FAQ India Programs/FAQ Consultancy for National Programs, India
What is the main purpose of Hisham’s role? edit
Hisham’s role is to design and execute programmatic activities in India, with the goal of persuading Indian people to become editors. Those efforts will probably focus mainly on on-campus activities, since Wikimedia’s experience to date suggests that students are good candidates to become editors because they are at a point in their lives where they are doing lots of reading, researching, thinking and writing. It’s natural and easy for them, therefore, to do that same kind of work on the Wikimedia projects. We have also had some success, through the Public Policy Initiative and other projects, with professors assigning writing Wikipedia articles as coursework for their students. And we have been pleased to see a number of campus Wikipedia clubs springing up recently.
Will Hisham be aiming to encourage Indians to edit in English, or in the Indic languages? edit
The Wikimedia Foundation is agnostic on the language issue: we believe it’s up to individual editors to choose what language they want to work in. Having said that, we also believe that there are impediments to editing in the Indic languages that don’t exist in English. Our goal is to eliminate those impediments where possible, so that individual editors can easily edit in whatever language they like.
How much is Hisham expected to interact with the Wikimedia community? edit
We expect that Hisham will have frequent interactions with Wikimedia community members. He will need the support of the community to do his work: for example, he will likely be looking for individual editors and local groups to volunteer to organize events, conduct trainings, serve as ambassadors for the movement and a myriad of other roles. Importantly, he will seek to support community-led initiatives that align with the priorities that we have set for his work.
How is Hisham expected to interact with the new India chapter? edit
We expect that Hisham will have a strong, productive relationship with the India chapter. Hisham will focus his efforts on the priority initiatives identified above. He will interact with the India chapter on a regular basis to further these goals and to be of support in chapter-initiated programs.
When Indian media inquiries come in, who will handle them? Will the Wikimedia chapter be expected to point journalists towards Hisham, or will Hisham be expected to point journalists towards the chapter? edit
Media inquiries will continue to be handled as they currently are. Members of the India chapter and the Indian community are active on the Communications Committee, as are chapter members from other countries. Media inquiries specific to India will be handled the same way as all our media inquiries are: they will be routed, by a mix of volunteers and paid staff, towards the person best placed to handle them. Depending on the nature of the questions, that might include chapter representatives, Hisham, Barry, individual editors inside India, or others. Hisham will not be aiming to get a lot of media attention for his work, until and unless there’s a reason to do that. For Wikimedia Foundation-specific inquires, you may contact Moka Pantages, the Foundation’s Global Communications Manager and she will manage our responses for now.
Who else will Hisham interact with in his work? edit
Hisham will be working closely with Indian community and chapter on initiatives that focus on building the editor base. He will spend a lot of time with groups where there is a high potential for recruiting new editors (e.g., students). Hisham will draw actively on the resources available among the staff of the Wikimedia Foundation. That’s important because the Wikimedia Foundation is continually experimenting with projects designed to increase editing, and it is knowledgeable about community experimentation as well: Hisham needs to be linked in with the growing body of knowledge about what’s working and what isn’t. Hisham will also likely form connections with FOSS and other volunteer organizations, particularly those with campus activity as a core part of their work.
How will you avoid overlap or confusion between Hisham’s work and the work of the chapter? edit
There probably will be some overlap and confusion: this is the first time we’ve done anything like this, so realistically we can’t expect it to work flawlessly, immediately. But in general, our view is that Hisham’s work - focused on attracting new editors - will be in areas where the chapter does not yet have the capacity to operate on a sustained basis in a country as large as India. Hisham will not focus his work on areas that are typical roles of a chapter including GLAM and content liberation efforts.
What will your (Barry’s) involvement with India be after this appointment? edit
Barry (I) will continue to oversee WMF’s work in India. I will be responsible for ensuring our success in India and will provide Hisham with the support he needs to succeed. I will continue to be available to the community and chapter and will continue to be active on the lists. Those of you who email me, IM me or Skype me will still get replies from me. I expect to maintain and grow the great relationships I have with all of you in the coming months and years and will continue to visit India and stay in close touch.
Will we meet Hisham in Berlin at the chapters meeting? edit
Yes, Hisham will be in Berlin with the aim of learning as much as he can about initiatives focused on editor recruitment.
Will Hisham be at Wikimania in Haifa? edit
Why didn’t you select an experienced Wikimedia community member? edit
We had hoped that we would get a strong set of applications from members of the Wikimedia community, however we only received 7 applications from active Wikimedians. While we looked closely at each of these candidates, we did not find a candidate from within the community who had the broader set of experiences that we felt were needed in the position. That said, we expect to add Wikimedians to the team as it develops and we had hoped that one of the Wikimedians who applied would work along side Hisham, though that has not yet materialized.
What was the process by which Hisham was selected? edit
It was a five month process in which we made an open call for consultants (using my visit in September to drum up interest via conversations with the community and the media) in India and around the world. We had 197 applicants from a wide range of professional backgrounds. Egon Zehnder’s India office, part of a leading global executive search firm, helped screen candidates and manage the process. Egon Zehnder interviewed with 25 candidates based on the inputs from Bishakha and I who helped shortlist. I interviewed 12 candidates via Skype in the first round and then I had the help of Bishakha Datta and Achal Prabhala to interview the top 7 in person in Bangalore. Our top 2 candidates met with Sue and Erik in Delhi and then Hisham met with the entire leadership team (Sue, Erik, Danese, Zack, Veronique, Cyn) of the Wikimedia Foundation and a broad group of staff members in San Francisco.
Why is Hisham being brought in as a consultant rather than an employee? edit
We have specific goals that we seek to achieve in India and feel that they can be best achieved under a consultancy at this time. Further, we want to keep our options open in regards to the potential structure of future Wikimedia Foundation operations in India.
Why didn’t you select someone with experience in the FOSS community? edit
Ultimately, we decided to go with the consultant who had the best chance of delivering on the specific goals defined for the engagement. We did receive a number of strong applicants from the FOSS community in India and, in fact, one of our finalists was a longstanding FOSS community member. We had 17 applicants with some FOSS experience and looked closely at candidates who had strong experiences. That said, we continue to view ourselves as a part of the FOSS community and you will see Wikimedia well represented in the community in the coming months and years.
How many staff are you planning for WMF India - and how will these be split across functions? edit
We expect that Hisham will need 3-5 people to support the engagement he has taken on in India. (This does not include technical staff who might be needed if WMF decides to create a technical center in India.) He has not yet had time to specify the roles, but they will likely focus on outreach activities and communications. We have also discussed creating part-time roles or fixed-term contracts for people who might be able to fulfill specific activities. These positions could be distributed in various locations across the country.
What is the budget for WMF India office / operations? edit
Hisham will be preparing a budget for his activities over the next few months and will agree on the budget with me in time for WMF’s 2011/12 fiscal year, which begins in July.
Where in India does Hisham live? Will that be the location of the Wikimedia Foundation office? edit
Hisham currently lives in Delhi. His current location has no bearing on the ultimate location of the Wikimedia Foundation office.
Does Hisham have a Wikimedia e-mail address yet? How can we reach him? Is he subscribed to the Indian (or other) Wikimedia mailing lists? edit
Hisham’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. He will also have a mobile number which we will share soon. He is already subscribed to a number of mailing lists and will join all of the India lists as well as other global lists in the next few days.
When will the Indian office open? edit
We are still investigating the plan for an India office. While this is taking longer than had been indicated, it is an important decision and we don’t want to rush into it. Do note though that the engagement of Hisham will serve to launch the kind of initiatives that will lead to the impact we seek in India and, as such, is a more important milestone from our perspective.
What city will the office be located in? edit
I will be sharing additional thinking about the office location and seeking input from the community in the next few weeks. I also need to have some discussions with Danese and Erik about whether they plan for a technical presence in India as a follow up to their visit in December. My focus within India over the first weeks of 2011 has been on securing the consultancy agreement and helping to celebrate the 10th Anniversary.