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Project Tiger: Wikipedia ropes in locals to contribute articles in Indian languages

by Prasad Krishna last modified Jun 05, 2019 06:37 AM
The project has generated content in Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Odiya and Gujarati.

The article by Tushar Kaushik was published in Economic Times on May 29, 2019.

Hundreds of people from across the country are generating online content in local Indian languages and are even competing in ‘editathons’ that pit contributors of different languages against each other.

While online encyclopedia Wikipedia’s content might be exhaustive in English, its content in Indian languages is limited. Keeping this in mind, Wikipedia’s parent organization Wikimedia Foundation, and Google, roped in Bengaluru-based Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) - Access to Knowledge (CIS-A2K), Wikimedia India Chapter in 2017 and started ‘Project Tiger’ aimed at generating more content in Indian languages. A pilot project was held from December 2017 to May 2018 and another phase of the competition is set to begin next month. The project has generated content in major languages such as Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Odia and Gujarati.

The contributors are from varied age groups, some are also from remote, rural areas and they worked from different cities across the country. Two years ago, Durga Prasanna, a journalism student at Alva’s college in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district, joined a group of contributors to Wikipedia as part of a requirement from the college. She got an opportunity to participate in ‘Project Tiger’ last year. She generated Wikipedia entries in Kannada and also in the regional languages of Tulu and Konkani. Apart from Durga, seven other students of her college together contributed over 70 articles in Kannada, and a few in Tulu and Konkani, during the ‘editathon’. “We were provided a long list of topics on which not much literature existed in the local languages and among them, we chose topics based on our interests. For example, I wrote articles on ‘psychologist’ and ‘medicinal plants’,” she said.

Another participant, Charan Gill, a 65-year-old former social worker from Patiala, Punjab, was the top contributor in Punjabi. “I wrote 432 articles in a span of two-and-a-half months.However, contributing is not new to me as I have written over 10,000 Wikipedia entries in Punjabi since 2012,” he says.

Gill now works with another Wikimedia project, translating literary classics into Punjabi. He is currently translating some works of 19th century Russian author Ivan Turgenev. Thanksto Gill’s contributions, the Punjabi community of contributors won the prize for producing the most articles — 1,320. In Tamil, 1,241 articles were contributed. A total of 78 articleswere produced in Kannada by eight members.

Gopalakrishna A, community advocate for Kannada language, CIS-A2K, said all written articles were evaluated by a Wikimedia team jury to check if they fulfilled all criteria beforebeing uploaded on Wikipedia set for the contest. Once they fulfil the criteria, the articles are eligible for the prizes. “The main idea was to create content in Indian languages. Thethings most Indian contributors required were internet and hardware support. So participants who had made significant contributions prior to the competition Wikimediaprojects were provided internet connections or laptops Chromebooks,” he said.


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