Seriously? I don't mean to be rude here but I'd really don't think that is
the way it was meant to be interpreted. I mean, if I say Ashwin is
kind-hearted, doesn't mean I'm calling every other community member
heartless. My two paise.

On Sun, Apr 29, 2012 at 10:59 PM, Arjun Mangol Kanoth <> wrote:

> Can't we just consider the comment as applying to every Wikipedian in
> India, after all, for outsiders who don't know our diversity, we're just
> Indians. I'm quite sure he didn't mean what was interpreted :)
> On Sun, Apr 29, 2012 at 9:57 PM, Ashwin Baindur 
> <>wrote:
>> (In response to a certain remark in ‘Malayalam Wikipedia could be
>> emulated’)
>> (url -
>> )
>> The Malayalam Wikimedian community definitely deserves kudos. A
>> diverse bunch of people volunteered their effort and skills gratis for
>> many years to build up what is already a major educational aid in
>> Malayalam. This will play an actual positive role in community
>> development and that is what the greatest reward to the participants.
>> We are confident that they will go on with their exemplary work and
>> prove to be sources of inspiration to us all in the years to come.
>> That kind of satisfaction, at being part of something bigger than
>> oneself and being able to make a difference in the world, motivates
>> Wikimedians all over the world, as it does in India also.
>> Human nature causes wikimedians to look to the statements of WMF
>> officials for encouragement, advice and guidance (though imho they
>> should not). In this context, Newstead's comment at the
>> Wikisangamotsav  in Kollam last weekend - "they don’t focus on
>> politics or personal gains" - can be construed as mischievous in the
>> worst case and mistaken in the best.
>> Though the WMF does dole out some grants to individuals and
>> communities, all Wikimedians are essentially unpaid volunteers, the
>> vast majority of which do not have access to resources provided by the
>> Foundation.
>> Such a remark casts aspersions wrongly on the rest of the Indian
>> wikipedian community, giving the casual reader the idea that the
>> Malayalam Wikimedians are paragons of virtue while the remainder of
>> the Indian Wikimedian community “focus on politics and personal gain”.
>> The remark indicates a deep distrust of the WMF for the general
>> community for reasons best known to them. Such a remark is hardly
>> constructive in motivating the entire bunch of Indian Wikimedians who,
>> as a collective whole, are making extremely valuable contributions to
>> society despite being unpaid volunteers and at the cost of a large
>> amount of personal time and often at their own expense.
>> The question arises at what could be the reason for politics and what
>> personal gains are to be found in doing Wikipedia editing or outreach?
>> Satisfaction, learning, peer approval, interaction with intelligent
>> fellow-believers, social service and fun are the personal gains for
>> editors - all legitimate rewards which one can partake off with
>> integrity and pride.
>> Politics arises when scarce resources are pursued by many. It cannot
>> be money, since all funds in Wikipedia are in the hands of the
>> Foundation which directly receives donations. Nor is it power, as the
>> community insists on it being a society of equals.  The India Chapter
>> with its few executive members and completely budgetted by the WMF and
>> with its limited role & mandate cannot be considered worthy target of
>> Newstead’s remark either. So what politics are we talking about and
>> who is it that Newstead is referring to?
>> Perhaps the WMF feels offended by the criticism from Wikimedians
>> worldwide at the failure of a flagship educational program in India
>> last year or perhaps at local criticism in their mode of operation in
>> India and the cost-benefit analysis of their country program where
>> hundreds of thousands of dollars have been poured in with mediocre
>> results. Newstead may feel unhappy about these issues but public
>> statements like these do not add to the confidence of the community in
>> the WMF either.
>> In today's world, participants in citizen science or collaborative
>> projects such as Wikipedia expect the highest levels of transparency,
>> democracy and debate - in part, Wikipedia’s open ethos itself is
>> responsible for the extremely democratic aspirations of participants.
>> Wikipedians routinely engage in large debates on major and minute
>> issues. They absorb from their experience in the Project the idea that
>> all action is open for debate and that such criticism/dissent is not
>> only constructive but vital. It would be a strange quirk of fate,
>> should an office-bearer of WMF feel threatened by the values
>> encouraged by their own projects.
>> This distrust may also be seen as a clash of cultures - on one side, a
>> corporate culture where actions are expected to be accepted at face
>> value and not to be justified to those not in power, and on the other,
>> an open culture where nothing is sancrosanct and responsible action
>> and respectful response from all, including and especially Jimbo
>> Wales, is expected as a matter of moral right by volunteers.
>> The meaningful solution lies through engaging the community as equals
>> and stakeholders, not with public remarks like these. Wikimedian
>> volunteers understand and express their gratitude to the foundation
>> for creating and operating a vehicle which enables their useful
>> contribution to society. Reciprocally, it is time that WMF
>> representatives realise that it is the Wikimedian community that is
>> the living flesh and blood of Wikipedia, without whom the WMF cannot
>> exist, and who need to be engaged with mutual respect and
>> consideration, if the encyclopedia is to prosper in the long run.
>> Warm regards,
>> Ashwin Baindur
>> ------------------------------------------------------
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> --
> - Arjun
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