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Tamil Wikipedia:

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Three distinct growth phases have been identified in this case study of Tamil Wikipedia since late 2003. Several distinct characteristics of the Wikipedia and its editors are identified. Outreach …

Three distinct growth phases have been identified in this case study of Tamil Wikipedia since late 2003. Several distinct characteristics of the Wikipedia and its editors are identified. Outreach efforts and sibling projects are also discused in this study. Challenges and future plans are outlined.


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  • 1. Tamil Wikipedia: a case study L.BalaSundaraRaman (User:Sundar) With generous inputs from Dr.C.R.SelvaKumar, Natkeeran, Ravishankar, Karthick and other Tamil Wikipedians
  • 2. historical context…
    • First decade of 1900s – Abidhaanakosam, Abidhaana Chindhaamani
    • 1950s – Humanities Encyclopaedia  and   Encyclopaedia of Science  from Tamil University
    • September 30, 2003 – birth of Tamil Wikipedia with an anonymous post
    • November 4, 2003 to November 22, 2003 – real action begins due to Mayooranathan
  • 3. growth phases
    • Linear increment in users would cause super-linear growth in articles
    • Very active contributors matter a lot in phase 2, active users beyond that
  • 4. editors
    • Diverse backgrounds..
      • Areas of expertise: Architecture, Biotechnology, Economics, Electronics, Information Technology, Mathematics, Music, Social Welfare etc.
      • Professions: engineers, scientists, academics, students, administrators, self-employed people, etc.
      • Age: 15 to 85 years!
  • 5. characteristics of the wiki
    • Cordiality and good faith
    • Quality focus
    • Citing sources
    • Single major contributor for many articles
      • But, great inputs from fellow Wikipedians in every aspect
    • Specialist roles
    • Articles on emerging science, technology, society
  • 6. challenges
    • Low internet penetration among the majority of the population
    • Low awareness about Tamil typing tools
    • Low awareness about Tamil Wikipedia
    • Less than 2% editors female
    • Disconnect between skilled writers and internet access
    • Still not reached critical mass of tech-savvy editors who can fix interface issues
  • 7. outreach
    • Chennai academy
      • Host: Kiruba
      • Speakers: Ravishankar
    • Bangalore academy - 1
      • Host: Mugiltech
      • Speakers: Mugunth, Sundar, Santhosh, and Sathya
    • Bangalore academy – 2
      • Host: IISc
      • Speakers: Sundar, Karthick, and Mugunth
    • Many other talks by Natkeeran and Ravishankar
  • 8. tutorial agenda
    • Introductions by the host and the Tamil Wikipedia member who acted as an interface with the host
    • A short presentation on what Wikipedia is, its history, philosophies, software, etc.,
    • A tutorial on Tamil typing tools
    • Tea break
    • Tutorial on editing through someone from the audience. The newbie picks the topic and content.
    • Q & A session
  • 9. tutorial best practices
    • Tutor-learner ratio: around 1:5
    • Multiple tutors handling different aspects of editing
    • A classroom is good, a computer science lab is better.
    • Asking some uninitiated person from the audience to come forward and edit
      • convinces others about ease of use
      • gives feedback to the tutors about difficulties faced by new editors.
    • An immediate message at the user’s talkpage helps
    • Examples relevant to the audience
    • Follow-up
    • First session should be about the native language typing
  • 10. other projects
    • Wiktionary
      • more than 1,00,000 entries
    • Wikisource
      • Numerous PD works
    • Wikinews
      • neutrality
    • Wikibooks
    • Wikiquotes
  • 11. future
    • firming up policies and guidelines
    • media outreach
    • bringing out an offline collection of wiki articles
      • The 28,000 articles in the Tamil edition of the concise Britannica, currently being sold in the market, are of stub-quality.
      • A collection of 5,000 selected articles from Tamil Wikipedia, published after manual perusal, will definitely have a number of takers.
      • A collection of wildlife articles for school children
      • An assorted collection of good articles given to scientific research students
      • liaising with the Indian Wikimedia Chapter being formed and other bodies
    • conducting article-writing contests, local conferences, etc.,
  • 12. questions please?