Great idea! Some kind of badges (even on-Wiki) would be the great motivation I believe, especially for newcomers. Users would want to work more to get a badge.
  • Retention/Communications: Do you think it would be motivating to have people understand how they're contributing with a global community of others? E.g., creating some sort of peer pairing with students in other countries in other wiki clubs? Or maybe feature a high-activity student in an article in the Education Newsletter? Or have a "student Wikimedian of the month" that you feature on your club's Facebook page? Something like this to give recognition to your active people, and encourage them to be more active.
    • Yes, connecting with other clubs would be good. Featuring people's work on our FB page is something which I did loosely last year, and but will be doing that more. I am also thinking of having regular check-ins with some experienced Wikimedians, and motivate the new folks. It will be quite informal.
  • Gender diversity: I like the idea of A+F or other events focused specifically around content related to women. I'd also encourage you to survey the women you have had attend events: What prompted them to come? What barriers to their participation exist? These surveys can be more formal or informal, but if you specifically ask the women you do have how to make their experience better, or what their ideas are about encouraging more women to participate, that can help guide your strategy in being more deliberate of how to attract even more women. I love that your Wikidata workshop is all women! So maybe your finding is Wikidata is particularly attractive, and you should do more Wikidata workshops?
    • We will do a women-specific survey next year, and try to get more insights into this. As mentioned in our report; next year we won't be doing any individual Wikidata workshops, but only part of the course.

All in all, I think you should be very proud of the work you've been doing -- it's incredible! Congratulations on a really successful year, and I wish you and your coordinators all the best next year. Please do let me know if I can clarify anything here, or if there's anything else I can help answer, question-wise. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 17:26, 21 May 2019 (UTC)

@LiAnna (Wiki Ed): Thanks a ton LiAnnna, many thanks for your detailed review, and your kind words. This will definitely help us improve during the next academic year. I have added my responses inline (as in our email conversation). Thanks again, KCVelaga (talk) 04:21, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
You're very welcome, glad it was helpful! Re your question on seeing our 12 week assignment in action, here is a link to a course that just wrapped up; while the timeline says 15 weeks, they had 3 weeks where they weren't doing work, which you can see as you scroll through it. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 17:17, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
@LiAnna (Wiki Ed): Thanks for sharing the links. KCVelaga (talk) 17:26, 22 May 2019 (UTC)

Feedback from Wikitatik[edit]

I want to emphasize that despite all the obstacles and hassles the job that you have done is a real success. Also, I have some remarks.
Campaign: In my opinion, blocking an editor just because of some repeating mistakes is not a good strategy. It is better to explain what is right or wrong and supervise editors for some time. Blocking them may demotivate people.
As I understand from the annual plan, you do not have a permanent place where you can meet and edit together. I think you can ask your university authorities whether they can provide you with an equipped room where you can organize your offline meetings.

--WikiTatik (talk) 13:04, 13 June 2019 (UTC)