To expand its database in Bengali, Wikipedia has put up a stall at the ongoing Kolkata Book Fair seeking vernacular editors for the world's largest free online encyclopedia available in over 280 languages.
"This is for the first time that Wikipedia is participating in any book fair any where in the world. The stall serves many purposes but the central idea is to motivate net-savvy youngsters to volunteer and contribute Bengali articles," Jayanta Nath, member of the executive committee of Wikimedia India, said.
With a mission to bring free educational content at everyone's fingertips, Wikimedia Foundation runs projects like Wikipedia, an open-source encyclopedia where anyone can contribute, edit and review an article.
It has more than 24 million articles in over 284 languages of which 22 are in Indian languages like Hindi, Nepali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Malayalam, Urdu, Gujarati, Sanskrit, Pali, etc.
Available at www.bn.wikipedia.org, the Bengali edition has only 28,000 articles while the main English one has more than 45 lakh pieces.
Banglapedia has less than 200 editors of which more than 150 are from Bangladesh, while only ten are from West Bengal.
"We want more editors and reviewers from Kolkata and the book fair is the perfect place to reach out to such people. Anyone who has knowledge about the subject and is net-savvy can be a contributor," said Rangan Datta, one of the Wiki editors.
A team of volunteers manning the stall, at the book fair which was inaugurated yesterday, are demonstrating to visitors on how to edit and review articles.
"Many people think that typing in English is easy on a computer but not in Bengali. We are showing how typing softwares have made the task very simple," said volunteer Sumantra Mukherjee.
Most of the volunteers are students from different streams or editors/contributors to Wikipedia.
Biswarup Ganguly, who contributes photos for Wikimedia Commons said they are explaining on topics like how to add a reference to an article, licensing terms under the Creative Common Policy and how to avoid any case of copyright infringement while writing.
"The Bengali edition is not necessarily a translation from the English version of Wikipedia. In many cases like that of Rabindranath Tagore, the articles are written exclusively in Bengali and are even better than the English one as it caters to a specific Bengali-reading audience. The content gets very localised in vernacular languages," Nath of Wikimedia said.
Run entirely on donations, the Wikimedia Foundation is also accepting contributions at the bookfair stall to run its projects.
Although Wikipedia is the most popular among them, the foundation also runs a number of other projects like Wiktionary (free online dictionary), Wikisource (open library), Wikimedia Commons (multimedia content) and Wikibooks (free e-books).