Centre for Internet & Society
Odia Wikipedia workshop in Puri, Odisha sparks creation of informal Wikipedia group WikiTungi

Wikimedians of the WikiTungi Puri during the first workshop on December 20. Image: Th3snehasish under CC-BY-SA 4.0

The first ever Odia Wikipedia workshop in Odisha's historic town of Puri finally shaped in on this December 20. With 25 participants contributing to Odia Wikipedia this day, more Wikipedia outreach in the city were planned.

Organised at the Premier Institute of Computer Studies (PICS), this workshop saw many students from technical background including four female participants. The Google Local Guides group of Bhubaneswar collaborated with us in organising this workshop. Thanks to long time Odia Wikimedian Dr Subas Chandra Rout to spare time and taking pain in coming all the way from Bhubaneswar to mentor the new editors. Only 10-12 participants could sign up on the spot because of IP address throttle that we could not fix beforehand. Otherwise the event went well and after a week, many of the participants have turned out to be active on Odia Wikipedia which is pretty exciting.

We planned to organise a meetup once in two month at Puri with the focus on improving at least 20-25 articles related to to the city and district during the meetup. There was a three-minute coverage of the workshop on Odisha Television (OTV) and a brief report of the workshop was published on Odisha Reporter.

As part our effort in chronicling the voice of the Wikipedia community in the WikipediansSpeak series, we reached out to Wikimedians Dr. Subas Chandra Rout and Snehasish Nayak after the workshop. Dr Rout shares his interactions and future plans to expand the Odia Wikimedia community:

Subhashish Panigrahi (SP): Thank you so much for mentoring these new Wikimedians! How was your overall experience working with them?
Subas Chandra Rout (SRR): The participants were, indeed, very enthusiastic. They not just were good listeners when we were presenting but contributed well after we demonstrated.

SP: How often do you think we should come back here and work with the same set of participants?
SRR: I think one more visit to ensure that they feel more integrated with the larger Odia Wikimedia community and help them contribute more. Face-to-face interaction will also help them feel more comfortable to share the kind of problems they might have been facing.

SP: What kind of problems did they face during the workshop? How did you help them with those problems?
There were certain technical/logistics problems which kind of made us keep the workshop limited to more demonstration by us and less practice by them. Sailesh seems be following up with them as some of them have already started editing Wikipedia actively.

Snehasish Nayak, organiser of the event and a new active Wikimedian of the Odia community—it is worth mentioning that Snehasish has 360 edits on Odia Wikipedia already—shares more about himself, his interests and ideas for future projects:

Subhashish Panigrahi (SP): How and when you got introduced to Odia Wikipedia? Did you know about it before or heard from someone before you formally got an orientation?
Snehasish Nayak (SN): The first time I got to know about Odia Wikipedia was during the Google I/O 2015 event. It was Sailesh Pattnaik who introduced me to Odia Wikipedia. My Wikipedia journey started in December 2015, when Sailesh asked me for some help to conduct a Odia Wikipedia in my hometown Puri. 

SP: You graduated as an engineer. Many engineers in India do not even contribute much to language related work, especially the ones that are not paid for. What drives you to contribute so much that you have crossed 360 edits in just three weeks?
SN: From my school days, Wikipedia has been good friend to me. I don’t remember in how many projects Wikipedia has come to my rescue. And in return Wikipedia never asked for anything. I felt it would be the best platform to share free knowledge across the globe.Odia being my native language and it being a very old language needs contribution from the youth like me. In the era of digital revolution Odia Wikipedia has the potential of empowering every single Odia with the sum of the world's knowledge any time of in any place. If anyone asks me about what I am getting in return because of my contribution, my first answer would be "knowledge". I have learnt quite a lot after I started contributing to Odia Wikipedia. And after each contribution, it gives me a great feeling that I have done something useful for the world”. It inspires me to contribute more and more...

SP: You have recently started working and promoting about WikiTungi Puri. Can you share little more about it? What it will do? How it will benefit the Odia language?
SN: With the coming of our group, WikiTungi Puri, we are going to organize more workshops, meetups and other outreach programs in and around Puri. But the work will never be limited only to the city. We are always ready to collaborate with the global community. At Puri, We have plans to design thematic outreach activities in some of the educational institutions of Puri and we would like to invite them to be part of WikiTungi Puri. We have plans to bring the "Odia Wikiquote" live out of the Incubator wiki. We have started working on designing of training materials for the new editors. I have a great feeling that we are going to have more and more active contributors joining us in the near future.

From the place where see it from, Odia Wikipedia is becoming a pioneer of bringing digital technology for taking our language to a whole new level!

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