Ganesh Paudel, a journalist from Nepal, began contributing to English Wikipedia in 2004 as a way to disseminate accurate information about the politics in his country. After discovering that Wikipedia was available in his own language, he realized the immense potential that the online encyclopedia has for developing content for languages that are underrepresented online.
Beginning with an entry on his village, Paudel aimed at increasing the amount of content available in Nepalese Wikipedia, which had 2,500 articles at the time he started. “When I joined, I thought many things, many topics are lacking there, so I didn’t know from where they start,” said Paudel. “So I just started from making introduction about many places and villages of my country.”
In a country as diverse as Nepal, Paudel had the challenge of creating and overseeing content in multiple languages. He explained that such material online would otherwise be sorely missed without Wikipedia. “There are more than 120 living languages,” he said, “So if a very small user base for a language can find their content in any online or Internet site, then they are very happy and that helps to develop their culture and their many things and it helps them to introduce themselves to the rest of the world.”
Paudel credits the open and collaborative nature at the heart of Wikipedia for being the source of increased content in Nepalese. “The most beautiful thing of Wikipedia is it is open source and anybody can use and reuse the content,” he said. “I found many Wikipedians are interested in writing about their own stories and their surroundings and the things of their interest.”
Given his background as a journalist, Paudel originally struggled with the thought of collaborating with other users, instead opting to write complete articles on his own. “I just focused to write full articles,” he explained. “But, afterwards, I learned that one person can’t write a full article. The editing is always open in Wikipedia, so after that I just started with an intro, and many people began to contribute on it.”
Paudel hopes that the growth of the Nepalese Wikipedia can be recreated with other minority languages of Nepal. Already, Paudel has overseen the creation of Wikipedia for three additional languages spoken in the country.
“There are also nearly eight languages on pipeline that are in incubation and the communities are interested to bring out those languages from incubation, so long live Wikipedia!” he exclaimed.
Profile by Darrin Fox, Communications Intern, Wikimedia Foundation
Interview by Victor Grigas, Visual Storyteller, Wikimedia Foundation
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