Thanks Vishnu and the CIS-A2K team, for taking into account the community's
feedback in some extent and commitment to revise their action plan
accordingly. Paid contribution in Wikimedia movement has always been an
issue of dispute as this trend doesn't usually go with the spirit of this
movement. However, CIS has been given the responsibility of development and
dissemination of the Wikimedia projects around India and they have been
able to spread the movement across India and achieve growth in some
context. The issue of organic vs inorganic growth of Indic languages seemed
to be really abstract, especially in case of Bangla ( I'm not well aware of
other languages). As a Wikimedian, I hope that CIS would assist the
development of the movement in India consistently in addition to the usual
volunteer led growth and continue to establish a positive sense regarding
their activities. Also, the cooperation and mutual understanding between
WMIN and CIS is something that is critical and essential for the betterment
of Wikimedia movement in India.
Best wishes for CIS!
On Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 4:00 PM, Vishnu <visdaviva(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Wikimedians, WMIN EC, FDC Members, FDC Staff and
the WMF Board:
*sorry for X posting and for the long e-mail*
This statement is in response to the CIS-A2K's FDC proposal discussions
during the months of April to June 2014. For those of you who would like to
know the context please see the discussion pages on meta here  & .
Apologies for putting out this statement at least a couple of weeks late.
It was in September 2012 that CIS was given an opportunity and a
responsibility to serve and grow the Wikimedia movement in India through
our Access to Knowledge (A2K) program. As many of you know we have left no
stone unturned in doing our best to growing the free culture/open knowledge
movement in India and in Indian languages. CIS is grateful to the Wikimedia
movement from which we have learned immensely as an organization. We are
yet again grateful to all you for reposing the trust and responsibility yet
again in the A2K program with the FDC Grant . Even more so as our FDC
application went through a rigorous community feedback.
Some interesting stats on the CIS-A2K FDC proposal: the entire discussion
ran into approximately 75,000 words. Of this CIS-A2K's responses consisted
about 28,000 words and 47,000 words were by the community members, WMIN EC
members, FDC staff and FDC members. This is probably the longest discussion
on any of the FDC proposals so far. 25 Wikimedians (of this about 8 are
“new users who have not edited since”); 4 out of 7 WMIN EC members; 4 FDC
members; 4 FDC/WMF staff; and 1 WMF Board member took part in the CIS-A2K
FDC proposal discussion.
On a candid note, some of the community engagement during the FDC process
was painful like walking on fire, but we are glad that we have gone through
this process. We thank each and everyone who has engaged with our A2K work
and the program proposals that we have put forth for the next year. We have
learnt some useful lessons and assure you that we will continue to improve
upon our programmatic efficiency, efficacy, accountability and transparency.
We would also like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the
critical points of feedback that we received from all of you and outline
the steps that we have taken or plan to take.
1) The Grant proposed is too high within the local context. Especially
Salaries and the Administrative costs were considered to be high. (This was
echoed by many Wikimedians - Ravi, Dhaval, Hari & Pradeep; WMIN EC members
Karthik & Pranav; FDC Staff and FDC members. Some specifically suggested
that we consider revising the salaries at least to bring them on par with
the existing salaries within CIS.)
We have taken the community's feedback to CIS Board and our Board
concurred with the community's feedback and suggested that we take
appropriate measures to bring in some sort of parity in salaries for the
A2K team, and noted that this will be better in the long run. Accordingly
we have revised the CIS-A2K team salaries taking into consideration the
following factors a) feedback from the Community and FDC; b) performance of
the team member during the last one year (i.e. until March 2014); and c)
scope of work for the coming year based on the draft work plans. **We
would like to inform that the total revised staff salary budget is less
than 35% from what was proposed to the FDC.** The average monthly salary
of the A2K team under the FDC grant will be about Rs. 73,000/- per month.
Further CIS will also raise some portion of the salary. Please see here 
for the revised salary structure for the CIS-A2K team which is effective
from July 1, 2014. We have also reduced some of the costs against Team
travel across the plans. This and the other changes to the budget will soon
be shared with the community.
2) Ambitious scaling up of the language specific strategy that CIS-A2K has
adopted and the sustainability of the growth. Also the number of proposed
plans is too ambitious. (FDC members, Staff along with Ravi and Blue
We have taken this feedback into consideration and decided to limit the
language specific plans to 5 (4 existing and 1 new), and will suspend 2
language area plans . Since we started to actively work with the Wikimedia
movement (from Sept. 2012), sustainable and qualitative growth of Indic
Wikimedia projects has been one of our core concerns. We have already
stated the measures that we will proposed to take up towards sustainability
of the various initiatives in our response to the questions raised on Meta
during the FDC proposal process. We look forward to seeking more ideas from
the community on this aspect as we continue to work with them through the
next 12 months. CIS-A2K will also cut down some of the proposed stand-alone
projects. Based on the community's feedback we will soon share revised
plans that will guide our work for the next one year.
3) Focus on policy, advocacy and content donation and acquisition. (FDC
members and Pradeep.)
CIS-A2K program will more pro-actively look at various possibilities of
influencing policy in creating an enabling environment for open knowledge
and Wikimedia movement in India. We have already put in efforts to create
policy level changes in each of the language area and some of them may
fructify soon. However, it is important to note that any kind of policy
work is difficult to quantify to visibly demonstrate the impact and to
appropriately claim attribution of success. We will also put more effort in
bringing Indic content in the open. We are incorporating this suggestion in
revising the plans.
4) Independent community review of the work done by CIS-A2K. (Ravi and
We see the importance of this suggestion. As stated here <link> CIS-A2K
did propose for a Community led review in our last year's plans. However,
this could not materialize for various reasons. We have internally
discussed on how best we could ensure that this is done. In the coming
weeks we will share some ideas for the community's feedback on how we could
collectively create a structure that will independently and periodically
review the work done by CIS-A2K and other movement entities. We will use
this learning in the next one year.
5) Community involvement in the programs and activities catalyzed by
CIS-A2K. (Ravi, Hari, Pradeep, some from WMIN EC, FDC members and staff)
We disagree with this aspect of the feedback, especially with regard to
the four language areas (Kannada, Konkani, Odia and Telugu). CIS-A2K was
privileged to have the active involvement of these language communities and
the proposed plans for July 2014 to June 2015 were discussed with the
respective language community across various channels. We believe that
there is a silent majority across these language communities and also in
other language communities that actively engages with CIS-A2K and our work.
However, we do recognize the importance of appropriately capturing the
community mandate to CIS-A2K publicly (especially on wiki). We are
exploring various means of capturing the community's involvement. We also
believe it is important for the FDC, WMF and Wikimedia movement in India to
find ways of listening to this silent majority of the community members who
otherwise choose not to be very vocal on the mailings lits and Meta.
6) Impact of the language specific strategy. (Pradeep, Hari, Ravi,
Ansuman, Dhaval, Shyamal, some from WMIN EC and FDC members)
CIS-A2K believes that it's language specific strategy, has been effective
in growing the respective Wikimedia projects. We have already brought in a
significant traction to each of the four language area projects and
associated communities. Though it is too early to assert (as we rolled-out
plans based on this strategy a year ago in June 2013) we believe that our
language specific strategy is already yielding productive results. Other
than the “independent community review” we will explore even more robust
methodology/ies to demonstrate the impact of the language strategy.
However, we welcome continuous feedback from the community which help us to
learn and progress collectively. The community feedback if it is of
formative in nature than summative would be a significant value add for us
to make swift changes.
7) Natural/Organic v. Artificial/Inorganic growth of Indian language
Wikipedias. (Ravi, Pradeep & FDC members)
CIS-A2K does not see the bright line that is being drawn about organic v.
inorganic growth within the context of Wikimedia movement (in India). There
are many nuances to this debate and it is not productive to pitch these as
mutually exclusive approaches. Further, our experience taught us that what
is organic (to be done by volunteers) and what is inorganic (could be
supported by paid professionals) changes from a language community to
language community and their context. There is no one model. We believe it
is important to respect this diversity across language communities in
India. For instance, some language communities (given their current
context) feel that Wikipedia Outreach should be supported by paid
professionals whereas some think it should be done by volunteers. While we
appreciate the broader philosophy that define each of these approaches, we
have been putting every effort to bring the best of both of these
approaches in our work. We strongly believe that there is an immense amount
of learning for all of us as a movement, if we could collectively explore
how to best utilize volunteers and voluntary sector professional energies
than to pitch them as mutually exclusive. At the end of the day we all are
driven by the same collective vision of growing open knowledge.
We will soon share the revised plans and budget for the next year and look
forward to your continuous engagement in our collective dream of further
growing the Wikimedia and open knowledge movement in India.
Note: This is being put up on Meta here 
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