Dear all, 
Here is a story by this reporter who attended the Delhi meet up. Caravan folks 
had been contacting us for a while regarding 'Wikipedia meet ups' and finally 
their reporter Krishn landed up at the 7th meet up. Just a heads up, these are 
entirely his observations and even the quotes are not verbatim. He's 
paraphrased what he heard us say. Subha will agree. Anyway, it's a good piece 
on an outsider's perspective of Wikipedia outreach. 

Also, it happens almost always that journalists are clueless about the Wiki 
universe and end up misquoting facts, figures, terms. Maybe a journalist 
outreach session or inviting them to attend an entire editing session could 
remedy this? 



FACT CHECK: Krishn Kaushik

BALADEVAN RANGARAJAN moved his brown beanbag to the centre of the room, closer 
to the round wooden table on which lay a Macbook. He wasn’t well acquainted 
with the laptop’s keyboard, so he used a wireless one instead. A wall-mounted 
flat screen TV transmitted the Macbook’s display to a gathering of 14 seated 
around the unadorned room.
The first step, he instructed the attendees, was to create a Wikipedia account. 
It was this year’s first summertime meeting for Wikipedia Meetup Delhi (WMD7, 
to be exact),  and most in attendance were newcomers. Launched in 2010, the 
meetups have helped train aspiring Wikipedians in Delhi the art of editing 
Wikipedia entries about India. 

While registering for an account, Rangarajan tried typing ‘baladevan’ for his 
username twice—but a prompt informed him that it was already being used by 
someone else. He tried ‘baladevan.rangarajan’ next, and this time the system 

Asked by the website to introduce himself to other Wikipedia users in the form 
of a short description, Rangarajan, with side-parted hair and thick eyebrows 
that slope inwards, typed that he was a public policy researcher who “loves 
kids and freedom”. Sweet and grand. 

With the formality over, Rangarajan opened his first Wikipedia page as an 
editor: one about Pav Bhaji. The opening sentence read: “‘Pav Bhaji’ (Marathi) 
is a fast food dish that originated in Marathi cuisine, and is native to 
Maharashtra and is popular in most metropolitan areas in India, particularly in 

Suspicious, he noted that Pav Bhaji is not just famous in the metropolitan 
areas of Gujarat, but in cities in central and western India more generally. 

He confirmed his claim by citing Retail Franchising, a Tata McGraw Hill 
publication he found on Google Books that talks about the food’s popularity in 
central India. After all, for facts to hold, they require reliable sources. 

And so he rephrased the sentence: “Pav Bhaji (Marathi) is a fast food dish that 
originated in Marathi cuisine. It is native to Maharashtra and is popular in 
most metropolitan areas in India, especially in those of central and western 
Indian states such as Gujarat.” 

Much better; everybody else agreed. Rangarajan had just established a fact 
internationally. And, now, nobody would doubt it. 

The Wikipedia Foundation’s office, where Rangarajan had established Pav Bhaji’s 
regional specificity, is situated in a non-descript building in Hauz Khas. On a 
door three floors above the street, a wooden nameplate—each letter framed in a 
small wooden square—reads WIKIPEDIA. Inside are two rooms each with white walls 
and five workstations: airy and minimalist like the website. The foundation 
currently has five people on staff, two of which were at the meetup: Subhashish 
and Nupur. 

“We belong to diverse backgrounds,” Subhashish had said before the meetup began 
when there were only four people in the room. Of the 15 Wikipedians present by 
the end of the session, at least 11 had been trained as engineers, including 

Noopur said that women were underrepresented in the community globally—there 
were just three present at WMD7. 

“Thank god! We would have articles about shades of lipsticks otherwise,” 
blurted Abhishek, a lanky man with a goatee. Wikipedia was too serious to be 
“pink” for him. An engineering student from Ghaziabad, he described himself as 
a “write[r]” of poetry and philosophy, on his Wiki profile. “I have learnt 
everything from Wikipedia. More than from anyone else,” he added. 

As the group focused on the TV screen, which displayed the procedure to 
establish Pav Bhaji’s popularity in particular parts of India, a plump man with 
nascent whiskers—Roboture in his Wikipedian avatar—was surfing for more items 
to edit. An engineer from Jamia Millia Islamia, he surveyed the pages for 
‘Poha’, ‘Dahi Bhalla’ and ‘Flattened Rice’, among others, but changed nothing. 

It had been one and a half hours since the meeting began, and the group was 
still mulling over Pav Bhaji. “The lazy bums or those unwilling to invest more 
time in enhancing or creating Wiki pages can start with translating already 
existing entries into one of the many Indian-language Wikipedia sites”, Noopur 
admonished, with a smile. 

“Can we reference magazine articles for any edits we make?” someone asked. Two 
senior Wikipedians advised the group against doing so. “Not well researched,” 
said Rangrajan. 

Important Note : The publisher ( Caravan ) of the above news article owns the 
copyrights of the article / content. Request to kindly not reproduce or 
circulate the content further. The information is only shared only with an 
internal community who have been featured on this article.  All copyrights are 
duly acknowledged.


Wikimediaindia-l mailing list
To unsubscribe from the list / change mailing preferences visit

Reply via email to