---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Moka Pantages <mpantages(a)wikimedia.org>
Date: Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 9:25 PM
Subject: [PRESS] [Global Voices] India: the Future of Wikipedia
To: Communications Committee <wmfcc-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
India: the Future of Wikipedia
Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia, celebrated its tenth
anniversary this year, and almost 100 cities and towns in India
registered to host celebrations, the highest number of any country.
Wikipedia is the fourth most popular website in India, and there are
over 20 Wikipedia sites in Indian languages, with more on the way. The
Wikimedia Foundation's India Chapter was recently established in
Bangalore, to help coordinate the Indian language Wikipedia sites.
This year the Foundation will open its first office outside the United
States, in an Indian city as yet to be announced.
Global Voices has spoken to Tinu Cherian, blogger, active Wikipedian
and an administrator for the site, about Wikipedia in India.
Tinu Cherian (photo reproduced with permission)
Can you tell us a little about the Wikipedia community in India?
The Wikipedian community in India is a nascent but one of the fastest
growing user groups. Wikipedia and other sister projects enjoy top
five website readership in India but the scale of editors and
contributors to Wikimedia is relatively low compared to other
countries. Thanks to being a favorite of popular search engines, and
the lack of other such free knowledge sources, readership has never
been a problem.
Wikimeetups are real life gatherings or meetups of Wikipedians, which
are now very popular in India. In Sep 2006, Jimmy Wales came to
Bangalore and saw the first Wikimeetup in India. A Wikiconference at
Chennai in 2007 generated lots of interest and enthusiasm but
essentially couldn't keep the momentum. Since July 2009, we have
started regular Wikimeetups in Bangalore, meeting at least once per
month. Wikipedians in India now meet regularly in other cities like
Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune and Hyderabad.
The Wikimedia India Chapter was officially approved by the Foundation
in 2010 and became a registered body in 2011. Over 95 cities and towns
in India registered to host the 10th anniversary celebrations of
Wikipedia in 2011, the largest among all countries. The Bangalore
celebrations witnessed over 250 attendees for the one day programme.
In 2010, the Wikimedia Foundation identified India as one of the
strategic locations for development of Wikimedia and is close to
setting up its first ever office outside the United States.
Do you have a sense of how popular the Indian language sites are in
comparison with the English site? Which are the largest Indian
English Wikipedia was always the favorite and best-known Wikipedia in
India but recently the awareness of Indic language Wikipedias has been
on the rise. There are 20 Indic language Wikipedias already and
another 20 are in an incubation state. Assamese, Punjabi, Nepali,
Oriya (Odia) and Malayalam were the first Indian language Wikipedias
to be started in 2002. Hindi, Tamil, Bengali and other languages were
created in the next two years. There is a varied level of activity
among the different language Wikipedias. Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and
Bengali have very active Wikipedia communities. Hindi has the largest
number of articles which is set to cross the 1 lakh [100 000] articles
milestone any time soon. We are now working on building the
communities for the dormant Wikipedias by spreading awareness among
the native speakers of those languages.
What about internet access – isn’t Wikipedia dependent on people
having internet connections?
Wikipedia is all about the sum total of human knowledge available to
all mankind. Unfortunately, it was all web-based. Wikipedians are now
making efforts to bring them to those who don't have access to the
internet, by publishing offline versions of Wikipedia. Malayalam
Wikipedia published the first offline CD of Wikipedia among the
non-Latin script languages. Malayalam is also in the process of
releasing the first Wikisource in any Indian language.
You live in Bangalore, so we can probably guess the answer to the
question: Mumbai, New Delhi or Bangalore? Which is the best location
for the Wikimedia Foundation in India?
As a true Bangalorean, personally, I would love to see the Wikimedia
office in Bangalore. Bangalore has a vibrant Wiki community
contributing to different language Wikipedias. Wikipedians in
Bangalore meet regularly, at least once per month. Bangalore is also
the seat of the Wikimedia India chapter. But for the growth of the
pan-India Wikimedia movement, it is advisable to be Mumbai or Delhi.
But it is entirely up to the Wikimedia Foundation to decide where they
find it feasible and suitable. The foundation is now actively
considering it in Delhi or the National Capital Region (NCR).
You are very active on Twitter, with more than 56 000 followers. Is
there a connection between your enthusiasm for social media and your
involvement with Wikipedia?
I have always loved to interact with people both in the real and
virtual worlds. I share knowledge on Wikipedia and share news and
other information with others on Twitter. Twitter is my own way of
connecting with a global audience. Of course, I also promote Wikipedia
and Wikimedia events on Twitter too.
415.839.6885 x 635
415.839.6885 x 635