Introduction about the Hindi Wiki community
Hindi or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: मानक हिन्दी, IAST/ISO 15919: Mānak Hindī), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in India. As a linguistic variety, Hindi is the fourth most-spoken first language in the world (341 million speakers,4.429% of the world population), after Mandarin, Spanish and English. Hindi alongside Urdu as Hindustani is the third most-spoken language in the world, after Mandarin and English. Constitutionally, Hindi is the most spoken and understood language of India. As per World Hindi Secretariat, a new and strong picture of Hindi is emerging in the global scenario due to Hindi service being held in countries like Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Suriname, Europe, America, Nepal etc.
The Hindi Wikipedia (Hindi: हिन्दी विकिपीडिया) is the Hindi edition of Wikipedia. It was launched on 11 July 2003. As of May 2020, it has 138,128 articles. As of May 2020 out of 551,200+ Hindi Wikipedia users, 2,100+ are active editors, 6 Administrators (+2 bot accounts), 56 autopatroller, 12 rollbacker,14 reviewers,2 Account creators. The total number of articles on the project is 139057.
Hindi Wikipedia is not only spoken and read by the regions shown in the map but also by other wiki community members, like Sanskrit, Bhojpuri, Marathi, Nepali, (same Devanagari script), also many Gujarati, Bengali, Odia, Punjabi etc. who also know Hindi very well and contribute to Hindi projects.
Status of behavioural policies in the community
|Conduct related policies in Hindi Wikipedia
Almost all of the behavioural policy pages were created and adopted between the years 2010 and 2014. The research suggested that almost all of the conduct policies that are in place in the Hindi community were translated from English Wikipedia with no discussions. Small and only one time discussions happened on a few policies like ‘Sock puppetry’ and ‘Do not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point’ but with no review and changes later on.
The most prominent behavioural policies in Hindi community are ‘Blocking policy’ (निषेध नियमावली), ‘No personal attacks’ (निजी टिप्पणियाँ एवं आक्षेप) and ‘Vandalism’ (बर्बरता). Enforcement of those policies has been a challenge for the Hindi community.
The existing conduct policies were proposed by the community members who were active during the time period of 2010 to 2014. Only a few of those are active today and seldom participate in policy discussions.
In the Hindi community, most of the discussions take place in the village pumps (चौपाल). But it has been observed that the Hindi community does not usually engage in Foundation led discussions, or discussions about subjects that are not directly related to Hindi Wikis. Users of Hindi Wikis do not come forward for open discussions. They hesitate in expressing their views directly on Village pump or on the wiki. This is the case with all the editors regardless of whether they are old/senior editors or newbies. However, if the proposed discussions are about ‘editing’ or user rights, the community members engage heavily in the discussions. Even topics like ‘Auto patrolled users' or common 'spelling mistakes' get a high amount of attention. But, somehow this is not the case with ‘conduct’ discussions.
For the facilitation process, a call for a discussion about Ucoc was made on Hindi wiki village pump, Hindi Wikipedians user group talk page and Hindi Wikiversity village pump. But all these three posts together generated only one comment which also not a comment on the project but a request for a private one-to-one chat on the subject.
A few more users agreed to have one-to-one conversations about the project. They felt more comfortable in having either telephonic conversations or in-person meetings for discussions. Thus, I scheduled direct calls with senior editors, explained to them the idea behind UCoC, and shared the meta page on the subject for them for their further reading. I gave them a few days to go through all the information so that they could come back to me later, with organised opinions. Some folks shared valuable insights. However, the response rate was very low because many of the people I interacted with were dealing with personal issues raised by COVID-19 situation. I had to make multiple calls to get responses.
I also shared a Google form on the village pump and sent the same through mass messaging in the hope of attracting more responses.
Out of 197 users contacted, only 28 (14.21%) responded.
To facilitate easy participation, I created a survey form which was easy to fill, takes little time, has targeted questions and allows responses in the local language. I first circulated the form to users who showed interest in one-to-one conversations and later sent the same to other active editors of the community, through mass messaging. I also made efforts to reach out to users who were active a couple of years ago and have not stopped contributing.
I sent a few direct messages to some active editors through using the ‘recent changes’ section for a week page and contacted Hindi Wikipedian User group members through the group talk page, but nobody responded.
Response for UCoC was very welcoming, few of them wanted it to be implemented as soon as possible, but effectively. We can see in pie-chart, over 89% supported 7% (2 response) Neutral. One non-Hindi editor also took the survey, he disagreed. This accounts for the 3.6% disagreement.
Positive feedback on UCoC -25 out of 28
Concerns about UCoC- 1
Positive feedback but with some reservations -2
One response “How young (minors) contributors will be addressed in UCoC”
Discussions shift into arguments and debates
Discussions on various important topics usually shift into debates and arguments in Hindi Wikipedia and generally do not reach a final concrete decision/conclusion for example editing methods, voting consensus, usage of content or terminology to name a few. Furthermore many times these discussions soon convert into disputes and lead to harassment and bullying. Moreover, these may lead to an extent where people start pointing out other members about their religious backgrounds and ideologies or using indecent language against each other which is not good for a healthy working environment and refrains members to contribute and leave Wikipedia.
Similarly, the articles related to ‘castes’ on Hindi Wikipedia also become a subject of debate. The editors who engage in such discussions are usually newbies. They often try to represent their caste as superior and in order to do so, start vandalizing the articles about different castes. When older members try to explain their mistakes, the discussion often turns into an argument. The older members thus avoid getting into such discussions and use ‘page protection’ to lock the caste-related articles from getting vandalized. But this at times often angers the newbies more, resulting in further heated arguments resulting in them getting blocked. This is like a never-ending loop.
Many times new contributors, who get into unnecessary debates for the purpose of promoting their products, channels like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram etc., are blocked and their articles and edits are deleted/monitored.
Disputes occurring during discussions on user rights
Hindi Wikipedia takes various ‘user rights’ very seriously. During these discussions and voting for 'User Rights', many times these discussions take the form of a dispute and unnecessary arguments. Some members often try to manipulate these discussions by grouping against a few and outnumbering people with different opinions or by using abusive and improper language and support what they believe is good for them rather than thinking about the benefits of the community as a whole.
The Hindi community is diverse. Most of the contributors here share deep admiration and respect for the language. Contributors here come from different cultures, various education levels, family, and work backgrounds.
The Hindi community has welcomed the idea of a universal code of conduct. The community has not only supported it but also underscored its need in the movement.
During the consultation, many users expressed that because there is a lack of effective conduct policies on Hindi wiki, users are usually unable to put forth their opinion in discussions as they want to avoid toxic arguments. Also, it was brought to my attention that a number of new and senior editors have left Hindi Wikipedia after having suffered some form of harassment. It was pointed out to me that some editors abuse the existing policies and create an editing environment which is favourable to some editors while toxic for others. And this often prevents new members from making contributions. Older members who hold a different opinion also face harassment due to lack of concrete rules, regulations, and code of conduct.
Some members believe that only when something ‘noticeable’ happens, they should go to the 'Trust and Safety Team'. Apart from this, they often do not approach the 'Trust and Safety Team' for help because of privacy issues. Some members also highlighted that the current Hindi user group is trying to assert its monopoly over the Hindi wiki and prevent other members from going ahead and working, including causing hindrance to conduct online/offline programs.
Some contributors also had issues of ‘credit theft’ as their edits and work are appropriated by others, i.e. 'Outsiders' (other than Hindi community) who may have not contributed noticeably to a said topic try and relate it to their work done by them in the past and take credit by publicizing it in their own name.
It was frequently suggested that issues related to harassment and bullying should be handled more actively. The code should have clear and specific guidelines against such issues. Among the main reasons behind editors quitting Hindi wiki is the authoritative behaviour of a few senior editors. They bully and harass newbies in order to create their monopoly. Thus, it was repeatedly suggested during the discussions that the committee enforcing UCoC should not be biased and the selection process for the same should be transparent. Some members also believed that most external members (other than Hindi community) should be selected to avoid any kind of bias, without including local wiki contributors, editors or managers in this type of committee.
It was also suggested that admins should not be tasked with UCoC enforcement responsibilities. Many editors do not feel comfortable about admins, bureaucrats and editors with special rights having more rights, which they feel can be misused. The UCoC should also address scenarios such as, what would happen if the local Wikis created more comprehensive rules than UCoC. Would that make UCoC powerless or inactive?
Some members suggested that the Code of Conduct should have some policies that address issues related to young editors such as school and college students.
Another suggestion was to have an arbitration committee in which the local wiki editors should either not be allowed to participate or should not be in majority to avoid partiality and groups or factionalism. Decentralization of power/authority was also suggested, members were concerned that only certain people should not have more rights so that they can consider themselves as the superiors.
The members appreciated that the reading material on UCoC was translated to Hindi which made it easy for them to comprehend. They expect the final code of conduct to be translated into local languages.
It is heartening that the women participants in this discussion put forth their views and emphasized the need that female editors should be specially informed about these kinds of policy discussions. Every small and big conference should have a women's grievance team so that women can report their problems without hesitations. Universal code of conduct should be proactively published on all those places, whether online or offline, where there is a possibility of conduct violations.
Finally, most members of the Hindi community welcomed the idea of a universal code of conduct. The community raised a few questions and sought more clarity on the following points-
- Compliance and enforcement process of the UCoC, periodic review of the code and its compliance.
- What kind of process will be followed to set up a committee?
- How will UCoC address issues like groupism or factionalism, toxic environments, etc?
- How will the UCoC encompass policies that protect the rights of young editors/students?
Though the Hindi community is not new to me, still, through UCoC discussions with community members, I got an opportunity to learn untouched aspects of their feelings, their apprehensions and fears. These things are generally ignored in our wiki life. During this consultation, I got to know my community deeply, learned new things. I am grateful to everyone and hope that the Hindi community and their views, concerns, and suggestions will be considered while drafting the universal code of conduct.