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

Gautam John gautam at prathambooks.org
Mon Feb 21 17:07:47 UTC 2011

Thank you, Bala. It really made my day to read your report and it
never fails to amaze me as to what a wonderful community Wikipedia has
in India.

And Tinu and Srikanth - humbled by your efforts and enthusiasm.



On 21 February 2011 21:34, Bala Jeyaraman <sodabottle at gmail.com> 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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