Dear Ravi,
I was thinking of ignoring this vague insinuation of wrong-doing at
first, but then two different people suggested that I respond.

I could give a short answer: Yes, that account is mine, and no I am not
suggesting that WMIN funding be stopped.

Despite these discussions remind me of a quote often attributed to the
Canadian-American labour union mediator Cyrus S. Ching, I must, it would
seem, provide you a lengthier response.

For the record, here is the complete set of tweets I've made about
Wikimedia's funding process in India, including appreciation of the
criticisms that CIS has been getting:

For the record, here is my response to Hari Prasad Nadig's question
about whether my user account was created just for the purpose of those
the Meta-Wiki discussions:

For the record, I have been an editor on English Wikipedia since October

For the record, I have been using the handle "the_solipsist" and its
variants on the Internet since around 1997 or 1998.  Ask around.  Check
on Freenode.  If I had been attempting sock-puppetry, which seems to be
the implication, I wouldn't use a handle that is readily linkable to me.

For the record, on the talk page on the grant wiki, I have noted that
you and others, have made good points where I feel you have.  (In
response to User:Prad2609's lengthy comment, to which you wrote, "1000+
likes. Brilliant and spot on analysis. Perfectly captures what is wrong
with the whole model.", I wrote: "Very valid points. While I strongly
disagree with the first (on wanting only 'natural'/'organic' growth)
since that privileges the status quo and the elite, I would be very
curious to see responses to the specific criticism of the Konkani

For the record, I have never commented about the Wikimedia India
chapter's grant proposal.

Having placed all that on record, let me state that:
  * There are many points that have been made that I don't agree with,
and I have in a very civil manner argued so.  (One example is the
Catch-22 of both arguing that CIS doesn't have community members, and
then arguing that CIS is wrong in "poaching" community members.)

  * There are many fundamental points (such as on paid editing) that
have been made that I feel apply equally to any applicant for a
Wikimedia grant, whether it happens to be an organization with a proven
track record of promoting free knowledge like CIS, or whether it happens
to be a community-led organization like the Wikimedia India chapter.
Some of the critiques in this regard (such as the thread berating CIS's
efforts to extend Wikisource's corpus) are woefully misguided and seem
to have been made solely to attack CIS, regardless of the merits of the

  * The more vitriol that a dedicated few pour on to these lists and
wikis, the more difficult it becomes to separate the distasteful
personal attacks against CIS staff and the organization from the useful
institutional and programmatic critiques.

I think there are people on this list who are currently more interested
in "gotchas" and scoring bownie points against CIS than in genuinely
improving the state of free and open knowledge in the world, despite the
latter being their original aim and continuing to be their long-term aim.

Should CIS get a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation?  Is the proposal
submitted by CIS ideal, does it allocate too much to salaries, does it
focus on the wrong areas?  I think all those are open to debate, and I
see much fruitful discussions having occurred on this, and my colleagues
at CIS engaging in this conversation in what I feel is an admirable
manner.  And as I noted in one of my tweets, I strongly welcome this
debate.  First, it forces CIS to reiterate its stand on transparency, to
reflect hard about what the best forms of interventions would be for the
Wikimedia community's efforts in India (and constantly  learn and revise
our understanding of this), to be accountable not only to the "donor"
but to the community in a manner that is unprecedented.  Second, It also
forces the community to work towards meaningful metrics for evaluating
the achievements of a WM grant, and to think about what the best uses of
its monetary resources are.  The problem of "credit" isn't going to
disappear if the Wikimedia India chapter is provided a larger grant
instead of CIS.  I can confidently assert that CIS is as uninterested in
taking credit for volunteers' work as the Wikimedia India chapter.  The
need is not for "credit", but for metrics of evaluation of achievements.
 There is an entire branch of organizational studies dedicated to
precisely this.  Saying that the "Wikimedia India chapter is the
community" doesn't magically resolve these hard problems.

Should the people on this list have their judgment so obscured by petty
politicking that they see a question by me — as to whether Wikimedia
should stop its funding activities (because that would give rise, if one
goes by the averments by many people on this list, to issues of paid
editing) — as a call to stop all funding to the Wikimedia India Chapter?
To that, I would resolutely say, "No."

As a strong believer in Wikipedia and the power of open collaborative
communities, I greatly regret the state of affairs that exists currently
within the Wikimedia India community.  And unlike others, I wouldn't put
the blame solely at CIS's feet.  Nor will I give in to the convenient
temptation to pin the blame solely on the trolls within the community —
who most decidedly do exist.  The truth is more complicated than such
simplistic blame assignments.

I do hope the community ­— of which several of the staff in CIS, myself
included, are a part — finds itself able to be more productive in its
discussions.  But then, as Nietzsche observed, hope "prolongs the
torments of man".


ravidreams at (Ravishankar) [2014-05-17 16:20:58 +0530]:
> Hi Vishnu,
> Could you please clarify if the following user account
> belongs to a CIS employee named Pranesh Prakash
> The very unique user ID Solipsist is seen to be coinciding with his gmail
> address used at
> He is also suggesting in Twitter that WMIN funding be stopped.
> Ravi
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Pranesh Prakash
Access to Knowledge Fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School
M: +1 520 314 7147 | W:
Policy Director, Centre for Internet and Society
T: +91 80 40926283 | W:
PGP ID: 0x1D5C5F07 | Twitter:

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