For most of us today, Wikipedia is the first and usually the last stop for information. Normally featured as the first link or in the top five hits of any search engine, it’s become a lifeline for many. While its English version is undoubtedly the most popular, its other languages have slowly gained a wide readership.
Among the Indian languages, Telugu Wikipedia recently hit the 50,000 mark, a milestone that few Indian languages have crossed. Categorised under the Dravidian languages, Telugu shares space with Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada.
Part of the Indic projects on Wikipedia, Telugu Wiki is now managed by the India Wikimedia chapter.
Started in 2006, the first article uploaded in Telugu was on the river Godavari.
Talking about Telugu Wiki, Hisham Mundol, an editor and India program head, says, “Crossing the 50,000 articles mark is indeed quite an achievement, considering that regional languages have a smaller editorial group contributing to it. On an average, we have about 10,000 editors contributing and editing while the Telugu Wiki has less than 100 editors making up the community.”
On the process of building a portal, he explains that just about anyone can contribute to Wikipedia and needn’t necessarily be a user.
“Information goes live immediately. Anybody can put up info and anybody can edit it. The information is monitored because Wiki follows a strict neutrality policy. At the same time, while anybody can upload any information, it has to have notability - meaning a topic of significance,” he points out.
Telugu Wiki, which crossed 10,000 articles within its first year, at the moment has several sister projects associated with it, including wikibooks, wikiquotes, wiktionary and wikisource.
Chairman for the Telugu Wikipedia chapter special interest group, Rahimanuddin has been writing since 2007. Breaking down the 50,000 articles, he says, “The least written topics in the encyclopedia are the ones on technical subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and so on. This is primarily because the editors who contribute are from an arts and culture background. We don’t have anybody with required expertise to translate the English articles into Telugu.”
Nevertheless, the Telugu Wiki community is pretty happy as they saw a 68 per cent hike in the number of edits in just one month, from December 2011 to January 2012.
“We are growing and that is definitely a good sign. But this is a community effort and we need more articles on topics like health and so on. The 50K mark is just of those that are significant. Otherwise, we have a lot of unpolished rough content,” Rahimanuddin concedes.
With 71 active users at the moment, the community is looking to attract more editors to the fold. “What we need to do is bring in more editors to keep it going. It is a voluntary exercise that doesn’t pay. You write because you’re passionate about sharing information and about that particular language. Those are the kind of people we’re looking for,” shares Hisham.
On a completely different note, he adds, “We want the younger generation and students to also be able to contribute. They shouldn’t look to Wiki as their first source of information. While we do check and recheck our sources, Wikipedia isn’t the final word on anything. Which is why our sources are always listed so that anybody can check them for themselves. Students specifically should learn to look for information,” he concludes.
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