Conferences Design educational tool Wikimedia Wikipedia

Wikipedia: more languages?

Wikipedia is available in 303 languages. It is estimated that there are between 5000 and 7000 human languages in the world. Out of these close to 4000 have a writing system.

Today in the Wikimedia movement, we cover less than 8% of the languages that could have a Wikipedia. To be honest, I think, we are not doing very well, especially if we take our vision seriously.

Starting a new Wikipedia in a new language is not easy. Actually, it is very hard. Could we do better in here?

  • Could we have step-by-step installation for starting a new language?
  • Could we even automatically start Wikipedias in those languages that have a language code and do not have a Wikipedia today?
  • What would be the possible harm of having Wikipedia’s in languages with just a starting page with a welcome message to edit and a text explaining the fundamental principles of Wikipedia?

I think it is fair to say that Wikipedia is am eurocentric and colonialist project. The entire idea of encyclopedia is European: the way of organizing knowledge, the scientific method underlying it etc. Being a great idea, however, I think we should present it for others as little colonial way as possible. One way to do this is to give everyone the opportunity to participate in sharing of knowledge in their native language.

I hope these topics will be discussed in the Wikimania 2019 in Stockholm. Actually, they are and that is good.

3 replies on “Wikipedia: more languages?”

Good point. The 8% is not giving a fair picture. Like you wrote, we should check how many percentage of the world population is covered with a WIkipedia in their native language. My wild guess is that this is also less tha 50%.


And for prioritising or sequence you may want to incorporate as dimension the spread of internet access to the next billion. If far behind it will be a glaring gap for new netizens if far ahead it will be creation without a ready user base. So ‘surfing’ the wave of new netizens might be important also to galvanise new volunteers that service themselves and their language community.

Liked by 1 person

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