*The Hindu : "The struggles of keeping Kannada Wikipedia afloat"*
/In the world of online Kannada content, blogs may be thriving but
Wikipedia is struggling. The reasons vary from technology barriers to
lack of contributors, say Wikipedians.
While there has been a surge in Kannada content in the last two years,
contributors to the language have been grappling with technology barriers.
After floundering for years, the Kannada Wikipedia picked up with font
availability, said *Hari Prasad Nadig*, a Kannada Wikipedian. The
software to add to Kannada Wikipedia is not so user-friendly, and only
geeks can edit it properly.
Unlike English, which has a large community, technology issues are
glaring in smaller communities. "Growth is slow with respect to
technology in smaller communities," he said. The lack of a good Unicode
font has been a persisting problem so the reader ends up seeing boxes
instead of Kannada text. After trying to write using the 'Thunga' font,
which had problems with vowels, besides other bugs, today, 'Kedage' is
the most complete font, though issues remain with this one too, Mr.
Besides, various operating systems provide different levels of support
for the script. "All these small factors together discouraged people
from contributing. It's not that people don't want to use Kannada on the
Net. Traffic on the Net is very high; there is Kannada on Facebook and
Twitter too," he said.
Another challenge is writing and adding quality content. "The community
has to grow if Kannada Wikipedia is to grow," he said. The quality of
content also matters. One person adding thousands of 'stubs' on, say,
Kannada films, does not help the reader, and in fact, drives them away
from the site. Also, Kannada Wikipedia needs "starter" articles, to get
people reading before they can start adding content, he said.
In order to grow, Kannada Wikipedia requires an active, organic
community, which is not imposed through a catalyst of paid content
creators. Once, Google started a tool that had machine-translated
content improved by manual translations. Yet the Kannada content was
"looking like spam. They (manual translators) didn't understand markup,
templates; (it was) all malformed", he said.
An observation about contributors is that people in metros prefer
writing to the English Wikipedia though they know Kannada and are
tech-savvy. "Bangalore has less than 10 people writing to Kannada
Wikipedia," he said.
*Omshivaprakash*, Chair for Kannada Special Interest Group for
Wikipedia, said people are not aware that Kannada Wikipedia now has
simple tools to add content. He said "Wiki academies" would be set up to
train people on adding Kannada content. "Everyone complains that the
quality of Kannada Wikipedia is low, but they do not know that they can
edit it themselves," he said./
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