Patrice Riemens on Fri, 2 Jun 2017 17:21:13 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Subhashish Panigrahi: Indian language Odia Wikipedia turning 15 this

Bwo Frederick Noronha/Bytes for All readers

(Odia is an Indi-Aryan Indian language, mostly spoken in Odisha 
-formerly Orissa- in Eastern India:

There exist 23 Indian-language Wikipedias, and the oldest one is turning

Born in 2002, the Odia-language Wikipedia is celebrating its 15th
birthday on June 3.

By Subhashish Panigrahi

The Odia-language Wikipedia is celebrating its 15th birthday on June 3.
Born in 2002, just a year after the English Wikipedia, the first ever
Wikipedia went live. Odia might not be there in  the Google Translate,
but as one of the three oldest languages of the Indian subcontinent it
also has the oldest Indian-language Wikipedia. June 3 marks first ever
edit in Odia-language by an anonymous editor.

Along with Odia, Assamese, Malayalam and Punjabi Wikipedia were also
born in the same year. Today, there exist 23 Wikipedias, the latest
entrant to the family being Tulu, in 23 different Indian languages.

Odia Wikipedia is a compendium of 12,619 encyclopedic articles written
by only a handful volunteer editors, also known as Uikialis (Odia for
Wikipedian or Wikipedia editor). Though the project is 15 years old, it
was dormant for about nine years until a couple of editors started
actively contributing and building a community around it in 2011.

Slowly these editors spread out, reached out to more people, and the
content sprawled to more subject areas when subject experts started
contributing related to their domain expertise. Just like any other
Wikipedia, Odia Wikipedia is never going to be complete, but will
continue to mature.

When there are over 350 articles related to Medicine, there are only two
articles related to feminism. The reason behind that is simple. A
Wikipedian would often contribute to either a subject area that they are
interested in, or an expert in. For instance, when a veteran doctor and
assistant professor of a medical school translated hundreds of
medicine-related articles, there were not many editors to do the same
for the articles about feminism.

Not all the editors are subject experts themselves, many
Wikipedians--like Pritiranjan Tripathy who has contributed the largest
number of biographical articles, and Sangram Kesari Senapati who has
written several articles on Indian movies and actors--actually
contribute for articles that they are personally interested in.

The contributor community of these Wikipedians have also worked in
bringing two other Wikimedia projects--Odia Wikisource, an online
library of freely-licensed books, and Odia Wiktionary, a dictionary with
the meanings of native words that are equivalent of foreign language
vocabulary. Though the community is small, there is a wide mixture of
people of all professions, most importantly open source software
developers. This has helped the community build many tools that they
themselves and the larger society is using.

One of them is a converter that helps anyone convert text typed in
legacy encoding systems into Unicode, a universal and contemporary
alphabet encoding standard. There are hundreds and thousands of text in
multiple non-standard legacy encodings that has been typed in the recent
past, and are being typed currently by writers, publications,
journalists and media houses. Because of the use of such diverse
encoding systems, the content is never searchable on the Internet nor

This converter has transformed the state of the language on the web.
This and many other software that have been developed by the community
have been released under open licenses along with the source code. Many
of the software are also built in collaboration with the global and
other Indian-language open source contributors.

Globally, there are 285 active Wikipedias in diverse world languages and
each of these Wikipedias is looked up by millions of viewers every
single moment. In India, Wikimedia India chapter, Access to Knowledge
(CIS-A2K) at the Centre for Internet and Society, Punjabi Wikimedians,
West Bengal Wikimedians User Group, and Karavali Wikimedians are
designated as movement affiliates that operate with some institutional
framework managed by either/both volunteers and paid professionals.

But outside these collectives, there exist a few thousand volunteers
that have been constantly driving the open movement in their native

Author bio:

Subhashish Panigrahi is a Bangalore-based educator, communications,
partnership and community strategist, and a long time Free/Libre and
Open Source advocate and contributor. He has worked over six years in
global nonprofits like Mozilla, the Centre for Internet and Society

Contact: +91 8050515339,


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