Wikipedia for more Indian languages on its website

By Frederick Noronha, Indo-Asian News Service | Friday, September 01, 2006 | 9:42:44 AM IST (+05:30 GMT) Comment 0 Comment

Bangalore, Sep 1 (IANS) More and more Indians can contribute to the volunteer-edited Wikipedia encyclopedia project, now rated among the top 20 websites globally.

Bangalore, Sep 1 (IANS) More and more Indians can contribute to the volunteer-edited Wikipedia encyclopedia project, now rated among the top 20 websites globally.

So says Jimmy 'Jimbo' Wales, founder of the Web-based free content multilingual project.

During a visit to India, Wales noted that volunteer contributions to the Kannada Wikipedia had been growing 22 percent and Bengali 35 percent a month.

'These growth rates are fairly high. Of course, they're growing from a small base. But Kannada already has over 5,000 articles and is still growing. That's really exciting. Bengali too has a growth rate of 35 percent,' he said.

'It's not as bad as it was a year ago. We had almost nothing then. Now, languages like Bengali, Kannada, Marathi are in the 3,000-5,000 article range. Hindi, Assamese over 1,000. But Hindi, a very large language, has only 1,500 entries. That's a little surprising,' Wales told IANS.

'We still have an enormous amount of work left to do. India has 23 official languages. English has more than 10,000 articles. We aim to have 200,000 articles for every language spoken by a million people,' he said.

Currently, Japanese is the only non-European language among the 'big 10' of Wikipedia.

Farsi, Arabic, Korean, Thai, Chinese and Bhasa Indonesia are among those with over 10,000 articles. In the same category are Urdu, Bangla, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu.

Wales, who took part in a conference on open content in India, said he had just started a new project called the Wikiversity.

'We want to provide a free encyclopaedia to every single person in the planet. We also want to provide all the tools to become literate,' he said.

'Our mission reaches far beyond the Internet - even people who don't have access to electricity. There are over one million articles in English. And English is less than one-third of the total work of Wikipedia.

'Unless you have a thousand articles, I don't count it as a fully active community,' he told audiences in India, urging them to do more in this regard.

With just four full-time employees, this volunteer-driven project has become the 17th most visited website in the world, and currently has some 200 servers across the globe.

Wales said Wikipedia was drawing more hits than the 'BBC and the CNN combined'. He cited tests that show Wikipedia had only four mistakes per article as against the Britannica's three.

'People should have this idea that Wikipedia is pretty good and that it's getting better all the time. I think what was surprising for most people was not that Wikipedia had four errors per article but that Britannica had three (per article)!' he added.

'The focus of my effort is to see how to get the initial communities going,' he said, explaining that he planned to test-hire his fifth employee in India to encourage content to be built up.

Wales referred to the Wikipedia on a CD or on mobile phones., a project founded by IITian Rakesh Mathur that offers software for users to download highly compressed web content, has also offered portions of the Wikipedia through this format.

In keeping with its free n

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