Kannada Wiki finds going tough

Kannada Wiki finds going tough

The future of the 11-year-old Kannada language Wikipedia is bleak as ever. Reason: User apathy.

Kicking off in 2003, the site’s articles had initially drawn flak for their lack of depth and quality. But once it caught the fancy of a tech-savvy group who vowed to make it big, the wiki site started showing signs of improvement only to fall back again.

Statistics are clear about the user apathy. As on June 2014, the number of articles in the Kannada Wikipedia is just 17,878, a far cry from the 61,427 articles hosted by the Tamil Wikipedia, 58,369 in the Telugu version and 36,537 in the Malayalam version.

When the editors themselves have lost interest in adding more contributions, the figures hitting the downslide is understandable, according to Hariprasad Nadig, an active editor. The number of active editors is 22. The number of people who do more than 100 edits per month (very active editors) stood at just three. Other three southern Indian languages have more than 10 very active editors.

Literature is the most covered section in the Kannada Wikipedia. But articles related to history, science, archaeology are meagre. "The initial vigour to provide more information on diverse topics slowly died down and the focus got diluted.

Also, somebody has injected a large number of stubs (small articles without much information on any topic) regarding Kannada cinema. As they don’t provide detailed information about movies, people might not be interested in checking them out,” says Nadig.

There are more than 4,000 bloggers who write in Kannada. But not many of them are interested in contributing to Wikipedia. U B Pavanaja, program manager for Bangalore-based Access to Knowledge program of Centre for Internet and Society, says the lack of awareness and motivation were the major reasons behind the crisis.

“People don’t get credit for what they write in Wikipedia. As per Wikipedia policies, no payment shall be made to the writers. This could also be a de-motivating factor,” he says.

However, the Kannada wiktionary seems to be on the right path. The online dictionary has 2,50,167 articles with Tamil above it with 2,86,692 articles. Both Malayalam and Telugu are lagging behind. Many old Kannada usages, which are not used anymore in the spoken language, have found their way into the wiktionary.

“This initiative could bring out many original Kannada words that had taken a back seat with the overwhelming Sanskrit influence on the language,” hopes Nadig.

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