Hi All (cross-posting to make sure I reach as much of India as possible),
As you're aware, we had invited applications for Campus Ambassadors for the upcoming Pune Pilot of the India Campus Program.
The response has been fantastic: we've received ~500 applications/enquiries from across India, ~70 of which were from Pune. This has been really heartening - indicating the desire of many to support the Wikimedia movement. It's also been overwhelming because we need to process all the applications, respond to applicants, etc.!
I think, most critically, it also presents an amazing opportunity for us to introduce new people to Wikimedia projects (especially Wikipedia) - and invite them to join the community. I've interviewed quite a few and there is a recurring theme I hear from many of them. It goes something like, "I've been using Wikipedia for years and years, and I love it. I want to contribute back to it - but I wasn't sure how. Then I saw the banner and decided this was a great way to help." The overwhelming common trait I have noticed in the applicants is that they are bright, well-intentioned and eager to contribute.
Here are some thoughts I had, and I'd love to hear your suggestions/comments on these.
We should respond to every single applicant, and even to those who didn't actually apply but sent emails enquiries (such as "When is the program coming to my city?", etc.) No one should be left behind.
We will prioritise (in terms of sequence of events) the Pune Campus Ambassadors. We need to have a reasonable number available for a training session that we need to conduct before the start of the program. Of the 70 who applied from Pune, we should hopefully get 20-30 Campus Ambassadors.
The important suggestion I had for everyone else (in Pune and beyond) is that we do not "reject" anyone. While some might not become Campus Ambassadors because we don't plan to run the program in their towns/cities right now, or some in Pune might not currently have the desired experience (in teaching and people management), there is no reason that they can't participate in some other roles. Therefore, I don't think we should send any "reject letters" to anyone. No one should be left behind. Instead, we should send them options on how they can participate/learn more about participating. For example:-
i) they could form student clubs in their respective educational establishments
ii) they could form Wikipedia clubs in their workplaces/social groups (as a number of applicants are working professionals, and no longer on campus)
iii) they could become individual editors
For us to try and help realise their potential, here are some thoughts I had:-
i) Invite all the applicants/enquirers to attend the next community meet-ups. This was a suggestion shared by the Pune community. This would give them a chance to interact with the community and understand more about the movement/projects.
ii) Additionally, those who have not been selected as Campus Ambassadors can be reassured by telling them that they can join an "incubation" program. This was a suggestion shared by the Pune community. This would involve them attending meet-ups, learning how to edit, starting to edit - and being supported and hand-held along the way by existing community members. This would help them if they eventually wish to reapply as Campus Ambassadors. Even if they choose not to, they could easily become individual newbie editors.
iii) Invite all applicants/enquirers in a town/city to attend a full-fledged Wiki Academy. This was a suggestion shared by the Mumbai community. This is currently envisaged as a full day session where they are given insights into the movement & projects, taught how to edit, and actually edit articles.
iv) In towns/cities where a full-fledged Wiki Academy is not viable (e.g. if there aren't enough numbers of either participants or volunteers/volunteer time to run a Wiki Academy), then an alternative suggestion is to have a smaller group (3-5) of the applicants /enquirers linked up with a community member who can conduct smaller, shorter groups to explain how to edit and hand-hold them as they edit.
I'd really like to hear your views/comments/suggestions on the ideas listed here.
Also, do let me know which of you would like to volunteer either to help conduct Wiki Academies (point (iii) above) or to manage smaller groups of potential newbies (point (iv) above). Also, it'd be great if we could invite them to your next meet-ups at your respective towns/cities (point (i) above).
Another aspect I'd like to get suggestions from you on is how to manage the process of inviting them to these events. We could, for example, share the contacts of these applicants with the respective communities could reach out and invite them. Alternatively, if you wish this to be done for you, that also can be arranged (though it will put some strain on already stretched resources.)
I look forward to hearing from you. (Please note that we have received applicants from every corner of the country - so please don't assume that the applicants are only from Pune or only from large cities or only interested in English Wikipedia. (They are literally from everywhere, and no one should be left behind!)
Wikimedia Foundation India Programs
I am writing to all of you to correct a potential error. As you might be aware, the Wikimedia Foundation has set itself an important objective of supporting the community in India to expand participation. As part of this, India Programs has been set up - and I work for it.
I have put together a plan for India (please see http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_-_India_Programs) - and I had communicated this on the India mailing list. This has generated interest as well as debate and discussion. However, I understand that some of you might not be on that mailing list. I therefore thought I'd correct this by reaching out directly to you and requesting you to have a look at the page and share your comments (on the Talk Page or on this mailing list or directly to me; my contact details are in my signature.) It outines the thinking behind India Programs, key initiatives, milestones, team structure, visit reports, IRC logs, recommendations on office location and some other details. I hope you find it interesting, and I'd love to hear your views / comments / suggestions.
Also, we I have a monthly IRC on India Programs with whoever is interested - on the first Thursday of every month. I'll send out an invite to your mailing list from now on. Do see if you can join in.
I am also going to try and attend as many community meet-ups in as many locations as possible - so I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible, as soon as possible. If you would be kind enough to let me know when the next meeting is planned for and on what schedule (e.g. 2nd Saturday, etc.) then I'll work out how to attend asap.
(Do excuse me if you have received this message through other mailing lists, or it's a bit of a duplication if you are already on the India mailing list.)
Wikimedia Foundation India Programs