Celebrating 13 Years of the Kannada-language Wikipedia

Posted by Subhashish Panigrahi at May 29, 2016 03:55 AM |
The Kannada-language Wikipedia celebrated its 13th anniversary on February 14 in Mangalore. To celebrate the journey of the project and the community, Kannada Wikipedians gathered at Saint Aloysius College, Mangaluru on May 14.

The article was published in DNA on May 22, 2016.


The larger community including long-time Wikipedians and new members like the students faculty involved in Wikipedia Education Programs gathered to participate in a day long edit-a-thon and chalk out plans for the future. The event was organised by the Kannada Wikimedia community and Dr. Vishwanatha Badikana, Wikipedian and Assistant Professor of Kannada department at St. Aloysius College, who coordinated the event locally.

Prior to the event, four edit-a-thons were organised in four different cities of Karnataka. The local organisers also took the participants through a heritage walk in the village of Pilikula Nisarga Dhama, an open library of the rich cultural heritage of Karnataka. Prior to the event, four edit-a-thons were organised in four different cities of Karnataka. The local organisers also took the participants through a heritage walk in the village of Pilikula Nisarga Dhama, an open library of the rich cultural heritage of Karnataka.

117 people gathered at the event out of which 96 were active editors of the Kannada Wikipedia to celebrate thirteen years of Kannada Wikipedia, arguably the largest online encyclopedia in Kannada language. Noted Kannada-computing researcher Kinnikambla Padmanabha Rao (widely known as KP Rao) addressed the public event and engaged with the audience about defining Kannada Wikipedia’s large role in widening the language’s presence on the internet. The heritage walk resulted in over 300 image uploads on Wikimedia Commons ranging from the life and culture of coastal Karnataka to select rich heritage of the state. 20 new editors also participated in the event and they were oriented on basics of Wikipedia editing and Creative Commons licenses.

Much before the event, preparation was begun to organise four different thematic edit-a-thons; Kannada literature in Mysore, Mechanical Engineering in Sagara, Science-related articles in Bengaluru and article on notable women of the coastal Karnataka region in Mangaluru. Follow up edit-a-thons were organised after the anniversary celebration, based on the same themes in the first three places.

Much before the event, preparation was begun to organise four different thematic edit-a-thons; Kannada literature in Mysore, Mechanical Engineering in Sagara, Science-related articles in Bengaluru and article on notable women of the coastal Karnataka region in Mangaluru. Follow up edit-a-thons were organised after the anniversary celebration, based on the same themes in the first three places.

Triveni K, one of the participants who is now pursuing her M.Sc at Christ University, called this event a great learning platform for learning core Wikipedia policies in detail. “I’m little occupied for my exams but when it is over, I will be back on Wikipedia”, shares Triveni.

The first ever edit on Kannada Wikipedia was made on June 12, 2003 with a message saying “Kannada Vishwa Koshakke Suswaagatha!” (meaning ‘Welcome to the Kannada encyclopedia’). However it took over a year, July 12, 2004, before the first article, about a city Shimoga, was created. Over the last decade, Kannada Wikipedia has been a great gamechanger for theKannada language where the Wikipedians have played a great role in making it a household name. 7,05,199 unique visitors read the articles every month as per the December 2015 statistics. The annual average of active editors for last year was 48, 91 (in February) being the highest, 22 (in May) the lowest and 80 being the count in December 2015. The peaks and valleys also signify that major outreach like Wikipedia Education Program at Christ University, Bengaluru could have boosted the total number of editors during the months when the program was being rolled out. The project since its inception has gone through many ups and downs over time, the major one being a small community to edit and curate such a high level task of creating new articles in Kannada, editing and enriching them with more information and citations, and cleaning up many articles. The biggest hurdle, as explained by Wikimedian Hari Prasad Nadig, has been cleaning up the articles created by paid translations of Google when Kannada Wikipedia along with many other Indian language Wikipedias was used as testing ground for improving Google Translate, a multilingual machine translation tool. Vasanth SN, a Kannada Wikipedian who has cleaned up over 60 such articles, prefers to use an existing good quality encyclopedia like the 14 volume Kannada Vishwakosha published by Mysore University and relicensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0 by the university, as a resource to create and improve articles.

The 14th anniversary was another milestone in the journey and there are many more to come. You can read more about it here on Kannada Wikipedia.

 

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