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Strategical ideas from Hindi Speaking community – Wikimedia 2030

Af Rupika Sharma

New Delhi Hindi Strategy Meetup by RSharma (WMF).

During the March-September 2019 community consultation process of the Movement Strategy 2018-20, members of Hindi Wikimedia community brainstormed and discussed about their shared vision of the Wikimedia movement’s future by 2030. The community talked about the concerns they had, and the kind of grants, power structures, diversity of projects and roles they wanted to align with the strategic direction from the local context of the South Asian continent.

In the last 8 months, we received hundreds of ideas across 9 thematic areas. While some of them are about local programmatic issues, others offered deeper context on the issues and concerns at the movement-wide level. The participants comprised of both male and female Wikimedians from India between the ages of 20 – 65 years who are active volunteers in diverse range of Wiki projects. The feedback was collected from one-on-one interviews, on-wiki interactions from village pumps of active Hindi projects, strategy meetups, and social media outreach on different portals that the community frequents – including the various Hindi message groups. It represents desired changes which are the responsibility of all of us, as a global movement, to put into action, both inside and beyond the movement strategy process.

Let’s talk about some of the interesting ideas shared by the Hindi community!

Empowering community health with Governance and Safety training

“The lack of basic training and onboarding exercises for new Wikimedia volunteers make it hard to maintain good community health in the Hindi community.”

— a female user from the Hindi community

One-on-one interviews with Hindi community revealed the need for more support for community health topics such as:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Community by-law creation
  • Community governance and decision making policies.

One idea was about the creation of a suggestion box on village pumps or community health portals in various languages to support community suggestions around the code of conduct, or discuss community health concerns in a more inclusive and transparent way.

Strengthening efforts toward grant accessibility

“When grant structure is observed from the bottom of the pyramid, the emerging communities are being left out. Only 2-3% of the bigger grants such as project grants, conference grants and Simple APG grants are given to emerging communities.”

— a user from Hindi Wikimedians User Group

Where and how the funds available within the movement are spent remains a topic of interest to the global community. The community noted that not enough funds are allocated for emerging communities, as the majority of the big grants such as the Annual Plan Grants, Project Grants and Event Grants are going to Western affiliates. Some of the suggestions included:

  • Regional allocation of funds to ensure equity among affiliates spread over different regions
  • Funds allocation for different areas like Education, GLAM, or outreach for structured development in different focus areas of the movement.
  • Identification of existing organizations that could be supported to increase the scope of work in a particular by actively collaborating and working for the Wikimedia movement in a particular field.

There should be special strategy for investment in the emerging communities for achieving knowledge equity as 2030 strategic direction goal.

For ease of access of resources, the Hindi community suggested the creation of a centralized documentation in simple English that explains the type of grants available, how to apply, who can apply and for how much. As things currently stand, affiliates often struggle to navigate or understand the procedures necessary to receive a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. Additionally, more staff should be allocated in the grants team, so that the grants can be processed at a quicker rate.

Scaling the capacity building efforts with new partnerships

“Big language communities that are spread across various regions need a specific approach to capacity building, planning coordinated activities in various sectors – contrary to smaller language wikis, who can organize regionally”

— a Hindi user

The Hindi community is eager to grow the size and content of its projects, and needs support getting there. Most interviewees felt that some of the structures and bodies to retain and promote capacity should be education programs and fellow model wiki clubs based in education institutions. Another suggestion was made for New Readers program to expand the project from knowledge consumer base to knowledge producers with new designs that also raise awareness on how to edit on Wikipedia and its sister projects. To foster inter-community collaborations and knowledge sharing of projects and new tools, the number of scholarships for international conferences like Wikimania should be increased.

Building a central network for accessibility of Partnership projects

“There is no ease of access of tools for integration of data from GLAM Partnerships. The current hacks are the ones developed by volunteers without proper debugging or documentation and they have not been scaled up by the Foundation on movement level.”

— an Indic user from Hindi community

The Hindi speaking community has a strong interest in growing GLAM partnerships in the region, particularly through increased data integration. One idea to make this happen is the creation of an integrated catalogue containing information about movement partnerships reports, resources and tools. Another idea was to create a peer-to-peer buddy network for all grantees for sharing project expertise, knowledge of tools for data integration, and proactive inter-community communication for new and old grantees. The Wikimedian in Residence Exchange Network is a good example of such collaboration.

Expanding the capacity of the mediawiki developer community

“The educational institutions are welcoming to start education programs with Wikimedia due to its brand value. This can be put to advantage for expanding volunteer developers community for mediawiki tools.”

— a MediaWiki volunteer

As we were reflecting on how we can better attract, support and retain diverse technical contributors and prioritize projects which will engage technical contributors, it was noted that partnerships with technical universities can engage and invite new Mediawiki developers. Whether it is in the form of a research project for final year computer science students or a regular curriculum built around Wikibase and Mediawiki, such programs can be lead by Wikimedia community with support from Foundation Education team and Grants team for assistance in partnership and resources. Similarly, it was suggested for the Foundation to partner with Google for a structured approach to Google developer students club for MediaWiki projects.

What is your take on the feedback listed above? How do you see yourself being a part of the change to see these ideas come to life? What roles should different movement stakeholders play to take things forward? We will all need to work together to make our visions a reality. Comment, tweet, and share your ideas!