Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Sources/CIS-A2K External Stakeholders Consultation

Detailed notesEdit

Date: 29 July 2017

CIS-A2K team members present: Tanveer Hasan, Program Manager, Tito Dutta, Senior Program Officer, Manasa Rao, Program Officer(Communications).

Discussion Coordinator: Ravishankar Ayyakannu, Regional Manager, Strategic Partnerships, Asia & Eastern Europe, Wikimedia Foundation


  • Sneha PP, Programme Officer with the Researchers at Work (RAW) programme at CIS
  • Mr. Beluru Sudarshana: A free knowledge enthusiast and coordinator of Bharathavani project (very similar to Wikisource) fully funded by Government of India
  • Dr. Bitasta Das: Faculty Member, IISC, Coordinating the Arts and Humanities module for students of IISC
  • Ms. Pavitra Jayaraman: Head of Content, White Swan Foundation. All of their content is released under free license and is in multiple Indian languages.
  • Dr. Padmini Murray: Faculty Member, SRISTHI, Bangalore. Was a pioneer in digitizing the British Library collections about India; also an important contributor to Digital Humanities discourse, which takes into account the information landscapes and knowledge networks
  • Mr. Guruprasad: Independent Publisher. Was a software professional in his previous avatar and has now started a publishing house which aims at identifying and encouraging new writers and new forms of writing in Kannada

Backgrounder to the Wikimedia Strategy Discussions:

The Wikimedia Foundation has been holding discussions in order to define Wikimedia's future role in the world and develop a collaborative strategy to fulfill that role. In order not to limit engagement to those only affiliated with the movement, WMF encourages chapters and affiliates to engage with like-minded persons and institutions. This is not only to maintain neutrality but to also gain a well-rounded perspective on issues that affect readers and the general public at large. Link to the WMF Strategy Movement page here.


The discussions have been condensed and grouped under the main challenges that emerged from the research on New Voices: Readers, experts and partners:

Challenge 1: How do our communities and content stay relevant in a changing world?

Challenge 2: How could we capture the sum of all knowledge when much of it cannot be verified in traditional ways?

Challenge 3: As Wikimedia looks toward 2030, how can we counteract the increasing levels of misinformation?

Challenge 4: How does Wikimedia continue to be as useful as possible to the world as the creation, presentation, and distribution of knowledge change?

The following points were put forth by the participants:

  • How does Wikipedia aim to address the debate on Source of knowledge vs. Destination of knowledge?
  • What happens when Google is not pushing text anymore? Text becomes liability.
  • Emergence of Artificial Intelligence and machine translation. Wikidata explained. If Wikidata continues to expand, eventually do you need humans?
  • New Readers: what do they want? Which language do they want to read in? If there is a 40 per cent increase in Africa's population, does the information available on Wikipedia cater to them? Is the information Western-centric?

Beluru Sudarshana

  • I come in at Wikisource. Mixed my passion for open knowledge and journalism as a profession. Built, a Kannada encyclopaedia from Government of India. I developed this and treated as healthy competition. Crossed 30K entries. There are also some legal issues. Most of the information about Indian langauges present only in English. The Kannada Shabdakosha – 50 odd dictionaries gathered and to be put on Android langauges. Bharatavani also an app. Have worked with CSTT – published works – worked with them to get copies - 54 database dictionaries, 190 pdf dictionaries (
  • Challenges: difficulty in coordinating knowledge resources – copyright issues
  • Bharatavani is governed by Indian Copyright Act
  • PDFs are the number one enemy of Indian language scripts
  • Also important for communities to reach out to govt. Can't expect government to take the intiative. Have to sensitize policy makers.
  • Happy that Wikipedia has developed technical tools like Wikidata. Government of India's Technology Development for Indian Languages Programme(TDIL), India project has not provided updated tools. Can't even download it.
  • Influence of corporates like Google affects Indic languages; Indic Wikipedias should not become their slaves.
  • Challenges: Vandalizing content on Wikipedia; good political bosses needed in government


  • We need localized technological solutions, not just global ones
  • We need to keep engaging the government.
  • Debate on knowledge gaps: gap between information and knowledge?
  • Global South: Knowledge in this part of the world also includes folklore and oral history; this can't go undocumented
  • GLAM: if everything is digitized then what if people stop coming to libraries?
  • Tamil Nadu Government efforts to release documents under CC- Creative Commons explained.


  • Lack of governmental interest another issue
  • Question by Tanveer: how do we repackage our cause?
  • Bring Wikipedia into schools, colleges – bringing it into higher education space - for use in classroom learning
  • Programs like Wikipedian in Residence will be useful for institutional partnerships
  • Need to explore: how fruitful are relations between Wikipedia and other like minded encyclopaedias? Is there tension? How do we reconcile these two?
  • Question by Ravi: this volunteer driven model, it is Eurocentric. You volunteer for things only when you have forms of security.
  • WiR: paid position not only motivating but dedicated time set aside
  • Question by Ravi: the movement resistant to paid volunteering, must be kept in mind.
  • Question by Ravi: how do we avoid cannibalizing each other? We need to have clear systems and programs, must customize the programs to suit the local needs, instead of adapting global programs
  • Tampering with the back end of information on the web: may be the thought of making changes there is making them nervous
  • Interface level issues also exist


  • Hampi University has a repository of film history – what about Kannada lit.?
  • Tanveer: How to reconcile different constituencies of knowledge?


  • Going back to roots of journalism: oral reporting
  • Ask the expert mechanism(who has probably written 20 papers on mental health): what do I do? How do I have a conversation?
  • Linking and co-existing also possible; not everything has to be released
  • Audience is not hostage to bad info

Bitasta Das

  • Scaling up institutional ties should be a priority


  • Question by Ravi: Staff of Wiki Libraries, enable partnerships with libraries, based on your lobbying capacity, you can do this with or without institutional help
  • Does Wikipedia require offline engagement? Are there inherent issues with it being technologically focused? You have a sense of the average reader. Are there forms of reading/ accessing? Perception of technology as a tool might be the problem.
  • Ravi: the average reader wants context based information. They don't care that its an encyclopaedia. They only care about their need: if they are a traveller, research scholar, etc.


  • How to balance the giving and getting in institutional partnerships? What do they get out of it? What to avoid?


  • In Tamil Wikisource, we attributed 2 lakh pages to the govenrment
  • WMF can fund this research; if someone else is funding, it may not work
  • you can set the terms, you can fund research and the focus of the research
  • even though Wikipedia is so pervasive, it is difficult to get people on board
  • WP does well on meta data
  • Pitch idea: if you give us your repositories, we will upload and publish, we will do it for free
  • New efforts happening on Wikidata, important to think beyond Wikipedia

Beluru Sudarshana

  • Proofreading on multilingual dictonioaries has suffered


  • Why are important matters like health and law ignored on WP? In Indic languages.
  • Issues with regard to Neutral Point of View could be a factor


  • What about news channels as sources? Their political stances/ biases could lead to coloured sources
  • In the news business, when articles are written: two sources required at the minimum. An opposing point of view for the alleged to defend him/herself.
  • As a consumer of Wikipedia, I don't know what the process is. If everyone can edit, how do I know if it is credible?
  • If process is clear, I can respect your process.
  • I need to know an army of people is creating the information I consume with a vetting process


  • Wikipedia is very binary; need to make it more interactive; changing the outlay of the article, changing the way the article is put out, a Wikipedia article does not speak to you, this should change.