I'm writing to update you on the community meets held last week. (I had
visited Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore along with Barry.)
First of all, thank you to everyone who came over. Appreciate your time
and also the educative, informative, engaging and wide-ranging
discussions we had. I look forward to carrying on these conversations
going forward. I also look forward to meeting up with the community
across a wider set of towns and cities.
I also wanted to share some initial thoughts that I had.
I think it will be useful to open a regular channel of
communication. My current thinking is that this could be in the
form of a monthly IRC, as well as periodic emails (probably once a
fortnight, but more or less frequently depending on relevance.)
Would be good to get your thoughts. Also, would 8pm (India time)
for 1 hour on the first Thursday of every month work well for the IRC?
In addition to the above, my contact details are the bottom of this
mail. Do feel free to reach out; I'd love to hear from you.
A lot of the discussions that we had were centered around outreach
activities. There were 3 stories that I thought were particularly
insightful which I wanted to share with you.
* A 67 year old gentleman in Chembur (Mumbai) heard about
Wikipedia in Kannada from a Wikimedian. He started
contributing because he thought it would be an novel way of
spending his free time. He said that it now keeps him
occupied doing something that interests him - and it has
reignited his family's respect for him.
* A young student of Symbiosis in Pune said he discovered that
he could edit while playing an online computer game - when
some Japanese gamers told him how he could pitch in and
contribute articles on the game's characters.
* A young guy in Bangalore spoke about how a friend of his
attended the 10th do - and came back and told him that he
could contribute articles in Oriya. He's started contributing.
These 3 stories are familiar to many of you, and they are but 3 of
100s if not 1000s of similarly awesome tales. They are also
illustrative of the kind of impact that outreach has. Personally, I
found them both inspiring and thought-provoking. Here's what they
have triggered in my head. (...and I must confess I have more
questions than answers right now!)
* Outreach takes time and effort. Given that it conducted by
volunteers such as yourselves, there's always going to be
limits to how much you can be devote; you all have day
jobs/personal lives to lead. Therefore, how can we improve
the odds of impact? It starts of with saying every single
outreach activity must be regarded as precious and every
attempt must be made to help realize the fullest potential of
the initiative. If that's the philosophy, then how does one
better understand the audience and, therefore, calibrate
messages as appropriately as possible. (Also, and this is
from my personal experience in community mobilization and
outreach messaging, it's very easy to get tempted into
providing multiple messages. ...even more so when it comes to
Wikimedia when there are so many incredible stories to tell.
...but audiences very rarely take out more than 1 or 2 key
points.) /Given this, how does one identify and focus on these
key messages? For instance, should the message be different
when talking to IT versus arts students? Should the tone of
the message be different when talking to 18 years olds as
opposed to 30 year olds? Can outreach kits be developed? Can
these include some kind of capability building?/
* Outreach requires a feedback loop. Currently, while outreach
is happening frequently and widely, it is physically difficult
to stay in touch after the event. (I heard about an event in
Trichy where 65 people attended. It'd be physically
impossible for one or two individuals to regular communicate
with all of them.) /Is there a way that we can open some kind
of simple and low-resource channel to stay in touch with
people who have attended outreach meets. This feedback loop
could potentially include what message they took out from the
event, whether that got them going to start contributing (and
if not, why), and if they started, how things were going. Can
this be done online in some manner? How do the results get
shared with those who conducted the outreach?/
* Potential contributors are everywhere. They're not only in IT
colleges, though these are significant. Anecdotally, I
suspect there might be greater age diversity in the India
community as compared to the rest of the world (though I don't
currently have evidence for this.) One thing is for sure,
there's opportunity all over the place. For instance, any of
our population segment (e.g., 18-25, 25-35, 60+ etc.) are so
huge, they're bigger than many, many countries. /Wouldn't it
be really interesting to see how they can be reached out to,
and the relative results? Also, given the enormous potential,
what are high-scale, highly-scalable models that can be piloted?/
As I said earlier, I don't have answers to these but am excited
about working on making an attempt at articulating these.
c) Other Bright Sparks
I'm also sharing these examples I heard of because they are quite
* Some guys in Pune are pursuing an incredible goal of installing an
offline edition in every school in Pune. Mind-boggling given
there are 10,000 schools in and around Pune!
* A professor in Jadhavpur University has conducted a 2 day session
on editing Wikipedia for his students, and has now integrated
editing Wikipedia articles into the academic plan for his students.
d) Chapter Discussions
Barry and I met up with the Chapter and discussed how we can work
collaboratively for the community.
e) Next Steps
In terms of next steps, specifically with regard to outreach, I'd
like to study past outreach efforts with Wikimedians and
identify/design about 5 pilots that we can explore. I hope to
identify these pilots and flesh them out to the richest possible
extent in the next two weeks. I'm going to request anyone and
everyone to share examples that you think are relevant. More on
this in the IRC.
It'd be wonderful to hear your thoughts on these and any other aspects.
(btw, if you prefer to write to me directly, my email ID is
There's amazing opportunity for Wikimedia in India. I'm excited and
looking forward to serving the community to support taking Wikimedia
project to even greater heights.
Thank you for your time.
*India Programs - Wikimedia Foundation*
mobile : +91 750 300 1971
skype : hisham.wikimedia
google talk: hmundol(a)wikimedia.org