Photo by Vishwanatha Badikana, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Photo by Vishwanatha Badikana, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Eight years after  being created in the Wikimedia Incubator, the Tulu-language Wikipedia is now live as the 23rd Indic language Wikipedia. Available at https://tcy.wikipedia.org, the project has a total of 1285 articles contributed by 198 editors.

Tulu is spoken by between three and five million people principally concentrated in the states of Karnataka and Kerala in south-west and south India (respectively), with more in the US and in Gulf countries. The Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director Katherine Maher announced that the project would go live in her keynote at WikiConference India 2016.

Tulu Wikipedia was started in the Wikimedia Incubator back in 2008 with a one or two editors, but neither the project nor the community remained active except sporadic edits. Without any meetups and outreach, it was difficult for those editors to work as a community to bring the project live from Incubator.  The Centre for Internet and Society’s Access to Knowledge program, a catalytic program funded by the Wikimedia Foundation to support and grow Indian language Wikipedias and Wikimedia projects in the Indian subcontinent, started building a Tulu-language community in 2014. They and the community conducted Wikipedia editing training workshops at St. Aloysius College in Mangaluru, who opened their doors to introduce the Wikipedia Education Program (WEP). As part of the WEP, students started editing Wikipedia as part of their syllabus with the leadership and guidance of Dr. Vishwanatha Badikana, assistant professor of the Kannada-language department at St. Aloysius, who himself became an active Tulu Wikipedia editor. Similarly, many students from both the institutions also contributed articles of diverse subject areas.

However, the community is fairly small and needs a way to grow outside the institution. “A series of eight how-to video tutorials have been created to help editors to learn about Wikipedia policies and guidelinesmanual of style and overall editing. Many students have contributed in creating these tutorials”, Badikana says, and the existing set of editors are doing their best to spread the word about the project. In an interview with the media portal Daijiworld, Bharathesha Alasandemajalu, an active editor based in Oman, said, “anyone can write or edit articles on the Tulu Wikipedia but it should not be plagiarised. The photos should be one’s own or uploaded with valid permission from the owner. This will help the future generation to know more about the language and act as a source of information on Tulu language and culture.”

One of the biggest challenges in growing the project—apart the community’s limitations within institutional frameworks and having just a handful of editors outside—is the lack of codification of the project as per Unicode compliance. Unicode is a global standard for scripts, and the modern Tulu script (derived from the original Tigalari script) is not yet encoded in Unicode. As a result, all the articles in the Tulu Wikipedia are written in the Kannada script, as the speakers are mostly based in the state of Karnataka and speak Kannada as a second language.

Despite a long linguistic heritage, Tulu is still struggling to be widely used, especially in its native script. Badikana says that he is really hopeful that he will see more Tulu speakers start contributing to the language’s Wikipedia, as he feels that growing language content online would be the best thing to do while working in a conventional classroom.

In brief

Ongoing India At Rio Olympics 2016 Edit-a-thon promises to plant one tree for every 20 new articles created

India this year has a great participation in the Rio Olympics; some of the participating athletes have brought medals and glory for the country and some lost in the tight competition. But for Wikipedia, every single athlete matters! An edit-a-thon is being organized by Wikimedia India in collaboration with the not-for-profit “Sankalp Taru”, a publication house for Niyogi books. Several Indian-language Wikipedia communities are participating in creating Wikipedia articles related to the Rio Olympics and India’s participation in it. A unique goal is set for this edit-a-thon where a tree will be planted for every 20 new articles created and it could also be monitored online. The edit-a-thon started officially at 0:00 UTC on 29 July 2016 and will go on 23:59 UTC on 18 September 2016. Apart from several other rules for participation, the rule also discourages pure machine translation of the articles as historically there has been disastrous impact of Google Translate for many Indian language Wikipedias.

Wiki Loves Monuments returns to India after three years

Wiki Loves Monuments, the global photo competition that is organized by the Wikimedia communities in September with the focus of getting good quality photographs of monuments of historical interest, will be organized in India. “The aim of the contest is to ask the general public—readers and users of Wikipedia, photographers, hobbyists, etc.—to take pictures of cultural heritage monuments and upload them to Wikimedia Commons for use on Wikipedia and its other sister projects.”, shared Abhinav Srivastava, Executive Committee member of Wikimedia India which is the official organizer of the event. More details about participating in this event could be found in the event page.

WikiConference India 2016, the largest Wikimedia community gathering of the year in South Asia comes to an end

Organized by the Wikimedia communities in India, the WikiConference India 2016 was the largest Wikimedia gathering in the subcontinent of this year. After a long break of five years, the event has about 250 participants including over 100 scholarship recipients from four countries representing Wikimedia projects in 20 Indic languages. As reported in the Signpost, nearly 25% of scholarship recipients were women, and the inclusion of speakers of ~20 languages. There were 89 accepted submissions including workshops, presentations, The event also included an edit-a-thon to improve the content related to Punjab, Punjabi language and culture as a gesture of respect to the place where the event was organized. Over 2000 articles have been created by more than 150 editors in 12 different language Wikipedias.

A gender gap-focused panel, led by formed Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees member Bishakha Datta, was held on the second day of the conference to share the research and outreach experiences in different communities (featuring Kannada, Tamil, and Marathi communities). Researchers proposed new strategies and practices in tackling the systematic and social barriers for Indian women joining Wikimedia projects. Other presenters shared tips and event-organizing experience on various outreach activities—from edit-a-thons and photo-thons in the International Women’s Month to student-led events in college institutions—demonstrating respective communities’ efforts on the local, national, and global scales. The panel was followed by a Wikiwomen’s Lunch meetup attended by most female Wikipedians at the conference along with Bishakha, Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees member Nataliia Tymkivand WMF staff members.

Ashutosh Sarangi, the youngest Wikimedian from the oldest Indian-language Wikipedia community

At the closing ceremony WikiConference India 2016, Ashutosh Sarangi was awarded as the youngest Wikimedian at the conference by , two days after Katherine congratulated the Odia Wikipedia for celebrating its 14th birthday, where the project happens to be the oldest of all Indian-language Wikipedias. Ashutosh, a 6th grade student, is the son of Pankajmala Sarangi, the most active Odia Wikisourcer, and is active in Odia Wikisource with 226 edits for digitization of two books so far. “Living and studying in New Delhi where Hindi is predominantly the primary language, having a conversation in our native language Odia itself is so difficult. I am proud to be a mother who not only teaches Odia language to her kids but also helps them contribute to the open Internet. At some point of time, these valuable books Ashutosh has contributed in digitizing on Odia Wikisource will be of great read for others”, she shares. Long time Hindi-language Wikipedian Raju Suthar has mentioned in a news article in Hindi newspaper the Sanjivani saying, “Ashutosh has won everyone’s heart as the youngest Wikimedian in this conference. Asaf Bartov and Nataliia Tymkov have awarded him for his contribution”. Ashutosh started contributing to Odia Wikisource in February this year on the day of the second workshop in New Delhi.

MediaWiki hackathon at WikiConference India 2016 has seven important outputs

The MediaWiki hackathon that was running at the WikiConference India in the leadership of Santosh Shingare was productive to engage with several participants and bring as many as seven most important outcomes;

  1. WikiSpeak, an easy-to-use Android (source code) and web app (source code) that read the the Wikipedia articles in native languages.
  2. Edit Tamil Wiktionary, android app that helps create entries in Tamil-language Wiktionary from a spreadsheet created with a .tsv extension. The app checks for existing entries and creates only entries that are not existent. (source code)
  3. Commons audio uploader, Android app that helps a user to log in using Mediawiki credentials, create audio recordings using their phone microphone, and upload them on Commons. (source code)
  4. Wikipedia articles on Google map, web application that can show Wikipedia articles with geo-cordinates in Google Maps when the phone’s location is enabled for Google Maps. The application is responsive enough to adjust the portion of the Wikipedia article it displays on the screen, and works for all the Indian languages. (source code)
  5. OCR (Native Application): 4 students from the Indian Institute of Technology Roper Python coding to use Google’s OCR API and convert scanned images/screenshots of text into text for Hindi and Malayalam. A similar kind of tool was built earlier by Tamil-language Wikimedian T. Srinvasan that helps Wikisourcers extract text from scanned books and update the text on Wikisource for proof-reading.
  6. Communication platform[WebRTC] (Web Application) : Community used this to talk or conference (Audio/video web conferencing application)
  7. Notification (Event based) : showing popup on event eg (If recent changes happen, It will show popup which article was updated)

Subhashish Panigrahi, Programme Officer, Centre for Internet and Society-Access to Knowledge (CIS-A2K),
Ting-Yi Chang, Community Advocate, Centre for Internet and Society-Access to Knowledge (CIS-A2K)

Thanks to  Santosh Shingare for his valuable input in detailing outcomes from the hackathon at WikiConference India, Raju Suthar from Hindi Wikipedia community, and Abhinav Srivastava from Wikimedia India.