With a view to furthering the growth of content in Indian languages, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) will set up an office in the country within six months. The office will support the existing Bangalore-based India chapter of the free online resource website.
“We are talking about an office of three or four people. It's not a huge investment. One of the benefits of an office in India is it would facilitate communication with local communities,” Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said on Sunday.
Much of the content generation and “excitement” depended on “energised local communities,” he said in a public talk here on ‘Wikipedia in India: The Future.' The Foundation was looking at top 10 Indian languages having mature content by 2015.
So far Hindi had generated 57,823 articles, Telugu 45,963, Marathi 31,400, Tamil 25,263, Gujarati 17,142 and Malayalam 14,830. It was this encouraging scenario, coupled with other ongoing projects on regional language, that made Wikipedia turn to India, Mr. Wales said.
“India is a perfect case because we have existing communities and a lot of people visiting the site.”
While 81 per cent of the edits received by Wikipedia from India were in English, those from local languages were increasing.
The WMF targeted at getting in the next five years 100 million unique visitors a month to the site. This would depend on Internet access in India. Mr. Wales also stressed “offline access” to the site, especially in schools. The WMF aimed at providing access to Wikipedia and Wikitionary in 75 per cent of the schools in the next five years.
To a question on accessibility of content to schoolchildren, Mr. Wales said it was necessary to “adjust the level of every entry to the topic and its likely readers” in terms of language and the information provided. “Complexity and depth of the material should depend on the context.”
Addressing a concern over Wikipedia's credibility, he said: “We have a rich community and the articles are monitored. Sometimes there are errors. If sources are not cited, [it's probably not good]. I think people should be careful about using Wikipedia. It's a good starting point, but not a good ending point.”
Bishakha Dutta, from the WMF, said the idea behind Wikipedia's efforts in India was “to grow the languages in quality and quantity.”
Arun Ramarathnam, president of Wikipedia's India chapter, said the Tamil Nadu government, during the recent world Tamil conference in Coimbatore, had given prizes to contributors of Tamil articles to Wikipedia. The Kerala government had come up with an offline series. He urged governments to release content in the public domain.
The WMF was willing to provide logistics, technical and financial support towards initiatives of creating communities of contributors to the language sites.