I think there are 3 issues that this newsarticle raises.

The first is the is the desperate urgency for community building.
 Community building is a combination of:

   - increased community communication (in increasing order of importance:
   events, mailing lists, talk pages, meet-ups and village pumps)
   - stronger community collaboration (small wikiprojects starting of with
   even 2 editors and on virtually any topic of interest whether it is a
   subject area like health articles or a task like translate articles
   - more frequent and impactful outreach (including targeting the most
   suitable audience profile for outreach, combination of classroom & hands-on
   editing experience during the workshop, staying in touch with newbies after
   the session, hand-holding newbies during their first 100 edits and
   integrating newbies into the existing community)
   - reaching out retired editors - which is a particularly severe problem
   in Kannada (and Telugu) because active editor numbers have declined (or not
   grown) over the past 1 year.  This is particularly alarming given the small
   community size.  Also, the reason why these editors retired is not because
   of technology but a whole host of other reasons (including changing
   personal circumstances, lack of an adequate sense of community, lack of
   collabaration inside wiki, lack of pride of projects, over usage of bots,
   and so on.

The second is that while there are very real issues that the Google
translate project created (some of which were outlined below), the biggest
problem is that it focuses on content and not community.  This is a similar
problem to using bots to create content - which has been shown time and
time again to downright harmful to projects and hence to communities.  On
the specific issue of Google translate project, it also represents a solid
opportunity to get existing editors (and maybe some newbies as well) to get
involved with the clean up.  Some editors in Kannada wikipedia have already
started preparatory work on this - and there is great potential in this.
 It is a great way of building the community through collaboration around a
common mission.

The third issue is on technology.  I know that - historically for PCs -
there have been issues around fonts, browsers, OS, and so on.  However, I
think these are becoming less critical as technical developments have
resolved many issues.  (This is evidenced by the increased Kannada presence
in the blogosphere as well as on sites like facebook and twitter.)  Having
said that, editing wikipedia - in any language - does require certain basic
technical comfort especially when one clicks on "edit" and sees the HTML
mark-ups that pop up.  To that extent, I would suggest that we don't focus
too much on the technical challenges but place all our emphasis on
community building.  According to me technical challenge is not a major
issue for most of the major indic languages (when it come to PCs). And now
it is time for us to come out this excuse and contribute to our own
language wikipedia.

Omshivaprakash is right when he says that too few knew that they can edit.
 To address this, a combination of outreach and press coverage is essential
to convey this message.  On press coverage, it is tempting to put out
stories that a particular language has achieved a milestone (for example,
10,000 article milestone.) is great but the even more useful ones are
stories that mention that anyone can edit, give the very basics of editing,
suggest specific areas where readers might be interested and give them
contact details in case they are interested.

In all this, do keep in mind that readership of Indic language wikipedias
is growing exponentially. The audience is there now!  We need to get the
community built so that the can edit the content.


On Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 12:02 PM, Ashwin Baindur

> As a person working in the relevant field, we would welcome Shiju's
> comments on the article, its facts, proposed steps by the editors mentioned
> and what Kannada Wikipedia needs for revival.
> Warm regards,
> Ashwin Baindur
> ------------------------------------------------------
> On Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 11:00 AM, Tinu Cherian (Wikimedia India) <
> tinucher...@wikimedia.in> wrote:
>>  *The Hindu : "The struggles of keeping Kannada Wikipedia afloat"*
>> http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/article2909005.ece
>> *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. Nadig said.
>> 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.*
>> Regards
>> Tinu Cherian
>> pr...@wikimedia.in
>> http://wiki.wikimedia.in/In_the_news
>> Important Note : Non-commercial reproduction for informative purposes
>> only. The publisher ( The Hindu ) of the above news article owns the
>> copyrights of the article / content. All copyrights are duly acknowledged.
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