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What is Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia written by millions of voluntary contributors from all over the world. English Wikipedia is the biggest Wikipedia. It has over 34 lakhs articles. Wikipedia projects exists in more than 275 world languages including 20 Indian languages. Every article in a wikipedia is the result of collaborative editing by a large number of volunteers.

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has described Wikipedia as "an effort to create and distribute a multilingual free encyclopedia of the highest quality to every single person on the planet in his or her own language." Wikipedia exists to bring knowledge to everyone who seeks it at no cost to the user.

What is Wiki?

Normally we require technical knowledge and permission of the owner to add content to most of the web pages. Wiki is a software that frees us from these type of limitations and allows us to freely add, modify, or delete content without the need of any technical knowledge. Since it is easy to add content using Wiki software, it is a great tool for collaborative authoring.

Wiki software was developed by Ward Cunningham in 1994. He developed the WikiWikiweb software and On March 25, 1995 he hosted it on www.c2.com. He himself suggested the name Wiki for it. He got this name from an employee at the airport terminals at Honolulu island airport who told him about the bus Wikiwiki chance R.T. 52 which runs between the terminus. Wiki means speed in Hawaiian language.

Is Wiki and Wikipedia the same?

Wiki and Wikipedia are not the same. Wiki is not a different name for Wikipedia. Wiki is a software which can be used for collaborative authoring while Wikipedia is a website which uses the Wiki software. In fact, Wikipedia is just one among the numerous websites that use Wiki software. Wikipedia is the most popular and content rich Wiki website in the internet. It is a popular misconception that Wiki and Wikipedia are the same, which is not true.

History of Wikipedia

The first concept of an encyclopedia which can be edited by all was Interpedia by Rick Gates. But this did not go beyond the planning phase. Nupedia was another concept which was more specialized in certain areas of the writers expertise. Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger started it. Since there was more emphasis on the quality of articles, Nupedia grew very slowly. So to accelerate the growth and help Nupedia, Jimmy and Sanger started Wikipedia, an encyclopedia which can be edited by all. Wikipedia soon overtook its parent Nupedia in content and popularity. Today Wikipedia has become a synonym for encylopedia.

Wikipedia is governed by a non-profit organization called Wikimedia foundation (http://wikimediafoundation.com)

Is this initiative recognized by Central or State Governments in India?

Wikipedia is functioning under a non profit organization called Wikipedia Foundation. The foundation is neither a government organization nor a government funded project. The capital for the functioning of Wikipedia is collected as donation from general public. Since Wikipedia has grown so popular, some government organizations and corporate institutions have started donating to Wikipedia.

Should I need to have enough knowledge about the topic of the article that I am going to write?

This is a misconception among people and is the major reason why people hesitate to contribute to Wikipedia. The fact is that you need not be an expert in any field to start writing in Wikipedia. In fact, no Wikipedia article is the result of contributions from a single author. Every article is the result of contributions of authors from various countries and various backgrounds.

Let's take an example. Imagine that a school student from Thiruvananthapuram wants to start and article about Electric bulb. With the limited knowledge that he has, he will write only a small paragraph about what an electric bulb is. After a few days, an engineering student from Chennai sees this article and adds more details to it. After a while, an IT professional from US adds a few pictures to this article and adds information on the working principles and history. So the article slowly grows to become a good article in Wikipedia with the efforts from multiple people. The same process happens behind every article in Wikipedia. You can also be a part of it. There is a lot for you to do in Wikipedia by adding new articles as well as enriching the existing ones.

Is there any guidelines on what to write and what not to write in Wikipedia?

You can write articles about any topic in Wikipedia. But the only condition is that the content of the article should be of encyclopedic in nature. Wikipedia has certain guidelines and polices to make sure that articles created are encyclopedic in nature.

A lot of people edited the article that I created in Wikipedia. Why is that so?

The articles in Wikipedia does not belong to a single person. Its a collaborative effort, and no one can hold the authority of any part or the article as an entirety. It is subject to revisions, additions and deletions. Wikipedia has its own rules and regulations to control cases where the changes done by its users and not conducive to the proper functioning of Wikipedia or if they are based on unreliable sources.

Who all contributes to Wikipedia?

Anyone who has an interest to share the knowledge can contribute to Wikipedia, irrespective of their cultural background, ethnicity, professional or political backgrounds or interests. This includes school students, ex-military men, farmers, homemakers, software professionals, government employees or anyone. People from all walks of life with an interest to share knowledge is uniting in Wikipedia and increasing their own knowledge as well as that of others, thus giving their bit for the generations to come.

Why should I write article in Wikipedia? What benefit will I get?

We acquired the knowledge that we have now from various sources at various times. We have the social responsibility to store and share this knowledge to others. There is a lot of information that has been irrecoverably lost because nobody cared to store it. By sharing our knowledge through Wikipedia, we are doing a service for the generations to come.

The satisfaction of sharing knowledge is the reward each Wikipedia contributor gets. Knowledge always grows when shared. The knowledge we have today is the result of other people sharing like this in the past.

Wikipedia editors keep the knowledge in Wikipedia more up to date and complete about our favorite subjects than on any other place on the internet. Wikipedia writers always comment that to write articles they study about it first and that helps to increase their knowledge as well. The corrections other knowledgeable persons make on your article helps you to understand the topic better. Also, by the conversations with other Wikipedia writers who contribute on your topic of interest, your knowledge increases again. So by contributing to articles, your knowledge also increases in multiple ways.

Will I get any monetary benefits if I write in Wikipedia?

You will not be get any monetary benefit by contributing to Wikipedia. You are practicing in an old phrase that says: "Rolling Stone gathers no moss", by sharing your knowledge. It is always a good practice to brush up your knowledge that might otherwise be forgotten.

Can you give me a brief history of Wikiproject India ?

What are the Wiki projects outside Wikipedia?

After the grand success of the free online encyclopedia wikipedia, wikimedia foundation slowly started focussing on other knowledge bases. A multi lingual free dictionary - "Wiktionary", a place to store public domain or with free licensed books - "Wikisource", a wiki for free content textbooks and annotated texts - "Wikibooks", A free content news souce which works by collabarative journalism and citizen journalism - "Wikinews", a project to produce collaboratively a vast reference of quotations - "Wikiquote", an online multimedia file repository - "Commons", are some of them.

What is the significance of Wikiproject India in English Wikipedia ?

I am planning to write an article about the factual errors of Wikipedia articles. What do the Wikipedia editors have to say about that?

This confusion probably arises by equating wikipedia with traditional knowledge sources. In traditional knowledge sources (including news papers, books, blogs, television, etc) you don't have an opportunity to correct factual errors, or even to point them out to the right listeners. The difference is that wikipedia is free and editable by anyone. Wikipedia gives you the power and the right to correct any factual error as you see it. I believe that it is the responsibility of every user (or reader) to participate actively, and correct any factual errors that you encounter them.

It might be much easier to fact-check an article and make it error free, than writing an article on the factual errors of wikipedia. The nature of wikipedia is such that no article is born as a complete perfect article. It goes through multiple eyes, through multiple revisions, and gets distilled with each revision. So our humble opinion is that you should participate in wikipedia, and correct the factual errors that you encounter, rather than writing an article on factual errors and publishing it somewhere else. You have the power to do it. Anyway your article will be out of date as soon as those errors you have spotted are corrected - about 5 minutes after the Wikipedians get to read the article.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Wikipedia?

Articles in wikipedia are written by a large group of volunteers. Of these, some may have a lot of knowledge to part with, some may have a good grasp of language, some may be better in proof reading articles, some may be domain experts, in particular areas. When all these people combine and work continuously, good articles get born.

Most of wikipedia contributors are working with the intent of helping others by providing knowledge. There may be few with malicious intent, but in a community where most are sincerely working towards a common goal, it is easy to identify any malicious intent. Wikipedia has a policy that knowledge should be shared with verifiable references. This ensures the authenticity of articles. We admit that a user with malicious intent, or someone with experimental motives could dilute the quality of an article, by abusing the freedom given by wikipedia for anyone to edit. But these destructive changes do not last long, as vigilant users watch for changes in articles, and correct any incorrect or malicious information at the first sight.

Which all Wikimedia projects are currently active in English ?

Whom should I contact if I have doubts about writing or editing in Wikipedia?

Most of your queries are answered in the help pages of English wikipedia. You can also ask for help to any active English Wikipedian.

I have created a login in English Wikipedia. Can I use the same login id for other Wikimedia projects as well?

Yes. For that, you have to unify your account for all wikimedia projects. For more information, please see the help page on metawiki.

Is there is a distribution list like google or yahoo groups to discuss about Wikimedia projects for specific to India ? Can I chat with English Wikipedians from India?

Yes. English wikimedia community has its own mailing list. You can communicate with active users of English wikimedia community by subscribing to this mailing list. Please visit https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-in-en to subscribe the mailing list.

A freenode Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel is available for Wikimedian community from India in which you can can engage in real-time discussions with active wikimedians from India.

  • Server: irc.freenode.net
  • Channel: #wikipedia-in

For your any other queries regarding Wikimedia projects from India, please send an email to ashlin@wikimedia.in


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