WikiConference India 2023: lessons promote the spread of knowledge about Indian culture and history on Wikipedia

Hyderabad, May 2, 2023,….: WikiConference India 2023 (WCI 2023), a flagship community conference of Indian and South Asian contributors to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, gathered nearly 200 people in Hyderabad from April 28-30, 2023, to explore ways to increase the access and sharing of Indian history, culture, and experiences on free knowledge projects globally. Participants from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka met for the first large meeting of Wikimedia contributors since 2016.

WCI 2023 centered around the theme of “Strengthening Bonds,” chosen to underscore the vital role of building and maintaining robust connections within Wikimedia’s open-source communities. The theme is rooted in the belief that a strong support system and opportunities for cross-learning are essential for achieving collective success.

Wikipedia is the world’s largest online encyclopedia and one of the most visited websites. Indian volunteers are integral and valued contributors to the website, which is available in 24 of languages spoken across India. In addition, Indian volunteers contribute to the wider ecosystem of Wikimedia projects such as Wikimedia Commons, Wikisource, and Wikidata, and also help in improving technology development and features on Wikimedia websites. Readers in India visit Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects more than 797 million times each month, the fifth highest number of views from any country.

“India continues to be a key region of expansion for Wikimedia’s knowledge communities, with a growing number of volunteer contributors and enormous potential to expand our reader base in the country. Wikiconference India is an opportunity to celebrate our local communities and their achievements in increasing access to free knowledge across languages,” said Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, Chief Advancement Officer and Deputy to the CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. “This weekend’s event created an important platform for us to enable active growth and collaboration within the South Asia region.”

The conference provided a common platform for Wikimedians (volunteer contributors and Wikimedia Foundation staff members), invitees, and stakeholders interested in Indic-language Wikimedia projects and other aspects of the movement in India and South Asia. As one of the first volunteer-focussed gatherings since the pandemic, WCI 2023 offered a space to connect, share stories, learnings, best practices, and challenges, and discuss the future strategy for the region.

“WikiConference India stands as a testament to the power of leadership and community collaboration in advancing knowledge-sharing and creating a more informed society. Through trust building and language diversity, this conference has become a vital platform for community members to connect, collaborate and contribute to the growth of Wikimedia’s global communities,” said Nitesh Gill, Lead Volunteer Coordinator for WikiConference India.

Participants attended panel discussions, workshops, project showcases, and learning sessions on topics ranging from technology, to the sustainability of open source communities, and knowledge building through collaborative tools and projects. The conference also brought the opportunity for Wikimedians to talk about the future of the Wikimedia free knowledge mission and their strategy for the region in the coming years.

“It is encouraging to see the sheer enthusiasm and participation of Wikimedians at WCI 2023, and I am looking forward to seeing its impact on the development of open knowledge in not only India but the broader South Asia region. I hope this conference provides the grounds needed for further community growth and engagement,” said Nivas Ramisetty, WikiConference India coordinator.

The event was co-organised with a local partner, IIIT Hyderabad, and was supported by the Department of Language and Culture, Government of Telangana who arranged a cultural dance show and excursion tour to present local dance and art forms for the attendees.

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