Hi all,

There have been numerous outreach sessions organized all across India, so we decided to organize a WikiWorkshop of our own in Ahmedabad. :)

We decided on the Electronics and Communication Engineering department at LD Engineering College as the venue a couple of weeks earlier. This was mainly because Harsh was confident that we would be able to obtain all the permissions to use a classroom in time. The date was pretty convenient since it was a state-wide holiday due to Parshuram Jayanti.

We had also invited Hisham to be a part of the event during Office hours on 19 April 2012.  Hisham accepted our invitation to fly in and help us conduct the workshop. Nitika followed up with the presentations and offered to help us with event planning.  Arnav Sonara, a Gujarati and English Wikipedia volunteer translated parts of Nitika’s presentation into the Gujarati language.

We received confirmation of participation from 42 students through a Google Docs based sign up page created by me.  This was very heartening and we expected at least half of the students to actually turn up for the event. ;)

Hisham landed in Ahmedabad at 8.40am and was available at the venue around 9.30am. Anirudh and I joined in later. Hisham guided Harsh and I through the presentation he was carrying so that Harsh could use them later for future workshops in the city.

The time period before the scheduled time for the session was spent discussing ideas with regard to the purpose and objectives of outreach. Hisham opined that it is important to keep pursuing the newbies after they attend outreach sessions and workshops, while Anirudh said that was probably not the best use of scarce volunteer time, which could be better spent contributing to the projects themselves, and helping those editors who approach the veteran contributors on their own accord.  We are interested in learning from the follow-up work that the WMF India team has done with regard to the programs it has run in the past and its direct success with the recruitment of new editors.  We hope this will start a useful discussion.

Seventeen people turned up for the workshop.  This included Vyom Majmudar, a veteran Gujarati Wikipedia and a frequent Wikisource editor and Karthik Mistry, a Debian geek and FOSS advocate.

I commenced the session by introducing Hisham to the participants.  Hisham then began with his presentation.  The agenda of this workshop was to acquaint the participants basics of Wikipedia editing - five pillars, notability guidelines, followed by a short editing session.

Hisham guided the participants through the first four pillars of Wikipedia but did not speak about the fifth pillar ([[WP:IAR|There are no firm rules on Wikipedia]]).  He told me that it would be a bit too advanced for new editors to understand, and then asked to explain it to the participants.  Anirudh also elaborated on the third pillar of Wikipedia ([[Wikipedia:Wikipedia is free content]]) that Wikipedia not only provides content free of charge, but that the users of the website are free to edit, use, modify and distribute the content.  Free as in free beer, and free as in free speech and free markets. :)

After the presentation was concluded, eleven people stayed back in the workshop out of which five were completely new to editing. We edited both the English and Gujarati Wikipedia projects.  [[w:gu:User:Shaildve]] created three stubs while being guided by Vyom. [[User:Chirayu.Chiripal]], who, by the way, does not speak Gujarati, has started contributing to Gujarati Wikipedia by making templates. \m/

The City Bhaskar covered the story on the workshop.[1][2]  Many thanks to Noopur Raval for connecting us with the journalist.

Overall, we think there is scope for improvement in the way we present Wikimedia projects to new users.  Some of the topics we touched and discussed such as notability guidelines, referencing and the five pillars could have been presented in a more coherent manner.  These are some of the things we will be working on in the near future and would really like to take help from more veteran Wikipedia editors to promote our projects in the state of Gujarat. (Ashwin, are you listening? :P)

TL;DR:  The Ahmedabad workshop was organized by Konarak Ratnakar and Harsh Kothari on 24 April 2012.  Seventeen participants attended the event.  Anirudh Bhati (Wikimedia India) and Hisham Mundol (WMF India Programs) were also present.  Hisham addressed the new users initially with a presentation, and later the experienced contributors trained and answered the newbies.  It was great to have two veteran contributors like Vyom and Anirudh around, who helped out greatly during the sessions.  There is a lot of scope for improvement in the quality of our outreach sessions and each and every one of these events contributes to their constant improvement.

Best regards,
Konarak Ratnakar (with inputs from Anirudh Bhati)

[1] http://epaper.divyabhaskar.co.in/detail.php?id=119618&boxid=42415839921&view=image&editiocode=44&pagedate=04%2F24%2F2012&pageno=2&map=map&ch=0

[2] http://www.divyabhaskar.co.in/article/MGUJ-AHM-c-69-843564-3161426.html