Fri, 28 Feb, 2020

Wiki looks for volunteers

Wikipedia is looking for new volunteers from Goa

01st October 2019, 02:21 Hrs


Goa is a destination that invokes curiosity from people around the world, not just because of its natural beauty, but also because of its rich history and culture. In that light, making increasing amount of Goa related content available online could be an invaluable contribution. It is no surprise therefore, that one of the leading providers of online content, Wikipedia, has its presence in Goa, and the encyclopedia is currently looking for new volunteers to contribute online content.   

Recently, The Wikipedians of Goa Users Group (WGUG) gained official recognition from Wikimedia Foundation, and the first meeting of the group was held in Panaji, where ideas about to Goa-related content, volunteering, and funding were discussed.   

Apart from facilitating the creation of Konkani content on Wikipedia, WGUG is also working to get Goa-related content such as books digitised, informed the convenor of the group’s meeting Fredrick Noronha. Further on, he also stressed that more Goans need to come forward to volunteer as contributors to Wikipedia.   

“Volunteering for Wikipedia will not just bring satisfaction of having done something good, but also provide you with the opportunity to rub shoulders with Wikipedia editors across India at the Wikimedia India conventions,” said Noronha, underlining that very few Goans are currently working as Wikipedia volunteers.  

Nikhil Kawale, former executive member of Wikimedia India chapter informed that the newly gained official recognition will entail a number of responsibilities for WGUG. “The group must now have a vision and mission statement. It will have to show that it is active, and fulfil certain standards of transparency laid out by the Wikimedia Foundation,” Kawale stated. Being a recognised user group will also enable WGUG to avail of funds from Wikimedia Foundation and other sources.   

However, Kawale added that Wikimedia India chapter is currently closed due to lack of funds. “ Wikimedia India chapter is currently in a state of getting closed as there are certain issues related to Foreign Currency Regulation Act, audits, and certain clarifications regarding the body’s status as a charitable organisation,” said Kawale. However, if Wikipedia is run by volunteers contributing content for free, what role does money play in the setup?  

“We often collaborate with universities and educational institutions where students volunteer to edit and contribute content. On its part, Wikipedia too offers incentives to volunteers to keep them engaged, but money plays a very small role in such incentives. There are cases where contributors do not have the resources. Funds are utilised to give maximum benefits to community initiatives and people, ” Kawale added.   

Apart from encyclopedic content, Wikimedia foundation also works on many other fronts, including digitisation of books. “There are projects such as Wikidata and Wikisource. In Wikisource, for instance, books in the public domain, whose copyrights have expired are scanned, and then digitised by volunteers so that they can be read by others for free,” informed Prateek Saxena, a Wikipedia contributor. He stressed, however, that this involves considerable typing and editing work.   

Elaborating on how beginners can contribute, Fredrick Noronha stated that there are strict guidelines about the format in which one can contribute to Wikipedia, and the content of newbies is often rejected. “Wikipedia requires content in a certain format, and news articles need to be converted into a format acceptable to Wikipedia. Volunteers can also contribute pictures, considering that pictures of a number of sites in Goa such as Jain caves at Bandora are still not there on Wikipedia,” said Noronha. To address such issues, WGUG is considering organising photo walks at various locations in Goa. The idea to get the state government to share pictures of people and places in its collection was also deliberated upon.   

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