Wicipedia Cymraeg: New manager looks to expand Wiki in Welsh

Robin Owain
Image caption Mr Owain said he is looking forward to getting more people to share information for free

Wikipedia's first Wales manager has started work, as the online open encyclopaedia looks to expand its Welsh language pages.

Former head teacher Robin Owain will be travelling around Wales instructing people how to contribute to Wicipedia Cymraeg.

The service in Welsh has been going for 10 years and has 100,000 pages.

It claims 2.6m hits a month with 80% of these from people in the 16-24 age group.

Translations of English language pages are not accepted for the Welsh edition and there are now plans to extend its original content further by generating more users.

'Length and breadth'

Administrators have the power to immediately undo any inaccuracies on Wicipedia Cymraeg.

Incidents of "vandalism" do sometimes occur but they are quickly sorted out, Mr Owain added.

The Welsh government has pitched in £74,000 towards a Llwybrau Byw (Living Paths) project.

Part of this will see Mr Owain travel "the length and breadth" of Wales teaching various societies and groups how to get their information onto the site.

"Some may want to put information about local history, famous people or maybe just about their interests and I've just had one who wanted to share information about their community newspaper," he said.

"It used to be so incredibly complex to input information but now the interface is so simple."

Mr Owain - who has his own Wikipedia entry for his work as an author and poet - has worked for Wikipedia for six years and his new job is a 12 month secondment.

Jon Davies, the chief executive of Wikimedia UK said: "Robin's appointment as our Wales manager is a vital part of our outreach strategy.

"Wicipedia Cymraeg is the world's most popular Welsh language website and we are proud to support the Welsh language.

"Despite being half-Welsh my knowledge of the Welsh language is far too limited. I am pleased to be doing my small bit to help it thrive."

The Gwyddoniadur Cymru (the The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales) could soon be made available for free on the site.

The encyclopaedia is currently for sale online at around £55 but Mr Owain said he feels this information should be available to all regardless of whether they can afford it or not, "and anyway it's much easier to access information via your phone.

"It's just more flexible, it sits in your pocket and you can take it to the beach with you".

Mr Owain added: "We've also got 2,000 pictures from the John Thomas photographic collection at the National Library of Wales and we're hoping to access another 120,000 photographs from the library.

"The library is in fact recognised throughout the British Isles for their policy of being open and free with their collections which is how is should be."

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