“Highly active editor on Wikipedia”, Tinu Cherian
The Third Meetup which happened this Sunday was hosted by Tinu Cherian at his residence in Marathahalli, Bangalore. Cherian Tinu Abraham, a software engineer working in an MNC, and known in Wikipedia as User:Tinucherian ,is himself one of the most prolific Wikipedians with approximately 48,000 edits in English Wikipedia. This makes him one of top 4 Indian editors from India or Indian origin and top 300 global editors around the globe.
Wiki Meetups, since when?
WikiMeetups are face-to-face meetings of Wikipedians that takes place in cities around the world. It was purposed by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, that wikipedians should make an effort to meet each other (in real life) and such WikiMeetups would help the sense of community among them. The first meetup in India was held in Bangalore in 2006, with the participation of legendary Jimmy Wales, popularly known as Jimbo, himself. Wikipedians in Bangalore decided to have a meetup on July 5th 2009, Sunday after a long while.
Is this a first of its kind?
No, they are conducted all around the world. WikiMeetups are very active in cities like New York, London, Philadelphia, Melbourne, Munich, Taipei etc. Wikipedia was founded in 2001 and WikiMeetups started as early as 2003. Apart from Bangalore, WikiMeetups have started in cities like Pune, Chennai and Thrissur (Kerala).
What does a regular session look like? What to you normally discuss?
Meetings of users of Wikimedia projects can be arranged via word of mouth, the mailing lists, or meetup pages on the individual projects on different language Wikipedias. With the primary intention of meeting each other who have known in a virtual world of Wikipedia, The Wikipedians discuss their experiences and share knowledge related to Wikipedia at these meetups.
How can people participate in the meet ups?
Most people watch the WikiMeetup page on Wikipedia to know about upcoming WikiMeetups in their city. Wikipedians in Bangalore have their own Meetup page on Wikipedia. For those interested in Bangalore Meetups can contact me on my Wikipedia User talk page (email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Arun Ram or Sundar or HPN etc.
You have a massive track record of editing on Wikipedia. How did you become interested in this?
I started using Wikipedia as an easily available information resource very long back. I was curious to see Wikipedia coming up in most of the web searches. Initially I was a bit skeptic of the idea of an online encyclopedia which anyone can edit! Even more curious to know that you don’t need to register an username with Wikipedia to contribute. I started editing some articles related to India, history, films, religion, Computing etc. Although I registered myself as User:Tinucherian in 2006, it took me almost one year for my first edit as a logged-in user. These days I use Wikipedia for over 14-20 hours at home per week, much to the annoyance of my wife. Till date, I have over 48,000 edits on English Wikipedia making me one of the top 4 Indian editors by number of edits. My interest in software bots, or automated editing scripts also helps me run two bots ( User:TinucherianBot, User:TinucherianBot_II ) on Wikipedia. Believe me, Wikipedia is something what would start as curiosity and later passion and finally an addiction.
Wikipedia as a tool?
Wikipedia is the best information source available.
How does Wikipedia control the content? People can create mischief with an information tool which can easily be edited?
True, Wikipedia has to deal with lots of vandalism. But there are thousands of Wikipedians closely watching every edit made on Wikipedia. They keep reverting every possible vandalism or mischievous edit. Now as days, there are lots of anti-vandal bots that monitor changes and look for tell-tale signs, such as URL changes or use of abusive words. Wikipedia is still debating on flagged revisions for public view which are vandalism free revisions of articles, approved by trusted reviewers.
What else is happening in terms of innovations? As contributors is there something you will be looking forward to?
Wikipedia has evolved a lot from only a web browser editing model to the availability of lots of tools and gadgets which helps you in easier and faster editing. Long time back, User:Ganeshk, an Indian software engineer and active Wikipedian in US, wrote a Wikibot that, with the help of the Indian Census data, generated basic articles on 5,000 towns on Wikipedia. I have carried this effort forward to have already created 2000 villages in India and now working on the data collection for a similar bot to cover the over 6 lakh populated villages in India and thereby covering the information gap of developing countries like India compared to other countries in the world on Wikipedia.
When is the next WikiMeetup?
After the last meetup, which was hosted at my residence, we have decided to conduct such meetups regularly once a month. The Centre of Internet and Society (CIS), Bangalore has agreed to help us host the future events in Bangalore. The last meetup was attended by Wikipedian mostly active on English language Wikipedia , we are trying to collaborate and bring in co-operation of lots of Wikipedians in Bangalore who are more active in Indian languages Wikipedia. Discussions have picked up to start Wikimedia Indian Chapter like in other countries. Wikimedia chapters are independent organizations, affiliated to Wikimedia Foundation, founded to support and promote the Wikimedia projects within a specified geographical region (country). Like the Wikimedia Foundation, they aim to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain and to disseminate it effectively and globally".