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Wikipedia Academy inaugurated

Sruthi Krishnan



MAKING A POINT: Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation; Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia; and Kiruba Shankar, co-founder of Knowledge Foundation, in Chennai on Friday.

CHENNAI: You too can edit Wikipedia – this is the message Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia, wanted to give during the inauguration of the Wikipedia Academy here on Friday.

Explaining about the Wikipedia Academy, Kiruba Shankar, co-founder of Knowledge Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on knowledge sharing, said, “Lot of us use Wikipedia but unfortunately very few of us contribute.”

Statistics show that less than 0.01 per cent of Wikipedia users in India contribute back, he said, which defeated the whole purpose. “Wikipedia is powerful because it is a combination of everyone’s knowledge. When people do not contribute, it becomes a one-way street — you take but do not give back.”

In an attempt to change the scenario, “we looked into why people are not contributing,” he said. For starters, many do not know that Wikipedia can be edited, unlike sites such as yahoo or rediff, he said. “Even those who know it is editable are afraid that they are not good enough to add information,” he added.

The Wikipedia Academy is to make people comfortable about editing Wikipedia. Though the ‘Academy’ conjures images of an institute, it is actually a localised effort, he said.

“Such academies can be started within small communities. You can teach people in your living room or the community hall of your apartment complex and start an Academy,” he said.

Mr. Wales was also looking to set up a chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation in India. The Wikimedia Foundation is the parent organisation of Wikipedia.

He was accompanied by Sue Gardner, executive director, Wikimedia Foundation.

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