I guess I'm one of the apprehensive/apathetic quiet ones Hisham's mail
refers to, so here goes:


I have maintained my silence so far in the numerous discussions as I
intended to express my views cohesively at the opportunity given to me at
the WikiConference. However, I feel obliged to speak up when the
discussions have moved past criticism to borderline attacks on people who
have worked hard and worked honestly.

I have been involved in the Pune pilot as a fellow, at first, and
informally later. I too, therefore, shoulder the responsibility of the
results of the program being a contributor to it. I will also be presenting
a review (my opinions and experiences) from at the WikiConference. Having
been the only 'Wikipedian' in the program, let me first stand up and say,
if we do brand the Pune Pilot as a failure (which it definitely is not), it
must classify as an effort which has achieved more than most successful
Wiki-initiatives. I would also point out the untiring dedication and hard
work put in by the CAs, the superhuman efforts of PJ Tabit in setting up
the program and the superlative leadership efforts of Hisham and Nitika.

That having been said, the program isn't where it set out to be. But that
is what a pilot programme is. A dipstick test. A method, field tested to
understand real-world reactions to it. I remember one statement made by
Hisham, right at the beginning of the program while we were approaching
colleges to sign up for the program who were urging us to alter the nature
of the program to suit them:

*"It is important that we decide one way of doing the program and stick
with the core principles of it. This would be better than trying several
approaches, failing and not knowing where you went wrong"* [not verbatim,
my interpretation of something similar]

I considered this to be a obfuscated yet quintessential objective of a
Pilot program. To try, to stumble and then evaluate. And the evaluation
will happen. Discussions about the campus program are a significant chunk
of the program schedule at the WikiConference. And informal discussions
will undoubtedly extend the allotted time. The reviews have already begun
in the discussions on this list where significant headway has been made in
the evaluation. But it is unfortunate when criticisms overflow into
personal jabs and aspersions on competence.

Srikanth earlier in the discussion had stated that he wondered if we're
succumbing to the Indian mentality of highlighting only success and hiding
failures. I believe that we must also move away from the stereotyped Indian
mentality of punishing failures to evaluating good-faith ventures and
collaboratively developing improvements towards a common goal.

No grudges held, no bad faith assumed.

On Tue, Nov 15, 2011 at 9:52 AM, Hisham <hmun...@wikimedia.org> wrote:

> Hi Folks
> I'm deliberately opening a new mail chain on this.  This is at the risk of
> me being told off for doing so - but I believe that email protocol is one
> thing - but communication philosophy is (arguably) even more critical.
> I (and personally upsetting to me, others at India Programs - namely
> Nitika & the Campus Ambassadors) have taken some beating over the past few
> days.  Some has been personal and not been circumspect or constructive;
> not pretty.  I have been touched by the offlist messages of comfort and
> support that I and the others have got.
> I am exceedingly worried about the impact it has had on team morale.  To
> all those who have criticised the India Education Program, spare a thought
> for the volunteers who have helped out on this.  I want to tell the Campus
> Ambassadors to be strong and keep your chins up.  You guys have been
> incredible.  Hand on heart, you have given your hearts and souls and have
> conducted probably the single biggest Wikipedia outreach program in the
> world.  (btw, I really don't care if someone wants to tag this as {citation
> required.})  You have taken time out of your working lives and college
> days.  I know how tough it's been  - conducting more than 100 in-class
> sessions, working with so many students and faculty, reaching out on email
> and talk pages and SMS and mobile calls and social networks and in
> canteens, poring over student entries, learning Wikipedia policies,
> figuring out new tools to help your work, building relationships  with
> other editors across the globe, doing the back-breaking documentation
> that's been required on project & course pages, and I can go on and on and
> on.  I know that sustaining this level of motivation and energy over months
> has been hard on you.  I also know some of you faltered.  I know some of
> you wanted to scream and kick someone some times, maybe even many people
> many times! Keep the faith, guys.
> I am sorry for the personal attack on Nitika.  To her, I want to publicly
> apologise.  I know her to be hard-working, diligent, honest, competent and
> an all-round professional.  She's new and she's learning and has and will
> make mistakes - like all of us do.  It is fantastic to have her on the
> team.  Period.
> The program is a pilot - and we made a ton of mistakes.  Sorry, let me
> rephrase that.  I led the initiative so all responsibility should be mine.
>  I made a ton of mistakes.  I promise the following.  We will have a
> thorough, honest and fact based evaluation.  We will be open to make all
> the changes that are required.  We will not let the events of the past few
> days force us into a bunker mentality.  We will be open and we will be
> intellectually rigorous.  We will learn and we will improve.  The India
> opportunity is massive - and our ambitions are huge.  It is also fraught
> with challenges.  Unless we try and do things - new and tough and complex
> things - we will never be able to realise our true potential.
> I know that some who have participated in these exchanges are driven by an
> awe-inspiring love and passion for Wikipedia.  I urge you to continue to
> come forward and work with others and us.  Come forward early though - and
> stay engaged through the journey.  It will have ups and downs.
> On communication, I urge everyone to maintain WP:CIVILITY and WP:NPOV in
> all our interactions.  On this - and to be fair - quite a few other
> interactions recently on totally unrelated topics (and involving a whole
> host of others), I daresay we have drifted from core Wikipedia principles.
>  These should apply to us to all our community's interactions as
> religiously as we apply them to our projects.
> I would urge folks who agree with me to write back.  Even a +1 will do.
>  Let's hear the voices of the quieter folks.  Let's hear from the folks who
> don't always get involved in mailing list exchanges out of either
> apprehension or apathy.  Let's move forward.
> Warm Regards,
> hisham
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Srikeit Tadepalli
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