Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, spoke about the importance of India to the future of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) on his recent trip to the country. Calling it “Goal 2015”, Mr. Wales said he wanted Wikipedia to have “strong and healthy India based projects” within the next five years.
Urging Indians to contribute to the growth of Wikipedia in a bigger way, Mr. Wales spoke about the uniqueness of the country in the manner in which its people used Wikipedia. Though Wikipedia is offered in 12 Indian languages, 81% of all edits made by Indian users were in the English language, something very rarely seen in other countries, whose people tend to use and edit the content in their local language. This disparity is also seen in page views from India to the English section of Wikipedia.
A recent count of the number of Wikipedia articles in local Indian languages yielded the below figures:
Hindi - 57,823 articles
Telugu - 45,963
Marathi - 31,400
Tamil - 25,263
Gujarati - 17,142
Malayalam - 14,830
Jimmy Wales went on to comment that WMF hopes to have matured content of at least 100,000 articles in the top 10 local Indian languages by 2015, seeking to serve 80% of the population. To this end, Wales said that WMF is actively seeking the involvement of 75% schools in India, and that it wants increased access to be provided to them, both offline and online. He also urged various governments to release content into the public domain.
Wikipedia in India
The highlight of Wales’ talk was his announcement of opening an Indian Wikipedia office soon, which when opened, will be the second Wikipedia office in the world after the WMF headquarters in San Francisco. Certainly big news, Wales spoke about how India was a significant factor in the tremendous growth experienced by Wikipedia in recent years, and how the country’s multi-lingual talents should be tapped to their fullest.
[RELATED_ARTICLE]Also praising the exceptional rise of local language articles combined with English articles from India, Wales spoke about why India was the perfect choice for a second office: “As a media project, for me India was the perfect place because we wish to work with a variety of people and India has a lot of communities. The community in India should lead and Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) will follow them.”
Though questioned, Wales did not reveal which Indian city would be chosen as the site for Wikipedia’s India office. He clarified “We are talking about an office of three or four people. It's not a huge investment. One of the benefits of an office in India is it would facilitate communication with local communities.” The office would also work hand-in-hand with the Bangalore chapter of the WMF, seeking to help train and find contributors and also provide technical support