Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021 was a three-day-long virtual event. It was conducted by A2K in February 2021 on the 19th, 20th and 21st. On the third day, participants celebrated International Mother Language Day. This was a national level event but the team was able to involve a few experienced international experts. So the time was set according to them and the team had to take the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) as well as the Indian Standard Time (IST) into consideration so that the volunteers, participants, and experts could all attend all the sessions and could engage in fruitful discussions. During this event, different components were focused on such as online workshops, presentations, discussions, etc.
CIS-A2K have organised many such training sessions and conferences like Train the Trainer, Media Wiki Training, Advanced Wiki Training. But due to COVID restrictions, it was not possible to organise such an event offline this year. So this year, we decided to organise a virtual meet for the Wikimedians of India. This meet was planned and conducted especially for the Wikimedians who are already working or are interested in working on Wikimedia projects that deal with Indian content.
The main objectives behind organising this meet were to celebrate the work done by Wikimedians of India, to provide an online platform for wiki-learning and skill-share, to support discussions and interactions, to give training on important and relevant topics, and explore the medium of online training and wiki-event for future use.
After all the planning, our three-day event of Wikimedia Wikimeet took place from 19 February to 21 February 2021.
The next step, the core team took, was to appoint a program committee. The main function of this program committee was to select important submissions and presentations. Following are the 5 members of our program committee:
Netha Hussain: She has been a volunteer in the Wikimedia Movement since 2010. Nowadays she mostly works in English Wikipedia and Wikidata, but she is also active in Commons, Metawiki, and Malayalam Wikipedia.
Shyamal: He is interested in the natural history of India, environmental consciousness in general, and history of science, especially biology.
It was necessary for the participants of this event to register prior to the event. A registration form was open and made available for the duration of a month. After the deadline of this registration form, another special registration form with criteria was given to the participants. The participants were then also selected according to the criteria.
The event took place on Zoom. We used the official Zoom account of the Center for Internet and Society. The main reason behind registrations was to avoid zoom-bombing. The eligible participants were given the link to join the event.
We decided to organise this meet as there seemed to be a scarcity in volunteer’s and user’s contribution. Moreover, we have always believed in giving back to the community. So, we took an initiative to keep the community engaged. Our goal was to encourage volunteers and users to come forward and take lead in Wikimedia activities. To make it easy for our volunteers and the users to select their area of interest, we started Request for Comments and Community Engagement. It is a forum where open discussions can take place about and where participants can share their knowledge, expertise, and experience. The tasks that were conducted under this were Logo Design, Translation, and Knowledge on Hybrid / Blended Learning Model.
This event would not have been a success if not for our participants.
The team began promoting the event by using our India Mailing list.
Next step was to publicise the event on A2K's social media channels and pages and also in messenger groups.
The bulk messages sent on Indic Village Pumps announcing that the Wikimedia Wikimeet was about to take place.
Next step was to start a fortnightly newsletter about the event. It was started to notify the people of updates. The team encouraged users to sign up for the newsletter so they would get immediate updates. This way, volunteers and users knew what was happening with regard to the event and they also came to know what was about to happen in the coming 15 days.
Another thing the core team did was to put up a blog post on Diff about our event. The blog post stated the importance of organising such an event. We have also discussed the background ideas in the same post. The next blog post dealt with the ‘how’ of our event. In it, we discussed the ideas of designing the event. Total 5 blog posts were written and put up. Another article named Wikimedia Wikimeet and Beyond: Ideas and Opinions were written and posted a few months later.
Under Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021, 44 submissions were submitted and eventually, after discussions, 29 were selected to be featured in the event. A committee was given the task to select the submissions based on the topics that are crucial to Indic editors. We also had willing participants from the Wikimedia Foundation as presenters to acquaint the members of the Indian community and volunteers with the important topics and issues.
The team also invited international guests and experts to speak to our Indian Wikimedian community about the topics that are relevant currently and would be crucial for Indic writers and editors in future. We invited the experts from France to talk about their Lingua Libre project. Also invited the Strategy team to talk about Strategy. Our keynote speakers were also invited to this event.
After taking all the submissions into consideration, our program committee made a program schedule for the three-day event. The tracks that were selected by the program committee for the presentations were: Growth of Wikimedia communities and partnerships, Information on technical Aspects and tools, Strategy of Wikimedia movement, GLAM & Content copyrights, etc.
Other than that, we tried to follow the Friendly Space Policy completely. All the rules of the said policy were cleared before the event. The team tried its best to remove the language barrier for our Non-English speakers. We urged the Wikimedians to translate their content in their language for their respective communities. This practice was followed by quite a few Indic Wikimedians.
30 sessions were planned in all. Every session had a separate Etherpad link. As this was a virtual event, this facility was provided for the participants as well as the experts to interact during and after the session. Due to the shortage of time, the notes and questions were made on the Etherpad. Experts and presenters wrote their answers on the Etherpad as well. All the sessions and presentations were recorded and are now available to everyone on the Commons under the name Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021.
During this three-day event, around 200 participants joined in at different times. Out of the 30 presentations, 18 presenters were from India and the remaining were international presenters.
There were 9 presentations on Day 1 of the event. After the introduction by Tito Dutta, the keynote speech was delivered by Asaf Bartov Ijon. This was attended by 86 participants.
After the keynote speech, Dipantshu Das shed a light on Attracting experts to contribute to Wikimedia. He highlighted that it was the need of the hour. And this work would greatly help communities in India. He talked about urging academicians to contribute to Wikipedia more openly.
The next presentation was made by Sudhanshu Gautam and Angie Muigai. They talked about Growing Wikipedia’s reach in India with a new Wikipedia app in their presentation, they talked about the importance of making Wikipedia mobile friendly with the increase of internet users in India. They mentioned that there was an opportunity to provide ideas to increase the readership.
The next two presentations under the growth track were: Help your community grow and Introducing newcomers from Wikisource to Wikipedia: A case study from Hindi Wikipedia. The first session was a 20 minutes long presentation followed by a conversation and it was beneficial to welcome and retain new users to Wikipedia and also increase the quality of new users’ edits. The second presentation shed some light on how to retain the new users and volunteers once they join the community after attending sessions and workshops.
Day 2 began with a special morning session and keynote speech by Katherine Maher and Amanda Keton. In her speech, Katherine highlighted how Indian community is important to the Wikimedia movement. She also talked about the growth of emerging communities. Groups and Wikimedians who have been doing good work were also recognised. She talked about relaunching the Grant strategy. It was a fruitful session with comments and question - answers.
The next 4 presentations on Day 3 were community-based. The first presentation in this series was titled Internship Program in Tamil Wiki Projects and was delivered by Neechalkaran. It was a knowledge sharing session on the internship program for college students.
The second presentation was made by Subodh Kulkarni and the title was Re-licensing and Digitisation process in Maharashtra. The presenter explained the relicensing process taking place in the Maharashtra Marathi community, authors, copyright holders, and organisations.
The third session was conducted by Ziko and was named Rules that every wiki needs. In this session, the presenter introduced the topic ‘law and rules every wiki needs’.
The last session in the Community category was 100wikidays and it was conducted by Sangram Senapati. In this session, the presenter shared his story of writing an article for Wiki each and every day for 100 days.
The closing keynote speech was given by Tarunno. He spoke about ‘International Mother Language Day - The love for Language and a sound of silence’. The event ended with a closing session by Tito Dutta.
In the beginning, we found it difficult to form a team to organise the event.
Due to the pandemic, we were unsure about approaching the wikimedians and were also worried about the participation.
As it was a virtual event, the internet was the most important factor in it.
Many participants and volunteers faced problems due to low internet connectivity.
The event started as a national level meet but it involved a few international presenters or volunteers. So, the team faced the issue of time management. It was difficult to manage the time according to the national and international participants.
This was the first-ever national-level virtual event conducted in India by A2K. We were able to create a platform for the wikimedians to interact. Though it was initially a national event, we were able to get international guests as well.
We received positive feedback and precious suggestions from the participants. Following are some quotes:
Productive, helpful sessions. Was very helpful to me personally. Good effort by all involved. If I were to suggest improvements, Would have liked slots for conversations, and networking sessions. A "state of the nation" like updates by projects would have helped too.
Thanks a lot again, this was a very good event. Online events are not the same as physical ones but it was still very interesting and useful.
I was a presenter and presented a workshop on Wikivoyage. It was a nice program and I'm looking forward to more such virtual and physical events.
Audio or Video Feedback Gallery
We also received some feedback videos that were an appreciation for A2K and also received audio feedback. Following are a couple of links: