User:Lankiveil/Correspondence with PGC regarding Wikitanvir application

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Email sent 21 December to PGC, with CC to Tanvir and Asaf

Dear Participation Grants Committee,

I am writing in regards to an application for a participation grant submitted by User:Wikitanvir to attend the RecentChangesCamp event in Canberra, Australia, in January 2012. There are two components to this grant, one requesting funding from the Wikimedia Foundation for an airfare from Bangladesh to Australia, and another requesting funding from Wikimedia Australia for funding related to accommodation and other expenses.

It is my pleasure to advise that the Wikimedia Australia committee has approved the grant application made to us by Tanvir, and we recommend that the PGC do the same for its share. In our view, apart from the obvious benefits from the content of the event itself, we believe that helping our friends in Bangladesh develop the skills and expertise to hold their own events in the future by observing and learning from this event will provide a significant benefit to the movement. In particular, I think that the low-cost and lightweight “unconference” format of RCC is likely to be more suited to conditions in Bangladesh than the larger and more elaborate (and doubtlessly more expensive to organise) formal conferences that the Indian chapter have held recently.

We also welcome the opportunity for the Australian and New Zealand participants at RCC to learn about Wikimedia practices on foreign language projects (such as the Bengali-language Wikipedia) as well as for the Wikimedia Australia committee to learn about chapter administration practices in Bangladesh.

We note that the costs of travel from Bangladesh to Australia are typically lower than the cost of travel to Europe or the Americas, where most other established chapters and events are held. Thusly, we believe that the cost of one airfare to Australia represents better value for money to the movement than an airfare to (for example), Berlin or Washington DC.

We are excited by this opportunity to do our part to help grow the Wikimedia movement on the Indian subcontinent, and would welcome the speedy approval of this grant by the PGC. Should you have any queries regarding our endorsement of this grant, please do feel free to ask me.

Craig Franklin
Wikimedia Australia

Email sent 23 December to PGC, with CC to Tanvir and Asaf

Dear Asaf and Johannes,

I note that Tanvir's grant has been turned down, with Asaf making some comments on the talk page here:

Unfortunately, in the reasoning there are several basic errors of fact which I believe may have negatively prejudiced your view on this grant. In order to correct these and hopefully prompt you to reconsider, I will outline and correct these for you.

1. RCC, contrary to the reasoning provided, is not an event organised by Wikimedia Australia, it is organised by the University of Canberra and specifically by their staff member Leigh Blackall. Leigh is not currently a member of the chapter and the chapter does not have any direct involvement in the scope or content of the conference.

2. This is the third year that RCC has been held, so I would disagree that the benefits of attendance are "unclear and impossible to estimate". Previous events have been extremely productive in bringing together people from both inside the Wikimedia space and other users of Wikis in the corporate, educational, and non-profit spaces to provide fresh perspectives on issues of common interest. Details of previous events can be found here: .

We would not be offering grants ourselves for attendance if we did not feel that there was value to the Wikimedia community in doing so.

3. The items noted as being excessive under the WMF travel policy are not being requested by Tanvir as a part of this participation grant, so I fail to see the relevance of this point. All that is being requested from the PGC is the airfare, WMAU has agreed to handle the rest.

I would also note that while some of the items requested from us do seem excessive, we have arranged group discounts for accommodation and transport in Canberra. This accomodation is only a moderate walk from the venue so the taxi costs indicated would also not be an issue. Therefore, the total spend for these items, even though the PGC is not being asked to fund these items, will be less than outlined in this grant request.

If this is a sticking point I am happy to work with yourselves and the applicant to work out a way of getting the expenses down to a level you are more comfortable with.

4. Again, my own research contradicts the statement that a flight from Bangladesh to Australia is cheaper than flights to Germany or the United States. The cheapest flight I have found from Dhaka to Berlin was $AUD3047 via Emirates (return, via Dubai and London), whereas to Canberra (via KL and Melbourne) it was only $AUD1722 flying Malaysian Airlines and Virgin Australia. I acknowledge that knowing a good travel agent might go some way towards correcting this, however I stand by my statement that on average it will be easier and cheaper for those in the region to reach Australia rather than Europe. I also reiterate that we are not an organiser of this conference.

Certainly, I understand that sometimes such grant requests must be turned down, I acknowledge and accept that. However, it would be preferable if any such rejection was based upon facts rather than misunderstandings on the part of the PGC.

Kind Regards,
Craig Franklin

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