[WMCEE-l] CEE grant not funded; thoughts on two roads...

Asaf Bartov abartov at wikimedia.org
Wed Oct 30 07:57:14 CET 2013

Dear colleagues,

I have bittersweet news: the Wikimedia Foundation will not be funding the
grant proposal for the upcoming meeting in Modra.  Please see the
announcement on the grant proposal talk page:

(go, read it.  I'll wait!)

So, that's the bitter part.  The sweet is that there's a path forward -- if
this metacommunity (i.e. community of communities) is truly interested in
the skill-sharing, cross-pollination, and regional collaboration we have
been talking about, it will need to _show_ it much more energetically.  The
CEE idea cannot be borne by three or four dedicated individuals.

It really is up to you: use the upcoming meeting (those of you who are
going anyway), and this (rather inactive) mailing list, and figure it out
-- DO we (where we = more than a single person from each of a three or four
chapters) want CEE to be a real thing, and if so, WHAT do we want to
do/achieve with it, AND what are we willing to DO toward those goals.

If and when I see evidence of this energy, I will support it in any way I
can, including funding a fuller CEE event (even in a few months!), and of
course participating myself.

I will also mention two examples of comparable attempts:

on the one hand, Iberocoop -- the group of chapters, proto-chapters and
user groups speaking Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian -- who have a fairly
active mailing list, and have been engaging in some regional cooperation
(mostly around printed materials, experience sharing, WLM, and education
programs), and have recently had their third regional conference
(Iberoconf).  I participated in that conference (held in the participants
own languages), and I was impressed with the level of discussion and the
concrete plans hatched during the event.  I also found it useful to have
been present, including quite a few one-on-one conversations I have been
able to have with various delegates.

It should be acknowledged that Iberocoop enjoys the fact that most of the
groups collaborate over two shared, major Wikipedias (the Spanish and the
Portuguese Wikipedias), making mutual trust and understanding easier
(shared experiences, familiarity with policies and history) and
facilitating easier sharing of materials and resources.  This is not quite
the case in CEE, where most groups are not sharing a major Wikipedia with
other groups, albeit there are still the linguistic kinship (for the Slavic
groups, at least) and some cultural similarities.  Also, I am certainly not
saying Iberocoop is perfect (its imperfections were much discussed in
Iberoconf, in fact...)

On the other hand, the group that has been calling itself (without
authorization, ahem) "Wikimedia Asia" for several years now.  This label
comes to life twice a year, before Wikimania and the Wikimedia Conference,
when its 2-3 proponents try to get people to "do something as Wikimedia
Asia".  There was talk of regional conferences, of joint projects, etc., --
the sort we've mentioned in the context of CEE as well.  However, nothing
happened.  No collaboration has ever taken place, no conferences were had,
and other than a few "Wikimedia Asia" lunches during Wikimania events, it
was an empty label.

This past Wikimania, in Hong Kong, there was a "Wikimedia Asia" session,
where, again, ideas were discussed, but little progress was made.  Trying
to get the obvious good intentions in the room onto practical lines, I
proposed a cultural exchange project, where each of us would enlist our
communities to translate some key articles about each other's country or
culture (mediated through the English Wikipedia), the benefits being that
it's an entirely-online project requiring no funding and no complicated
set-up.  Nevertheless, almost three months later, it is clear the project
is not a success:
(the two most active participants are Vishnu, a CIS employee in India,
and... yours truly.)

I am bringing this up to demonstrate to you that I am not exclusively
critical of the CEE group, and that there are models with both more and
less energy than CEE currently shows.  It is up to you whether CEE becomes
more like Iberocoop or more like "Wikimedia Asia".

I look forward to discussion of the future of WMCEE, as well as to any news
from the Modra meeting once it takes place.


    Asaf Bartov
    Wikimedia Foundation <http://www.wikimediafoundation.org>

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the
sum of all knowledge. Help us make it a reality!
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