February 21st holds significant importance for the over 300 million Bengali-speaking people around the world. On this day in 1952, several young people were martyred when the police opened fire during a movement to establish Bengali as one of the state languages in East Pakistan. As per the United Nations’ decision on November 17th, 1999, this day is now celebrated worldwide every year as International Mother Language Day.
Despite being the fifth-largest language in the world in terms of mother tongue, Bengali Wikipedia lags behind in terms of active users. One contributing factor to this disparity is the socio-economic context of Bangladesh and West Bengal in India, although we won’t explore this in detail in this blog post. While Bengali Wikipedia is ranked 63rd in terms of the number of articles, it’s important to note that the number of articles alone isn’t an accurate measure of a Wikimedia project’s quality. Many Wikipedia projects use bots to create articles, which isn’t the case for Bengali Wikipedia. Nevertheless, the number of articles on Bengali Wikipedia should ideally be proportionate to the native-speaking population.
Despite Bengali Wikipedia achieving the milestone of one lakh articles on December 25, 2020, the community has not focused solely on increasing the number of articles. Instead, the community has been actively working towards improving the quality of existing articles. To this end, the community has undertaken various initiatives, such as raising awareness through online and offline events, wiki-chats, and edit-a-thons focused on completing small articles instead of creating new ones. Additionally, the community has made an effort to reject 1-2 line articles in the main namespace. It’s worth noting that Bengali Wikipedia is ranked sixth in terms of article depth, which indicates that our quality initiatives have been successful to some extent.
In celebration of Language Month, Wikimedia Bangladesh hosts an annual article-writing competition called Amar Ekushey Article Contest. The theme for this competition is “Let’s put the things we love, in our own language.” One notable aspect of the contest is the creation of relatively lengthy articles. In previous years, new articles were written for the competition. However, starting in 2021, the focus shifted to upgrading existing articles. Given that Bengali Wikipedia has relatively few active users, incomplete articles tend to remain unfinished or neglected. However, the competition has helped resolve this issue to some extent. Participants in the competition have been able to enhance the quality of short or substandard articles that are of significant importance.
The Amar Ekushey Article Writing Contest for 2023 began on February 1st this year. As of writing this post, around 400 users have shown interest in participating in the competition. The contest will continue until March 31st. The organizers, reviewers, and participants all have high hopes that this year’s competition will be a great success through the collective efforts of everyone involved.
If you’re interested in learning more about the contest, you can visit the contest link at https://bn.wikipedia.org/s/pfsr.
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