Bengali is the official language of Indian state of West Bengal, Tripura and Barak Valley) (comprising districts of south Assam- Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi) and two other nations Bangladesh and Sierra Leone. As per the 2011 census there are officially 20.5 crore Bengali speakers across the world. The literacy rate of West Bengal is 73.45 per cent (82.4 % male and 64.36 % female). Out of 20,067,299 households of West Bengal 8.3 per cent had computers and 2.2 per cent of households had access to internet.2 Despite of high literacy rate, decent computer accessibility and internet penetration Bengali Wikipedia so far has 25,218 articles and 67 active contributors (majority of which are based in Bangladesh) and handful of editors from India. Bengali being Bangladesh's predominant language in communication and academics has resulted relatively high contribution from Bangladesh. On the contrary Bengali Wikipedia also has comparatively low readership and significantly low contribution from India. The Indian Bengali Wikipedia community consists of only a handful of contributors who are based in Kolkata. Lack of momentum in Bengali computing, lack of institutional collaborations for digitization process and availability of resources in digital or other easily available forms and distribution of digitized resources, lack of awareness of Bengali Wikipedia among linguists, language and culture researchers, academicians. Bengali Wikipedia celebrated its 9th anniversary on January 27, 2013 which is marked to be the date of first edit in 2004.
|Wikimedia projects||No. of Editors/Contributors (2011-12)||No. of Editors (2012-13)||No. of Active editors (2011-12)||No. of Active editors (2012-13)||No. of Articles/entries (2011-12)||No. of Articles/entries (2012-13)||No. of Page views per months|
This section gives a broad idea of the challenges for community/Wikipedia growth for which there is a need for programmatic and technical intervention.
Bengali Wikipedia has majority of its contributors from Bangladesh and handful from India. This has resulted more good quality content from Bangladesh and relatively lower contribution from West Bengal (and Bengai diaspora elsewhere in India) in both quality and quantity. There is a vast repository of digitized original books hosted in several places out of which some are needed to be hosted in publicly accessible portals (e.g. National Library) and some are already hosted (e.g. Society for Natural Language Processing (SNLTR)). People have access to good quality offline resources in Bengali don’t immediately look to the digital domain. So, there is a need to bring more material into the digital domain.
1. Lack of outreach:
The number of Bengali Wikipedia outreach in West Bengal is very low. The Indian Bengali Wikipedia community has not shown growth in cultivating new wikipedians because of this very reason. There is a need of more outreach to bring new wikipedians on board. It is also essential to encourage students to start citing Bengali digital material while writing. There is also a sheer need of encouraging people to cite the good offline resources in wikipedia articles so that the reference structure gets strengthened. When readers come throgh the well cited good quality articles they would start trusting wikipedia which is so far major credibility issue which has to be addressed in Bengali.
2. Training for experienced Wikipedians:
Experienced Bengali wikipedians are well versed with wikipedia editing and technical knowhow about wikipeidia. By enhancing their public speaking and ability of training new wikipedians they could bring many more new editors to the community. There is a need for outreach training for them to conduct outreach more efficiently and effectively. There is also a need of creation of support documents, hand-outs, presentations, tutorials, etc.
3. Follow up sessions for new wikipedians:
Those who are experienced in typing schemes other than the ones used on Bengali Wikipedia (InScript, Transliteration, Phonetic) take longer to adapt to the typing schemes of Bengali Wikipedia. Typing in Bengali is also not easy enough to be learnt in the span of a workshop. It is often noticed that newbies who start typing for the first time gets excited to learn but it declines gradually and their contribution goes down. There is a need for imparting training in Bengali typing (offline and online) for the participants /new editors of the outreach events and follow up outreach sessions.
4. Lack of institutional support and collaboration:
- A) Educational Institutes:
Till date most of the outreach events for Bengali are 2-3 hour long workshops and there is no direct involvement of the institution faculty members. Students guided by their teachers about editing wikipedia would be more keen to edit as compared to a 2-3 hour wikipedia session by a wikipedian. An academic environment also becomes a better place for students to access the resources from libraries, having discussions among themselves and taking help from their teachers while editing wikipedia, which don't happen in a single workshop. There is a need of creating more teacher-wikipedians by partnering with more educational institutions.
- B) Organizational partnerships:
i. There are many good quality books, journals, periodicals (e.g. Little magazines) which are out of the scope of comercial benefits. Partnership with such publication housese is needed to bring in good qualiry articles on contemporary issues on wikipedia.
ii. There is also a need to build research communities using the wiki platform through university partners (Schools at Jadavpur University; SCTR, English, Philosophy, Film Studies, Women’s studies, etc.) and research centre partners (CSSSC, Kolkata Research Group). Research scholars who are invested in using Bengali materials can contribute through thematic dossiers of material and articles on their research. This ensures that the quality is high and the referencing structure is sound.
- Institutional collaboration
- Media lab, Jadavpur University
Plan: Media lab at JU is involved in creating research databases on Indian cinema and media, digitization of documents for collaborative research, organizing training workshops on films, New Media and Digital Humanities. The center also has created digital databases on various aspects of Indian film history.Collaboration with the Media lab at Jadavpur University could be useful for mass creation of good quality articles on the subjects related to the projects that students and fellows at the centre are working on. This would include active involvement of the experienced wikipedians to teach basic editing to the students. Faculty members would be practically involved during the program. Students at the centre would contribute to Bengali Wikipedia on the subject areas they are working on.
Execution: A2K team had an initial phase of meetings with the Media lab head and other members to discuss about such a collaborative project. Experienced wikipedians based in Kolkata could be trained for the workshops and the subsequent hands-on wikipedia training sessions for the students. A2K would provide strategic and programmatic support for creating the project and training the existing wikipedians. Students would use the digitized resources and work on the articles based on the subject areas they worked on during their study programs.
Projection: The project is aimed at creating good quality articles on Indian films (focussing more on Bengali films), New Media technologies and Digital Humanities on Bengali Wikipedia. This would also create a long term partnership with the Media lab and turn some editors into long term editors. This project would also create an ideal project plan about Indian cinema for other language Wikipedias. The project is aimed at getting 5-10 new wikipedians on board out of the 20-30 students and fellows.
- National Library
Plan: National library in Kolkata has a collection of about 6500 online journals and 2.7 million full-text dissertation and thesis, archive of 1,25,000 e-books (Early English Books) along with other online references. During a meeting with the A2K team the centre Director General Dr. Swapan Kumar Chakravorty has shown his interest for supporting with making some of the digitized books available publicly which are in public domain so that the community could use them. The technical team at the centre and some of the staff could be involved in projects for creating good quality articles on various topics. There is also a scope of bringing students and enthusiasts to the library where they could access the vast set of books both in physical and digital form as some of the rules of the library doesn't allow the users access the books digitized out of the library.
Execution: Some of the staff who are well versed with using computer and internet could be trained. Initial outreach programs would be supported by the A2K team and the experienced wikipedians based in Kolkata would run the project for content creation. It would be a nice place for the wikipedians to invite new editors and run edit-a-thons in the library. QRPedia technology could be used to map and create Bengali Wikipedia articles QR codes for the important books available and sticked on the books/shelves. This would help some of the readers to access Bengali Wikipedia and contribute for articles of the books/subject of the books they would be reading.
Projection: This project is aimed at getting 5-10 new wikipedians on board out of participants of the 50-60 staff members. The library's vast set of digitized resources could be utilized by bringing new wikipedians for a library visit and organized edit-a-thons on subjects of their interests or creating smaller groups by particular interest areas.
- School of Cultural Texts And Records (SCTR):
Plan: School of Cultural Texts and Records at Jadavpur University has worked on documenting, processing and studying the textual basis (both verbal and audio-visual) with bibliographic records. SCTR's work includes reading and documenting manuscripts and reproduction of many of them in digital format. They have created databases, bibliographies, concordances, indexes, hand lists, location registers and other reference tools and search engines for cultural and textual studies which could be very much relevant to Wikipedians to work on. SCTR's profound work on history of publishing and the printing press, especially in Bengal and in India as a whole, oral literature, ephemera (political and commercial publicity material, job printing work, archive (text, digital, musical and in other forms) of Bengali literary workcould be used for many short and long term projects with high content generation by involving wikipedians for Bengali Wikipedia in particular.
Execution: It would involve some of the faculty and students as well the experienced wikipedians. Students pursuing programs on Digital Humanities work on various multimedia tools. Their primary work area would be West Bengal and many of their outputs which could be useful for Wikipedia, could be used for primary source. Based on the discussions with senior faculty members of the schools, opportunities for dissemination of information has expanded. Students who work on research projects but normally don't release could contribute on Wikipedia and use English Wikipedia as a platform for their research and Bengali Wikipedia for documentation.
Projection: This would establish a long term relation with the center for the community to work on the existing resource created by the center. Many of the resources could be directly used with more or less manual reformatting. The ideal expectation from this partnership would be high quality content and some of the students/researchers turning to long time editors.
- Other potential resources:
|1||West Bengal Public Libraries Network||A consortium of public libraries has been formed in West Bengal. A large volume of books out of copyright are available in digital form.|
|2||Society for Naturalnguage Processing (SNLTR)||Over 11,000 books have been digitized under the leadership of Honorary Director of the center Prof. Anupam Basu. Many of the literary works of popular Bengali authors have been made available in Unicode.|
|3||Centre for Studies in Social Sciences||Some of the primary work at the center includes:
- Community building by core interest groups
Plan: This project aims for creating smaller core interest groups of existing and new wikipedians. The existing wikipedians are paired with some new wikipedians and mentored with basic hands-on training and involved in wiki projects. Experienced wikipedians would be supported by the A2K team for their training process. All of the partner organizations mentioned in the “content” section of the work plan could have one-multiple smaller work groups based on their interest and subject areas.
Execution: Core interest groups will be both offline and online. Each experienced wikipedian would have some new wikipedians to guide and mentor and take them in a gradual process of teaching about Wikipedia editing. In each of the partner institutes there would be at least one experienced wikipedian or a faculty member-wikipedian to mentor and coordinate the activities.
Projection: Building a critical mass of existing and new wikipedians who would ideally lead the movement and work on specific projects and bring more editors on board. During the course of the activities there would be a boost of quality content on particular subject areas. The actual work projection would be part of the core project (which would be different in different institutes/libraries).
- Community integrity beyond boarders
Plan: A majority of the active Bengali wikipedians are based in Bangladesh. The community is not only active on wiki but also organizes many outreach programs, meetups and take part in cross-dissemination of other FOSS activities. The presence of the Wikimedia Bangladesh chapter also strengthens the community for their activities. Few projects could be planned to connect the Wikipedians from Bangladesh and West Bengal where they could work collaboratively for on-wiki projects, share ideas,learning which could benefit the entire Bengali community. Majority of the wikipedians are active on wiki and lack of interaction results in more independent and individual contribution. On the contrary experienced wikipedians ideally would be contributing more on the community expansion along with their individual contribution. This would not only expand the community but will also open a new window of sharing the experience and expertise to the new wikipedians.
Execution: There is a scope of more virtual interaction to build the human nature of the Bengali community. More IRC meetups, village pump discussions and on-wiki projects which would involve community wise discussion and would strengthen the relation and broaden the focus area. Some of the Bangladeshi wikipedians are relatively experts in addressing various wikipedia related technical needs. This could be used as an opportunity to involve Indian techies who are interested for Bengali Wikipedia and Wikipedia related technical issues. Wikimedia Foundation has one engineer, one intern based in India and one fellow based in Bangladesh who speak Bengali. Their expertise could be used for creating more hackathons for tools/gadgets/extensions for Bengali Wikipedia. This would impact on promoting Bengali Wikipedia across different places and attract more editors.
Projection: Building relation between the West Bengal and Bangladesh based Bengali Wikipedians, exchanging expertise and learning across the communities and working collaboratively on more on-wiki projects would be three broad projections. Ideally there could be 2 IRC with specific agenda in a quarter to discuss the scope and potential of on-wiki projects. More effort would be made to promote the brotherhood beyond boarders to bring more people to edit Bengali Wikipedia. In the span of a year A2K team could organize 5-7 meetings with the West Bengal community and 2-3 meetings with the Bangladeshi community. A2K's role would be facilitating the meetups and engaging the wikipedians for more interaction.
|Parameters||Desired Target||Dream Target|
|No. of Editors||930||1200|
|No. of New editors||30||100|
|No. of Active editors||100||150|
|No. of Articles||27000||28000|
|No. of Outreach Events||5||15|
List of contributorsEdit
We are grateful to the following list of Wikipedians who have engaged with the A2K Team and contributed to the development of this work plan with their ideas and inputs: