Rajesh and other Nepali wiki community members,  I am really sorry about
the spelling error.

I have corrected the error in the meta wiki
version<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Summary_of_initial_discussions_-_2011>
.

Shiju

On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 10:42 PM, Rajesh Pandey <pandey.pan...@gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi Shiju,
> Thanks for sharing this. This is great. However the link for Nepali should
> have been
>
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Nepali/Discussions/2011
> which might have been misspelled.
>
> Thanks Shiju for the excellent work.
>
> Cheers,
> Rajesh Pandey
>
> On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 10:11 PM, Srikanth Ramakrishnan <
> parakara.gh...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Excellent Shiju, very well written. I hope the community will learn a
>> lot from your research and surveys and use them in a positive manner
>> to ensure that our local indic Wiki projects are in as good health as
>> English, French, Spanish, etc.
>>
>> On 12/16/11, Shiju Alex <sh...@wikimedia.org> wrote:
>> > Dear All,
>> >
>> > Apologies beforehand for a rather long and winding mail - but there is
>> so
>> > much that I want to say. I want to share how my thoughts are being
>> > crystallised.  I want to try and cross-pollinate ideas from some Indic
>> > language communities across to all communities.  I want to reach out and
>> > ask your views and suggestions.  I want to understand how best we can
>> help
>> > each community in a manner that is most appropriate to that community.
>> >
>> > I have now completed sharing initial, introductory, exploratory
>> discussions
>> > with a host of community members from across Indic language
>> communities.  I
>> > have shared these for 12 languages
>> > (Assamese<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Assamese/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > Hindi<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Hindi/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > Tamil<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Tamil/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > Telugu<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Telugu/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > Kannada<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Kannada/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > Nepali<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Neplai/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > Malayalam<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Malayalam/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > Marathi<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Marathi/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > Odia<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Odia/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > Sanskrit<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Sanskrit/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > Bengali<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Bengali/Discussions/2011
>> >,
>> > and
>> > Gujarati<
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Gujarati/Discussions/2011
>> >.)
>> >  I haven't (yet) got any response from 7 other communities (Bhojpuri,
>> > Kashmiri, Punjabi, Urdu, Bhisnupriya Manipuri, Pali, and Sindhi).
>> >
>> > At the very outset, I want to thank all of you who took time out and
>> shared
>> > your experiences and thinking.  It has been really useful and I hope you
>> > found it is as productive and constructive as I did.  The purpose behind
>> > this exercise was to hear, learn, and understand the evolution of the
>> > various communities - and to therefore suggest ideas going forward. I
>> urge
>> > everyone to go through all the other languages (even if they are not
>> > personally involved in those specific communities) because there are
>> > learnings for everyone from everywhere.
>> >
>> > I have been reflecting on the various insights and inputs and ideas I
>> have
>> > got from all these folks as well as subsequent discussions on mailing
>> lists
>> > and talk pages.  Here are my initial thoughts.
>> >
>> > CommunityIt sounds like a self-evident and very basic thing but the
>> single
>> > biggest priority for all communities (even relatively bigger ones like
>> > Tamil and Malayalam) is community building.  What has struck me from the
>> > various language communities is that everyone agrees that this is very
>> much
>> > required but very few are aware of what needs to be done or how it
>> needs to
>> > be done.  I wanted to share some thoughts about this.
>> >
>> > When I consider community building, I think of 5 broad aspects:
>> >
>> >    1. Editor retention
>> >    2. Attracting newbies
>> >    3. Community communication
>> >    4. Community collaboration and
>> >    5. Community celebration
>> >
>> >
>> > I would like to detail what I mean by each of these.
>> >
>> > 1. Editor retention: Like most language wiki communities we also have an
>> > editor retention issue in all Indic language communities. This is
>> > particularly an area of concern for us considering the fact that all our
>> > Indic language communities are really tiny and community buiding
>> efforts in
>> > Indic wikis are very less. A dramatic case in point is Kannada where
>> active
>> > editor numbers (that is, editors who do at least 5 edits a month) have
>> > declined from 25 members to just 9 members over the past 10 months.  It
>> is
>> > essential that all of us reflect on why this is happening and what can
>> be
>> > done to avoid it in future and to resurrect lapsed editors.  Existing
>> > editors and old editors understand our projects and community and can
>> play
>> > a huge role in community building and project quality improvement.  Many
>> > times, they have become inactive because of changing personal
>> priorities.
>> >  However, sometimes, they leave because they are no longer excited by
>> the
>> > projects.  The lack of interest in a project or users not feeling proud
>> > about a project might be due to multiple reasons. Some of the reasons
>> that
>> > old community members shared with me are poor quality of articles
>> (driven
>> > by BOTs and Google translation project), dominance of wiki by  one or
>> two
>> > members, the huge amount of clean up and other administrative tasks
>> > required, and so on.  We must reach out and welcome these editors back
>> and
>> > we must encourage them to do what they love doing most - editing
>> articles
>> > and making them regain their pride and ownership over their articles and
>> > projects. We must foster an environment that welcomes old editors back
>> and
>> > gives them the space to follow their passions.
>> >
>> > 2. Attracting newbies: Attracting newbies is the only way our
>> communities
>> > and projects can grow.  I have to be honest and say that none of our
>> > language communities have achieved critical mass.  According to me
>> unless a
>> > project has 500 or more active editors, it can never be said to be in a
>> > state where organic growth is secured and momentum is ensured.
>>  Attracting
>> > newbies requires impactful outreach.  By impactful, I mean outreach
>> that is
>> > done frequently and to as a large a group of potential newbies as
>> possible.
>> > However, it also means that we need to be much more systematic about
>> how we
>> > do outreach.  This covers everything from identification of the most
>> > appropriate target audience as well as doing outreach in a manner where
>> we
>> > don't scare off newbies by information overload.  We must make sure that
>> > our outreach sessions adequately convey the passion and love for our
>> > projects that we feel while working on them.  Also, we need to
>> critically
>> > look at how we reach out to attendees of outreach sessions (after the
>> > sessions) as well as other newcomers and see that we are providing an
>> > adequate helping hand to them.  The Nepali community - though tiny -
>> does
>> > very well in terms of posting personal talk messages to welcome new
>> folks,
>> > having FAQs spaces and problem boxes, etc. - all with the objective of
>> > supporting newbies.  All Indic languages are at a state where every
>> single
>> > newbie should be identified and reached out to and given intensive help
>> and
>> > warmly welcomed to the community. We must also look at both newbies to
>> > editing as well as existing English Wikipedia editors who have
>> inclinations
>> > and abilities on Indic languages.  Remember that many Indic editors
>> > initially started off in English Wikipedia and we must actively seek
>> them
>> > out.  I know some communities - like Marathi - who look for editors who
>> > have Marathi sounding names or edit Marathi/Maharashtra centric topics
>> and
>> > quietly invite them to contribute to Marathi Wikipedia.  Another aspect,
>> > and I am sure is this a bit of a controversial statement, but can we get
>> > few existing Indic editors to reduce their emphasis on editing and
>> divert
>> > their time on outreach. (I know Tamil, Odia, and Malayalam communities
>> are
>> > already doing this. But this needs to be replicated in other languages
>> > also).  It is really tough and not everyone might have the interest to
>> do
>> > outreach but the best outreach can be done by existing community
>> members.
>> > However, as we know, volunteer time is limited.  This is a challenge
>> > because what we love doing most is editing - but the reality is that the
>> > greatest need of the hour, and the area where we can contribute
>> maximum, is
>> > attracting and training and supporting newbies.  We should also look at
>> > digital outreach - by which I mean look at the existing internet
>> activities
>> > in Indic languages (blog, facebook, google plus, and so on) and see if
>> we
>> > can get newbies from there.  For instance, many Indic languages have
>> very
>> > active blogging. Can we reach out to bloggers and ask them to
>> contribute to
>> > our projects, or at least evangelise about our projects and invite their
>> > readers to read Indic projects and contribute to them?  Can we similarly
>> > look at social media like facebook and twitter to promote our Indic
>> > projects?
>> >
>> > 3. Community Communication: Community communication is an area which
>> varies
>> > by community. There is a direct co-relation between the health and
>> growth
>> > of the community and the inclusiveness, intensity, and warmth of the
>> > communication amongst that community.  Community communication takes
>> place
>> > on mailing lists, village pumps, meetups, and so on. With the exception
>> of
>> > Malayalam and Bengali mailing lists, and to a lesser extent, Tamil,
>> Odia,
>> > Mumbai, and Pune mailing lists, most others are virtually
>> non-functional.
>> >  Having said that, many village pumps are active across language
>> > communities.  It really doesn't make a difference whether the
>> communication
>> > is on mailing lists or village pumps.  However, it is of paramount
>> > importance that it happens somewhere.  Anywhere!  To that extent, I
>> > encourage everyone to be more active wherever they are more comfortable
>> -
>> > but ideally in public spaces like village pumps or mailing lists.  Reach
>> > out and ask for help or suggestions.  Offer advice or inputs.  Simply be
>> > friendly and accessible.  Just talk!  Community meetups are happening
>> but
>> > not as frequent as one would like and with very limited attendance.
>>  Often,
>> > it is just 3 or 4 people who meet up everytime.  Nothing wrong with that
>> > per se. Meetups are voluntary and the majority of wikipedians are happy
>> to
>> > edit in the privacy of our homes and not meet up with others but even in
>> > this situation, we can and should be encouraging more people to attend
>> > meetups. People will attend meetups more regularly if they find them
>> > productive and inspiring.  Too often, the feedback from community
>> members
>> > has been that they don't find meetups useful or they find them
>> dominated by
>> > 1 or 2 individuals.  It is essential to have 1 or 2 individuals with the
>> > drive and hard work to organise meetups - but it is equally important
>> that
>> > meetups are not centred exclusively around these 1-2 people but more
>> about
>> > what the larger group want.  How about meetups where all we do is spend
>> an
>> > hour or two just editing a few articles?  How about meetups where we
>> plan a
>> > newbie outreach program involving everyone in the meetup?  How about a
>> > meetup where that meetup is run by those folks who usually never speak
>> up
>> > and that the entire meeting is devoted to what they are interested in?
>>  It
>> > is alarming when one looks at the situation in some Indic communities
>> where
>> > there is virtually no communication at all amongst community members. It
>> > leads to a very cold and impersonal environment - which is not healthy
>> to
>> > foster growth.   Like plants and flowers, communities too need breeze
>> and
>> > air and water and food and activity and earthworms and manure.
>> >
>> > 4. Community Collaboration: When I consider community collaboration, I
>> > think of 2 things.  The first is ownership and the second is editing.
>>  On
>> > ownership, it is really critical that every one of us as individual
>> > community members believe and are made to believe that we own our
>> projects.
>> > Every project is owned by all members of that community. Equally.  We
>> > should all become more proactive in enforcing this ownership - whether
>> it
>> > is in terms of coming up with initiatives or proactively participating
>> in
>> > community discussions - whether it is about technical matters or content
>> > elements or community aspects.  Every single individual counts and every
>> > single individual's voice must be encouraged.  On editing, something
>> that
>> > drives all of us is the thrill of collaborative editing.  Wikipedians
>> love
>> > it more than anything else to work together on an article and make
>> dramatic
>> > improvements to it.   Of course it happens even now, but this is
>> something
>> > that we need to encourage much more and participate more actively in.
>> This
>> > can be done in varied ways - but ideas like Collaboration of the Month
>> or
>> > Editathons or whatever other idea should be organised.  One can start
>> with
>> > a handful of people working on a few articles - but one must try as
>> hard as
>> > one can to make larger scale mini-events around this basic idea.  It
>> will
>> > help build personal relationships, project ownership, and drive
>> community
>> > bonds.
>> >
>> > 5. Community Celebration: Lastly on the community aspect, let us bring
>> some
>> > magic back to the community.  Let us start celebrating successes - no
>> > matter how small.  Let us start taking goals - no matter how seemingly
>> > unambitious. Let us spread cheer all around when we meet these
>> objectives.
>> > Let us start publicly celebrating over the profiles of new or active
>> > editors (Tamil wiki community is already doing this)- whether because
>> they
>> > are 12 years old or 80 years old or whether their article counts are
>> 100 or
>> > 10,000! Let us celebrate when our wiki cross a major milestones, Let us
>> > celebrate when one our community member does some marvellous things for
>> > wiki. Let us celebrate when community able to engage in a relationship
>> with
>> > state government... There are many reasons to celebrate. Let us
>> celebrate
>> > all those and build the sense of pride about their projects among our
>> > community members. The most powerful fuel in our engines is passion -
>> and
>> > we need to get more of it in our veins.
>> >
>> > ProjectsThere is a constant debate of what should come first - article
>> > count or article quality?  I don't think there is an answer to this
>> that is
>> > equally applicable across all projects and communities. I had strong
>> > convictions on this based on my past experience with Malayalam wiki
>> > projects - which have been reinforced after my initial discussions with
>> > Indic Wikimedians from across the country.  In this regard, I wish to
>> share
>> > a provocative statement about bots. Bots can and should be used to do
>> > repetitive tasks (like adding categories) because that reduces wasting
>> > volunteer time - which is limited and  precious.  However, the use of
>> bots
>> > for article creation is something that I would strongly discourage.  The
>> > current state of Newari wikipedia (which has nearly 70,000 articles but
>> > zero active editors) reinforces my argument.
>> >
>> > The argument for using bots for article creation is that it provides
>> > placeholders for editors to start working on these articles.  While
>> there
>> > is some merit in this argument, the problem is that this kind of
>> artificial
>> > intervention means that the volume of work required to improve quality
>> far
>> > outpaces the community strength.  It is like a sportsman using steroids.
>> >  It is not natural or healthy.  It results in large numbers of very poor
>> > quality articles - which are of such a basic nature that it might be
>> better
>> > not to have them in the project.  (For example, if the only information
>> > about a town is that "Abc town is in Abc district which is in Abc state
>> and
>> > the population is 12345 according to the 2001 census", this article is
>> so
>> > weak that it cannot honestly be said to exist.)  If a project has
>> thousands
>> > of these kind of articles, the whole project will be regarded as being
>> of
>> > poor quality and will put off readers.)  More fatally, if a project has
>> > thousands of such bot entries, it doesn't inspire editors to contribute
>> -
>> > but instead makes them disillusioned because they feel that so many
>> > articles of such bad quality that they just give up on where to start!
>> > There
>> > are many who feel that, for example, Hindi wikipedia has been adversely
>> > impacted by the overusage of bots.
>> >
>> > Another very important aspect I want to address is the kind of policies
>> we
>> > adopt for Indic projects.  Too often, tiny projects and communities are
>> > adopting too many of the policies of English Wikipedia.  The policies of
>> > English wikipedia have evolved over years as English Wikipedia grew in
>> > community and article size.  These policies are suitable for English
>> > Wikipedia given the size and breadth of its community.  My view is that
>> > many of these are not appropriate for the current state of most Indic
>> > projects and communities given that the community sizes are 60,000 for
>> > English and ~25 for the average Indic community.  If English Wikipedia
>> > policies are indiscriminately adopted, results in the feedback that I am
>> > seeing from many Indic editors that they are spending too much time
>> doing
>> > "administrative" tasks like categorisation and not getting enough time
>> for
>> > basic core editing.  Let me elaborate.  Something like NPOV is central
>> to
>> > our overall philosophy.  This cannot and must not be diluted. However,
>> even
>> > if I take the larger Indic Wikipedias, it really is not such a major
>> issue
>> > if the categorisation is currently weak.  The focus has to be to build
>> > articles quality and content, and not necessarily having all the content
>> > neatly slotted into categories.  Of course, something like
>> categorisation
>> > is good, but not at the cost of article quality.  I want to make an even
>> > more provocative suggestion.  Verifiability is really really really
>> > important to all our projects.  However, if one looks at how English
>> > Wikipedia evolved in the early days, it started with editors just adding
>> > content. Over a period of time, other editors came in and added and
>> > improved citations.  Even today, as a recent Signpost article mentioned,
>> > there are 2.5 lakh articles in English
>> > Wikipedia<
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2011-10-31/Opinion_essay
>> >that
>> > don't have references.   We should encourage editors to write, write
>> > and write!  References will follow.  Let us not chase away editors
>> because
>> > we want every article to be perfect in a 20,000 article project.  Of
>> course
>> > we want quality but let us take it in stages - and let us prioritise
>> what
>> > is most important to begin with.  I think many editors would find it
>> > incredibly satisfying and inspiring and motivating to start and edit new
>> > articles, and they might get it 80% right.  This will attract a much
>> bigger
>> > community within which there will emerge a new generation of editors who
>> > love to add detail and citations.
>> >
>> > ReadershipOne of my big discoveries I had was to see the total size of
>> > readership.  I have often contemplated the Catch 22 situation of Indic
>> > language Wikimedians - where there is no awareness of the projects so
>> there
>> > is no readership and even where there is readership, readers are not
>> > satisfied because of a low number articles or poor quality of articles.
>> > Conversely, editors don't find adequate motivation and satisfaction
>> because
>> > they believe there are too few readers for their contributions.  I often
>> > wondered how we would approach this problem - and which we should
>> address
>> > first.  I used to think that we should first focus on community building
>> > and article quality - and that readers will automatically follow.  To
>> that
>> > extent, I used to think that we shouldn't worry about readers because
>> they
>> > will inevitably follow content.  The fact that last month, we had more
>> than
>> > 4 crore readers for our Indic language
>> > wikipedias<
>> https://blog.wikimedia.org/2011/12/12/indian-language-wikipedia-statistics-october-2011/
>> >means
>> > that the dilemma of what we need to do is no longer valid.  We have
>> > readers. Lakhs and lakhs and lakhs of them for each Indic language wiki!
>> >  We now need to focus singlemindedly on community building and project
>> > quality.  As internet penetration and mobile data access increase, we
>> will
>> > get even more Indic readers.  We don't need to do anything to attract
>> > readers.  However, we need to do *everything* to keep them coming back
>> by
>> > increasing article count while religiously maintaining and increasing
>> > article quality and size of community.
>> >
>> > I would love to hear your thoughts and views on these suggestions.
>> >
>> > The next stage of my work is going to be to speak directly with various
>> > communities in village pumps itself.  I will try and make these as
>> relevant
>> > and specific to individual communities - and also to share some ideas
>> which
>> > have relevance across similar communities.  For instance, some ideas
>> will
>> > be similar to all communities with less than 25 active editors.  I also
>> > want to try and identify potential areas of support that India Programs
>> > could work closely with communities on.  The idea is to support
>> community
>> > across languages.  We would like to identify a very limited (1 or 2)
>> pilots
>> > of a very controlled nature (in terms of scale) that we would like to
>> > collaboratively design with respective communities.  Given the efforts
>> that
>> > will be required in any pilot (even if it is of a relatively small
>> scale),
>> > we believe that there needs to be a certain basic level of community
>> size
>> > and collaboration to be able handle such pilots.
>> >
>> > I will be sharing this mail on the various local language / local town
>> > mailing lists as well as the respective language village pumps.  I look
>> > forward to hearing your views.
>> >
>> > I placed the content of this mail in metawiki also. It is here:
>> >
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Summary_of_initial_discussions_-_2011
>> >
>> > Regards
>> >
>> > Shiju Alex
>> > India Programs Team
>> >
>>
>>
>> --
>> Regards,
>> Srikanth Ramakrishnan.
>> Wikipedia Coimbatore Meetup on December 10th.
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Meetup/Coimbatore
>>
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>
>
>
> --
> Rajesh Pandey
>
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