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Wikipedia Gains Massive Traffic Thanks To Vernacular Languages

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Non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, the parent company of knowledge-based article collating platform Wikipedia seems to be receiving enhanced traction on the portal from India. The reason for this upswing in activity is apparently its decision to expand the scope of the portal via multiple Indian Languages, revealed a recent study by the Bangalore-based Center for Internet and Society (CIS).

A while back Wikipedia, sensing the need of non-English speaking /understanding audience had opened its doors for about 18 Indian Languages. The main attractions seemed to be articles penned down in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam & Kannada, which managed to attract a lot of writers who have come forth & added “thousands” of new articles in these & other native languages, all within a span of 8 months ranging from September 2012 to April 2013.

Interestingly, the study reveals that though a lot of pages did get created, many of these articles did not enjoy equally massive visitor count. However, when Wikipedia subsequently extended the support to Marathi & Bengali, the reader-count picked up. Started just a few months back, about 40,000 articles written in Marathi have been getting 30 Lakh visitors & these pages have collectively managed to add another 10 Lakh monthly visitors, while Bengali articles has been steadily getting about 14 Lakh Page Views per month.

Wikipedia seems to have undoubtedly fueled the consumption of online content. It has proven that people actually craved for knowledge in the native language, but didn’t have a proper platform. However, there were a few technological hurdles as well. Web Browsers, in their formative stages, simply didn’t have the capability of pulling, processing & displaying languages or alphabets other than English. Additionally, having been used to type in English-only keyboards, penning information-laden articles in native languages did have a long & steep learning curve.

Thankfully, such petty, but pestering issues seem to have been ironed out & creation, publication & consumption of content in local languages has evidently picked-up steam. Now the writers, who are fondly called ‘Wiki foot soldiers’ have been forwarding the crusade of offering free knowledge to anyone interested & numbers at both the end is growing healthily.

Judging by the appetite for online content in their local avatar, T Vishnu Vardhan, Program Director, Access to Knowledge Project, CIS has aptly summarized the current state of altered necessities. He says “In the last two years, the demand for knowledge in Indian languages has grown as we have moved to the motto of ‘roti, kapda and internet” What do you think?

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