Wikipedia Workshop in British Library, Chandigarh

Posted by Subhashish Panigrahi at Sep 27, 2012 10:10 AM |
A Wikipedia workshop was organized in Chandigarh by the British Library over two days on August 24 and 25, 2012. Bipin Kumar, Head of British Library and Christina, Deputy Manager had pivotal roles in designing this workshop with support from Piyush, a wikipedian.
Wikipedia Workshop in British Library, Chandigarh

Given here is a picture of the participants from the Wikipedia workshop at British Library in Chandigarh

The session on Day 1 was conducted by Subhashish Panigrahi and the session on Day 2 was conducted by  Subhashish and Piyush.

Day 1: Introductory Session

There was news coverage about this session in the Hindustan Times. Members of the British Library (members above 16 years) were informed about the event through the British Council's mailing list. About 32 participants attended this session on Day 1. These included people from different age groups and backgrounds. Amazingly there were more elderly folks than the youngsters! Most of them were from Ludhiana, Mohali and Panchkula (Mohali and Panchkula are two nearby cities).

Subhashish gave the welcome address and asked the participants to introduce themselves and speak about their Wikipedia experience and interaction as a user. Many of them asked questions in the beginning itself which was quite beneficial as we got to spending some time to know each other. The participants were taken through the presentation by questioning about "Who edits Wikipedia and why they edit it", and since the participants continued asking a lot of questions in between, the intro session was longer. Most of them were still not believing that Wikipedia articles could be edited by common men like them. So Subhashish decided to do some vandalism. One of the participants volunteered for creating her user account, and the year when Chandigarh was declared as being the "cleanest city" of India was changed. She then corrected it. Subhashish explained how experienced editors correct such mistakes. The participants were briefed about a few formatting options like bold, italics, hyperlinking and creating heading levels, etc., and showed the "help" tab through which they could learn more. Majority of them had doubts about the credibility and they brought examples of many articles having wrong information. So the rest of the session was spent discussing about the low visibility being one of the reasons of articles with wrong information and how more editor contribution is essential for articles in the Indian context. The participants were also shown articles with "cleanup / more citations needed" maintenance tags and told how they could be improved.


Day 2: Editing Workshop

Ten participants from the previous day (including a sports-blogger, a techie, four students, a ELT trainer, a pediatrician and a lady from Ludhiana who created her user account on Day 1 and brought her father for Day 2) came over for this workshop. There were four new student participants as well. Subhashish and Piyush spoke briefly about what is intended for the editing session. All the participants created their user accounts. Some of the participants helped the ones who were new to create their user accounts. The participants chose various articles including articles of local importance such as Banka Bihari Temple in Chandigarh, paratha (few of the participants raising queries on why it is not spelt "paraNtha", Assam tea, and so on.


Figure 1: Above is a picture of participants doing Wiki editing


The audience listened patiently and asked interesting questions like "what is there for me", "what we are going to do next", etc. They all gathered together for a photoshoot, discussed on setting a wiki club to stay connected and agreed to continue editing after the session is over. The participants were also excited to hear that the Chandigarh British Library Wikipedia Club would be India's third Wikipedia club.

File:Wikipedia workshop-Chandigarh.jpg


Figure 2: Above is a picture of the participants on Day 2


Meeting with British Library Staff

After the session got over there was a meeting with British library's Deputy Manager Christina and IT Head Varinder. We were joined by a columnist from Tribune and one participant. We explained how the wiki club will function and how it would help them as well. Being a library they could involve many of their members in this. A woman editor from Ludhiana has showed interest for conducting workshops in her town. There was a sports-blogger and techie who explained how the local blogger community (over 125+ bloggers) meet up regularly and blog actively. This is a community we could explore more to promote Wikipedia amongst techies. We found that the British Library was quite open to ideas and showed interest for this collaborative model. The participants also asked about defining positions for the wiki club so that people having different interest could take up the lead for different activities.

Post event steps:

  • Emails with thanks and appreciating their interest were sent to the participants.
  • Formal opening of the club was done on Wikipedia and participants and new editors have been informed.
  • Help/support desk on Facebook was set up to provide online support.
  • Press releases were sent to newspapers.
  • Distributing work among new editors has begun.
  • Discussion for next meetup and keeping them updated on regular basis is being implemented.

Meetings were also held with the curator of Chandigarh museum and with Sheetal Prakash, former professor in Public Administration at Punjab University who could help us in reaching out to Punjabi media.

Note: Although the workshop was conducted prior to the grant period, the report was written in the month of September, and hence, we are featuring this.

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