Thanks Yohann for explaining the accepted mode of functioning of WMIN.

I have several objections to the specific proposal and more importantly I think WMIN ought to have more general guiding principles and perhaps evolve explicit guidelines so that proposals are treated fairly, in ways that are more inclusive, long-term and not one-off, sustainable and offer greater impact at lower cost.

* There are numerous contributor to Wikimedia Commons who have hitherto travelled at their own cost and contributed images and media. Many of them are extremely knowledgeable, identifying the subjects and choosing images that have encyclopedic value. I suppose that in future, every WMIN member is going to ask for travel expenses to be covered.

* There are a number of specialist organizations that exist to support specialized interests. In other words, Special Interest Groups exist independently of the Wikimedia movement. Partnership with these groups ought to be the way to go, because it adds the greatest value and is a viable long-term option. There are a very large number of mountaineering, trekking and travel groups operating in the area of the proposal - many of them with qualified subject matter experts involved (with masters or Ph.D. level expertise in geology, paleontology, glaciology, botany etc.). Some organizations like the Youth Hostels or the Himalayan Club could easily be introduced to the idea of contributing images related to travel under a free-license. [One of the proposers kindly sent me a mail in response to my earlier mail explaining that the team members had interest and expertise in photography, ornithology (actually said someone was an ornithologist!), lepidoptera, botany and geology - I have not seen the publication record of the said members but based on their wiki activity I am unable to see an acceptable level of expertise] In terms of these subjects, there is a lot more to see at mid-altitudes and there is no ethnology involved once you go above the tree-line.

* There is a vast literature on the Himalayas (See for instance http://pahar.in/ ) and none of the proposers appear to have substantially contributed to articles related to the project. There are a few image additions and minor edits. Adding images is probably the easiest activity. It is possible to add a large number and it can appear impressive but using these images in articles is a lot tougher. Even tougher is to make articles of sufficient depth and value. If the list of proposed articles that will be augmented by this project is offered, it will be easy to demonstrate that relevant images can be sourced without the need for this project and that images are *not* the stumbling block for most part.

* The proposal costing is also somewhat disturbing. I see the proposed costs as something disturbingly akin to the ploy of a tele-sales commercial, unintended though it probably is. The full cost of the expedition is a large amount which we show here and the amount we ask is only a fraction of it - ie it appears as if you are saving a great deal of money and therefore that this is a very valuable mission to fund. Someone with some interest in sailing could show how expensive a yacht is and what special training it takes to be on it and write up a proposal asking for a fraction of a supposed budget to be defrayed. Someone interested in skydiving or gliding could put a cost of the sport and ask for a fraction of it to get some aerial photographs. [And of course we can always point out that there is a shortage of aerial images and mariners views from around India] [The Telesales method for those who are not aware of it is to show how much you save by buying a product and these figures are often dramatically boosted and augmented by delivery and voice effects]

* The Wiki Loves Food is an excellent case to study for comparison - it might be considered successful if the number of images is counted but if we look at image usage in articles and the quality of articles containing them - we will see that the impact is low. Of the 9129 images in the category for 2015 - 247 have been used in articles - about 2% (using https://tools.wmflabs.org/glamtools/glamorous.php )  Wiki Loves Food however is a far more inclusive project - and the expenses are low and only for prize money and it is quite different in the way of functioning (as also things like Wiki Loves Earth, Wiki Takes * )  Compare this level of image usage with some Indian users: User:AshLin 222 used out of 362 images - 61% used in articles; User:Vinayraj: 2594 used out of 16086 16% ; User:Jkadavoor 638 used out of 1342 47%; User:Shyamal 6710 used out of 11984 56% used in articles.

* Here are some alternate ideas I can think of for the 2 Lakh INR being proposed - if you took a 7000 rupee compact camera (would be even cheaper if we tried second-hand) and lent 25 of them to a well-established organization we could do a variety of interesting experiments - views of the mountains through the eyes of Sherpas or views of an Uttarakhand village through the eyes of a resident over the course of year. I am fairly certain that the organizations to support the idea can be found.

I pointed out the proposal to some people who live in the Himalayas and are veteran mountaineers and they felt the prices indicated were on the higher side. One of the jokingly asked why there were no budget items for Wikipedia flags to be planted along the way. Satire aside, I am sure WMIN can think of wonderful activities that are inclusive, have high impact, cost little and build community goodwill and demonstrate good judgement. It is about whether WMIN can open up the organization to ideas from outside, to not behave as a club but be an ennabling organization with everyone being as useful as a member. And that should give me and millions of Indians an excellent reason why we can remain non-members and expect organizations to be useful.

best wishes
Shyamal




On Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 4:00 PM, Yohann Thomas <yohannvt@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi Shyamal

The Executive committee is given that much liberty to take decisions which are in the benefit of the community.

In this case, for the above mentioned grant the applicants are well known Bengali community members. Also as seen in the grant application, endorsements are made from the bangla community members of both India & Bangladesh

If the chapter members feel that the EC has taken a decision in haste , the members are welcome to discuss this in our WMIN mailing list.

Regards
Yohann Thomas
Executive Committee Member
Wikimedia India

PS Shyamal, I strongly suggest that you become a member of the chapter :) !!

Yohann Thomas
yohannvt@gmail.com

On Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 11:51 AM, Shyamal Lakshminarayanan <lshyamal@gmail.com> wrote:
I am not a member of the Wikimedia India Chapter although I am very much interested in seeing it function as a mature organization. I suppose that Wikimedia Chapters from around the world have evolved a set of best practices and have ensured that these are shared somewhere. These ideas will probably make the requirements of chapters a little more than just the minimum legal requirements involved in maintaining the status of a legal entity according to the laws of the lands in which the chapters operate. 

I raise this point as a rank outsider because there is a claim in a recent project proposal that it has been "endorsed" by the Wikimedia India Chapter. My expectation then is that this has been given due diligence, discussed by all members and the summary/minutes/transcripts made public. Even ideas on Wikipedia that do not involve any money go through a greater amount of (not to mention transparent) discussion than what we see here and it seems to me that some of these basic discussion procedures that we take for granted as part of the spirit of Wikipedia should be compulsory for organizations associated with the WMF.
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants_talk:PEG/Sujay25/Wikipedia_Treks_Kalindi_Khal#Organization

Would be very happy to be proved wrong here.

best wishes
Shyamal
en:User:Shyamal


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