[Wikimediaindia-l] Report on Wikipedians participation in CMDA IT Expo, 2011- (15 to 18 Dec. 2011)

Sudhanwa Jogalekar sudhanwa.com at gmail.com
Mon Dec 26 08:31:38 UTC 2011

Report on Wikipedians participation in CMDA IT Expo, 2011- (15 to 18 Dec.

About CMDA:
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.
Website: www.cmdapune.org

*About IT Expo: *
CMDA 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:
CMDA 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.

On 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.

On 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.

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.

Day 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 questions.

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.

We 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 about 3000.

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?
3. 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 authentic?
5. Can you edit Wikipedia in Marathi/Hindi? How?
6. If I write any article on Wikipedia, will there be my name on the
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 Wikipedia?
9. When and where you meet? I want to join your activities.
10. What? You can directly edit content on the Wikipedia?

Apart 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)

It 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.

The 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 Wiki-academies.

Abhishek has 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 organisers.*

With 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.

Probably, considering the outreach we had and the response we got in the
expo, it is even worth paying for the stall next year!!

We 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.
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