From a few hundred articles in 2002 to over 10,600 articles on various aspects of Odisha today, Odia Wikipedia has certainly made a mark as far as promotion of the language is concerned. Wikipedia, the volunteer driven web-based multilingual encyclopedia project, is an important reference source on the Internet for all kinds of information.
Recently, Odia Wikipedia (https://or.wikipedia.org) celebrated its 13th anniversary in Bhubaneswar where the focus was on capacity building of Wikipedia contributors, volunteers and enhancing the content.
While the event brought all the active contributors under one roof, it also provided a platform to new users to learn the basics of Wikipedia editing, technical aspects, uploading and adding images to articles and dealing with copyright issues on Wikipedia.
Odia Wikipedia is free for anyone to create articles on notable topics related to Odisha, edit and enhance them. Topics covered so far are varied, from elaborate rituals in Jagannath temple of Puri to medical science.
Currently, there are two sister projects of Odia Wikipedia - Odia Wikisource (an online library that already has over 300 volumes of text) and Odia Wiktionary, an online dictionary that has over one lakh entries in the language.
With these two projects, the community is bringing a digital revolution in Odia by sharing valuable content online and many language tools. Odia Wikipedia, the flagship project was started as one of the first four Indian language Wikipedias along with Assamese, Malayalam and Punjabi Wikipedia in 2002, a year after the English Wikipedia went live.
The project remained dormant for more than nine years till a group of youths revived it in 2011. Subsequently, the project became popular among Odias and they joined in writing and editing articles on different subject areas in the language.
"Odia Wikipedia is part of the 292 language Wikipedia family and a larger global family of hundreds of other free knowledge projects that are collectively known as Wikimedia projects," said Mrutyunjaya Kar, one of the administrators of the project, during the event.
Tools for Writers
Apart from writing and editing articles, the Wikipedia contributors have created several tools and resource manuals over the years. The script encoding converters that they have built is helping online users to share their Odia writings.
"Before these converters were built, people were stuck with outdated encoding systems like Shreelipi and Akruti," says Subhashish Panigrahi, Wikipedian, and Programme Officer at the Centre for Internet and Society, Bengaluru.
"The next big goal is to enhance the quality of the existing articles by adding more images, references from external sources and expanding small articles by adding more information," said a contributor, Shitikantha Dash. Dash, who is also an administrator of Odia Wiktionary said, "It is important that more people contribute to the Odia Wiktionary so that words of all genres, especially the technical and burrowed words, make their way into this free multilingual dictionary. A 10-day campaign will be organised soon to celebrate the 11th anniversary of Odia Wiktionary. "This time, our focus will be that every Wikipedia editor adds at least one word to the Odia Wiktionary. We are also using these words to create a spell check facility in Odia Wikipedia that will be freely available for everyone to use," he added.