* DNA / Dainik Bhaskar : "The rise of the Wikimedians" , "WikiConference
India 2011: Wikimedians to visit Mumbai in November"*


*Mumbai: This November, hundreds of Wikimedians will descend in Mumbai to
plan their future course of action, convert the sceptics and inspire the
believers. No, we're not talking about a foreign invasion although, if you
ask a local Wikimedian, the concept of enabling free access to knowledge is
still alien to most Indians.*
*Wikimedians are contributors to any Wikimedia project, among which
Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia generated wholly by user
contributions, is just one component. And although the community here in
India is still considerably small, the WikiConference India 2011, to be held
between November 18 and November 20, is intended to become an annual
national flagship event for Wikipedia/Wikimedia in the country.*
*Already, 260 people have registered for the conference, many among whom,
says Pranav Curumsey, chairperson of the conference, have never even edited
on Wikipedia or attended the monthly community meet-ups that are held in
various parts of the country. While this is encouraging news given the need
for more awareness, the primary focus of the conference is to encourage
offline connections and collaborations within the existing Wikimedia
*"We want to take the Wikimedian movement to the next step in India. We also
want to share information on best practices that will help develop Indian
language Wikipedias better," said Pranav, adding that a special track on
Marathi Wikipedia is being planned for the conference which will be headed
by the Pune community.*
*As anyone who's ever edited an article on Wikipedia would acknowledge, it
is the healthy exchange of opinions and its emphasis on neutral, verifiable
information which has contributed to the online encyclopedia's success and
its global appeal. But as more Wikimedians begin to interact offline, this
utopian world-view is likely to get a reality check.*
*As such, the Wikimedia movement in India is now at a crucial turning point.
The Indian chapter in Bangalore was formally registered in January this year
and the Wikimedia Foundation office in Delhi is currently in the process of
hiring staff to begin a series of localised outreach activities to increase
contributions and access to Indian language Wikipedias, many of which are
languishing due to lack of awareness.*
*In such a scenario, is a national conference premature? Most Indian
Wikimedians would disagree. Arjuna Rao Chavala, president of the Wikimedia
India Chapter and a contributor to Telugu Wikipedia, said, "When something
is being done for the first time, challenges have to be faced. But there is
a definite need for such a conference."*
*Achal Prabhala, a Bangalore-based writer and member of the advisory board,
Wikimedia Foundation, states, "In my involvement with Wikimedian communities
in India and South Africa, I've found that personal connections made between
people actually helps us achieve more. There are many active Wikipedians in
different parts of India. This conference will be success if there are
connections being made, say between someone in the northeast and somebody in
Bangalore who decide to collaborate on a project."*
*WikiConference India 2011 will be held at the Fort campus of Mumbai
University between November 18 and November 20. To register as a
participant, visit bit.ly/wci11 .*

Tinu Cherian

*Note : *The publisher ( DNA / Dainik Bhaskar ) of the above news article
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