Talk:India Program/India Program Announcement and FAQ - 30 July 2012

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Please add comments here. Questions can be added to the FAQ.--Barry Newstead (WMF) (talk) 10:55, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Always optimistic[edit]

Regards, Barry! Hope you are well and very pleasant as always you look to be! :)

That it happened so,to say clandestinely, and fast within the realms of WMF higher ups, without much involvement of chapters and open discussions or GAC, one can understand as being part of the managerial strategies and probably as a way to cut red tapes fast.

One prime set of questions that comes to my mind, as a community volunteer in one of the lesser communities, is how is it going to affect the ongoing projects and road maps.

  1. Is CIS going to make decisive instructions on how a community should work?
  2. Are the members / employees of CIS going to implement/ dictate terms on either the chapter or community strategies including any funding policy on potential grants ?
  3. Is this BIG change of transpositioning WMF/India going to affect the way the three entities WMF, Chapter and the communities interact or communicate?
  4. What are the anticipated positive and negative effects of this change from a community member's point of perspective?
  5. After the change-over, who are going to directly control the presently employed consultants? CIS or WMF? How are the parameters set? What is their long-term prospectus?

I do hope changes are always for the good, albeit through falls and corrections. And I wish this new MAJOR change will turn out for the ultimate good for the mission Wikipedia through every aspect.

But to infuse confidence in what we, as community members, sweat for day and night, please offer some re-assurance!

Thanks (Viswam from ml)

ViswaPrabha (വിശ്വപ്രഭ) (talk) 20:02, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Dear Viswam, Thanks for the excellent questions and comments. I hope that you will forgive the closed door nature of the process to develop this arrangement. Suffice it to say that there were a range of complex operational, personnel, partnership and legal issues at play in this process that made it difficult to act as transparently as we would generally like. Now that we have the basic arrangements in place, we are acting to move forward with a high degree of transparency, as the FAQ shows (I hope) and the commitments of CIS and WMF to move this grant forward in a public fashion. I have added your questions to the FAQ, so that others will benefit from them. I hope the responses do offer re-assurance and build confidence of all community members in India. This decision is an attempt to improve the quality of the partnership with the community and the future prospects of our communities and projects in India. Every act I personally have taken over my two years focused on working in India has been with this intent. CIS is similarly dedicated to the success of the Wikimedia projects and understands its place in the movement. There are no other agendas at play here. We look forward to supporting the great work of the communities on the Indic language projects and the Indian community in general! Many thanks, --Barry Newstead (WMF) (talk) 03:47, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Barry, for taking up the time and answering my doubts. ViswaPrabha (വിശ്വപ്രഭ) (talk) 20:57, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Questions from Sir Nicholas[edit]

  • Will CIS consult the general community and the chapter through the hiring process of the new program consultant?
  • Will CIS have permissions to use Wikimedia trademarks as a part of its work under the "Access to Knowledge" program?
  • One of your statements on the content page indicates that the India chapter is yet to complete it's first grant. Does that mean that the WikiConference grant which was executed by members of the chapter and in official collaboration with the chapter does not constitute as a grant to the chapter?

Nearly Headless Nick {C} 10:03, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the questions, Sir Nicholas. Responses to the first two are on the content page. Just checking some info on the final question. --Barry Newstead (WMF) (talk) 11:23, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
On the third question, we had practically considered the Wikiconference India funds as support for the conference under the management of the Mumbai community. However, it is appropriate to clarify that the Wikimedia India chapter was a co-applicant and co-hosted the conference. --Barry Newstead (WMF) (talk) 11:58, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for the response, Barry. The Indian chapter's assets are its volunteers. Just to make it crystal clear: Will this be considered as a single successfully concluded chapter grant in effect for Wikimedia India's application to the FDC in the future? — Nearly Headless Nick {C} 18:18, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Premonition or Astrology[edit]

With reference to India Chapter, Barry states "..is seeing significant turnover in its Executive Committee and a decline in membership..". This refers to recent events rather than January, apparently when Sue, Geoff and Barry took place met to review the situation. January there was a significant spurt in chapter membership and a relatively new EC in place. Did the Foundation have a premonition of what is to come or did they hire an astrologer to predict the future of India Chapter? If it was the latter, I must commend the astrologer for it was an extremely accurate prediction. Bankships (talk) 10:05, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Non-financial costs to the Wikimedia Foundation have likely been higher than expected.[edit]

Hi Barry, Can you please put some more light on non-financial costs to the Wikimedia Foundation have likely been higher than expected being the primary reason for this transition ? (if possible) -- naveenpf (talk) 11:48, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the question, Naveenpf. Answered here -Bnewstead
Thanks Barry. --naveenpf (talk) 17:57, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Some thoughts[edit]

This is quite an interesting announcement. I am pleased to see that the WMF analyzed the costs and benefits of the IP, in comparison to its weaknesses. I think that shows quite a lot more willingness than people may have previously believed the WMF/IP had to listen to the community. I guess my question now is something along the lines of "Is this being passed to CIS because CIS is more prepared to deal with how India functions than the WMF is currently? Or is this being passed to CIS because that way we get some benefit but it's no longer in-project drama if things go wrong?" That is to say, if CIS is adopting the program and its staff because CIS can handle this work more agilely than we currently can, that's great and I applaud it. If CIS is adopting the program because the WMF couldn't handle it and needed someone else willing to adopt it so it didn't shut down entirely, that's less great, and I would be worried about whether the course will be corrected from where it's wobbled in the past. The questions on the main page sort of dance around this issue, but don't explain it clearly (saying that this doesn't mean that India isn't a priority, for instance, doesn't tell us anything about whether the functionality of the program is still a priority for the WMF).

I'm also a bit bothered to see a WMF announcement say that "We think the unwillingness to work closely with the India Program on the part of some in the chapter executive committee comes from a resentment of the Wikimedia Foundation playing any active role in India and a sense that we are “on their turf” and have an unfair advantage in terms of resources. It is sad that the relationship has been viewed through a competitive rather than collaborative lens." I think this is a misinterpretation on the WMF's part. I'm not a part of WM India, but in speaking to people who are involved in that chapter, the impression I have gotten is more one of "we were supplanted by paid employees who didn't think we were qualified to help when we offered" than "we were angry because the WMF was 'on our turf'". Obviously this is a touchy issue with will be viewed by both sides according to their own perspective, but I don't think it was particularly helpful to issue a report in which you imply that WM India obstructed a problem-plagued program because of some kind of turf war. The truth is likely to be something in-between - perhaps the WMF staffers felt they were being attacked by volunteers with strong opinions, and responded by shutting out what they felt were naysayers, or something along those lines. At any rate, I think on the way to healing the rift between WMF and Wm India, it would have helped to not poke a finger in WM India's eye here in this announcement.

The work the WMF has put into expanding India editorship and involvement, and the successes they've had in that, should be acknowledged. I hope that by passing the program to CIS, we'll be seeing more, better-tailored successes rather than more of the same mixed bag. Fluffernutter (talk) 21:12, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Adding to these thoughts, let me also wish/hope that certain definitive measurable parameters of suitable kinds are laid out as minimum targets of success for the new roll player? ViswaPrabha (വിശ്വപ്രഭ) (talk) 21:31, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes there will be metrics in the program plan that CIS prepares. --Barry Newstead (WMF) (talk) 11:45, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
After reading the Q&A I was about to make a lengthy comment until I read the above concerns voiced by Fluffernutter. I feel she covers quite accurately some the points I was about to raise, and while my following questions may be off-topic with regards to India, other regional language communities will be looking for further reassurances on some matters. The problems associated with the IEP were, IMHO, largely due to the Foundation's omission to involve the broader en.Wiki community in the project's conception and deployment, and to listen to them (particularly those with local experience) in a timely manner when the problems surfaced.
I fully realise that in the case of India, the global India project involves not only efforts in India to contribute to the en.Wiki, but also, and possibly even more important, the development of Indic Wikis, and as such, requires a firmly established and competent infrastructure of some kind. However, I can't help but feel that the setting up of the CIS is both an admission of the Foundation's inadequacies, and the possible installation of a scape-goat organisation. I am particularly interested therefore in how the overall experience (I don't like the word learnings) of the failure to conduct the IEP successfully will impact on the current work of other local-language interest groups towards the founding of their future chapters and education/outreach programmes. Will there be a risk of new 'turf wars'? Will a retinue of WMF staff arrive on the scene simply to appoint their own salaried representatives (or to negotiate in camera with 'independent' NGOs), or will they arrive in order to learn from the locals, and provide the right kind of assistance in setting up new chapters? Such concerns are already being raised at the meetings of certain regional work groups who are preparing for the eventual founding of their chapters. Kudpung (talk) 07:58, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts, Fluffernutter. The shift to CIS is not linked to a withdrawal of interest from WMF or some admission on WMF's part that we couldn't handle the environment. CIS gives the India Programs a more grounded position with additional capabilities and relationships that CIS brings. It is being done to enhance the potential for impact and to reduce non-financial costs. It is not an attempt to somehow insulate WMF from future criticism or responsibility for the program (the odds of such an approach working are very long, no?). On the "turf" issue, it needed to be said and it was not stated in the context of programmatic problems of the India Program, but rather observations from our work to date. IMHO there is a general sentiment in discussions like this that every problem resides at the doorstep of WMF, yet it takes two to tango. If there aren't other changes in the environment in India, I'm afraid the Wikimedia movement is doomed to spend a lot of time and effort on fruitless infighting. IMHO it would be healthy if all parties took time to reflect on their own actions in addition to those of others and aimed at a bit of a reset in the coming months. Finally, while I would love to see every single initiative of the India Program and of CIS's Access to Knowledge program succeed famously, that isn't a realistic expectation given the nature of the work. We are not following a well-trodden path here. All of this work is new and there needs to be space to try and fail, so that there is space to try and succeed. We have developed a much stronger way to designing and executing pilots in the wake of IEP to do this better with less costs, but experimental pilots are still a necessity to get to impact. The goal is and should be that the "mixed bag" of results has more gold than lumps of coal and hopefully a few big diamonds! --Barry Newstead (WMF) (talk) 11:45, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Wikimedia India Programme Trust[edit]

What will happen to Wikimedia India Programme Trust . I think This need to be answered in FAQ. In my observation, the registration of a third entity , at a safe distance from Wikimedia Foundation and Chapter was a major organisational mistake in Wikimedia India programme . I like to see this question answered .

--AniVar (talk) 04:28, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the question, AniVar. It has been answered here --Barry Newstead (WMF) (talk) 05:52, 2 August 2012 (UTC)