Access to Knowledge Report — September to December 2012

Posted by Noopur Raval at Jan 31, 2013 10:14 AM |
This post provides an overview of the activities done by the Access to Knowledge team under the grant provided by the Wikimedia Foundation from September 2012 to December 2012.

The information provided in this post can also be viewed in form of a presentation here.


The activities done by the Access to Knowledge team have been listed under events, meetups and programs. Here, events indicate workshops conducted and outreach activities supported for people outside the existing community while meetups indicate the meetings with existing community members and programs refer to education programs and competitions across different language Wikipedias. A detailed list of these events and meetups can be found in the presentation.

During this period of four months, a total of 22 events were conducted in 7 languages across 14 cities reaching out to a total of 2,250 participants between the ages of 15 and 52. There were 27 meetups where approximately 150 community members participated. To list briefly, these were in the cities of Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Anugul, Dhenkanal, Hyderabad, Panjim, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Karkala and Delhi.

The focus of the Access to Knowledge team has significantly shifted in terms of concentrating on Indian language projects as well as limiting the scale of initiatives to ensure more engagement. We conducted and supported 5 programs including the Malayalam education program, Gujarati Wikipedia article competition, Assamese education program, Odia education program, supporting Konkani Wikipedia incubator project and Wikipedia takes Pune. In line with the Wikimedia Foundation’s narrowed focus which includes promoting technical volunteer initiatives, the Access to Knowledge team has been helping with filing bugs for Punjabi, Assamese, Odiya, Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi communities. We conducted two hackathons at BITS-Pilani Hyderabad and in Delhi and have been helping connect interested volunteers across the country including initiatives like MediaWiki groups.

Including all the activities listed above, we reached out to a total of approximately 2,050 people and have connected with about 49 per cent of them who continue to receive updates on Wikipedia activities in India through our newsletters, mails, etc. Of these, approximately 387 participants (37.9 per cent) created usernames and made edits. The total number of female participants were 288 approximately which is about 28.2 per cent of the total people engaged. However, we are yet to generate a list of articles edited and the list of current active users. One useful way of tracking active editors on different Wikipedia projects is being developed by WMF Labs. Here is an example of the increase/decrease in editor count on Gujarati Wikipedia. We feel that more work needs to be done around studying editor retention.

From the team’s experience with outreach in these months, I want to share a few qualitative insights. For instance, we do think that there is great enthusiasm and potential among engineering students to contribute to MediaWiki and more initiatives need to be planned in order to welcome them and utilize their potential to the benefit of Indian language Wikipedias. Similarly, in terms of gender gap, while the initial barrier of participation can be overcome with outreach, a systematic strategy needs to be developed in order to make female editors feel a part of the existing community and ensure they continue contributing to topics that interest them. Also, right now the team conducts outreach sessions and workshops in all institutions that invite us with no specific approach based on subjects, gender or other parameters. Currently, the Access to Knowledge team has been sharing reports and blog posts with the community via mail, newsletters, tweets and social media fora. We hope to start monthly IRC meets with the community to improve communication and brainstorm together on what challenges each community faces.

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