Grants talk:PEG/Abbas Mahmood/Wikipedian in Residence at the Kenya National Archives

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Rationale for requesting for fundingEdit

I am requesting for funding from WMF to cover my residency at the Kenya National Archives because:

  • The Kenya National Archives (and the whole cultural sector, in general) is sereverely under-resourced;
  • The few GLAMs in Africa that I know of that've partnered with Wikimedia got financial support from external funders, and not from Host Organizations. (e.g. Funding for the Wikipedian in Residence at Doul'art Museum in Cameroon was covered by the Orange Foundation).

Abbasjnr (talk) 09:45, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

I understand the funds problem on the other side, but still, I find it hard to recommend to approve grant that he fully cover by our donors. GLAM, from my point of view, is not a service that we give free to the institute, it's part of partnership of the two side, that only support by the Wikimedia movement. For example, in Israel all our projects been done by 50%-50% budget and by half time employee for 4-6 months. This is not intend to be situation when the movement pays for content, but only to half support it.
--Itzike (talk) 19:52, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Hi Itzik, I think that the notion that host organizations should partly or fully fund a Residency has been a consequence of GLAM-Wikimedia partnerships being very prevalent in the Global North countries, where institutions have the financial capacity to cover other non-core activities. The case is not the same here in Africa, where the cultural sector is severely under-funded and under-appreciated. Please let us not adopt this one-size-fits-all-host-organization-is-supposed-to-fund model, lest Africa will remain to be blank in the GLAM portal for the foreseeable future. Abbasjnr (talk) 06:51, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm quite perplexed by the issue of Wikimedia directly funding Wikimedians in Residence, as I have expressed in previous requests.
Should Wikimedia participate as the sole sponsor of free knowledge projects in underfunded GLAM institutions? Perhaps not, as we collect funds to promote the work of volunteers in open participation platforms, not selected institutions.
But should Wikimedia turn down the open doors of willing but unable GLAM institutions if it has the resources available? Perhaps not, if there is a strong case supported by the community that it would enable the open participation of volunteers.
I imagine this could be mended by having an open call for institutions who want to host Wikimedians but can't find a way to fund them, with clear guidelines regarding the definition of underfunded, expected counterparts, and transparency in choosing these institutions, followed by a similar open call for Wikimedians to participate in the program.
However, regarding the present case, as it is a request for a specific Wikimedian to work for a specific institution of his own choice, this proposal presents too little context and too little justification.
A Wikimedian in Residence is work for hire by an institution, not for the Wikimedia Movement, and not committed to a specific project reviewed by the community. Ordinarily it should not even be funded by Wikimedia at all, so exceptions must be thoroughly justified, have some very concrete counterpart from the institution, even if not financial, and clearly follow minimum standards of governance, such as no self-appointed positions.
As it is currently presented, I don't see how this kind of deal could be scaled up without losing control, and I don't see enough justification presented for such an exceptional request. This would place Wikimedia too close to the business of financing underfunded cultural institutions, a task it does not have the power nor the purpose to accomplish.
However, should you present:
  • more detailed context on why engage with this specific institution
The Kenya National Archives has MILLIONS of records. They have thousands of REFERENCE materials, that can't be found anywhere else in the world. They have untapped Researchers and a Research Department. Today, if an editor wants to write up something on Kenya or Africa in the English Wikipedia, it is very highly likely that that article will be speedily-deleted, mostly because of the lack of notability, or the lack of proper citations. I believe that the Archives will give us proper reference material that could be used to bolster the creation of African content. Abbasjnr (talk) 06:51, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • an explicit and meaningful counterpart from the institution, such as a commitment to free some specified high interest or high volume material, provide infrastructure for meetings and events, engage other staff members in the Wikimedia Movement etc
Absolutely. I've been negotiating these with the Kenya National Archives for the past year. We have agreed to come up with a list of articles that we could improve; the Archives will provide us with a room to host the editathons/workshops; and the Archives staff will be involved in the editing/contribution process. All these are in the Agreement, will be signed pending the approval of this grant. Abbasjnr (talk) 06:51, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • evidence of willingness to go beyond the committed terms to support the work of the resident
I don't see why this should be used as a basis for funding. It's this simple: I do my part, and the Kenya National Archives do their part of the Agreement. Period. If I choose to do more than what we had agreed on, then well and good. If they choose to do more, that's good too. But saying that "we'll give you the funding if you do more than what's on the Agreement" just doesn't make sense. In fact, can you please elaborate on "going beyond the committed terms"? Abbasjnr (talk) 13:18, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • a commitment to investigate other possible sources of funding to continue this work after the period
I am sorry, I can't look for other sources of funding. It has taken me more than a year to get the Archives to agree to this project(And those on the Wikimedia Kenya mailing list can attest to this, judging by simply checking the list archives on when I had started the discussions). I do not have the volunteer capacity to spend another year looking for funding in Kenya. Abbasjnr (talk) 13:18, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • an independent review process by which the Wikimedian in Residence would be selected after an open call to all Kenyan Wikimedians
then this proposal would be in a much better position to request funding.--Solstag (talk) 21:43, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Do you have a problem with a self-initiated Residency? AFAIK, a self-initiated Residency is acknowledged by the GLAM community as a recruitment method Abbasjnr (talk) 13:18, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Hi Abbas. Thank you for submitting this grant request. I believe that the request would be better suited for funding if the following things are addressed:
* Give a detailed breakdown of the budget amount. How much goes towards what. Also will you be using the funds to organise editathons etc...
Yes, agreed. The Archives has been very clear that they are not responsible for any financial costs associated with this project. Therefore, I will cover my own logistics (travel to/fro the various facilities), internet (where applicable), and any other admin costs.
* The institution you will be working with is prepared to put forward some assistance towards your residency even if it's in kind.
Yep, they'll provide non-financial assistance, such as a work station, room for hosting editathons, free backstage passes, access to the Research Department, etc.
* Provide endorsement from Wikimedia Kenya chapter as all GLAM initiatives in my view should be done in conjunction with local chapters.
Absolutely. Wikimedia Kenya is fully aware of this: I have been sending updates to the Wikimedia Kenya mailing list regarding the progress of this partnership. They have offered to help, wherever they can. Abbasjnr (talk) 13:18, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
With regards to "self appointment", I don't see it an obstacle as we are dealing with someone who has a proven positive record as a Wikimedian, for as long as all protocols are followed and respected and progress is measurable it should not be a negative factor. African Wikimedian communities are at their infancy and progress should never be sacrificed for lack of numbers in communities that needs development.
--Thuvack (talk) 05:58, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
+1 Abbasjnr (talk) 13:18, 3 January 2013 (UTC)


Digitization costs much much more and in my view should not be part of this grant but be viewed as an inkind funding and be borne by the national archives as iffectively this is to their benefit more than it is to Wikipedia projects. Please elaborate on the technicalitites here.--Thuvack (talk) 13:51, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Rationale for the amountEdit

Why €1500? The Wikipedian in Residence in South Africa was compensated an average of $1000 for a part-time one year residency. Most recently, the Wikipedian in Residence in Cameroon was compensated €5000 for a 3-month part time residency. I therefore find €1500 per month to be a reasonable average that's been used across African GLAMs. Abbasjnr (talk) 09:45, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

what is the average salary in Kenya? 1500€ is much higher than what been payed for our Wikipedian in Residence in Israel, and I find it odd. --Itzike (talk) 19:48, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
See: [1] Polimerek (talk) 22:15, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
The national average is very difficult to use because not all countries/region have the same level of development. For African countries, national average is very special because of the large number of people who are living on living wage and/or under it. But my opinios is like Itzike's. Let's wait for an explanation what 1500$/month includes.--MikyM (talk) 01:15, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I agree with you that coming up with an average is really difficult: some Residencies get compensated as much as 3000 British Pounds per month (at the British Library), while others get as low as $1000 per month in WikiAfrica. MikyM, all the associated expenses will be borne by myself. This includes, but is not limited to,:
  • Internet expenses
  • Logistical expenses (The Archives has 3-5 facilities (unconfirmed) countrywide. I expect that I'll be a roving Resident (although a major part will be spent at the Archives HQ) moving around the various facilities all over the country, depending on the focus. For instance, if I'll be doing some work on Swahili Culture, I'll definitely have to go to the Archive Facility in Mombasa (which is the Swahili city) and get the relevant materials from there).
  • Editing workshops (buying snacks, printing banners, etc)
  • Simply put: all the necessary expenses that are needed to make this project a success will be my responsibility. I'm guesstimating that that would be around 25-35% of this grant. Abbasjnr (talk) 13:41, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

More information requiredEdit

Hello, Abbas:

  1. Please complete the fields at the top of this form requesting the name of the organization or individual requesting funds, and specifying if that organization is a nonprofit organization.
This is an individual grant. It's me, not the Archives, that'll be getting the funds. Abbasjnr (talk) 13:56, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  1. The budget request requires more detail. Please specify exactly what the funds will cover.
Done. Abbasjnr (talk) 13:56, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  1. Please also list exact start and end dates that provide a day as well as a month and year.
I can't do this now since we haven't agreed on the exact date. I've decided to pause doing the final paperwork with the Archives until I get funding. Is it possible for you to wait for this detail (exact date only. Month & Year are already indicated) until after a decision has been made? Abbasjnr (talk) 13:56, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Thank you, Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 19:14, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

State of negotiationEdit

Is there an agreement with the National Archives? The costs will cover also the negotiation? --Ilario (talk) 20:58, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

I am in the final stages of getting the Agreement. Asaf said -- in the Wikimedia Kenya mailing list --(which I agree) that we should get funding first, before signing anything. Abbasjnr (talk) 13:59, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Please quantifyEdit

I have not understood the amount of the material. It seems to be only photographic material, is not it? Is this material already digitalized? --Ilario (talk) 20:58, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

No. The Archives has millions of records related to Kenya's history. Plus a library, a research department, Colonial Maps, and audio-visual materials. Only some of the materials are digitized. Abbasjnr (talk) 14:01, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Hallo Abbasjnr, maybe you know I “like” particular measures of success. So could you explain, please,

  • what do you mean under “digitization of the Murumbi Gallery”,
  • how many photos of notable Kenyan people do you think you can get?

Thanks --Packa (talk) 21:34, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

Hi Packa,
  • The Murumbi Gallery is the centrepiece of the Kenya National Archives. Most visitors/tourists who visit the Archives usually just come to see the gallery that holds several collections of Kenyan culture/tradition (ranging from Maasai artefacts to Swahili cultural items to famous Kenyans' timelines, such as the Nobel Laureate, Wangari Maathai.) So the Kenya National Archives and I have discussed (and yet to be agreed, pending the signing of the written agreement) that the Murumbi Gallery should be one of the main things we will work on, which will mean getting relevant articles up as well as various photos of the gallery, and possibly even installing QR codes. What I expect to do with the Murumbi Gallery is something almost similar to the Hoxne Hoard Challenge Abbasjnr (talk) 07:02, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
  • It is really very difficult for me to say, at this stage, the precise number of photos that I expect, since all photos that will be released to Commons are subject to management approval. However, I am optimistic about this, since the Archives has responded positively about donating high-impact photos. A very rough guesstimate would be somewhere in the hundreds. Most of the Wikipedians in Residence that I've spoken to didn't have a quantifiable number (_before_ their residency), since the outcome of image donations can only be as high (or low) as the cultural institution's willingness to cooperate. Does this make sense? Abbasjnr (talk) 07:02, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
Hi Abbas,
Along the same lines, I think it might be interesting to try and quantify a bit better those 25/35% you're talking about that would go towards workshops and such. Could you give an idea of how many workshops/editathons you're planning to do in the time you're there? This also could go towards the measures of success. Also maybe a very rough idea of the amount of travel you're looking at, as well as a better explanation of how you plan to digitize the collections (hiring a photographer? Do it yourself? Get the staff to do it?). For what it's worth, I am more enclined to support funding for gaining editors and overall teaching people to use Wikimedia Projects than for just digitizing. I think that this should be the focus of your residency. ;-) However for the purpose of this grant, I think that a much more detailled budget breakdown would help you have an idea of what is doable and what is not. Thanks! notafish }<';> 14:14, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
Hi Delphine,
Comments duly noted. I have:
  • revised the budget breakdown;
  • Clarified the workshops issue. I plan to host a workshop every fortnight. Also included this in the measures of success.
  • Regarding digitization, the Archives has already started doing some digitization efforts of it's own. Therefore I don't expect to start from scratch. Also, I'll request Wikimedia Kenya to provide me with their camera, which can be used where appropriate. Photos will be taken by workshop participants (Wikimedia volunteers or Archives staff).
  • Clarified travel, in the budget breakdown.
Thanks Abbasjnr (talk) 09:55, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
Great, thanks for this info. :) For what it's worth, you probably want to size down the number of workshops. 2 a month is A LOT, you'll need to find available people (both in the staff and researchers and in the volunteers that want to hel), so 1 a month might be more realistic. But it's really up to you and what you think you can carry out :) notafish }<';> 10:53, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
@Abbasjnr, 7 Jan: Thank you, it is clearer for me now. It is also useful you have expanded the chapter Measures of success.
I understand you are not able to give a precise number of photos than “in the hundreds”. I only hope the final number will not be very close to “one hundred”. --Packa (talk) 22:08, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Details about the project, budget and tax policy in KenyaEdit

Dear Abbas, thank you for your grant application. In general, I support the idea to cover the costs of WiR at the some institution that comes from some states like Kanya, Serbia or any other who do not belong to the rich and developed part of word. I understand the difficulty (financial and systematic) of institutions from these countries to cover all costs. Financial support from WMF at the beginning may be stimulating for them to support WiR in some future time. This WMF's support should be temporary (no matter how long) and realistic.

I would like to see more details about the:

  • Project goal
  • Activities: What you will do, how long time, how many days, how many hours par day ...
  • Budget: I believe there will be some contract, between you and the institution, which will govern your rights and obligations, and I am interesting who will cover the TAX? What does the ammont of 1500$/month include?

Also, I am interesting if is there planed some working and/or promotional material and if it is planned, who will cover that costs? --MikyM (talk) 01:01, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Hi MikyM,

I'll try improving the project goal and activities. I'm anticipating that this project will cover 3-4 working days each week (8 hrs a day), subject to agreement. Abbasjnr (talk) 14:26, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Regarding tax, I don't view this as a salary (and therefore a taxable income). I view this as compensation. However, for more clarification, how has the WMF been treating its past funding for residencies? Have the past Residents been treating it as a taxable income?Abbasjnr (talk) 14:26, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Hi Abbas, I don't know about Kenya but in South Africa any compensation to an individual for any services whatsoever is deemed as payment/Salary and would thus attract tax. Student work included. I suspect that the same would apply there? Please investigate and if necessary revise amount to include tax. Maybe it would also be advisable for WMKE to act as the employer to facilitate tax payments and would therefore be able to claim a portion of this amount as tax rebates? -- Thuvack (talk) 14:46, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I'll ask about. However, WMKE can not act as an employer since it's not a legally-registered entity. Abbasjnr (talk) 16:40, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

One question more, can you tell us more details about your negotiations with the National Archives? If this information is not public, you can email to Asaf Bartov. Thank you.--MikyM (talk) 01:04, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

MikyM, I have been discussions with the Kenya National Archives for the past one year. The Kenya National Archives, being a government, public institution, has been relatively (and understandably) slow, when it comes to moving things forward. I've become increasingly familiar with the Archives (I've visited their offices 10+ times) and had several meetings with the Management Team, quite a number with the Director, quite number with the Head of Research, and several with the IT Department. I've also taken a tour of the entire Archive HQ (visited the AudioVisual Department, seen the repository of photos and maps, perused the Gallery, etc) all in a quest to better understand the mission of the archives, and where Wikimedia could play a vital role. (I've been bearing all these associated expenses for the past one year out of my own pocket, seeking no reimbursement whatsoever). I've also tried to send updates to the Wikimedia Kenya mailing list. Does the above info satisfy you, or is there anything else you need? Abbasjnr (talk) 14:26, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I was just about to ask a similar set of questions. Our guidelines clearly don't specify the right level of detail, either for budgets or activities. Salary seems a bit high to me: the page linked above is for people with degrees. Could we have a brief summary of your qualifications and skills? Do you already live close to the institutions, thus requiring no funds for travelling or accommodation? How will you go about atracting interest from other Keynyan cultural institutions: what's on your list? Tony (talk) 02:20, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Hi Tony, I definitely don't have a lot of qualifications to boast around: I'm currently doing my Bachelors Research final year as well as an Accounting Professional Qualification. My home wiki is the Swahili Wikipedia (under the same username). Abbasjnr (talk) 14:26, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
There will be some logistical expenses involved, since the Archives has several facilities countrywide. I'll also cover internet expenses, and any other financial cost related to this project.
The very fact that this will be the first cultural institution to partner with Wikimedia will set precedence and be used to encourage/motivate others to follow suit. I have already started some discussions with the Karen Blixen Museum and the Institute of Primate Research. Abbasjnr (talk) 14:26, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Abbas, and I'm hoping this application will succeed. Tony (talk) 01:49, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

Letter of intentEdit

I understand that a written agreement is not possible at this stage without the actual funding secured, but would it be at all possible to get a letter of intent from the Kenya National Archives that states what they would be ready to put forward (accepting you in their offices, giving you access to collections, minimal logistical support etc.) if this grant goes through. The idea here is to understand the scope of what is possible and how committed the institution is towards letting you in. Thanks. notafish }<';> 14:19, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Fair enough. I've requested the Archives to write me one. Hopefully, i'll get it by next week. Abbasjnr (talk) 09:09, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
Cool. Note that this is not so much for me as for you, actually. I think it is helpful to have an idea of what people are really "saying", as when they write it down, they need to think it through. I know the value of word and print differs in different cultures, so I'm not sure whether a letter of intent helps in the long run, but I'm sure you've seen the value of writing down this application too, as it obliges you to review/refine certain ideas and concepts. I find the written way a good way to at least make sure people really understand what they're getting into. ;) notafish }<';> 10:57, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Prerequisites and TimingEdit

The proposed project seems to me to be lacking the necessary level of activity and support by the community.

Successful GLAM partnerships depend on the availability of experienced Wikipedia, Commons, and Wikisource contributors, to actually make use of the materials, to take advantage of the availability of subject-matter experts, and to support interested GLAM staff in contributing themselves. Newbie contributors trained from the general public are a happy side effect of some GLAM activities, but are generally not the contributors who can achieve high impact in the context of such a partnership.

Everything I know about the Nairobi group suggests there are very few such Wikimedians around (slow page, be patient), and at this point, there is only a tiny core group consistently editing ENWP (likewise), and none of them are, to the best of my knowledge, regularly meeting or coordinating. Indeed, some of the most active ENWP contributors from Kenya are not interested in any off-wiki work.

The Swahili Wikipedia has less than one very active editor in Kenya, and less than five active editors in Kenya. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 00:27, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

This data you just gave to base your decision is inaccurate. It's for Kazakhstan, not Kenya. Abbasjnr (talk) 11:52, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, the English Wikipedia graphs were wrong. I've fixed the graphs (go ahead and click the links above again), and the numbers for Kenya are actually lower than Kazakhstan's. I was looking at the correct data when making the decision, but made a mistake in preparing these graphs to share in my comments above. I apologize for the mistake in the graphs, but I'm afraid the data still does support my decision. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 18:42, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

It therefore seems to me that the timing isn't right for this endeavor -- the community just isn't there. I think spending money on this partnership at this point would yield much weaker results than if we first shore up the local editing community in other means.

Since WMF is asked to wholly fund this investment, we need to make sure we are in a good position to succeed and achieve impact for the expenditure of movement funds. I would like to revisit this proposed partnership in the future, when there's evidence of an organized active core of experienced editors ready to engage with the Archives effectively. Indeed, it would make sense to find ways to invest movement funds in activities more directly aimed at editor recruitment.

The proposal will not be funded as it stands. I am leaving it open for a few more days to hear thoughts from the proposer and the GAC, and to allow myself to be proven less informed than I think I am. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 00:27, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

Hi Asaf, you seem to have already made up your mind (by saying that the proposal will not be funded as it stands), so I'm not going to waste my time arguing with you. Just as a side-note though, it might be kind of you to inform Wikimedia Kenya of WMF's position on GLAM in Kenya -- it will save them a lot of otherwise wasted volunteer time and money -- since it is my understanding that they are in discussions with the Kenya Railways Museum proposing a GLAM-WIKI project. Abbasjnr (talk) 11:35, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
I have indeed made up my mind, but was explicitly inviting you and anyone else to discuss it and change it. It is a pity you moved from disagreeing and commenting to feeling discussion would be a waste of your time.
I will respond to a comment you made on this talk page but subsequently deleted, because a response is warranted:
If you think that a GLAM partnership in Kenya would yield weak results, I would have hoped that you'd have told me from the start. I've been making GLAM updates on the Wikimedia Kenya mailing list (for which you are subscribed to) for several months now and you never did raise this concern. Abbasjnr (talk) 05:59, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
On the contrary, it is you who could (and perhaps should) have communicated sooner: while you did indeed announce you are discussing a partnership with the Archives, this grant proposal is the first time you have revealed you will be seeking WMF funding for this partnership. I had no reason to discourage you from approaching the archives on your own initiative, and I did not know what was being discussed. For example, it was conceivable that you would be able to show the archives the value of donating content to Commons, which, up to a certain scale, is something one or two Wikipedians can handle, i.e. within the power of the existing community.
It is now evident that you have known for a while that you would require funding for the project being planned with the archives, and it was your choice to only inform WMF when you did. Indeed, WMF is perhaps not the first movement entity you have approached for funding for this. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 18:42, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
I believe that the root of all this discussion is that the project is, and trying to be respectfull towards Abbas, vague in the sense that it wants to do too much. This kind of approach arise questions, and hard to stand positions. It seems that the project does not focus on something concrete (and I'm trying to be carefull as I can be on this), this is supported by the terms used (millions of records, thousands of references for example or the huge amount of responsabilites attached to it). I also don't believe that the data provided by Asaf should be used as a proof of anything but what the data stands for, it seems unfair, but on the other hand, that doesn't make Asaf concerns not true (and eventhough I might not like it, there might be only few other ways of proving his point though :/). I was thinking, for example, that 12 workshops are proposed... who are attending to those? maybe archivists? maybe students? maybe community? If it's the last, the concern is relevant, but for the others, the data might proof useless. I think this project can go ahead, but it needs to be though again, specially it's size and scope, so it can focus on small determined tasks (for example liberate certain group of files or images under a free CC licensen and then improve 50 articles on Wikipedia, and then do 1 workshop with the archivists). Therefore maybe the scope should be refined, and since it's the beginnig of a relationship with the Archives, a more humble size for the project should be proposed, maybe 1 month for example, maybe 1 workshop for the archivists, maybe no trips yet since you are building a relation with one archive. Then, show the results, then propose a second stage based on the results. If this sounds stupid, just ignore my comments. If not, maybe is a chance to re-apply for this grant. Don't discourage, find the tweak.--3BRBS (talk) 14:40, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Hi 3BRBS, I agree with you that the project proposal was initially vague, but I believe that I have been generally positive towards GAC's feedback and I did make some adjustments to the proposal (e.g. making a more concrete budget breakdown, getting the letter of intent, etc). I would've wanted to tackle the workshops issue (which was earlier on asked by Delphine), but please, I don't want us to waste each others time here: Asaf did NOT reject this proposal on the basis of vagueness of this proposal. He rejected it on other grounds. So, IMO, answe=ring your questions above won't affect the future of this project. Thanks Abbasjnr (talk) 03:21, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Ok, but if you want to do the project, maybe you should still try. Bye for now.--3BRBS (talk) 15:29, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Input from CapsotEdit

Hi Abbas, Asaf and everyone else (this message was kindly pasted by my wife, dyakuyu Inna!)

First of all, happy new year, best wishes! Sorry to bother but since it's not intended to be offensive I hope this message will be allowed to stay for at least a day so some people can read it in spite of being banned here, thanks!

I am really sorry about all of this. I wanted to write some lines before but I was concerned that my intervention could prove negative for Abbas but well I think it won't be the case anymore.

To tell you the truth I am really worried about the way Wikipedia/Wikimedia is evolving, it seems to me that it becomes more and more bureaucratic than ever, privileging conservative options over dynamism, creativity and audacity, and in this case the will to create something new where/when there is nothing or so little until now.

I have read the previous comments and well the comparisons (with Israel for instance) do not seem really appropriate because I don't think that much money is devoted to Kenya or even this region of Africa, or even in the whole continent. I thought (and still hope it is) that the (noble) goal of Wikipedia was spreading the knowledge everywhere boldly, especially in what is usually called the "Global South" and not trying to be so much concerned or shy about the spendings (I wish I knew the budgets of some European chapters or the extent of the involvement of the Foundation in India for instance so I could compare the amounts... or also the cost of the Wikimanias...). Comparing the situation of Swahili and talking about the editors of the Swahili wikipedia doesn't seem fair either... I have always heard that the link between Chapters and the respective wikipedias was some kind of untangible relationship and now you use this "weak point" to reject this project, a project if I have understood it well that isn't exclusively focused on this language but should provide much usable material for all the Wikis and Commons and mostly help increase the/our knowledge of Africa, and methinks that is one interesting achievement after all!

The fact is that the situation of Swahili or even other minorized languages is in no way comparable to official or strong languages, I think that culture is mainly oral in Kenya as in many parts of Africa and thus Swahili isn't so easily written popularly and that technology is not as commonplace as it can be in our privileged countries, if I am not wrong. Another interesting point/question/issue is what will the Foundation do if it rejects Abbas' project, will it help Swahili the way it helps Occitan or Sardinian; that is doing virtually nothing except letting people edit? What will happen after the rejection? Do you think one of the most active editors of the area, namely Abbas, will eagerly work on other projects when he's got so little people he can count on here and there? Do you think his "failure" will motivate other people? It is always difficult to take pioneer steps, to walk a path nobody has walked before, that's a fact! On the other hand try to think positively, and imagine what it can bring to the pride of the Kenyans to see more pictures and articles being written, some coverage in the local newspapers and in neighboring countries, won't it encourage other people to follow the path of our local Indiana Jones? In my opinion, it is really easy to criticize (parts of it or) what Abbas is intending to do while we are sitting in front of our screens, in pajamas, drinking Coke and eating a slice of pizza while he walks through the intricate jungle of local bureaucracy (we all have been victims of our local bureaucracies, didn't we?), fighting venomous administrative inercy, conservative and/or hostile views towards free knowledge or even Internet. This guy has already paved the way when nobody has done it before! Does the Foundation really want to maim or destroy dynamism and ambition, is this what we really stand for?

Frankly, I don't know Abbas very much, we never met in person and only exchanged a few mails, but from what I have read I think nonetheless that he is a nice, decent, hardworking and honest person, and I am sure he will do his best to bring the project positively and successfully to its end, so why not give him a chance? On the other hand, I think it is always possible to make a contract that would say that if the results aren't deemed worthy at the end of six months that it won't be renewed and you won't lose that much money...

Please, let us be positive and creative and give Abbas/the Kenyan editors and Kenya itself a chance, we (Wikipedia and the World) need Kenya/Africa and Kenya/Africa needs us (well probably not me, I am so obnoxious... I mean Wikimedia and free knowledge...).

Then, sorry to bother but well I tend to feel concerned trying to defend lost but just causes and even if my interventions are sorely appreciated, I think here it won't do any wrong; at least I hope so, and may Abbas forgive me if I have caused him some wrong with my words.

Again, my best wishes for 2013 (even if you both can use different calendars...) to all of you and may knowledge become commonplace everywhere. On behalf of myi cholovik Claudi Balaguer/Capsot/Wikimedia's outcast... InnaBalaguer (talk) 00:07, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

I wish WMF is showing more support for African Wikipedians as well. However, in this particular case I support Asaf decision. I think at this stage of development of the local community there is rather need for outreach activities than cooperation with GLAMs undertaken by a single paid person, who have no support of local volunteer editors... Polimerek (talk) 22:23, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Listen, I partly agree with your argument. However, I'd like to make one thing clear: please don't assume that we've never been doing outreach and editing efforts. During my time at Wikimedia Kenya, I did several outreach activities and quite a number of editathons (that were both fairly well-attended). So when I'm told that editors in Kenya don't usually want to participate in face to face, offline activities, I usually have problems with this statement: who are these editors in Kenya? Amn't I an editor? Aren't those that came to our meetups editors? Will the response of one editor who responded to being not interested in face to face meetups going to be treated as representative of the community? Should the editors have to come to our meetups? Can't we just work with them remotely? Isn't this not just a Kenyan problem but a global phenomenon: that most geeky editors usually like sitting on a computer at home and editing, rather than meeting face-to-face? Abbasjnr (talk) 03:39, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

Afterthoughts for AbbasEdit

Hi Abbas!

Reviewing the final discussions above I came to write this note, it is directed to you but I think it is useful as a reflection for everyone in the GAC.

From where I stand, the main background issue here was that this whole proposal seemed all on your back. You chose the institution, you made the contact, you came up with the idea of wikimedian in residence, you were appointing yourself to be that wikimedian in residence, you wrote the grant proposal, you are the only team member signing the proposal, and you are the only Kenyan participating in its discussion.

That makes it a bit hard not to assume you're either not working with the community on this, or that you're taking up too much and will be overburdened and not convert the full potential of a project that is already a bit exceptional, as it requests full funding for something that usually we expect partial funding at the most.

As I signaled indirectly in the section where I first put forward my concerns, should you make this proposal fundamentally more of a community proposal, I'm sure it will have the attention and respect it deserves.


--Solstag (talk) 15:53, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

Return to "PEG/Abbas Mahmood/Wikipedian in Residence at the Kenya National Archives" page.