Lucknow, the capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, a city has long been known for its opulent artistic heritage and for embracing different cultures.
Bara Imambara (a congregation hall for Shia ceremonies), is one of the city’s largest historic buildings. The Imambara, constructed between 1784 and 1791 by nearly 22,000 workers, is an outstanding example of Mughal architecture. Rumi Darwaza, another monument in Lucknow, is a historic gateway to the Old City. It was modeled after the Sublime Porte in Istanbul.
Lucknow boasts several other impressive styles of architecture, authentic music, diverse cuisine, and a history of storytelling that helped establish its place in Indian and regional history.
On the Hindi Wikipedia, Lucknow is the subject of a featured article, meaning that it is recognized by Wikipedia editors for its quality. The history of the city and its culture, climate, people, and traditions are all covered on one page. The article was written by many volunteers, but it was primarily developed into a featured article by Wikipedian Ashish Bhatnagar.
In fact, Bhatnagar’s self-described most fulfilling experiences on Wikipedia have come from the three featured articles he’s helped write: Lucknow, Ganges River, and Microbiology. But how did he get to the site in the first place? “I was searching for something on the internet when I came across the English Wikipedia,” Bhatnagar recalls. “After using the website for a while, I noticed a link to the Hindi Wikipedia on the right-hand column. Most of the Hindi articles were [very] short at that time… The article on the Yamuna River only stated, ‘It is a river in India.’ That was in 2005 or 2006.”
The substandard level of articles on the Hindi Wikipedia motivated Bhatnagar, who is an advocate for his language and Indian culture. “I thought about how much we learn from [information shared on the] internet, so why don’t we give back to it?” he asked.
To give back, Bhatnagar has edited Wikipedia over 53,000 times and created over 10,000 new articles on Wikipedia over the past decade. He is also now an administrator on the Hindi Wikipedia, where he helps with tasks behind the scenes, like template creation and technical issues. “Technical challenges were brain food for me,” he says.
While many Wikipedia editors hesitate to create very short articles (“stubs“) on Wikipedia, Bhatnagar believes they are a good base to build on. “Many people join the Hindi Wikipedia community. They contribute for a short time, create some new content that might be useless for some, but we can make something out of this ‘useless text.’ We can guide those contributors until they learn how to contribute longer quality content.”
Bhatnagar and his fellow editors on the Hindi Wikipedia had a successful experience improving these short articles. Their project was called Aaj Ka Aalekh, in which they expanded each article to a minimum of 200 words with a picture and a few references, links and categories. They helped improve many articles without having to shoulder the burden of working for long time on a lengthy article.
When not online, Bhatnagar is an electronics engineer who currently works for the Airports Authority of India. When not working and not on Wikipedia, can sometimes be found at Wikipedia events encouraging new people to edit.
Interview by Syed Muzammiluddin, Wikimedia Community Volunteer
Profile by Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern, Wikimedia Foundation