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A half-day Wiki Academy Workshop, with special relevance for journalists, was recently organized for Amrita MA (Communication) students, at the Coimbatore campus.
Participants had the opportunity to become familiar with Wikipedia’s collaborative projects including Wikimedia Commons, Wikiversity, Wikibooks, Wikitionary.
The session began with a general introduction to Wikipedia as a learning resource. Although most students were familiar with this popular encyclopedia available on the internet, not all were conversant with its multilingual nature or the process of contributing to the site.
Later, the participating students had the opportunity to submit content for inclusion in the online encyclopedia. For example, second-year student Varun Varadarajan updated the Wikipedia entry on gaming.
The sessions were led by Mr. Arjuna Rao Chavala, President of Wikimedia India.
The speaker also detailed the quality standards adhered to by Wikipedia.
“All articles are continuously being assessed and graded by a team of editors. They are ranked as per a 6 grade level system. User instructions are displayed at the top of the page such as, Article does not meet quality standards. Other editors can upgrade or downgrade the articles,” he stated.
The issue of plagiarism was also part of the discussion.
“Students need to finally understand that Wikipedia is just a collaborative software that provides an amalgamation of prime information from different sources,” Mr. Arjun reminded the participants.
First-year student Anand agreed that Wikipedia could definitely help him with his learning and research.
“It is one of the biggest encyclopedias and it seems to have something on everything. I wonder if there is any scope to add anything further,” he smilingly remarked.
The next part of the presentation focused on wiki journalism or participatory journalism with collaboration between reporters. The largest example of wiki journalism is Wikinews that operates as a central clearing house for a large number of firsthand experience accounts.
“As students of communication, we ought to stay abreast of various news and events in the country. We could all potentially become important resource people for contributing to Wikinews,” expressed second-year student Sinduja Raghunathan.
Second-year student Abinaya wondered if she could just as easily contribute to the Tamil version. “I am very proficient with Tamil. But I lack the knowledge to key in Tamil characters,” she said.
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