Maps on Wikipedia depict people’s view: Founder

November 18th, 2011 - 2:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Nov 18 (IANS) Addressing the first ever WikiConference in India, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales here Friday said the representation of maps on the free encyclopedia was in accordance with the ideas of its readers and editors and the founders were not the only ones to control the content.

As Wales spoke at Mumbai University’s Fort campus, some Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) members staged a protest outside the campus, contending there was an “illegal” depiction of India’s map on Wikipedia.

Demanding the founders to remove the map, over 100 members of BJYM contested there should be legal proceedings against the founders.

“The map on Wikipedia shows Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in green colour and Arunachal Pradesh in red colour implying that these regions are not a part of India. This is wrong,” BJYM Mumbai youth president Amit Satam told IANS.

“It is a criminal offence under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1961, which states that publishing maps of India not in conformity with the ones published by the country is a criminal offence with imprisonment up to six months,” he added.

Wales, however, said Wikipedia represents the ideas of several of its readers and editors.

“We do try to maintain a neutral point of view in all the fields. Be it science or politics, people from all over the world contribute to the content of Wikipedia and it displays only what is the view of a large number of them,” he said.

He also emphasised that Wikipedia editors and contributors should abide to the local laws.

“But there are certain laws which also need to be amended or changed. Freedom of speech in India is more broadly free than in many other countries,” he said.

He also said he looks forward to improvise on the content, software and the technology that drives Wikipedia and urged more participation from India.

“We look forward to overcome editing challenges for users and editors in terms of accessibility and technology… More feedback from readers and editors will help in improvising and eventually overcoming the problems.”

The three-day conference is hosted by the Mumbai Wikipedia Community and the Wikimedia Chapter.

Some 600 people turned up Friday and Wales in his opening notes said it was “one of the largest national WikiConferences”.

A live ‘Editathon’ session and a ‘Hackathon’ will take place at the conference in which aspects of editing a Wikipedia article will be taught. A session will also be dedicated to Marathi Wikipedia.

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