Tuesday, August 23, 2011

College Students turn Wikipedia contributors

College of Engineering, Pune and Wikipedia announced recently that they are entering into a partnership where 843 students from the college would be trained by the Wikipedia India team and would in turn contribute to the crowd sourced encyclopedia movement that is Wikipedia.

As part of this initiative, mechanical, electrical, electronics and telecommunication, production, computer, information technology, and mathematics branch students would undergo a 6 month course following which they would need to contribute to the website. They would be given internal marks for these assignments.

WikiMedia, the arm of Wikipedia that is spearheading such initiatives in US and India plans to rope in 3 other colleges in Pune under the aegis of this program namely Symbiosis School of Economics, SNDT Women’s University and Modern College of Engineering.

I think this augurs well for Wikipedia where India specific information is low on content and quality. A lot of common India specific searches do not list Wikipedia among the top 10/20 results. While crowdsourcing is good, a lot of times crowd sourcing also is a time consuming event. Focused efforts over six months by student groups like this would propel Wikipedia quickly up the value chain for information seekers.

To give the reader an idea of areas where Wikipedia falls short, here are two queries I ran on Google. One search was on “Kannada literature personalities” where the Wikipedia entry came 5th and the other search was on “top b schools in India” where Wikipedia did not figure in the first result page at all.

wikipedia listed results for India - Part 1

wikipedia listed results for India - Part 2

Aspects like these are what the Wikipedia team plans to change and also as these students join main stream society they would be torch bearers for movements like Wikipedia. An interesting way by Wikipedia to cover a country as diverse as India and also to create a pool of WIki contributors

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