the bhutan-australia wiki project

Bunty Avieson, from University of Sydney, in collaboration with Royal University of Bhutan, is helping train Bhutanese to become Wikipedia editors. The aim is to create an editing community so that Bhutanese can:

1) influence the ways in which their country and culture are represented on English Wikipedia

2) develop the Dzongkha Wikipedia site.

3) join the global knowledge movement of Wikimedia

To join a workshop in Canberra, send Bunty an email.

The project is funded by The Australian Research Council through a Discovery Early Career Research Award.

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In 2019 Needrup Zangpo and Bhutan Media Foundation hosted Dr Bunty Avieson for a Wikipedia editing workshop with Dzongkha editors at their offices in Thimphu. In 2022, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the project has moved to Canberra, where more than 4000 Bhutanese live, work and study.

pic: Bhutan Media Foundation

About the project

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, created and updated by millions of volunteers around the world, who believe knowledge should be free and available to all. It is the only not-for-profit site in the top 50 and has become the world’s go-to site for information on all manner of topics – from the height of the Eiffel tower in Paris, to the World Cup results of 2018; from daily COVID-19 cases in Russia, to the storyline of Bhutanese Oscar contender in 2022, Lunana: a Yak in the Classroom.

 

While the site is known for its "anyone can edit"  ethos, there are a range of rules and protocols that editors must follow. These protocols have been developed by the community over the past two decades and work well to prevent the site being used for propaganda, misinformation or self-promotion. However they can also be a barrier to participation.

In March 2022, English Wikipedia was visited 23 billion times - 546,000 of those visits came from Bhutan. But the pages about Bhutan are mostly written by foreigners, using western references rather than Bhutan’s own, eg preferencing the Lonely Planet Travel Guide instead of Dr Karma Phuntsho’s History of Bhutan. This brings a western skew to the way Bhutan is presented. Only a handful of Bhutanese are active contributors.

 

There are more than 300 different language Wikipedias, including a little-known Dzongkha Wikipedia. Launched in 2008, it has few pages and offers great potential for Dzongkha language development and education.