CIS-A2K/Indic Languages/Marathi/Discussions/2011

This page documents the discussions I have had with few Marathi wiki community members. For these discussions, I reached out to everyone I knew and tried to connect with some I didn't through Email-user facility/talk pages. I have created this page based on those interactions. Since then, some community members whom I couldn't contacted earlier have asked to share their views. I request you to share them directly with me personally at shiju@wikimedia.org. I request you NOT to post directly on this page. (In the cases below, I have removed personal details to protect privacy, any personal remarks to try and keep the learning focused and the discussions constructive.) And most important is, all the initial discussions that happened in 2011 were to get the community started sharing the ideas. This will continue in 2012 and in coming years also. Please post your comment/opinion/views regarding the below discussions on the talk page of this page.



2011 Assamese Bengali Gujarati Hindi Kannada Malayalam Marathi Nepali Odia Sanskrit Tamil Telugu Summary of discussions

Discussion with Abhay Nathu from Marathi Wiki communityEdit

1. How you reached Marathi Wikipedia?

Around 2002, 2003, I noticed English Wikipedia initially when results from its pages started showing up in Google searches. Then on, I found an interwiki link to w:mr on one of the English articles. Researching further, I installed (with great difficulty, I must say) Devnagari font and started reading through. Slowly, I started to edit there.


2. Why you decided you must contribute to Marathi language wikipedia?

I have always tried to increase presence of Indic languages (I am fluent in 3 and proficient in 2 more) in general and Marathi in particular on the internet. I was an early adapter of the non-roman interface and was contributing to a number of blogs/sites.

I quickly noticed that w:mr was not very active. On the other hand, English wikipedia was in the midst of a growth spurt, with hundreds, even thousands of new editors joining up daily and tons of articles/edits there. I realized that this is a reality that is going to become even more stark as time passed. A vast majority of Indians that contribute on the web are well-versed in English (although not fluent). This is a dual-edged sword.

On one hand, it allows us to appraise ourselves of new developments in the world, at the same time, it makes us averse from using Indic languages on the web. In fact, this was a point I had brought up as a major factor for lack of spectacular growth in Indic wikipedias when I met with Jimmy Wales one-on-one some 18 months ago.

It is going to take (as it was then) a concerted and conscious effort from those that are looking out for Indic langugages to make sure that this does not cripple Indic wikipedias and in the long run, the languages themselves. This was my main reason for jumping into the thick of w:mr editing, sysopship and later, bureaucratship.


3. How active are you? What kind of topics you usually edit? Why do you edit?

I certainly fall into the "hyper-active" category of editors, by any yardstick. I already have 70,000+ non-bot edits on Marathi wikipedia alone. There's been hardly a day over the last 5-6 years when I have not edited w:mr. There's no set pattern to my editing. I'm a roving editor and like to edit any and all articles. Being a sysop, I do patrol majority of articles and edit most when necessary.

Over the last 2-3 years, my main focus has been smaller articles on w:mr. It has been my goal to improve the quality of w:mr in terms of content along with the number of articles. To that effect, I set myself a private goal of increasing the size of 10% of the smallest articles on w:mr. I'm proud to say that since I started on this, that number has gone up from 80+ bytes to 300+ bytes, even as there was a *barrage* of tiny articles, mainly from new contributors.

My reasons for editing are the same as articulated in #2. My aim, in the long run is to Create a free, yet premier knowledge base for Marathi-speaking people that will become the standard-bearer for future knowledge-bases.


4. Have you attended or conducted outreach sessions?If yes, what was the outcome? What were the positives and negatives from these outreach programs?

I have attended and conducted a number of mostly online outreach sessions. The outcome was increased activity on w:mr, more standards/precedents set and overall increase in rate of growth of wikipedia. The negative aspect of this is that such activities take away valuable editing time away from our most prolific and knowledgeable editors.


5. Have you attended or organized community meet-ups? What was the outcome? What were the positives and negatives from these meet-ups?

My current location limits the opportunities I have for attending outreach initiatives. Even so, I have arranged and attended a number of such sessions when I was on vacation in India. Mostly they are positive in terms of the information exchanged and personal rapport created. At the same time, it is disheartening to see that only a handful of people show up for any such meet. I feel that is because there is no real incentive for anyone to show up.



6. What has been your experience in adding content or encouraging content on specific topics?

It is a mixed bag. People edit what they want to edit, no matter what type or amount of encouragement provided. In the short term, there may be higher interest during such initiatives but over the long run, it dies out and some of these are not worth the effort.



7. How are the technical challenges/issues been for your language? Now, is it easy for a new user to start contributing in wiki easily. How about interface translation and other things.

There have been HUGE technical challenges in reading and editing in Marathi on the internet. This was especially true during the early days. A lot has been done since and it is not as difficult to contribute. (An aside - This was the other "challenge" I had enumerated to Jimmy. He had promised that he was going to talk to Bill (Gates) to do something about it....sure enough..A few months later, Windows 7 was released and voila, we have native support for Indic languages!! Looks like Jimmy and Bill kept their word.....) I honestly believe that machine/automated translation is not worth the effort and certainly not worth the hype it is being given. There are fundamental differences between Indic languages, let alone "foreign" languages. Until an advanced version of machine translators are available, it is going to produce more garbage than it is worth.


8. How is the interaction between Marathi wiki community members? Do you benefit from the discussion with other community members

This is another mixed bag. I have had excellent and productive interaction with a majority of members online and offline. Such interaction improves the rapport and even the quality of collaboration among editors. I feel that the current level of interaction is nowhere near enough. There needs to be more.

We have periodic on-line and off-line strategy sessions (sponsored by ourselves...lol) in which we take stock of what has happened so far and what needs to be done. Such meetings help a lot in keeping the focus.


9. Could you share any and all ideas - small or big, sucessful & not-so-sucessful - that you think can help drive Marathi and other Indic language projects?

There are so many ideas I have that I can take 2-3 hours of your time, and that would be just me talking :-D Here are some of them.

1. Intrawiki collaboration
  1.1 Online
    1.1.1 On-project - Regular strategy sessions, editathons, short-term goals, competitions, etc
    1.1.2 Off-project - Regular conferencing, chats, symposiums, wikiacademies, brain-storming
  1.2 Offline
    All of the above in 1.1.1 and 1.1.2

2. Interwiki collaboration
  2.1 Meetups with other Indic sysops, editors, foundation members, foundation staff, etc
  2.2 Common set of standards that can optionally be adopted by local membership
  2.3 Common "watering-holes" websites where ideas are shared. Email lists have limited use in this.<br />
      They is very cumbersome and one can lose context very easily. In fact, in my opinion, email lists <br />
      lose their relevance once the membership grows beyond a few dozen active members.

3. More interaction with non-Indic Wikis
  All of above in #1 and #2

I'd like to visit conferences and interact with other Indic language wikipedians face-to-face as often as I can.

Discussion with Mahitgar from Marathi Wiki communityEdit

1. How you reached Marathi Wikipedia?

I heard about wikipedia during BBC world Service interview of Mr.Jimmy in 2004/5. I came down to Marathi Language Wikipedia from wikipedia.org. We have conducted few field surveys including at recently held at WCI result shows that Bulk of the people come from Google (Marathi) search, Popular English google search terms Marathi, Maharashtra, Marathi Font, Chatrapati Shivaji and some other Maharashtraian searches depending on current news. Some times they reach on such pages which are linked to mr-wiki (Interwiki links)

I paste welcome templates on Marathi user talk pages on en-wiki. This activity has given lot of active editors but I did not get another person to aid me in this activity) ,

We did some debates on drupal based popular Marathi Websites from there we get few but quality edit stuff but is more of seasonal nature meaning there by when some one encourages actively them to do so. Marathi Language news Media also has been also active in supporting that also is sending number of people now a days.

Besides good number of editors joined from wikimeetups,wiki training sessions held last year


2. Why you decided you must contribute to Marathi wikipedia?

There is concept of Language of Knowledge. There are quite a good number of Marathi intellectuals have been calling upon Marathi people to do some thing for Marathi Language to make sure it survives as the language of knowledge. People who know the wealth of knowledge already existing in Marathi Language are concerned that treasures are not lost and the same thing motivates Marathi people who love Marathi, and me too.


3. How active are you?

I have been very active online 2006-to 2010 more on providing real time help and creating help pages for Marathi language wikipedia. Now a days concentrate more on outreach activity


4. What kind of topics you usually edit?

I personally edited articles about rivers, small towns, a bit of history. I have also done supportive edits to encourage newcomers. Also studied the editing behavior of anonymous users and newcomers and helped them. Creating help pages in mrwiki is another major area I contributed.


5. Have you attended or conducted outreach sessions?If yes, what was the outcome? What were the positives and negatives from these outreach programs?

Yes. Theory brings new readers and moral support and word of mouth. Practical brings in the real editors. Practicals without theory brings in over expectations and personalized conflicts



6. What has been your experience in adding content or encouraging content on specific topics?

Editing popular topics like sports and music singers etc is easy. Other topics as easy as fishing with fishing rod . Most important is having an active co-ordinator for a given subject and active technical team that support requisite templates formation. If this fails users may leave.



7. How active are the sister projects (Wikisource, wiktionary, and other projects) in Marathi?

As of now not very active.


8. How are the technical challenges/issues been for your language? Now, is it easy for a new user to start contributing in wiki easily. How about interface translation and other things.

First level of interface which user level faces is largely translated , now enough people know about translate wiki and real time support to translate wiki is not far away. We do have big divide among users about pure Marathi and simple Marathi almost 50-50 and we are in serious need of user selectable option at interface level.

Edit support for new registered users is good. Support level for anon user is cause of concern since senor users are editing with their respective accounts. It is not easy to understand problems of anon users to them .

We are doing efforts of creating more power point presentations to guide newcomers.



9. How is the interaction between Marathi wiki community members? Do you benefit from the discussion with other community members

Yes. But of course there is need of improvement.


10. Could you share any and all ideas - small or big, sucessful & not-so-sucessful - that you think can help drive Marathi and other Indic language projects?


Technology can be used to break the barriers in making readily usable content. Bots,Translation Software and OCR technologies can help us in the long run.

Social Marketing people can focus on selling our own language wiki projects to our own people.

Coming to Marathi wikipedia, the ultimate goal is to reduce knowledge gap between English and Marathi.

A group of online volunteeers for out reach. Another group for off-line out reach. A group of volunteers supporting on technology namely Madiawiki, Bots, Complicated-Templates, CSS and Java, and ethical hackers to confirm every thing is perfect. Arrange technical training sessions and Hackaton for Marathi Wikipedians at Mumbai,Pune,Nagpur and Aurangabad

One group of marathi wiki online volunteers for processing and wikifying readily made available content, one group of volunteers to wikify content coming from bots,OCR, and machine translation,

One group of online manual translators for translating from en wiki and one group for translating from hi wiki


Most of the current Marathi Wikipedians are working people and they edit wikipedia out of their office time so effectively they spend more time on administrative work rather than on new content development. So we need to add in more students ,teachers, women and retired people for content development. Certainly we can take more wiki academies

Inserting Wikipedia editing in Maharashtra Knowledge Development Corporations computer education programme, State level Anual Headmasters and Teachers meets

Meeting with Marathi News paper writers,Marathi Blog writers,Marathi Publishers meet, Librarians meet, Publishers meet and attending Marathi Sahity Sammelan

Student camps:First level training for the people who are already conducting Diwali Camp, Christmas Camp, and Summer Camps ; Then camps for tutors of coaching classess of competitive exams, Camps for Women, and Camps for retired people. B.Ed and DEd colleges,Marketing Management colleges,MSW Colleges,Journalism Colleges, Law Colleges, Engineering colleges,MA Marathi Colleges , M.Phil level and other postgraduation courses.,Computer and Software education courses teaching institutions

Media out reach:

  • Distribution of offline content CDs to educational institutions ,
  • Certfication for presentations
  • Distribution of Wikimedia Reference Card in Marathi Pamphlates http://mr.wikipedia.org/wiki/विकिपीडिया:टाचण while books being issued from imminant Marathi Language Libraries
  • Writing articles in periodicals (for better shelf life ) specially focussing on Competitive Exam Magazines , Rozgar Samachar, Womens and Family periodicals
  • Television training programme through Balchitrawani Pune based on school syllabus wikipedia chapter
  • Television training programme on Doordarshan Sahyadri Vahinee
  • Television training Programme with other private Marathi TV Channeles

Quarterly Special subregoinal Marathi Wiki Meetups and Events

  • Western Maharashtra at Pune
  • Kokan and Mumbai at Mumbai
  • Nagpur

Discussion with Mandar Kulkarni from Marathi Wiki communityEdit

1. How you reached Marathi Wikipedia?

I heard about wikipedia @5 years back but was more like viewer and reader. Just using Wikipedia for gathering and using the information. I reached to Marathi wikipedia in the year 2010 through some of my friends. Also attended a session of Mahitgar and that really started the journey.



2. Why you decided you must contribute to Marathi wikipedia?

I observed that there are just @1% of article are available in Marathi wikipedia as compared to the English one, then why not to try on that only. Also I felt that it is much desired and required to have information of Marathi places in Marathi languages.


3. How active are you?

Very much. Also I am a Sysop for Marathi Wikipedia . Have done more than 2500 edits till date. Have got couple of Barnstar in English and Marathi wikipedia.


4. What kind of topics you usually edit?

Practically anything, but if you ask specific I like to contribute in Personalities, singers, players, forts.


5. Why do you edit?

I feel that there is wide scope in Marathi wikipedia including contributing and clean up.


6. Have you attended or conducted outreach sessions? If yes, what was the outcome? What were the positives and negatives from these outreach programs?

Outreach sessions can bring new editors in wikipedia. I have done some programs including in wikiconference is giving the fruits to Marathi Wikipedia.


7. Have you attended or organised community meet-ups? What was the outcome? What were the positives and negatives from these meet-ups?

Yes. In Pune, we meet every month, 2nd Saturday. We know each of us by Username on wikipedia, for community development, it is very essential to meet face to face and share thoughts and ideas. This monthly meet has really helped us come together, plan nicely for Marathi track in wiki-conference, plan W10 program and some wiki academies in Pune.


8. What has been your experience in adding content or encouraging content on specific topics?

There are many challenges in adding content in Marathi wikipedia like limited number of editors, devanagari typing issues. We need to work on project based to get more output.


9. How active are the sister projects (Wikisource, wiktionary, and other projects) in Marathi?

Not much. We want to start Wikisource and we are working on that. We are also working translate wiki and completed most of the work.


10. How are the technical challenges/issues been for your language? Now, is it easy for a new user to start contributing in wiki easily. How about interface translation and other things.

There are many challenges still and we are working on the same. But I feel, many more miles to be traveled in this.



11. How is the interaction between Marathi wiki community members? Do you benefit from the discussion with other community members?

Till this year Sep., the interaction was very poor and more or less on the user page or on discussion page. Nothing else. I pushed very hard to them to work on email and cell rather than just wp. This has helped a lot in marathi community building and interaction has improved. Now we have recorded all numbers and email address of active members for easy communication.