As a person working in the relevant field, we would welcome Shiju's
comments on the article, its facts, proposed steps by the editors mentioned
and what Kannada Wikipedia needs for revival.
On Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 11:00 AM, Tinu Cherian (Wikimedia India) <
*The Hindu : "The struggles of keeping
Kannada Wikipedia afloat"*
*In the world of online Kannada content, blogs may be thriving but
Wikipedia is struggling. The reasons vary from technology barriers to lack
of contributors, say Wikipedians.
While there has been a surge in Kannada content in the last two years,
contributors to the language have been grappling with technology barriers.
After floundering for years, the Kannada Wikipedia picked up with font
availability, said Hari Prasad Nadig, a Kannada Wikipedian. The software
to add to Kannada Wikipedia is not so user-friendly, and only geeks can
edit it properly.
Unlike English, which has a large community, technology issues are
glaring in smaller communities. “Growth is slow with respect to technology
in smaller communities,” he said. The lack of a good Unicode font has been
a persisting problem so the reader ends up seeing boxes instead of Kannada
text. After trying to write using the ‘Thunga' font, which had problems
with vowels, besides other bugs, today, ‘Kedage' is the most complete font,
though issues remain with this one too, Mr. Nadig said.
Besides, various operating systems provide different levels of support
for the script. “All these small factors together discouraged people from
contributing. It's not that people don't want to use Kannada on the Net.
Traffic on the Net is very high; there is Kannada on Facebook and Twitter
too,” he said.
Another challenge is writing and adding quality content. “The community
has to grow if Kannada Wikipedia is to grow,” he said. The quality of
content also matters. One person adding thousands of ‘stubs' on, say,
Kannada films, does not help the reader, and in fact, drives them away from
the site. Also, Kannada Wikipedia needs “starter” articles, to get people
reading before they can start adding content, he said.
In order to grow, Kannada Wikipedia requires an active, organic
community, which is not imposed through a catalyst of paid content
creators. Once, Google started a tool that had machine-translated content
improved by manual translations. Yet the Kannada content was “looking like
spam. They (manual translators) didn't understand markup, templates; (it
was) all malformed”, he said.
An observation about contributors is that people in metros prefer writing
to the English Wikipedia though they know Kannada and are tech-savvy.
“Bangalore has less than 10 people writing to Kannada Wikipedia,” he said.
Omshivaprakash, Chair for Kannada Special Interest Group for Wikipedia,
said people are not aware that Kannada Wikipedia now has simple tools to
add content. He said “Wiki academies” would be set up to train people on
adding Kannada content. “Everyone complains that the quality of Kannada
Wikipedia is low, but they do not know that they can edit it themselves,”
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