“If Wikipedia was a country, it would be one of the largest tourist centres in the world,” said Jimmy Wales, founder of the popular online encyclopedia.
Addressing a packed house at Sophia College’s Bhabha auditorium on Sunday, Wales proudly announced that the website had 402 million unique visitors each day. Ruling out inclusion of a video option on the website, Wales said, “We don’t want to turn Wikipedia into YouTube. It’ll be better with animations and illustrations.”
Now, the company’s focus —‘Goal 2015’— is to have “strong and healthy India based projects”.
The company has already announced its plans to set up an office in India, which would be its second office in the world after San Francisco.
Though Wales did not divulge the name of the Indian city which would host the office, he said, “As a media project, for me India was the perfect place because we wish to work with a variety of people and India has a lot of communities. The community in India should lead and Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) will follow them.”
The India project aspires to extend Wikipedia’s reach to 80 % of the Indian population, using top 10 Indian languages. The project hopes to have 100 million unique Indian visitors to Wikipedia ventures per month, which would include the involvement of 75% schools in India either offline or via the Internet. Wales said he approved of providing increased access of Wikipedia to school-going children as a part of amplifying their knowledge base.
The spotlight of the project would be pan-India growth of Wikipedia across Indian languages. Presently, the English Wikipedia gets higher page views than the options in 12 Indian languages. This trend is observed only in India, said Wales and is most other countries people view Wikipedia in their own language.
The WMF wants more Indians to contribute articles and participate in active editing. “The local language edits (not just English) at Wikipedia across India are rising each year, and we want to promote high activity at this level,” Wales added.