Pranayraj Vangari. Photo by Pranayraj Vangari, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Telangana is a state in southern India with a history and culture that extends back five millennia. The region is known for hosting people with different cultures, speaking a few different languages and holding different beliefs. All in addition to being an open art space with its authentic architecture, plastic art, and music.

The state’s culture is the subject of an article that Pranayraj Vangari has created today on the Telugu Wikipedia, concluding a year-long challenge where Vangari created a new Wikipedia article every day for 365 consecutive days. This morning, members of the Telugu Wikipedia community gathered to celebrate Vangari’s work.

Vangari, a native of Telangana’s capital Hyderabad, heard about the #100wikidays challenge on Wikipedia from fellow Telugu-language Wikipedians who have taken and successfully completed it. This encouraged him to follow their lead and take the 100-day challenge. The 100-day commitment is not easy at all, but Vangari later changed his plan to make it even harder.

“At first, I thought that 100wikidays [were] enough,” Vangari recalls, “but … on the 95th day of this challenge, I decided to take up the Wikiyear challenge.”

But over the course of a full a year, there would be several occasions when he is more busy than usual that he can’t dedicate half an hour of his time to editing. He may need to travel for work, for example, or even get married. But all that was no barrier for Vangari.

“I am a theater artist,” Vangari told us, “so, I need to travel often for theater performances. When I go away, I carry my laptop with me and [a list of] previously-selected articles to work on. In September 2016, I was an assistant director for a Telugu film. I needed to be in the location at 7 am, and be back home at 11 pm. I woke up at five every morning, selected the article content, created the article at 5:30 with some content, then completed it when I came back home in the evening.”

In February, Vangari got married, but this was not a good enough excuse for him to wriggle out of his commitment for even a single day.

“I wrote an article on my wedding day,” he says, “and my wife took this opportunity to learn about the project and sign up. Our fellow Wikipedian Pavan Santhosh coined a term for that: Wiki Kalyanam (Wiki Marriage).”

Telugu ranks as the fifth-largest Indian language on Wikipedia with nearly 67,000 articles. It has been growing over the years since 2003, when the Telugu Wikipedia started.

Vangari has been editing the site since March 2013. He made over 85,000 edits on the Telugu Wikipedia and created over 700 new articles. His dedication to Wikipedia encouraged the community to nominate him as an administrator. When not online, he can be found at local editing workshops, encouraging new users and helping them with the editing basics. Aside from Wikipedia, Vangari is as an assistant theater director and is working on an M.Phil degree in theater arts.

“Wikipedia is the first door I knock on for knowledge,” Vangari says. “The idea of giving your part and contributing to Wikipedia sounds like a fantastic idea to me. Making my knowledge available to the rest of the world for free is what inspires me to keep editing … Wikipedia is important because it helps share the knowledge irrespective of who you are.”

Members of the Telugu Wikipedia community, this morning, celebrating Vangari’s work. Photo by Pranayraj Vangari, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern
Wikimedia Foundation