[Wikimediaindia-l] A report on the Trichy wikimeetup/workshop

Achal Prabhala aprabhala at gmail.com
Mon Feb 21 16:58:50 UTC 2011

Such a nice report, sounds like a fantastic event....certainly, that is 
one fantastic cake!


On Monday 21 February 2011 09:34 PM, Bala Jeyaraman wrote:
> *The NIT-Trichy Pragyan Workshop report:*
> Just got back from an awesome two days at NIT Trichy. This is only my 
> second evangelism/outreach event. I have been uncomfortable shedding 
> my semi-anonymity and showing up in public for a long time, but these 
> two days have taught me what i have been missing. The following report 
> is written in an anecdotal first person perspective and naturally 
> feature me prominently :-).
> *Day 1:*
> On day 1 we (Tinu and me) opened the Wikipedia stall at around 11.30 
> AM. Srikanth joined us sometime later. We had been allotted a 12X10 Ft 
> stall. Students started trickling in soon after. The first day we made 
> our pitch to around 100 students or so. We also met four or five guest 
> speakers / panelists like Ajay Agarwal, CMD of Maxx group, Narendra 
> Shenoy, director at Unimold, Vice Admiral SKK Krishnan and Stefan 
> Engeseth of Detective Marketing. The response was overwhelmingly 
> positive with students saying that they will edit in the future. Most 
> of the students we met claim they a) know they can edit wikipedia and 
> b) have made some minor edits. Some admitted they didnt know they 
> could edit and some believed they contribute only to articles on 
> academic subjects etc. We gave them the standard - give back your 
> knowledge to the world + participate in an exciting world wide project 
> pitch. Except one wikiskeptic who cribbed about the 16 million dollar 
> budget, rest were appreciative of Wikipedia and its work. We also 
> distributed a flier (attached as an odt file - commons doesnt support 
> office office documents) to the people visiting the stalls. The flier 
> was designed by me and Srikanth and. I believe it will work well for 
> other indic wikis ( a small customisation effort is required to 
> replace Tamil with the relevant language).
> The day wound down and we were thinking about packing up around 6, 
> when we met the guy who made our day.  We saw this bespectacled kid 
> staring at us curiously and pointing out our banner excitedly to the 
> adult who accompanied him. We beckoned him to come over and asked him 
> patronisingly has he heard of wikipedia. The kid says yes. Have you 
> edited wikipedia, we ask. He says yes for that too. We look at each 
> other meaningfully and say.. "what did you do? correct spelling 
> mistakes?". "No", he replies seriously,  "i correct wrong facts". He 
> is an eighth standard student from Coimbatore and has been editing 
> wikipedia for a couple of years now. It took some time to get over our 
> shock and get his user ID. He says he does not use it much and edits 
> logged out most of the time. He was also not aware of that a talk page 
> exists for each user id and people can communicate with him. We showed 
> him how talk pages can be used and asked him to edit logged-in in the 
> future.
> And thats the story of our run-in with  [[en:User:Bvajresh]] and the 
> youngest (serious) Indian wikipedian, i have come across. Here's 
> picture of us with him 
> (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trichy_Wikimeetup1_2060.jpg) 
> There was one more surprise on day 1. While we were having dinner at 
> the hotel, a father and son pair wandered up to our table and 
> introduced themselves. They had seen our T-shirts and said they liked 
> wikipedia very much. (Brand appeal!) We invited them to next day's 
> workshop, but they were leaving Trichy the very night and couldnt 
> accept the offer.
> Day 1 had definitely ended on a high.
> *Day 2:*
> Day 2 began at 10 with the workshop/presentation in the NIT computer 
> lab. It had a seating capacity of around 100 and was filled up 
> completely. Apart from NIT students who had registered and were 
> selected to attend the session (yes they had more people registering 
> than there were seats!), there were also students from other colleges 
> around Trichy who showed up for the session. Three middle aged wiki 
> enthusiasts also attended to hear about Tamil wikipedia. One of them 
> was a HOD of the Computer science department at an arts and science 
> college near Trichy. He was impressed with our workshop and said from 
> now on he will encourage his students to edit wikipedia.
> Tinu started the presentation with a general introduction to 
> Wikipedia, the foundation, its history, the various projects languages 
> etc. In the Q&A session that followed, someone asked how someone 
> without paypal/credit cards can donate money to the foundation. We 
> explained the cheque mailing method and assured him that there will be 
> more options in the future.
> I did the second session. We went through how a typical wikipedia page 
> looks like, what is a talk page, how to view revision history and 
> practised editing in the sandbox. I took up the Sachin Tendulkar page 
> in en wiki and showed them how the content is sourced and how a page 
> gets updated when facts change. There were the usual doubts about 
> reliability, who will monitor disruptive activities and who will 
> ensure the  accuracy of the content. Next i switched over to Tamil 
> wikipedia and explained how easy it is to contribute using the typing 
> tool. (A big thanks to Junaid, Shiju and our other ml wiki friends). 
> Here we took up the example of the 2011 assembly election article and 
> learnt how to write neutrally without our prejudices getting in the 
> way. There was again a brief question session, which featured some 
> insightful questions about our external links policy, handling 
> regional language variations (srilankan Tamil vs Tamil Nadu Tamil), 
> using Wiktionary, the difference between Wikibooks, wikisource and 
> wikipedia. Srikanth took over next and the third session was about 
> wikipedia hacking - bots, mediawiki, programming tools, databases, 
> scripts, software - stuff that usually frightens me. This was again 
> followed by a brief question-answer session.
> While Srikanth was answering the questions, i discovered that someone 
> from the room had edited the ta wiki article i used as an 
> illustration  to correct a grammar mistake. And also someone from the 
> crowd had done what he termed later as a test edit (something cluebot 
> in enwiki would label as "vandalism?").  The second edit had been 
> reverted 12 minutes later by ta wiki Admin Kanags (editing from 
> Australia). We were able to use this as a sort of real time demo how 
> edits are monitored and accuracy/integrity maintained in wiki 
> projects. (We got lucky with that :-)). There was an loud gasp of 
> surprise from the audience when we showed how the vandalism was 
> reverted within minutes. The session ended with Wiki 10 celebrations - 
> cake cutting and photographs. Unfortunately the T-shirts from the 
> foundation have not reached the organisers and they weren't able to 
> give them out - we had to make do with chocolates, pins and laptop 
> stickers. The entire workshop lasted from 10 to 12.30 and was well 
> received. (I have an invite from Amrita University, Coimbatore to do a 
> similar workshop there :-)) Microsoft Wikibasha's Saravanan attended 
> the session and we all had a long and deep discussion with him about 
> how important it is for the corporates/outside orgs to speak to the 
> community and get involved at the project level to avoid 
> misunderstandings and getting better results. After the presentation 
> was over, it was back to the stalls. This time we shifted to a open 
> air stall near the food court to be nearer to the crowd thronging the 
> food court. The stall remained open till 3.30 PM and had another 50 
> more visitors.
> Another good thing that came out the stall was we were able to 
> convince the members of the NIT photography club to CC/SA licence 
> their work and upload it to flickr/commons. There was an exhibition of 
> their works in the same area where our stall was situated and featured 
> several high quality images, that can be used to illustrate articles 
> on Indian subjects. They have promised to set up flickr stream for 
> their works with appropriate licensing.
> So there ends the long story of my visit to Trichy. A special thanks 
> to Tinu and Srikanth for egging me on come out and face the crowd and 
> enlightening me about the necessity for outreach work. And another 
> special thanks for student organiser Nivash and his team for their 
> outstanding hospitality and giving us a chance to connect with such an 
> enthusiastic audience.
> Here are some photos from the event -
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Tiruchirappalli_Meetup_Feb2011
> regards
> Bala Jeyaraman
> [[en:User:Sodabottle]]
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