Indic Wikisource Speak: J. Balaji

Posted by Jayanta Nath at Apr 25, 2019 03:21 PM |
To perfectly proofread the content with matching styles it takes a lot of effort. Patience is the key. The formatting methods are in wikisource are different from Wikipedia. So wikipedians are finding it difficult to edit in wikisource without an introduction.The young generation are accessing the internet through Mobile. They don’t use laptops and computers much. Though mobile is good medium for creating multimedia content, they are poor in creating text. It is difficult to proofread wikisource using a mobile phone. The challenge is bringing the next generation proofreaders - Wiki-librarian J. Balaji share his experience.
Indic Wikisource Speak: J. Balaji

J. Balaji (Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)


CIS:Tell us about yourself, When did you join Wikimedia movement? And What are the projects you are involved in?

A: My name is J. Balaji. I am from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. I edit in wikis with the username Balajijagadesh. I am geoscientist by profession. 

I joined in Wikipedia in 2009 though was using the Wikipedia from 2006. I remember how costly the books (encyclopaedias) back then. Even in libraries the encyclopaedias can only be read there itself. They don’t allow encyclopaedias for lending. Accessing knowing was costly and hassle. Suddenly I found Wikipedia which was free for anyone. Anyone can contribute too. I was fascinated by this idea. Wanted to make sure people in the future shouldn’t face problem like I did with costly encyclopaedias. From then I am a regular contributor to Wiki projects. I mostly edit in Tamil Wikisource, Wiktionary, Wikipedia, Wikidata and commons. Also sometimes in English Wikipedia and other projects out of interest

CIS: What are the methods or workflow you follow to contribute on your language Wikisource?
 
A:  In 2016 in collaboration with Tamil Nadu government (Tamil Virtual Academy) about 2000+ books i.e. more than 4 lakh scanned pages were uploaded to commons. Then by the Google OCR (Optical Character Recognition) script written by T.Shrinivasan (those times OCR for indic languages were not available in Indian Languages) the OCR was done for the 4 lakh pages. Since the proof reading work is huge, I turned my efforts to Tamil wikisource. Since that was the first time proof reading was done in Tamil wikisource many templates were not available. Many templates were imported from other languages, help pages for other users were created, rules were framed. Now the system is maturing. Hence these days the typical work flow in proofreading, validating pages proofread by other people and transclusion of books completed. (Transclusion is a process by which the page wise content is placed in logical sections for easy reading of the public). Interested Tamil wikisource contributors have formed a telegram group. So I help other members with their problems, doubts etc in proofreading the wikisource. Also we have a collaborative proofreading project called “proofreading book of the month” where many people collaborate and work on a single book for a month. I participate in this too.

 

CIS:How is the awareness about Wikisource in your language Wikimedia community?

A: The awareness about wikisource in Tamil community is less compared to Tamil Wikipedia. We are trying to place many links from Wikipedia to wikisource. For example if there is an article about famous book we place a template which tells that the complete book is available in wikisource for reading. If there is an author page in Wikipedia whose work is available in wikisource we place a template which tells that the author’s works are available in wikisource. We have twitter and facebook account to increase awareness. In the future some training sessions are also planned to increase awareness and create interest

CIS:We see there’s a growth in Indic Wikisource movement (showing Amir’s stats), what kind of help does the community need to grow? 

A:  The community needs help in training. Because the editing methods and rules are slightly different from Wikipedia. Sometimes in can become tricky to edit in wikisource for those who come from Wikipedia. Second is the technical support regarding proofreading. Some of the proofreading methods are very complicated. For example, to create a family tree or flow chart is very tedious using complicated table formatting. Technical support would be of great help. Also support with respect to copyright status would be very helpful.

 

CIS: What are the challenges do you face while contributing to the project? Or social challenges while reaching out to authors or publishers.

A:  To perfectly proofread the content with matching styles it takes a lot of effort. Patience is the key. The formatting methods are in wikisource are different from Wikipedia. So wikipedians are finding it difficult to edit in wikisource without an introduction. The young generation are accessing the internet through Mobile. They don’t use laptops and computers much. Though mobile is good medium for creating multimedia content, they are poor in creating text. It is difficult to proofread wikisource using a mobile phone. The challenge is bringing the next generation proofreaders.

Another major challenge is on the copyright side. The copyright status of the authors who have already passed away can be known only if the date of death is known from an authentic source. Many a times this information is missing. Hence there is difficult to judge if an author’s work is in public domain or not.

 

CIS: How would you describe the future of Wikisource? What are your personal goals for it?

A:  The future of wikisource is optimistic. The support and interest is growing day by day. For example, the site views of Tamil wikisource was about 4000 views per day two years ago. It has now increased to 13,000 views in April 2019. The absolute page views of wikisource is very less compared to Wikipedia. Nevertheless it is an important project in the era of fake news and fake information. By documenting the source of printed information it increases the quality of references in Wikipedia. For example if a particular information in an article in Wikipedia quotes a book and the book is available in wikisource then it’s easy to cross verify the facts easily by anyone.

My personal goals for the wikisource is on two sides. One is to increase the number of books available for proofreading in wikisource platform. There is potential for 10,000 books to be uploaded in Tamil wikisource in a year’s time. Then proofreading the pages already in wikisource. With the current rate of proof reading it would be taking decades to complete the work. So the contribution need to be increased by arranging online/offline workshops, proofreading competitions, engaging of similar interested non-profit agencies for proofreading, proofreading education programs, etc.

 

CIS:   Please share one remarkable work which is available at your domain and you had contributed. 

A:  I don’t want to beat my own trumpet by claiming my work as remarkable. One of the books proofread by me was close to my heart is  சோழர் வரலாறு. The book is about history of Chola kings and kingdoms (A major kingdom with its capital in south of India) , documenting history from 300 B.C to 1200 A.D. I did proofreading and transcription for this books. Other few users too contributed for proofreading and validating the pages.

 

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