New Avenues: Media Wiki Groups

Posted by Noopur Raval at Dec 27, 2012 09:00 PM |
This blog post is a brief recap and snippets of my conversation with Harsh Kothari, a volunteer on Gujarati Wikipedia on what we've been doing to help with MediaWiki groups.

Earlier in December, Harsh posted an e-mail to announce India's first MediaWiki group in Ahmedabad. The group is in its final stage of approval. The e-mail also generated curiosity among community members, some of whom had discussed starting similar technical initiatives earlier on the list.

I came across the idea of MediaWiki groups while Harsh, Yuvi Panda, Sheel and I were trying to conduct a mini hackathon in Delhi. The mini hackathon was a great success and very helpful to Harsh and Sheel. That is when we realized that the best way of repeating such training sessions would be to help foster the interaction of all technical volunteers within a city. Harsh told me Quim Gil from the Wikimedia Foundation had already proposed this and it would be best if I helped him frame a proposal for a MediaWiki group in India. I was told by Yuvi and Harsh that from their discussions on IRC with Quim they all agreed that local groups would serve better than a single national group given the expanse of India.

I thought this post would lend some perspective on how we could go about supporting technical outreach in India specifically for two reasons one, because Indian language Wikipedias could massively benefit from increased functionality — new gadgets, referencing and more. Apart from this, as we all might have encountered during our outreach sessions in technical colleges, there is great interest among students in contributing to MediaWiki but not enough resources or people who could spread the word.

A local MediaWiki group could serve multiple purposes supporting the relevant language Wikipedia as well as attracting and fostering a FOSS community in their city. It could also take up the responsibility of conducting events — small and large including hackathons, workshops and more. Especially in the context of smaller cities, towns and large university campuses, setting up a technical group similar to a LUG would be very beneficial. There will definitely be challenges, as questions come by and none of these groups can follow a standard model. But, I believe a major advantage of technical groups would mean faster resolution of bugs, more frequently updated infrastructure and consequently more activity on relevant Wikipedias. I have contributed to the proposal and am helping shape the first group. In case you want to set one up in your city or university, or wish to be put in touch with people who can help please do write to me at [email protected].