Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales stayed in Mumbai just long enough to inaugurate the conference on Friday before flying out of the city to visit his mother. After the inaugural address at the Convocation Hall of the University of Mumbai, he answered questions from members of the audience and later, from members of the press. Here are excerpts from the interaction:
Q: On Wikipedia articles and maps (like that of divided Kashmir) that are highly contested
A: Wikipedia should not take a stand on any issue. It is there to inform people; knowledge is the path to peace. We must study what our opponents believe too, even if they draw their maps differently.
Q: Wikipedia as a medium to develop languages that do not have an extensive vocabulary:
A: I do think we can play a role in growth of languages, but it a difficult issue and there is worry about loan words from languages (to create entries in that language). Creating Wikipedia entries in Latin is difficult because it is a dead language and does not have words for (things like) computers.
Q: Laws in countries that place restrictions on freedom of expression:
A: I suggest that Wikipedia contributors follow local laws, but some laws are unfair. Wikipedia should be neutral; we are not here to push an agenda. So follow the law of the place where you live.
Q: Advice to supporters of democracy in China who contribute to Wikipedia article on Nobel Prize winner Lu Xiaobo:
A: In China, editors are filtering the page on Lu Xiaobo and democracy, so do not get into trouble as there are people outside China who will edit the page.
Q: Freedom of speech in India:
A: In India, if you have 10 people, there are 12 opinions; that is the greatest thing about India.
Q: Fund raising for Wikipedia:
A: We want to be supported by small contributors so that we can maintain neutrality. In the past, we have received contributions from big donors, but it is important that small donors contribute so that we are not dependent on large corporations.