Interviewing the Interviewer: A Diff exclusive with Hindi-Urdu Wikimedian Syed Muzammiluddin

In a rare turn of events, the team that supports Diff, had the opportunity to interview Muzammil (User:Hindustanilanguage) to learn more about his work in the movement. For those of you who have yet to meet Muzammil, he’s a long-time contributor – both as a Wikimedian and an interviewer of fellow Wikimedians.

Muzammil started as an IP editor in 2004 where his initial focus was to correct the small typos and grammatical edits. After getting his National Eligibility Test for Lectureship qualification in Business Management around 2010 he started to find that Wikipedia articles offered a vast ocean of knowledge which surpassed the syllabus requirements and thus helped him to pass the examinations!

He later served as a lecturer teaching to students of healthcare management and Pharmacy for a few years. Muzammil says, “In order to get myself more acquainted with the health-related issues during this period as well as to better understand the global implication of HIV/ AIDS, I pursued a diploma in HIV and Family Education. I am happy to state that Wikipedia information not only helped to better my understanding of many of the medical and sociological interventions mentioned in the course, but it was also helpful in securing a gold medal in IGNOU’s convocation at its headquarters in Delhi.”

On Diff and past incarnations of Wikimedia blogs he’s interviewed many other contributors, but no one has ever interviewed him! So,we thought, let’s do something about that. 

Q: Muzammil, who are you?

I consider myself as a simple Indian guy in the field of education who strongly believes in the dissemination of free knowledge and maintenance of multilinguistic societies. Prior to my contributions on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, I contributed to articles to websites such as Hindinest.com, Boloji.com and the now defunct Urdustan.com website, the first Urdu language website online. I even had my own multilingual blog in English, Hindi and Urdu as well as web pages on Yahoo! GeoCities to facilitate people learning Hindi and Urdu.

Q: Ok, let’s make this interview even more Meta. How would other Wikimeidans describe you?

I guess that most of them would consider me as a friendly fellow editor. Aside from my personal contributions, I have often supported efforts to ease and improve the conditions of fellow editors. For example, I was instrumental in mooting the idea and preparing the blueprint of the first Hindi Wiki Sammelan (Conference) in 2015 and I also scripted a 10-video Hindi tutorial on editing Hindi Wikipedia which serves as a useful guide to any new editor of Hindi Wikipedia.

Learn to edit Hindi Wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0

My Urdu Wikipedia colleagues might remember me for helping to hold the first ever Urdu Wikipedia workshop. As well as first-time project collaboration with Ukrainian, Chinese, and Hebrew Wikipedians. 

Q: You’re known for your many profiles of other people. What draws you to interviewing?

I am glad to have interviewed or profiled Wikimedians from all kinds of backgrounds. From English to Hindi and Urdu, from Korean to Latvian. As a humble volunteer myself, I believe that the least thing we can do with respect to many of our high profile contributors is to at least recognize their sincere efforts in the form of a profile blog.

Q: Tell us about a project you worked on this year that had implications for the larger movement.

During the last one year or so, I have worked on a number of projects. However, one particular project I have been working has been covering the #MeToo Movement. It is unfortunate that English Wikipedia has focused the articles on a few countries like India, China, South Korea and Pakistan to date. I personally feel that this movement against sexual harassment against women at the workplace is a global movement and we need more articles on its manifestation in many other countries. I have written a few articles on this subject in both Urdu and Hindi Wikipedia and I intend to further expand information with articles on other countries as well. 

In an article on the #MeToo movement in Nepal, an activist made an interesting remark that the movement failed to make significant headway in the country despite being apologetic towards the victims. On the other hand, the movement in Slovenia gained additional momentum thanks to the backing of an organization called March 8 Institute. We rarely discuss about Mongolian culture in the general feminist discussions, but an important development to note about the country is that the movement there has been highly impactful as highlighted by the fact that a parliamentarian was forced to resign following allegations of sexual assault at the start of the movement in 2017. 

Similarly, my Wikipedia article on the movement in Iran highlights how boastful utterances of a perpetrator on the social media about his uncalled for sexual encounters not only led to a direct confrontation with the victims in the form of scornful and despising posts from many of his victims, but also resulted in a first time open invitation from the capital city’s police chief to register their complaints as well as drafting of the legislation outlawing sexual violence and harassment of women at workplace by the parliament.

I believe that work in this area will be of help for Wikipedians and online information seekers in understanding the underlying causes of this movement, the concomitant problems and also evaluate the success in each country in a pragmatic manner.  

Q What’s one skill you have that you think is important to contributing?

I think every Wikimedia project is unique and it is important for any user to understand this while making any contribution. For example, Neutral Point of View (NPOV) is a key characteristic of any Wikipedia article. On the other hand, Wikimedia Commons is open to user image uploads which can possibly be used for article-creation or thematic representation within existing articles. A Commons user needs to very well understand that the project is not a social media platform like Facebook where vacation and wedding pictures can also be unhesitatingly showcased.

Q: How would you describe volunteering to someone not familiar with Wikipedia?

We need to offer them support and encouragement to ensure that the initial enthusiasm shown is retained for a long time to come. I have interacted with many students and professionals during the workshops and other personal interactions. I feel great that these individuals have a tremendous zeal and potential to contribute to Wikipedia. 

Q: What are you wanting to work on next?

I would like to continue contributing on Wikipedia on many emerging topics in the areas of business management, medicine and healthcare, linguistics as well as on women’s issues.


If you want to learn more about Muzammil, take a look at his user page, drop him a note on this talk page, or take a look at his past interviews. I’d like to thank Muzammil for his time in preparing for the interview and all his contributions to the movement. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.