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CIS-A2K/Indic Languages/Urdu

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2011 Assamese Bengali Gujarati Hindi Kannada Malayalam Marathi Nepali Odia Sanskrit Tamil Telugu Summary of discussions

Discussion with Editor1 from Urdu Wiki Community

1. How did you hear about Urdu Wikipedia? How did you reached Urdu Wikipedia?

I came to know about Urdu Wikipedia through links of other languages posted on the side-bar of the articles of the English Wikipedia. I was thrilled the enormous amount of information available in Urdu, although the common misconception is that Wikipedia is available in only in English.

2. Why you decided you must contribute to Urdu wikipedia?

While I strongly believe knowledge should be like the free flow of river water and everybody should have equal access to it. Hence I decided to contribute to it just as I contribute to the English Wikipedia and Wiki Commons. I would also place on record that I am a qualified journalist and I have contributed articles to several newspapers and magazines. I also contributed to some of the leading Urdu websites such as Urdustan.com - the oldest Urdu Website on the Internet, and Sherosokhan.com.

3. What kind of topics you usually edit?

I edit all types of topics and subjects. However, since I contribute to the Wikipedia on a voluntary basis, I make it a point to ensure quality and edit only those article where I can trace and quote the sources easily.

4. Why I joined the Urdu Wikipedia?

See the response to question number 2.

5. Have you attended or organized community meet-ups? What was the outcome? What were the positives and negatives from these meet-ups?

I have attended a few Wiki meet ups in my city, but regrettably they were not focused on the Urdu Wikipedia. Rather they were focused on English, Hindi and Telugu Wikipedias.

6. What has been your experience in adding content or encouraging content on specific topics?

Urdu Wikipedia has a proactive presence of the admins. But not all of their rules and regulations are not encouraging or supportive. For example, the admins place a rule that the articles on Urdu websites should not be posted on the Urdu Wikipedia. These can, however, be listed on a particular page of the Urdu Wikipedia. This is in sharp contradiction with the English Wikipedia where articles or "stubs" are found on practically all leading and relatively unknown websites. Further, within the articles, the terminology used is too jargonistic and hence often there is a need for brackets to make things clear. For example, you can find the English term "missile" in brackets ( منجنیق (میزائل along with the less familiar Urdu translated term. Neologism has also attained a high ground with probably Urdu being the only language having an equivalent term among all Indian languages for English words such as upload (زبر اثقال).

There are however more crucial problems with the admin composition and their perception of how Urdu Wikipedia should be. To the best of my knowledge, all admins are from Pakistan. Most are non-native speakers of Urdu. For several articles pertaining Indo-Pak conflict, the NPOV is missing and often only one point of view is taken as the correct view. Also, there are issues of how an incident happening in Lahore (or any other city of the present day Pakistan) during per-independence era should be described - did happen in Pakistan in the year 1928 (so to say) or in British India / Undivided India / Pre-Independence India during that year? Also, the admins as well as some editors are often conservative and adopt extreme views on controversial issues. Some of the admins are not competent or mindful about copyright and other reference issues. I am particularly aware of one Urdu Wikipedia admin most of whose uploads were deleted on Commons because of the wrong copyright information he provided.

7. How are the technical challenges/issues been for your language? Now, is it easy for a new user to start contributing in wiki easily. How about interface translation and other things?

A lot has to be done in supporting the creation of new article on the Urdu Wikipedia. There is a need for the scripts to be programmed in a way such that the input qwerty text is converted to the Persian text just as the text is converted into Devanagri on the Hindi Wikipedia. I particularly use the friendly text output I get from Gmail for editing the articles. Similarly, there should be a provision for searching articles with the same qwerty keyboard in the search box.

8. How is the interaction between Urdu wiki community members? Is there is enough interaction? Or, is it just users working in their own way by just creating articles and not having much interaction with other users? Do you benefit from the discussion with other community members?

I felt a lone contributor on the Urdu Wikipedia. I am aware of a number of English, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, etc contributors from India but not Urdu editors from India. Differences of nationality and geography are an added barrier, although I am told that a number of Tamil editors are NRIs who contribute in the language from abroad.

9. Could you share any and all ideas - small or big, sucessful & not-so-sucessful - that you think can help drive Urdu and other Indic language projects?

Urdu needs as much push, enthusiasm or support as any other language community.