Hyderabad: In an attempt to make the world’s largest digital encyclopedia more inclusive, researchers from the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) have collaborated with content creators to produce original Telugu content for Wikipedia. An initiative that began in 2007, the Telugu Wiki community has received a positive response, with teachers and researchers turning up to do their bit and contribute.
Why do we need a Telugu Wikipedia? The researchers of IIIT-H believe that information should be provided in a form that is accessible to the common man. This would mean creating information in the languages that are accessible to the common people. Prof. Raj Reddy, chairman of IIIT-H Governing Council, said, “About 95 per cent of the people in India who can read either only Hindi or some other Indian language are not able to benefit from this amazing tool for accessing knowledge and learning. Thus, by expecting India’s population to rely on English Wikipedia, we are abandoning about 95 per cent of the population who would greatly benefit from having access to this comprehensive fount of knowledge.”
The Telugu Wikipedia project is led by Prof. Vasudeva Varma along with Prof. Radhika Mamidi. On the need to put out content in regional languages, Prof. Varma said, “English has six or seven million articles, Hindi has only 1.3 lakh articles and Telugu about 70,000. When compared to English resources, Telugu has about 0.25 to 1.25 per cent of what English Wikipedia has online.”
In their attempt to widen the scope of Telugu Wikipedia, the group has mainly three focus areas, research/development of technology, the development of community and content along with appropriate training to handle article generation. While writing articles in Telugu and making them available online, the Telugu Wiki community has also been organising workshops, training sessions, and contests for Telugu enthusiasts for over a decade.
The community hopes to provide at least 50 per cent of the English content, that is 50 million articles in the next five to ten years. While writing for Wikipedia certainly is different, in terms of the neutral form the content creators need to maintain, contributors hope that this target can be achievable with multiple people from various fields, including students, retired professionals, journalists, and teachers, pitching in.