New York: Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, is all set to open its first overseas office outside of the US in India, which will focus on expanding its database in Hindi and all other official languages of the country.
India was chosen because of its large population and increasing number of people using the internet especially through mobile phones, according to Sue Gardner, chief of Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia.
“India is really high potential for us,” Gardner said.
Gardner noted that India was picked as the first base abroad in the developing world because of its “fruitful environment” including “valuing education, free speech and a culture of intellectual debate.”
She also said the current database for the country’s regional languages is small and the India office would push for growth in this area.
“We want to attract new people to edit the encyclopedia,” she said.
Currently, Gardner pointed out that there were “software impediments to interaction” in non-English languages like Tamil or Hindi, which Wikipedia would be working to remove.
Gardner said they are close to selecting the person who will head the India office, which is expected to open in the next couple of months.
The San Francisco-based online encyclopedia also plans to expand to Brazil the Middle East and North Africa as well.
Wikipedia is currently the world’s fifth most popular site, which operated on a budget of $8 million in 2010, which is far less than the other top sites.
It raised $16 million in its latest fundraiser.
Wikipedia is rolling out a new five-year strategic plan to increase the number of its users to one billion, its information to 50 million articles and percentage of high quality articles by 25%.
The organisation also plans to double the percentage of female participants to 25% and increase number of global South participants to 37%.
Gardner further explained that while the online encyclopedia had been thriving in many developed countries, the same success had not been replicated in developing countries.
“The Germany Wikipedia is excellent,” she said, noting that internet users in rich parts of the world had “leisure time” to invest in building the encyclopedia and there were more people online.
With 8.5 billion monthly page views, an overwhelming majority of Wikipedia page views are from the global North (79.8%).
On average, 2.1 billion (20.2%) of monthly page views are from countries located in the global South.
Wikipedia’s tenth anniversary on Saturday is being celebrated with more than 300 events in different countries out of which 60 are in India.
“This certainly validates our decision to put extra attention on India,” said Gardner