Universal Code of Conduct/Initial 2020 Consultations/Santali
Santali Wikipedia is one of the newest members of the Wikipedia family and First indigenous language wikipedia in India, which started its journey on 2 August 2018. The language is spoken by approximately 7.4 million people in South Asia living in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. Majority of its speakers live in India, in the states of Jharkhand, Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Tripura, and West Bengal. Though the speakers use many scripts to write the language, the Wikipedia project is written in Ol Chiki. The process of creating a Santali-language Wikipedia began in 2012 (it was in the Wikimedia Incubator since 2010) and, later on, picked up the momentum in February 2017. With 46 active editors, the site has a total number of 2,478 registered users from around the world with a total of 50,031 edits, 9,512 overall pages with 1,422,931 words in total. On 9 June 2020, the total number of articles crossed 3,327. The site operates under the community leadership of 3 administrators. The offline and collaborative activities are conducted through Wikimedians of Santali Language User Group in Bangladesh, India and Nepal as the project has editors from these countries. As of June 2020, Santali Wikipedia is the only online free encyclopedia written in Santali language.
The start of Santali Wikipedia was not much impressive, but after it went live and became operational, the way the contributors started participating not just in editing but also in events has been a treat to watch. Secondly, the co-ordination and co-operation among the Santali Wikimedians have been tremendous. They support each other in various ways including encouraging each other on Wikimedia platforms, in offline sessions and even while welcoming new editors. This is a rare thing to see, especially in Indic language communities.
Status of behavioural policies in the community
There are no certain set of behavioural policies in the Santali Community so far. As I discussed above since the community is new, the members are mostly focussing on the growth of the community. Also, since the number of editors is low, many people know each other personally and thus maintain a friendly relationship.
I reached out to community members through various mediums such as village pump, Facebook groups and chat groups. They also participated through personal level communications such as phone calls, messenger calls and one-to-one chats. Santali community members created a dedicated Facebook chat group (they feel more comfortable talking on this platform) with members from Bangladesh, India and Nepal to discuss various aspects and have collectively given their inputs on UCoC.
During the facilitation process, most participants talked about uncivilized behaviour and harassment that happens in the platform, editor retention challenges and privacy issues in general. I engaged with 25 editors from the community and all of them were supportive of the universal code of conduct project. They said:
- All contributors in the movement, user groups, projects, staff and officials of WMF must always treat one another in a humble, polite and respectful manner regardless of the subject and medium of discussion.
- There should be no judgment or discrimination towards any contributor based on their religion, caste, language, ethnicity, sex, occupation, geographical area etc.
- Everyone should respect and protect each other's privacy.
The community members also gave some recommendations on how to handle or enforce the UCoC:
- A desk must be set up for addressing issues like unfair behaviour and injustices faced by any of the individuals of any community, user group or any staff of WMF at every hierarchy of the WMF.
- At the community or user group level, admins must be assigned with the task of monitoring unfair behaviour or practices.
- Utmost precaution must be taken for any kind sexual harassment, racial remarks and discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion and colour.
- In every community or user group, a female editor must be designated to look after the issues pertaining to harassment and injustices made to female contributors and a similarly designated liaison should be there in WMF as well.
- Every Community and user group must create sufficient space, scope and opportunity for new contributors and provide them with appropriate platform and support for leadership.
- A user of any community should be blocked globally only after appropriate counseling and guidance. A local admin of the user may be consulted before initiating such action. Users who are blocked because of their behaviour on the platform should be given online tutorials on the code of conduct. Their accounts should be unblocked only after they have secured a stipulated score in the tutorials.
- There should not be any bias in the decision-making process of any kind. This applies to all the contributors, administrators and WMF staff.
The participants also had a dedicated discussion on the following topics:
- Every community must adhere to minimum level of tolerance when it comes to sexual harassment cases. Any gesture, move or act intended to sexually harass a user should be completely unacceptable.
- Everyone must have a free and fair opportunity for contribution to every project of the Wikimedia Foundation.
- WMF must ensure that there are a good number of the learning and development opportunities for community members. Frequent training, workshops and online tutorials must be organized.
- Contributors should not take any kind of gifts or money to create articles.
Total number of participants: 25
Total number of people supported the UCoC: 25/25
The language has only one Wikimedia project so far which is Santali Wikipedia. So, most participants gave their opinion in the context of Wikipedia. All the participants actively took part in the discussion and/or otherwise supported the feedback. As it is one of the new projects, it does not have any behavioural issues as of now but they want the policy to be implemented as the community is growing fast.