Jump to content

Research:WikiHistories fellowship/Hindi

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Maryana Pinchuk
This page documents a completed research project.

What exactly is Hindi?[edit]

With a population of nearly 1.2 billion [1], India is the second most populous country on Earth. Alongside English, Hindi has an exalted place as the official language of India. However, there are a further 22 local languages spoken throughout the country and, according the laws of various states, used officially [2]. Additionally, French is used in an official capacity in Pondicherry (Puducherry). It is difficult to approximate the number of native Hindi speakers because many surveys include Urdu [3], a language that in its spoken form is so closely related to Hindi the difference is almost indiscernible [4]. As India’s official language, Hindi is also taught in schools so many in India speak Hindi alongside one of the nearly two dozen local languages.

Many of the local languages spoken in India are very closely related to Hindi, sharing vocabulary and grammatical structure, while others share only the country in which they are spoken. It is with varying levels of education that the differences between related Indic languages begins to emerge. In written form Hindi and Urdu are pronouncedly different, the former written in Devanagari, the latter in Persio-Arabic script.

(Hindi: हिंदी : ہندی ; Urdu : उर्दू : اردو)

A variety of scripts exist for Indic languages and often it is these differences that mark the biggest divergence between related languages. In addition to the scriptural differences, efforts have been made to remove and replace words in both Hindi and Urdu, giving Hindi, one of the official languages of India, a closer linguistic link to Sanskrit and Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, a closer link to Arabic [5]. For Hindi this is a literary Hindi, often called Modern Standard Hindi. This is the language of hi.wikipedia.org.

Dualing Homepages: मुख पृष्ठ vs मुखपृष्ठ[edit]

On July 11, 2003 a call for help went out across the internet from an IP address located near Wichita, Kansas. It wasn’t a distress cry – instead, it was one that gently encouraged people to help build an online encyclopedia in Hindi. Approximately 10 hours later, another user, unregistered and with an IP address located in San Antonio, Texas, added to the homepage of the Hindi Wikipedia. Though the very first editor is likely to remain unknown, the second is probably Shree, [6] the third registered user of Hindi Wikipedia who claims on his user page to have started the Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Sanskrit Wikipedias after finding a scarcity of searchable Indic language resources on the internet. It seems likely that the user editing under and IP address and Shree are the same person because of the continuity of edits. Changes were made on July 13, 2003 under the Texas IP address beginning at 7:35 pm and continued for the next 11 minutes. At 7:48 Shree began to edit for another 9 minutes. No other user would edit the page on July 13, 2003 until Yann made two edits at 10:27 pm and 10:30 pm. Shree would go on to edit approximately 700 articles on Hindi Wikipedia, working steadily during the summer months of 2003 and 2004. Over the course of seven days in October 2004 Shree made more than 100 edits, but would not return until 2005 to make 11 edits and a final seven in 2008.

Shree’s edits identify him[7] as someone familiar with Wikipedia – many of his edits regard tools for Wikipedia editing (such as disclaimers, importation, and copyright issues) – and his article entries are typical of many early Hindi Wikipedia editors, with work focusing on the religion, politics and the geography of India.

Shree begins his article editing by creating and writing an article on Hindu daily worship. [8] The article contained the steps for worship and the mantras that should be chanted, written in both English and Hindi. The article would remain as Shree left it on July 26, 2003 until February of 2006 when user Magicalsaumy,[9] later an administrator on Hindi Wikipedia, would translate the English portions into Hindi. Shree then moved onto articles about India and Hinduism, with the occasional foray into articles about other geographic areas. Most of Shree’s early work focuses on setting up rules and infrastructure, though much of this work is under the heading MediaWiki, set up by user MediaWiki default [10] (which appears to be a bot), and the pages are incomplete. Most include only a sentence or two defining their topic and have few edits. These pages still exist on Hindi Wikipedia but do not redirect or link to more current infrastructural information, remaining largely abandoned.

The homepage [11] that Shree and others worked on in their early days of Hindi Wikipedia evolved from a call for contributors to a lively page that included links to articles under topics such as “technology and engineering,” “social sciences and philosophy,” “geography” and others, as well as to Wikipedia projects in other languages. The page (मुख पृष्ठ) remained active until January 15, 2007 when Mitul0520 redirected the page to a rival main page (मुखपृष्ठ [12]) he himself had created in late December 2006. The new page looked more like English Wikipedia’s homepage and included, from the start, far more information than the original homepage. It’s unclear why Mitul0520 created a new page rather than editing the original. Mitul0520 had been editing Hindi Wikipedia (as well as English Wikipedia) for six months prior to creating the new homepage.

The Logistics of Language[edit]

Around the time Shree joined Wikipedia, in June 2006, another user active on both Hindi and English Wikipedias, Deeptrivia, alerted a member of the Hindi Wikipedia community via English Wikipedia [13] that he had begun work on a Welcome page that he was unlikely to complete. The page was eventually made live by Deeptrivia and remained unedited August 2011.

Though the conversation on English Wikipedia did not occur until three years after the project saw its first registered user, it demonstrates the interrelationship between projects. Only 13 of the first 50 registered users to Hindi Wikipedia either do not link to other language Wikipedia projects or cannot be found on other projects by the same user name. The first 25 of these users are largely Wikipedians who appear to know little to no Hindi but want to help establish the project’s online presence. Their edits often take the form of creating stub pages and adding interwiki links.

By July 2004 Hindi Wikipedia had two editors, who would go on to edit more than 1,000 pages each, Hemanshu and Spundun. In addition to being editors on English Wikipedia, both have been active on Gujarati [14], Marathi [15] and Malayalam [16] Wikipedia projects. In September of that same year the user Murtasa (who would later change his user name to Martin-Vogel) would join the project. He would contribute to Kannada, Bengali, and Sanskrit projects as well as German and a variety of other languages. While Murtasa’s contributions are largely interwiki works, connecting articles on a given subject across languages, Hemanshu and Spundun focused on building a base to the project, creating stubs of articles they felt were important to the project. The fact that they were active on other language Wikipedia projects helped them quickly shape Hindi Wikipedia, but it also meant their attentions weren’t solely on that particular Wikipedia project. In fact, nearly all of the first 25 active users were also active on other Wikipedias (mostly English) and often conversations and praise about work on the Hindi project are found on English language talk pages. Further, many of these editors contribute for a time to Hindi Wikipedia but nearly all stop at some point while continuing their English contributions.

Given the close relationship between the Hindi and English Wikipedias, it’s not surprising that the Five pillars of the English project have been adopted by the Hindi community. What is surprising is the late date at which the pillars appeared on Hindi Wikipedia. Prior to August 15, 2011 the pillars do not appear on Hindi Wikipedia. The ideas behind them – of neutrality, sourcing, fairness, etc. – are articulated in the Choupal (village meeting place), in the welcome message or the discussion that makes up the majority of the page. Though set up to answer technical questions, Choupal became a more all-purpose page where people discussed terminology (such as using “seed” instead of “stub”) as well as transliteration issues.

In 2006 user Taxman left a message saying, “Sorry for leaving this message in English, I make too many errors and it takes too long for me to write this much in Hindi,” and advocated for allowing people to write Hindi entries in Roman script so that those who had trouble writing in Devanagari could still contribute.

Though this idea occurs occasionally throughout Hindi Wikipedia, Mitul0520 adamantly opposed the suggestion, countering, “We still do not have enough man-power and interest among them for translation. More than translation, original contents should get attention. So, got to oppose this idea for now. Writing in devenagri is not difficult anymore. Many options are available. Hindi wikipedia should let people know about the options. eg by providing link at main page, help page, village pump etc.”

Another editor, Abisekpandey, weighed in by sharing several online tools to help writers convert their text from Roman to Devanagari characters, and Taxman quickly responded to recant his request

While Taxman continued to edit Hindi Wikipedia, spending much of his time correcting spelling and transliterating articles into Devanagari, he left the project in 2008, returning to edit only six times before disappearing from Hindi and English (where he had consistently edited since 2004, reaching the level of bureaucrat) in January 2011.

Bollywood Nights[edit]

Language issues would and do continue to make the geography of Hindi Wikipedia a difficult landscape to traverse. Nowhere is this more clear than within the pages that pertain to Hindi cinema, better known as Bollywood. On January 10, 2005 user Vijay Thakur created a page for Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai. [17] The Hindi page predates an English page on the actress, which was created as a stub just a few days later by an anonymous user. The two pages began very differently and have followed their own trajectories.

Rai was already well-known in India by the time her page was created, and the initial entry includes biographical information and the name of more than 20 of her major films.

For non-Hindi audiences Rai was just becoming known, and the first information on her English page was a reference to a 60 Minutes profile in which she was dubbed “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World,” a label that would continue to follow her in Western media. Quickly, the English page was expanded to include information about Rai’s personal life and career. The Hindi entry remained the same, content-wise, with edits including interwiki links and stylistic changes made primarily by bots. It would be December of 2006 before Mitul0520 made major changes to the Hindi page of one of India’s wealthiest and influential women. By this time the English page had nearly 2,500 edits (by September 2011 the page would climb to nearly 12,000 edits). Not only did the English page already contain more information than the Hindi page, but several familiar names from Hindi Wikipedia, Taxman and Utcursch, who never edited the Rai entry in Hindi, appear in the history of the Rai English page. In 2008 Taxman reverted a minor error made by a bot on Hindi Wikipedia. This was his only contribution to the page.

Of the now nearly 40 films listed on Rai’s page, nearly all of them are stubs, with infoboxes created by Manish Vashist, a user who created hundreds of Bollywood stub pages in his four years of editing. For several of the films there is no page at all on Hindi Wikipedia.

The article on another famous Indian actor, Amitabh Bachchan, uncovers a similar, though more involved evolution. Bachchan’s page was created very early in the life of Hindi Wikipedia, on December 13, 2004 by Vijay Thakur, one of the project’s first active editors. (Bachchan’s English Wikipedia page dates all the way back to September 5, 2001. This initial English page calls Bachchan, “the greatest Actor (mass appeal) in the History of mankind” [18] and the compliment was not removed until July 2002.)

Bachchan’s Hindi page grew steadily with information about his life and films added slowly. A May 2006 edit by an unregistered user saw a change in the spelling of Bachchan’s first name, the name of his son Abhishek, and several other words, but most of the introductions were misspellings that were later corrected. It is difficult to determine whether these changes were vandalism or good-hearted efforts. They are the only changes attributed to the IP address under which they were made. Some of the edits were reverted (and noted as vandalism) by DaGizza 20 days after they were made but it would take another month and the work of two editors, Tejas81 and Mitul0520, for all the edits to be undone.

Six months later Mitul0520 would return and reorganize the page into sections. Until June 2008 edits were mostly bot-driven and with a few manual spelling corrections scattered about. June was a busy month, with the addition of a list of Bachchan’s awards, as well as a sidebar about the actor in both English and Hindi.

In November of 2008, the biggest changes to the page were made. An editor with the name “Wiki enhi account” (this editor does not have a user page) again rearranged the content and added several paragraphs that appear to be translations from the English article. The user also deleted the awards list in favor of a template of the Bachman’s acting filmography that dates back to 1969 and includes nearly 150 films. Lists of his producer and singing credits were also added, both of these translations of the credits included on the English article. All three lists include the devanagari and roman titles of the film, with the former linked to Hindi Wikipedia articles (for those that exist) and the latter to English Wikipedia articles.

Wiki enhi account only logs 28 edits total, but this editor has helped shape an article that has had few major changes since his translated version of the English page was added to the already existing one. He made several extensive edits that included computer translations of English pages to the Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Gates and computer hardware pages.

Few Bollywood films are released with subtitles or in translation and therefore remain in Hindi and accessible only to Hindi audiences. The most complete information about these films within Wikipedia, however, is in English rather than Hindi. Accessing the information in either alphabet can prove difficult. Search for Aishwarya Rai on Hindi Wikipedia in roman characters and her entry appears fourth, below several lists created in late 2007 and early 2008. Two of these pages, of Hindi films of the 2000s [19] and famous Bollywood films [20] are in a combination of Hindi and English. The films of the 2000s is simply a chart with film names, directors, actors and genre. The vast majority of the links are to uncreated pages, though like Rai many of these actors do have pages, they’re merely ones that that are not linked to the romanized spellings of their names.

The page of famous Bollywood films, created by Ashish Bhatnagar, a user still active in September 2011, gives a brief synopsis, in English, of the top grossing and most critically acclaimed films of a given year. There are a few exceptions using romanized Hindi and devanagari Hindi. The work to translate the page was begun in October 2009 by Bawlachintu, who made 10 edits that day, including several that corrected the spelling and grammar of what is likely a bot translation. He never returned to the page. The remaining six edits, of which two were by bots, are all minor.

Amongst his many edits, Ashish Bhatnagar also began a page on the History of Indian Cinema, again in English and largely untouched by users other than bots. While Ashish Bhatnagar never finished adding to or translating these pages, which he began about four months after joining Hindi Wikipedia, today he is active as an administrator and responsible for thousands of edits on Hindi Wikipedia, including translations, adding images, redirecting pages and the creation of hundreds of articles on topics as wide ranging as science to geography to politics.


When tracing the trajectory of edits of any one editor, there are several pages that appear to attract the vast majority of active Hindi Wikipedia editors. While the edit histories of articles about Mahatma Gandhi, [21] Delhi [22] and Mumbai [23] are unique, their similarities shed light on the people who edit them. Delhi and Mahatma Gandhi were started on February 19, 2004 a little more than an hour apart by user Hemanshu, who would never return to these pages again despite his more than 1,000 edits on the project. Hemanshu did not create the page for Mumbai but would appear on December 31, 2004 to make three edits.

Hemanshu began editing English Wikipedia in November of 2003 and was the 11th user to sign up for Hindi Wikipedia, which he joined just three months later. His first day on English Wikipedia was spent on Mumbai and Mumbai related articles. Day two found him editing a page for Wikipedians called “Recovering from Wikipediholism.”[24] The page offers tips to editors that encourages them to edit without getting burnt out. Clearly Hemanshu realized and accepted his Wikipediholism almost immediately. His addiction would help to lay the foundation for Hindi Wikipedia where, in his first two days, he created more than 60 pages and made edits to dozens more. Most of these articles were places or pages relating to politics. They are also now some of the most complete pages on Hindi Wikipedia. The majority of this foundation is places and people relating to India, such as Indian states and cities or India related politics.

Immediately after creating an article on Mahatma Gandhi, Hemanshu created pages for Pakistan and former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf. Many of the pages created follow a logical stream of consciousness, with each page related to the next and the pages contain no information. The following three days Hemanshu spent time working on the main page and Wikipedia related pages for new users.

Hemanshu gives little information about himself on his user page but instead offers information to users about Wikipedia and reading Devanagari script. By contrast, his English Wikipedia user page tells us that he is a native speaker of English and Gujarati who is fluent in Hindi and Marathi. He is an engineer and mathematician who uses four programming languages.

Both the Delhi and Mahatma Gandhi pages remained untouched for five months until Spundun, another user active on English Wikipedia, came across the page while adding information about stubs and how to edit them to a variety of empty pages. Spundun’s work often finds him crossing paths with Hemanshu’s, though Spundun’s edits include more arts related pages in addition to geography and politics. Like Hemanshu, we learn little about Spundun from his Hindi user page but his English and Gujarati pages tell us that has been living in Los Angeles, working as a computer programmer. His major goal with Wikipedia is to include wide-ranging voices in the project by adding a “less western centric” view. Like many early users, Spundun’s focus has continued to be English Wikipedia, though his contributions to Hindi Wikipedia, which continued through 2008 and included everything from organizing and redirecting pages to adding images to correcting spelling, were vital in the early growth of the project.

While Hemanshu’s pages remained empty for months until Spundun’s additions, things began to speed up a bit in summer and fall of 2004. Much of this activity came with the return of Shree, the editor who created the original main page. Shree’s activity in the summer and fall of 2004 put him into contact not only with the work of Hemanshu and Spundun but the editors themselves. On July 27 Spundun introduced himself to Shree and invited him to an IRC chat with Spundun and Hemanshu. The next day Hemanshu nominated Shree as an administrator even though the conversation between Spundun and Shree makes it clear the IRC chat hadn’t yet happened. The administratorship became official on August 9. The next day Hemanshu made an edit to Shree’s user page and informed him that he must have one. Almost immediately he began to build one.

A few days prior, Shree added a page on Mumbai that would, by the end of the year, prove one example of many in which the three editors worked together directly and indirectly to create a small but information page. This article was not a translation of the English page, though Hemanshu worked on the English page about two months before it was created in Hindi. When Hemanshu was done with the page on the last day of 2004, about an hour before he made an edit to Mumbai’s English Wikipedia page, a beautiful image of Mumbai’s beach and skyline accompanied text that talked about Mumbai’s famous film industry, its name change from Bombay in 1995, and its early days in the kingdoms of King Ashoka in the 1500s and Bahadur Shah in the 1600s.

Whereas for articles on Mahatma Gandhi and Delhi, Shree, Hemanshu and Spundun were together responsible for a base upon which others would build (none of the three returned to edit these pages after 2004), the Mumbai article saw activity from a few other early users. Yann, Hindi Wikipedia’s second registered user, added links and categories to the page to connect it to the larger project and Hashar, a French Wikipedia user, used a bot to add categories and links, one of which changed Mumbai to Bombay in a Swedish interwiki link.

In 1995 Bombay officially changed its name to Mumbai. In practice both are used, which explains the French bot’s change. Swedish Wikipedia uses Bombay[25] and French Wikipedia redirects Mumbai to the page titled Bombay.[26] These linguistic conventions aren’t the only issue one might find on Hindi Wikipedia. Working on the article using Google translate brings up a quirky problem: the revision history page of Mumbai translates "मुम्बई" का अवतरण इतिहास to “New York” history rather than Mumbai history, as it should. Without the quotation marks Google translates the phrase correctly.

In fact, in the changes made my Hemanshu in December of 2004, the text of the article was changed so that the initial word said “Bombay” rather than “Mumbai,” saying that people in the city itself only use Bombay. Several spelling corrections were made to the page but the name Bombay stayed until Gajmukhu, an editor living in the United States who studied in Mumbai, changed it back in August 2006. The article’s talk page shows a discussion (in which Gajmukhu did not take part), beginning in July 2006 as to whether the page should say “Bombay” or “Mumbai.” Aside from the name discussion, 2006 was a busy year for the Mumbai page. Info boxes, images and maps were added by two users, Kumar Appaiah and Rak3sh, who would both prove to be very short term editors. Both editors made a handful of changes on two or three separate occasions, and made only a few other sporadic changes in 2007 and 2008. Kumar Appaiah’s talk page shows praise from Miltul0520 and Rak3sh’s talk page has a welcome template. Efforts were made to integrate these users into Hindi Wikipedia but neither became regular editors.

2006 was slow for Mahatma Gandhi and Delhi articles, as well, but 2007 saw a buildup of editors and bots on all three pages. Resonance Singh, Vijay Thakur, Wolf and Sumit Sinha begin to appear on these and many other pages. With these editors we see user pages that provide much more information about the editor and active talk pages. Where Spundun, Hemanshu and Shree struggled to form their small community, users in 2007 were encouraging one another to edit, asking for help and alerting administrators that their work may need to be checked. A friendly hierarchy seems to have been created with new users turning to veterans for advice. The socialization from other Indic language Wikipedias begins to bleed over as users comment about things said on Tamil, Gujarati and Marathi Wikipedia.

One Man’s Terrorist...[edit]

The momentum of 2007 was carried over into 2008, when even more editors got involved. It was only a matter of time before disagreements began to break out. Hindi Wikipedia did not itself have an infrastructure to deal with disputes, and because of the varying languages edited by users, those with conflict often did not know where to take their complaints. Much of the conflict revolved around the user Vkvora2001 and his expression of unorthodox opinions in inappropriate places. In 2007 Vkvora2001 was blocked from English Wikipedia for using article discussion pages as a forum to express his opinion on the topic, rather than their intended use of discussing the logistics of editing the article. He was warned and blocked numerous times throughout 2007 and into 2008.

In February 2008 a note appeared on the English Wikipedia page for user Jainjain calling Vkvora2001’s edits “terrorist activities.” The note, written by a Gujarati Wikipedia user called Dr. Jain states,

“I found some anti nations lines written by Mr. Vkvora2001 “ ईस मंदीर के नाश या सत्यानाश के लीये मुहम्मद गजनवी को अफघानीस्तान से आमंत्रीत करता हुं।“ all the members of wiki society are requested to stop this kind of anti India activities on the educational on line site. -- Dr. Jain ૧૬:૧૪, ૨૯ ફેબ્રુઆરી ૨૦૦૮”

The quote references the destruction of an ancient temple [27] by the 11th century Afghan ruler Mahmud of Ghanzi, [28] which was rebuilt after Indian independence and has been the center of much controvery. The passage appeared on Vkvora2001’s user page and therefore Dr. Jain was told that it was fine. Jain’s note is dated February 29, 2008. [29] The next day Vkvora2001 removed the passage from his page though there is no indication on either Hindi or English Wikipedia that the matter was discussed with him.

In March 2008 Vkvora2001 accused several Hindi Wikipedia administrators, Rajiv Mass, Purnima Varman and Manish Vashistha of harassing editors and misusing their administrative powers against those whom they harassed on Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and English Wikipedias. Vkvora2001’s complaint was posted throughout the Wikimedia community, including the Arbitration Enforcement noticeboard of English Wikipedia. [30] Vkvora2001 was scolded for this and told to stop spamming or he would be blocked. There are no records of the arbitration committee looking into the issue.

Jain continued to complain about Vkvora2001 throughout Hindi Wikipedia with a list of 13 transgressions. [31] Jain joined Hindi Wikipedia on February 29, 2008 – the same day he left the initial complaint on English Wikipedia – and his first edit was to the discussion page of the article on India’s Constitution, in which the same temple referenced on Vkvora2001’s user page was being discussed. Jain spent nearly all time from then on complaining about or attempting to argue with Vkvora2001. Jain’s last edit was on May 23, 2008 when it became clear his efforts were in vain.

The dispute caused Vkvora2001, who began editing in January 2008, to pull back from the project. He edited only his talk page in June of 2008 and again in January 2009. In August 2009 he returned, adding a welcome template to the talk pages of several new users. In late 2009 and September 2010 he again returned, though had little contact with anyone. By February 2011 he seemed ready to join the community, adding his email address to his page and letting others know he is there. As of yet he has not edited any pages and only Mayur has responded, welcoming him back.

It clear from the behavior and pattern that Jain was a sockpuppet account. Vkvora2001’s talk page, and earlier accusations point the finger at Rajeevmass, who has remained moderately active through today editing pages, welcoming new users and creating many new articles. Rajeevmass’ only edits that relate to the argument are the deletion of accusations against him from the talk pages of articles on the Indian festival of Holi and geotourism. These accusations that he set up a sockpuppet account were not signed or edited by Vkvora2001, rather by an unregistered IP address user. He also responded on the talk page of the constitution article to Vkvora2001, citing the same passage about temple destruction from Vkvora2001’s user page that Jain did in his initial complaint. Purnima Varman worked extensively on the Constitution article during the time of the debate but her only addition to the discussion focused on the possibility that the page may have been an auto-translation that needed a lot of work. It’s unclear who Manish Vashishta is.

That’s Epic! or to translate or not to translate, that is the question[edit]

While many pages successfully exist as translations or partial translations of English Wikipedia articles, such as the Taj Mahal, [32] articles that detail complex scientific or philosophical ideas become problematic when computerized translators are used. Composed almost entirely by Ashish Bhatnagar, the Hindi article on the Genome Project [33] contains very different information than the English article. [35] For a Hindi user, who would likely have been educated in English, the English version offers a different and deeper understanding of the subject. The Hindi article talks more about the history of the project rather than the complex scientific ideas behind it. It also includes a section on India’s own experiments, giving the article a local connection that isn’t necessarily of interest for a broader audience.

An early experiment with translation on the Mahabharata article demonstrates the issue of translation. In December 2004 Vijay Thakur built a basic page from the existing English page by translating small sections at a time. The speed at which he added the translated sections, and the spelling and grammatical errors within, show that the page was built through auto-translation. A user, Dev, who edited only the main page and Mahabharaa page in December 2004, removed nearly all the text. Whether this was done as vandalism or with the intention of rewriting the text is unclear. The change was reverted and the page remained until 2006. That year major cleanup work of spelling, structure and style, but not content, were undertaken.

It was not until the end of 2010 that major changes began to be seen, beginning with Mayur’s reorganization of the page. While shifting the order of the contents Mayur also added information and images. Each addition was small, a sentence here or there, but the changes made mostly by Mayur, Rohit Rawat and Resonance Singh between March 2010 and May 2010 begin to form the page in a way that represents a perspective on the Mahabharata that is not western-centric. In early May the work shifted from editing the page to a discussion about the nature of the text. [34] Was it, as is commonly assumed in the West, a religious text or instead a historical one? The question is important because it reflects a worldview shift in which the article is no longer the original description of the text but a deeper investigation of how that text fits into the world.

This debate never occurred on the English article, though a discussion* about the prominence of a Greek claim that the Mahabharata was a Sanskrit translation of the Illiad occurred in English around the same time.[35] From June 2010 to the present the Hindi page has continued to be edited by users such as Mayur and Ashish Bhatnagar and a series of bots. Despite its roots as an English translation the two pages split and have resulted in two very different sets of information.

Present day[edit]

With more than 100,000 pages of content and 52,000 registered users Hindi Wikipedia continues to be strong. New pages, such as the one for the activist Anna Hazare [36] who recently made headlines around the world with his anti-corruption protests, are created as new events take place. Hazare’s page was added in March 2011, as his prominence began to rise. At the height of news coverage surrounding his arrest and subsequent protests in mid-August, the article saw nearly 100 edits. Most of these were by Aniruddha, a user who has approximately 9,000 edits under his belt, despite his relatively recent starting date of September 2009.

Some users, such as Mayur, are active in the social sphere of Hindi Wikipedia, attending meetups and welcoming new members, while other, like Aniruddha, rarely join user talk page discussions, choosing instead to focus their work on content and give little indication about who they are.

Initially, pages were focused on India and India-related topics such as art, sports, literature and politics. Science and math was quickly added, likely because of the high rate of science and math trained editors. As word about Hindi Wikipedia spread pages in places with high populations of Indian expatriates began to appear.

Moving Forward[edit]

The biggest challenge facing Hindi Wikipedia is a combination of access and culture. Urban Indians have access to the internet but this access is dominated by roman lettered keyboards. Technology has made it easier for a computer user to type in devanagari, but the default is still roman. Culturally, English is the dominant language of education in urban areas. Rural Indians use Hindi or their local language more, but this knowledge is often passive literacy, in which the speakers understand and can read the language but cannot write in it. Their access to technology is slowly growing, but a culture of using the internet for research rather than as a communication tool does not yet exist.


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. [4]
  5. [5]
  6. [6]
  7. The user will be assumed to be male for the purposes of this report if no gender is indicated. This is because studies have shown that Wikipedia editors tend to be male
  8. [7]
  9. [8]
  10. [9]
  11. [10]
  12. Both मुख पृष्ठ and मुखपृष्ठ translate to homepage and both are found widely across the internet
  13. [11]
  14. [12]
  15. [13]
  16. [14]
  17. [15]
  18. [16]
  19. [17]
  20. [18]
  21. [19]
  22. [20]
  23. [21]
  24. [22]
  25. [23]
  26. [24]
  27. [25]
  28. [26]
  29. [27]
  30. [28]
  31. [29]
  32. [30]
  33. [31]
  34. [32]
  35. [33]
  36. [34]