USM PENANG, 5 October 2023 – “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” – Kofi Annan.

graduate from the School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Taufik Rosman, the 24-year-old Sabahan has recently been recognised for his extraordinary dedication to enriching the Malay-language edition of Wikipedia.

Wikimediawan Tahunan Taufik Rosman

Hailing from a family of educators, Taufik’s passion for spreading knowledge was ignited at the age of 13 when he noticed there weren’t that many entries in the Malay-language edition of Wiktionary (the dictionary counterpart to Wikipedia). Thus, he resolved to fix this by adding Malay words to the site.

A few months ago, Taufik received the prestigious Wikimedian of the Year Award, an accolade that celebrates the outstanding contributions of Wikimedia editors and contributors worldwide that marks Taufik as the first Malaysian to receive this esteemed recognition.

Taufik described that this achievement as an “overwhelming” experience.

“Usually, what I translate would be related to culture, both Malaysian and cultures from abroad. I’ve translated articles on Japanese and Maori cultures among others, in the past.

“There may be some misconceptions regarding the site’s reliability, but the English-language edition of Wikipedia was difficult to tamper with, especially for newcomers,” said Taufik adding that he has always been a fan of Wikipedia’s accessible nature.

Entries to the site are typically vetted for the subject’s notability and verifiability, and monitored by moderators like Taufik, who is based in Sabah. Such entries are also expected to cite multiple sources and use neutral wording.

“Most people have been told that Wikipedia is unreliable, and I mean, it is. You cannot cite Wikipedia but all Wikipedia articles have sources and citations – which you can find at the bottom of the article,” he added.

According to him, the sources make the articles reliable. Hence, he calls on other Malaysians to join in on the effort to contribute their thoughts and knowledge about Malaysia to the website.

“I guess I can say that each one of us knows something about the world. If we all could gather in one place to add this knowledge online, it would make information about our country Malaysia more accessible.”

While there aren’t many volunteers like Taufik in the country, he volunteers to conduct workshops and events at universities across the country.

As a volunteer, he teaches students how to make entries and educates them on the necessity for the so-called free knowledge movement, in order to combat misinformation.

Taufik is currently focusing on documenting Malaysia’s rich tapestry of indigenous languages in East Malaysia and among the 18 Orang Asli groups.

“Recently, I went to Kelantan to teach the Orang Asli tribe to write their native language by instructing them on how to write for Wikipedia.

“This Sunday, I will be organising a programme in the forest with secondary schools in Dungun, in collaboration with the Dungun District Education Office, to teach students how to take photos and upload them to Wikipedia,” he said.

On that note, he called on fellow Malaysians to consider contributing their own knowledge about the country and the world around them to the site.

For instance, the Malay Wikipedia has only about 300,000 articles, compared to Indonesia’s 659,004 articles.

“I would love to see the Malaysian public having this culture of free knowledge. Having people share knowledge with one another is quite beneficial because it shows that Malaysians care about providing knowledge for free and making it accessible,” he concluded.

The Wikimedian of the Year is an annual award that is dedicated to honour great contributions to the Wikimedia (Wiktionary, WikiCommons, and Wikipedia) movement.

Established in August 2011 by co-founder Jimmy Wales, they select and honour recipients at the annual awards show called Wikimania.

Text: Nur Farrah Ezlin Mohd Suhaimi

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