Centre for Internet & Society

This is a short report on a comparative analysis of two prominent Wikimedia initiatives, Wikipedia Asian Month and Project Tiger, to understand prevailing challenges and opportunities, and strategies to address the same. The report has been authored by Nitesh Gill with inputs from Suswetha Kolluru, and editorial oversight and support by Puthiya Purayil Sneha. This is part of a series of short-term studies undertaken by the CIS-A2K team in 2019–2020.

Part I of this report outlined the research questions and methods of this study. Part II presents some of the observations and learnings. 

Observations and Analysis

Wikipedia Asian Month and Project Tiger are pilot projects and both are equally popular among Indian communities. They are similar projects but also have some unique aspects. Communities connect with each-other but in different ways. For example, as noted by an  organiser, Sailesh Patnaik, WAM has the following objectives: “ a) Supporting Small Wikipedia communities around the world (majorly Asian Language Wikipedias) b) Providing support to small local communities, to encourage growth and development c)Increase the cooperation among the Wikimedia communities and affiliates in Asia, d)Enriching Asian related culture, content, and enjoyment on Wikimedia projects.”

Meenakshi Nandini, a Malaylam Wikimedian notes, “The Project Tiger contest gave me some best experiences. Through this project, I got support in the form of laptop and Internet access. That is very useful for me. In my view, it is a competition between the communities rather than individuals. I saw that participants wrote more articles in the Project tiger contest than in any other events.But, WAM helped to create more relevant and high-quality content than Project tiger.”

Some common aspects for the both projects are below:


WAM is one of the initial projects to give a boost to volunteers across the world. Most of the editors are focussed on initiatives in their own languages, and WAM offered a common platform for Asian communities to work together on a project. According to the interviews of community members, the love for their languages inspired them to participate as well as create content in regional languages, communicate to other community members etc. 

As community member SangappaDyamani notes , “To enrich Kannada wiki articles, [I’m] happy to represent kn wiki in such an event, we can meet new editors, learn new tech used in other wiki etc.” 

Communities or community members began to take part in WAM when they had less opportunities or less ideas to grow their local Wikipedias. After this project began, communities or individuals have been motivated for their Wikipedia’s growth, and engaging more with regional languages and knowing about Asia or Asian culture. Many Indic languages were searching for a platform and WAM gave them a common platform to engage and create content in their regional languages. All interviews indicated the same point that it was a new idea and as every Indic language was developing at the time, this idea influenced most of the languages.

As  community member, Ramajit Tudu observes,  “As our Santali Wikipedia [went live], we all had lots of excitement to cover all types of the article[s] but prior to that we had articles on the regional topic only. At that time some of the other community members suggested we should take part in this editathon (WAM) and we felt It was a very nice campaign, it is an exchange and sharing of information among the Wikipedians of Asia.  Knowing about the person, place and subject about your own continent other than your own country and putting them in your own language is always an interesting job. In the year 2018, I was one of the coordinators and Jury for WAM - Santali language. As our community was growing in the year 2019 others were the co-ordinator and jury but still, I had contributed by participating in the editathon. Besides these, I support the editathon by creating the project page in Santali language.”

 Similarly,there are quite a number of motivational factors for volunteers who have been actively participating in Project Tiger. Firstly, it gives an opportunity to create several important and relevant articles that relate to their language Wikipedia that are presently missing. Secondly, in order to keep up the momentum among participants throughout the competition, it is designed in two phases and there is friendly competition between all the Indic communities that participated to secure the top position. The third and final motivational factor is cash prizes, in the form of Amazon vouchers, for top 3 individual contributors from each community and a three day offline Wiki workshop for all the active and major contributors from top performing communities.

“When it comes to a competition (between communities), there is a different kind of zeal and there are cash prizes too for extra motivation” says  User:Jagmit Brar from the Punjabi community who created more than 1000 articles under Project Tiger in both the iterations.

These motivation factors have definitely been a major reason why the contest witnessed immense engagement and reach among the Indian communities. 

Communication and Collaboration

Communication is an important aspect of running these long duration editathons. So, the model is to engage local organizers and participants with early invitations. The team started contacting Asian communities a month before the start of the campaign. 

According to Rupika, the Communication and Media officer of WAM “One of the most difficult things about any project is when it is a new project and they are just trying to [let the] community know about the project. But for projects that are popular and well-established like Wikipedia Asian Month and Wiki Loves Monuments, they don’t have to work that much hard. But we do make sure that our efforts with local organisers are complete. So, we ask them to create a page a month or two before that project starts.”  

The discussion started from the mailing lists. Thereafter, mass messages were dropped on all the village pumps and local organisers started discussion with their community members. A new meta page was designed for every iteration. After the notifying and instructions, interested communities add their names and make sure to participate in this project. The model of engaging the communities is through social media channels, emails or on-wiki. The central-notice is a more beneficial method for informing Wikimedia about WAM and also writing blogs for the updates on progress of the project. 

Also Wikipedia Asian Month’s primary objective was to collaborate with all the Asian countries as well as others to increase content related to Asia on Wikipedia. It started after a proper discussion and this collaboration was a huge experiment for organisers as well editors. The volunteers interviewed in the course of this study expressed that they are glad with the collaboration of different communities across the world on this campaign.

Collaboration is one of the main features which defines the objective of WAM. It helps the small communities to grow systematically and do something for their regional Wikipedias and learn from other international and national communities.WAM started with 40 plus communities and at present, the number of participating communities is over 70 due to its collaborative nature. Through its five iterations, many Wikipedia communities have been linked to each other and know about each other’s histories and culture etc. ‘Mourya Biswas, a Bengali wikimedian notes’, “Personally, organising WAM was a great deal of a learning experience as well with regard to how to go about organising an editathon with so many people contributing from across different parts of the world. I had hitherto very little experience on organising online editathons. A few tools were absolutely new to me. In the subsequent editathons that I have organised since then, I've learnt to use a few tools to coordinate, support and manage the editathon even more efficiently.”

Similarly communication engagement is an effective step of Project Tiger as well. Organisers announce the project on India mailing list then approach communities via village pumps so that they are aware of when the project will commence. Communities remain engaged with the project till three months. The communication channels include social media, emails and phone-calls. Jury members regularly remain in touch with organisers. Editors also communicate regularly with recipients of hardware support. 

Project Tiger, as a contest,  needs collaborative efforts in order to be a successful engagement with the communities, and the emphasis was on regular communication and discussions that resulted in strengthening the community further.

“We had Whatsapp groups with all the volunteers participating in the contest to strategise, resolve doubts, share ideas in order to create as many good quality articles as possible”, observes User:Parvathi Sridharan from Tamil Wiki community.

This contest/project not only saw engaging participation from existing and experienced volunteers, but also from many new ones. This contest has paved a way for new and enthusiastic people who were interested in contributing to Wikipedia. One way this happened is also through offline Wiki workshops conducted as part of outreach.

“This contest was a good chance to show how people in India are improving the access to knowledge across India and to the world. Many communities which were unnoticed came out during this PT writing contest and showed their community strength.” notes User:Gnoeee, from the Malayalam community who had contributed to English and Malayalam Wikipedia during  Project Tiger 1.0


WAM encourages cultural exchange by mediating online connections between communities and helping them learn about unique aspects of their respective countries and languages. During this project, Asian communities generate articles/content on their local Wikipedias, and also have an opportunity to find their cultural interests and ways to understand other cultures.

As noted by Saliesh Patnaik, an Odia Wikipedian who is also the social media head for WAM, “This project also encourages cultural exchange within the community with the help of a month-long edit-a-thon which promotes the creation or improvement of the Wikipedia content about Asia except for their (the participant’s) own country.” 

“Wikipedia Asian Month is the one of the first kinds of campaigns not just in Asia but in the entire movement to involve so many small communities in this wide level. That individually has allowed so many different communities to grow and help them to learn how to systematically and structurally work together. Project Tiger and other contests came [in the later stages]  which really got communities involved. But when WAM started in 2015 it was the first contest where people participated internationally.” The editors’ enthusiasm towards WAM proves that they are interested in creating content across cultures and establishing their links with other non-Indian communities. 

Just like WAM, Project Tiger also encourages cultural exchange and bridging cultural gaps. Through this project, Indic communities got a platform to connect with each other. During this contest, communities generate their own regional list regarding important articles for their local Wikipedias. Communities have the opportunity to contact other fellow Wikimedians from Indic languages. They talked to each other through existing groups to solve their issues which they faced during the contest.  

During the training period for the winner and runner up community, there was a possibility to exchange their thoughts and ideas. Due to that on-ground activity, Wikimedians played their roles enthusiastically and got more motivated with other stories, experiences and cultural aspects like cuisine.  This is the way cultural exchange happened via Project Tiger.

Grant Process

While projects under the Wikimedia movement are primarily run on the strength and interests of its volunteer community, there are specific aspects which require funding and support from collaborators such as the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). For major events, the Wikimedia project needs a grant, depending  on time duration and objectives. Similarly, WAM, while not being a very high budget event, is supported by a rapid grant from the foundation. This rapid grant supports the work on purchasing and sending postcards, certificates, T-shirts, stickers & pins, advertisements on social media (Facebook, Twitter), infrastructure (AirTable membership, G-Suite subscription, etc.), domain, and the time of volunteers who are engaged in this work. 

For Project Tiger, CIS-A2K gets a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. Selected applicants from any Indic language get hardware support which covers chromebooks/laptops and internet connectivity. Apart from it, during the contest Amazon vouchers were also given to the participants from each community who got the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rank for all the three months. These prizes are fixed for every month. There are also prizes for an overall winner community, and a runner up, which is in the form of a training session after the writing contest. 


A token of appreciation is provided to participants, which is important to aid efforts. Under WAM, this appreciation is divided into two parts : Postcards & Certificates and Brand Ambassador. Postcards are given to those participants who created at least five articles about an Asian country. The postcards are sent by the same countries in appreciation of the contributors’ participation. This is a way to encourage new leadership and new editors. Certificates are also part of this appreciation, as a recognition of active participation and the importance of their work. As Aliva Sahoo, Odia Wikimedia, notes “When I wrote articles in 2016 I created a good number of articles. And that time I was happier because I got 4 or 5 postcards from different countries. My other community members also received postcards. That time I felt motivated to get postcards and I decided to create more articles next time and will collect more postcards. I think this kind of appreciation encourages volunteers and makes them happy.

The second form of appreciation is the Wikipedia Asian Month Ambassador. This is an honour from WAM to a Wikipedian who creates the most number of articles on their respective Wikipedia. In every iteration of WAM, ambassadors are chosen depending on the number and quality of contributions. By adding an element of competition, and using a title that does not suggest the same, the ambassador initiative plays a very important role in the event to enable more contributions. In the end, we have Wikipedians who are willing to receive other postcards by contributing 30-50 articles (relatively high quality according to our rules), which makes this event very successful and effective” Rupika Sharma, notes.

In Project Tiger as well, as a token of appreciation to all the top performing participants, prizes were given to the top 3 editors who created the most number of articles from each community, every month in the 3 month contest. Appreciation was  given in the form of a cash prize during the first iteration of the Project. After receiving a lot of feedback about this, gift vouchers are given in the second iteration instead of cash prizes.

Apart from this, merchandise such as stickers and t-shirts to other top contributors is also a practice that’s followed. The overall winner, runner up communities and few other top contributors and juries from remaining communities later attend a three day workshop as part of the Project Tiger community prize, on the topics of their preference. 

Fountain tool

The Fountain tool was developed for reviewing the articles of Wikipedia Asian Month, and is used only when the contests are running. “I made the first prototype during the first Wikipedia Asian Month in 2015. We, the jury members, were flooded with articles that needed to be evaluated fairly quickly and so I thought that I can automate 90% of the jury workflow” notes fountain tool developer Le Loy. In this tool, bytes and words are fixed according to the project. For example, in the Wikipedia Asia Month a minimum  of 3000 bytes are fixed as per the criteria of evaluation for WAM.  This is therefore a useful tool for the contests. It is a tool which helps a lot to collect statistics of specific projects on Wikipedia. After talking to Le Loy, we can reach the conclusion that the tool is not limited to a particular language, and it can be used for any kind of event on Wikipedia. 

Project Tiger also uses the Fountain tool to review articles submitted in this contest. It was easy for the participants to submit the articles and also for the jury to pick up an unreviewed article and review it based on the number of bytes, or if the article was actually submitted in the time period mentioned in the contest rules and so on. This tool has definitely made the jury process more efficient and smooth.


Diversity and Bridging gaps

Cultural diversity is an important aspect of the sustenance of the Wikimedia movement itself, and bridging different cultural gaps is an important aspect of this effort.  

After checking all past statistics of WAM, we found that WAM focused on content related to Asia only but it didn't pay much attention to content by and about persons across diverse gender and sexual identities, including marginalised groups. Sailesh Patnaik & Rupika Shrama, WAM organiser notes that there have been some efforts in this area, saying “We work with more than 50 different language communities on Wikipedia, and have also collaborated with Women in Red to bridge the gender gap in our projects.” There is however a need for ongoing work in this space. 

Project Tiger has its own strategy behind diversity and bridging gaps. Both events maintain their diversity as per required rules and areas. One of the major reasons why volunteers find a hindrance in dedicating time for Wikimedia and its projects is the lack of facilities like a laptop or even a proper internet connection. This is why laptops and internet stipends provided during the first phase of the contest have a monumental effect on the contest and also in contributions to not just Project Tiger, but also many other Wiki projects in general. Several volunteers contribute articles via mobile phones in spite of the difficult/complex editing environment. Without this support, there is a chance that Wikipedia can lose some of its most promising volunteers.

Project Tiger also tries to bridge a gender gap. For example, the criteria for hardware support also includes ensuring a certain percentage of women applicants are selected. The coordinators have  also tried to specifically engage women participants during the contest. Before opening the applications for hardware support, PT core team set criteria for eligibility. On the other hand, one rule always highlighted that 33% women can get laptop or internet connectivity due to their past contribution. This is an effort to engage women in the Wikimedia movement. 

Limitations and Barriers 

Despite the success of these long running programmes, its true that there still remain some barriers and limitations, as illustrated below: 

Wikipedia Asian Month

  • WAM has largely remained a stable programme, but it would be a good thing to see how new aspects could be introduced in the programme. The process is the same every year because after finishing the first iteration the core team didn’t take any feedback, suggestions or concerns from the individuals for the next step, which is a major barrier to growing and planning something new for the next level. As Odia Wikimedian Aliva Sahoo notes, “From 2016 to 2019, WAM was the same and there was nothing new,  but I am not sure if during 2020, they changed something because I didn’t participate this year.” According to participant’s comments or WAM rules & guidelines changes in the structure could be introduced. “When the same project is happening again and again then the novelty will reduce. We should make some changes from time to time to engage the people” notes Punjabi Wikimedian, Satdeep Gill.

  • The project actively makes an effort in trying to work with more communities every year but also collaborate with other projects such as Women in Red, which is aimed at creating more content by and about women. WAM itself has not been able to  promote women leaders and women content as well due to its design which focuses on promoting content. 

  • Follow-up on receipt of appreciation postcards etc. should be done diligently.There have also been instances where appreciation postcards have been delayed or not sent which affects the motivations of contributors in engaging with the project further.  A few contributors did not receive their appreciation from senders, which has led to some negativity. At least after two iterations of any project, contributors or Wiki projects demand for something new. For example, during the beginning of the project, participants got the Wikipedia Asian Month ambassador tags and that was an honour for them. But volunteers seem to be looking for a change and they want to look forward to the project. A Malayalm Wikimedian, Meenakshi Nandini, noted, “However the prizes are not getting to most of the participants, especially the WAM prizes. Even me also didn’t receive most of the event prizes. So we couldn’t tell the participants that you will definitely get these prizes. I won two times as a  "Wikipedia Asian Ambassador". But is there any importance or benefit for that honor?”

  • During the WAM, the focus was only on article creation but not on the quality of articles. It is important therefore to accord more attention to the quality of the content being created, which would help in the long-term sustenance of the project and is better aligned with the larger objectives of the movement. 

Project Tiger

  • Project Tiger happened only in two iterations, but has its limitations and challenges as well. The participants or volunteers who participated in Project Tiger had some concerns on the Google article lists. Contributors felt Google should suggest only those articles which are important for their Wikipedias as priority. The PT core team was not properly able to convince participants as to why the Google list is important and editors were also not fully aware of the same, which led to some mismatch in expectations from the project.

  • Due to hardware support and gift vouchers, most participants are motivated to contribute more, But on the other hand, it changes the whole process of contribution in the Wikimedia movement. Cash prizes or gift vouchers showed a less than satisfactory result, thereby leading to a rethinking of how best to motivate contributors.. But for a few editors hardware support and prizes are a lot. A few users who were editing from phones got laptops just because of the project which has helped their contributions. 

  • The manner of addressing the gender gap in the project has also been a point of contention. The possibility is, some participants feel that women only get laptops or internet support due to their gender identity. The process of such quotas may be debatable going forward, and so a clear rationale and process may be developed to encourage participation by women and individuals across the spectrum of gender and sexual identities.  

  • One major concern from jury members was that participants did not work on quality but quantity. Reviewers and readers are facing problems with machine translated articles submitted during Project Tiger. The PT team tried to solve the issue of quality during the second iteration, but did not work well, and jury members faced the same difficulty this time as well. 

  • A common challenge noted by Satdeep Gill (for both projects) is that “Contributors focus mainly on increasing the article count and the maintenance work lags behind. We need to focus on this as well.”


Both projects have had more than one iteration so far, and have managed to create interest and engagement within Indian language communities in working collaboratively and building content. They have also had a fair number of challenges and limitations as well, as illustrated by the interviews. For instance, there has been a difficulty in measuring the quality of articles, the way that quantity is tracked. So there is a need to develop metrics to capture and work on quality of content. A related point is with reference to a lack of capacity building within communities, which would enable them to collaborate and contribute better. There have also been some challenges with logistics, and ensuring that participants receive their prizes during Wikipedia Asian Month. This would need more communication and careful coordination of efforts. There is also a need to keep participants engaged over a long time, and repeating the same structure of the project every year may also lead to a lack of interest or innovation. The project actively makes an effort in trying to work with more communities every year but also collaborate with other projects such as Women in Red, which is aimed at creating more content by and about women. WAM itself has not been able to  promote women leaders and women content as well due to its design which focuses on promoting content. The projects therefore need to work in a progressive manner, building on feedback from participants and adapting to the evolving needs and interests of the communities. 

These difficulties are also faced by Project Tiger. Google should focus on lists according to the needs of communities, in discussion with the PT team.For example, the core team should track volunteers' contributions after getting the support because anyone can make 500 or 1000 edits for getting a laptop. The core team should find people from the communities who need this support and will contribute proactively.  Project Tiger’s process transparency is  appreciated, but with the same transparency the  infrastructure distribution process should be different from now. Also it should encourage or discuss with communities about proactive women’s participation during the project. PT should run a Bridging Gender Gap campaign, where communities should play a role to engage women as organisers from each community and should make a strategy for the same. This project needs to work on a strategy for building and sustaining quality as well which is important for growth of Indic Wikipedias.

So, not every project is perfect, every project has some achievements and some limitations. Therefore, WAM and Project Tiger are also the same, it achieves its goals but also carries some failures. But there is a possibility to make changes to both projects.


Wikipedia Asian Month is an International project which started in 2015. It is a low budget project, and gives a common platform to Asian as well as Non-Asian communities to participate over the course of a month. When WAM started most of the communities were excited to do something for their languages, and this was a big initial motivation for the project. The communities want to continue with WAM because they feel like this is one of the projects which started at that time when communities wanted something to engage themselves with Wikipedias. Every year most of the communities participate in it for sure, although the people who work on the projects may differ.  Project Tiger is a pilot project which is a three-month-long contest. This project provides an opportunity to communities to work together. After the success of the Indic languages contest [Project Tiger] in 2018, two more countries, (Project Saraswati and Project Al-Ma'refa), also organised a similar project under different names. Due to Project Tiger, thousands of articles were created or developed by volunteers about important, most searched for topics suggested by Google, as well as those important to respective Indic language Wikipedias.  Infra-structure support pays attention to volunteers' hard work and encourages them to work to share free knowledge. These projects therefore go a long way in enriching local language content, and keeping volunteer communities interested and engaged with their respective Wikipedias. 

You may also read the full report on Wikimedia Meta-Wiki here. 



The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of their individual authors. Unless the opposite is explicitly stated, or unless the opposite may be reasonably inferred, CIS does not subscribe to these views and opinions which belong to their individual authors. CIS does not accept any responsibility, legal or otherwise, for the views and opinions of these individual authors. For an official statement from CIS on a particular issue, please contact us directly.