Report on Wikipedians participation in CMDA IT Expo, 2011-
(15 to 18 Dec. 2011)
CMDA, Pune is an
association of Computer and Media dealers in Pune. It is a registered
organisation and is ISO 9000 certified. Recently, it is declared as the
best Computer dealers association across India by DQ Week magazine.
About IT Expo:
organises IT expo every year. This was 14th year of the expo and was
held during 15-18 Dec 2011. As per CMDA organisors, the no. of visitors
this year was about 40000.
About our activities:
gave us a 2m X 2m stall. The usual cost for the stall is about Rs
25,000. However, considering that we are not doing any business
activities and are working for a social cause, this was given to us
GRATIS. The stall allocation was confirmed at a very late stage. As
such, the call for volunteers was also sent very late and we were
running short of people to man the stall.
day 1, (15th Dec), user:Mahitgar, Sudhanwa, Hisham and Nitika started
the activities in the morning session. Flex banners were put up and the
printed handouts were ready to be distributed. Hisham and Nitika came
all the way from Delhi for this. They also got some T shirts for
distribution to the right people. Our stall was the last stall in the
expo and was adjoining the seminar hall. After the inauguration, people
started visiting our stall. The chief guest was visiting all the stalls
and he visited our stall also. He was pleasantly surprised to see our
activities (non-commercial, social cause) in the expo.
day 1, second half was handled by Ashwin and Mahitgar. We had printed a
handout to create a generic awareness about Wikipedia. This was in
English on one side and about Marathi Wikipedia on the other side.
Initially, we had about 200 handouts printed as the response was not
known to us. Ultimately, we had to make many copies many times as the
response went on increasing day by day.
2 (16th Dec) was managed by Mahitgar, Ashwin, Abhishek and some other
CA volunteers. For the CAs, it was a great experience to interact with
the people face to face and answer all kinds of their queries. This was
totally different from the usual CA activities where they interact with
people who are already much aware of Wikipedia and editing and may be
other projects too. Abhishek and some others managed the stall till
afternoon and later on by Sudhanwa and some others like Pratik. In the
evening, Mahitgar gave a talk on the topic “Marathi Wikipedia-
Challenges and Future” in the seminar hall which was received very well.
3 (17th Dec) was a hectic day being Saturday, the weekend. Mahitgar and
Sudhanwa handled the 1st half. Ashwin joined with his spouse for a
couple of hours. Mandar joined in the 2nd half till the day ends. There
was really an energetic crowd who visited the stall and asked many many
Day 4 (18th Dec)
Mandar handled the stall since morning for whole day. He was alone there
till lunch time when some more volunteers including Ashwin, Mahitgar
came to help him out.
Being a Sunday, the
fourth day was very hectic and most crowded. Some more volunteers like
Lochan Makheja (Hindi Wikipedian from Pune) were also added but it was
still difficult to address all the visitors to our stall. Even with 4
volunteers at a time, we were not able handle the running crowd at peak
hour on Sunday evening.
had kept a notebook at the stall and noted down names and contact
details of the people who were interested in further Wikipedia related
activities. During the 4 days of expo, we have collected names and
contact details of the interested people and that number is about 250!!
That is big enough to have multiple wiki-academies in Pune in the next
few months. Our guesstimate of the no of people visited our stall is
While many visitors
knew what Wikipedia is, most were not aware that it is also available in
Indian languages, especially Marathi. The few who were aware of both
were not aware of other projects like Commons, Wikisource etc. People
were mostly unaware of the implications of copyrighted and freely
licensed information.The expo gave a very good opportunity to interact
with the people directly and get a feel of what the common people
understand/know about Wikipedia. Here are some USUAL questions that we
faced in the expo.
1. What is the price
of Wikipedia? I want to buy some copies. :-) (to be specific - Wikipedia
kitne me bech rahe ho.... )
2. You are not selling
anything here? !!! Then why are you in the expo?
You are not getting anything from Wikipedia, then why are you standing
for whole day on the stall?
4. If anyone can edit
Wikipedia, what is the assurance that the content is correct and
5. Can you edit Wikipedia in Marathi/Hindi?
6. If I write any article on Wikipedia, will
there be my name on the article?
7 If I type some
search string in Marathi (Devanagari), you get search pages in Marathi/
Marathi Wikipedia?? !!
8. If I type in
English (Roman) on English Wikipedia,can I get pages from Marathi
9. When and where you meet? I want to join
10. What? You can directly edit content on
from this, in the expo we could interact face to face with Marathi
Wikipedia users and the activity helped in explaining Marathi typing in
more easier way.This interaction will help in improving related help
pages on Marathi Wikipedia. (Marathi Wikipedia sandbox has a good
number of trial and error edits of people trying to type in Marathi
using phonetic facility and still not succeeding in their effort)
was also observed that the number of visiting women was good but at
times the stall being small, it was crowded and they could not come
forward to listen amongst the jostling men. Next time we should give a
thought to request and hopefully get additional space (and also women
volunteers) for addressing women.
happiest experiences were when school children were stopping their
parents saying “Papa Mummy Wikipedia Stall !!’ and that naturally made
those parents stop at our stall and see what it was all about. it would
be great if we are able to get academic fraternity and more volunteer
support as many such expos will be forthcoming in the near future. It
would be great to arrange such expos in bigger education campuses too.
Remarkably, this was a
second consecutive year for the expo having a Marathi Wikipedia
seminar. Last year’s talk was given by Abhay Natu and this year Mahitgar
spoke on “Marathi Wikipedia: Challenges and Future”. Mahitgar used the
opportunity to focus on areas where Marathi language has scope to
provide significant knowledge. Mahitgar opined that all the technology
is available and volunteers are there to support the activity. The real
challenge is to bring back the confidence of the people that they can
avail all the knowledge in their own language by cooperating each other
through projects like indic language Wikipedias. Thanks to Wikimedia
projects, the key of the future is in their own hands.
We had asked for a grant to GAC on almost the last minute and it was
sanctioned very quickly. (Money yet to be received in the account) We
have asked for about 11000 INR that includes printing, stationary,
CD/DVD burning, etc etc. Out of this, we spent about 5000/- Rs.
(Expenditure details yet to come from the volunteers) Remaining money
was not utilised as additional activities like CD burning, making some
goodies like stickers, key chains etc. could not be done as all the
volunteers were stuck up at the stall itself. The amount will be used
for the given purpose but for/during our further activities like
already uploaded some pictures and will be uploading some videos also.
Sudhanwa is uploading some photos in the category "CMDA IT Expo 2011, 15-18 Dec" on commons. We will also try to get some pictures from the expo
the kind of manpower we had and the time and money in hand, the kind of
outreach we achieved is extraordinary. Almost 3000 people interacted
and of these 250 showed interest in future activities!! Some of them are
very useful people like librarians. We met some editors also in the
expo. Some of them are from rural area and are doing work in Marathi!!
All of them were unaware of the presence of the Pune Community and we
were able to get some dedicated new members to the community.
considering the outreach we had and the response we got in the expo, it
is even worth paying for the stall next year!!
can do much better next time if we get enough time span for planning
and execution of activities
web: www.sudhanwa.com blog: www.sudhanwa.in
Twitter: sudhanwa Check on FB, Linkedin for more.