Odia Wikisourcer Pankajmala Sarangi shares her experience and future plans to grow the community. Video by Pankajmala Sarangi (original video) and Subhashish Panigrahi (post production), freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
The most active editor on the Odia Wikisource is Pankajmala Sarangi, a native of Odisha who now lives in New Delhi, where she works at a non-profit. As a leader in a broad community that is dominated by males—indeed, she is the most active contributor to the Odia-language Wikisource—we asked her to share her journey and her goals to grow the project and community as part of the “WikipediansSpeak” interview series.
What is the community like on the Odia Wikisource?
Pankajmala feels that the community is like her home. “I can’t tell how happy I am after seeing that this one year-old project has already digitized over 200 books. With more and more youth coming on the internet, the internet won’t disappoint them when the type and search in Odia language.”
What are projects that you would like to start or get help from the existing community to grow?
- Forming expert /resource groups to increase the thematic group structure in the community so that each group could work collaboratively for specific goals.
- We can also create groups through the help of the resident welfare associations in Odisha cities where Odia WikiTungis (in Odia Wikimedia community city based informal groups have been started that actively organize outreach and engage with new Wikimedians) are already working. They can work hand-in-hand. This will help us expand this program to more new places.
- We can tie up with basic computer training institutes where their students and new Wikimedians who do not have access to computer/internet could learn about Odia Wikipedia editing as a vocational training. These institutes remain idle during day time and get busy after 4 pm as schools and college students come to learn about computer basics after their class hours.
- One idea could be involving veterans whose expertise could help improve the quality of the articles which is otherwise going in vain after retirement. Post retirement life is otherwise lonely and many feel worthless who could enjoy the company of many new friends. The senior citizens groups could train new Wikimedians using these institutional facilities.
- Summer vacation Wikipedia outreach for school/college students:
- It has became mandatory in all private schools and colleges to do voluntary work for a few hours every day for six months to finish up a program. We can ask these private institutions to include editing and contributing to Odia Wikipedia and other Odia Wikimedia projects in their syllabus. They would not only get Wikipedians as facilitators without spending any money but will become part of such a global and multilingual group. We can involve students for both editing Wikipedia articles, and digitizing and correcting typos and other mistakes on Odia Wikisource. If a manual with the above details is available then it would be better to refer it while working. When we are discussing something in our community then the users (who are eligible for giving suggestions) should automatically get a message saying your suggestion/input is required on this (with that link to the page).
- According to a 2011 survey, Wikipedia editors are only about nine percent female. The Wikisource statistics is not yet known, but I would theorize that it is similar. How do you think we could bridge this gap in Odia?
- What are your personal plans to build a community for Odia Wikisource in New Delhi?
We surely have less women. We could reorient our current work to bring in a few other aspects like more focused outreach in women’s college and schools, creating a network of women who are interested to contribute to Wikimedia projects, making Twitter lists and Facebook groups for women for more friendly conversation and support, inviting and involving more women participants in Wikimedia outreach. I also wonder how we can gift the top contributors some gifts as a token of appreciation. We could also organize field trips for them to a public library, museum or art gallery so that they get to see how Wikimedia projects could grow by imbibing available resources.
Well, I think I would work on creating a database of all the Odia speakers living in New Delhi and the city organizations that work in propagating Odia language and culture, and plan Wikisource outreach programs for them.