Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021: Let’s Focus on “Why?”

A Wikievent or Wikimeet named Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021 (WMWM or WMWMI) will be organised by A2K on 19–21 February 2021. This will be an online Wiki-event where you’ll find different types of programmes such as training, workshop, presentation, brainstorming sessions etc. Although the Wikimeet will focus on different Indian Wikiprojects, and it is expected that a large number of the participants will be from different Indian and South-East-Asian Wikimedia Communities, please note that participation in this Wikimeet is not restricted to any country, and Wikimedians from other countries are also welcome to join different sessions of the event. We expect to provide more details about participation and open up the registration process around the end of December 2020. You may learn more about Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021 on the Meta-Wiki event page (this page is updated on a regular basis, so you may keep on revisiting).

In the event page we have jotted down a few points related to the objectives and background. During a discussion after a training session in India, Asaf Bartov once told that it is really important to explain the question “why”. Whether it is a small training workshop, or a major one, or if we are going to teach how to use a particular Wiki tool, it is really important to attempt to explain “why?”, “Why is this tool useful?“, “Why is a particular event important?” In this particular post, I would like to focus on this particular question: “Why? Why are we conducting Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021?” There are several reasons of organising Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021 Let’s note down the top 4 reasons.

Exploring the online platform for Wiki-events, and Wiki-training: All our projects such as Wikipedia, Wikisource, Wikidata, Wikiversity, Wikivoyage etc. are online projects. Over the years, we have conducted and supported a large number of skill-development and other types of on-ground events. A2K has been conducting national-level on-ground events such as Train-the-Trainer, MediaWiki Training, Wiki Advanced Training for several years now. In comparison to what we have done to arrange on-ground events and activities, we have a lot of scope to explore the online platform for training and other Wiki-events. For more than last one year, we are pondering on the idea to provide more focus on online events. In our annual proposal submitted to Wikimedia Foundation in March 2020, we noted this as one of the top priorities:

CIS-A2K has not fully explored the area of online training and workshops yet, as it is still a relatively new pedagogic model in some parts of the world, and also dependent on factors like digital infrastructure, access and skills. This model may, however, be necessitated by logistical reasons or unforeseen circumstances, such as the current global health crisis, and offer advantages such as reducing the carbon footprint and logistical expenses. Currently, the only online training which CIS-A2K provides is the skill-sharing initiative on Wikidata, which has been a zero budget initiative and is getting some response from the community. This year, CIS-A2K is going to further focus on this area and explore further.

In the last one-year we have gradually increased our effort to conduct online events and it helped to increase our capacity. After working on Wikidata skill-share, Wikidata eighth birthday celebration (India) etc, we are conducting a larger event according to our priority “Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021.

COVID-19 pandemic and the need of the exploration: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to talk, train, meet, and greet in a different way. These days many things are remote, and we have been exploring the remote communication medium and platforms like never-before. We do not consider COVID-19 pandemic the first or the main reason of conducting the Wikimedia Wikimeet event, but the pandemic has definitely forced us think of an event like WMWM. If there was no pandemic, there is a possibility, we could have done another iteration of a national-level on-ground Wiki-event, but we are planning to conduct WMWM.

Important topics, Important areas: Because of the pandemic, we had to postpone or cancel a series of the events. On the other hand there are several areas in the Wikimedia world where we have seen good progress in the recent past. We believe that (if we can plan well) WMWM will be an excellent platform to talk and share ideas on important topics such as Strategy2030, Abstract Wikipedia, etc. and also for several other training programs, and brainstorming.

Learning, knowledge-sharing, learning patterns: We request you to note that Wikimedia Wikimeet is not only an event, but we would like to see it as a great learning opportunity as well. We need to work with hybrid learning/blended learning methods and different techniques. In an an online training things like didactic communication, face-to-face interaction are missing. There are many areas where we can learn new things, there are many problems which we can attempt to solve. There is also a possibility that we would not be able to find any solution to some problems. However, we are very much interested to document all our learning in details for everyone. This opportunity to learn new things, and sharing our learning definitely excite us.

Conclusion: Following these observations we have planned and we wish to conduct the Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021. We will be regularly posting updates, and share our learning on Diff and on Meta-Wiki.

Fun fact: The last date of the event, 21 February, is observed as the International Mother Language Day. We would definitely like to sessions and talks on language preservation and other similar topics.

Not so fun fact: In May 2020, we first thought to conduct this Wikimeet around October 2020. However at that time COVID-19 was so rapidly increasing in the country slowing down everything, and upsetting everyone, we could not and did not go ahead at that time.


Image credit: Benh LIEU SONG (Flickr) (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cappadocia_Balloon_Inflating_Wikimedia_Commons.JPG), Cappadocia Balloon Inflating Wikimedia Commons, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode