The Khmer Wikipedia
It is not yet mentioned on the Khmer media as it happens with big wikipedias like English. It is not a matter of hot discussions by the nation yet as the Wikimedia projects face in other latitudes where they have a great influence. But Khmer Wikipedia is growing, step by step as the Khmers use to say. It has a lot of spam articles as many other Wikis, but also good few works under development as soon as Internet access grows in the Kingdom. The few good articles – not too few if you pay a look – shine inside the project and give an inside of those who are participating.
The development of the Khmer UNICODE font thanks to the efforts of Open Institute – they must receive a medal of honor for the contribution to the development of the Cambodian IT and access of Cambodians to computers and Internet in their own language – was doubtless an open door for projects like Wikipedia, Google Khmer and others in Cambodia.
In 2007, with the opening of the social communication school in Sihanoukville, it gives me the opportunity of two things: for one part to contribute in the creation and development of academic articles of science, culture, history, etc, with my students and by the other hand, to use Wikipedia as an educative platform.
You can discover high profile Khmer Wikipedians now, coming mostly from Phnom Penh universities or institutions, but the Don Bosco Communicator Wikipedians are well organized with more the 150 participants and the number grows every October with new generations of communicators.
To improve contents
This is one of the primary concerns of the Khmer project. There are some limits, however:
- Cambodia still with a very low level of Internet and computer access. Several schools and even universities are out of the society of the information and knowledge.
- The country still short in reading and investigation culture, even in academic areas. You can find ‘professionals’ that do not read ! It gives a very poor general cultural background, then many eventual Khmer Wikipedians lack basic concepts to create qualified articles.
- There is an amazing lack of sense and knowledge for the respect and honor to copyright. Many copy in Cambodia without considerations for international rules and rights of author. It includes music, pictures, books, art… You can find several documents in our Khmer Wikipedia that would be unacceptable in other bigger Wikipedia.
- Too few administrators, so too few to patrol articles.
- Several users do not know really the policies of Wikipedia.
The students of communication dedicate time to Wikipedia with the goal to improve their own general culture, writing and improvement of the project. They must think in the readers, mostly children and young people that should find reliable material of consult in Wikipedia and in their own language.
One of the first projects tried in Wikipedia was the finish the list of countries. As there is not a national academy to rule the Khmer language (yet), there was a great confusion of country names after the war decades, especially of far away nations. At least the media can consult it to establish a standard name for a specific country. The observer can notice that most of the names of far away countries in Khmer language are actually in French!
Other project is related with journalism and media – of course, it is our favorite topic. You can find The Cambodia Daily, the Phnom Penh Post, Cambodge Soir and many others translated from the English Wiki.
Science, culture, history and even philosophy can be explored in the Khmer Wikipedia, though they are projects most of the time under construction.
About Albeiro RodasAlbeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).
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