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They bring Wikipedia closer home

- 20 youngsters join hands to enrich online encyclopaedia in Odia

Bhubaneswar, April 8: The world has been their oyster, at least intellectually. A group of 20 youngsters, both students and professionals, has taken upon itself the Herculean task of enriching Wikipedia (free online encyclopaedia) in their mother tongue. Its all because of their initiative Odia Wikipedia which turned 10 this year, has more than 2,400 articles at present.

The volunteers of Odia Wikipedia met up at the Indira Gandhi Park here this evening and conducted Editathon, a marathon editing of the content available online in Odia.

Very few people are aware that Odia Wikipedia (or.wikipedia.org) was officially created in 2002. There is no record of who started it and why it remained inactive for about two years before the first ever edit was done, said Manoranjan Behera, a Mumbai-based VFX artist, who hails from Bhubaneswar and is actively involved in contributing articles to this treasure trove of information in Odia.

You would be surprised to know that Odia was one of the first few Indian language Wikipedias to exist, even before Hindi, which was launched in 2003, added Manoranjan, who along with four other volunteers conducted the editing marathon today.

Our primary intention is to make Odia Wikipedia as wide-based as possible so that one can access the content from any part of the world. There are 3,000 registered users but only 15 or 20 of us are active, said Jnanaranjan Sahu, a MCA student of Silicon Institute of Technology here.

Sahu said the group has been organising workshops to encourage youngsters to contribute articles in Odia. Sailesh Patnaik, a Class XI student who attended one such workshop in the capital on the occasion of Utkal Divas (April 1) has become a regular contributor now.

I have studied my mother tongue only till Class IV but have a special interest in reading and writing in Odia. I had registered for the event in which we were familiarised with Wikipedia, Odia Wiki and various Wiki projects. I feel proud to be a part of this non-profit, intellectual venture, he said.

A few Odia youths, who are settled outside the state and even abroad, are also closely associated with the initiative. One of them, Bangalore-based Subhashish Panigrahi, an employee of Wikimedia Foundation, has been campaigning fervently for the growth of this website. Subhashish even helped organise the second Odia Wikipedia Academy in Bhubaneswar.

One of the group members, Krupasindhu Muduli, also a VFX artist settled in Cuttack, said until January 2011, there were only 545 articles in Odia Wikipedia on local, national and international topics which now has quadrupled within 15 months.

The readership has also grown by 300 per cent over the last few months. According to official records, the page views per month stands at 4.84 lakh! In terms of content, Odia ranks 176 among the 286 languages which exist in Wikipedia, said Muduli.

One can access the Odia Wikipedia by visiting or.wikipedia.org. Press the Control and M keys simultaneously and when you type something in the search box, it will automatically be transcribed into Odia and give you tips for related search. You can edit or add any information but it would be uploaded only after being verified by the admin.