What do oscar fish, the capital of Surinam, and the Arunachalesvara Temple have in common?

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Meet Meenakshi, a Malayalam Wikipedia admin and April’s Celebrated Wikimedian

Jalajamoni, better known by her username as Meenakshi nandhini (in Malayalam) in the Indic Wikimedia community, is a prolific editor and administrator on Malayalam Wikipedia. This month, Wikimedia is celebrating her exceptional contributions to our movement. 

Meenakshi first noticed Malayalam Wikipedia when she and her daughter were browsing the internet to learn about medicinal plants. Malayalam is spoken by more than 34 million people in India and millions more in diaspora. Meenakshi found that Malayalam Wikipedia had a wealth of information as well as  knowledge gaps, and this intrigued her, prompting her to start editing, and she hasn’t stopped since.

Her first edit was on 4th November 2017 and she eventually became a dedicated contributor and admin on Malayalam Wikipedia. Meenakshi is proud to have written 8,762 articles in Malayalam and 25 in English, and has some edits on Wikisource and Wikidata as well. The first article she worked on, Paramaribo (in original Malayalam), became featured on Malayalam Wikipedia. She read more, edited more, and participated in different contests and campaigns, like the Wikipedia Asian Month and multiple 100wikidays challenges. Feeling lonely at home, Meenakshi would sometimes be on Wikipedia from morning to evening, at one point writing 25 articles in a day. Two other of her most favourite featured articles are the oscar fish (original Malayalam) and the Arunachalesvara Temple (original Malyalam). Scientific articles, healthcare, women’s biographies, and articles related to history, botanical plants and paintings are among her favourites. 

When asked what motivates her to contribute so much, Meenakshi responded “Wikipedia is a treasure for the future. Spending an hour on Wikipedia can benefit millions.”

a yellow barnstar leaving a yellow trail as it flys through a white background.

Meenakshi sees that among editors in her community, some are quick to tag articles for maintenance and improvement. She invites more to take up the challenge to help write and improve. She proudly shares that her articles are rarely tagged for improvement and if they are, she would fix them immediately. Related challenges in her project are machine-translated articles and one-sentence stubs with few active editors to help fix and improve. At the moment, there are few active admins in the Malayalam community, and she hopes that with greater outreach and more offline activities, as well as online ones, her community can thrive and grow.

Historically, contests and campaigns have helped to bring in new editors to her community, but not without challenges either, and retaining editors in general is difficult in many communities in the movement. Meenakshi has also seen how politics and polemics instead of verifiability and neutrality can contribute to a rhetoric of mistrust against Wikipedia. In her community, she tries to stay clear of personal narratives and polarized articles.

Like a true Wikimedian with many hats, Meenakshi is a pharmacist by profession and runs a pharmaceutical shop in her hometown near Trivandrum, Kerala, India. Her daughter (Monusha) is also an active Wikimedian in Malayalam nearing the completion of her PhD in biotechnology. Her mother is very proud.

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