The Wikipedia was started in the beginning of 2005, along with the Wolof Wikipedia and the Fula (Peul) Wikipedia. Kasper Souren, a Dutchman who worked with Geekcorps, established this Wikipedia while working in a mission in Mali. In December 2007 the Bambara Wikipedia had 142 articles and the Wikipedia in Fula had 28 articles. According to Souren, he was volunteering in Mali in 2005 when he first encountered the Bambara language.
Souren wrote in a report to an open source conference a Geekcorps Mali volunteer had created a side project where a person who wrote for the Wikipedia received $1 U.S. per article. Souren went to Bamako and met people at a community center. He paid each person willing to write an article $1 U.S. The authors had no internet connections and no Wikipedia usernames. They wrote articles in Microsoft Word and gave the files to Souren. Souren uploaded each article and credited the authors. Souren wrote "I can’t understand 100 percent of what they wrote, but I could estimate that it was right. It is a Wikipedia anyway, so I hope they can correct it."
The total expenses of the project amounted to fewer than $100 U.S. In regards to the payment, Ndesanjo Macha, a Wikipedian who speaks Swahili, argued that it's unnecessary to pay editors for their efforts, and he believed he was speaking for everyone in Africa. Noam Cohen of The New York Times wrote "Most of the people who have heard about Mr. Souren’s decision to pay for entries lauded his goal but questioned his tactics, saying that they undercut the Wikipedia spirit, and that, ultimately, a Bambara Wikipedia would work only if there was a voluntary community to support it." This project resulted in the partial translation of the interfaces of the Bambara and Fula Wikipedias and the creation of some articles for those Wikipedias. Souren wrote that after 2005 the Bambara and Fula Wikipedias had "only sparse activity". In December 2007 the Bambara Wikipedia had 142 articles and the Wikipedia in Fula had 28 articles.
In 2013 Valentin Vydrin, author of "Bamana Reference Corpus (BRC)", wrote that "The Bambara Wikipedia counts a couple of hundred entries, most of them rudimentary and often written without any respect for the rules of orthography."
- Lih, Andrew. The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia. Hyperion, New York City. 2009. First Edition. ISBN 978-1-4013-0371-6 (alkaline paper).
- Lih, p. 158. Partial preview of relevant content, starting with "Nevertheless, one of those kick-start seed communities in Africa[...]"
- Cohen, Noam. "African Languages Grow as a Wikipedia Presence." (Print) The New York Times. August 26, 2006. Retrieved on April 5, 2014.
- Vydrin, Valentin. "Bamana Reference Corpus (BRC)." Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. Elselvier. Volume 95, 25 October 2013, Pages 75–80. Available at ScienceDirect.
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