Dear Barry,

thank you for taking the trouble to provide a comprehensive and timely
response to my critique.

There is no doubt that India Programs is putting in hard work, and there
are definitely good results as you pointed out and I agree with. All your
points are well taken, though I am not in agreement with all of them.  The
direction that work should go in is a moot point of disagreement between us
which could be debated further but that is not what I would like to argue
about. It was basically to present a point-of-view as to how I, as an
editor, see and judge things. In a sense, it is feedback.

Your point about the efficacy of outreach is well taken. Pune community has
indeed grown somewhat from outreach, but this has primarily been in the
Marathi Wikipedia side. We have had few English editors as a result of
outreach but barely enough to keep us going and definitely not enough to
feel happy about. Personal experience has shown me that outreach itself is
more a tool of education of the community and less that of recruitment.
 But it is also a little unfair to compare the efforts of we few community
members doing outreach all in our precious spare time and under far greater
constraints than India Program.

The outreach handbook is definitely a positive step in the right direction
but* *I am not quite happy about the way the outreach survey is being done.
Ostensibly to measure the efficacy of the community-led outreach, no
discussion of the outreach survey was done prior to it. No instructions
have been given to us to follow during outreach which will provide the
intellectual rigour of such an exercise. Since we have not been asked for
only user names of outreach attendees but no other data, the factors
affecting outreach cannot be judged.  Since the methodology of carrying out
outreach for this survey, has not been communicated to us, the deductions
 may be faulty and the data samples we provide will be skewed. The size of
the sample may also be statistically inadequate. Survey is a serious
business and involves all stakeholders and a proper plan is needed and
executed if we are to get unbiased results.

You mention that Hisham is doing the kind of engagement of higher bodies &
decision-makers that I have been wishing for. Perhaps this aspect has not
been communicated well. We do understand that some ongoing interactions may
be only referred to briefly as a matter of discretion. but definitely, the
community would like to know more on these issues, and we would appreciate
more information on this.

As regards representing the voice of the community, I did not mean to imply
that the community had empowered me explicitly or implicitly to represent
them. That was my personal understanding of what the community feels. You
are free to judge and form your own opinion based on your experience,
knowledge of things and inputs from me and all other sources.  In the final
analysis, my views are there as feedback for you to take cognisance of or
not. Hopefully, they may lead to better decisions on your side, whatever
those decisions may be.

As mentioned previously, I remain a well-wisher of all Wikipedia activity,
including India Program, though it may/may not be evident from my
discussions above.

Warm regards,

Ashwin Baindur


On Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 11:37 PM, Barry Newstead <>wrote:

> Dear Ashwin,
> Thanks for your message. I have to say that specific comments are much
> more useful than vague generalisations, because these are actionable for us
> and we can correct misperceptions (of which there are some significant ones
> below).  I'd like to respond to your points below. Please don't read my
> responses too personally, as I'm more focused on the themes in your
> comments that are persistent rather than responding personally.
> Thanks for the constructive comments and questions.
> Best,
> Barry
> On Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 7:35 AM, Ashwin Baindur 
> <>wrote:
>> Thank you for your responding to me, Barry.  I would like to point out a
>> few issues, if I may, to set the context to my stated wish about what India
>> Programs should be doing.
>> A significant proportion of the events listed in your reference were
>> community events and if we consider only those conducted by the India
>> Program team we would see a smaller list which is not so impressive.
> Who really cares, seriously! The purpose of any list is to share
> information openly and encourage community members to participate. It is
> not a credit taking exercise.
>> Some of these events had minimal help from India Programs. For example in
>> the GNUNIFY Wikipedia event conducted in February by the Pune community,
>> Nitika's presentation was used and that was all. (Since I had myself added
>> the entry to this page thinking it to be a collation of India outreach
>> events, I am not protesting its inclusion). There are other such events
>> where the involvement was low and these need to be excluded, keeping only
>> those conducted primarily by India Program personnel.
>> I see your point about value being added by these activities. Any
>> outreach is useful. However, India Program resources are scarce and
>> valuable ( both in the point of view of your multi-100,000$ budgets and
>> limited capacity of the very small team). In this context, it is the mix of
>> activities carried out and the proportion of its components that worry me
>> and the community.
> If you look more deeply, you'll see the IP team is doing work that helps
> move us forward. They aren't simply replicating what the community can do
> (note:  I will still take issue with the point that there is some invisible
> community being held back from doing copious amounts of outreach or other
> work because the IP team is crowding out their activity).  I think the
> value that the IP team can and is bringing is more about the overall
> support of outreach and the improvement of outreach work to increase
> impact. The sad fact about a lot of outreach work is that it doesn't
> produce that much community growth in its current form. Ask yourself
> honestly, Ashwin, how much has your Pune community grown as a result of
> your excellent and dedicated efforts to conducting outreach?  What Nitika
> (yes, I think it should be clear to all that she is working hard on this)
> is doing is really investigating the efficacy of outreach and trying to
> identify things that will improve the results for the tireless work that
> you and other community members are doing.  The link that I pointed to has
> a handbook for outreach that is evolving and would benefit from a
> collaborative, wiki-style partnership to share learning in which Nitika
> can be the facilitator and doer of the heavy work.  In addition, Nitika and
> Subhashish in partnership with the Global Development research team is
> piloting a tool that will help with follow-up after events with attendees
> to encourage actual editing. The tool also allows us to measure whether
> attendees ever actually edit.  This is a small pilot that they are
> investing a lot of time in and has the potential to dramatically improve
> outreach (or tell us conclusively that it is not an effective way to build
> community, which I hope isn't true).  IMO this is the kind of work that
> adds real value to the community and will help us achieve our shared
> mission in India.
>> The presence of a small outreach activity is definitely justifiable as
>> keeping a pulse on the overall community and in touch with reality. IMO the
>> conduct of two events a month by India Program staff is more than adequate
>> - it still means 24 events a year, a very sizeable contribution. Hence,
>> events should be carefully chosen for maximum impact deriveable and maximum
>> diversity of experiences. It should be driven by only one staff member,
>> assisted by volunteers, and Hisham should appear there to enthuse the
>> participants, as per the time he can spare from his main agenda, not get
>> involved in the training himself. (More on this later).
> Thanks for the advice. I think that is already largely the case. Nitika is
> the main resource focused on outreach with some support from Subhashish.
> Hisham involves himself as the manager of the work and has been
> instrumental in guiding us toward a more analytical and learning-oriented
> approach that we hope will be fruitful.
>> Comments on Roles
>> * From what I have seen, the community will concur with me that adding
>> Shiju to India Program staff is definitely the right way to go. Shiju has
>> identified the "state of the nation" very well. He needs to keep working on
>> this field without being distracted by other things. But now the need is to
>> build the Indic language infrastructure - community building beyond a
>> certain point is the business of the community itself, not India Programs.
>> India Programs needs to tackle programs/seed projects/tasks which cannot be
>> easily done by the Indic community and which will lead to
>> empowerment/growth/development of the entire Indic movement.
> Thanks. He is indeed focused here and is doing excellent work.  It is
> useful to note that he partners very closely with Hisham, who provides a
> lot of silent support and guidance and gets useful input from the rest of
> the team (and he contributes to the work of the team as well).  We believe
> (and most organizational effectiveness research supports) that teaming is
> an effective approach to  getting things done. It isn't about putting
> people in silos and leaving them there to figure it out.
>> * There is considerable confusion of roles of Noopur, Nikita &
>> Subhashish. The roles are nebulous and the explanations/justification for
>> their activities not convincing. Noopur had, to my mind, potential to be a
>> great GLAM resource. Yet she is doing suboptimal activities. So we have
>> three people working but the responsibilities/areas are not what the
>> community feels are required. Of the three resource people, one is more
>> than enough for the outreach, outreach handbook, WikiPatrika &
>> communication roles required. The other two and Hisham should be addressing
>> things that are not being addressed. These activities could be done by
>> Subhasish.
> I've explained Nitika's work above and she will also play an important
> role in future education work.  Noopur has been on the job for a month and
> her role will become clearer as she settles in and starts getting some
> communications-focused initiatives going.  Subhashish's role is by
> definition less simple to express. He is there to support the team and
> handle administrative elements. He is playing a valuable support role to
> Nitika and Shiju. He also frees Hisham from some of the burden of
> administration.
>> * IEP - Gives the impression of prematurely being abandoned by the India
>> Program, the IEP version 2 is terribly behind schedule. It gives the
>> impression that Hisham and his team are once bitten, twice shy. The ghost
>> of IEP can only be laid by struggling through to a successful model, not by
>> trying to do other activities to make up the lack of success. At least, one
>> person should be deployed full time on this -  Nitika. We need IEP, Hisham
>> & Nitika to make a good success of IEP 2. In no other way, can we retrieve
>> our reputation. I say, our. because the Indian community feels let down,
>> unhappy and involved in this program, it is nt a matter of the IEP & the
>> CAs/Students only.
> So, we are taking this slowly on purpose. It is not because of shyness on
> Hisham and Nitika's part. They are ready to go for it again and are excited
> to lay the ghosts to rest as you say.  We did wait a bit to let everyone
> have some time to reflect on the pilot lessons (including us). We want to
> get the conversation going again, soon, though there is nothing stopping
> you from starting it yourself if you like. I will say I'm really encouraged
> by part of your remark, as we haven't really heard anyone say that the
> Indian community is committed to trying again to make this kind of program
> work in the Indian context. We too, particularly Hisham and Nitika, remain
> committed to education work in India.  We are also looking forward to
> incorporating the lessons we are garnering in our work in Brazil and Egypt
> at the moment into future designs. We'll be getting back on the elephant,
> for sure.
>> * Liaison with government, academia, industry, Institutes of learning,
>> NGOs, etc. The aim is to familiarise, educate and create opportunities
>> which are beyond the reach of the common wikipedian. Sadly, this is not
>> being pursued with any sincerity, much less any purpose. Some of the
>> community members feel, it is not happening at all. The nation's top movers
>> & shakers need to be engaged by Hisham, not the newbies & Indic editors.
>> This should be Hisham's primary agenda - vision, leadership & engagement at
>> the highest levels.
> You are incorrect, actually, so you might reflect on use of terms like
> "sincerity", since this speaks to motivations that you don't really have
> insights into. Hisham has been engaged with institutions and is developing
> a valuable network, though not as much as he would like as these efforts
> take serious time. Hisham would love to have even more time to do this.
> Do note that as the leader of a team of people he does a lot to help them
> be effective - this is a core role in team leadership - and is a valuable
> use of time, even if it isn't always visible.  He also has had to carry
> significant administrative duties that we are working to get off his
> shoulders.  Finally, he spends an inordinate among of time on "India
> politics" (the other IP) - fighting off accusations of malintent, attacks
> on himself and his team members, and arguments that go nowhere about who is
> the "boss of X".  The guy is working is butt off...often seven days a week
> and is available at odd hours to engage with colleagues in the US and with
> community members around the country.  It is worth stepping back and
> reflecting before offering personal critiques of Hisham and the IP team.
> One might ask oneself: "do I understand the full context of the situation
> that this person is dealing with?" There is some great research on
> "attribution bias" ( that
> is worth keeping in mind when you think you have things all figured out and
> are comfortable ascribing motives to people or commenting on what you think
> they are doing.
>> * GLAM & preservation of Indian Culture. This requires a full-time
>> commitment. Part-time responsibility, and one-off projects simply wont do.
>> Noopur is well-suited for this and it should be one of her major
>> commitments. WikiPatrika & some other smaller commitments may be part of
>> her responsibilities.
>> In the absence of concrete action on things that really need doing, and
>> the far too large emphasis on community building by India programs, which
>> is frankly in my opinion, none of their business, Barry, I feel skeptical
>> about the cost to value derived by this multi-hundred thousand dollar India
>> Program program.
>> People in the general community may disagree with me on individual
>> issues, but the general unhappiness of most concerned editors on Indian
>> community are based on these lines.
> I respect your concerns, but I would prefer that you speak for yourself
> rather than invoking "most concerned editors".  Let's not pretend that we
> have any special authority to speak for the community.
> My view of the IP is that it will not be built in a day. We committed to a
> multi-year investment because it will take time to build and we would need
> to do a range of pilots (some successful, some not), learn from them and
> then build programs that work.  If this work was easy, it would have been
> done already. I'd like nothing more than to have "figured it all out" in
> India, so that we could move on to other challenges, but that isn't what we
> signed up for. This is a long, hard road with elusive rewards and a lot of
> difficult work along the way (including building community support), but
> the rewards are pretty huge if we can find solutions that help build our
> projects in India and expand access and contribution to the sum of all
> knowledge.
>> You would do well to consider from a Project Management perspective, what
>> are the goals of the complete year for the India Program, where we want to
>> be and the exact activities & events needed for this. As of now,
>> Hisham/India Programs seems to be functioning month-to-month, in a reactive
>> mode.
> You might refer to the India Program plans on Meta (
>, which have been there for
> people to contribute to for about a year and is evolving as we learn. The
> team is working to this plan and is adjusting as needed based on learning
> from their engagement on the issues and discussions with people in the
> community. If you have better ideas or think that their plans can be
> improved, then click edit. I'm actually serious about this.  There has been
> a ton of keys clicked in the mailing lists criticizing, but not many on
> contributing to the plans  and helping improve them. They are on a public
> wiki for a reason.
>> On my side, I have only a desire to see the community, chapter and India
>> Program all succeed and prosper. And my support for this wish of mine is
>> assured to all concerned.
> I don't doubt your sincerity. You make a lot of valuable contributions
> including this note. I would say that we all would benefit if you (and
> others) would ascribe the same sincerity to the IP team, recognize that
> what they (and all of us) are engaged in isn't exactly straight-forward and
> their goals are the same as yours.
>> Warm regards,
>> Ashwin Baindur
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