Wikipedia focusing on India this year

Wikipedia focusing on India this year

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said that the free Internet encyclopedia has a bunch of people on the ground in India conducting studies and outreach exercises.

"This year our focus has been India. We have a few people on the ground in India; they're there helping to solve technical questions, helping with outreach to universities, helping with PR -letting the public know that Wikipedia exists in all those Indian languages," he said here.

Wales, the brain behind world's fifth most popular Website, was in Qatar to attend the World Innovation Summit for Education.

He said his organisation was carrying out pilot studies in India and intends to use the learning experience gathered from there in other regions as well.

"So those are just some pilot projects in India that, as we learn from those, we'll know what we're going to do in other geographies," Wales said on the sidelines of the summit.

"And in our five-year strategic plan we did identify the Middle East and North Africa as a key area that we wanted to move forward in," he said.

Asked about the role played by social media in the Arab Spring, Wales said he believed that it did make a lot of contribution to the uprisings that began early this year and have already toppled three entrenched regimes.

"It definitely did. Wikipedia is social media in the sense that we're open to broad participation by the public, we invite people to get involved from the community, and that sort of thing," he said.

Wales said that Wikipedia was very much interested in growth in the languages of the developing world, and Arabic was quite important for it to move forward.

"There's about 155,000 entries in Arabic, and part of our five-year strategic plan is to increase that substantially. So, we're always looking for opportunities in the Middle East to meet people, to let people know what's going on," he said.

Wikipedia has become a global household name and a valued resource for tens of millions of people, with more than 20 million articles across 282 languages since its inception in 2001.