Hi Yohann,

Thanks for the comments that you have made as spokesperson of the Wikimedia
India Chapter.
I was away from the Internet - trekking in the Eastern Ghats - and of
course at my own cost. A number of images will go into Commons as I process
them. That might perhaps help the proposers of the project understand that
we are kindred souls.

I have responded in detail to the comments you have made with a little more
context for outsiders - non-Chapter members and non-Indians. I know that we
are all doing a thankless job of volunteering but we can make it better if
we can discuss this properly and without the actual delineation between
Chapter members and non-members stakeholders.

My responses with formatting are at

best wishes

Here is the text of the response I have posted at meta:

In the absence of policy statements, this looks too much like an ad-hoc
discretionary decision of the executive committee of the Wikimedia India
Chapter. Most of us who are early adopters of the Wikimedia Movement have
appreciated the culture of the Wikimedia Movement where policies and
guidelines are evolved through bottom-up consultation, consensus, and
decision making where required by elected representatives. These processes
stand in contrast to many colonial and authoritarian systems that are
accepted and in use in India.
Explicit formulation of Chapter role and philosophy.

The aims of the Foundation are associated with knowledge which really is
infinite and unbounded. The activities of the Foundation and the Chapter do
however have practical limitations and the scope needs to be defined,
re-evaluated and evolved over time. The role of the Chapter is broadly to
support activities within the Indian political and geographical region that
are in line with the aims of the Wikimedia Foundation. The Chapter adds
value to the Foundation by being aware and sensitive to the specific
context of the region and its range of languages. The Wikimedia India
Chapter is registered as a Society under the Indian legal framework. This
means that it has a set of executives who are elected by members. The
Society is the legal model used by a number of "clubs". Clubs are formed
for the benefit of a group of individuals who form it. The executives are
voted according to the benefits accorded to the members. Dissent, criticism
of the system and insubordination by members is normally not acceptable.
The philosophy of the Wikimedia Foundation is something far removed from
this kind of a membership-oriented organization and aims to benefit all
beyond members. What this implies is that the Chapter cannot merely use the
legal framework required under Indian law to guide its functioning but
needs to formulate an extended philosophical guide.

Considering that the elected members keep changing, this
constitution/guide/policy/philosophy document needs to be clear, explicit,
open, transparent and evolved by consensus (and because the benefits are
not supposed to be merely for members, the need for openness to the
involvement of all possible stakeholders cannot be be considered optional).
I have not seen such a document nor have any philosophical principles been
stated in the statements made by the spokesperson(s) chosen by the Chapter.
To be fair, this has been the operation mode even in the past and is not
the fault of the current spokesperson (Yohann) and my comments are not to
be taken personally. The very personal and emotional response from an
elected member writing on behalf of the Chapter and all its members is
somewhat unexpected.
Explicit policy on paid and borderline paid-activities

The conflict and delineation of activities as volunteer and paid
professional activities is something that is a constant one and will always
be a grey area. Whether the Chapters should also have the same delineations
as the Foundation are unclear. By and large the idea of volunteer
contribution in the Wiki[p|m]edia Movement (or indeed many forms of
crowdsourcing / citizen science) had worked because of the lowered cost
involved in bringing together the work of people in distributed geographies
and times with varying skills. The idea of funding travel to aid
photography or to produce travelogues for Wikivoyage or content for
Wikipedia is therefore an area of conflict. The specific idea that a
self-selected group of people from Kolkata should travel about 1300 km west
to the Garhwal region to document the Himalayas because of a supposed gap
in knowledge a whole slew of questions. To support or to not support them
without a clear policy statement would be unjust simply because a very
large number of us do incur expenditure on various things that are part of
our interest. We however would like to see more people to benefit from our
interest and expertise.

   - Should we cover the expenses involved in following our interests or
   work in our area of expertise? If so, what are the criteria? Have a uniform
   set of criteria been applied for all cases so far and to cover potential
   cases in future? Evolving a policy that is applied uniformly for all
   applicants and not neccessarily in this specific instance would be what is
   called "just" or "fair". Not following an explicit policy would be "unfair"
   - hope that answer a question raised.

S pecific questions to be answered based on guiding criteria that are
explicitly documented by the Chapter

   - Has the supposed gap in knowledge of the Himalayas been discussed?
   - Assuming that the gap is indeed real, have solutions to filling that
   gap been brainstormed?
   - Is the trek by a very specific self-selected team to a part of the
   Himalayas quite far from their home area appropriate for a pilot project?
   - Are the claims to expertise made by the self-selected team verified?
   How was it verified?
   - Does the activity build long-term partnerships with
   expert-organizations or special interest groups?
   - Does the activity build community?
   - Does the activity have potential for spinoffs?
   - Is the activity sustainable?
   - Does it involve local stakeholders?
   - Does it involve the relevant and established special-interest-groups
   associated with the field?
   - Has the costing been verified? Are there alternatives? Can material be
   hired rather than bought?

How would the criteria hold if applied to a series of fictional
applications that follow

   - Member X claims that research is a bottleneck. Wants to build up a
   library of books relevant to a field so that X can edit content on that

Would WMIN+PEG support such a funding requirement or would WMIN help tie up
with a relevant library or organization dealing with that field?

   - Member X claims that Wikivoyage does not have details on how to visit
   a specific location. X would like to be funded so as to backpack this
   remote region and find out how to visit, travel and explore this region.

Would WMIN+PEG support this?

   - Member X lacks a good enough camera and seeks funds to buy a new SLR

What criteria would WMIN+WMF use to support this? [Note that this is not
fictional and actually had an Indian commons contributor going through a
crowdfunding approach to achieve this

   - Member X notes that Wikipedia has a size bias and does not cover vital
   microscopic subjects related to India. X is an expert on a field that looks
   at miscroscopic objects needs to acquire a tabletop electron microscope so
   that extremely difficult to obtain images of microscopic subjects.

Would WMIN+WMF fund this or will it be preferred to enable a tie-up with an
organization that is willing to give time at the instrument?

   - Member X claims to be one of very few experts on topic Y which is not
   having sufficient coverage on Wikipedia. X would like to conduct research
   and contribute content if funded.

How would WMIN+WMF examine the expertise claim?

   - Member X claims to belong to a very rare and vanishing ethnic group
   and would like to document life within the group if funded for various
   technical means for it.

Should this be within the scope of WMIN/WMF?

   - Member X claims to belong to a very closed religious faith about which
   Wikipedia has no information or is claimed to have biased information. X
   demonstrates the ability to work where no-one else would be allowed and
   would like to be funded to conduct video interviews and other forms of

Is this within the scope of WMIN/WMF?

On Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 1:06 PM, Yohann Thomas <yohan...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Shyamal
> Sorry for the late reply,  I was purposely waiting one week , to reply to
> your questions.
> I have replied to your objections on the PEG page. Hope they should
> suffice.
> I ll be replying to some doubts which were not on the PEG page but you
> have included in the email
>   " It is about whether WMIN can open up the organization to ideas from
> outside, to not behave as a club but be an ennabling organization with
> everyone being as useful as a member.."
> Have we ever denied or rejected any idea from outside. We welcome all
> suggestions & try our best to include them in our plan.
> WMIN members have a definite right in the say of each & every step of the
> chapter. If they see that the EC is doing something wrong or disapprove of
> our actions, the members can always pick this issue on our WMIN mailing
> list.
> I would again invite you to be a member of the chapter & when you join,
> you can start discussions on which projects WMIN should endorse !!
> Thanks
> Yohann Thomas
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