Access To Knowledge/Programme Plan

Posted by Prasad Krishna at Sep 30, 2012 01:25 PM |
Pursuant to the announcement made on July 30, 2012 and as reflected in the FAQ accompanying the announcement, the India Program will become a project of the Access to Knowledge (A2K) program of the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) an established non-profit organisation working in India whose own goals and objectives are in close alignment with that of the Wikimedia movement.

Context to the CIS A2K programme plan

Between 80 to 120 million Indians have Internet access, and by 2015 that number is expected to increase to 237 million. Correspondingly, between 400 and 700 million Indians have mobile phones, and the number that have mobile-data access to the Internet is increasing exponentially. India is a country with tremendous knowledge resources to contribute to humankind. While the majority off Indians face income-related technological barriers against accessing and contributing to the global storehouse of knowledge, there are a significant number of people in the country who have both the capacity and ability to do both.

For the Wikimedia movement, India represents a largely untapped opportunity to dramatically expand our impact and move toward our vision of a world where everyone can freely share in – and contribute to - the sum of human knowledge. Although the Indian population makes up about 20% of humanity, Indians account for only 4.7% of global Internet users, and India represents only 2.0% of global pageviews and 1.6% of global page edits on Wikimedia's sites. Despite such a disproportionately small presence on Wikimedia, English Wikipedia, our flagship project, ranks in the top ten of the most visited websites in India. We also have Wikipedia projects in 20 Indic languages, which will become increasingly important as the next 100 million Indians to come onto the Internet, given that they are likely to be increasingly using the Internet in languages other than English. Demographically, Indic languages represent a good growth opportunity since estimates suggest only about 150 million of the total Indian population of 1.2 billion have working fluency in English.

In 2010, the Wikimedia movement developed its first strategic plan and set India as a priority geography for growth and investment. At the conclusion of the strategy process, the Wikimedia Foundation created a Global Development team that immediately started laying the groundwork for the India Program. In 2012, the strategic plan was updated and revised to reflect experiences from the initial phase of the India Program and changed realities on the ground.


Support the growth of Indic language communities and projects by designing community collaborations and partnerships that recruit and cultivate new editors and explore innovative approaches to building projects (e.g. donations of encyclopaedias and other useful texts, education partnerships and other institutional partnerships) Support India-focused efforts to improve quality of India-relevant content on Indic language and English Wikimedia projects (e.g. university outreach, institutional partnerships and India-relevant thematic contribution campaigns) Drive and complement access to free knowledge across India through alternative technological means (e.g. mobile-based Wikipedia and offline Wikipedia) Help the Indian community and chapter share experiences and tell their stories to the wider Indian and global communities within the Wikimedia movement Generate and document lessons from activities in India that can inform the work of Indian communities and similar programs in other countries Support the Wikimedia community on an on-going basis as and when needed and possible, and by cross-pollinating ideas, encouraging volunteer initiatives and transferring best practices. Partner with formal and informal groupings within the Wikimedia movement in India, for example, the Wikimedia India chapter, language communities, WikiProject India, etc.


In measuring impact, it is important to differentiate between outputs and outcomes. Desired outputs of the CIS-A2K programme are described in more detail in the sections that follow, and are likely to be re-callibrated, given the customised, changing and experimental nature of the work. Outcomes, on the other hand, relate to expected/desirable impacts that the work seeks to achieve. Both outputs and outcomes can only be achieved through a cooperative effort involving the CIS-A2K programme team, the Wikimedia India chapter, the Wikimedia community, and the other important community groupings that exist online and offline. In other words, the goals can be met if

Desired outputs:
To expand the Indian editing community to 5,000 active editors by June 2015, with at least 1,000 active editors in the Indic language projects. To enable the building of Wikipedia projects (and sister projects such as Wiktionary and Wikisource) while keeping in mind reasonable quality, and have 5 Indic language Wikipedias reaching 50,000 articles, and 5 more reaching 25,000 articles, while also enabling 5 Indic language communities to have 100 active editors, and 5 more to have 50 active editors. To expand Wikipedia readership to 100 million unique visitors per month by June 2015. To ensure Wikipedia is accessible to all literate Indians through mobile and/or offline platforms. To expand the base of India-related articles on English Wikipedia from 115,000 to 165,000 by June 2015, and to halve India-related stubs in the same period.

Desired outcomes:
Foster a strong relationship with and within the Indian Wikimedia community through transparency and communication, and by providing support for community-led activities and facilitating community participation and ownership Expand the Indic language editing community and build interest in Indic language Wikimedia projects Grow high-quality Wikipedia projects (and sister projects such as Wiktionary and Wikisource) Expand Wikipedia readership in India including on mobile and offline platforms Grow India-focused articles across Wikimedia projects.

Program goals

Catalyst Project Approach

Specifically, the A2K Team will focus on testing pilots that tackle the following challenges:

  • Building editor communities of sufficient critical size to accelerate and sustain growth in Indic languages
  • Connecting the Wikimedia community to new networks, building awareness of the Wikimedia projects and how they work
  • Building partnerships with educational and other groups to encourage new users to join the community as editors and content contributors
  • Encouraging editors of English Wikipedia in India, and strengthening coverage of India-relevant topics therein
  • Reaching communities with limited Internet connectivity to create access to Wikipedia's educational content

The A2K team will answer the following general questions in its pilot work that will help inform program design in India and in other geographies where the Wikimedia movement is active:

Editing growth: Are there certain types of proactive programming that work well in garnishing editorship in India? Indic languages and English: Is there a difference in strategies/opportunities for growth between Indic language communities and the EN:WP community in India? Program evaluation: Why are the programs in India successes or failures? Pilot testing and learning: Why do some program pilots succeed and others struggle? Community partnership: What is the best way to partner with the community in the individual pilots and the overall program? Ability to replicate in India: What are the features/programs that have succeeded and can succeed elsewhere in India? Ability to replicate internationally: What is replicable from the India experience? What are the cultural factors that should be accounted for before expanding? Capacity: Is it possible to maintain the program's activities within the volunteer community or is staff capacity needed? Return on Investment: Is the financial investment justified by the results of the program? Scale: Are pilots that are being tested scalable within a particular community, and adoptable by other language communities?

Current year plan - July 2012-June 2013

General community support and communications

The A2K team will provide support to the Indian Wikimedia community, which includes the Wikimedia India chapter, on various community-led activities, including outreach events across the country, meetups, contests, conferences, and connections to GLAMs and other institutions. This support will extend to all formal and informal groupings within the Wikimedia movement. Henceforth, requests of support from the community and the chapter will be managed transparently and publicly so that the A2K team can meet expectations, keeping in mind that not all community events will seek A2K program support, and that the A2K program will not always be able to support all requests made. In general, community support is intended to solve a problem or help or add to an existing community or chapter initiative; the A2K team will provide any level of reasonable help as needed.

The A2K team will also provide services to the community with regard to intra- and inter-community communications--most visibly through the quarterly Indian community newsletter, Wikipatrika, and also through direct efforts to cross-pollinate ideas and make connects between projects. The team will support the community to tell its story on the global Wikimedia blog,, Wikipedia Village pumps and use all available channels to reach out to the community. The team also will build a formal public relations plan that will advocate the values of the movement and encourage new editors. In all cases, the communication efforts will be such that they stay in facilitation/support mode, allowing full ownership and participation by the community.

Indic language community building

The India Program began work on Indic language community building in October 2011. This area is a top priority of the A2K team, as Wikimedia's reach in India will always be limited by language barriers. The Indic language projects remain small, with the most successful having fewer than 50,000 articles and fewer than 100 active editors on a monthly basis. The primary challenge is to strengthen communities to build and sustain each Indic language project. To date, community building has focused on working closely with some really small but promising project communities (some with fewer than five editors) to help them take the initial steps to expand their communities. This will entail supporting the organization and design of outreach events, projects and pilots to aid the community in catalyzing activity. See Indic Language projects for more info on recent and current activities.

Over the next year, Indic community building will continue to focus on deep engagement with 7-10 Indic project communities, with the addition of systematic digital outreach pilots focused on encouraging new editor engagement. Digital outreach represents a powerful channel to invite and encourage new editors, especially given the increasing readership of various projects in India. The current reader base is the most logical place to foster new editors. A combination of geo-targeted banners, linking to online tutorials and other training material, supported by online help points such as the Teahouse, will be piloted in an Indic language and then rolled out to other languages as well as the English Wikipedia community in India. Digital outreach will be conducted in partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation's newly established Editor Growth and Contribution Program.

Community building will be done by:

  1. Encouraging communication between editors through establishing connections between editors, facilitating meet-ups and encouraging on-wiki discussions on talk pages or forums such as village pumps
  2. Organising collaboration amongst editors through Wikiprojects that are either subject-specific or task-specific (an example of this process can be seen in the Wikiproject to create and improve articles of the 80 most-read medical topics on English Wikipedia that is now active in 5 different Indic languages--Assamese, Bangla, Odia, Telugu and Marathi)
  3. Cross-pollinating ideas across communities by sharing experiences and success (or otherwise) stories in relevant forums such as the various village pumps, as illustrated in this example for Hindi
  4. Supporting Indic language community events such as the Malayalam conference, Sangamothsavam, held at Kollam in May 2012. The A2K team will also offer support to larger events such as Wikiconference, the national conference of Wikimedians in India, but this will be a secondary focus as priority will be placed on Indic-specific activities.

Content addition/donation in Indic languages

Though the A2K team will work with Indian content in all languages, particular emphasis will be placed on generating and improving content in Indic languages. The team will work to find content that is relevant and useful to the Wikimedia movement that is (a) already in the public domain and (b) contributed to the movement under an acceptable copyright license. Such content will include, but not be limited to, dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias and any other encyclopedia-like compilations. The rationale for making content addition/donation a key part of the A2K program work (with the full consent and engagement of the relevant Wikimedia communities involved) is that many smaller Wikipedias need a 'shot in the arm' of content to create sufficient momentum in the projects. In English and other European-language Wikipedias, bot-created content (an integral part of the growth of these Wikipedias in their early years) was possible because sufficient electronic/digital resources existed at the time outside of Wikipedia. For many Indic languages (and indeed, India-related topics in any language), the same is not necessarily true, and content addition/donation may be seen as a necessary intervention--it can be likened to performing the work of a bot in the physical world, with physical texts.

A precedent for content addition/donation exists in the gift of an encyclopedia that the government of the state of Kerala contributed to the Wikimedia movement in December 2008. The gift was received by Jimmy Wales on behalf of the movement and is in the process of being integrated to Malayalam Wikipedia.

New editor cultivation with campaigns on Indian topic areas on English Wikipedia

English Wikipedia is a global resource of nearly 4 million articles. However, only around 115,000 articles (or less than 2.9%) of all articles directly cover topics of relevance in India, and 60,000 of those articles are stubs or articles of poor quality. There is a tremendous opportunity to deepen contributions on India-related topics including areas such as Indian history, geography, law, public policy, politics, art, culture, contributions to the sciences, popular culture, etc.

Over the coming year, in partnership with the Indian Wikipedia community, the Wikimedia India chapter, other groupings (such as WikiProject India) and appropriate national or regional institutions, the CIS A2K team develop campaigns to promote contribution to Wikipedia on specific topic areas. The initial campaigns will involve focused pilots to develop approaches to supporting and cultivating new editors with strong content knowledge. Partnerships will be explored with interest groups outside the existing Wikimedia community to document and celebrate these interests, which could be anything Indian, from efforts that fall under the work of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs), like handicrafts and art, to movies, cricket, history, etc.

Pilot programs

In general, the bulk of the work of the A2K program team will be to run controlled and well-designed pilot programs with the full engagement of the communities involved. These will be developed and carried out in addition to projects focusing on goals A to D. The A2K team will actively design and implement new pilots on the basis of desired impacts and stated goals as outlined through this document. To borrow a phrase from the software development world, the idea behind these pilots will be to continually ensure better design, better engagement and therefore greater chances of success, and to maintain a healthy degree of innovation and experimentation that will allow us, in some cases, to 'fail fast, fail early'.

Built in to the program structure is a speedy evaluation of these pilots that will enable us to document learnings from less successful projects and expand and scale-up more successful attempts. For instance, the India Program, in partnership with the Global Education Program, conducted a pilot project between June-November 2011 with three universities in Pune. The pilot aimed to generate useful content for English Wikipedia and provide lessons for the future growth of education programs within India. The project failed to generate useful content and created significant costs for a variety of reasons, but a thorough evaluation of the pilot was conducted and reported on publicly, and many lessons were learned that will inform future strategies of projects in the same genre. For example, in the coming years, subsequent phases will identify scalable approaches to working with professors and students while taking into account the limitations that were evident in the first attempt; focus will be placed on shifting the design away from English Wikipedia toward Indic languages; work will only be added to Indic language Wikipedias or English Wikipedia if it is of an acceptable quality; students’ training will be made more rigorous; greater and more consistent support from Campus Ambassadors will be provided; and any subsequent project phases will be discussed with the community/ies involved in order to ensure greater community participation in the project right from the outset.

In another instance, the India Program team began two small projects on Facebook in April focused on supporting new editors in English and cultivating community connections and new editors in Odia, as part of a social media pilot. Through these projects, we have learned that social media requires considerable efforts on the part of not just a program team, but instead a whole community. Consequently, in order to succeed, the A2K team will continue to actively engage in the space, and work towards making a cohesive, productive social media space across platforms that is driven and populated by community members, including the chapter, who are already using social media as an extension of their Wikimedia work. One potential pilot project that can work with broad community involvement is an India-focused virtual apprenticeship, building on the Teahouse project.

Approach to measuring results and evaluation

As the work that is being done by the A2K team is of an experimental nature, it is critical that there are clear objectives, robust program design, strong measurement techniques, rigorous documentation, ongoing performance improvement, constant community capacity building and periodic rigorous outside evaluation. Every substantive initiative of the A2K team will have associated pilot designs which will be publicly and regularly developed with and reported to the community. These measures will serve to achieve five objectives:

  1. Increased transparency with the community and chapter so that there is both visibility as well as ownership (and more active involvement of as wide a cross-section of community members as possible)
  2. Discipline of detailed program design to improve the odds of success--especially in the context of the uncharted waters of virtually everything the India Program will be undertaking--with a clear understanding that for any set of experiments, there will be failure and success, though effort will be put towards decreasing failure and increasing success
  3. Facilitation of transfer of capability and best practices within a community, across Indic languages and with communities beyond the India-centric ones
  4. Accountability to community and donors so that a prudent balance is maintained between impact and resources
  5. Fostering of a spirit of learning and continuous improvement, which can only happen if there is detailed and public documentation, communication and training, and an understanding and acceptance that failures will happen with any given set of experiments and that the important thing is to minimise them as well as learn from them.

The A2K team will be supported by a team of five people who will be employees of CIS out of offices in Delhi and Bangalore. The team will be managed by a Programme Director, and consist of individuals working on participation, Indic languages, communication and community and programme support.


The first year of operations will be supported by a grant from WMF to be administered by CIS for a total of INR 11,000,000. The budget will be spent on team salaries, travel, community events, merchandise for volunteers, and other services as needed.

Read the original published by the Wikimedia Foundation.