M3 Features

Grand debut for Wikipedia at Kolkata Book Fair

December 22, 2013

From the internet to the "real world" - Wikipedia, the world’s largest multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia, will touch ground at the Kolkata Book Fair next month. Never before has the website taken part in any fair in the world. In an effort to enthuse people to become regular contributors to its site, Wikipedia will launch a campaign at the Kolkata Book Fair. It has already booked a stall and lined up an awareness programme to sign up volunteers.

A grand debut plan

Wikipedia needs people from Kolkata to contribute voluntarily not only to the mother website but also to its Bengali link, Banglapedia. "We would hold workshops where we would give presentations about how to edit existing material on Wiki/Banglapedia. The biggest incentive for any contributor is that, the moment he/she writes a piece or edits something, it gets updated and is published for the world to see," explained Jayanta Nath, chief of Banglapedia.

The Book Fair authorities have already sealed the deal and are looking forward to this heavyweight participant. Last year about 1.8 million people visited the fair, a world record.

At the fair, the website’s volunteers will distribute leaflets and sell Wikipedia’s first CD and demonstrate how people can edit Wikipedia.

“Wikipedia is a renowned multi-national institution that collects information from around the world. Its presence at the fair will benefit all,” Tridib Chatterjee, secretary, Publishers and Book Sellers Guild, said.

Hope for the future

“Bengali is the seventh most spoken language in the world. However, Wikipedia has only 27,000 Bengali articles. It ranks 80 to 90 in terms of number of entries among all languages,” Nath said.

“There are far fewer articles in Bengali compared to lesser-spoken languages such as Russian, German, Japanese, Telugu and Marathi. We want to address this, said Nath. We believe Kolkata has a very small community of overall contributors compared to cities such as Chennai, Mumbai and Bengaluru,” said Bengaluru-based Tinu Cherian Abraham, administrator of English Wikipedia.

Surely, Wikipedia’s grand debut will mark a new chapter in the history of Kolkata.

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