Walk for Wiki snaps - Online encyclopaedia adds to image library

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  • Published 7.03.13

The next time you read up on a city landmark on Wikipedia and find great photographs to go with the text, thank a group of Calcuttans who gave up their Sunday morning sleep to set out in lanes and bylanes, batteries charged and lenses ready.

The 29, busy professionals on weekdays and hobby photographers on weekends, were participating in the second edition of Wikipedia Takes Kolkata. The aim? Not to build impressive personal collections of photographs but to increase the number of city images available on the number one information resource for GeNext.

The photo walk was prompted by the lack of Calcutta photographs on Wikipedia even though if one googles any city landmark, the first result, more often than not, will be its page on the online encyclopaedia.

“The lack of pictures was a stumbling block for us while developing the core articles. That’s why we decided to go ahead and click some,” said Jayanta Nath, the admin of Bengal Wikipedia, which has been contributing articles since 2004.

The group, which had him at the helm, gathered outside the Air India building on CR Avenue at 6.30am for the walk that covered Bow Barracks, old Chinatown, the Toong On church, the Parsi fire temple, Maghen David Synagogue, Armenian Church and the Portuguese church. In between, the participants dug into Chinese breakfast at Tiretta Bazaar.

“It was a great opportunity to document places and capture their photographs for the future generations,” said Biswarup Ganguly of National Council of Science Museums, a Wikipedia contributor who joined the walk.

If the first Wikipedia photo walk in December 2011 was restricted to active Wikipedia contributors, the latest was open to everyone.

“We spread the word through Facebook. Anyone could take part and upload photographs, but there is no compulsion,” said Rangan Datta, who teaches management and contributes to Wikipedia in spare time, after the five-hour walk.

The photographs are still being submitted and it won’t surprise Bengal Wikipedia if their number is more than double of the 400 pictures submitted by the dozen participants in the 2011 photo walk.

“I have been contributing to Wikipedia since 2010. It has always been a pleasure to share what I know or have for general benefit,” said Jadavpur University MTech student Deepon Saha, wondering why more people don’t do the same.

Manjit Singh Hoonjan of Calcutta Photo Tours, who was part of the Sunday group, welcomed the opportunity to increase “documentation on the city”. “I have been turning to Wikipedia for information for years and have found it wanting as far as the city is concerned,” he said.

Wikipedia contributors have been holding sessions called Wikipedia Academy at academic institutions and IT companies in the city to urge people to write and click for the encyclopaedia.

One of them is coming up at ????. Anyone can take part in it (???).