Dear Ravi,

Please see no. 9 on Meta here [1] where we discussed the potential benefits of Wikidata for Indic projects. In addition to this, I would like to give a broader context and background for this program, which will also help answer some of your concerns.

As the community well knows that in the ongoing WMF grant we have international travel component. As per the original approved budget it was Rs. 1,803,248/-, which we revised to Rs. 900,000/-. (Please note that we announced the revision in the budget on this list and sought feedback from the community  and also wrote to WMIN EC seeking their feedback). See this for reference [2]. We (Subhashish and I) have used this money to travel to Wikimania 2013-Hongkong. It was a huge learning experience about the movement and I felt it will be so nice for our communities in India to get this exposure. In fact I have invited many of the global Wikimedians to visit India and interact with the communities here. I also felt guilty that I am getting this opportunity and not many volunteers in India, who could put this experience to much better use. At this moment as a Program Director I had taken a unilateral decision to not use the WMF grant for international travel but rather see if we can get global expertise to India with this money and to create interaction opportunities with communities here. You may note that we have not budgeted any international travel in the current budget.

Some of Wikimedians on the list may know that my visit to WMDE DivCon was on a scholarship. During this visit I had met Gerard and I was extremely impressed by the possibilities of Wikidata and the long term value add it could have to all the Indic projects. See my post on this list [3]. Gerard also got more interested in the Indic projects and has since then been engaging with volunteers from India. Our conversations continued virtually since then. I have also learnt from Gerard (and it is important to note) that Wikidata could throw open  knowledge and images from commons in many of our Indian languages that are small and currently do not have any Wikimedia project or community. Just imagine making available pictures from commons in Gondi and Santali. Looking at these immense possibilities, I had requested him to visit and to demonstrate the possibilities of Wikidata.  To which he has agreed but expressed his inability to bear the travel costs. Please note he is a volunteer and is unemployed. I felt it is a good value for money to get him down and we created this page for community consultation [4]. However, these plans could not materialise for various reasons.

During this planning stage I did write to friends in the WMIN EC about these plans, asking for their inputs to gain maximum benefit for the various India Wikimedia communities, and asked if they would be interested to co-organize some of the events/locations. Some of the EC members showed interest. Also some of the active community members across languages did know about this plan through many informal conversations and discussions. All of these people knew that Gerard is the resource person. So it is not a secret as you intend to make it sound. Moreover, Wikidata has some complexity and someone like Gerard could share it better. You will also see from the design of the program that it is more intended to strengthen the community. There are plans of involving Open-Data community in India, linguists, etc.

Now coming to your question of expense estimate of Rs. 450,000/- towards Resource Person. As we have stated in the budget note here [5] it mostly includes a) his travel to India from Netherlands and visa charges; and b) travel and stay expenses within India during his visits to more than 12 locations within a month's time. In fact it is a lot of work that he committed to do in a month's time, only because of his passion for Wikidata and what it could do for the Indic projects. There was no intention of him making money with this. Apologies that we should have stated the expenditure break-up in more detail than what we currently did and avoided this confusion.

We did not allocate this expenditure under Travel and Stay expenses for the following reasons. Gerard was twice rejected visa to India and the consulate suggested that he apply for a Business visa so a Resource Person agreement with "fees" (which otherwise entirely goes for travel and stay expenses), we felt would help. Also we did not want to create any "International Travel" expenditure item in our budget.

Hope this helps clarify the background and your concerns. While, we could continue the debate on the value for money of the Wikidata India Marathon, it is unfair to insinuate Gerard in your criticism of the CIS-A2K program plans. Let's focus on the plans in discussion.

Will also reply to the question about Wikidata on Meta soon.

Gerard, apologies that you got dragged into this. Trust you will assume good faith and understand our sincere intentions about this program, whether we will be able to do it or not.

[1] Grants_talk:APG/Proposals/2013-2014_round2/The_Centre_for_Internet_and_Society/Proposal_form#Replies_to_FDC_Staff_about_CIS_Programs
[3] This is the posting on list just after I returned from DivCon

On Thursday 24 April 2014 12:16 AM, Ravishankar wrote:
100s of Wikimedia projects, including many in India, didn't need any kind of intervention.

//I gave a presentation to professionals who work in data. It took me an hour to set up the environment with them and for them so that they could start.. We had a meeting for three hours and we scratched the surface enough to make a difference. The fact that we were together ensured good faith and enough understanding.//

Are they Wikimedians? It is enough if Wikimedians can make sense of it.

If Wikimedians are not able to make sense of it, then we need to improve Wiki Data for the global community too.

//I have seen some of the agenda and if only a fifth of what is started pays of it is well worth the investment.//

Is it?

talks about reducing focus on events.

WMIN's FDC proposal was heavily criticized for a focus on events and its impact was questioned.

And yet, we have an event for Wiki Data with a proposed budget as follows:

This is 29.7% of the annual budget of WMIN !

To give a context this is almost 40% of the 2011 Wikimedia India conference !!

The single biggest expense in this Wiki Data Marathon program is the cost for resource person which is 4,50,000 INR.

So much cost for a resource person for a month hints that this could be someone visiting India from abroad.

Any idea who this is ? :)

Even University faculties don't understand Wikipedia editor and our markup.

So, what do we do? Run marathons like this for all Wikipedia projects?

//Just consider what a challenge it is to bring Wikidata to India in a way where it actually makes a difference.//

Please provide evidence that this is an India specific problem. When communities don't even get the decade long Wikipedia project, it is only expected that they won't get Wiki Data too.

How good is Wiki Data adoption in similar parts of the word and how do you address it?



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