India is well known throughout the world for its diversity, and even in the Wiki world, this diversity exists. In India, there are a total of 22 Indian language projects including the latest Konkani Wikipedia which came out of the Incubator just last year. One of the major activities which had taken place at the national level was the Wiki Conference India, way back in 2011 . That Conference indeed gave a major boost to the Indian Wikimedia Community as a whole. But since then, there has been no major Community led event which has had a huge impact.
When you look at the usual “Wiki Loves” type of photo uploading competitions which are organized in India, there have been a few happening every year like Wiki Loves Monuments – 2012 ,2013 & a very humble Wiki Loves Earth in 2014. All these very limited to a few organizers & volunteers. There was obviously a good Social media outreach for all these competitions which saw a very good turnout amongst the Public. But, never did the Indian Wikimedian Community ever feel that they were part of this.
In February 2015, when we at Wikimedia India decided to launch a “Wiki Loves” type event, we had already zeroed in on the topic of food. India due to its diversity also has a similar diversity in its cuisine. It was also observed that there was a dearth of good images of Indian food & drinks which was the original plan behind running our first Pan-India Photo uploading competition called “Wiki Loves Food”.
We were very clear that this should be a community run competition. This was in fact the situation where there was no major collaboration of volunteers on a National level . As always, next came the difficult task of pitching the idea to the community on the India mailing list. As usual, there were a lot of initial apprehensions and doubts, not forgetting the friction in community engagement, which was quite expected anyways. Most of the volunteers who signed up were just curious about the competition but felt that this project had potential. The real good part of this was that the volunteers were not from one region but were spread across the different language communities and regions. Without any doubt, we can say that Wiki Loves Food was the first major program from Wikimedia India after a long time that actively involved the pan-Indian community.
The first ever edition of Wiki Loves Food started on 15th May 2015 and ended by June 15th. The competition saw 15+ volunteers work day and night to make this possible. By the time the competition was over and results were announced, the team of volunteers were elated that they pulled off such an campaign with 10,000+ images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. As mentioned by Bodhisattwa Mandal of Bengali Community – “The event helped to bring together active members from all Indic communities discuss, plan and successfully execute the event in a coordinated way. It also deepened the relationship with Wikimedia India and the Indian language communities, which was a great achievement according to us”
The Impact of having such a campaign has had an enormous impact of how the Indian Wikimedian community has worked. This is one of the stepping stones for the planning for the WikiConference India 2016 . Most of the volunteers who were active for Wiki Loves Food are now involved in the planning of the conference.
This level of inter community partnerships amongst the different Indic language Wikimedia projects is a new chapter in the growth of the Indian Wikimedian Community, I look forward to the continuation of similar acts. Who says diversity can be an obstacle, in this case diversity was a huge asset, which we as Indic Wikimedians celebrate and will always be amongst our strengths.
Written by Yohann Thomas
Posted by JimCarter