Kannada is one of the major languages spoken in Southern India. The Kannada Wikipedia started in June 2003 and the twelfth most popular Wikipedia in the Indian subcontinent.
As of May 2020, it has 26,175 articles with 148 active users. Many from the Kannada community also contribute to Tulu Wikipedia, which is a new and upcoming Indian language community. It’s a close-knit community with members often overlapping between the two.
|Page edits since Wikipedia was set up
|Registered users (list of members)
|Active users (list of members) (Users who have performed an action in the last 30 days)
|Bots (list of members)
|Administrators (list of members)
|Interface administrators (list of members)
|Bureaucrats (list of members)
|IP block exemptions (list of members)
|All content pages in Words
Status of behavioural policies in the community
Kannada Wikipedia has policies on Neutrality, Deletion rules, image use strategy, verifiability, usage of bots, copyright infringement among others. Almost all of the policies listed are ‘content’ policies and not ‘conduct’. Notably, policies on harassment and ‘no personal attacks’ are absent. It can be observed that all of the policy pages have been created and edited by almost entirely by male editors. This indicates a gap in the representation of female voices.
I reached out to the community primarily through the networking methods. I initially reached out to people I know within the community, who then connected me to others. It helped that I knew an active Kannada editor through my gender gap related work. She helped me connect with many editors from the community. I also put up a post on Kannada Wikipedia’s village pump space. However, I didn’t get much response there.
The response from directly approaching people through personal references by email was most helpful for me. More than 80%. However, trying to have people engage with the policy on village pump was poor. I ensured that the person I wrote to had at least one person in common. It added to the trustworthiness. Also, personal contact references helped.
Most users did not know about UCoC though they were familiar with the concept of code of conduct since they had attended events that had event-specific Code of Conduct. However, most people, especially the women in the community supported the idea of UCoC. However, they wanted a translation of UCoC policies so that they could have more internal discussions about the policy. They also wanted a direct face to face outreach activity about UCoC since not many people know about it.
Male editors I spoke with did not feel that there was a problem of gender gap and said that women enjoy favouritism as far as conferences are concerned because they are often given a preference to men. The women I spoke to, reported facing harassment from other male members in the community. Two of them told me that some men continue the harassment despite complaints. So much so that some of them have stopped complaining because they feel it makes no difference.
A couple of community members said that newcomers are often made to feel unwelcome by rapid deletion of their articles. One woman mentioned that she faced targeted harassment by another editor because of repeated instances of deletion of articles written by newcomers who have attended edit-a-thons organised by her. Another community organiser mentioned how a few female students she knew felt insulted when their articles - that they created as a part of the edit-a-thon were deleted so rapidly. The user said many new editors feel proud of their first work and inform their friends and family about it. But when that work gets immediately deleted, they get upset. Many of them lose interest in Wikipedia after such experience.
Another editor, who has also had an opportunity to work with different Indian language communities said one of the many reasons for rapid deletion is because active Wikipedians begin to lose patience with repeated violations of Wikipedian content policies. This results in not being able to distinguish the difference between genuine mistakes and special projects organised by/for the marginalised groups on the platform.
Most of the discussions in the community take place at the Village Pump. However, some people who are both members of Kannada and Tulu language Wikipedia communities (living in the same city) meet on a weekly/monthly basis where they discuss common issues. More than 2-3 people said that they would like a direct relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation.
One of the concerns regarding the implementation of UCoC was that cultural nuances will be lost. And that it will be seen as a set of rules and not as a set of guidelines. There was a concern that the argumentative nature of a Wikipedian should not be affected by UCoC. One of them emphasised: “Being argumentative is different from being rude.” Most of them stated that they would need more control vis-a-vis the implementation of UCoC.
One editor who did not support the idea felt that UCoC is only necessary to prevent favouritism during contests. Otherwise, it isn’t needed because theirs is a very friendly community. They also denied the existence of a gender gap and insisted that only those who are interested in updating Wikipedia, join.
The members I spoke with in the Kannada community reported that the community in general has a lot of people quietly doing their work. They have all largely indicated their support for the policy. However, it seems that not many people debate and discuss policies in their midst. Hence, there was a request for people to get face to face interactions regarding UCoC. Some of them also feel that among Indic languages, people who edit in Hindi or Punjabi get more attention than people editing in Kannada and they do think that it is fair.