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News from Malayalam Community

The reporting term ( May 2011 till April 2012) was one of great strides and accomplishments for the Malayalam community of Wikimedia ventures. Hitherto unforeseen milestones were reached both within and outside the contributing and participating communities. The biggest of them should be the most futuristic and altruistic as well. That the concept, state of existence, need and purpose of Wikipedia have been slowly and systematically brought to the people of all reaches at the base domicile of Malayalam, i.e. Kerala, India, will be a factor of great significance in the years to come. The impregnation of Wikipedia concept into the minds of common rural and urban minds within a state of 35 million literate citizens and its huge diaspora outside will be the single most investment that any language community could dream of. We are almost done in that arena.


News about Wikipedia

  • Around 6000 new articles were added to Malayalam Wikipedia during April 2011 to May 2012.
  • More than 3 lakhs edits were done on Malayalam Wikipedia during this period.
  • 2 New Administrators and one new bueraucrats were elected during this period.

News about WikiSource

The reporting term was of the most brisk activity period Malayalam Wikisource project ever experienced in its short span until now. It can be said confidently that the project has suddenly turned into a teenage phase from the infantile looks it appeared to be until yesteryear. At times, it even attracted more active users than the Wikipedia portals, focused on a single book at a time. The collaboration was further fueled by active co-ordination and campaign through social networks such as Facebook and Google Buzz / plus.

Some very unique events took place. 25 students from a remote rural school participated in recovering, digitizing, typing and uploading the entire volume of an ancient book, Kundalatha, a 1887 work by Appu Nedungadi, the first novel ever to be written in Malayalam! The school was Kabanigiri Nirmala High School, Wayanad district, a terrain that is typical of India's remoteness to the digital reach in normal cases.


But that was not alone. Just as the earliest Malayalam novel was brought to a digital rebirth, there was Ramachandravilasam, an epic poem, (the first among such in Malayalam too), to be brought out to the open by another cluster of resourceful students from the other end of Kerala. This time, it was the coastal area of Chavara, an educational subdistrict within Kerala. Students from 15 aided schools under the nurturing supervision of IT @School and a few Wikipedians collectively participated in this effort. 'Vidyaramgam Kala sahitya vedi', the literary club functioning under dierector of public instruction, Kerala augmented the project ensuring exact reproduction of the original work.

The icing on the cake was done by an even younger set of some fifty primary students from four schools near Kollam. Children, most of them not even in their teen age, gathered together to type in 'Kesaveeyam' another prominent poem among the early Malayalam works. They were assisted by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan BRC at Chathanoor and the organisation committee of Wiki Sangamolsavam Conference-2012 at Kollam.


These three projects were not quite by accident. A bigger plan is on the anvil. In the forthcoming days, Malayalam community is looking forward for planning and executing some massive collaboration projects carpeting the entire school students community of the state with a scope of entire collection of early Malayalam literature that has come out of copy right restrictions. We are in active discussions with the education department and in particular, the IT@School division of state Government. All going smooth, we may very well accomplish a feat that could be a world's first!

News about Wiktionary

Like other sister projects, Malayalam Wiktionary can also stand high and proud in retrospection of the year. In march 2012 alone, the number of definitions grew from 70,000 to more than 1,00,000. This was achieved by injecting a digital version of a dictionary. The collection was systematically built upon by a few people offline (including some wikipedia volunteers) over the last 15 years. It was originally initiated and mostly done by a senior person Datuk KJ Joseph, an 82 year old, distinguished citizen of Malaysia, who had migrated from Kerala during 1960s! The whole dictionary was scrutinized and reviewed for spelling and semantic errors and finally uploaded to the Wiktionary using bots.


Today, among the 171 Wiktionary projects the world over, Malayalam portfolio stands a high 26th. Besides Malayalam, it also incorporates at least 14 languages, as varies as Korean and Japanese as Latin and Greek.

However, we consider that the Wiktionary project is still in its nascent stage. Being a language rich with combinations and permutations of complex words, (thanks to its early marriage with Tamil and Sanskrit and then the constant interactions with a wide spectrum of all global communities), malayalam Wiktionary has the potential to grow many folds. Even more, the wiktionary is yet to incorporate more interactive features such as phonetic renderings, illustrations, interwiki links, inter project links, categorisations etc. The accomplishments until now have been carried out primarily by bots. We are now looking forward for more active contributors, well versed with the distinct linguistic characteristics of Malayalam, to appear and join our Himalayan tasks.

News about Wikiquotes

Malayalam Wikiquotes, the youngest among its fraternity of projects, has also shown the eminence and effect this year. It has been lighted up with a newer look, interface and home page, promising better user experience and participation in the years to come.

Prominent among this years achievement is the significant addition of more articles. Some individual contributors, particularly a few new Wikipedians have been instrumental in this enhancement.

There exists only 88 Wikiquote projects the world over. In terms of volume, Malayalam ranks 40 among them. This is a topper position among Indian Wikiquote projects. Besides Malayalam, only Tamil and Telugu has Wikiquote projects as of now.

The Malayalam Wikiquotes portal have the following subsets:

  1. Ancient idioms,proverbs and adages.
  2. Quotes from the great people
  3. The NyayanighanTu, (comprising of 'nyaya's similar to Sanskrit.
  4. Riddles
  5. Phrases (stylised similes)
  6. Discrete folk songs and rhymes
  7. Quotes from ovies and other art forms
  8. Similar collections from other languages (with translation)


Special mention is due to the dedicated new user:revikumarvasu who single-handedly contributed to the collection by gathering and translating the entire quotes from as many as 20 great personalities from both east and west.

Malayalam is a language lush and green with idioms, proverbs and riddles. We understand that the Wikiquotes collection is still only a minute portion of what really ought to be there. Coming are the days, we hope and aspire, for imbibing the entire wealth of such enthralling treasures into the chests of Malayalam Wiktiquotes.

Community interaction

Perhaps the greatest strength of Malayalam Wikipedia projects stems from its foothold of users whose continuous and consistent mutual interaction has been unprecedented. Unlike many ventures and associations heralded by Malayalees, the Wikipedia team have been devoid of sectoral or partial motives. We work as a team, some slumber at times but when a critical moment arrives, everyone is at the beck and call.

The Malayalam Wikipedia has a common mail list that is very active and topic-centric. The discussions are always productive. It gives an opportunity to think loud and together and refines one's own views and visions without much noise and flutter.

Besides this common mail list, the admins, beurocrats and sysops frequently discuss matters, mostly on technical and administrative affairs through mail threads. Most of the change management is performed by initiating a small discussion first and then taken to the common mail list or to the village pump. This has been a very successful mode to reach effective, efficient and long standing consensus.

This year too, the community interaction has been very active. Besides the online mail lists, IRC chat sessions and other interfaces such as Facebook and Google Plus pages, we have met more often in the lower realms of off-line real world. The eye-to-eye direct meetings are frequent when we conduct out reach events and workshops. Often, such encounters help dissolve any psychological barriers, however slight they may be, between a pair of users both in their sincere pursuit to refine the Wikipedia as ideal and perfect as it could be, may have developed.

The grand finale of our meetings and encounters this year turned out to be a historic first. In the last week of April 2012, almost to the tune of an International Wikimedia conference, we set and conducted the Wikisangamolsavam, a festival of Wikipedians at Kollam, Kerala. At its scale, this could be the first of its kind in any specific language communities in the east, if not in the world itself.

To an active Malayalam Wikipedian, user interaction is not just a matter of talk pages. Instead, it spills over to quiz programs, online chats, off-street tea shops and even train journeys.

Media exposure

Kerala is a land of newspapers and electronic media. In the early morning, as the fresh newspapers reach every corner of a village, you could see all sorts of people, from old ladies to young children and from the masters to servants, eager to dip their heads into the spread of a favorite newspaper.

No mission of any value or might could emerge victorious in Kerala, unless it proves and propagates its worthiness to the common mass through newspapers.

Malayalam Wikipedia has been consistently in the news in the recent past. Almost every week, there is an article about the Wikipedia in one or the other editions of a newspaper. It could be about a Workshop that is due to be conducted at a district capital. Or it could be about an article that appeared prominently in Wikipedia.

The reporters and editors of Malayalam press and news channels are well educated and exposed to the existence and growth of Malayalam Wikipedia. Often they voluntarily reach Wikipedia sessions and venues to gather new and exciting stories.

Wikisangamolsavam, held during April 28 and 29, 2012 was covered in much details in almost all news papers and channels. They have brought Wikipedia to the attention of even more people, that could nourish the growth of Wikipedia movement by greater rates from now on.

Outreach

Wikipedia Workshops

Malayalam Wikimedia community conducted 9 Wikipedia workshops during May 2011 to April 2012. These includes Pathanamthitta 1, Alappuzha 2, Kollam 4, Thrissur 2, Bangalore 4, Kannur 3, Kollam 5, and Kannur 4

Participation in Wikimedia Conference 2011 at Mumbai

Malayalam Wikimedians at WikiConference 2011

The Malayalam Wikimedia volunteers showed great enthusiasm in attending and performing at the first Wikimedia National Conference held at Mumbai during the third week of November, 2011. The unparalleled synergy and spirit were admired and appreciated by most other participants and delegates attending the conference. Several presentations and demonstrations were provided by the community members with a view to impart the lessons and skills they have already acquired to other fellow communities. Some of the notable among them were

  • demonstration by Sathyaseelan, a teacher at a school for the blinds and himself a blind person too, on using Wikipedia by visually impaired users. His presentation demonstrated the potential of localised Wikipedia knowledge repositories for use of less fortunate people by taking advantage of modern computer features such as voice recognition, voice synthesis and Unicode string search technology.
  • demonstrations and presentations by very young children and women from Kerala.
  • paper on how Malayalam Wikipedians collaborated with school children for digitizing and uploading ancient books.

The community experimented with even more adventourous opportunities before, during and after this conference. During the long train journey from and to the conference venue (Kerala to Mumbai and back), they even conducted worthy and serious learning and hackathon sessions within the limitations of moving train ! New ideas were sprout and shared by the passengers of Malayalam Wikipedia Express! Be assured that they were connected online to the wikimedia servers all the while during these sessions!

Wiki Sangamolsavam-2012

WikiSangamolsavam 2012 organizers with VN Rajasekharan Pillai, Barry Newstead, Hisham Mundol and Arjuna Rao Chavla

The WikiSamgamotsavam 2012 is a two day annual conference of Malayalam Wikimedians. It is meant to provide a common platform for all Malayalam Wikimedians to meet and share their views, discuss challenges, and exchange useful tips, best practices and other information. The first ever such conference held and hosted by Kollam Wikimedians and the WikiSamgamotsavam organizing committee on the 28th and 29th of April 2012 at Kollam's District Panchayat Hall.

Projects and Portals

New Kerala Quiz portal

Malayalam Wikipedia started a new portal for a casual quiz competition within the realms of Wikipedia itself. The program is planned with a focused on topics connected with Malayalam language and Kerala state. The quiz is meant to go at a very slow pace but with enlightening questions and discussions. We expect the quiz program to attract more users to Wikipedia and to turn them into active contributors. Many questions and discussions have prompted creation of new articles within Wikipedia. As of now, the second round of the program is in progress.

More location-centric media - A boost to the Wikimedia commons repository

One of the images added to commons as part of Malayalam Loves Wikimedia 2 event
  • Malayalam Loves Wikimedia 2: This was the second edition of the project Malayalam Loves Wikimedia. The aim of this project was to get more encyclopedic medias to commons. The event was conducted as part of the 65 days celebration of the annual Malayalam Wikimedia Meetup called WikiSangamotsavam - 2012. The duration of this project was from 15-February to 20-April-2012. As a part of this event 11,419 images were added to Wikimedia Commons. Most of them were related to the wide variety of flora and fauna taking advantage of the grand bio-diversity Kerala offers as a tropical magic. There were also images depicting important geographical and historic landmarks as well as Kerala's vibrant and colorful folklore culture.