Wikipedia is tapping college students in tier II and III cities in India to increase vernacular content on the web-based encyclopaedia.
U.B. Pavanaja, Programme Officer – Indian Language, Access to Knowledge, Centre for Internet Studies (CIS), Bangalore, says there is adequate content on Kannada, Kannadiga, Karnataka on Kannada Wikipedia but on science and technology, the content is a little less.
To fill this gap, he is conducting workshops to teach students to turn volunteers for Wikipedia in far-flung places like Ujire and Moodbidri.
On Sunday, 47 students attended a workshop at Shri Dharmasthala Manunatheshwara (SDM) College in Ujire. And most of them immediately donned the volunteer’s cap. “More people who write Kannada should contribute to Wikipedia in Kannada,” says Shalini, a student of M.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism (MCJ) at SDM College, after the workshop.
Murali Krishna, also a journalism student of SDM College, says typing in the language was “a bit difficult” but some practice will make it simpler. “I had no idea about (editing) Kannada Wikipedia,” he says.
On Saturday Mr. Pavanaja — who has been editing the Kannada Wikipedia for the past 10 years — conducted a similar workshop for 30 students at Alva’s College, Moodbidri.
Mr. Pavanaja says contributions peaked in between 2006 and 2008, then declined “due to many reasons” and “picked up last year”. There was a significant increase in the number of editors after 500 students of Christ University, Bangalore, were trained in editing at a workshop held in January this year.
He says Kannada Wikipedia has very few women editors. Of the 557 editors of Kannada Wikipedia, who have contributed 16,670 articles till now, 226 are active editors and, of them, five men and three women editors are “very active”.
Bhaskar Hegde, Head of the Department, MCJ, SDM College, said he got the workshops organised at the college after hearing about them from friend Niranjan Vanalli (Chairman, Department of MCJ, Mysore University). He said, “This is the second workshop here. The students are enthusiastic and it sharpens their writing skills.”
Mangalore will host a workshop to get people to contribute to Tulu Wikipedia. U.B. Pavanaja, Programme Officer – Indian Language, Access to Knowledge, Centre for Internet Studies (CIS), Bangalore, said a workshop will be held in Theosophical College, Balmatta, on April 6.