Want to learn more about Nepal? Visit Ask me about Nepal

A screengrab of Ask Me About Nepal's home page.

A screenshot of Ask Me About Nepal's homepage. Fair use.

Search engines are not always a one-stop solution for the information people are looking for. Among many niche websites providing information about Nepal, Ask Me About Nepal stands out, catering to queries of people wanting to know more about Nepal.

Nikki Thapa, a photographer and writer, always struggled to find information about Nepal and its customs online while cataloguing photos. Google and Wikipedia didn’t have the information she searched for. So, she came up with Ask Me About Nepal — a unique portal, probably a combination of Google and Wikipedia, that answers users’ queries about Nepal. The website provides information about Nepal through pictures and in-depth stories in English.

Journalist Aashish Mishra posted on X (formerly Twitter):

Sanjib Chaudhary from Global Voices talked with Nikki Thapa about her initiative. A condensed version of the interview in below:

Global Voices (GV): How did you conceptualize Ask Me About Nepal? What was the motivation behind it?

Nikki Thapa (NT): [In the year 2000] I was working with Thomas Kelly, an American photographer who came to Nepal in 1978 as a USA Peace Corps Volunteer and contributed to documenting marginalized communities, their culture and tradition.

The Internet had just started at that time. However, I would not get any information about things I'd like to know. At that time there was a telephone line called ‘Ask Me’. which would take questions from callers. I was thinking of having a similar service that could answer the queries of people.

I left my job working with photographer Thomas Kelly in 2017 and started working on the project ‘Ask Me About Nepal’. I wanted to start a Wikipedia-like space where you can look up information on people, places, things, basically everything that echoes within Nepal. So was born, ‘Ask me about Nepal’ (AMAN). Think of it as a portal to Nepal.

GV: Who are your target audience? What sort of stories do you publish on your website? Can you share some of your web analytics?

NT: We went online in 2018 and have around 4,000 visitors every month. Most of our visitors are from the US, India and Nepal.

We are targeting a global audience — anybody who wants to know about Nepal. Specifically, researchers who want to study about Nepal, people who want to come to Nepal, and long term learners.

At Ask Me About Nepal, you’ll come across authentic, well-researched insightful content made possible by a dedicated team of researchers, writers, photographers, culture enthusiasts, industry experts, and contributors.

GV: Can you share some interesting anecdotes? What’s the response from your readers?

NT: People contact us to learn more about the published stories. For example, somebody reading a post about Nagpokhari [a pond in the heart of Kathmandu, adjacent to the former royal palace] would especially like to know more about the type of Nag (Indian cobra) in Nagpokhari. They would ask what type of Naga it is.

Others would ask us to write more about culture. We also get appreciation mail.

GV: Can you tell us how you manage the content?

NT: I'm responsible for curating the content and website. We also have occasional contributors and a team of writers.

We ask photographers to provide photos for our stories and photo bank. The Ask Me About Nepal platform provides an opportunity for budding photographers to upload their pictures and share them with an ever-growing, discerning audience.

Our main objective is to provide a platform to writers and photographers so that they can earn money while getting their stories to a wider audience. I too can earn so that I can provide grants to researchers, eventually.

GV: What are your future plans?

NT: I do not want Ask Me About Nepal necessarily to be newsy but a place where users can find a plethora of information under one umbrella. It should serve as a one stop destination that offers a window into every aspect of Nepal to one who is seeking information about the country.

I want to open doors for Nepali academics to share their hard work and research by allowing them to sell their academic theses on the platform. This will not only support their academic endeavors but will also contribute to the wealth of knowledge available on Ask Me About Nepal.

Also, I want to create an “Ask Me About Nepal Foundation” dedicated to providing yearly grants to support scholars and researchers in any faculties.

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