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3 Indians win Wikimedia awards for helping provide free, accessible knowledge on the internet

Wikimedia Foundation, that runs the Wikipedia platform among others, annually honours volunteers who contribute to feeding it with credible information in multiple languages. 

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New Delhi: Three Indians have been awarded the Wikimedia awards this year for their contribution to building and improving the infrastructure for free content.

Jay Prakash received the Tech Innovator award, Ananya Mondal received the Rich media award and Dr Netha Hussain was given the Honourable Mention Award.

The Wikimedian of the Year award was given to Arab medical professional Alaa Najjar. In all, seven awards were given out — Carmen Alcázar from Mexico, Lodewijk Gelauff from Netherlands and Carma ‘Citra’ Citrawati from Bali were the other recipients.

The annual awards are given by the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organisation that encourages development and distribution of free, multilingual content, hosted on several platforms, including the hugely popular Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. They are meant to honour contributors to Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia editors, to highlight major achievements within the Wikimedia movement in the previous year.

Also read: 5 cases in 25 years of Internet that changed how India logs online

A Wikipedia contributor since high school

Prakash, a developer, provides technical support to Indic (local Indian) communities, fixes bugs, builds new tools, and spreads technical outreach on Wikimedia. In an interview to Wikimedia Foundation, he said, “Initially, I started contributing to Wikipedia on topics about space technologies, as I was a fan of the Soviet space program. I found that most of the space articles did not exist in my native language Wikipedia. So I started creating space articles on Hindi Wikipedia”.

Prakash, who has been contributing since his high school days in 2015, said he learnt various technical aspects and computer languages that helped him participate in the Google Summer of Code — an annual coding program — as a Wikimedia intern, and later work with Stanford University to create and integrate an education dashboard on their MediaWiki site.

Looking for chutney, & ‘Butterfly Wikimedian’

Dr Netha Hussain has been a Wikimedia volunteer for over a decade and has contributed to the English and Malayalam languages of Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons and Meta-Wiki.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sweden-based Hussain wrote, updated and translated dozens of Wikipedia articles to ensure reliable information about the pandemic was available for everyone. She also recently launched a project to improve information about vaccine safety on Wikipedia to help combat misinformation.

For Hussain, her journey with Wikimedia started in 2010 when she was looking for an article on chutney in Wikipedia’s Malayalam language section. “I created some text and saved it as a new Wikipedia page, which was approved and paved the way for my volunteering journey,” she said.

For Ananya Mondal, it was the search for information on butterflies that led her down the path.

Known as the ‘Butterfly Wikimedian’, she started the ‘Wiki Loves Butterfly project’ in 2016 after realising that there was no butterfly article on the Bengali Wikipedia, Bengali being her mother tongue.

The project keeps adding information and images about butterfly species, particularly those of the eastern and northeastern part of India.

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Also read: ‘Biased, anti-Hindu’ — campaign begins against Wikipedia after it urges Indians to donate


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