Tamil Wikipedia, which was started in 2003 and has around 55,000 articles containing over 2 crore words to its credit, celebrated its 10th anniversary here, on Sunday.
Considering that Wikipedia is one of the highly used Internet encyclopedias which enables the user to edit and contribute to the pages, one can easily speculate that the contributions for their vast information must be huge. Maybe the case is true with respect to English, but not with any other language, especially Tamil.
Make a wild guess on the number of contributors for Tamil Wikipedia taking into account the total Tamil population of nearly 77 million all over the world. “It’s just over 900 contributors scattered here and there and even in that, only very few contribute largely,” said Ravishankar, one of the contributors/volunteers from Bangalore, at the announcement of the anniversary celebrations, earlier this week. The volunteers to got together to promote Tamil Wikipedia by reaching out and spreading awareness.
Over 20 to 30 volunteers, who form the core active contributor’s team for Tamil Wikipedia, participated and organised many events like workshops and discussions about the growth of Tamil Wiki projects on the anniversary. As part of the event, they also conducted an essay contest with prizes worth of `30000. Their aim was to emphasise on the importance of the language and discuss the ways to promote it through schools and colleges.
“We are already promoting it through our Facebook pages. Though everybody is aware about Wikipedia and how it works, many of them consciously or unconsciously fail to realise that even they can contribute. Even if they do, the next question that comes about is what do they get in return. It’s all about knowledge, team building, team work, forming networks, knowing new techniques, isn’t that enough?” questioned C R Selvakumar, one of the chief contributors who is a professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada.
The contributors are planning many such promotional programmes mainly through virtual media where the youth can be targeted. They appreciated the contributions made by the Tamil Nadu Government in the past, which enabled them to build their word dictionary count. They expect similar and steady support from the government in future too, which according to them, would aid in promoting Tamil Wikipedia in a big way.
“A simple example would be that if the Tamil Nadu government announces to make it compulsory for the schools to teach how to type in Tamil on their computers, it would make the students aware about Tamil Wikipedia and they can learn the language easily,” said Ravishankar.