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Wikipedia's Secret Multilingual Workforce

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A multicultural workforce.

A researcher has found that a multilingual workforce could help Wikipedia overcome the problem of versions of Wikipedia content in different languages lacking much overlap.

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Research has determined that versions of Wikipedia content in different languages have little overlap, with the English edition, for example, containing just 51 percent of the articles in German.

University of Oxford researcher Scott Hale reports that a group of people who edit Wikipedia in multiple languages could correct this problem, noting "such multilingual users may serve an important function in diffusing information across different language editions of the project." A study by Hale found that such individuals, about 8,000 in all, comprise a small but critical minority of editors; this number constitutes about 15 percent of the 55,000 editors that Hale estimates were responsible for 3.5 million significant edits to Wikipedia between July 8 and Aug. 9.

The researcher determined that some Wikipedia editions have more multilingual editors than others, and smaller editions have a higher portion of multilingual editors overall. Hale found these multilingual editors to be more active than their monolingual equivalents, making 2.3 times as many edits on average. In addition, nearly 50 percent of the articles added by multilingual editors receive no editing by monolinguals, while multilinguals also tend to edit the same articles in different tongues.

From Technology Review
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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