A four year, action-packed experience with Wikipedia

Posted by Sailesh Patnaik at May 28, 2016 01:25 PM |
I consider myself to be an Odia Wikimedian. I contribute Odia knowledge (the predominant language of the Indian state of Odisha) to many Wikimedia projects, like Wikipedia and Wikisource, by writing articles and correcting mistakes in articles. I also contribute to Hindi and English Wikipedia articles.

The article was published in OpenSource.com on April 15, 2016.

My love for Wikimedia started while I was reading an article about the Bangladesh Liberation war on the English Wikipedia after my 10th board exam (like, an annual exam for 10th grade students in America). By mistake I clicked on a link that took me to an India Wikipedia article, and I started reading. Something was written in Odia on the lefthand side of the article, so I clicked on that, and reached a ଭାରତ/Bhārat article on the Odia Wikipedia. I was excited to find a Wikipedia article in my native language!

A banner inviting readers to be part of the 2nd Bhubaneswar workshop on April 1, 2012 sparked my curiousity. I had never contributed to Wikipedia before, only used it for research, and I wasn't familiar with open source and the community contribution process. Plus, I was only 15 years old. I registered. There were many language enthusiasts at the workshop, and all older than me. My father encouraged me to the participate despite my fear; he has played an important role—he's not a Wikimedian, like me, but his encouragement has helped me change Odia Wikipedia and participate in community activities.

I believe that knowledge about Odia language and literature needs to improve—there are many misconceptions and knowledge gaps—so, I help organize events and workshops for Odia Wikipedia. On my accomplished list at the point, I have:

  • initiated three major edit-a-thons in Odia Wikipedia: Women's Day 2015, Women's Day 2016, abd Nabakalebara edit-a-thon 2015
  • initiated a photograph contest to get more Rathyatra images from all over the India
  • represented Odia Wikipedia during two events by Google (Google I/O extended and Google Dev Fest)
  • spoke at Perception 2015 and the first Open Access India meetup
  • I was just an editor to Wikipedia projects until last year, in January 2015, when I attended Bengali Wikipedia's 10th anniversary conference and Vishnu, the director of the Center for Internet and Society at the time, invited me to attend the Train the Trainer Program. I was inspired to start doing outreach for Odia Wikipedia and hosting meetups for GLAM activities and training new Wikimedians. These experience taught me how to work with a community of contributors.

    Ravi, the director of Wikimedia India at the time, also played an important role in my journey. He trusted me and made me a part of Wiki Loves Food, a public photo competition on Wikimedia Commons, and the organizing committee of Wikiconference India 2016. During Wiki Loves Food 2015, my team helped add 10,000+ CC BY-SA images on Wikimedia Commons. Ravi further solidified my commitment by sharing a lot of information with me about the Wikimedia movement, and his own journey, during Odia Wikipedia's 13th anniversary.

    Less than a year later, in December 2015, I became a Program Associate at the Center for Internet and Society's Access to Knowledge program (CIS-A2K). One of my proud moments was at a workshop in Puri, India where we helped bring 20 new Wikimedian editors to the Odia Wikimedia community. Now, I mentor Wikimedians during an informal meetup called WikiTungi Puri. I am working with this group to make Odia Wikiquotes a live project. I am also dedicated to bridging the gender gap in Odia Wikipedia. Eight female editors are now helping to organize meetups and workshops, and participate in the Women's History month edit-a-thon.

    During my brief but action-packed journey during the four years since, I have also been involved in the Wikipedia Education Program, the newsletter team, and two global edit-a-thons: Art and Feminsim and Menu Challenge. I look forward to the many more to come!

    I would also like to thank Sameer and Anna (both previous members of the Wikipedia Education Program).