Hi Folks

A few days ago (shortly after Shiju & Nitika had sent long emails on Indic 
languages [1] and supporting outreach [2]), I was asked by a community member 
why I hadn't written a long one myself.  ..well, here you go!

Jokes aside, it's important ever so often to step back and reflect, think 
through and communicate the work we are doing.  Here are my thoughts on 2011 
and plans for 2012.

REFLECTIONS 2011

2011 was very much about putting in place building blocks.  There has been a 
lot of activity - but much has been behind-the-scenes. Here are the top 10 (in 
broad chronological order.)

• Community Engagement

I spend the first 2 months attending just about every community meetup that 
happened in the country - which took me to Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and 
Hyderabad. The purposes of my trips were to listen, understand and learn from 
community members, as well as to introduce myself.  I updated the community on 
regular intervals on mailing lists as well as through monthly IRCs - and this 
communication needs to be intensified going forward. 

• India Programs Plan

My first task was to develop an overall plan. [3]  This was done 
collaboratively with the community on meta and identified 3 key areas of work: 
supporting community outreach, exploring the education system and initiating 
digital outreach to complement community outreach. This exercise also mapped 
out the India Programs team structure and included the selection of Delhi/NCR 
as the location for this team.

• Team Building

I joined in February.  India Programs started as team only in the latter half 
of the year when Nitika & Shiju joined.  Setting up a team is tough and takes 
time and effort.  For the 4 positions we wanted to fill, I have personally 
interviewed over 50  candidates - many of who were fantastic - just to make 
sure we get the team right.  With the further addition of Subha (who's just 
joined), I am confident that we have a strong team that can serve the community 
well. It has the right intellect, experience, work ethic, values and personal 
qualities. The missing link is the communications lead who I have not yet 
found.  I am working on it and hope to report back with good news in the next 
couple of months.   Shiju & Subha are existing community members while Nitika & 
I were new.  The two of us have worked hard at getting understanding projects, 
editing and contributing in other ways.  We now both feel like we are community 
members, which is great.  Personally, I would like to thank and acknowledge the 
help of everyone - especially Theo - who helped me so much in the early days.

• Organisation Basics

India Programs team is currently a bunch of independent consultants.  There is 
the need to have an organisation for them and to take care of basic stuff like 
an office.  A huge amount of time has gone into the regulatory and legal 
aspects of setting up an independent trust  to eventually house the team and 
the necessary approvals for this. [4]  This is still ongoing work and there is 
much still to be done.  I have secured some office space in Delhi (in my 
personal capacity.)   This space is is not linked to either the Foundation or 
the Trust.  I can't begin to tell you how much time this has taken.  Every 
little thing has been a hard slog - from the trust registration process to 
furniture to an internet connection to drinking water!

• India Education Program - Pune Pilot [5]

This was the first pilot of India programs.  The objectives were to encourage 
editing in classrooms and to encourage & enable students to become newbie 
editors beyond their semesters.  Due to the problems with content quality 
(plagiarism, writing style, references and images) and the consequent adverse 
impact on the en-wp community, this pilot failed.  There is an independent 
report that has been commissioned by WMF as well as some data analysis that is 
being done; both are due in the next few days.  I am aware of the many of the 
issues and I/we have very deliberately made sure that this learning is 
reflected in all work that we are doing and will do (including and beyond 
education.)  These include improving involvement of the respective language 
community, driving stronger program design, operating only at a scale that can 
be managed,  as well as providing adequate training and support to newbies.   
It is important when you try and fail to have the humility to learn and I/we 
are doing this.   

• WikiConference 2011 [6]

This was the first ever national-level meeting of the Indian community.  It had 
a large attendance and I estimate that nearly 150 folks attended most parts of 
the conference (out of a total of 700.)  India Programs team invested 
significant effort and provided considerable help in terms of counsel and 
hands-on support to the organisers.  This was through providing direction for 
the event, co-ordinating 2 Fellowships, providing ad hoc advisory (such as 
media management), mediating intra-community issues and motivating the 
community of organisers.  While there were issues with the conference, it was 
an important milestone for our India community and provided a forum for 
building relationships, sharing ideas as well as inspiring & energising 
community members.  It is encouraging to see the level and intensity of 
community interactions and activities after the conference. It is useful to 
underscore that this was arguably the first and certainly the single biggest 
event co-ordinated at a national scale by our community. 

• Chapter Relationship

I have worked hard at building a working relationship with the India Chapter.  
We now have regular monthly calls where we share updates, plans and advice.  
This was initiated by the Chapter and I'd like to acknowledge and thank them 
for their efforts on this.  I will be honest and say that we still have some 
way to go towards a truly strong and deep partnership - but I continue to work 
towards this. We might not always be in agreement with the Chapter but will 
keep trying to work effectively.

• Indic Languages

The initiative on Indic languages is as difficult as it is full of potential. 
The opportunity is clear - in terms of massive language speaking populations 
and small communities / projects.  We felt that the best way to start this 
initiative was to have conversations with as many Indic wikipedians as possible 
to understand, distill and share experiences, learnings and suggestions for the 
growth of their communities and projects. The plan is to identify community 
pilots that we can support but a more immediate benefit of this dialogue is to 
cross-pollinate ideas as well as to improve community cohesiveness and build 
momentum. Shiju shared these on mailing lists and village pumps.  In addition, 
Shiju prepared and circulated a synopsis [7] that provided perspectives and  
suggestions to Indic communities.  The next stage of this work is underway; 
more on that in the 2012 section below.

• Supporting Outreach

Supporting outreach is a new effort launched in December. The idea is to 
introduce Wikipedia to new communities of prospective editors. There is the 
potential of much more outreach in India but it is hampered by the lack of 
time, confidence and / or  ability to do outreach. This work is focused on a 
combination of both theory and practice: we will curate outreach tips and 
standard presentation decks [8] and make them easily available to everyone - 
but also undertake outreach efforts with other community members. Results will 
be measured and shared to enable and motivate a step-jump in community outreach.

• Offline & Mobile

The team has also supported offline and mobile initiatives but this has been 
done on an ad hoc basis and limited to facilitating meetings.  We can do much 
more, especially on offline.

PLANS 2012

In 2012, we hope to support the community through programmatic initiatives with 
community members.  These will have 3 key features: strong community 
involvement, well-designed pilots and rigorous evaluation. In all cases, my 
priority will be to establish a strong set of processes for how we run pilots, 
measure results, gain learnings, cross-pollinate good ideas and support 
community members to independently run these.

There are 5 key priorities for the team for the first half of 2012.

• Supporting Indic Language Community Building

This is the single biggest priority for India Programs.  The work that is 
currently underway has been to place specific ideas (customised to that 
language) in most village pumps and to encourage and facilitate community 
discourse around them.  The intent is to sow seeds for community building that 
will eventually expand communities and improve projects.  Some of these 
initiatives will be managed independently by community members.  In cases where 
there is a request for support for a community initiative, we will go out of 
our way to help in whatever manner we can.  This may be in the form of a pilots 
or other support.  Building communities needs as many people to be involved so 
please do engage in community discussions on your respective village pumps and 
add your views, ideas, comments, suggestions, etc.  These are your projects and 
every voice counts!  Shiju will be driving this, supported by Subha.

• Supporting Outreach

We are still in the process of collating all the various presentation materials 
and tips.  We want to participate and facilitate more outreach sessions and we 
want to test out the recommendations.  Specifically, we want to plan outreach 
effectively, conduct it impactfully, stay in touch with attendees after the 
sessions and start measuring results.  We will work closely with the Chapter on 
WikiAcademies  and directly with interested community members on workshops.  
Please have a look at the page [8] created and improve / add to the material or 
by sharing your thoughts and question.  Also, and I make this point because of 
an email thread of a few weeks ago, do not lose faith in outreach.  It is hard 
and it can take a huge toll on time but it is so, so, so essential to the 
growth of our community.  Nitika will be driving this, supported by Subha.

• Redesigning India Education Program

There is enormous opportunity in the youth of India and specifically with 
students.  They can - in right circumstances - help contribute to our projects 
and can become shining additions to our communty.  We need to figure out a much 
more successful way of tapping into this - avoiding (as many of) the problems 
as we had in the first pilot.  We will work collaboratively with the community 
and design a new pilot for this.  Anything and everything can be changed in 
this new pilot.  Do engage on this from the design stage itself, and through 
the course of the new pilot.  We need your help right through the journey.   
Nitika will be driving this, supported by all of us.

• Improving Communications

An important step will be to get a communications person on board.  However, 
before (and of course after this person joins), there are things that we will 
do more and better.  

We are doing more on this but we will intensify our community communications.  
We will make sure that monthly IRCs happen on time. We will have monthly 
newletters.  We will share work plans of the team.  We will be (even) more 
regular with other updates.  We will explore all options, and not limit 
ourselves to mailing lists such as village pumps.  If required (and this might 
be so in the case of relatively nascent Indic communities), we will reach out 
to individual editors on their talk pages to inform and invite them if they are 
not active on more public channels.  We will continue to build on the strong 
base of the relationship with the Chapter.  Do engage with us and reach out 
whenever you feel we have not been clear on anything.  

Once the communications position is filled, we will also initiate work around 
press (especially local language print publications), digital outreach 
(providing online resources to inform and encourage newbies) and social media 
(to support community buildling.)  We will work closely with the Chapter as 
well as with individual community members / groups.

• Trust Operations

A lot of work still needs to be done on the Trust and the various regulatory 
requirements.  This includes a bunch of regulatory compliance things as well as 
applying for the necessary funding approvals.  This is not sexy stuff - but it 
is necessary. 

Also, we will start putting in place the essential elements for a small team's 
smooth operations - including the accounting systems and basic personnel 
functions.  Subha will be driving this, supported by me. 

. . . . . . . . . . .

Do let me have your views.  Also, please do reach out if you need any 
clarifications or have suggestions.  As always, do respond on this mailing list 
or feel free to reach out to me directly.

We exist to serve the community.  We will do this to the best of our abilities. 
 Do reach out for any help you need.  

Happy Wiki 11th!

Happy New Year!  

Happy Editing!  

Warmest Regards,  

hisham

Notes

[1] 
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimediaindia-l/2011-December/005813.html
[2] 
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimediaindia-l/2011-December/005872.html
[3] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs
[4] 
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimediaindia-l/2011-November/004894.html
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:IEP
[6] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WikiConference_India_2011
[7] 
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Summary_of_initial_discussions_-_2011
[8] 
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Outreach_Program_Handbook

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