Building Knowledge Society
Back in December 2014, Wikimedia India’s started with its “”Infrastructure Scholarship program”. It is
an epitome of success, symbolizing Wikimedia’s stated objected of spreading knowledge. Ever since then,
the program has quickly gained momentum and is now been striving to become an impact-full
community-support program. It is the first community-aiding program ever structured by Wikimedia
India chapter. The agenda of the program as postulated in their project page states that:
“This [Equipment Lending and Community Support] is mainly intended at removing limitations in
contributing for user groups like students, unemployed and others facing financial constraints.”
From observation, they have been working hard to keep their works in accordance with their agenda.
Indic Wikimedian’s community is a colossal body, among which a small amount of user group suffers
from financial impediments which include students, unemployed or disguised unemployed. A small
number of long-term users with a good contribution history were considered eligible for scholarships. By
scrutinization, it is found that the procedure of selecting grantees are transparent; through community
endorsement and evaluation of their past contributions.
After surveying with the grantees, we perceived that at least four long-term experienced editors, who had
to decrease their Wikimedia-related activity due to technical limitation (lack of device or due to no
internet access) were helped by Equipment Lending and Community Support program. As a result, their
Wikimedia-associated contributions increased again.
Although it is an infrastructure scholarship program, according to their project page:
“Some purchases may remain community / chapter owned so it can be used by many contributors if one
which is an important aspect of the program.
As of January 2016, Equipment Lending and Community Support project had accepted 7 grant requests
from long-term users, including, User:Satdeep Gill, User:Titodutta, User:Bodhisattwa, User:Info-farmer,
User:Pranayraj1985 and User:Jim Carter. All these editors work in different Indic language Wiki projects
and at some point have faced problematic situations( financial cum resource constrtaint) which inclined
them to use Equipment Lending and Community Support program.
Satdeep Gill, an experienced administrator at Punjabi Wikipedia, on March 2015, requested for a grant of INR 4,449 (US dollar $65.4891) to obtain three Punjabi language books to improve the integrity, verifiability and reliability of many articles on Punjabi language Wikipedia. In January 2016, we found that the books helped them to create or significantly improve over 45 articles (See the list of articles here and here). In an online interview of the grant receiver, Satdeep, told us that “[…] the books have been helpful” to them. However, Satdeep noted, “We have not been able to make the best use of the books as of now.” He further said that “We are planning some in-house edit-a-thons from March  during which a bunch of editors will sit for one-two days once a week [sic] or a fortnight. We hope to put references in around 50 articles everytime we have an edit-a-thon.” He assured us that more articles would be started soon using those books.
Gill also concluded that Equipment Lending and Community Support program, “indeed is making a good impact”, nevertheless, he suggested that “the grantees need to make sure they know the exact way they will be using the grants.”
We also interviewed, Bodhisattwa Mandal, a sysop on Bengali Wikipedia and Bengali Wikisource, who had requested for a grant to pay for the internet connection bills monthly. Living in a remote location where ethernet connection is unavailable, he was solely dependent on costly 3G dongle internet network connections. He received the grant from December 2015 onwards. Following that, his activity increased a lot, he started contributing on Wikimedia Commons with his full strength. As of January 2016, he has uploaded 67+ Books on Wikimedia Commons using the new data connection. Since he received the grant recently enough, “it is too early to declare any significant contributions from me”, he told us. But over time he assured us about quality contributions.
We also contacted User:Info-farmer, who is an admin on tamil Wikipedia and on tamil Wiktionary. His response was not much different than the others. His outreach activity for the grant, which is a laptop, has increased very much. And from the statistics, it is evidenced that Info-farmer’s online activity has increased a lot.
User:Pranayraj1985’s activity boomed just after they received the grant on April 2015. According to the statistics more than 70% of his total 68,611 edits were made only after he received the grant.