Uzbek Wikipedia, with more than 239,000 articles, is the largest Wikipedia in a Central Asian languages and one of the fastest growing Wikipedias as well. It sees more than 12 million pageviews per month, and it is the only language version of Wikipedia in the Central Asian area that is the most popular in its country at least for a part of the year. In Central Asia, Russian is a lingua franca, and a widely spoken language.
Uzbek Wikipedia has been featured in 2022 for its WikiStipendiya contest and the various related acts to it, which ushered the arrival of a large new generation of dedicated contributors that continue to contribute even today. While previously Uzbek had approximately 300 active users, now Uzbek has stabilised to around 650 to 700, with further growth expected for this year. Also, pageviews have been rising, reaching 10.6 million in June. The community has solidified its position, and their user group is active as well. The contest was inspired from a 2019 presidential decree to increase the presence of Uzbek on the internet, and has helped to increase the presence of Uzbek language on the internet. Reflecting the youthful population of Uzbekistan (median age is 29.1 years), most of the contributors are in a generally young age.
I decided to interview a few participants to give the readers and the community a view on the changes that have happened in Uzbek Wikipedia since the inception of the contest.
Now, let’s meet some notable Uzbek Wikipedians that began to contribute in 2022.
At first I interviewed Panpanchik, university student in Tashkent. She joined Wikipedia in May 18, 2022, in the countdown to the beginning of the WikiStipendiya marathon. Talking about her first days on Wikipedia, she recalls that she wrote new articles in Uzbek Wikipedia, and then she attended the first WikiCamp in Bo’stonliq (where the Youth Affairs Agency camping site is located), in Tashkent region, where she learned the secrets of the good article creation and continued to edit till today (as many participants of the contest). Like many other Wikipedians of Uzbek language that began their journey on Wikipedia during the times of WikiStipendiya, she uploads photos in Commons and edits in Wiktionary as well.
She is a member of the Wikimedians of the Uzbek Language User Group, and she’s familiar with all active users. For her, the marathon was a good opportunity to make new friends, and retains a warm relationship with the team of Wikipedia in Uzbek. She knows almost all Wikipedia administrators very well and they are kind to her, and as per Panpanchik’s words, there’s “a very hot climate in Uzbek”.
When asked about how Uzbek Wikipedia has been improved after the WikiStipendiya contest of 2022, she opines that many people understood what Wikipedia is, learned to create articles, and the number of active editors increased. Before the marathon, she was also reluctant to use Wikipedia as a resource because it lacked sufficient and necessary content (I note here that a larger than today amount of articles were direct copies of the state encyclopedia, which is often flawed and outdated). Now this has increased the possibility of obtaining the necessary information. But still some articles need editing. Articles of many famous people and cities have not been created. Not all articles about historical places in Uzbekistan are included in Wikipedia. It is planned to create articles about Uzbekistan during the WikiTour, she tells to me, a project which started on June 1st. Hereby I must note that WikiTour is part of WikiStipendiya 2.0 contest, which is going to give emphasis in quality improvement, in the improvement of Uzbek Wikipedia, in the article creation about Uzbekistan not only in Uzbek but also in English, Russian, German, French, Spanish and many other languages.
On her opinion, there isn’t a feature particular to Uzbek Wikipedia. In her words, it’s just that the Uzbek community discuss everything very strongly, sometimes it can lead to quarrels. Also, due to the allocation of funds by the state and the decisions of our president on the development of Wikipedia, the Uzbek language Wikipedia has developed very quickly. In reality, WikiStipendiya is the first time that the state directly aids the boosting of a Wikipedia.
I decided to include an interesting Wikipedian, Muzaffar Turgunov, who contributes to Kazakh and Uzbek Wikipedias. He hails from Urta Chirchik district, close to Tashkent, and he’s an ethnic Kazakh. He is studying in the Medical Academy of South Kazakhstan in Shymkent in Kazakhstan. He was wondering how Wikipedia can be edited when he was 15, joining Wikipedia when the contest began. Much like Panpanchik he also argues that he has made new friends through the project of WikiStipendiya, and that thanks to the contest more people will be able to read on Uzbek and not in a foreign language. When asked for negative aspects in Uzbek Wikipedia, he cites the existence of many stubs, and a lack of “air for new users”, as he tells. He also supports increased collaboration with other Turkic languages.
Lastly, I included Jahongir Boboyev, a major contributor in Uzbek Wikipedia, and the winner of the first prize in the 2022 contest, which amounted to 50,000,000 soms (around 3,980 euros). He is a fifth year student of Tashkent Medical Academy and began to contribute in Wikipedia in May 2022. In real life he is an assistant doctor, and he learned about Wikipedia through a social media post and the educative videos posted by the community. He asserts that the community is not very large in size, but the common goal of developing Uzbek Wikipedia is uniting them all, claiming that the Uzbek community has became a “family” and Uzbek Wikipedia has rose to 1st place in Central Asia and 44th worldwide.
Boboyev also tells me that thanks to the contest, the number of users has increased, while users can find the article they are looking for, while the community grows, although some have left. He feels happy for winning the prize, and his purpose in Wikipedia is to increase the coverage of medical articles in Uzbek.
Uzbek Wikipedia has continued to have remarkable growth, given that it has continued to have around to 600-700 active users throughout the months that have followed the conduct of the first contest. Uzbek Wikipedia had the first place in Uzbekistan in April and May, as well in February, this year. Uzbek Wikipedia is expected to continue rising, expected to surpass Russian year round in around 2025-26 the latest, based in the current pageviews trends. Also the users of the WikiStipendiya generation have been very active participants in the affairs of Uzbek Wikipedia, and two have been already have been granted admin rights after the community vote.
This year’s WikiStipendiya is focusing on Uzbekistan, at first on articles about Fergana valley, then about Buxoro and Navoiy provinces. It has been equally successful, with more than 600 articles being written about the country, from more than 25 users. The organisers have made a shift in quality this year, with many more activities being planned on this year, among others a project to translate Uzbekistan-related articles in foreign languages, as well a continuation of WikiOromgoh. Concluding, Uzbek Wikipedia has given us a very significant lesson: if we collaborate together, we can build a very great project.
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