14 years of openness in Odia language

Wikipedia is an online open encyclopedia, where anyone can [edit], with an aim of providing an access to the sum of all human knowledge, Wikipedia is available is 292 languages. From those 292 languages, there is 22 Indic language Wikipedia. Formation of Indic language Wikipedia started in 2002, and 4 Indic languages Odia, Malayalam, Punjabi and Assamese formed in 2002.

Odia language is one of the official language in India with over 40 million speakers in Odisha and its neighboring states. Odia language has also been recognized as one of the  “classical languages” by the Government of India. Open source movement and awareness are very less in Odisha. Odia Wikipedia is one of the open access and open source platform which provides users to access its content and invites them to write or edit its content.

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Odia Wikipedia, being one of the first four Indic languages Wikipedia, celebrated its 14th anniversary on 3 June 2016. This 14-year-old website has the largest online content repository for the Odia language in Unicode and is also the largest online Odia encyclopedia. Started in 2002, Odia Wikipedia was dormant for almost 9 years. Content creation and Users activity started from 2011 with 3 active editors. To celebrate the 14th Anniversary, Odia Wikipedia community gathered in Bhubaneswar for a 2 days training and community consultation.

 

 

“What Odia Wikipedia community did in last 14years?”

Started with 3 active editors, Odia Wikipedia now has 29 active editors (as of January 2016). The community did a lot of efforts to spread awareness on Odia Wikipedia in Odisha.

With over hundreds of meetups and workshops, the community was able to form its base in cities like Nalco Nagar, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, and Puri. Online campaigning through social media accounts and Edit-a-thons has also helped the Odia community in getting new editors on board.

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With the help of the Wikimedians and Wikipedia Education program at KISS, Odia Wikipedia community made Odia Wikisource a live project from Incubator. Odia Wikisource is the largest online library available in Odia language with more than 382 books and community with the help of CIS-A2K has acquired more than 800 books from Srujanika and re-licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Odia Wikimedians during 13th anniversary celebration, CC-BY-SA 4.0 , Image by Saroj Kumar.jpg

Not only in content part, Odia Wikimedians has also helped in creating a Unicode converter for Odia language which converts non-Unicode texts into Unicode. Wikimedians are also trying to develop an open source OCR and free fonts for Odia language.

Odia Wikipedia has always supported volunteers from different age group and of the different gender to contribute in it. With 72-year-old Wikimedian Dr. Subas Chandra Rout (a very active Wikimedian and has written highest number of medical science  related article on Odia Wikipedia) to 15 years old Satyabrata Sahoo, all have contributed from their part for the growth of Odia Wikipedia.

Odia Wikipedia has also bridged the gender gap with 10 active female contributors, from Pankajamala Sarangi (The most active Wikilibrarian) to Aliva Sahoo(Having articles in top 10 longest articles list). Odia Wikipedia has a 60:40 male, female contribution ratio.

Challenges ahead

One of the major challenges of every Wikimedia project is Editor retention. It is a major challenge for Odia Wikipedia as well. Most of the Wikimedians are volunteers to the project and contribute on their own will and it’s difficult to force them to contribute to Wikipedia.

Awareness is also a major challenge for Odia Wikipedia, from past few years activities Odia Wikipedia was  able to reach towards central and coastal part of Odisha. The community has to reach toward every part to spread awareness about the importance of digitization of language.

Content acquiring and content sharing is also one of the major challenges for Odia Wikimedians, Availability of content in Odia language is very less and most of them are copyrighted. Being an Open source platform Odia Wikipedia never allows copyrighted  content in it. The community has to share and spread awareness about Open source and Open Access with Odia Wikipedia.

With achievements and challenges, Odia Wikipedia is increasing step by step to provide the free resource to everyone and avail the sum of all human knowledge in Odia.

My journey as a Wikimedian.

My journey as a Wikimedian has a lot of twists and turns, It started while reading an article about Bangladesh Liberation war on English Wikipedia. My 10th board exam (2012) was just ended, so I was busy in reading some articles on Wikipedia, and while reading that article by mistake I clicked on India (Intra-Wiki Link), it took me to India article on Wikipedia and I started reading India article, while coming down I found that there is Odia written on the left side of the article, I was surprised to see that and then I clicked on that too.  

Odia written on the left side of the Wikipedia page.

 

After clicking on the Odia it took me to ‘’’Bharata’’’ article on Odia Wikipedia, As a reader, I had always copied, pasted Wikipedia article and turned it into my  

Assignments, but this was the first time I got to know that there’s an Odia language Wikipedia. Curiosity increased in my mind, then I started clicking some more buttons and found that there’s a site banner inviting readers to be a part of the 2nd Bhubaneswar workshop which was on 1st April 2012.

I registered in that form, following the steps I created an account on English Wikipedia and edited Bhubaneswar article, which was reverted in very few seconds. On 1st April, I went to attend the workshop then I was just 15 years old and I was scared to enter the room as I found that there are many people older than me, My father forcefully insisted me to participate and I attended the workshop. That time, I was surrounded by lots of enthusiastic language lovers and I was the only one who had studied Odia till class 4. Then after my community members had always encouraged me to take part in community activities, whether on Wiki or off wiki.

 

My first Wikipedia workshop

 

Subhasish, Mrutyunjay , Aditya made me a good Wikimedian, They have always helped me in this movement, and taught a lot on solving my mistakes and letting me know more about Wikipedia editing. I have helped in organizing many Odia Wikipedia celebration events from 2013 to 2015 and has also organized workshops for Odia Wikipedia. I initiated three major edit-a-thons in Odia Wikipedia; “Women’s day 2015, “Women’s day 2016” and “Nabakalebara edit-a-thon 2015” (https://or.wikipedia.org/s/toq) and a photograph contest in commons for getting Rathyatra images. I had also got chance to represent Odia Wikipedia in two events by Google (Google I/O extended , Google Dev Fest) at Bhubaneswar, I was also invited as a speaker to Perception 2015 by CET , Bhubaneswar and first Open Access India meetup at Kolkata to speak about “Wikipedia and Use of Wikipedia in an Education program. 

First day at the Wikipedia workshop

 

Until January 2015, I was just an editor to Wikipedia projects and after attending 10th Bengali Wikipedia conference and Train the Trainer, Bangalore by CIS-A2K I started working actively on most Wikimedia projects.


During BNWiki10, Vishnu invited me to attend TTT 2015 and attending TTT had changed my journey in a different way, I got to know about How to work with the community, GLAM projects and lot more.

Odia Wikipedians with the participants of IIMC education program.

 

I was introduced to Wikimedia India during TTT 2015 and Ravi also played an important role in my journey, He trusted in me and made me a part of Wiki Loves Food and organizing committee of Wikiconference India 2016 as well. During Wiki Loves Food 2015, we used to work a lot for getting good Images on Wiki commons. Our team effort helped in getting 10,000+ CC By-SA images on Wikimedia Commons. Ravi stayed with me while attending Odia Wikipedia’s 14th anniversary and shared a lot of information about the Wikimedia movement and his journey. I will always say that He’s a great inspiration for me. 

Participants from different Indic language Wikipedias during Bengali Wikipedia’s 10th-anniversary celebration.

In December 2015, I joined as a Program Associate at Centre for Internet and Society’s Access to Knowledge program (CIS-A2K), I was coordinating with CIS since 2013 after Vishnu’s visit to Odia community, but this time, I joined CIS-A2K as a staff for a 3-month contract. During these three months, I did two Workshops at two different places and has succeeded in engaging at least 30 Wikimedians in different Wikimedia projects. A workshop at Puri, India helped in bringing 20 new Wikimedians by doubling the active editors of Odia Wikimedia community. A few new articles related to science and technology have been created and many have been enhanced. I have also mentored these Wikimedians to form an informal group called WikiTungi Puri. I am working with this group to make Odia Wikiquotes a live project. After formation of new WikiTungi (Community-based Wiki Clubs) at Puri, with the help of Bhubaneswar Wikimedians, we revived Bhubaneswar WikiTungi. 

Participants of Train the Trainer Program.

 

I have also helped in bridging the gender gap in Odia Wikipedia by engaging 8 female editors and involving them in Wikimedia activities. 

In global movement, I would like to thank Sameer, He introduced me to Anna and Wikipedia Education Program. I also got involved in Wikipedia Education Program newsletter team and has successfully distributed 2 newsletters.

This was my brief journey in this movement in last 4 years, I might have missed some more wonderful experiences and people, but I hope to continue in this movement and gather more memories.