T Sujatha found her way to Wikipedia through a simple internet search—one that brought up a Wikipedia article written in her native Telugu language, the third-largest language in India, spoken by about 74 million people. After working to understand the site and what it was trying to achieve, Sujatha started editing in August 2006.
Some years later, Sujatha’s husband Sri Ramamurthy joined her in attending a Telugu Wikipedia conference. On the suggestion of one of the attendees, he took part in a “Wiki Academy” there—a crash course in how to edit the encyclopedia. He picked it up quickly, and soon started contributing to the Telugu Wikisource, a digital library for freely licensed and out-of-copyright works, as well.
Both are still highly active editors even today, something helped by the friendly environment in which they can work. The Telugu Wikipedia has only about 160 active editors, so “friendly companionship with fellow Wikipedians is essential,” both Sujatha and Ramamurthy say, for reasons not unlike the dynamics of living in a small town.
Sujatha has helped organize several meetups for Telugu Wikipedians, including anniversary celebrations for the site’s tenth and eleventh birthdays, and has participated in others—like the Lilavati’s Daughters edit-a-thon, based on a book published by the Indian Academy of Sciences that focused on 50 women in science. When not writing about notable women from history, she focuses her writing on tourist destinations, Mughal emperors, astrology, and religion. Sujatha’s best two articles, in her opinion, are those about Vancouver and Guatemala.
Ramamurthy works extensively with Rajasekhar1961, a bureaucrat on the Telugu Wikipedia and an administrator on two other Telugu-language Wikimedia sites, to select books for digitization on the Telugu Wikisource—a chronology of Nepalese history, for one. On Wikipedia, he’s concentrated his efforts on the smaller town and villages for which there no entries on the English Wikipedia.
Thanks to Pavan Santhosh for facilitating these interviews.