Most of the user group affiliates of Wikimedia are specific to languages in their focus, i.e., they focus on developing Wikimedia projects in a specific language. However, there are very few user group affiliates that focus on a theme that transcends all the languages. One among such user groups is the Deoband Community Wikimedia, which, according to its published page on Meta-Wiki, “focuses on Muslim academia and scholarship, spreading from and around the Deoband Islamic seminary, and aims at improving Wikipedia and its sister projects with related knowledge and information, at a global level, in any language.” Often referred to as DCW, the user group believes that the subject on which it focuses has been underrepresented on Wikimedia projects and that there should be strategies and programs that help close this gap.
DCW was established on July 31, 2021, and recognized by the Affiliation Committee on January 16, 2022, after a long review process. In its first year, it has formed collaborations, organized meetups, held training workshops, and hosted photo events. These include its Deoband Yoruba Collaborative Project, which aims to help the theme grow on the Yoruba language Wikipedia. This project began on June 25, 2022. The group also organized the Bhopal Photo Event in October 2022, a photographic event that exceeded its target with more than 140 images.
DCW is struggling to find a growth trajectory. In December, it proposed a research work entitled “Defining methods for the strategic development of the Deoband Wikimedia: increasing quality-oriented knowledge and participation.”
The study, which is supposed to come in about six chapters, aims to define the growth trajectory for this thematic affiliate, which could also help other affiliates of the movement. This research would be carried out under the supervision of Aaqib Anjum Aafi, the user group’s founder and a key figure in its development. Aafi joined Wikipedia in March 2019 and has been an active contributor on several Wikimedia projects ever since. He has been a Movement Charter Ambassador and is a translation administrator on Wikimedia Commons, Meta-Wiki, and Wikidata. He has recently set up the “In the News” system on Urdu Wikipedia, where he is an “eliminator.” Besides all of these technical roles, he is a Volunteer Response Team agent and spends most of his time working on the development of the Deoband Community Wikimedia.
Commenting on the purpose of this research work, Aafi says that, we do not want to waste community resources on events and things that do not bring us fruitful results. We would instead strive to find the best possible ways which bear better results both in terms of “quality participation” and “quality knowledge” alongside “long-time-oriented participation”. The research work aims to define these methods for DCW which could at the same time help in its strategic development and in saving plenty of community resources from getting wasted.
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