21 years ago on 3rd June 2002, Punjabi Wikipedia in the Gurmukhi script was started as a domain but the first articles came in around January 2005. It was only in the beginning of the 2010s that a community started forming around the project. As of June 2012, there were only about 2000 articles on the project but in 2014, it became the fastest-growing Indic-language Wikipedia by adding 8,000 articles in one year.1
“Punjabi language is divided among two scripts and two Wikipedias but we still see a collaboration among the communities. New content created in Gurmukhi is quickly transliterated in Shahmukhi and sometimes vice versa. We need to foster this collaboration further.”Charan Gill, the highest contributor on the Punjabi Wikipedia, who has written about 23% articles on the project.
After a period of slowdown during the pandemic, the entire community came together for Mission 50,000, a call-for-action to reach 50k articles, in order to celebrate the 21st birthday of Punjabi Wikipedia. The 50,000th article created on the project is about a soap-like powder made from a bush that has been used for cleaning clothes in Punjab, which doesn’t have an equivalent in other languages. This article has been created by 16-year old User:Harry sidhuz, who joined the project a couple years back.
Pageviews on Punjabi Wikipedia have grown ~32 times from an average of 100k views per month back in 2008 to an average of 3.3M views per month in 2023.2
On the other hand, the Punjabi community organized itself and became the first User Group in India in 2015 and led the local organization of WikiConference India 2016. Many members of the community participated and engaged in the recently organized WikiConference India 2023, for which Punjabi Wikimedian Nitesh Gill was the Conference Lead.
“We are a small community but our contributions and acitivities show that even a small number of committed individuals can make a big difference.”Nitesh Gill, the only female admin on Punjabi Wikipedia
Due to the efforts of Wikimedians like her, Punjabi Wikipedia is today one of the rarest Wikipedias as out of all the biographies on the project, 52.8% of are about females, compared to the 18.5% of the female biographies on English Wikipedia.3
The community faces a lot of technical challenges, especially around templates and tools. We seek help about such questions on the Wikimedia General chat on Telegram. It is lovely to get the support from the larger community and encouragement to continue asking for it.
“I really love how the people from the Punjabi Wikipedia keep asking technical questions here. That’s the right thing to do. I wish more people from more languages did it.”Amir Aharoni wrote in the Telegram group
Besides the technical challenges, we are still struggling to create on-wiki policies around content and contribution. For example, policies around what would constitute a Good article in our context or a formal policy around non-free content on the site.
“We should reflect and create a future plan. If possible, during an offline event. A few things we should discuss are; the quality of the articles, creating a platform for the skill development of newbies, and collaboration among different Wikimedia projects. We should also think about bringing new volunteers from different cities of Punjab.”Mulkh Singh, a veteran Wikimedian, wrote in the Punjabi Wiki WhatsApp group
“I think we need some advanced tools and bots to help with clean-up and possible copyright violations.”Kuldeep Singh, 24-year old, who recently became an admin on Punjabi Wikipedia after having actively contributing to both the content and the technical aspects of the project since September 2022
It is encouraging to see that there is a group of diligent newbies who have joined the project in the recent years. Some of these contributors started contributing to Wikipedia after spending a few years transcribing texts on Punjabi Wikisource. One such contributor, Tamanpreet Kaur, joined Punjabi Wikisource in 2018 when she was just 13-year old. After thousands of edits on the Wikisource, she started actively contributing to Punjabi Wikipedia in March 2022. Now, she is the fourth highest article creator on the project with ~2400 articles.
Finally, as we plan to continue building upon the work so far, I would like to express my gratitude to all the current and the former volunteers who have contributed to this project. The complete list of contributors with further details can be accessed at wikiscan.
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