Odia Wikimedians User Group/Annual Report/2020-2021
This report includes major strategic planning, and initiatives planned and organized by the Odia Wikimedians User Group (ODW) between Jun 2020 - May 2021. The User Group has members who are mostly active contributors to the Odia-language Wikimedia projects (currently Odia Wikipedia, Odia Wikisource and Odia Wiktionary) apart from contributors to a few other language Wikimedia projects (currently from Santali Wikipedia, English Wikipedia, Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons).
This reports includes various activities that the ODW community actively led, co-led and participated in local, pan-Indian and international levels, and the impact of that collective contributions that reflected across different Wikimedia projects such as Odia Wikipedia, Wikidata, Odia Wikisource, Odia Wiktionary and Wikimedia Commons. Some such initiatives include Feminism and Folklore 2021, Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021, Festive Season 2020 edit-a-thon, an internal slow-deletion initiative for stub articles falling below a quality criteria, Wikipedia Asian Month 2020, Mahatma Gandhi 2020 edit-a-thon and Indic Wikisource Proofreadthon 2020 among others. ODW led a collaboration with Srujanika that runs the book digitization portal -- Odia Bibhaba -- that led to scanning of a total of 101 titles from a range of topics (total number of pages scanned: 7,727) thanks to a scanner lent by the Centre for Internet's Access to Knowledge project (CIS-A2K). The scanned texts will be used to enhance the content scope of both (Odia) Wikipedia and Wikisource.
From a statistical standpoint, Odia Wikipedia was visited by over 13 million unique visitors over the span of an year (Sep 2020 - Aug 2021) with an average of 1 million visitors/month. While the pageviews remain consistent with the previously reported statistics, the total number of active editors have declined from 21 to 13. During this time period, there is a significant growth in terms of unique/distinct devices that visited Odia Wikipedia in the aforementioned time period.
Updates on initiatives
During the reported time frame, ODW led two internal projects: a. the first one is for detection and deletion of Wikipedia articles that are of very poor quality lacking bare minimum content that is required for a reader, b. and the second one was to build an institutional collaboration for scanning of texts that are either encyclopedic and/or useful for Wikisource.
- a. Detection and deletion of extremely low-quality Wikipedia articles
The early years of the Odia Wikipedia saw experimental approaches keeping the increase in the number of articles as a priority. The editor community was young and emerging, and it assumed that there will be collaborations to develop the newly created articles. However, an introspection at many articles created through different campaigns reflect the lack of any significant contributions to thousands of really poor-quality articles over the year. Followed by a discussion on village pump, more than 1,000 articles were flagged initially for deletion, and more and more such extremely low-quality articles are constantly being marked for deletion. These articles were marked for deletion on the criteria that are already used to evaluate short articles:
- Articles created primarily by bots (or by editors using a template in a manner similar to bots) and no significant and relevant information added manually for over two years
- Start with articles that are automatically and already listed (in an ascending order based on number of bytes) in the "Short pages"
Each marked article remains marked for over a week for any useful content addition that the deletion might invoke after which the articles are deleted permanently. While this whole process might seem like a poor regard to labour at the outset, the strategy behind the deletion exercise is to keeping the quality improvement task a manageable one and not an impossible one for the editors.
- b. Institutional collaboration for scanning of Odia-language books
Among the handful efforts for digitizing published content, the efforts of Srujanika, a collective/society based in Bhubaneswar, Odisha is a notable one, especially because almost the entire work spanning over 15 years is done by volunteers, just like Wikimedia projects. Srujanika has been a natural ally to the Wikimedia movement considering its larger focus on disseminating scientific knowledge in the Odia language and in a democratic manner, encouraging volunteer efforts for the same, and promotion of free and open-source software among others. ODW reached out to the Wikimedia affiliate Access to Knowledge program (CIS-A2K) at Centre for Internet and Society seeking support for a scanner. After a successful approval of a scanner, Srujanika scanned a total of 101 titles from a range of topics in two separate batches resulting the scanning of a total number of 7,727 pages between April and July 2021. The scanned books are now available under the scope of Odia Bibhaba (https://odiabibhaba.in), a project where Srujanika has been hosting most of their scanned texts. The scanned texts will be used eventually for improving the Odia-language Wikimedia projects including the Odia Wikipedia (for content creation, enhancement and citation) and Odia Wikisource (for all titles under Wikimedia-compatible licenses). Read more in the detailed report.
Though the human and other resource constraints at Srujanika in addition to availability of new equipment at the society brought the scanning process to an early end in July, ODW discussed about the scanner with another neighbouring Wikimedia affiliate — the Santali Wikimedians User Group that focuses on the Santali language Wikimedia projects. Fortunately, the latter found a movement ally — the Fagun monthly newspaper that is published from the same city. Santali Wikimedians User Group and Fagun are currently scanning the newspaper archive since early September and plan to continue this work for at least a couple of months. The scanned texts will be helpful for the Santali Wikipedia and other future Santali Wikimedia projects.
Contribution through thematic content sprints
The Odia Wikimedians User Group joined forces with other Wikimedia communities from India/South Asia and internationally through thematic content sprints such as short-term campaigns and contests through edit-a-thons. Such participation and co-leading of events helped address content diversity gaps to some extent as each one of these events were aimed at growing a particular set of topics. For instance, the Feminism and Folklore 2021 edit-a-thon that focused on creation/improvement of Wikipedia content around folk culture and feminism from February 1, 2021 through March 31, 2021 saw contribution by three ODW member-editors and creation of 11 articles in Odia. As Wikimedians from India organized a two-day-long "Festive Season 2020 edit-a-thon" to celebrate the diverse Indian festivals by improving the Wikipedia content, ODW member-editors participated to better relevant content on Odia Wikipedia. During the "", a short content sprint on the 2nd and 3rd October 2020, three ODW members participated to improve content related to Mahatma Gandhi.
Not only the Odia Wikipedia, Odia Wikisource has been gradually growing thanks to the effort of a dedicated community of a handful contributors. The "2020 version of the Indic Wikisource Proofreadthon 2020", an annual online event for proofreading collaboratively across different South Asian language Wikisources saw the participation of five Odia Wikisourcers who proofread four Odia books.
During the three-day-long online conference "Wikimedia Wikimeet India 2021" (19 – 21 February 2021), Odia Wikimedian Sangram Keshari Senapati led a panel titled "100wikidays" and detailed the strategy behind many of his own successful "100wikidays" contest participation. The contesting Wikipedia editors write one new article every day for 100 days.
A large number of Wikimedia contributors and affiliates from across Asia collaborated during the entire month of November 2020 through the Wikipedia Asian Month 2020, an edit-a-thon in which Wikipedia editors create and enhance content related to any Asian country other than their own. Eight Odia Wikipedia editors created 126 articles during this month-long contest.
Learning from successes and failures
- Improving content quality has to be a top priority. During the early years of the Odia Wikipedia, new and budding Wikipedians were encouraged to experiment different ways such as use of article-templates (different from Templates) or bots to create a large number of articles. The current active community discussed about ways to fix a large number of poor quality articles (over one-fifth of the total number of article at the time of discussion). Based on the discussion, extremely poor quality articles (criteria: <100 words; lacking most essential information in an encyclopedic manner; translated using machine translation without any human editorial effort; all of these combined with no citations) are slowly deleted (while keeping the number of deleted article to 10 in a day) while still allowing improvement of articles.
- Consistent participation in global and regional community events is continued. The community is actively participating in most major global and regional sprints to ensure that there is more content diversity and more collaboration with the larger Wikimedia community.
- Focusing on content when offline community-building is tough because of COVID-19. As COVID-19 affected physical movements, focus of the community shifted towards quality content growth. Online community-building would require more (screen) time commitment and that might take longer while many active members have been struggling in their own personal and professional commitments with the changed circumstances during the pandemic.