[Foundation-l] Promoting non-en Wikipedias (was In defence of Google)

Delirium delirium at hackish.org
Sun Jan 21 21:30:28 UTC 2007

David Gerard wrote:
> So what can small Wikipedias (say, under 100,000 articles) do to
> achieve these effects - breadth and being up-to-date - as well? Are
> there other tacks they should try taking to achieve greater public
> awareness?

I'd say it depends greatly on the language.  I'm most familiar with el: 
(Greek), whose main problem is simply not enough participants.  I don't 
think it's that most Greek-speaking Wikipedians work on en: 
instead---those who do tend to also work on el: as well.  There just 
aren't enough Greek-speaking Wikipedians in the first place.  Why not?  
Well, partly advertising, and partly there aren't enough Greek-speaking 
people in the world.  English has around 350 million native speakers, 
and over 1.5 billion total speakers; Greek has fewer than 15 million 
total speakers.  To overcome that disparity in number of speakers 
requires a *huge* popularity among the speakers who do exist.  This is 
possible, since the German Wikipedia is at least of the same order of 
magnitude as the English Wikipedia, despite there being considerably 
fewer speakers (~120 million native, ~140 million total).

The harder to overcome problem is international breadth.  The en: 
Wikipedia has editors from a wide variety of countries, which is not the 
case on smaller Wikipedias---many of the China-related en: articles were 
written by people in China, for example, which is simply not going to 
happen on most smaller Wikipedians, since almost no Chinese speak 
Greek.  This is also a problem for sources, because on some topics, even 
very important ones, there is often only information available in one 
language---for example many China-related topics have information only 
available in Chinese.  On en: this is not so much of a problem, because 
we have many Chinese-speaking editors.  But el: has few to no 
Chinese-speaking editors, so cannot use such sources, except indirectly 
by translating the en: article.

Of course one does the best with what one has, so the smaller Wikipedias 
simply need more people to begin with, and then will probably have to 
rely more heavily on translating articles from the larger Wikipedias.


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