Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

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Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Shiju Alex-2
Dear All,

Apologies beforehand for a rather long and winding mail - but there is so much that I want to say. I want to share how my thoughts are being crystallised.  I want to try and cross-pollinate ideas from some Indic language communities across to all communities.  I want to reach out and ask your views and suggestions.  I want to understand how best we can help each community in a manner that is most appropriate to that community.

I have now completed sharing initial, introductory, exploratory discussions with a host of community members from across Indic language communities.  I have shared these for 12 languages (Assamese, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Nepali, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Sanskrit, Bengali, and Gujarati.)  I haven't (yet) got any response from 7 other communities (Bhojpuri, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Urdu, Bhisnupriya Manipuri, Pali, and Sindhi).  

At the very outset, I want to thank all of you who took time out and shared your experiences and thinking.  It has been really useful and I hope you found it is as productive and constructive as I did.  The purpose behind this exercise was to hear, learn, and understand the evolution of the various communities - and to therefore suggest ideas going forward. I urge everyone to go through all the other languages (even if they are not personally involved in those specific communities) because there are learnings for everyone from everywhere.

I have been reflecting on the various insights and inputs and ideas I have got from all these folks as well as subsequent discussions on mailing lists and talk pages.  Here are my initial thoughts.  

Community

It sounds like a self-evident and very basic thing but the single biggest priority for all communities (even relatively bigger ones like Tamil and Malayalam) is community building.  What has struck me from the various language communities is that everyone agrees that this is very much required but very few are aware of what needs to be done or how it needs to be done.  I wanted to share some thoughts about this.

When I consider community building, I think of 5 broad aspects:
  1. Editor retention
  2. Attracting newbies
  3. Community communication
  4. Community collaboration and
  5. Community celebration

I would like to detail what I mean by each of these.

1. Editor retention: Like most language wiki communities we also have an editor retention issue in all Indic language communities. This is particularly an area of concern for us considering the fact that all our Indic language communities are really tiny and community buiding efforts in Indic wikis are very less. A dramatic case in point is Kannada where active editor numbers (that is, editors who do at least 5 edits a month) have declined from 25 members to just 9 members over the past 10 months.  It is essential that all of us reflect on why this is happening and what can be done to avoid it in future and to resurrect lapsed editors.  Existing editors and old editors understand our projects and community and can play a huge role in community building and project quality improvement.  Many times, they have become inactive because of changing personal priorities.  However, sometimes, they leave because they are no longer excited by the projects.  The lack of interest in a project or users not feeling proud about a project might be due to multiple reasons. Some of the reasons that old community members shared with me are poor quality of articles (driven by BOTs and Google translation project), dominance of wiki by  one or two members, the huge amount of clean up and other administrative tasks required, and so on.  We must reach out and welcome these editors back and we must encourage them to do what they love doing most - editing articles and making them regain their pride and ownership over their articles and projects. We must foster an environment that welcomes old editors back and gives them the space to follow their passions.

2. Attracting newbies: Attracting newbies is the only way our communities and projects can grow.  I have to be honest and say that none of our language communities have achieved critical mass.  According to me unless a project has 500 or more active editors, it can never be said to be in a state where organic growth is secured and momentum is ensured.  Attracting newbies requires impactful outreach.  By impactful, I mean outreach that is done frequently and to as a large a group of potential newbies as possible. However, it also means that we need to be much more systematic about how we do outreach.  This covers everything from identification of the most appropriate target audience as well as doing outreach in a manner where we don't scare off newbies by information overload.  We must make sure that our outreach sessions adequately convey the passion and love for our projects that we feel while working on them.  Also, we need to critically look at how we reach out to attendees of outreach sessions (after the sessions) as well as other newcomers and see that we are providing an adequate helping hand to them.  The Nepali community - though tiny - does very well in terms of posting personal talk messages to welcome new folks, having FAQs spaces and problem boxes, etc. - all with the objective of supporting newbies.  All Indic languages are at a state where every single newbie should be identified and reached out to and given intensive help and warmly welcomed to the community. We must also look at both newbies to editing as well as existing English Wikipedia editors who have inclinations and abilities on Indic languages.  Remember that many Indic editors initially started off in English Wikipedia and we must actively seek them out.  I know some communities - like Marathi - who look for editors who have Marathi sounding names or edit Marathi/Maharashtra centric topics and quietly invite them to contribute to Marathi Wikipedia.  Another aspect, and I am sure is this a bit of a controversial statement, but can we get few existing Indic editors to reduce their emphasis on editing and divert their time on outreach. (I know Tamil, Odia, and Malayalam communities are already doing this. But this needs to be replicated in other languages also).  It is really tough and not everyone might have the interest to do outreach but the best outreach can be done by existing community members. However, as we know, volunteer time is limited.  This is a challenge because what we love doing most is editing - but the reality is that the greatest need of the hour, and the area where we can contribute maximum, is attracting and training and supporting newbies.  We should also look at digital outreach - by which I mean look at the existing internet activities in Indic languages (blog, facebook, google plus, and so on) and see if we can get newbies from there.  For instance, many Indic languages have very active blogging. Can we reach out to bloggers and ask them to contribute to our projects, or at least evangelise about our projects and invite their readers to read Indic projects and contribute to them?  Can we similarly look at social media like facebook and twitter to promote our Indic projects?

3. Community Communication: Community communication is an area which varies by community. There is a direct co-relation between the health and growth of the community and the inclusiveness, intensity, and warmth of the communication amongst that community.  Community communication takes place on mailing lists, village pumps, meetups, and so on. With the exception of Malayalam and Bengali mailing lists, and to a lesser extent, Tamil, Odia, Mumbai, and Pune mailing lists, most others are virtually non-functional.  Having said that, many village pumps are active across language communities.  It really doesn't make a difference whether the communication is on mailing lists or village pumps.  However, it is of paramount importance that it happens somewhere.  Anywhere!  To that extent, I encourage everyone to be more active wherever they are more comfortable - but ideally in public spaces like village pumps or mailing lists.  Reach out and ask for help or suggestions.  Offer advice or inputs.  Simply be friendly and accessible.  Just talk!  Community meetups are happening but not as frequent as one would like and with very limited attendance.  Often, it is just 3 or 4 people who meet up everytime.  Nothing wrong with that per se. Meetups are voluntary and the majority of wikipedians are happy to edit in the privacy of our homes and not meet up with others but even in this situation, we can and should be encouraging more people to attend meetups. People will attend meetups more regularly if they find them productive and inspiring.  Too often, the feedback from community members has been that they don't find meetups useful or they find them dominated by 1 or 2 individuals.  It is essential to have 1 or 2 individuals with the drive and hard work to organise meetups - but it is equally important that meetups are not centred exclusively around these 1-2 people but more about what the larger group want.  How about meetups where all we do is spend an hour or two just editing a few articles?  How about meetups where we plan a newbie outreach program involving everyone in the meetup?  How about a meetup where that meetup is run by those folks who usually never speak up and that the entire meeting is devoted to what they are interested in?  It is alarming when one looks at the situation in some Indic communities where there is virtually no communication at all amongst community members. It leads to a very cold and impersonal environment - which is not healthy to foster growth.   Like plants and flowers, communities too need breeze and air and water and food and activity and earthworms and manure.

4. Community Collaboration: When I consider community collaboration, I think of 2 things.  The first is ownership and the second is editing.  On ownership, it is really critical that every one of us as individual community members believe and are made to believe that we own our projects. Every project is owned by all members of that community. Equally.  We should all become more proactive in enforcing this ownership - whether it is in terms of coming up with initiatives or proactively participating in community discussions - whether it is about technical matters or content elements or community aspects.  Every single individual counts and every single individual's voice must be encouraged.  On editing, something that drives all of us is the thrill of collaborative editing.  Wikipedians love it more than anything else to work together on an article and make dramatic improvements to it.   Of course it happens even now, but this is something that we need to encourage much more and participate more actively in. This can be done in varied ways - but ideas like Collaboration of the Month or Editathons or whatever other idea should be organised.  One can start with a handful of people working on a few articles - but one must try as hard as one can to make larger scale mini-events around this basic idea.  It will help build personal relationships, project ownership, and drive community bonds.

5. Community Celebration: Lastly on the community aspect, let us bring some magic back to the community.  Let us start celebrating successes - no matter how small.  Let us start taking goals - no matter how seemingly unambitious. Let us spread cheer all around when we meet these objectives. Let us start publicly celebrating over the profiles of new or active editors (Tamil wiki community is already doing this)- whether because they are 12 years old or 80 years old or whether their article counts are 100 or 10,000! Let us celebrate when our wiki cross a major milestones, Let us celebrate when one our community member does some marvellous things for wiki. Let us celebrate when community able to engage in a relationship with state government... There are many reasons to celebrate. Let us celebrate all those and build the sense of pride about their projects among our community members. The most powerful fuel in our engines is passion - and we need to get more of it in our veins.

Projects

There is a constant debate of what should come first - article count or article quality?  I don't think there is an answer to this that is equally applicable across all projects and communities. I had strong convictions on this based on my past experience with Malayalam wiki projects - which have been reinforced after my initial discussions with Indic Wikimedians from across the country.  In this regard, I wish to share a provocative statement about bots. Bots can and should be used to do repetitive tasks (like adding categories) because that reduces wasting volunteer time - which is limited and  precious.  However, the use of bots for article creation is something that I would strongly discourage.  The current state of Newari wikipedia (which has nearly 70,000 articles but zero active editors) reinforces my argument.

The argument for using bots for article creation is that it provides placeholders for editors to start working on these articles.  While there is some merit in this argument, the problem is that this kind of artificial intervention means that the volume of work required to improve quality far outpaces the community strength.  It is like a sportsman using steroids.  It is not natural or healthy.  It results in large numbers of very poor quality articles - which are of such a basic nature that it might be better not to have them in the project.  (For example, if the only information about a town is that "Abc town is in Abc district which is in Abc state and the population is 12345 according to the 2001 census", this article is so weak that it cannot honestly be said to exist.)  If a project has thousands of these kind of articles, the whole project will be regarded as being of poor quality and will put off readers.)  More fatally, if a project has thousands of such bot entries, it doesn't inspire editors to contribute - but instead makes them disillusioned because they feel that so many articles of such bad quality that they just give up on where to start!  There are many who feel that, for example, Hindi wikipedia has been adversely impacted by the overusage of bots.

Another very important aspect I want to address is the kind of policies we adopt for Indic projects.  Too often, tiny projects and communities are adopting too many of the policies of English Wikipedia.  The policies of English wikipedia have evolved over years as English Wikipedia grew in community and article size.  These policies are suitable for English Wikipedia given the size and breadth of its community.  My view is that many of these are not appropriate for the current state of most Indic projects and communities given that the community sizes are 60,000 for English and ~25 for the average Indic community.  If English Wikipedia policies are indiscriminately adopted, results in the feedback that I am seeing from many Indic editors that they are spending too much time doing "administrative" tasks like categorisation and not getting enough time for basic core editing.  Let me elaborate.  Something like NPOV is central to our overall philosophy.  This cannot and must not be diluted. However, even if I take the larger Indic Wikipedias, it really is not such a major issue if the categorisation is currently weak.  The focus has to be to build articles quality and content, and not necessarily having all the content neatly slotted into categories.  Of course, something like categorisation is good, but not at the cost of article quality.  I want to make an even more provocative suggestion.  Verifiability is really really really important to all our projects.  However, if one looks at how English Wikipedia evolved in the early days, it started with editors just adding content. Over a period of time, other editors came in and added and improved citations.  Even today, as a recent Signpost article mentioned, there are 2.5 lakh articles in English Wikipedia that don't have references.   We should encourage editors to write, write and write!  References will follow.  Let us not chase away editors because we want every article to be perfect in a 20,000 article project.  Of course we want quality but let us take it in stages - and let us prioritise what is most important to begin with.  I think many editors would find it incredibly satisfying and inspiring and motivating to start and edit new articles, and they might get it 80% right.  This will attract a much bigger community within which there will emerge a new generation of editors who love to add detail and citations.  

Readership

One of my big discoveries I had was to see the total size of readership.  I have often contemplated the Catch 22 situation of Indic language Wikimedians - where there is no awareness of the projects so there is no readership and even where there is readership, readers are not satisfied because of a low number articles or poor quality of articles. Conversely, editors don't find adequate motivation and satisfaction because they believe there are too few readers for their contributions.  I often wondered how we would approach this problem - and which we should address first.  I used to think that we should first focus on community building and article quality - and that readers will automatically follow.  To that extent, I used to think that we shouldn't worry about readers because they will inevitably follow content.  The fact that last month, we had more than 4 crore readers for our Indic language wikipedias means that the dilemma of what we need to do is no longer valid.  We have readers. Lakhs and lakhs and lakhs of them for each Indic language wiki!  We now need to focus singlemindedly on community building and project quality.  As internet penetration and mobile data access increase, we will get even more Indic readers.  We don't need to do anything to attract readers.  However, we need to do *everything* to keep them coming back by increasing article count while religiously maintaining and increasing article quality and size of community.

I would love to hear your thoughts and views on these suggestions.  

The next stage of my work is going to be to speak directly with various communities in village pumps itself.  I will try and make these as relevant and specific to individual communities - and also to share some ideas which have relevance across similar communities.  For instance, some ideas will be similar to all communities with less than 25 active editors.  I also want to try and identify potential areas of support that India Programs could work closely with communities on.  The idea is to support community across languages.  We would like to identify a very limited (1 or 2) pilots of a very controlled nature (in terms of scale) that we would like to collaboratively design with respective communities.  Given the efforts that will be required in any pilot (even if it is of a relatively small scale), we believe that there needs to be a certain basic level of community size and collaboration to be able handle such pilots.

I will be sharing this mail on the various local language / local town mailing lists as well as the respective language village pumps.  I look forward to hearing your views.


Regards

Shiju Alex
India Programs Team
 


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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Srikanth Ramakrishnan-2
Excellent Shiju, very well written. I hope the community will learn a
lot from your research and surveys and use them in a positive manner
to ensure that our local indic Wiki projects are in as good health as
English, French, Spanish, etc.

On 12/16/11, Shiju Alex <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Dear All,
>
> Apologies beforehand for a rather long and winding mail - but there is so
> much that I want to say. I want to share how my thoughts are being
> crystallised.  I want to try and cross-pollinate ideas from some Indic
> language communities across to all communities.  I want to reach out and
> ask your views and suggestions.  I want to understand how best we can help
> each community in a manner that is most appropriate to that community.
>
> I have now completed sharing initial, introductory, exploratory discussions
> with a host of community members from across Indic language communities.  I
> have shared these for 12 languages
> (Assamese<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Assamese/Discussions/2011>,
> Hindi<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Hindi/Discussions/2011>,
> Tamil<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Tamil/Discussions/2011>,
> Telugu<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Telugu/Discussions/2011>,
> Kannada<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Kannada/Discussions/2011>,
> Nepali<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Neplai/Discussions/2011>,
> Malayalam<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Malayalam/Discussions/2011>,
> Marathi<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Marathi/Discussions/2011>,
> Odia<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Odia/Discussions/2011>,
> Sanskrit<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Sanskrit/Discussions/2011>,
> Bengali<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Bengali/Discussions/2011>,
> and
> Gujarati<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Gujarati/Discussions/2011>.)
>  I haven't (yet) got any response from 7 other communities (Bhojpuri,
> Kashmiri, Punjabi, Urdu, Bhisnupriya Manipuri, Pali, and Sindhi).
>
> At the very outset, I want to thank all of you who took time out and shared
> your experiences and thinking.  It has been really useful and I hope you
> found it is as productive and constructive as I did.  The purpose behind
> this exercise was to hear, learn, and understand the evolution of the
> various communities - and to therefore suggest ideas going forward. I urge
> everyone to go through all the other languages (even if they are not
> personally involved in those specific communities) because there are
> learnings for everyone from everywhere.
>
> I have been reflecting on the various insights and inputs and ideas I have
> got from all these folks as well as subsequent discussions on mailing lists
> and talk pages.  Here are my initial thoughts.
>
> CommunityIt sounds like a self-evident and very basic thing but the single
> biggest priority for all communities (even relatively bigger ones like
> Tamil and Malayalam) is community building.  What has struck me from the
> various language communities is that everyone agrees that this is very much
> required but very few are aware of what needs to be done or how it needs to
> be done.  I wanted to share some thoughts about this.
>
> When I consider community building, I think of 5 broad aspects:
>
>    1. Editor retention
>    2. Attracting newbies
>    3. Community communication
>    4. Community collaboration and
>    5. Community celebration
>
>
> I would like to detail what I mean by each of these.
>
> 1. Editor retention: Like most language wiki communities we also have an
> editor retention issue in all Indic language communities. This is
> particularly an area of concern for us considering the fact that all our
> Indic language communities are really tiny and community buiding efforts in
> Indic wikis are very less. A dramatic case in point is Kannada where active
> editor numbers (that is, editors who do at least 5 edits a month) have
> declined from 25 members to just 9 members over the past 10 months.  It is
> essential that all of us reflect on why this is happening and what can be
> done to avoid it in future and to resurrect lapsed editors.  Existing
> editors and old editors understand our projects and community and can play
> a huge role in community building and project quality improvement.  Many
> times, they have become inactive because of changing personal priorities.
>  However, sometimes, they leave because they are no longer excited by the
> projects.  The lack of interest in a project or users not feeling proud
> about a project might be due to multiple reasons. Some of the reasons that
> old community members shared with me are poor quality of articles (driven
> by BOTs and Google translation project), dominance of wiki by  one or two
> members, the huge amount of clean up and other administrative tasks
> required, and so on.  We must reach out and welcome these editors back and
> we must encourage them to do what they love doing most - editing articles
> and making them regain their pride and ownership over their articles and
> projects. We must foster an environment that welcomes old editors back and
> gives them the space to follow their passions.
>
> 2. Attracting newbies: Attracting newbies is the only way our communities
> and projects can grow.  I have to be honest and say that none of our
> language communities have achieved critical mass.  According to me unless a
> project has 500 or more active editors, it can never be said to be in a
> state where organic growth is secured and momentum is ensured.  Attracting
> newbies requires impactful outreach.  By impactful, I mean outreach that is
> done frequently and to as a large a group of potential newbies as possible.
> However, it also means that we need to be much more systematic about how we
> do outreach.  This covers everything from identification of the most
> appropriate target audience as well as doing outreach in a manner where we
> don't scare off newbies by information overload.  We must make sure that
> our outreach sessions adequately convey the passion and love for our
> projects that we feel while working on them.  Also, we need to critically
> look at how we reach out to attendees of outreach sessions (after the
> sessions) as well as other newcomers and see that we are providing an
> adequate helping hand to them.  The Nepali community - though tiny - does
> very well in terms of posting personal talk messages to welcome new folks,
> having FAQs spaces and problem boxes, etc. - all with the objective of
> supporting newbies.  All Indic languages are at a state where every single
> newbie should be identified and reached out to and given intensive help and
> warmly welcomed to the community. We must also look at both newbies to
> editing as well as existing English Wikipedia editors who have inclinations
> and abilities on Indic languages.  Remember that many Indic editors
> initially started off in English Wikipedia and we must actively seek them
> out.  I know some communities - like Marathi - who look for editors who
> have Marathi sounding names or edit Marathi/Maharashtra centric topics and
> quietly invite them to contribute to Marathi Wikipedia.  Another aspect,
> and I am sure is this a bit of a controversial statement, but can we get
> few existing Indic editors to reduce their emphasis on editing and divert
> their time on outreach. (I know Tamil, Odia, and Malayalam communities are
> already doing this. But this needs to be replicated in other languages
> also).  It is really tough and not everyone might have the interest to do
> outreach but the best outreach can be done by existing community members.
> However, as we know, volunteer time is limited.  This is a challenge
> because what we love doing most is editing - but the reality is that the
> greatest need of the hour, and the area where we can contribute maximum, is
> attracting and training and supporting newbies.  We should also look at
> digital outreach - by which I mean look at the existing internet activities
> in Indic languages (blog, facebook, google plus, and so on) and see if we
> can get newbies from there.  For instance, many Indic languages have very
> active blogging. Can we reach out to bloggers and ask them to contribute to
> our projects, or at least evangelise about our projects and invite their
> readers to read Indic projects and contribute to them?  Can we similarly
> look at social media like facebook and twitter to promote our Indic
> projects?
>
> 3. Community Communication: Community communication is an area which varies
> by community. There is a direct co-relation between the health and growth
> of the community and the inclusiveness, intensity, and warmth of the
> communication amongst that community.  Community communication takes place
> on mailing lists, village pumps, meetups, and so on. With the exception of
> Malayalam and Bengali mailing lists, and to a lesser extent, Tamil, Odia,
> Mumbai, and Pune mailing lists, most others are virtually non-functional.
>  Having said that, many village pumps are active across language
> communities.  It really doesn't make a difference whether the communication
> is on mailing lists or village pumps.  However, it is of paramount
> importance that it happens somewhere.  Anywhere!  To that extent, I
> encourage everyone to be more active wherever they are more comfortable -
> but ideally in public spaces like village pumps or mailing lists.  Reach
> out and ask for help or suggestions.  Offer advice or inputs.  Simply be
> friendly and accessible.  Just talk!  Community meetups are happening but
> not as frequent as one would like and with very limited attendance.  Often,
> it is just 3 or 4 people who meet up everytime.  Nothing wrong with that
> per se. Meetups are voluntary and the majority of wikipedians are happy to
> edit in the privacy of our homes and not meet up with others but even in
> this situation, we can and should be encouraging more people to attend
> meetups. People will attend meetups more regularly if they find them
> productive and inspiring.  Too often, the feedback from community members
> has been that they don't find meetups useful or they find them dominated by
> 1 or 2 individuals.  It is essential to have 1 or 2 individuals with the
> drive and hard work to organise meetups - but it is equally important that
> meetups are not centred exclusively around these 1-2 people but more about
> what the larger group want.  How about meetups where all we do is spend an
> hour or two just editing a few articles?  How about meetups where we plan a
> newbie outreach program involving everyone in the meetup?  How about a
> meetup where that meetup is run by those folks who usually never speak up
> and that the entire meeting is devoted to what they are interested in?  It
> is alarming when one looks at the situation in some Indic communities where
> there is virtually no communication at all amongst community members. It
> leads to a very cold and impersonal environment - which is not healthy to
> foster growth.   Like plants and flowers, communities too need breeze and
> air and water and food and activity and earthworms and manure.
>
> 4. Community Collaboration: When I consider community collaboration, I
> think of 2 things.  The first is ownership and the second is editing.  On
> ownership, it is really critical that every one of us as individual
> community members believe and are made to believe that we own our projects.
> Every project is owned by all members of that community. Equally.  We
> should all become more proactive in enforcing this ownership - whether it
> is in terms of coming up with initiatives or proactively participating in
> community discussions - whether it is about technical matters or content
> elements or community aspects.  Every single individual counts and every
> single individual's voice must be encouraged.  On editing, something that
> drives all of us is the thrill of collaborative editing.  Wikipedians love
> it more than anything else to work together on an article and make dramatic
> improvements to it.   Of course it happens even now, but this is something
> that we need to encourage much more and participate more actively in. This
> can be done in varied ways - but ideas like Collaboration of the Month or
> Editathons or whatever other idea should be organised.  One can start with
> a handful of people working on a few articles - but one must try as hard as
> one can to make larger scale mini-events around this basic idea.  It will
> help build personal relationships, project ownership, and drive community
> bonds.
>
> 5. Community Celebration: Lastly on the community aspect, let us bring some
> magic back to the community.  Let us start celebrating successes - no
> matter how small.  Let us start taking goals - no matter how seemingly
> unambitious. Let us spread cheer all around when we meet these objectives.
> Let us start publicly celebrating over the profiles of new or active
> editors (Tamil wiki community is already doing this)- whether because they
> are 12 years old or 80 years old or whether their article counts are 100 or
> 10,000! Let us celebrate when our wiki cross a major milestones, Let us
> celebrate when one our community member does some marvellous things for
> wiki. Let us celebrate when community able to engage in a relationship with
> state government... There are many reasons to celebrate. Let us celebrate
> all those and build the sense of pride about their projects among our
> community members. The most powerful fuel in our engines is passion - and
> we need to get more of it in our veins.
>
> ProjectsThere is a constant debate of what should come first - article
> count or article quality?  I don't think there is an answer to this that is
> equally applicable across all projects and communities. I had strong
> convictions on this based on my past experience with Malayalam wiki
> projects - which have been reinforced after my initial discussions with
> Indic Wikimedians from across the country.  In this regard, I wish to share
> a provocative statement about bots. Bots can and should be used to do
> repetitive tasks (like adding categories) because that reduces wasting
> volunteer time - which is limited and  precious.  However, the use of bots
> for article creation is something that I would strongly discourage.  The
> current state of Newari wikipedia (which has nearly 70,000 articles but
> zero active editors) reinforces my argument.
>
> The argument for using bots for article creation is that it provides
> placeholders for editors to start working on these articles.  While there
> is some merit in this argument, the problem is that this kind of artificial
> intervention means that the volume of work required to improve quality far
> outpaces the community strength.  It is like a sportsman using steroids.
>  It is not natural or healthy.  It results in large numbers of very poor
> quality articles - which are of such a basic nature that it might be better
> not to have them in the project.  (For example, if the only information
> about a town is that "Abc town is in Abc district which is in Abc state and
> the population is 12345 according to the 2001 census", this article is so
> weak that it cannot honestly be said to exist.)  If a project has thousands
> of these kind of articles, the whole project will be regarded as being of
> poor quality and will put off readers.)  More fatally, if a project has
> thousands of such bot entries, it doesn't inspire editors to contribute -
> but instead makes them disillusioned because they feel that so many
> articles of such bad quality that they just give up on where to start!
> There
> are many who feel that, for example, Hindi wikipedia has been adversely
> impacted by the overusage of bots.
>
> Another very important aspect I want to address is the kind of policies we
> adopt for Indic projects.  Too often, tiny projects and communities are
> adopting too many of the policies of English Wikipedia.  The policies of
> English wikipedia have evolved over years as English Wikipedia grew in
> community and article size.  These policies are suitable for English
> Wikipedia given the size and breadth of its community.  My view is that
> many of these are not appropriate for the current state of most Indic
> projects and communities given that the community sizes are 60,000 for
> English and ~25 for the average Indic community.  If English Wikipedia
> policies are indiscriminately adopted, results in the feedback that I am
> seeing from many Indic editors that they are spending too much time doing
> "administrative" tasks like categorisation and not getting enough time for
> basic core editing.  Let me elaborate.  Something like NPOV is central to
> our overall philosophy.  This cannot and must not be diluted. However, even
> if I take the larger Indic Wikipedias, it really is not such a major issue
> if the categorisation is currently weak.  The focus has to be to build
> articles quality and content, and not necessarily having all the content
> neatly slotted into categories.  Of course, something like categorisation
> is good, but not at the cost of article quality.  I want to make an even
> more provocative suggestion.  Verifiability is really really really
> important to all our projects.  However, if one looks at how English
> Wikipedia evolved in the early days, it started with editors just adding
> content. Over a period of time, other editors came in and added and
> improved citations.  Even today, as a recent Signpost article mentioned,
> there are 2.5 lakh articles in English
> Wikipedia<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2011-10-31/Opinion_essay>that
> don't have references.   We should encourage editors to write, write
> and write!  References will follow.  Let us not chase away editors because
> we want every article to be perfect in a 20,000 article project.  Of course
> we want quality but let us take it in stages - and let us prioritise what
> is most important to begin with.  I think many editors would find it
> incredibly satisfying and inspiring and motivating to start and edit new
> articles, and they might get it 80% right.  This will attract a much bigger
> community within which there will emerge a new generation of editors who
> love to add detail and citations.
>
> ReadershipOne of my big discoveries I had was to see the total size of
> readership.  I have often contemplated the Catch 22 situation of Indic
> language Wikimedians - where there is no awareness of the projects so there
> is no readership and even where there is readership, readers are not
> satisfied because of a low number articles or poor quality of articles.
> Conversely, editors don't find adequate motivation and satisfaction because
> they believe there are too few readers for their contributions.  I often
> wondered how we would approach this problem - and which we should address
> first.  I used to think that we should first focus on community building
> and article quality - and that readers will automatically follow.  To that
> extent, I used to think that we shouldn't worry about readers because they
> will inevitably follow content.  The fact that last month, we had more than
> 4 crore readers for our Indic language
> wikipedias<https://blog.wikimedia.org/2011/12/12/indian-language-wikipedia-statistics-october-2011/>means
> that the dilemma of what we need to do is no longer valid.  We have
> readers. Lakhs and lakhs and lakhs of them for each Indic language wiki!
>  We now need to focus singlemindedly on community building and project
> quality.  As internet penetration and mobile data access increase, we will
> get even more Indic readers.  We don't need to do anything to attract
> readers.  However, we need to do *everything* to keep them coming back by
> increasing article count while religiously maintaining and increasing
> article quality and size of community.
>
> I would love to hear your thoughts and views on these suggestions.
>
> The next stage of my work is going to be to speak directly with various
> communities in village pumps itself.  I will try and make these as relevant
> and specific to individual communities - and also to share some ideas which
> have relevance across similar communities.  For instance, some ideas will
> be similar to all communities with less than 25 active editors.  I also
> want to try and identify potential areas of support that India Programs
> could work closely with communities on.  The idea is to support community
> across languages.  We would like to identify a very limited (1 or 2) pilots
> of a very controlled nature (in terms of scale) that we would like to
> collaboratively design with respective communities.  Given the efforts that
> will be required in any pilot (even if it is of a relatively small scale),
> we believe that there needs to be a certain basic level of community size
> and collaboration to be able handle such pilots.
>
> I will be sharing this mail on the various local language / local town
> mailing lists as well as the respective language village pumps.  I look
> forward to hearing your views.
>
> I placed the content of this mail in metawiki also. It is here:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Summary_of_initial_discussions_-_2011
>
> Regards
>
> Shiju Alex
> India Programs Team
>


--
Regards,
Srikanth Ramakrishnan.
Wikipedia Coimbatore Meetup on December 10th.
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Meetup/Coimbatore

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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Rajesh Pandey-2
Hi Shiju, 
Thanks for sharing this. This is great. However the link for Nepali should have been 
which might have been misspelled.

Thanks Shiju for the excellent work. 

Cheers, 
Rajesh Pandey

On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 10:11 PM, Srikanth Ramakrishnan <[hidden email]> wrote:
Excellent Shiju, very well written. I hope the community will learn a
lot from your research and surveys and use them in a positive manner
to ensure that our local indic Wiki projects are in as good health as
English, French, Spanish, etc.

On 12/16/11, Shiju Alex <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Dear All,
>
> Apologies beforehand for a rather long and winding mail - but there is so
> much that I want to say. I want to share how my thoughts are being
> crystallised.  I want to try and cross-pollinate ideas from some Indic
> language communities across to all communities.  I want to reach out and
> ask your views and suggestions.  I want to understand how best we can help
> each community in a manner that is most appropriate to that community.
>
> I have now completed sharing initial, introductory, exploratory discussions
> with a host of community members from across Indic language communities.  I
> have shared these for 12 languages
> (Assamese<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Assamese/Discussions/2011>,
> Hindi<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Hindi/Discussions/2011>,
> Tamil<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Tamil/Discussions/2011>,
> Telugu<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Telugu/Discussions/2011>,
> Kannada<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Kannada/Discussions/2011>,
> Nepali<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Neplai/Discussions/2011>,
> Malayalam<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Malayalam/Discussions/2011>,
> Marathi<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Marathi/Discussions/2011>,
> Odia<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Odia/Discussions/2011>,
> Sanskrit<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Sanskrit/Discussions/2011>,
> Bengali<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Bengali/Discussions/2011>,
> and
> Gujarati<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Gujarati/Discussions/2011>.)
>  I haven't (yet) got any response from 7 other communities (Bhojpuri,
> Kashmiri, Punjabi, Urdu, Bhisnupriya Manipuri, Pali, and Sindhi).
>
> At the very outset, I want to thank all of you who took time out and shared
> your experiences and thinking.  It has been really useful and I hope you
> found it is as productive and constructive as I did.  The purpose behind
> this exercise was to hear, learn, and understand the evolution of the
> various communities - and to therefore suggest ideas going forward. I urge
> everyone to go through all the other languages (even if they are not
> personally involved in those specific communities) because there are
> learnings for everyone from everywhere.
>
> I have been reflecting on the various insights and inputs and ideas I have
> got from all these folks as well as subsequent discussions on mailing lists
> and talk pages.  Here are my initial thoughts.
>
> CommunityIt sounds like a self-evident and very basic thing but the single
> biggest priority for all communities (even relatively bigger ones like
> Tamil and Malayalam) is community building.  What has struck me from the
> various language communities is that everyone agrees that this is very much
> required but very few are aware of what needs to be done or how it needs to
> be done.  I wanted to share some thoughts about this.
>
> When I consider community building, I think of 5 broad aspects:
>
>    1. Editor retention
>    2. Attracting newbies
>    3. Community communication
>    4. Community collaboration and
>    5. Community celebration
>
>
> I would like to detail what I mean by each of these.
>
> 1. Editor retention: Like most language wiki communities we also have an
> editor retention issue in all Indic language communities. This is
> particularly an area of concern for us considering the fact that all our
> Indic language communities are really tiny and community buiding efforts in
> Indic wikis are very less. A dramatic case in point is Kannada where active
> editor numbers (that is, editors who do at least 5 edits a month) have
> declined from 25 members to just 9 members over the past 10 months.  It is
> essential that all of us reflect on why this is happening and what can be
> done to avoid it in future and to resurrect lapsed editors.  Existing
> editors and old editors understand our projects and community and can play
> a huge role in community building and project quality improvement.  Many
> times, they have become inactive because of changing personal priorities.
>  However, sometimes, they leave because they are no longer excited by the
> projects.  The lack of interest in a project or users not feeling proud
> about a project might be due to multiple reasons. Some of the reasons that
> old community members shared with me are poor quality of articles (driven
> by BOTs and Google translation project), dominance of wiki by  one or two
> members, the huge amount of clean up and other administrative tasks
> required, and so on.  We must reach out and welcome these editors back and
> we must encourage them to do what they love doing most - editing articles
> and making them regain their pride and ownership over their articles and
> projects. We must foster an environment that welcomes old editors back and
> gives them the space to follow their passions.
>
> 2. Attracting newbies: Attracting newbies is the only way our communities
> and projects can grow.  I have to be honest and say that none of our
> language communities have achieved critical mass.  According to me unless a
> project has 500 or more active editors, it can never be said to be in a
> state where organic growth is secured and momentum is ensured.  Attracting
> newbies requires impactful outreach.  By impactful, I mean outreach that is
> done frequently and to as a large a group of potential newbies as possible.
> However, it also means that we need to be much more systematic about how we
> do outreach.  This covers everything from identification of the most
> appropriate target audience as well as doing outreach in a manner where we
> don't scare off newbies by information overload.  We must make sure that
> our outreach sessions adequately convey the passion and love for our
> projects that we feel while working on them.  Also, we need to critically
> look at how we reach out to attendees of outreach sessions (after the
> sessions) as well as other newcomers and see that we are providing an
> adequate helping hand to them.  The Nepali community - though tiny - does
> very well in terms of posting personal talk messages to welcome new folks,
> having FAQs spaces and problem boxes, etc. - all with the objective of
> supporting newbies.  All Indic languages are at a state where every single
> newbie should be identified and reached out to and given intensive help and
> warmly welcomed to the community. We must also look at both newbies to
> editing as well as existing English Wikipedia editors who have inclinations
> and abilities on Indic languages.  Remember that many Indic editors
> initially started off in English Wikipedia and we must actively seek them
> out.  I know some communities - like Marathi - who look for editors who
> have Marathi sounding names or edit Marathi/Maharashtra centric topics and
> quietly invite them to contribute to Marathi Wikipedia.  Another aspect,
> and I am sure is this a bit of a controversial statement, but can we get
> few existing Indic editors to reduce their emphasis on editing and divert
> their time on outreach. (I know Tamil, Odia, and Malayalam communities are
> already doing this. But this needs to be replicated in other languages
> also).  It is really tough and not everyone might have the interest to do
> outreach but the best outreach can be done by existing community members.
> However, as we know, volunteer time is limited.  This is a challenge
> because what we love doing most is editing - but the reality is that the
> greatest need of the hour, and the area where we can contribute maximum, is
> attracting and training and supporting newbies.  We should also look at
> digital outreach - by which I mean look at the existing internet activities
> in Indic languages (blog, facebook, google plus, and so on) and see if we
> can get newbies from there.  For instance, many Indic languages have very
> active blogging. Can we reach out to bloggers and ask them to contribute to
> our projects, or at least evangelise about our projects and invite their
> readers to read Indic projects and contribute to them?  Can we similarly
> look at social media like facebook and twitter to promote our Indic
> projects?
>
> 3. Community Communication: Community communication is an area which varies
> by community. There is a direct co-relation between the health and growth
> of the community and the inclusiveness, intensity, and warmth of the
> communication amongst that community.  Community communication takes place
> on mailing lists, village pumps, meetups, and so on. With the exception of
> Malayalam and Bengali mailing lists, and to a lesser extent, Tamil, Odia,
> Mumbai, and Pune mailing lists, most others are virtually non-functional.
>  Having said that, many village pumps are active across language
> communities.  It really doesn't make a difference whether the communication
> is on mailing lists or village pumps.  However, it is of paramount
> importance that it happens somewhere.  Anywhere!  To that extent, I
> encourage everyone to be more active wherever they are more comfortable -
> but ideally in public spaces like village pumps or mailing lists.  Reach
> out and ask for help or suggestions.  Offer advice or inputs.  Simply be
> friendly and accessible.  Just talk!  Community meetups are happening but
> not as frequent as one would like and with very limited attendance.  Often,
> it is just 3 or 4 people who meet up everytime.  Nothing wrong with that
> per se. Meetups are voluntary and the majority of wikipedians are happy to
> edit in the privacy of our homes and not meet up with others but even in
> this situation, we can and should be encouraging more people to attend
> meetups. People will attend meetups more regularly if they find them
> productive and inspiring.  Too often, the feedback from community members
> has been that they don't find meetups useful or they find them dominated by
> 1 or 2 individuals.  It is essential to have 1 or 2 individuals with the
> drive and hard work to organise meetups - but it is equally important that
> meetups are not centred exclusively around these 1-2 people but more about
> what the larger group want.  How about meetups where all we do is spend an
> hour or two just editing a few articles?  How about meetups where we plan a
> newbie outreach program involving everyone in the meetup?  How about a
> meetup where that meetup is run by those folks who usually never speak up
> and that the entire meeting is devoted to what they are interested in?  It
> is alarming when one looks at the situation in some Indic communities where
> there is virtually no communication at all amongst community members. It
> leads to a very cold and impersonal environment - which is not healthy to
> foster growth.   Like plants and flowers, communities too need breeze and
> air and water and food and activity and earthworms and manure.
>
> 4. Community Collaboration: When I consider community collaboration, I
> think of 2 things.  The first is ownership and the second is editing.  On
> ownership, it is really critical that every one of us as individual
> community members believe and are made to believe that we own our projects.
> Every project is owned by all members of that community. Equally.  We
> should all become more proactive in enforcing this ownership - whether it
> is in terms of coming up with initiatives or proactively participating in
> community discussions - whether it is about technical matters or content
> elements or community aspects.  Every single individual counts and every
> single individual's voice must be encouraged.  On editing, something that
> drives all of us is the thrill of collaborative editing.  Wikipedians love
> it more than anything else to work together on an article and make dramatic
> improvements to it.   Of course it happens even now, but this is something
> that we need to encourage much more and participate more actively in. This
> can be done in varied ways - but ideas like Collaboration of the Month or
> Editathons or whatever other idea should be organised.  One can start with
> a handful of people working on a few articles - but one must try as hard as
> one can to make larger scale mini-events around this basic idea.  It will
> help build personal relationships, project ownership, and drive community
> bonds.
>
> 5. Community Celebration: Lastly on the community aspect, let us bring some
> magic back to the community.  Let us start celebrating successes - no
> matter how small.  Let us start taking goals - no matter how seemingly
> unambitious. Let us spread cheer all around when we meet these objectives.
> Let us start publicly celebrating over the profiles of new or active
> editors (Tamil wiki community is already doing this)- whether because they
> are 12 years old or 80 years old or whether their article counts are 100 or
> 10,000! Let us celebrate when our wiki cross a major milestones, Let us
> celebrate when one our community member does some marvellous things for
> wiki. Let us celebrate when community able to engage in a relationship with
> state government... There are many reasons to celebrate. Let us celebrate
> all those and build the sense of pride about their projects among our
> community members. The most powerful fuel in our engines is passion - and
> we need to get more of it in our veins.
>
> ProjectsThere is a constant debate of what should come first - article
> count or article quality?  I don't think there is an answer to this that is
> equally applicable across all projects and communities. I had strong
> convictions on this based on my past experience with Malayalam wiki
> projects - which have been reinforced after my initial discussions with
> Indic Wikimedians from across the country.  In this regard, I wish to share
> a provocative statement about bots. Bots can and should be used to do
> repetitive tasks (like adding categories) because that reduces wasting
> volunteer time - which is limited and  precious.  However, the use of bots
> for article creation is something that I would strongly discourage.  The
> current state of Newari wikipedia (which has nearly 70,000 articles but
> zero active editors) reinforces my argument.
>
> The argument for using bots for article creation is that it provides
> placeholders for editors to start working on these articles.  While there
> is some merit in this argument, the problem is that this kind of artificial
> intervention means that the volume of work required to improve quality far
> outpaces the community strength.  It is like a sportsman using steroids.
>  It is not natural or healthy.  It results in large numbers of very poor
> quality articles - which are of such a basic nature that it might be better
> not to have them in the project.  (For example, if the only information
> about a town is that "Abc town is in Abc district which is in Abc state and
> the population is 12345 according to the 2001 census", this article is so
> weak that it cannot honestly be said to exist.)  If a project has thousands
> of these kind of articles, the whole project will be regarded as being of
> poor quality and will put off readers.)  More fatally, if a project has
> thousands of such bot entries, it doesn't inspire editors to contribute -
> but instead makes them disillusioned because they feel that so many
> articles of such bad quality that they just give up on where to start!
> There
> are many who feel that, for example, Hindi wikipedia has been adversely
> impacted by the overusage of bots.
>
> Another very important aspect I want to address is the kind of policies we
> adopt for Indic projects.  Too often, tiny projects and communities are
> adopting too many of the policies of English Wikipedia.  The policies of
> English wikipedia have evolved over years as English Wikipedia grew in
> community and article size.  These policies are suitable for English
> Wikipedia given the size and breadth of its community.  My view is that
> many of these are not appropriate for the current state of most Indic
> projects and communities given that the community sizes are 60,000 for
> English and ~25 for the average Indic community.  If English Wikipedia
> policies are indiscriminately adopted, results in the feedback that I am
> seeing from many Indic editors that they are spending too much time doing
> "administrative" tasks like categorisation and not getting enough time for
> basic core editing.  Let me elaborate.  Something like NPOV is central to
> our overall philosophy.  This cannot and must not be diluted. However, even
> if I take the larger Indic Wikipedias, it really is not such a major issue
> if the categorisation is currently weak.  The focus has to be to build
> articles quality and content, and not necessarily having all the content
> neatly slotted into categories.  Of course, something like categorisation
> is good, but not at the cost of article quality.  I want to make an even
> more provocative suggestion.  Verifiability is really really really
> important to all our projects.  However, if one looks at how English
> Wikipedia evolved in the early days, it started with editors just adding
> content. Over a period of time, other editors came in and added and
> improved citations.  Even today, as a recent Signpost article mentioned,
> there are 2.5 lakh articles in English
> Wikipedia<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2011-10-31/Opinion_essay>that
> don't have references.   We should encourage editors to write, write
> and write!  References will follow.  Let us not chase away editors because
> we want every article to be perfect in a 20,000 article project.  Of course
> we want quality but let us take it in stages - and let us prioritise what
> is most important to begin with.  I think many editors would find it
> incredibly satisfying and inspiring and motivating to start and edit new
> articles, and they might get it 80% right.  This will attract a much bigger
> community within which there will emerge a new generation of editors who
> love to add detail and citations.
>
> ReadershipOne of my big discoveries I had was to see the total size of
> readership.  I have often contemplated the Catch 22 situation of Indic
> language Wikimedians - where there is no awareness of the projects so there
> is no readership and even where there is readership, readers are not
> satisfied because of a low number articles or poor quality of articles.
> Conversely, editors don't find adequate motivation and satisfaction because
> they believe there are too few readers for their contributions.  I often
> wondered how we would approach this problem - and which we should address
> first.  I used to think that we should first focus on community building
> and article quality - and that readers will automatically follow.  To that
> extent, I used to think that we shouldn't worry about readers because they
> will inevitably follow content.  The fact that last month, we had more than
> 4 crore readers for our Indic language
> wikipedias<https://blog.wikimedia.org/2011/12/12/indian-language-wikipedia-statistics-october-2011/>means
> that the dilemma of what we need to do is no longer valid.  We have
> readers. Lakhs and lakhs and lakhs of them for each Indic language wiki!
>  We now need to focus singlemindedly on community building and project
> quality.  As internet penetration and mobile data access increase, we will
> get even more Indic readers.  We don't need to do anything to attract
> readers.  However, we need to do *everything* to keep them coming back by
> increasing article count while religiously maintaining and increasing
> article quality and size of community.
>
> I would love to hear your thoughts and views on these suggestions.
>
> The next stage of my work is going to be to speak directly with various
> communities in village pumps itself.  I will try and make these as relevant
> and specific to individual communities - and also to share some ideas which
> have relevance across similar communities.  For instance, some ideas will
> be similar to all communities with less than 25 active editors.  I also
> want to try and identify potential areas of support that India Programs
> could work closely with communities on.  The idea is to support community
> across languages.  We would like to identify a very limited (1 or 2) pilots
> of a very controlled nature (in terms of scale) that we would like to
> collaboratively design with respective communities.  Given the efforts that
> will be required in any pilot (even if it is of a relatively small scale),
> we believe that there needs to be a certain basic level of community size
> and collaboration to be able handle such pilots.
>
> I will be sharing this mail on the various local language / local town
> mailing lists as well as the respective language village pumps.  I look
> forward to hearing your views.
>
> I placed the content of this mail in metawiki also. It is here:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Summary_of_initial_discussions_-_2011
>
> Regards
>
> Shiju Alex
> India Programs Team
>


--
Regards,
Srikanth Ramakrishnan.
Wikipedia Coimbatore Meetup on December 10th.
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Meetup/Coimbatore

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--
Rajesh Pandey

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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Shiju Alex-2
Rajesh and other Nepali wiki community members,  I am really sorry about the spelling error. 

I have corrected the error in the meta wiki version

Shiju

On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 10:42 PM, Rajesh Pandey <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Shiju, 
Thanks for sharing this. This is great. However the link for Nepali should have been 
which might have been misspelled.

Thanks Shiju for the excellent work. 

Cheers, 
Rajesh Pandey

On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 10:11 PM, Srikanth Ramakrishnan <[hidden email]> wrote:
Excellent Shiju, very well written. I hope the community will learn a
lot from your research and surveys and use them in a positive manner
to ensure that our local indic Wiki projects are in as good health as
English, French, Spanish, etc.

On 12/16/11, Shiju Alex <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Dear All,
>
> Apologies beforehand for a rather long and winding mail - but there is so
> much that I want to say. I want to share how my thoughts are being
> crystallised.  I want to try and cross-pollinate ideas from some Indic
> language communities across to all communities.  I want to reach out and
> ask your views and suggestions.  I want to understand how best we can help
> each community in a manner that is most appropriate to that community.
>
> I have now completed sharing initial, introductory, exploratory discussions
> with a host of community members from across Indic language communities.  I
> have shared these for 12 languages
> (Assamese<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Assamese/Discussions/2011>,
> Hindi<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Hindi/Discussions/2011>,
> Tamil<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Tamil/Discussions/2011>,
> Telugu<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Telugu/Discussions/2011>,
> Kannada<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Kannada/Discussions/2011>,
> Nepali<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Neplai/Discussions/2011>,
> Malayalam<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Malayalam/Discussions/2011>,
> Marathi<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Marathi/Discussions/2011>,
> Odia<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Odia/Discussions/2011>,
> Sanskrit<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Sanskrit/Discussions/2011>,
> Bengali<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Bengali/Discussions/2011>,
> and
> Gujarati<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Gujarati/Discussions/2011>.)
>  I haven't (yet) got any response from 7 other communities (Bhojpuri,
> Kashmiri, Punjabi, Urdu, Bhisnupriya Manipuri, Pali, and Sindhi).
>
> At the very outset, I want to thank all of you who took time out and shared
> your experiences and thinking.  It has been really useful and I hope you
> found it is as productive and constructive as I did.  The purpose behind
> this exercise was to hear, learn, and understand the evolution of the
> various communities - and to therefore suggest ideas going forward. I urge
> everyone to go through all the other languages (even if they are not
> personally involved in those specific communities) because there are
> learnings for everyone from everywhere.
>
> I have been reflecting on the various insights and inputs and ideas I have
> got from all these folks as well as subsequent discussions on mailing lists
> and talk pages.  Here are my initial thoughts.
>
> CommunityIt sounds like a self-evident and very basic thing but the single
> biggest priority for all communities (even relatively bigger ones like
> Tamil and Malayalam) is community building.  What has struck me from the
> various language communities is that everyone agrees that this is very much
> required but very few are aware of what needs to be done or how it needs to
> be done.  I wanted to share some thoughts about this.
>
> When I consider community building, I think of 5 broad aspects:
>
>    1. Editor retention
>    2. Attracting newbies
>    3. Community communication
>    4. Community collaboration and
>    5. Community celebration
>
>
> I would like to detail what I mean by each of these.
>
> 1. Editor retention: Like most language wiki communities we also have an
> editor retention issue in all Indic language communities. This is
> particularly an area of concern for us considering the fact that all our
> Indic language communities are really tiny and community buiding efforts in
> Indic wikis are very less. A dramatic case in point is Kannada where active
> editor numbers (that is, editors who do at least 5 edits a month) have
> declined from 25 members to just 9 members over the past 10 months.  It is
> essential that all of us reflect on why this is happening and what can be
> done to avoid it in future and to resurrect lapsed editors.  Existing
> editors and old editors understand our projects and community and can play
> a huge role in community building and project quality improvement.  Many
> times, they have become inactive because of changing personal priorities.
>  However, sometimes, they leave because they are no longer excited by the
> projects.  The lack of interest in a project or users not feeling proud
> about a project might be due to multiple reasons. Some of the reasons that
> old community members shared with me are poor quality of articles (driven
> by BOTs and Google translation project), dominance of wiki by  one or two
> members, the huge amount of clean up and other administrative tasks
> required, and so on.  We must reach out and welcome these editors back and
> we must encourage them to do what they love doing most - editing articles
> and making them regain their pride and ownership over their articles and
> projects. We must foster an environment that welcomes old editors back and
> gives them the space to follow their passions.
>
> 2. Attracting newbies: Attracting newbies is the only way our communities
> and projects can grow.  I have to be honest and say that none of our
> language communities have achieved critical mass.  According to me unless a
> project has 500 or more active editors, it can never be said to be in a
> state where organic growth is secured and momentum is ensured.  Attracting
> newbies requires impactful outreach.  By impactful, I mean outreach that is
> done frequently and to as a large a group of potential newbies as possible.
> However, it also means that we need to be much more systematic about how we
> do outreach.  This covers everything from identification of the most
> appropriate target audience as well as doing outreach in a manner where we
> don't scare off newbies by information overload.  We must make sure that
> our outreach sessions adequately convey the passion and love for our
> projects that we feel while working on them.  Also, we need to critically
> look at how we reach out to attendees of outreach sessions (after the
> sessions) as well as other newcomers and see that we are providing an
> adequate helping hand to them.  The Nepali community - though tiny - does
> very well in terms of posting personal talk messages to welcome new folks,
> having FAQs spaces and problem boxes, etc. - all with the objective of
> supporting newbies.  All Indic languages are at a state where every single
> newbie should be identified and reached out to and given intensive help and
> warmly welcomed to the community. We must also look at both newbies to
> editing as well as existing English Wikipedia editors who have inclinations
> and abilities on Indic languages.  Remember that many Indic editors
> initially started off in English Wikipedia and we must actively seek them
> out.  I know some communities - like Marathi - who look for editors who
> have Marathi sounding names or edit Marathi/Maharashtra centric topics and
> quietly invite them to contribute to Marathi Wikipedia.  Another aspect,
> and I am sure is this a bit of a controversial statement, but can we get
> few existing Indic editors to reduce their emphasis on editing and divert
> their time on outreach. (I know Tamil, Odia, and Malayalam communities are
> already doing this. But this needs to be replicated in other languages
> also).  It is really tough and not everyone might have the interest to do
> outreach but the best outreach can be done by existing community members.
> However, as we know, volunteer time is limited.  This is a challenge
> because what we love doing most is editing - but the reality is that the
> greatest need of the hour, and the area where we can contribute maximum, is
> attracting and training and supporting newbies.  We should also look at
> digital outreach - by which I mean look at the existing internet activities
> in Indic languages (blog, facebook, google plus, and so on) and see if we
> can get newbies from there.  For instance, many Indic languages have very
> active blogging. Can we reach out to bloggers and ask them to contribute to
> our projects, or at least evangelise about our projects and invite their
> readers to read Indic projects and contribute to them?  Can we similarly
> look at social media like facebook and twitter to promote our Indic
> projects?
>
> 3. Community Communication: Community communication is an area which varies
> by community. There is a direct co-relation between the health and growth
> of the community and the inclusiveness, intensity, and warmth of the
> communication amongst that community.  Community communication takes place
> on mailing lists, village pumps, meetups, and so on. With the exception of
> Malayalam and Bengali mailing lists, and to a lesser extent, Tamil, Odia,
> Mumbai, and Pune mailing lists, most others are virtually non-functional.
>  Having said that, many village pumps are active across language
> communities.  It really doesn't make a difference whether the communication
> is on mailing lists or village pumps.  However, it is of paramount
> importance that it happens somewhere.  Anywhere!  To that extent, I
> encourage everyone to be more active wherever they are more comfortable -
> but ideally in public spaces like village pumps or mailing lists.  Reach
> out and ask for help or suggestions.  Offer advice or inputs.  Simply be
> friendly and accessible.  Just talk!  Community meetups are happening but
> not as frequent as one would like and with very limited attendance.  Often,
> it is just 3 or 4 people who meet up everytime.  Nothing wrong with that
> per se. Meetups are voluntary and the majority of wikipedians are happy to
> edit in the privacy of our homes and not meet up with others but even in
> this situation, we can and should be encouraging more people to attend
> meetups. People will attend meetups more regularly if they find them
> productive and inspiring.  Too often, the feedback from community members
> has been that they don't find meetups useful or they find them dominated by
> 1 or 2 individuals.  It is essential to have 1 or 2 individuals with the
> drive and hard work to organise meetups - but it is equally important that
> meetups are not centred exclusively around these 1-2 people but more about
> what the larger group want.  How about meetups where all we do is spend an
> hour or two just editing a few articles?  How about meetups where we plan a
> newbie outreach program involving everyone in the meetup?  How about a
> meetup where that meetup is run by those folks who usually never speak up
> and that the entire meeting is devoted to what they are interested in?  It
> is alarming when one looks at the situation in some Indic communities where
> there is virtually no communication at all amongst community members. It
> leads to a very cold and impersonal environment - which is not healthy to
> foster growth.   Like plants and flowers, communities too need breeze and
> air and water and food and activity and earthworms and manure.
>
> 4. Community Collaboration: When I consider community collaboration, I
> think of 2 things.  The first is ownership and the second is editing.  On
> ownership, it is really critical that every one of us as individual
> community members believe and are made to believe that we own our projects.
> Every project is owned by all members of that community. Equally.  We
> should all become more proactive in enforcing this ownership - whether it
> is in terms of coming up with initiatives or proactively participating in
> community discussions - whether it is about technical matters or content
> elements or community aspects.  Every single individual counts and every
> single individual's voice must be encouraged.  On editing, something that
> drives all of us is the thrill of collaborative editing.  Wikipedians love
> it more than anything else to work together on an article and make dramatic
> improvements to it.   Of course it happens even now, but this is something
> that we need to encourage much more and participate more actively in. This
> can be done in varied ways - but ideas like Collaboration of the Month or
> Editathons or whatever other idea should be organised.  One can start with
> a handful of people working on a few articles - but one must try as hard as
> one can to make larger scale mini-events around this basic idea.  It will
> help build personal relationships, project ownership, and drive community
> bonds.
>
> 5. Community Celebration: Lastly on the community aspect, let us bring some
> magic back to the community.  Let us start celebrating successes - no
> matter how small.  Let us start taking goals - no matter how seemingly
> unambitious. Let us spread cheer all around when we meet these objectives.
> Let us start publicly celebrating over the profiles of new or active
> editors (Tamil wiki community is already doing this)- whether because they
> are 12 years old or 80 years old or whether their article counts are 100 or
> 10,000! Let us celebrate when our wiki cross a major milestones, Let us
> celebrate when one our community member does some marvellous things for
> wiki. Let us celebrate when community able to engage in a relationship with
> state government... There are many reasons to celebrate. Let us celebrate
> all those and build the sense of pride about their projects among our
> community members. The most powerful fuel in our engines is passion - and
> we need to get more of it in our veins.
>
> ProjectsThere is a constant debate of what should come first - article
> count or article quality?  I don't think there is an answer to this that is
> equally applicable across all projects and communities. I had strong
> convictions on this based on my past experience with Malayalam wiki
> projects - which have been reinforced after my initial discussions with
> Indic Wikimedians from across the country.  In this regard, I wish to share
> a provocative statement about bots. Bots can and should be used to do
> repetitive tasks (like adding categories) because that reduces wasting
> volunteer time - which is limited and  precious.  However, the use of bots
> for article creation is something that I would strongly discourage.  The
> current state of Newari wikipedia (which has nearly 70,000 articles but
> zero active editors) reinforces my argument.
>
> The argument for using bots for article creation is that it provides
> placeholders for editors to start working on these articles.  While there
> is some merit in this argument, the problem is that this kind of artificial
> intervention means that the volume of work required to improve quality far
> outpaces the community strength.  It is like a sportsman using steroids.
>  It is not natural or healthy.  It results in large numbers of very poor
> quality articles - which are of such a basic nature that it might be better
> not to have them in the project.  (For example, if the only information
> about a town is that "Abc town is in Abc district which is in Abc state and
> the population is 12345 according to the 2001 census", this article is so
> weak that it cannot honestly be said to exist.)  If a project has thousands
> of these kind of articles, the whole project will be regarded as being of
> poor quality and will put off readers.)  More fatally, if a project has
> thousands of such bot entries, it doesn't inspire editors to contribute -
> but instead makes them disillusioned because they feel that so many
> articles of such bad quality that they just give up on where to start!
> There
> are many who feel that, for example, Hindi wikipedia has been adversely
> impacted by the overusage of bots.
>
> Another very important aspect I want to address is the kind of policies we
> adopt for Indic projects.  Too often, tiny projects and communities are
> adopting too many of the policies of English Wikipedia.  The policies of
> English wikipedia have evolved over years as English Wikipedia grew in
> community and article size.  These policies are suitable for English
> Wikipedia given the size and breadth of its community.  My view is that
> many of these are not appropriate for the current state of most Indic
> projects and communities given that the community sizes are 60,000 for
> English and ~25 for the average Indic community.  If English Wikipedia
> policies are indiscriminately adopted, results in the feedback that I am
> seeing from many Indic editors that they are spending too much time doing
> "administrative" tasks like categorisation and not getting enough time for
> basic core editing.  Let me elaborate.  Something like NPOV is central to
> our overall philosophy.  This cannot and must not be diluted. However, even
> if I take the larger Indic Wikipedias, it really is not such a major issue
> if the categorisation is currently weak.  The focus has to be to build
> articles quality and content, and not necessarily having all the content
> neatly slotted into categories.  Of course, something like categorisation
> is good, but not at the cost of article quality.  I want to make an even
> more provocative suggestion.  Verifiability is really really really
> important to all our projects.  However, if one looks at how English
> Wikipedia evolved in the early days, it started with editors just adding
> content. Over a period of time, other editors came in and added and
> improved citations.  Even today, as a recent Signpost article mentioned,
> there are 2.5 lakh articles in English
> Wikipedia<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2011-10-31/Opinion_essay>that
> don't have references.   We should encourage editors to write, write
> and write!  References will follow.  Let us not chase away editors because
> we want every article to be perfect in a 20,000 article project.  Of course
> we want quality but let us take it in stages - and let us prioritise what
> is most important to begin with.  I think many editors would find it
> incredibly satisfying and inspiring and motivating to start and edit new
> articles, and they might get it 80% right.  This will attract a much bigger
> community within which there will emerge a new generation of editors who
> love to add detail and citations.
>
> ReadershipOne of my big discoveries I had was to see the total size of
> readership.  I have often contemplated the Catch 22 situation of Indic
> language Wikimedians - where there is no awareness of the projects so there
> is no readership and even where there is readership, readers are not
> satisfied because of a low number articles or poor quality of articles.
> Conversely, editors don't find adequate motivation and satisfaction because
> they believe there are too few readers for their contributions.  I often
> wondered how we would approach this problem - and which we should address
> first.  I used to think that we should first focus on community building
> and article quality - and that readers will automatically follow.  To that
> extent, I used to think that we shouldn't worry about readers because they
> will inevitably follow content.  The fact that last month, we had more than
> 4 crore readers for our Indic language
> wikipedias<https://blog.wikimedia.org/2011/12/12/indian-language-wikipedia-statistics-october-2011/>means
> that the dilemma of what we need to do is no longer valid.  We have
> readers. Lakhs and lakhs and lakhs of them for each Indic language wiki!
>  We now need to focus singlemindedly on community building and project
> quality.  As internet penetration and mobile data access increase, we will
> get even more Indic readers.  We don't need to do anything to attract
> readers.  However, we need to do *everything* to keep them coming back by
> increasing article count while religiously maintaining and increasing
> article quality and size of community.
>
> I would love to hear your thoughts and views on these suggestions.
>
> The next stage of my work is going to be to speak directly with various
> communities in village pumps itself.  I will try and make these as relevant
> and specific to individual communities - and also to share some ideas which
> have relevance across similar communities.  For instance, some ideas will
> be similar to all communities with less than 25 active editors.  I also
> want to try and identify potential areas of support that India Programs
> could work closely with communities on.  The idea is to support community
> across languages.  We would like to identify a very limited (1 or 2) pilots
> of a very controlled nature (in terms of scale) that we would like to
> collaboratively design with respective communities.  Given the efforts that
> will be required in any pilot (even if it is of a relatively small scale),
> we believe that there needs to be a certain basic level of community size
> and collaboration to be able handle such pilots.
>
> I will be sharing this mail on the various local language / local town
> mailing lists as well as the respective language village pumps.  I look
> forward to hearing your views.
>
> I placed the content of this mail in metawiki also. It is here:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs/Indic_Languages/Summary_of_initial_discussions_-_2011
>
> Regards
>
> Shiju Alex
> India Programs Team
>


--
Regards,
Srikanth Ramakrishnan.
Wikipedia Coimbatore Meetup on December 10th.
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Meetup/Coimbatore

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--
Rajesh Pandey

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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Bishakha Datta
In reply to this post by Srikanth Ramakrishnan-2


On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 10:11 PM, Srikanth Ramakrishnan <[hidden email]> wrote:
Excellent Shiju, very well written.

+1. Excellent analysis, very meticulous.

Particularly like the way you broke down community building into the various sub-parts (below) and detailed what each entails, and the understanding that now that confirmed readership exists, the need is to build the communities/projects to ensure readers keep coming back.

Good luck with the next pilot phase,
Bishakha
 
> When I consider community building, I think of 5 broad aspects:
>
>    1. Editor retention
>    2. Attracting newbies
>    3. Community communication
>    4. Community collaboration and
>    5. Community celebration


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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Arjuna Rao Chavala-2
In reply to this post by Shiju Alex-2
Hi Shiju,

On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 5:37 PM, Shiju Alex <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear All,


--cut--
I have now completed sharing initial, introductory, exploratory discussions with a host of community members from across Indic language communities.  I have shared these for 12 languages (Assamese, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Nepali, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Sanskrit, Bengali, and Gujarati.)

Thanks for the extensive work you have done in surveying the language Wikipedias and sharing insights on key priorities.  I have browsed through the reports and found them interesting.


Community

--cut--

What I found one of the key factor behind active communities particularly Tamil and Malayalam, is the support of Government for the initiative.  This could be a priority area for  other Wikipedias as well.
Projects There is a constant debate of what should come first - article count or article quality?  I  
--cut--

When some of the language Wikipedias started to use the bots for creating stub articles, they would have imagined the strengthening  of community  to improve the same. But unfortunately, the community could not be strengthened due to various issues like access to Internet. computing platform, issues with rendering and input methods and we ended up with stub articles remaining in the same state. 

I agree that use of bots for example could have been limited to District/ Mandal(Taluk) headquarters  rather than covering all the villages in the case of Telugu Wikipedia for example. If  appropriate stubs are created as part of overall project with committed community members and a definite time frame,  seeding of the pages with stubs could be useful.

Readership

--cut--
As internet penetration and mobile data access increase, we will get even more Indic readers. 
 +1

I also want to try and identify potential areas of support that India Programs could work closely with communities on.  The idea is to support community across languages.  We would like to identify a very limited (1 or 2) pilots of a very controlled nature (in terms of scale) that we would like to collaboratively design with respective communities.  Given the efforts that will be required in any pilot (even if it is of a relatively small scale), we believe that there needs to be a certain basic level of community size and collaboration to be able handle such pilots.

Chapter has kicked off Language SIGs  for some of the languages.  I am sure the language SIG chairs and the active language Wikipedians will be eager to interact with you on the  next steps.


Best wishes
Arjuna Rao Chavala
 


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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Ravishankar-3
In reply to this post by Shiju Alex-2
Hi Shiju,

Thanks for the excellent analysis on Indic Wikipedia communities.
 
When I consider community building, I think of 5 broad aspects:
  1. Editor retention
  2. Attracting newbies
  3. Community communication
  4. Community collaboration and
  5. Community celebration
Based on Tamil Wiki experience, I would like to add few more key points that can make a difference:

1. Active participation of Wikipedians having English Wikipedia experience.

While small communities should not enforce all en wiki practices and rules as such, active participation of people having English Wikipedia experience is a great plus. They can help implement the best practices, clarify on wiki procedures, help in technical aspects and act as ambassadors for the local wiki. Throughout Tamil Wikipedia's growth, we have had such contributors who made immense difference to the project. It is this context, I emphasize that awareness about Indic Wiki for people visiting en wiki should be increased.

2. Developing friends of Wikipedia network.


Not everyone can contribute to Wikipedia directly even if they know how to do it. But they can still support the cause of Wiki. Efforts should be made in getting friends in blogosphere, technosphere, media, academia and the Government (if possible). These people can be of great help in outreach and other logistical help.

3. Developing the sister projects.

For small communities, developing Wikipedia to a useful stage ( 100K articles of decent quality) is a very long term and intensive process. But, with some meticulous planning, the sister projects like Wiktionary, Wikisource can be scaled with less effort. When these projects grow, they in turn bring visitors and contributors for Wikipedia. They will also serve as a reference source for citations and vocabulary. This is one solution for the chicken and egg problem of building content to get contributors Vs having contributors to build content. This is also one are where formal entities like WMF and the chapter can help the community to network with academic and government institutions and secure the content in appropriate license.

Ravi


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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Srikanth Ramakrishnan-2
Ravi, while the idea of having English editors help out on Indic wikis
sounds good, it isn't feasible. Most Indic editors distrust us English
editors and remain aloof from us. This has happened with me on the
Hindi wiki and with community members of Tamil.

--
Regards,
Srikanth Ramakrishnan.
Wikipedia Coimbatore Meetup on December 10th.
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Meetup/Coimbatore

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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Ravishankar-3
HI Srikanth R,

On Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 3:50 PM, Srikanth Ramakrishnan <[hidden email]> wrote:
Ravi, while the idea of having English editors help out on Indic wikis
sounds good, it isn't feasible. Most Indic editors distrust us English
editors and remain aloof from us.

Indic communities don't need "help" but active "contribution" from people familiar with en wiki. So, you have to think, act and become like a native community member except for the fact that you are already aware of wiki ways.

I am not aware of happenings in other wikis. But, I can give you many examples of contributions in Tamil Wikipedia where the editor came from English Wikipedia. If you faced specific problems, please feel free to post in our village pump and I am sure the community will take the steps needed.

Ravi


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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Srikanth Ramakrishnan-2
Ravi, this is exactly what I was talking about. I try to translate an
article from English and I'm told that the community can do it
themselves and don't need our help. The same editors refuse to help us
when we need content from Indic projects on English. If need be, we
could have an offlist discussion about this. I don't want to make too
much noise on the list.

On 12/24/11, Ravishankar <[hidden email]> wrote:

> HI Srikanth R,
>
> On Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 3:50 PM, Srikanth Ramakrishnan <
> [hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Ravi, while the idea of having English editors help out on Indic wikis
>> sounds good, it isn't feasible. Most Indic editors distrust us English
>> editors and remain aloof from us.
>
>
> Indic communities don't need "help" but active "contribution" from people
> familiar with en wiki. So, you have to think, act and become like a native
> community member except for the fact that you are already aware of wiki
> ways.
>
> I am not aware of happenings in other wikis. But, I can give you many
> examples of contributions in Tamil Wikipedia where the editor came from
> English Wikipedia. If you faced specific problems, please feel free to post
> in our village pump and I am sure the community will take the steps needed.
>
> Ravi
>


--
Regards,
Srikanth Ramakrishnan.
Wikipedia Coimbatore Meetup on December 10th.
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Meetup/Coimbatore

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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Ashwin Baindur
No, this is an important topic. Please discuss on-list being discreet to avoid naming people or making accusations. We need to know the kind of issues involved. Cooperation with English Wikipedia is one of the fastest ways Indic language communities can grow their articles and add quality.

Warm regards,

Ashwin Baindur
------------------------------------------------------


On Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 8:03 PM, Srikanth Ramakrishnan <[hidden email]> wrote:
Ravi, this is exactly what I was talking about. I try to translate an
article from English and I'm told that the community can do it
themselves and don't need our help. The same editors refuse to help us
when we need content from Indic projects on English. If need be, we
could have an offlist discussion about this. I don't want to make too
much noise on the list.

On 12/24/11, Ravishankar <[hidden email]> wrote:
> HI Srikanth R,
>
> On Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 3:50 PM, Srikanth Ramakrishnan <
> [hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Ravi, while the idea of having English editors help out on Indic wikis
>> sounds good, it isn't feasible. Most Indic editors distrust us English
>> editors and remain aloof from us.
>
>
> Indic communities don't need "help" but active "contribution" from people
> familiar with en wiki. So, you have to think, act and become like a native
> community member except for the fact that you are already aware of wiki
> ways.
>
> I am not aware of happenings in other wikis. But, I can give you many
> examples of contributions in Tamil Wikipedia where the editor came from
> English Wikipedia. If you faced specific problems, please feel free to post
> in our village pump and I am sure the community will take the steps needed.
>
> Ravi
>


--
Regards,
Srikanth Ramakrishnan.
Wikipedia Coimbatore Meetup on December 10th.
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Meetup/Coimbatore

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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Shiju Alex-2
In reply to this post by Arjuna Rao Chavala-2
What I found one of the key factor behind active communities particularly Tamil and Malayalam, is the support of Government for the initiative.  This could be a priority area for  other Wikipedias as well. 

According to my knowledge, World Classical Tamil Conference 2010 was the only time Tamil wikipedians and Tamil Nadu Government collaborated. During the conference there was an article writing contest which attracted many people to Tamil wikipedia. Also during the same time a huge repository of tamil words were donated to Tamil wiktionary. Apart from that, according to my knowledge,  there are no other Govt initiatives. But I should say at least in the case of Tamil the collaboration was a direct one.

But the case of Malayalam is slightly different. There was no direct collabration. For Malayalam, the support community received was mainly due to the personal efforts of IT@School director. IT@school supported most of the wiki workshops across kerala, sponsored ml wiki CD, and so on. There were couple of instances when community received indirect support. I have listed some of those here.  One good thing about Malayalam is the involvement of social organizations (for example KSSP). This has directly or indirectly helped/helping Malayalam wiki projects. But even though community tried to directly interact with Kerala government multiple times (for example, to discuss about Kerala Govt website licenses) none of them fetched any positive result till now. 

So even though both Tamil and Malayalam communities received limited support it became possible only because some volunteers from the community were ready do physical outreach programs, meetup, and to talk to people. In short I should say these all some of the after effects of public outreach programs. There are many other things related to the outreach of Indic wikipedias and its benefits, it is not just adding more users to wiki. I may share that at anther point of time. More important is, to grow Indic wikipedias some community members need to take some extra effort.  


 But unfortunately, the community could not be strengthened due to various issues like access to Internet. computing platform, issues with rendering and input methods and we ended up with stub articles remaining in the same state.  

That is the case in all Indic wikis which used bots to increase the number of articles. According to me strength of the community also should grow as the number of articles grows. If we focus on community growth, articles numbers will grow as a natural outcome of that. As we already saw it will not happen the other way round for Indic wikipedias. As one editor pointed out in discussions, Users will be attached to a wiki only if they feel proud about it. So it is important that we should plan some programs to retain existing users and attract more new users to Indic wikis. We need to have some programs to bring back our old editors also.


Shiju



On Sat, Dec 17, 2011 at 7:15 PM, Arjuna Rao Chavala <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Shiju,

On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 5:37 PM, Shiju Alex <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear All,


--cut--

I have now completed sharing initial, introductory, exploratory discussions with a host of community members from across Indic language communities.  I have shared these for 12 languages (Assamese, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Nepali, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Sanskrit, Bengali, and Gujarati.)

Thanks for the extensive work you have done in surveying the language Wikipedias and sharing insights on key priorities.  I have browsed through the reports and found them interesting.


Community

--cut--

What I found one of the key factor behind active communities particularly Tamil and Malayalam, is the support of Government for the initiative.  This could be a priority area for  other Wikipedias as well.
Projects There is a constant debate of what should come first - article count or article quality?  I  
--cut--

When some of the language Wikipedias started to use the bots for creating stub articles, they would have imagined the strengthening  of community  to improve the same. But unfortunately, the community could not be strengthened due to various issues like access to Internet. computing platform, issues with rendering and input methods and we ended up with stub articles remaining in the same state. 

I agree that use of bots for example could have been limited to District/ Mandal(Taluk) headquarters  rather than covering all the villages in the case of Telugu Wikipedia for example. If  appropriate stubs are created as part of overall project with committed community members and a definite time frame,  seeding of the pages with stubs could be useful.

Readership

--cut--
As internet penetration and mobile data access increase, we will get even more Indic readers. 
 +1

I also want to try and identify potential areas of support that India Programs could work closely with communities on.  The idea is to support community across languages.  We would like to identify a very limited (1 or 2) pilots of a very controlled nature (in terms of scale) that we would like to collaboratively design with respective communities.  Given the efforts that will be required in any pilot (even if it is of a relatively small scale), we believe that there needs to be a certain basic level of community size and collaboration to be able handle such pilots.

Chapter has kicked off Language SIGs  for some of the languages.  I am sure the language SIG chairs and the active language Wikipedians will be eager to interact with you on the  next steps.


Best wishes
Arjuna Rao Chavala
 


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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Arjuna Rao Chavala-2


On Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 1:47 PM, Shiju Alex <[hidden email]> wrote:
What I found one of the key factor behind active communities particularly Tamil and Malayalam, is the support of Government for the initiative.  This could be a priority area for  other Wikipedias as well. 

According to my knowledge, World Classical Tamil Conference 2010 was the only time Tamil wikipedians and --cut--
More important is, to grow Indic wikipedias some community members need to take some extra effort.  

Thanks for the clarifications. Agree with your above recommendation.

 But unfortunately, the community could not be strengthened due to various issues like access to Internet. computing platform, issues with rendering and input methods and we ended up with stub articles remaining in the same state.  

That is the case in all Indic wikis which used bots to increase the number of articles. According to me strength of the community also should grow as the number of articles grows. If we focus on community growth, articles numbers will grow as a natural outcome of that. As we already saw it will not happen the other way round for Indic wikipedias. As one editor pointed out in discussions, Users will be attached to a wiki only if they feel proud about it. So it is important that we should plan some programs to retain existing users and attract more new users to Indic wikis. We need to have some programs to bring back our old editors also.

Bringing back old editors could be more difficult than bringing new editors. I talked to few experienced but currently dormant editors on Telugu Wiki and was  not successful.

Cheers
Arjun

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Re: Summary and perspectives from Discussions with Indic language wikimedians - 2011

Shiju Alex-2
In reply to this post by Ravishankar-3
Ravishankar <[hidden email]> wrote:

Thanks for these great suggestions Ravi. 

1. Active participation of Wikipedians having English Wikipedia experience.

Yes this is very important. Infact I already mentioned this in my second point (attracting newbies) This is what I wrote:

We must also look at both newbies to editing as well as existing English Wikipedia editors who have inclinations and abilities on Indic languages. Remember that many Indic editors initially started off in English Wikipedia and we must actively seek them out. I know some communities - like Marathi - who look for editors who have Marathi sounding names or edit Marathi/Maharashtra centric topics and quietly invite them to contribute to Marathi Wikipedia.

As we can see already few language communities understood the importance of reaching out to users with English wikipedia experience.

2. Developing friends of Wikipedia network.

Yes this is very very important for the growth of Indic wikipedias. In the previous reply to Arjuna I mentioned about the involvement of Social organizations. That will directly or indirectly help Indic wiki projects. One immediate example I can show from ml wiki project is the free licensing of LDF keralam, Kerala State Electricity Board, and Dutch in Kerala website. All those became possible since friends of Wikipedia or community members were ready to talk to people outside wikipedia about the importance of such landmark decisions.

3. Developing the sister projects.


A very valid point. Many Indic languages have rich cultural heritage. There are rich litereacry works in most of them. No need to mention about the rich vocabulary. We have lot of things to do at least in Wikisource, Wiktionary, and Wikiquote. Infact from the example of Tamil and Kannada we have seen the efforts put by community to develop wiktionary. Remember in Kannada, Wiktionary project is  active even more than Wikipedia. Also in Malayalam and Sanskrit wikisource is very active. So some communities already understood the importance of sister projects. Infact what I found is, we can use sister wiki projects also (especially wikisource and wiktionary) to develop a wiki community for  a language. 

Networking with state and central governments, various educational institutions, social organizations, and so on are required to grow Indic wikipedia projects. As mentioned before some extra effort and leadership role from some community members of each language is required to grow the community and wiki projects for any Indic language.  

Thanks for providing all these suggestions. All these important suggestions will help us as we try to help various indic language wiki communities.

Thanks
Shiju





On Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 2:56 PM, Ravishankar <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Shiju,

Thanks for the excellent analysis on Indic Wikipedia communities.
 
When I consider community building, I think of 5 broad aspects:
  1. Editor retention
  2. Attracting newbies
  3. Community communication
  4. Community collaboration and
  5. Community celebration
Based on Tamil Wiki experience, I would like to add few more key points that can make a difference:

1. Active participation of Wikipedians having English Wikipedia experience.

While small communities should not enforce all en wiki practices and rules as such, active participation of people having English Wikipedia experience is a great plus. They can help implement the best practices, clarify on wiki procedures, help in technical aspects and act as ambassadors for the local wiki. Throughout Tamil Wikipedia's growth, we have had such contributors who made immense difference to the project. It is this context, I emphasize that awareness about Indic Wiki for people visiting en wiki should be increased.

2. Developing friends of Wikipedia network.


Not everyone can contribute to Wikipedia directly even if they know how to do it. But they can still support the cause of Wiki. Efforts should be made in getting friends in blogosphere, technosphere, media, academia and the Government (if possible). These people can be of great help in outreach and other logistical help.

3. Developing the sister projects.

For small communities, developing Wikipedia to a useful stage ( 100K articles of decent quality) is a very long term and intensive process. But, with some meticulous planning, the sister projects like Wiktionary, Wikisource can be scaled with less effort. When these projects grow, they in turn bring visitors and contributors for Wikipedia. They will also serve as a reference source for citations and vocabulary. This is one solution for the chicken and egg problem of building content to get contributors Vs having contributors to build content. This is also one are where formal entities like WMF and the chapter can help the community to network with academic and government institutions and secure the content in appropriate license.

Ravi


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