Milos, I hope this wasn't the participation you expected when you said you
wanted to hear from Indian wikipedians. ;)

While I know where Milos, Gerard and even Amir are coming from, I don't
know about this talk of "lower-class". Unless you are not talking about
economics and income level here, but actual class - a caste system, which I

I don't know if it's inconsiderate, or some weird sort of
political-correctness where you make people feel uneasy about their own
identity, unintentionally I assume. You had indian wikipedians at wikimania
for a long time, you still do. There is the indian chapter, random
wikipedians from India and Asaf, still has CIS staff coming and going I
presume. I'm not sure if they fulfil this quota of "lower-class", for you
to feel truly represented. Your typical version of indian, shouldn't be
able to speak english? just one indian language, that you then feel you are
helping? Would it have to fulfil some other stereotype about the way they
dress, sound or behave - "Indian". If I apply that standards within US or
anywhere else, they sound incredibly prejudiced. Are you less of a serb
because you speak english or are in a particular income-level?

Then as others said, is that who "we" are? Is social outreach and diversity
relevant to dispensation of free knowledge? Why aren't there more homeless
and people from low-income households from the US, Europe, Australia at
wikimania? should we reserve scholarships now based on income-levels?(but
then everyone would just mark it as low). I suppose it's a whole host of
identical problems affecting those groups that affects Indians. Some are
more complex and compounded, as I rant on about below, but the largest are
same as any other country. Every country would have its own "lower-class".

I also fail to see how getting your typical imagined version of
"lower-class" indian to a wikimania will have a measurable effect? Will
attending a 3 day conference in another country change his/her life? change

Also, first time I am hearing of these WMF activities in India. Nice.
Research on new readers, in my city of all. I would be interested to see
the results. I don't know about the team member "in India", in-charge of
partnerships, sounds vague and historically, not a good direction. I hope
you steer away from hiring too many consultants this time. ;)

I would also invite Milos, Gerard and anyone else interested to consider
spending some time in India itself before they start talking about how to
fix problems (real or imagined) of my country. As I wrote on Gerard's blog
6 years ago[1], It's not as simple as you think it is. Rather uninteresting
and long rant below, for those linguistic questions you asked.

== Rant: tl;dr version (for non linguaphiles) - 99 problems, english isn't
one. ==

As for the sociolinguistic, ethnolinguistic, socio-economic factors, they
are too varied. It's like this. India has a great degree of language
fragmentation. Going from different dialects and borrowed words to entirely
different syntax, alphabets and language systems. There is still some
degree of homogeneity based on language belts around the country, similar
to social belts in other countries. Language belts yield several groups of
sub-languages and dialects that are similar but differ greatly outside that
particular language belt.

The dominant problem, as others cited, is economical. Chances are, if
someone is able to find a computer and get online, they know english,
though smartphones have been highly disruptive of this trend in the last
decade. It is highly compounded by the fact, India is highly bilingual. The
most basic form of primary education in school covers english, just like it
covers some form of maths or science. This is necessary within India
itself. Primary education where children are taught to read and write their
own mother-tongue usually almost always has some degree of english lessons.
At times, this becomes the only lingua-franca within India itself. If I
travel to the south of my country or to the east, most times the only
language I would be able to communicate easily in, would be english. If you
travel within India, majority of the billboards and even road signs outside
metros that you will encounter, will be either in english or bilingual, as
would official communications from courts, government bodies and so on.

Languages also have a tendency of dividing the population. Some take their
linguistic identity as a sign of pride but there have been right-wing
campaigns to promote division based on the same linguistic lines. It's not
always bad, linguistic pride lead to a lot of good effort for the projects.
Wikitionary and wikisource benefited a lot when I saw a few years ago. In
those cases, highly educated, socially mobile individuals used our projects
as a platform for protecting and promoting their languages. But the
communities were small, between 10-30 active users. Their efforts were
short-lived, compounding an encyclopedia is giant task that isn't complete
in the largest language yet, no matter how much effort such a small group
would put it, it would never get enough attention to be usable. This is
where wikisource and wiktionary excel at. Any effort directed towards that
direction usually yielded enormously beneficial results, even years later.
The books uploaded, translated or words added were highly relevant.

Then there is the issue of writing scripts. With so much linguistic
homogeneity in India, it has a large degree of heterogeneity in writing
scripts. For example. Khariboli dialect[2], on which hindi and urdu are
based on, are phonetically identical, yet written in two very different
scripts. One utilising persian/arabic alphabets and the other using
sanskrit. The problem of entering these scripts using keyboards is a
draconian task for many (me included). The latin alphabets and english
system is entirely alien to how these alphabetic systems work, though
support has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade thanks to Google,
Microsoft and other standardisation/localisation bodies - it is still no
easy task. There is just too much ease in using english alphabets, given
familiarity with english, it creates linguistic-mobility between these two
systems. The indian youth for example, came up with things like
"hinglish"[4] utilising the same words phonetically, just written in latin
script using english keyboards. It's popularity was short-lived.

The system overall works, hindi speaker base isn't threatened or
contracting, it's actually growing very fast. It was/is the fourth largest
in the world after english[3] like it has been for a long time. Both living
separately and not encroaching on each other's base.

The dominance here is actually not of phonetic languages but the alphabets.
I would point to the first picture on the article here[5] for reference.
The established and dominant alphabet system is english. This creates a
linguistic mobility where moving in-between two writing system and
languages becomes inherent. The issue therefore, is a complicated one.

Amir, you said certain sociolinguistic factors make the dominant language
more dominant. Well, hindi would be the dominant language within india,
with over 300 million native speakers and half a billion or more, who use
it as a second language. It's only behind english in terms of native
speakers[3]. It's also not in any shape or form of decline. Do you think
you find evidence of that on Wikipedia? Is it larger or better than German
one? the fragmentation you have is within india, so many languages prohibit
easy exchange. Social mobility adds a english as a deciding factor.

What is the priority for our readers? to find the best and most information
about a subject, or finding it in one of the two languages they already
know? Also, to consider, Google translate has improved by leaps and bounds
in indian languages, running an english language article through a local
machine translation usually yields a very coherent translation making most
efforts in this direction, moot.

I think this is enough rant for now. Apologies to those who read it all.

Kind regards (looking forward to being robocalled for the survey)


On Wed, Jun 29, 2016, Adele Vrana <> wrote:

> Hi Milos and everyone.
> I just want to quickly add that in addition to the New Readers research
> project, the Global Reach team
> <> is also working to expand
> Wikimedia’s readership and awareness in India. We have contracted
> VotoMobile
> <>, an international phone survey company to
> reach out to people across India on their mobile phones. We have chosen to
> conduct phone surveys to eliminate the internet access dependency; this way
> we can reach people who are not online or that are online but not using
> Wikipedia, Wikisource or any of our projects.
> As we speak, we are surveying 6000 people across almost all regions of
> India (see list below).   This survey is being offered in 11 local
> languages (Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati,
> Odia, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada) plus English in order to include as many
> different people and perspectives as possible.
> The purpose of this survey is to to learn more about how people in India
> use mobile phones and the internet to access knowledge and information.
> During the survey, we ask questions about smartphone and network
> availability, whether they have ever heard of us, what barriers they
> experience, and how they use Wikipedia and the internet. The survey results
> for India will be available on our Meta page
> <> this July-August.
> Last but not least, our Global Reach team has a member - Smriti Gupta - who
> is based in India. Smriti works to build partnerships across Asia.
> Currently, she is exploring different types of partnerships, including a
> pilot with the local government in India that would help our editing
> community increase the Gujarati content for Wikimedia projects.
> Please feel free to reach out our team if you would like to learn more
> about our work in India and elsewhere.
> Best regards,
> Adele
> List of regions targeted by the India phone survey:
> Maharashtra
> Gujarat
> Punjab
> Haryana
> Himachal Pradesh
> West Bengal
> Assam
> Madhya Pradesh
> Odisha
> Chhattisgarh
> Andhra Pradesh
> Andhra Prades
> Tamil Nadu
> Kerala
> Karnataka
> Telangana
> Uttar Pradesh
> Bihar
> Rajasthan
> Jharkhand
> Uttarakhand
> Jammu and Kashmir
> Delhi
> NE states (Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and
> Tripura)
> On Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 1:31 PM, Àlex Hinojo <> wrote:
> > I completely agree with Amir.
> >
> > Wikipedia is an unachievable goal itself. And this is precisely what it
> > takes us to do It. we have shown the world that only starting things,
> they
> > move forward. Let's improve coverage, one edit at a time.
> >
> > As a tip: keep in mind other people's interests while editing articles (
> > geographical, cultural, linguistical or event political) trying to
> discover
> > and understand the others while editing is one of the greatest prices
> > Wikipedia can give to us everyday. This could also bring some -needed-
> > empathy to the movement itself.
> >
> > Best
> >
> > Àlex Hinojo
> > Amical Wikimedia
> >
> > El 28 juny 2016, a les 21:37, Amir E. Aharoni <
> >> va escriure:
> > > I am quite amused; it doesn't happen to me much that people take so
> much
> > > care to protect my privacy. I do appreciate it, though.
> > >
> > > In case nobody guessed it, I am (probably) "Mr. Western Wikipedian".
> The
> > > language gap in Wikipedias has always concerned me since the very first
> > day
> > > I tried editing Wikipedia in 2004—as a volunteer, and later as a WMF
> > staff
> > > member. I exchanged a few words about this with Mr. Rancic at Wikimania
> > > because I know he cares about it. (In case you're wondering, I don't
> know
> > > who are the other people that Mr. Rancic is mentioning.)
> > >
> > > The problem is fairly easy to
> > >
> > > It is a problem that some of the most spoken languages of the world
> have
> > > very little information online. In Wikipedia and on other websites. I'm
> > > talking about Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Indonesian, Tagalog, and a few
> > > others. India is just the biggest of the countries in question, but
> > > certainly not the only one. There's even less information online in
> > smaller
> > > languages, which is just as bad, even though they are smaller. It's a
> > deep
> > > social problem that bothers me more and more as the years go by, and
> as I
> > > learn about these languages, about the countries in which they are
> spoken
> > > and about the people who speak them—especially those of them who don't
> > > speak any other language.
> > >
> > > The WMF could solve _some of it_. I am not entirely sure how. It's a
> > > vicious circle of sociolinguistics making dominant languages even more
> > > dominant, and less demanded languages even less demanded. It has a lot
> to
> > > do with culture and politics, a bit of which I understand, and a lot of
> > > which I don't.
> > >
> > > As a developer of the Content Translation tool and other related
> things,
> > I
> > > very naïvely hope that I (not alone, of course!) am helping to
> resolving
> > a
> > > tiny bit of it. But I cannot resolve all of it, and WMF alone cannot
> > > resolve all of it. Even though Wikimedia's famous "every single human
> > > being" motto definitely puts this problem in Wikimedia's declared
> scope,
> > > it's way too big and complex to be resolved with the resources the WMF
> > > currently has. It's better to acknowledge that we cannot solve all of
> it
> > > quickly, even though we'd love to, then to pretend that we'll save the
> > > world the next week. (Bringing other people to Wikimania will also not
> > save
> > > it, certainly not by itself. That said, variety is a good thing.)
> > >
> > > On an optimistic note, I have to reiterate that the recently started
> > > research project that Anne Gomez mentioned is probably the best step
> that
> > > the WMF ever made in this direction. I've been waiting for something
> like
> > > this to happen since 2012 or so. It's an important acknowledgement that
> > > there are a lot of things that we don't know, and that we want to try
> to
> > > learn them. It's only a small first step, but a truly good one, and I'm
> > > eager to see how it develops.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > Amir Elisha Aharoni · אָמִיר אֱלִישָׁע אַהֲרוֹנִי
> > >
> > > ‪“We're living in pieces,
> > > I want to live in peace.” – T. Moore‬
> > >
> > > 2016-06-28 21:43 GMT+03:00 Milos Rancic <>:
> > >
> > >> My last mail for today, so Anne, just to say that I really appreciate
> > >> what you've done, but I'll comment in a bit more detail tomorrow.
> > >>
> > >> On Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 8:01 PM, Pete Forsyth <>
> > >> wrote:
> > >>> I'll leave the "defensive" bit aside, and just reiterate that I
> *still*
> > >> do
> > >>> not understand exactly what problem you're trying to focus discussion
> > on.
> > >>> In the piece of text Asaf quoted, you used the words "it" and
> > "reports."
> > >> I
> > >>> don't know what you intend by those words. Maybe for some reason you
> > feel
> > >>> it's Asaf's job to clarify that for the rest of the list's readers;
> > maybe
> > >>> so. I don't have more to contribute on this point.
> > >>
> > >> The background goes this way...
> > >>
> > >> I've been approached privately two years ago about the issues that
> > >> bother significant part of Indian Wikimedian community. As I think
> > >> that's in the range of quite solvable issues, my instinct was to talk
> > >> with the relevant people inside of the Wikimedia movement (not just
> > >> WMF). I thought it's been solved and I forgot for that. However, two
> > >> years later I am listening about the same problems. So, I am pissed
> > >> off enough to start talking about that on this list.
> > >>
> > >> However, if I say everything I know, I would for sure harm a number of
> > >> people. And I am not willing to do that no matter how pissed off or
> > >> drunk I am. The situation is not good, but far from being any kind of
> > >> catastrophe.
> > >>
> > >> But I want to see the problem solved. So, I am giving quite enough of
> > >> information about the problems (cf. my first email, then my response
> > >> to Risker) and expect the beginning of communication. The responses
> > >> are telling me what's safe to talk about and what's not. I also expect
> > >> to be convinced that the most of Indian Wikimedians will be content at
> > >> the end of this process.
> > >>
> > >> So, the research is very good thing and I am again positively
> > >> surprised by the attitude of WMF. However, that's not enough.
> > >>
> > >> I also want to say that what I said in my first email and in my
> > >> response to Risker is the core of the problem. Many particular issues
> > >> are not useful (and could be harmful). I understand that many people
> > >> on this list don't realize how those issues are important, but they
> > >> *are* vitally important to the Indian part of our movement.
> > >>
> > >> In other words, although I am not disclosing all of information I
> > >> have, mostly to protect privacy of some people, I am not cryptic at
> > >> all. It is just a matter of what's perceived as important to a Western
> > >> and what to an Indian Wikimedian.
> > >>
> > >> --
> > >> Milos
> > >>
> > >> _______________________________________________
> > >> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> > >>
> > >> New messages to:
> > >> Unsubscribe:
> ,
> > >> <>
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> >
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> > > Unsubscribe:,
> > <>
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> >
> > New messages to:
> > Unsubscribe:,
> > <>
> >
> --
> *Adele Vrana*
> *Strategic Partnerships*
> Wikimedia Foundation
> +1 (415) 839-6885 ext. 6773
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