As Odia Wikipedia turns 13, what happens next?

Posted by Subhashish Panigrahi and Sailesh Patnaik at Sep 26, 2015 10:50 AM |
Odia Wikipedia, one of several Indian-language Wikipedia projects, celebrated thirteen years of free knowledge contribution on June 3.

This was originally published on the Wikimedia Blog on August 21. The post was shared on Wikipedia's official Facebook page, and on Twitter handles [1 and 2]


Launched in 2002—just a year after the English Wikipedia was launched—Odia Wikipedia has grown to be the largest content repository in the Odia language available in Unicode on the Internet. With over 8,900 articles and about 17 active editors (also known as “uikiali”) spread across various parts of India and abroad, the project has become more than just an encyclopedia. The voluntary editor community has put its efforts into acquiring valuable content, re-licensing them under Creative Commons (CC) licenses, and building tools for acquiring more encyclopedic content from various sources.

 

Aditya Mahar, the second-most active editor on the Odia Wikipedia, feels that the biggest setback for the Odia Wikipedia is a lack of interest in contributing in Odia language. He says many Odia speakers feel that Odia is not needed to acquire and share knowledge.

“Like many others, I have been very eager to learn and share more about my home state and culture,” he says. “That’s why I started to contribute to the Odia Wikipedia, to tell my people about our rich cultural heritage in my language.”

He adds that he is concerned by the way many have been alienating Odia with the excuse of learning English to connect to the rest of the world. “I want my future generation to find everything they want to learn in Odia—from the history of Odisha, our art, architecture, Odia language and people, and our cultural extravaganza,” he says.

Mrutyunjaya Kar, an administrator on the Odia Wikipedia and the most active contributor, feels that Wikipedia is like a marathon and there is a great need for fresh blood in the community. Asked if the community will ever die out, Mrutyunjaya feels that even with a small community, the Odia Wikipedia community is always going to thrive, even if, in the worst case, only one active Wikipedian remains. So, we badly need new users to pass the baton. For him, community support and bonding with the fellow editors is the most important thing to lead a community.

Mrutyunjaya adds that creating many short articles, known as “stubs”, is a necessary evil and essential for a project like the Odia Wikipedia, as they are drafted as a by-product of collaborative editing.

“It takes little longer for a small community like Odia to expand and enhance quality of stubs though,” he says. “Many-a-times, new editors learn about Wikipedia editing while creating stubs. However, all the active Wikipedians agreed during the thirteenth anniversary not to create or promote many stubs.”

Sailesh Patnaik, Odia Wikimedian
Subhashish Panigrahi, Odia Wikimedian and Programme Officer, Access To Knowledge (CIS-A2K)

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