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Submissions/Empire: Another look at Wikipedia

From Wikimania 2013 • Hong Kong

After careful consideration, the programme committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2013 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no.
Subject no.
Title of the submission
Empire: Another look at Wikipedia
Type of submission
Panel + Discussion
Author of the submission
Aprabhala (talk) 19:44, 30 April 2013 (UTC) (Achal Prabhala) and User:Fuzheado (Andrew Lih)[reply]
Country of origin
India + USA
E-mail address
aprabhala at gmail dot com
User:aprabhala and User:Fuzheado
Personal homepage or blog

When we consider the growth of Wikipedias in languages outside those spoken in Europe (or the relative lack thereof), what can we learn from the early days of European-language Wikipedias and their present-day rules and systems? What is the Wikipedia Empire and how does it help and hinder activity in its colonies? Why don't the nations with the largest English-speaking populations own English Wikipedia? Hint: It isn't just the infrastructure.

Detailed proposal

We are interested in exploring aspects of the global terrain of Wikipedia that resemble Empire. Why is this important? One of the biggest questions - if not the question - confronting the community is how to sustain the growth of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Growth is flagging in the mainstay regions/ languages - Europe and North America for e.g.; growth is not high enough in other regions - Asia, Africa and parts of Latin America. Some of the reasons are external (though not necessarily beyond our scope): for instance, (1) the inequities of access to the Internet, and related infrastructural problems that characeterise poorer economies, and (2) the parallel rise of social media, including in domains closely related to Wikipedia, providing far more opportunities for people to do what they could once only do on Wikipedia.

Then there are factors which are largely internal, and therefore, within our control to change. Two of those factors, we believe, are culture and opportunity.

By culture, we mean explicit and implicit codes of conduct that have been developed by the sub-communities that made Wikipedia what it is, and their impact on sub-communities that came later. Here's why history matters. Consider the central argument of 'Trade Secrets' (Yale University Press, 2004), Doron Ben-Atar's book on piracy and industrial growth in the USA. Ben-Atar writes of piracy as a key strategy for industrial growth in the USA for the better part of two centuries; yet, the same country is today the world's most significant enforcer against piracy. What lessons do the early days of Wikipedia hold for newer communities in peripheral geographies?

By opportunity, we mean the Internet at large - and how it existed and grew with Wikipedia, and why its health matters. European language Wikipedias often grew alongside the whole online world in these selfsame languages; that is not quite the case when you step into, say, India or South Africa. What kind of opportunities for growth in Wikimedia projects are large parts of the world missing? What can we do to create the right environment for growth?

We'd like to present a case for why we must remove these crucial but under-examined roadblocks in our path to global growth, and we'd like to do that by first discussing what they are.

  • WikiCulture and Community

and also

  • Wikis in Asia
Length of presentation/talk
25 minutes
Language of presentation/talk
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Yes (for both proposers)
Slides or further information (optional)
We will have 2 or 3 other Wikipedians joining us; details to be updated shortly.
Special requests

Interested attendees

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  1. Fuzheado (talk) 19:51, 30 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Sharihareswara (WMF) (talk) 00:19, 1 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Aprabhala (talk) 08:18, 1 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Bishdatta (talk) 17:20, 2 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Graham87 (talk) 11:17, 5 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Ijon (talk) 23:02, 15 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]