Introducing the Karakalpak Wikipedia, a new, developing project

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Karakalpak language is spoken natively by around 900,000 people, mostly in the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan in the northwest part of Uzbekistan. It is a Turkic language, belonging to the Kipchak group. Karakalpak became standalone Wikipedia in 26 May 2008, and spent periods of low activity until 2022, when the WikiStipendiya editathon for Uzbek Wikipedia, not only spurred rapid growth for Uzbek Wikipedia, but also led to the revitalisation of the Karakalpak language project as ethnic Karakalpak people and people knowing the language began to contribute in the project, leading to its revitalisation.

As I am interested in developing communities, and particularly in areas like Africa and Central Asia, I decided to interview Inabat from Karakalpak Wikipedia to learn more about the interesting project. Karakalpak Wikipedia is an interesting example of a nascent but developing community, so here there’s an opportunity to learn more about it.

Minor additions by the interviewer are marked with italic letters.

Now, let’s begin with the classic question: introduce briefly yourself.

My name is Inabat, a 22-year-old wikipedian, I mainly edit in Kaawiki which means Karakalpak Wikipedia. What I really like about Wikipedia is my great enthusiasm for making or creating templates on Kaawiki.

That’s great. How did you met Wikipedia, and then Karakalpak?

About a year ago, I attended the first WikiStipendiya camp in Uzbekistan which was organised by Youth Affairs Agency in Bustonliq (a city in eastern Uzbekistan, where the Youth Affairs Agency operates a camping site for young people, and Wikipedia camps have taken place there). Before that I had no idea about Wikipedia, about how to write articles, or even just what is an encyclopedic article. During the first camp, for my fortune, Nodir Ataev was appointed as a trainer for the group where I was, and after having found out my nationality there (my nationality is Karakalpak) he asked me “Why don’t you contribute to the development of Kaawiki?”. Then I responded with surprise: “Really? Do we have a Wikipedia in our native language?” I have met lots of friends in the camp, and even now, we keep in touch with them.

Comment by the interviewer: Quite interesting. I know him, he’s a good Wikipedian and have proposed some ideas to him to further the efficacy of WikiStipendiya, which includes investing more in Qaraqalpaq too as well.

How is the size of the community there? Generally, how is the situation of Karakalpak wikipedia now? Has it improved since you came? How is the community dynamics? Growing or stable?

Just, 2 or 3 people are know contributing to it. Previously it hadn’t much, but has recovered a little bit. Before I started to contribute to Kaawiki, there were below than 2 thousand articles, but now you can see there are more than 3 thousand articles. And now, most of the templates were made by me. I want articles on Kaawiki to be more colourful, rich with templates, picturesque and so on. About dynamics, it’s growing a little bit but [composition] is not stable. Also, there was no any “Template:infobox” on Kaawiki, admittedly, more people did not know how to do it.

How do you want to see Karakalpak Wikipedia in the future? Maybe in five years?

I want to see Karakalpak Wikipedia improve in articles in terms of both quality and quantity. And now, we are trying to make it happen. I have no idea about the conditions of Karakalpak Wikipedia in five years from now, and although the number of articles will improve of course, quality will not.

Have you done any outside activities?

I just did one thing. When the news about the second WikiCamp were announced, I tried to teach how to write articles on wikipedia to Karakalpak people (students) who were eager to participate in the camp.

They learnt a lot, and I managed to take about 10 Karakalpaks with me to the camp. And uzbek administrators knew about it (which I taught those Karakalpaks how to do) and due to it, they awarded me with a laptop for sharing knowledge concerning Wikipedia with up to 10 Karakalpak young contributors. They rarely write articles these days, unfortunately not a lot.

Very good, congratulations. I propose that you should become a key part in the Usergroup that you will organise with the rest of the community. You can make a Usergroup that will organise Karakalpak Wikipedia and Wikiverse better, and will co facilitate the programs. In Nukus, and elsewhere. Uzbek Wikipedians can help with this as well.

That will be great! One more thing to add on: I remember the words of Nodir Ataev while he was giving me a diploma at the end of the first camp. He said that we will collaborate a lot for developing Karakalpak Wikipedia together. in the long run. 

I am now so grateful to work with such kind of granted people, like Nodir Ataev, Jamshid Nurqul, Kagansky, Mirzoulughbek aka and so on.

Karakalpak Wikipedia is a good example of project with low activity that became vibrant again and has a lot of prospects for the future. Personally, I hope that next years will be years of rapid development not only for Uzbek, but also for Karakalpak Wikipedia, given the youth potential of the region, the collaboration between Wikipedians there, and the great potential of Wikipedia in Uzbekistan as a whole.

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