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The Dzongkha Wikipedia
Ever heard of Wikipedia? Presumably most Bhutanese would say, No. Log on to and you are entering into the Internet's largest encyclopedia that Time recently described as the web encyclopedia "by the people, for the people."
So what?
This again, presumably, could be the second remark one might make on hearing about this weird-sounding Wikipedia thing. But listen to what Wikipedians have to say: It is pretty helpful, especially if you want information urgently. Wikipedia is a free open-source encyclopedia, which basically means that anyone can log on and add to or edit it, says Time's Chris Taylor.

Started by Alabama-born Jimmy Wales some four years ago Wikipedia today has 1.5 million entries in 76 languages and is increasing by the day. Wales, whose long-time obsession was to create an online encyclopedia, stumbled on wiki after Nupedia (his first trail on online encyclopedia) failed.

What Wales did then was create a free-for-all encyclopedia written in their own language by anyone. Today Wikipedia, according to Chris Taylor, is "a cumulative work of 16,000 pairs of hands, the bulk of it done by a hard-core group of about 1,000 volunteers." Wikipedia's current English entries alone stand at 500,000, making it "far larger than the 65,000-article 2005 Encyclopedia Britannica."
A wiki is a simple piece of software that one can download for free and use to make a website that can be edited by anyone interested. So Wikipedia is basically a wave of wikis where people from anywhere who have access to the Internet collaborate to write, edit and improve articles over time.

A Dzongkha edition of Wikipedia?

Currently the site has 146 Wikipedias including one in Dzongkha ( The Dzongkha Wikipedia, however, has no actual content apart from the main page that introduces the Dzongkha language briefly, provides example of the Dzongkha alphabets and has some external links related to the language.

"This is primarily because there are no contributions in Dzongkha so far," says Pavel Bandakov who often makes contributions to the Russian edition. "But here is a chance for the Bhutanese to have an encyclopedia in Dzongkha written by Bhutanese themselves."

With the recent development of the Dzongkha Unicode, Bhutanese who have interest, time and access to the Internet could perhaps start contributing articles to Dzongkha Wikipedia that is currently categorized under slightly active sub-head.

However, if you visit the Dzongkha Wikipedia page today you would see an invitation notice: "This sub domain is reserved for the creation of a Wikipedia in the Dzongkha language. At present there are no articles. If you speak this language and think it would be cool to have your own encyclopedia then you can make it. Go ahead. Delete this crap and start working on your encyclopedia."

Wiki culture is slowly replacing group e-mails like yahoo groups for team and group work. Chris Taylor reports that big corporations in the west, especially in Silicon Valley, have already started wikis for project management, mission statements and cross-company collaborations.

The term 'wiki' originates from Hawaiian phrase 'wiki wiki' meaning "quick" and was fathered by Ward Cunningham, a programmer who created the WikiWikiWeb in 1995. If you fly to Hawaii you apparently can catch the "wiki wiki" bus from the airport.

Obviously Wikipedia has its own problems, too. Chris Taylor says that vandals and fanatics often take advantage of Wikipedia's open system to "deface, delete and push one-sided views." While it has also been criticized for lack of reliability, comprehensiveness and authority, academics see it as 'info anarchy'.

But there are others who often visit Wikipedia in absence of Britannica encyclopedia. Pavel Bandakov, a Warsaw-based Russian journalist, told Kuensel he found quite a few topics were more comprehensively covered by Wikipedia. "For example, type in Gross National Happiness in the English edition of Wikipedia and you have it there," he said. "But I don't think Britannica would have anything on GNH as of now."

One thing most Wikipedians seem to agree is: Use it, edit it, contribute to it, but be very discerning.

Contributed by Gopilal Achary, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2005

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