BHUBANESWAR: From just 500 articles over a year back to 2,400 articles till now, Odia Wikipedia (or.wikipedia.org) has seen a drastic growth, both in terms of quality and quantity. Of the 286 languages in the Wikipedia, Odia Wikipedia today stands at the rank of 176. Besides, this regional Wiki is receiving 4 lakh hits from around the world on an average everyday.
Odia Wiki, one of the first in regional languages in India, started in 2002 with a repository of just 200 articles. Although started along with Wikipedias in Assamese, Punjabi, Nepali and Malayalam, prior even to the Hindi Wikipedia in 2003 July, the Odia Wikipedia never grew. The depressingly low count of articles did not change much till 2011, when 15 to 20 contributors from across the country started actively working for reviving the Odia Wiki.
In order to take the Wikipedia project forward, these ‘Odia Wiki activists’ are now looking for support and development initiatives in the State. To get more contributors to Odia Wiki, they are holding workshops and conferences in many districts. One such workshop was organised here on Sunday which saw participation from youths of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
“The main aim is to get people attracted to Odia Wikipedia. We have conducted 15 such workshops in Angul, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Balasore, Bangalore and New Delhi. We are trying to bring more subject experts (medical students and professionals) into Odia Wikipedia to create good quality articles,” said Manoranjan Behera, a Mumbai-based professional and an active member of the Odia Wiki community who participated in the workshop.
Another participant, Sailesh Patnaik, a Class 10 student and the youngest contributor to Wiki, said they are now working on a project titled Odisha History for the Wiki. “We already have around 20 articles on various subjects related to Odisha History which are being developed and we plan to collect more soon,” he said.
The silver lining for contributors and those interested in contributing is the formulation of a Unicode standard for Odia that will help interested contributors to type easily in Odia while entering data in Wikipedia. It was a luxury till recently.
“Odia Wikipedia is not only documenting topics like art, culture, language and heritage in Odia language, but is also creating an awareness and encouraging people to contribute in Odia when most people are moving away from the language,” said Krupasindhu Muduli, a volunteer.
Wikipedia, the volunteer driven, web-based multilingual encyclopedia project, has emerged as an important reference source on the Internet for all kinds of information.