History and Timeline of Deoband Community Wikimedia

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The Deoband Community Wikimedia is a recognised user-group affiliate of Wikimedia. Maintaining a thematic focus, the affiliate avoids restricting its scope to single-language projects. It was established on 31 July 2021 to disseminate knowledge related to the global Deobandi scholarship on free knowledge projects such as Wikipedia. It was subsequently recognised by the Affiliation Committee on 16 January 2022. Since its inception, the affiliate has organised events, meet-ups, actively participated in programs and formed collaborations both within and outside the movement to strategically enhance its development. The affiliate's focus has expanded to general Muslim academia and scholarship, both historical and contemporary, including Western Oriental Islamic scholarship.

History and works[edit]

Deoband Community Wikimedia (DCW) was officially established on 31 July 2021. Early members were introduced to the organization on 12 August 2021. Strategies and future plans were discussed in a meeting held on 20 November 2021. Subsequently, the organization received formal recognition from the Affiliations Committee on 16 January 2022.

DCW has worked on the English Wikipedia, through the DYK and the ITN. As part of the program, Hayat al-Mashayaikh initiative was launched on multiple social media platforms in June 2021, aiming to promote the goals of the group and encourage writing about scholars affiliated with the Deoband Islamic seminary. DCW's major on-wiki accomplishments are documented here.


Foundation and AffCom recognition[edit]

  • 31 July 2021: Its first draft page was published on Meta-Wiki.
  • 12 August 2021: First introductory meet.
  • 4 October 2021 to 21 November 2021: A form seeking recognition was filled with the Affiliation Committee, and a series of discussions about the user-group's scope was discussed with AffCom liaison person MKaur (WMF) and the initial review was provided on 3 November 2021. The then proposed name was subsequently discussed by the AffCom with Legal, and the application's result was ready by 4 January 2022. During the review process, opinions from existing Indic-language affiliates were also sought. During the review process, an introductory was arranged in Deoband on 20 November 2021.
  • 16 January 2022: The user-group agreement was signed by TheAafi and Browniewikipedian and the affiliate was recognised by AffCom.
  • 31 January 2022: Affcom liaison published the recognition agreement.

2022 in review[edit]

During our first year of recognition, from 16 January 2022 to 15 January 2023, we held an offline meet in Deoband between 17 and 20 March 2022 and reconvened on 19 June 2022. With a focus on defining a strategic growth trajectory for our affiliate, we established the Deoband Yoruba Collaborative Project following our June 2022 meet.

Participants of the June meet-up

Deoband Yoruba Collaborative Project[edit]

On June 25 2022, the Deoband Yoruba Collaborative Project received approval during an interactive session attended by T Cells and TheAafi.[1]

The DYCP project seeks to increase thematic content related to the DCW on Yoruba language Wikipedia. Its inaugural drive concluded successfully on 29 July 2022, translating a total of twenty selected articles into Yoruba language Wikipedia. The insights from the first drive are detailed here. This drive helped DCW volunteers gain deeper understanding of various aspects of knowledge transformation.

Dorcas Omolade training newbies on how to contribute to the July 2022 Drive of the project.


Between 7 August 2022 and 10 August 2022, we organised a series of events in Delhi related to Wikiquote. This series was initiated to improve the theme on Wikiquote projects majorly in English, Urdu and Arabic. A photo-walk was also done as a part of this event on 8 August 2022, aiming at collecting images of historical Madrasa Aminia, in Kashmere Gate.

Inscription in Persian language depicting modern constructions of Madrasa Aminia, Delhi

Bhopal Photo Event[edit]

The Bhopal Photo Event was hosted between 15 and 20 October 2022, in Bhopal [2] was approved during the June 2022 Meetup in Deoband. With the goal of gathering 200 thematic images, the event exceeded expectations by collecting over 340 images. These images are now organized under DCW Bhopal Photo Event category on Commons.

An Islamic seminary in Bhopal

Wikidata 10[edit]

We met on the Wikidata birthday! We also organised an online edit-a-thon focused on refining our theme on Wikidata. Following this event, contributions were made to Wikidata in Arabic, English, Kashmiri, and Urdu.

Movement Charter discourses[edit]

The Movement Charter Discourses, spanning a month from November 20 to December 20 2022, constituted a strategic, scholarly endeavor hosted by the affiliate. Several pages related to the Movement Charter were translated into Urdu, accompanied by a series of both online and offline meetings. Ciell, a member of the Movement Charter drafting committee was our guest on 15 December 2022. The concluding session of this series was held online on 16 December 2022.

The summarised feedback is available for reading on Movement Charter/Community Consultations/2022/DCW.

Conversations with people from within and outside[edit]

For further information, see DCW Conversation Hour.

We initiated a series of conversations inviting scholars from around the globe, and and members from within the movement to strategically strengthen its foundation. This program was inaugurated by دنيا, an Arabic Wikimedian, who provided a brief presentation to DCW's female volunteers on 30 September 2022. Following this Dr. Ashraf Dockrat from the University of Johannesburg presented second lecture of this series on Islamic scholarship and Wikipedia on 13 November 2022.

The last meetup[edit]

The culminating meetup of this term transpired from 7 January 2023 and 8 January 2023. The agenda comprised strategic deliberations aimed at bolstering organizational strength and formalizing our status as a legal entity. Hosted in Deoband, the gathering saw the participation Numis Zuhair and Bilal Nibraas. The meetup also delved into comprehensive discussions regarding our strategic research proposal.

2023 in review[edit]

During our second year of recognition, from 16 January 2023 to 15 January 2024, we initiated several programs including DCW Conversation Hour, Heritage Lens, and actively participated in various conferences including WikiConference India 2023, Wikimania Singapore, WikiWomenCamp 2023 and Train The Trainer 2023.

Strategic Trajectory[edit]

In November 2022, a proposal was put forth to conduct a research study titled "Defining Methods for the Strategic Development of the Deoband Wikimedia: Increasing Quality-Oriented Knowledge and Participation". The research, scheduled to take place between February and July 2023, aimed to define a growth trajectory for DCW while concurrently assisting underdeveloped and developing affiliates in their Wikimedia ecosystem journey. Learnings derived from the research study were later shared with the wider community through Diff blogs.

DCW Conversation Hour[edit]

Main article: DCW Conversation Hour

In September 2022, the notion of DCW Conversation Hour was introduced and was formalized following our strategic recommendations. It was officially named "DCW Conversation Hour" in March 2023. The first standardised conversation hour centered on the impact of offline meetups on Wikimedia communities, with Nicole Schwitter as the featured speaker.

The conversation hour was developed on the principles of "evaluation, iteration and adaption".[3] Subsequent sessions delved into various topics such as The Art of Community Review, Impact of Wikipedia on Non-Conventional Education, Building Brand Equity, The Wikipedia Library, Books, Institutional Partnerships and Wikpedia, Transformational Leadership and Open Education, Exploring Digital Audio and Its Role, Tools for Wikimedia Organisers and Wikimedia Ecosystem: Community and Affiliates.[4] Notably, the Conversation Hour focusing on the Wikipedia Library was perceived as a valuable resource, aiding Wikipedia users in navigating the library effectively.[5]

Wikipedia 101[edit]

Wikipedia 101 cover image

Discussions about Wikipedia 101 were initiated around January 2023, and subsequent conversations were held by the end of February 2023. DCW's role in the making of this cross-cultural educational Wikipedia set was primarly from on-wiki standpoints and "support in creating the project outline and offering perspectives from a different cultural viewpoint." [6] The Turkish edition of Wikipedia 101 was released by Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey in the last week of May 2023 on their YouTube channel.[6]

Heritage Lens[edit]

Main article: Heritage Lens

The Heritage Lens initiative was launched in July 2023 in alignment with our strategic recommendations derived from February 2023. This initiative stemmed from the evaluation and iteration of our Bhopal Photo Event conducted in October 2022. Its primary objective is to enhance the representation of Muslim heritage within Wikimedia projects.

Iteration 1[edit]

The first iteration of Heritage Lens was held between 23 July and 25 July 2023 around Deoband, Saharanpur, and surrounding areas. It included training sessions on the basics of Wikimedia Commons, Importance of Copyright and the Freedom of Panorama. We developed a collaboration with Mazahir Uloom, an Islamic seminary, which released several of its images under a free license.

Iteration 2[edit]

The second iteration focused on the South Kashmir, a geographical region in Kashmir Valley. It was conducted between 10 to 14 December 2023, and a travel fellowship was awarded to ThePoeticFrame to facilitate its execution.

Our fellow also introduced the initiative locally, engaging in discussions with custodians of several heritage sites, and documenting certain oral history stories from the region.

Edit-a-thons and contests[edit]

DCW-K Editathon[edit]

Main article: DCW-K Editathon

DCW-K Editathon was initiated in collaboration with the Kashmiri Wikimedians User Group in order to bridge the gap of thematic knowledge on Kashmiri Wikipedia. Its first edition was organised between 21 June to 20 July 2023, and a total of 77 articles were created on Kashmiri Wikipedia. This accomplishment is noteworthy given that Kashmiri is a language that currently lacks even the most fundamental infrastructure support.

Deoband Yoruba Collaborative Project[edit]

Agbalagba and T Cells giving approval to the drive during Wikimania Singapore

The second drive of the Deoband Yoruba Collaborative Project initially scheduled for July 2023, was organised in September 2023. Different to the previous edition, the organising members, Aafi, Agbalagba and T Cells met each other at Wikimania Singapore in August 2023. The drive was successful and a total of 99 articles were created and improved across Urdu and Yoruba language Wikipedias.


We organised and conducted several workshops and training sessions including:

  • The Other Side of Wikipedia was conducted in collaboration with English Researchers Collective (Eng Res Co), Department of English, at the Jamia Millia Islamia University on 23 July 2023. The event was also mentioned by the university on their website.
  • Digital Empowerment Seminar was organised on 26 July 2023 in collaboration with Bayt al-Hikmah, Deoband.[7]
  • Wikidata Sprint was organised from 28 to 30 October 2023 to celebrate the eleventh anniversery of Wikidata with a thematic edit-a-thon
  • Wikimedia Primer was organised on 15 November 2023 helping the new Wikimedians at Wiki Club Jamia explore basics of the Wikimedia ecosystem. Live editing was demonstrated, and over 20 students joined the offline event at the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia.
  • Wikiquote Insights was conducted on 28 December 2023 in New Delhi. Participants learned editing Wikiquote in English and Urdu language and understanding the basics of notability on the Wikiquote projects.

DCW Progress Prism[edit]

Main article: DCW Progress Prism

DCW Progress Prism, serves as our brainstorming instrument to help us evaluate, iterate, and adapt, in accordance with Movement Strategy Implementation Recommendations. Offline meetings took place in New Delhi in February and March 2023, transitioning to virtual sessions by April 2023. During the DCW Progress Prism call on November 28 2023, a decision was made to adjust the frequency of the call. The revised plan includes conducting this call three times a year, comprising one offline meetup and two virtual sessions.

Conference and event participation[edit]

Several of our volunteers received full scholarships to attend regional and international conferences for their contributions to Wikimedia projects. We had representation at two international conferences: Wikimania Singapore and WikiWomenCamp 2023, and at WikiConference India 2023, a regional conference.

WikiConference India 2023[edit]

Khaatir and TheAafi received full scholarships to attend WikiConference India 2023 (WCI), providing an opportunity for engagement and discussions with various Wikimedia Foundation staff and the wider Indic-Wikimedia community. During the event, we actively participated in an exclusive meeting of affiliate leaders and Affliation Committee staff liasons DNdubane (WMF) and MKaur (WMF). This gathering allowed us to share our challenges and concerns regarding affiliate structuring and movement governance with a broader leadership within the movement. Lorenzo Losa, a member of the Board of Trustees, was also present during the meeting.

Wikimania Singapore[edit]

Aafi delivering Movement Strategy Implementation Grants lightning talk at Wikimania 2023 Pre-Conference, 15 August 2023

TheAafi was granted a full scholarship to attend Wikimania Singapore in August 2023. At the conference, Aafi engaged with senior Wikimedians, several Wikimedia Foundation staff, participated in an exclusive meeting with the organisers of the Wikimedia Summit, and discussed our initiatives with representatives from other affiliates and chapters of the Wikimedia Foundation, most notably Wikimedia Chile.

Aafi delivered a lightning talk on the subject of Movement Strategy Implementation Grant in alignment with our Leadership Development and Skills Infrastructure Plan.[8]

Train The Trainer 2023, Kochi[edit]

Aafi received a full scholarship to attend the Train The Trainer Program in Kochi, Kerala. TTT in Indian context is particularly described as a "residential training workshop to groom leadership skills among the Indian Wikimedia community members". The 2023 edition was organised by CIS-A2K, and co-hosted by the Wikimedians of Kerala. Its objectives included building connections, enhancing active participation, emphasizing sustainability, and contributing to the overall health of the community.

WikiWomenCamp 2023[edit]

Our researcher for the Leadership Development and Skills Infrastructure Program, Affaf, was awarded a full scholarship to attend WikiWomenCamp 2023 in New Delhi. She engaged and supported the organizing committee of the conference in several ways, including note keeping. Additionally, she represented the affiliate in a "women-only" international conference within the Wikimedia movement.

Leadership Development and Skills Infrastructure Program[edit]

See also: Wiki Club Jamia
Participants of the Wikimedia Primer workshop

The inception of the Leadership Development and Skills Infrastructure (LDSI) Program took place on July 1 2023, with the primary goal of enhancing leadership dynamics within the movement. As a part of this program, Wiki Club Jamia was established on 29 October 2023, coinciding with the 103rd Foundation Day of the Jamia Millia Islamia.

The core mission of Wiki Club Jamia is to engage and involve university students in the global free knowledge movement through Wikimedia projects. The club aims to nurture their growth and empower them to represent themselves at a global level.[9]

On 27 Novemeber 2023, two workshops were conducted in Kolkata – one at Sister Nivedita University and the other at Celica Group, in collaboration with TIJALA Shed, a local non-profit. The workshops garnered participation from over 50 individuals, including students, teachers, activists, and government officials.


  1. Ayoob, Anzer (26 June 2022). "Deoband Community Wikimedia announces a collaborative project with Yoruba language Wikipedia". The Chenab Times. Retrieved 15 January 2023. 
  2. "دیوبند ویکیمیڈیا کی پانچ روزہ بھوپال فوٹو تقریب کا آغاز" [Deoband Wikimedia's 5-day long Bhopal Photo Event has started]. Millat Times. 17 October 2022. Retrieved 15 January 2023. 
  3. "DCW Conversation Hour". dcwwiki.org. Retrieved 6 January 2023. 
  4. "DCW Conversation Hour archives". hour.dcwwiki.org. Retrieved 6 January 2024. 
  5. Udeh, Benedict; Walton, Sam; SJ, Vipin (16 September 2023). "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no paywall, for thou, Wikipedia Library, art with me". The Signpost. Retrieved 5 January 2024. 
  6. a b Aafi; Mrb Rafi; Kurmanbek (10 June 2023). "Wikipedia 101 – a cross cultural Wikimedia outreach video tutorial project". Diff. Retrieved 5 January 2024. 
  7. "Deoband’s Bayt al-Hikmah Recognizes Aaqib Anjum Aafi’s Contributions to Digital Empowerment". The Chenab Times. 27 July 2023. Retrieved 15 January 2024. 
  8. "Resourcing Movement Strategy". pretalx.com. Retrieved 15 January 2024. 
  9. Ayoob, Anzar (31 October 2023). "Students Establish “Wiki Club” at Jamia Millia Islamia University". The Chenab Times.