Submissions/Challenges to the Arabic Wikipedia: Stories from Different Volunteers

From Wikimania 2013 • Hong Kong

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2013.

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Submission no.
Subject no.
C6 or W1
Title of the submission
Challenges to the Arabic Wikipedia: Stories from Different Volunteers
Type of submission
Authors of the submission
Ahmed Mohi, Aya Mahfouz, Nasser Desouky, Reem El-Kashif, and Samir El-Sharbaty (Listed strictly in Alphabetical order).
Country of origin
E-mail address,,, and
Ahmed Mohi El din, Asaifm, Nan deko, Reem Al-Kashif and Samir I. Sharbaty
Personal homepage or blog

The Arabic Wikipedia is one of the rapidly growing Wikimedia Projects. As volunteers in the project, we are interested in discussing our experiences and addressing the main challenges that obstruct its growth. Several initiatives have started to take care of some of these challenges but there is more to be done.

Detailed proposal

The Arabic Wikipedia is one of the rapidly growing Wikimedia Projects. As volunteers in the project, we are interested in discussing our experiences and addressing the main challenges that obstruct its growth. From our perspective the main concerns are:

Contributing with scientific content

The Arabic Wikipedia is rich with articles in the fields of literature, History and Geography. However, when it comes to specialized scientific content, volunteers are faced with dilemma of translating technical terms into Arabic. Many terms do not have a standard localized term and the volunteers are faced with one of two choices: translating these terms on their own into a non-standard Arabic term or abandoning the article all together. The problem with the former solution is that it usually confuses the typical reader since s/he is not familiar with the term. As for the latter, it is clear what is the cost of such a choice to the richness of the Arabic Wikipedia.

Another faced problem is that there are many studies related to the MENA region which are carried in languages other than Arabic. Those studies are in fields like Archaeology and Politics. This reflects the need to localize such studies for the Arabic reader. It also highlights the importance of presenting our voice and opinion to different cultures.

Attracting permanent volunteers

In terms of speakers, Arabic is ranked among the top 5 spoken languages. However, this is not reflected in the ordering of Wikipedias with respect to articles. This can be attributed to several reasons:

  • Volunteering in the Arab World is usually related to charity work. Voluntary work is rarely associated with writing.
  • Lack of access to a stable internet connection.
  • The steep learning curve of how to edit Wikipedia and become an active community member.

To address such challenges, several initiatives have been started in the region. The most popular initiatives are the Education Program and Taghreedat. As members of the Education Program, we discuss our success and failure stories in recruiting volunteers. We focus on how the Education Program has changed the lives of students and how it helped them explore their capabilities and seek their full potential.

Supporting the IT Infrastructure

We addressed in the previous point how the learning curve hinders the possibility of volunteering. However, we see this as one of several aspects when it comes to discussing problems of the IT infrastructure in the region. There are other issues like having local Wikimedia servers to enhance Geographical Loading Balancing; and the presence of tech-savvy volunteers for maintaining these servers.

We would like to address this topic as a discussion with fellow Wikimedians to get to learn how different Wikipedias address such problems. In addition, we would like to know how feasible are our proposed solutions.

  • WikiCulture and Community

Length of presentation/talk
70 Minutes
Language of presentation/talk
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Depends on the scholarships
Slides or further information (optional)
online presentation link
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