Wikipedia has knocked out the voluminous encyclopedia everywhere in the world and Assam is no different where its Assamese language version recently celebrated its 10th year of existence.
One of the first regional online information providers, Assamese Wikipedia is extremely popular in the state boasting more than 1,200 articles on topics varying from Bihu to ULFA to Tarun Gogoi.
Just a click of the mouse and lo! there are reels of information before your eyes on the computer screen written and edited by a team of 40 dedicated writers who are at the job for the last 10 years.
The Assamese Wikipedia, which was born on June 2, 2002, enjoys roughly four lakh views per month.
The Assamese Wiki community, comprising contributors from all over the state and even abroad, came together recently to celebrate the 10th anniversary and pledged to enrich the website further.
“We have plans to take the project further ahead and are now aiming to reach the mark of 2,000 articles by the end of this year. We hope more people will join us and contribute on varied topics,” said Community Administrator Mr Bishnu Saikia.
“Although Wikipedia is widely used by students across the globe, not many know that this information is contributed by common people, young and old, from all walks of life. In Indian languages especially, the awareness and the number of contributors really needs to be improved,” he said.
The journey during the last ten years, however, was not an easy one with not much development taking place during the first few years in terms of both contributors and articles, said Community Convenor Mr Jyotiprakash Nath.
“The Assamese Wiki was the first of the 13 regional language Wikis to come into existence but we are now lagging far behind the others mainly due to lack of willing contributors,” Mr Nath said.
Recently, however, things have changed with contributors and editors organising Wikimeets to discuss ideas and concepts to improve the regional encyclopaedia, he added.
There are no strict rules on the qualifications of the contributor and anybody, even a school student with a sound knowledge base and command over language, can contribute to the project, Mr Nath said.
The Assamese community has a lot of areas to cover with Wikipedia having initiated several online references like Wikimapia, Wikitionary, which includes dictionaries from languages of every country and Wikicommons, non-copyright media files like photos and movies, Mr Nath added.
An active contributor, Dr Gitartha Bordoloi said that they had come together to celebrate the extraordinary effort of members and invite new people to join the project.
The community members also chalked out the areas to be covered which included among others folk culture, communities, history, famous personalities, literature, music, films, art, politics, science, linguistics, philosophy, education and environment.
The head of Wikimedia Foundation’s India Programme initiative, Mr Hisham Mundol, congratulated the Assamese Wikipedia community on their achievements, saying “I am confident there will be many more exciting stories from Assam that will inspire other communities in India and the world“.