So here's my main concern.
On Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM, Quim Gil <qgil(a)wikimedia.org> wrote:
But the point that keeps me thinking is why the first response from
Wikimedia India chapter to a new group of volunteers seems to be inquiring
and resisting more than congratulating and embracing. When the AffCom said
they wanted to check with the national chapter I thought it was a polite
move and a way to make sure than nothing was wrong locally in Ahmedabad /
Gujarat. I didn't expect a full questioning of MediaWiki Groups - or
Wikimedia User Groups for that matter.
WMF's India activities started with a chapter. The chapter jumped through
hoops for over an year to get registered then another year to actually get
a single cent in (FCRA restrictions). Then came the WMF office in India,
Barry was hired, hisham was hired and a team was hired. Then an year later
Hisham and Barry left, the Office idea was thrown out, in exchange for a
grant to another organization, CIS. The staff that was hired are still
there or maybe not all of them. I have no idea what the status is or much
care to inquire, there is however little to no work that is visible. Anyway
then came this, all in the space of a month.
It seems India is being made a test ground for every new idea or
initiative, Erik or whoever has. Looking at the last one, they just seem to
move on after the relevant staff member at WMF leaves. It remains in pieces
without actually focusing on anything productive - no actual development,
no results, little activity.
Now the issue is this will be the 3rd or perhaps the 4th organizational
push associating itself with WMF. There is however, just a single
registered organization in India, which is exposed by law to any activities
befalling it or its members- The chapter. Indian bureaucracy doesn't always
look for the most culpable individuals when a complaint is made, just the
most visible and available one. And trust me, India loves
its bureaucracy and over-reactions (Geoff might fill you in some, if you
care to research).
Just for example, you know people can be locked up for years just for
accepting a grant from WMF? (FCRA and all foreign currencies are very
strictly regulated.) How about the example of Bazee.com
(read ebay) where
the Indian CEO was arrested for someone else selling something on their
e-marketplace, or how about just a couple of months ago, someone was
arrested for a facebook comment, and the other for liking the said comment.
Now, given that all your bases are covered, who do you think would be the
most available person when a complain is made?
Anyway, if people want to organize, let them. Don't lead them to volunteer
- that defeats the purpose. I would have preferred if another
equally bureaucratic country with a chapter might have been the test bed
for this, but given how prioritized India is in the WMF strategic plan, it
shouldn't be a surprise. Now, I wonder who came up with that.....
Since these groups are new, maybe the problem is caused simply by a
misunderstanding? Let me clarify some points, just in case:
Wikimedia User Groups are official and well defined at
They actually aren't official. Bence wrote most of that copying over from
other pages on Meta a few months ago, which were originally edited from the
pages about Chapters. This was still being formulated and maybe it would
have been refined if it was taken on organically. Your usage of it was one
of the first.
I don't know what you mean by official repeatedly? does it mean they are
endorsed by sports team? or they come with matching wrist-bands?
MediaWiki Groups are almost ad-hoc associations, without any legal
identity and basically zero bureaucracy once the group is accepted.
They are in the quasi legal space between Wikipedia groups that have
existed for a decade on Wikipedia and chapters. The odd thing is not a
single Wikipedia group out of those hundreds, maybe thousands, wanted that
On Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 5:53 PM, Quim Gil <qgil(a)wikimedia.org> wrote:
PS: just in case you are wondering, Erik is fully supportive of MediaWiki
Groups as they are part of the WMF Engineering team goals . Have no
doubt that having several of such groups spread in the Indian territory
will help you having successful hackathons adding up to the Wikimedia &
MediaWiki penetration in India.
Erik? OMG, OMG! :P
It seems the engineering dept. wants it more than anyone. There is actually
nothing wrong with that, just don't go through this facade of calling it
volunteer led and volunteer run organizations that people have
been clamoring for. It's a trivial point really, who wants it or who