Talk:India Community Consultation 2014

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Can we get the views of WMF about the said strategy. What was the strategy for India? What inputs were considered while deciding the strategy? Who were the people involved in consulting for the same and finalising the strategy?

If the outcome of the efforts till date is not inline with the strategy and not even encouraging, was there any analysis done before spending so much money on CIS-A2K (and earlier efforts)? Why WMF is not opening all this publically? Why the key people related to India specific activities are left(asked to leave?) Why WMF is waking up now to review the strategy and do brainstorming on it? Will WMF commit to accept inputs from this consultation and execute things accordingly?

Answers to all such questions are really important if WMF is really serious about this whole thing. Or else, it is just some wastage of money and resources. May be just a paid trip to Banglore... — The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk)

Dear anonymous commenter: No, we will not use this page to rehash the whole history of the WMF's efforts in India. As I said on the page itself, that conversation can be had separately, and will be had with whoever is interested, though I encourage you to read the context I have already provided in the page, and to refer back to previous correspondence on the WikimediaIndia mailing list and on the recent APG proposal by CIS-A2K, where much of this has been laid out.
The goal of the meeting is precisely to come up with a new vision for working toward the Wikimedia Mission in India, and to then derive from it the appropriate structures and resources to bring it about. This as distinct from the (in retrospect, unexamined) approach adopted at the beginning of the old strategy implementation in India (in 2011) where a team was hired to develop plans without beginning with a thorough community consultation. For example, perhaps the most burning need of the editing communities, and the greatest help that can be offered them, is access to scholarly journals and books? Perhaps we can address that through extending The Wikipedia Library, entirely on-wiki? It's just one example of a scenario we might discuss at the meeting.
Since you have evidently been following this issue, you may have noticed I have been speaking fairly firmly and consistently about basing projects on existing editing communities, and deriving endorsement for planning from them. I certainly do not fool myself into thinking the community (any community) can be bound by decisions made in any physical room, off-wiki.
It is decidedly the goal to reach a roadmap or set of proposals the meeting participants would be comfortable endorsing, to then share on-wiki (and via mailing lists) with all the different communities in India, to seek alignment and support. It is quite possible that not all components of whatever the meeting participants come up with end up embraced by the community, but ideally, at least some scenarios and plans might be, and we would be able to proceed from there.
I encourage you to take responsibility for your views and to come and express them in person at the meeting. Go ahead and nominate yourself below! :) Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 05:23, 21 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]


This doesn't look like an honest effort to fix things, however let me suggest few points.

  1. Please don't let people like Hisham and Vishnu to decide things for the Indian communities, instead hire experienced Wikimedians like Shyamal, Arjuna, Viswa Prabha, Ravi, Pranav if needed (i hope it's okay to mention the names!). If you can't find such Wikimedians to hire in India, find other ways to invest, e.g. WMIN.
  2. Let 'Wikimedia India' grow, organize projects and lead the movement in India. I want to see more Volunteers leading the movement.
  3. Change your attitude towards Volunteers, just because you are paid WMF staffs, doesn't mean you own the movement and you could decide whatever you want. Let the communities decide what is best for themselves. It should be your priority to reach to experienced Wikimedians and seek their suggestions, perhaps that is what you are trying to do now!

Because of the wrong decisions made in the past, the movement has lost faith, goodwill, willingness to participate. If you could do these, then more than half of the issues would be solved automatically. Before you organize this event you should look into these points. Without these you can't make things better. Thanks. -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 14:22, 24 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]

You are entitled to question my honesty, but I would encourage you to assume good faith. I am quite interested in "fixing things". To your specific points:
  1. I don't think I've "let Vishnu decide things for the Indian communities". You know as well as I do that Vishnu's work absolutely depends on the good will and cooperation of the relevant communities, and Vishnu knows this as well. Neither Vishnu nor I have the power to "decide things for the community"; what we do have is some resources at our disposal, and the ability to strategize and steer where and how those resources are applied. I acknowledge not enough community consultation was done in the very early stages of WMF's work in India (2011-2012), but am happy to see extensive community consultation has been the norm for some time now. Let us also remember that a community consultation does not equal a requirement for zero dissent; it is possible to obtain a community's assent and cooperation with a plan of action even with one, or a handful, of dissenting voices. Context is everything, of course, and no one is pretending all the work that has been done has been equally welcome, or equally successful.
  2. I, too, want to see more volunteers leading the movement. And I do see good examples of volunteer leadership in some of the Indic language communities. I regret to say I do not see good examples of leadership in the volunteer Wikimedia India board. Indeed, I submit to you that it is not I, or WMF, that has prevented Wikimedia India from growing. This page is not exactly the best venue or moment to go into this at any detail, and some of this has already been discussed elsewhere, but I will state that I reject the notion (actively promoted by some (not all!) in the current WMIN leadeship) that WMF has been "undermining" the chapter or otherwise preventing its growth. It is not unreasonable, mind you, to have concrete disagreements with the chapter about the appropriate rate of growth for the chapter, or about the degree of success of the endeavours already completed, and it is fine if you accept the opposing narrative. I have already in the past suggested my help to the chapter in its own strategizing, but the chapter is yet to take up my offer. I'm still interested and willing, though this planned meeting would not be about figuring out a strategy for the chapter, but about figuring out a vision and perhaps some strategies for the movement in India, which may include a role or some expectations for the chapter.
  3. I think you will find my "attitude" has just one bias: I am biased towards impact over formalities and titles, and towards actions and results over declarations and politics. You are welcome to examine my various statements and actions and see for yourself whether that's a fair representation of the things I have supported and the things I have opposed. I very much want the communities to "decide for themselves"! I look forward to the fruits of such community decisions in the form of, for example grant proposals that we could directly support, or in the form of direct communication with WMF for non-financial support as well (evaluation, communication/media, technical tools, etc.). (Indeed, I'm hope we can see some such expressions of community will in the relatively-simple question of nominating delegates for this meeting, right on this page...) Some communities (one notable example is the Tamil community) are remarkably organized and self-sufficient, and have found (I think) a comfortable modus vivendi with the rest of the movement, where they run their own programs and activities, reject "interventions", and occasionally seek and receive WMF grants to support those activities. I think that's fantastic, and any community that is interested in this model and able to adopt it would be absolutely welcome to do so, and nothing would be "decided for" it or forced on it.
So I encourage you to take my words at face value, recognize that we are trying to build something different now, much less top-down and much more bottom-up, which, to my mind (and I will point out I had not been involved in the early years of the WMF's work in India, and wish I had been), is much more natural and wikilike.
I hope you can suspend your judgment until the outcomes of the meeting are shared with the communities and subsequent conversations begin; remember: we're not convening to make decisions, but to brainstorm and draw up a new shared vision, and it is likely to be a manifold vision, and not a one-size-fits-all model. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 05:40, 27 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]
What made you think, my suggestions are only for you!! :D I was not pointing to you or anyone else alone. :) I doubt you realize the depth of the situation here. Anyway lets hope for the best. :) -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 04:17, 29 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Fully agree to the statement "This doesn't look like an honest effort to fix things." as I have serious doubts about the selection criteria used (if there was any) for the selection of who could attend this meet used for Gujarati Wikimedia. -Vihang (Gujarati Wiki).


I think there should be at least some structure around this meeting so that participants are prepared to state what they have to say clearly and in as short time as possible. Statements could actually be made here well in advance (even if not in English) and should attempt to be precise and brief (the way an encyclopedia ought to be). It might even help if the facilitator is involved well in advance, and even take part in the agenda construction. Shyamal (talk) 03:50, 1 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

+1. While posting messages across village pumps, I have encouraged different language communities to come up with a collective vision for their community which their representative can present. It will be good if each language community, the chapter and pan-India community can present their expectation for the future of the movement here, well in advance before the event.--Ravi (talk) 21:10, 1 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks Ravi, I hope something comes up. I find it a bit sad that too many are unable to communicate effectively via wiki, which sometimes makes me wonder how they actually contribute to the various projects. Shyamal (talk) 10:39, 2 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support any effort to have written statements before the meeting. I live in the United States and I want to follow the results of this meeting, but I will only be able to read about it. I would love to see "precise and brief" statements of 2-3 sentences from anyone raising any issue. Lots of other Wikipedians outside India want to know what is happening in India also. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:48, 2 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for your thoughts, Shyamal, Ravi and Blue Rasberry . We will certainly put up a draft agenda over the next few days, so that we can design the meeting together. We have asked the facilitator to work with us on this.
Overall, the agenda for the meeting is likely to cover these issues:
  • Introductions, expectations, ground rules
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis and sharing stories of individual contributors, diverse language communities and projects
  • SWOT for India and Indic languages across South Asia
  • Visioning for the movement in India
  • Strategies and action plans for the movement going forward (next six months, next year, next two years)
    • Roles, responsibilities and rules of engagement between the different actors in India
Let us know what you feel. thanks, ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 00:21, 18 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Opinions 1[edit]

As someone who was contributing to Wikipedia long before the arrival of India-related and funded entities, I would like to make a few statements (User:Bluerasberry, sorry, I am exceeding the limit you set) Shyamal (talk) 06:42, 4 September 2014 (UTC) A schematic for the pipeline indicating places where we work and don't work[reply]

  • I do not know if "our shared vision" really was to "create" knowledge - as claimed in the aim of the meeting - "our shared vision of creating and sharing free knowledge in India and in the Indian languages" - WP:OR evolved with a clear purpose
  • Wikipedia is more critical to India than in many other countries because - India does not have effective public libraries and only a young and immature public knowledge policy and a weak infrastructure for the production/sharing of information
  • There are numerous tightly-knit social problems and information access on its own is not anywhere near the top of the list of problems. Attempting to fund agencies to fix the numerous inter-related social problems merely brings a larger number of funds-seekers to the tap, particularly those flowing with the guilt money of the global north (and seriously, there is an incredible number of them, 1 NGO per 400 persons unlike public health centres or government schools - [1] [2] - and someone, apparently from the CIS has noted quite honestly that high salaries are a major motivating factor)
  • shaking up existing and relevant Indian public agencies (already funded by the taxpayer) to help fix issues might be more sustainable in the long run and shaking up these organizations may require creative and disruptive ideas
  • converting information seekers (more numerous and representative) into skilled contributors volunteers is essential - giving them access to otherwise inaccessible sources of information - library assistance - would be a direct and targeted non-monetary incentive

PS: I think this document should be compulsory reading!

Opinions 2[edit]

  • From 2001 to 2010, the Wikimedia movement in India worked fine without any formal entity or major funding. The arrival of these have not made a significant difference but has added confusion and distraction for the community.
  • WMF's intervention in India is guided by its global south strategy. But, the problem in India (or global south or gender gap) is very elementary and fundamental. Any strategy that doesn't take into accoung the socio-economic and political factors won't be successful.
  • People from outside don't understand India and the people they hire in India don't understand Wikipedia.
  • There is a statistical limit for the maximum or expected growth potential for any Wiki project based on the number of people having internet access - > seeking knowledge in their own or a particular language -> signing up for Wikipedia user account - > Active users - > Very active users. Mature communities in Indian language Wikipedias are already following the global trend. Any goal setting should consider this.
  • Wikipedia is not a stand alone entity. It is part of a knowledge eco system and culmination of scholarly activity. Without the presence of other players like education, technology, state support and social prestige, Wikipedia can't grow on it's own.
  • Not everyone is supposed to become a Wikipedian like not everyone is supposed to become a FOSS activist, environmental activist, poet or a sportswoman. Any programatic activity should consider this and design mass outreach programs.
  • What comes under volunteer domain and what comes under paid professional engagement should be clearly defined by each community.
  • Wiktionary and Wikisource should be the starting point for budding communities.
  • Any intervention should not dampen the spirit of volunteerism.
  • Any programatic activity should be community driven from the beginning. Absense of an active community is not an excuse for designing programs from top down. Communities should be allowed to grow on their own pace.
  • Inter community interaction and emergence of natural leadership should be encouraged.
  • India is a political necessity and global movements like Wikimedia need not fit into that structure. There should be more decentralization of activities. FOSS organizations have separate registered entities for each state and collaborate when needed.

(... more to be added)

--Ravi (talk) 20:54, 6 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Opinons 3[edit]

I agree in large part to the comments made by Ravi and Shyamal. I won't be able to come to the Consultation being in Bangalore but I place the points that I would have stated on-wiki for consideration during the Consultation.

  • There needs to be an open review of the Wikimedia India Chapter and CIS and their role in the wider Wikimedia India movement on wiki, possibly on Meta. It needs to undertake three main points: the expectations of the Community from the organisation (Chapter/CIS), how the community would want to be involved with the organisation (Chapter/CIS) and where the Community thinks the organisation did well in the time the organisation existed.
  • I see this Consultation as a way for the WMF to re-engage with India. I welcome it but think that it is too late. The best thing that the WMF can do now is exit or put on back burner its India plans. Let the community do what it can given the circumstances that exist.
  • Chapter needs to self-assess where it is going, organise country-wide membership drives and work towards becoming a true representative of the Community in the year 2014-15. ~I hope they can organise another WikiConference in India soon. I have resigned from the Chapter as a member and will seek membership again only if I think it fulfills its mandate as I understand it. [I know that I am not greatly valued by the present Chapter EC members and that my resignation secretly makes them happy, but I do this fwiw].

--Pradeep (talk) 14:55, 12 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

  • I am not particularly proud of what I wrote above but deleting it does not help things. Here are my thoughts/vision for the Movement in India.
  • WMF's role lies with running the servers, putting together technical teams to solve technical problems and when possible supporting hackers in India who can help roll out the various requirements specific to India. It also is currently the only major donor for activities in India. I see the WMF's role as one of providing a platform for the curation of knowledge and funding to help contributors to the platform.
  • The Community are individuals who are contributing their time in the curation of knowledge on the platform. Their inputs are necessary to curation of knowledge and deciding what knowledge in the offline world gets curated onto the various Wikimedia projects.
  • The Chapter is an institution being built to act as the Community's offline interface to be a legal entity to distribute the risk to individuals occurring from engaging with offline facets of knowledge creation. This can be in the form of acting as a body to organise events like WikiConference, acting as a representative of the Community when talking to corporate entities and government departments in order to gain access to knowledge in various domains locked in the physical world and as a way to share best practices from across the Movement.
  • I appreciate the work that CIS has done in the India, so far within the Movement. I believe its role to be in developing an enabling environment for creation of free knowledge by interventions in policy and advocacy. My hope is that they (along with other entities or just themselves) build an environment where the requirement of a Chapter to contribute to open knowledge is minimal and the individual who has the desire and the passion to open up knowledge can do so even without the help of the Chapter. Eventually, I hope that even entities like CIS are not a requirement for contributing to free knowledge.
  • The individual contributor to Wikipedia is the most important resource that the Movement has. All others are in support to empower the individual to contribute in a hassle free way. WMF should work towards building platforms and infrastructure which make it easy to contribute and donate to the Movement. The Community should build an atmosphere that welcomes contributors in all their diversity engaging them with respect as individuals and helping them as contributors. The Chapter should be a place where an individual has hassle free help needed to sometime engage offline organisations and as the first port of call for help that the individual needs and provide an environment where an individual can state his point of view without fear of any entity within the Wikimedia movement. Entities like CIS (I hope there are more entities as well) help the individual freedom to fearlessly state his point of view and contribute without fear arising outside the Wikimedia environment.
  • I wish the Consultation all the best. Enjoy Bengaluru!

--Pradeep (talk) 02:28, 20 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

  • We should also be open to the possibility that other organisations may be able to do a better job of helping an individual than the Chapter. Under such circumstances, perhaps we should consider opening up to the possibility of having User Groups operate in India as well.

--Thiruvathira (talk) 17:13, 20 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Opinions 4[edit]

  • Transparency is necessary.
  • Thematic Groups might play important role in growth. Groups can work with/under WMIN.
  • Programs like TTT for local communities can be useful.

(...adding more points) AbhiSuryawanshi (talk) 21:24, 15 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Opinions 5[edit]

Since I'm unable to come, I've uploaded the following documents that I had prepared in 2011 when WMF was planning an India program.

Will update and upload to commons later. Tamil wiki community is collating inputs from many wikipedians including me and our representatives will present them during the consultation. -- Sundar (talk) 07:22, 1 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Opinions 6[edit]

"Past is past" let's put what happened behind us and think about the future. If this is what this consultation is premised on then it is going to be another disaster that the Wikimedia movement will see (at least in India). It IS important that we DO go in to the past, as objectively as possible, with an intention of learning from our collective experience of the trials and tribulations, successes and failures. This is useful before we begin an exercise like this one to chart A future of what the Wikimedia movement could be like in India. I am sharing my experience here as someone who has closely watched the Wikimedia movement in India over the last 8 years. Some of you may agree with this entirely or partly or not at all, it is fine. I have not been and am not in the Wikiverse for money or name or recognition. My interest is to see the Wikimedia projects (also OK and OA movements) in India grow. This is why I choose to be anonymous. My intention is also, hurt none. If you feel pinched reading this, it is unintentional.

Some universal truths to begin with.

  • Contribution to Wikimedia movement from India did exist even before the WMF dreamt of India catalyst program, WMIN Chapter or the current CIS program. The contribution will continue even if the above named three entities cease to exist.
  • The volunteer contributions from India to crowdsource/participatory platforms have been relatively low, historically, compared to that of Europe or USA. Whether you take the OS code contributions or torrents or even crowd funding initiatives. The participation on Wikimedia projects and donations to WMF are relatively much better, I would say.
  • Literacy, penetration of internet and digital technology, higher education, research culture and standards, technical infrastructure for Indian languages (like the work the WMF Language Engineering does), availability of quality content on the internet... are the generic challenges that a movement like Wikimedia had been facing in India.
  • India - demographic dividend - is seen as a huge opportunity not just by the WMF but also by the likes of Google, FB, Yahoo... so on and so forth.

Here comes WMF to cease this opportunity, oblivious of the risks attached to every big opportunity. While Jimbo makes his maiden visit to India, attempts were on by few of us to also cease this opportunity and we begin the long drawn exercise of WMIN Chapter formation. WMF parallely (some see it as competitively) starts the India Program. The objective, let's catalyze the growth of the Wikimedia movement in India. Not that the growth was not happening, but it was not comparable to the size and opportunity India offered. I think it was and is a novel objective and is still relevant (yes till this day). To achieve this objective enters the worst and the best catalyst of all times with a capital 'M' - Money & Mission. The challenges, failures, stories, gossip, camps, plans, grants, reports, conspiracies, edit counts... all gain a newer importance in the Wikimedia movement in India.

Well, I for one second, do not believe or intend to say that Money was/is not needed, or, catlyzing the mission was unwarranted in the India context. Rather, what we need to look at is what we did with Money and Mission, how did we (mis)use and then think about what we need to use it for and how do we use it productively going forward.
With the dollar conversion, WMF spending in India, even if it looks pittance on a global scale, is a significant investment within the local context since 2010. Starting from doling out individual support to Pranav and Pradeep to organize Wiki Conference India, to India Education Program, to grants to WMIN Chapter, to CIS Grant, to WMF run or heavily participated events like GNUnify, to WMF staff visits, to support to individual community members (IEG and scholarships). I would really like us to see the entire spending on India, so far, publicly disclosed, even if some think it does not serve any purpose.

In the above scenario two types of failures can occur, broadly speaking. One - Money could be unproductively utilized or Mission could go wrong or fail, in spite of the best intentions (e.g. India Education Program). Two - We completely loose sight of the Mission and focus only on Money, a more dangerous and much more damaging failure and something that should be avoided if we were to be eventually successful in growing the Wikimedia movement in India. While I am concerned about the first type of failures, which I will come to in a while, I am very concerned about the second type of failure. Unfortunately we are living through one such failure and are completely blindfolded (pick a synonym that you like) to point it out. It is not the WMF, which has fair share of mission failures behind its belt. It is not CIS, which some claim may have failed relatively in achieving desired mission level impact in comparison to the money invested. It IS the Wikimedia India Chapter (Chapter). Believe me, like most of the Wikimedians in India, I had been an ardent supporter, wellwisher and community level lobbyist of the Chapter. We all knew that the Chapter was started with the objective of furthering the Mission, and like me, most of you were jubiliant when the Chapter finally came into existence. But unfortunately the Chapter has lost sight of the Mission and has ended up only being about Money-driven-Mission. It may come across as an undigestable statement, but I believe that we should wake up to this reality right away. There are many signs that I would like to put forward as citations.

  • Look at what the Chatper EC has ended up being. With a lot of internal strife, camps within camps, absolute lack of transparency and accountability. I do not think any Indian Wikimedian with some reputation would like to join the Chatper or EC. Let's not brush it under the carpet by saying "hard times", as there is every possibility that this could be repeated again even after repair of the current scenario.
  • Chapter mailing list is not open, EC discussions are not communicated to the community (inspite of repeated email reminders on the India list - even the ex-President of the Chapter has been begging for clarity and answers for almost 9 months now?), Wikimedia India list seems to be under heavy moderation - all admins being Chapter lobbyists, Chpater EC's discussions with CIS and WMF are never shared openly.... A very essential aspect..
  • Look at the Chatper membership. Just by calling ourselves a volunteer body does not make one. There is no sustained initiative in taking Chapter to the community. It is silly that in the name of law and regulation we created a context where the community has to chase the Chapter to be part of it. Let us look at the yearly membership (numbers, diversity, linguistic, regional and thematic representation) in the Chapter since the year of inception. Nothing to feel proud about. It is high time that Chapter disclosed this to the community openly and transparetnly. But who is listening...
  • Look at the failures, almost none existing. And so are the learnings! Because Chapter has really done nothing that it could fail. Common let us not get into the rhetoric of "we didn't have funding". If so...
  • Look at what did the Chapter do to the money that came to India - to itself, in the form of the India Program, in the form of CIS, in the form of IEGs - other than blaming it has done nothing! Did the Chapter engage, channelize this money? Even that could have been part of the Mission. Rather...
  • Chapter spent most of its energies fighting how and why it has been wronged and about not getting this money into ITS bank accounts. Chapter, I believe, more and more nurtured a cause of Chapter for Chapter's sake than mission's sake. Haven't we, if not fought tooth and nail, deeply and not so secretly desired that the Missions driven by movement money (like the India Programs and CIS) fail. I have begun to realize that I too turned from a Mission lobbyist to a Chapter lobbyist. Why didn't the Chapter productively engage with the CIS program? Saying the community or Chapter was not consulted before WMF made the Grant to CIS is a lame excuse. Other than the quibbles about salary and some vague promise, there was nothing substantial (even official) as a feedback from Chapter during the recent CIS' FDC application. The Chapter should have atleast taken lead in generating a larger discussion (I do not mean to attack or sensationalization of disucssion like Ravi did with more noise than signal) from the community. Sowmyan as a resource could have been used for this task. But...
  • Look at what the Chapter has ended up doing. If the rumor mills were to be believed Ravi was secretely promised a job to go behind CIS FDC application & some believe that he is given the Program Directorship because of this qualification. Ravi did do it like a job for two months!? Unfortunately, the selection process, (and the lack of transparency) of the first Program Director of the Chapter DOES make me believe that some part of the rumour could be right. Why didn't we adopt a tranparent process like CIS did in selecting the Program Director? Let's keep this aside...
  • Look at how we partnered or built relationships with the communities in India? Majority of the English, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu community are less bothered about the Chapter and rest of the language communities do not even seem to be connected with the India Chapter, except for some 1 or 2 here and there. It looks like Chapter is from, for and by some camps in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune.
  • Not that we (the Chapter) do not know how to reach the communities. Well we have managed to mobilize some of the community members to vote for our FDC application to be reconsidered by the WMF Board. By calling up people, through social networks and telling them "just come and vote-WE need you". This is the best community outreach so far, I guess. Important to see how we engaged and consulted the community before making the maiden FDC application.
  • What is increasingly becoming clear is that the Chapter (represented by its diminishing vocal lobbyists) wants to be a Banker to the Wikimedia movement in India. See the first official announcement by Chapter's Program Director on the India list for Grants. Why Grants? Is the Chapter a Donor to make Grants? Is this is primary objective? It is a different thing to support the community, but to call for Grants, I have serious apprehensions with the aspiration the Chapter has - which is to be a BANKER to the community in India. Can we also note that the Chapter has not been effecient in supporting the Community requests so far. Given the resources why can't the WMF do this any better than the Chapter. I can't but appreciate that CIS only supported community requests (across a wide spectrum of languages and didn't MAKE Grants) and has been more efficient than WMF at it.

I cannot think of anything concrete India Chapter has done or at least shown A strong intention to do something for the growth of the Movement so far as. It is too busy looking inward - that too very inefficiently and only gets busy with the blame game. The often repeated rationale by the vocal Chapter lobbyists is that "People from outside (WMF) don't understand India". Though I used to believe this, I began to realize that this is a glorified myth. In fact the Chapter itself does not understand India nor has it put any effort at understanding the open knowledge movement in India. It is high time we objectively contemplate whether we want to continue with the India Chapter or be quick on our feet and see that it is becoming a liability. There could be reasons and reasons (both internal and external) for why the Chapter ended up like what it is, which I will write about some other day. Let's also please not begin with the line... "But the Chapter as an institution is too young". Look at Bangladesh and the confident steps they have taken so far. Honestly, the only biggest impediment that I see for the growth of the movement in India right now is the Chapter and the Chapter lobbyists.

To go back to the first type of failure - where Money had been unproductively utilized or the case of failed Missions. Well the number 1 rank should go to WMF. Not just for the IEP but the way it is approaching the movement in India as a region (and in the whole wide world). There is no evidence so far that it has reached out or built connections with the community beyond the 30-40 vocal and mostly Chapter lobbyists. It has ended up putting most of its energies managing these lobbyists - some of whom seem to own India within the movement context. There is no evidence that WMF has reached to the diverse set of communities in India. Even this Consultation would not have happened if not for the CIS' FDC Grant application. Thanks to CIS that WMF was woken up finally. It literally outsourced (of course much more cheaply) to CIS the outburst, the opposition, negativity, criticism against WMF during 2012. WMF felt it is a clever move on its part and some of us did wonder what kind of legacy CIS was inheriting - and waiting to see when the CIS program will sink. Believe me no other institution would have carried the baggage of IEP and we should appreciate CIS for taking this huge risk and liability and turn it around. It is very easy to claim now, there could be other institutions or organizations, but I doubt if anyone would have taken a plunge like the way CIS did and make the best out of it. There is enough said about WMF's failures and I sense that WMF as an institution is showing signs of willingness to learn.

CIS, contrary to my initial opinions (also Chapter lobyyists' AFAIK) I believe has brought in amazing amounts of transparency and accountability to the Movement's money in India, much more than Chapter and WMF put together. It has also brought in an amazing programmatic vision and direction and is working towards effectively channelizing the Movement money. There are questions raised about the size of the Grant, return on the money CIS received, salaries, etc. (and I also to an extent believe that more could have been delivered with the amount of money that CIS got) but I believe CIS has done its best with a lot of earnestness. It showed, especially after onboarding the Program Director Vishnu, a great intent to serve, contribute and grow the movement and community. (I have seen him in action and I believe that he is talking, walking, eating, sleeping and thinking about the Mission - we need more such people as paid employees.) We may question CIS' deliverables against the amount of funding they received, but we cannot question the zeal they have showed for the Mission. I doubt if Money alone can bring this zeal. If it were so, those leading IEP should have had more zeal but they didn't. CIS team has learnt and is learning - their candid replies on the FDC Grant application is an evidence of this. What is important is - they (CIS team) are willing to fail and learn, they see the importance of the Mission of Open Knowledge, they want to serve the community inspite of taking punches, they recognize that there is diversity in the communities and within the community and are engaging with them, they are planning and reporting hard, they are providing visibility to the movement, they are partnering entities, they are continuing to support the Chapter and community and most importantly they are not politicking (Chapter EC does this mostly). Of course they could have delivered much more for the money they got, but compared to the Chapter and WMF, they have done an overall much better job so far and they deserve some appreciation. Those of you who believe this should come out and publicly acknowledge this.

Based on this context I have the following to say about taking the Movement forward in India.

  1. We as a community have zero tolerance for failures and thus are not learning. There is a need to encourage more positive outlook to failures with an intent to learn from it. This macro level change is important for us to move forward.
  2. Proactively encourage language and theme based User Groups (No SIGs please. Let's start with a group than a person!). Thematic groups can work across languagges, taking rigor and more quality content into Indian language Wikis. There will be more ownership and Mission focus to these groups from the volunteers.
  3. Slowly let these User Groups mature into Chapters. Give it some time and not rush with setting up institutions. Let there be more Chapters than just one Chapter! There is no compulsion that India needs to have a Chapter/s. We could start small and be practical. Currently there is an ownership deficit for an India level Chapter. Other than some emotional nationalist agenda (which does not last long) and the India Chapter invokes feeble ownership from the community members. (Currently it's become a number game between some Community camps and they play it within themselves). Let's go bottoms up. Build language level and thematic user groups, let them mature and then form a national level Chapter. This may be long drawn but will be constructive and powerful.
  4. WMF could figure out more effecient and easy ways of supporting these User Groups than just Grants.
  5. Let's continue to nurture and leverage the current CIS team who will then work hand-in-hand with the above groups. They will also drive independent projects, partnerships, collaborations and value add services. It will be great if the transparency and accountability measures of CIS are continued in the future.
  6. If we want CIS out of the equation, the existing team under Vishnu can be taken up as WMF contractors for the time being (it is a totally bad idea to transfer the team to the India Chapter). Ravi can join the team, making it super strong. CIS' model of one person working focussedly on one language is a good one. Language wise strategy and plan, Community strengthening plans, etc. are all brilliant and comprehensive. Once the User Group matures these people from the Team can then be transferred over a period of time. The current CIS team has diverse set of experiences IRL and we should find ways and means of tapping into it and amplifying it for the Mission.
  7. Set up a Committee with senior Wikimedians (nominated by respective language community) from all languages and English who will work with the team in designing and advising on the programs. Some what like FDC.
  8. More work has to be done to arrive at what is volunteer effort and what effort needs to be paid, this differs across communities.
  9. Create spaces for networked learning across the language communities like the Trainer's workshop of CIS.
  10. Focus on brining content under free/open licenses in Indian languages. This will be a big win for Indian Wikimedia projects.
  11. Focus on replicating successful models from within India. E.g. see what the Malayalam Wikimedians have done in partnership with the State Government.
  12. Partnership with local Governments to properly channelize public money for open knowledge. Agencies like CIS could work with various language communities in doing this.
  13. Wikipedia Education Program should be tailored to Indian Education context.
  14. Create support structures for active Wikimedians. E.g. giving free access to nearby libraries or online resources.

--Nocan (talk) 13:54, 3 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Official Community Recommendations[edit]

While only few people can attend the consultation for various reasons, that doesn't stop the communities from providing an official recommendation online after discussing in their village pumps. I am planning to post a message across all village pumps seeking such recommendations. I will appreciate if you can help refine the message by adding more questions, pointers based on which the communities can start their discussion. This will help to make sure that all communities are in sync with common minimum goal.

Questions / pointers for each community:

1. Brief history [growth phases, successful outreach strategies]

2. Current situation [steady or decline or growing]

3. SWOT analysis [counting socio-economic and political factors, ecosystem of similar movements and knowledge resource online]

4. Where do we want to go? What do we lack? Who shall do what and how?

For example,

Will more tech support for indic language needs, funneling users from en wiki, dedicated apps for wiktionary, wikisource help?

Will more generous grants, individual engagement grants directly to comunity and community members help?

Is a need for policy activism felt (mother language based medium of education, digital literacy initiatives, official language status for more languages ike Tulu)?

Can WMF hep in content acquisition for wikisource and wiktionary?

Will a policy change that allows grants for digitizing help grow wikisource and wiktionary?

Is a need for thematic organization / language or region based chapter felt?

How do we address the needs of cross country communities like Tamil and Bengali?

--Ravi (talk) 09:16, 17 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]


(Official recommendation awaited)


(Official recommendation awaited)


(Official recommendation awaited)


(Official recommendation awaited)

  • List of invitees needs to be reconsidered. - Vihang


(Official recommendation awaited) Initial discussion


(Official recommendation awaited)


(Official recommendation awaited)


(Official recommendation awaited)


(Official recommendation awaited)


(Official recommendation awaited)


(Official recommendation awaited)


(Official recommendation awaited)


We have discussed in our community (see the discussion page), and resolved as follows, these are to be considered as;
official recommendations of the Telugu community
  1. To inspire and catalyze and to work independently, the Wikimedia shall give full fledged authorities to Telugu community.
  2. Telugu Wikipedia needs a separate “Telugu Chapter”, supported and funded by the Wikimedia.
  3. To complete many pending projects in Telugu Wikipedia such as, Wikisource, Wicktionary, funds are required. To complete them in a given short time, Wikimedia Foundation and India chapter shall come forward for funding to make them update.
  4. To inspire the current Editors and to invite new editors, Wikimedia shall organize refreshment courses and seminars quarterly and regularly at different places of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana with new innovative ideas according to Wikitrends.
  5. To frame new ideas and projects and implement them through Wikimedia.

--K.Venkataramana (talk) 12:53, 29 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]


(Official recommendation awaited)

Wikimedia India chapter[edit]

(Official recommendation awaited)


(Official recommendation awaited)

Would it be possible to get the minutes of the consultation?[edit]

Hello. As much as I would have liked to take part in this consultation, prior commitments stand in the way. However, I am still extremely interested in the discussion that will be ongoing and would like to have a copy, preferably in the form of minutes, so those unable to make it to the meeting can still be aware of the larger discussion and the steps taken towards the goals.

So can the organizers please make sure to make such a document publicly available once the meeting is concluded?

Thanks and regards, Soni (talk) 01:32, 11 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Certainly! Notes will be taken live on Etherpad, and made available publicly on-wiki after the event, as will a more organized, concise summary. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 20:42, 20 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Some thoughts about the whole exercise[edit]

Asaf and team, I've confirmed my participation in this. However, I feel concerned that all this may end up being just an exercise that takes up time from volunteers without much credible clarity coming into the equation. I would personally have a version of this running on community pages of English Wikipedia or elsewhere to get participation from all users who'd wish to be part of it rather than inviting specific people with spending involved for their travel.

The Community Consultation was termed Facilitation earlier during the conversations at Wikimania. When we now look at this page, it sure does look more of a facilitation to accommodate the Chapter & CIS - and less of the community consultation as such. If the WMF is indeed consulting the community, I'd rather see some specific questions or survey run through all contributors on-line (via some way like Global notifications) and collecting feedback from there. --H P Nadig (talk) 05:52, 19 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Hi H P Nadig, as you know, this consultation is really meant to be the beginning of a road map that we hope Indian Wikimedians will set for themselves, not the end. The processes involved will include the inputs communities offer _before_ the meeting, the key conversations _during_ the meeting, and then continued conversations we hope _after_ the meeting, within each community and more broadly across India. FYI, we have already planned a short survey for top community contributors to take prior the meeting (Asaf is working on that) plus Ravi has all our appreciation for his energy in trying to get community members to add their comments and suggestions to this page. However, it does appear that not everyone feels as comfortable expressing themselves on wiki in English as you might, Hari, and so that there is good reason for this form of f2f meeting (which, I might add, many of you in the community have repeatedly told us we should have initiated and facilitated a few years ago).
This consultation is not meant to 'accommodate' anyone, but to be a constructive conversation between different community members, which can then be adapted, adopted, deepened in on wiki and off wiki spaces over the next few months. 40 participants (plus the WMF folks) is already stretching the limits of an effective f2f meeting, and we have done our best to ensure that as many as possible from those nominated are joining us. It would also be very helpful if, given your concern, you could reach out to community members to participate in this discussion either on their own wikis or on this page. thanks, ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 18:41, 19 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Anasuya, thanks for the clarification on the intent of this initiative. Going by what has happened in the past, despite the assurances being given I'm still to be convinced that this is really an honest attempt to gather feedback from the community. My concern has been that this looks more of a 'facilitation' between parties that are actually benefiting from the Wikimedia's investment in the region. Volunteers seem to be getting invited to not just get them to talk, but to get credibility and endorsement for whatever would be tagged as the outcome of this discussion. The reason why I am not comfortable inviting community members to participate in this or requesting them to spend their valuable time for this in any way that endorses the outcome. And it is not just me, several long time contributors that I have spoken with have had similar impression of this as well. My participation in this is also not without reluctance.
I really appreciate the efforts of Asaf and Ravi in inviting contributors from various language communities (in fact Ravi is the one who nominated me and I've accepted that out of respect). I do not doubt their intent in doing so. I feel that both of them would have also sensed the reluctance from some actual contributors about participating in this.
You've said: "it does appear that not everyone feels as comfortable expressing themselves on Wiki in English" -- I think that it has got more to do with being vocal enough to point out the very things that are going wrong or to pinpoint things that can be against certain people or organizations which they really may not want to get into. Not many people would love to talk about it or spend their time discussing these publicly on the Wiki. They'd rather continue doing their work on the projects (which is what keeps them happy during their engagement in these projects). I'd recommend you to do a survey of all active contributors on-line, without collecting their usernames or mapping the opinion/feedback to their usernames. Collect opinion in local languages if need be. Spend the money you're spending on travel instead for translation of these recorded opinions if need be. But I do not agree that f2f meeting is the solution. As you rightly point out, you're already stretching the limits for an effective f2f meeting with the number of participants you already have now.
Further, you've mentioned in the context of f2f meetings: many of you in the community have repeatedly told us we should have initiated and facilitated a few years ago. I think many have advocated f2f meetings to be initiated in the past for a primary reason that the contributors were not consulted before (neither on-line nor offline) and there's been a great deficit of trust among contributors about the intent of WMF in India. The trust deficit cannot now be bridged by actually organizing a 'facilitation' all of a sudden and requesting volunteers to be part of that. It has to be a gradual process of building trust with the contributors and getting them to feel part of this back again.
Further, the f2f meetings were asserted more by contributors from India in the past because most people from WMF visiting India would spend more time behind the screen talking at the meetings at CIS or elsewhere and less time with the community (there would just a be an evening spent with the community and nothing beyond that). --H P Nadig (talk) 06:21, 20 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Hi Hari, I think it's important for all of us involved - all of us who care about the movement in India - to acknowledge a universal truth: we _cannot_ change the past (and yes, I know Wikipedians can sometimes be magicians, but not quite on this scale). I think it's particularly important to note that those of us now involved from the WMF end were not part of the history that you allude to, and have done our best in the past year to learn from that history as openly, transparently and honestly as we possibly could. Asaf and I (and other senior WMF folks) have spent more time on/in India in the past year than any other single set of communities worldwide. Garfield, Sydney (FDC member) and I were in India in February, and apart from meeting the chapter and CIS, had three IRC conversations with community members, one community meet up, and a few intense one-on-ones with key community members, including an entire (very enjoyable and thought provoking) day with you, Hari, understanding the context and background of all that has occurred in the past.
In any case, what we _can_ change is the present and future. And frankly, that's only possible if we do this with some level of good faith, trust and openness to an ongoing process that will not begin or end with this f2f meeting. The f2f meeting, however, will be an important milestone in this process, particularly if everyone who joins us does so with a willingness to look forward and be constructive. As I've said before, we will be bringing multiple inputs into this conversation, including a survey. At no point do I believe a f2f is the only solution to the current set of issues in the Indian communities, but having worked in different movements a very long time, I will say that face-to-face meetings are one important aspect of this. I am assuming good faith in every single one Wikimedian who will be at this meeting, because the work is far too important - free knowledge from our sub-continent far too critical - for us to continue to dissipate our energies in mistrust and suspicion. I hope you will, equally, assume good faith from all of us from WMF who will be there. And that includes Patricio Lorente, vice-chair of our Board, who is a long time contributor from Argentina, and Bishakha Datta, also a trustee, both of whom bring incredibly useful perspective to our work. Our facilitator, Gagan Sethi, brings with him extensive experience from working with social justice communities and movements across India for many years; his contribution will simply be to help empower a full, frank and fruitful conversation. There is no hidden agenda, no end points we are seeking other than some level of collective clarity around next steps in India. I look forward to your being there, Hari, with your customary brand of commitment and passion. thanks, ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 01:15, 23 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I totally agree with the points made by Shyamal, Ravi, Pradeep and Hari. To emphasize few, Ravi's:

  • "The arrival of these have not made a significant difference but has added confusion and distraction for the community."
  • "People from outside don't understand India and the people they hire in India don't understand Wikipedia.",
  • "What comes under volunteer domain and what comes under paid professional engagement should be clearly defined by each community."
  • "Any intervention should not dampen the spirit of volunteerism."
  • Pradeep's "Open Review of the Organizations"
  • And Hari's "Many contributors feel reluctant to attend this event", "there's been a great deficit of trust among contributors about the intent of WMF in India. The trust deficit cannot now be bridged by actually organizing a 'facilitation' all of a sudden and requesting volunteers to be part of that. It has to be a gradual process of building trust with the contributors and getting them to feel part of this back again."

I myself was distracted, because of this. I couldn't believe the way work was/is being done. The WMF's intent was not clear, decisions were made secretly, few came to light later, but it was too late. Then I realized I shouldn't have reacted the way I did. I had no plan to attend this event, Thanks to Ravi for the nomination, and for the delay from the Odia community to share the link of the local nomination. :) I guess they wanted to invite at least 2 members from each community. And I got invited in place of Mrutyunjay Kar. Then we became 3! ;) Later I found for some other work I had to come down to Bangalore. So finally decided to join others. Veterans have given their opinions, i have nothing more to add! As I'll be there, I'll ponder and be constructive. But Real constructive thoughts should be coming from veterans like Shyamal, Ravi, others attending and many others NOT attending! See you there. PS:I babble on wiki, but in real I'm quiet type! Thanks. :) -- ɑηsuмaη «Talk» 19:01, 28 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I very much appreciate both the honesty of your attitude to the past, and your willingness to participate constructively looking forward, Ansuman. I hope you're not so quiet IRL that you don't contribute enthusiastically over the next few days. :-) thanks, ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 15:53, 2 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Etherpad link[edit]

Can someone give me the Etherpad link(s)? --TitoDutta 17:03, 6 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

*Road Map :
*Day 1 + Day 2 Notes :
AbhiSuryawanshi (talk) 18:39, 6 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]




  1. I created a personal draft, at en:User:Titodutta/Condensed_proposed_roadmap_for_Wikimedia_work_in_India to show to some users and use in discussions in En WP.
  2. If there is going to be a Meta page on report, we may divide the page in many subpages, such as—
  • Programs
  • Programs/Start
  • Programs/Start/Digital outreach
  • Programs/Start/National Museums and curriculum
  • Programs/Start/Library support network

This will make things easier to discuss and track. --TitoDutta 12:00, 8 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

  • Why is not anyone replying? How are we approaching and tracking records of everything? --TitoDutta 05:13, 15 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    • Surprisingly, no one has replied here. Nor I am getting any clue how the projects are being tracked. A couple of grants requests have been made, Tamil OCR (now in second round), Islam in Andhra Pradesh (probably rejected). There may or may not have been other works, but thee is not any clear approach. --TitoDutta 21:45, 16 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
It is probably because a small number of people watch the page :) Plan seems fine at a first look, I might be able to bring some suggestions for you and i'll get back to you as soon as possible. ~ Nahid Talk 22:03, 16 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Hi Tito, thanks for this excellent documentation. I will be able to follow this up by last week of October on behalf of WMIN chapter.--Ravi (talk) 14:13, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Tito, I appreciate your concerns over the Wiki Projects in India. Regarding the grant request for the project Islam in Andhra Pradesh, is not rejected, but felt it may be engaged with few more languages, and kept again in draft form to discuss more. I welcome the endorsements of, as he/she understood better about this project. And I am trying to get English, Hindi, & Urdu language communities to get involve into this project.అహ్మద్ నిసార్ (talk) 05:52, 27 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Namaste Nisar ji, If you are involving other Wikis too, yo may use this Meta discussion page or the talk page of en:WP:RMI for centralized discussions. Congratulations for the recent news interview in Siyasat. is a fine editor. --TitoDutta 07:47, 27 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

En WP proposed roadmap record keeping[edit]

Hello, please note, a page we started to keep record of the roadmap has been moved to a subpage of En WP WikiProject India and may be accessed here. The talk page of that page may have few related discussions. Please feel free to drop your valuable suggestions. --TitoDutta 03:10, 22 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Thank you very much, Tito, for pulling this together. It is very helpful. I will be publishing a blog post about the meeting in a couple of days, and will then begin following up on specific ideas in the roadmap. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 00:21, 24 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]


What is the outcome of this whole exercise? Can someone give a report of this event with such massive spending. It is one month already after the event. Is this going to be some secret report or no report at all -just like the earlier finance related meeting of WMF senior staff and chapter and A2K people in Banglore. Who is accountable and responsible for this whole exercise? 19:18, 4 November 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Follow-up meeting[edit]

Hi, Let us plan follow-up meeting in January 2015? AbhiSuryawanshi (talk) 18:18, 26 November 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Please take this program and come kolkata for next follow-up meeting on 9 & 10th Janauary 2015. Jayantanth (talk) 18:55, 26 November 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Request for comments[edit]

Here en:Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_India/Condensed_proposed_roadmap_for_Wikimedia_work_in_India#.5BImportant.5D_ICC_2014_follow-up_and_few_other_things --TitoDutta 14:51, 5 January 2015 (UTC)[reply]