Internet Geographer


Mapping Wikipedia Article Quality in the Middle East

Knowledge is a public good and increases in value as the number of people possessing it increases” - John Wilbanks

Few would disagree with the above quote, but a key issue is that the production of knowledge is far from evenly distributed. The maps below visualise article length of Wikipedia articles (in English) about the Middle East. The first graphic shows a few unexpected patterns. 

First, we actually don’t see that many articles created about the region - compared to content created about many other parts of the planet. 

Also noticeable is the fact that we see a thick layer of information that has been created over most of Azerbaijan. As mentioned in a post that I wrote a few weeks ago, Azerbaijan has the lowest average word count per article out of any country in the world (159 words per article). This is most likely the case because of both the thousands of stubs that have been created in the country (i.e. articles containing little or no content) and the fact that there are only very few articles containing a lot of text in the country.

Looking at non-stubs, we see clusters of content in many of the large cities on the Persian Gulf (e.g. Kuwait City, Manama, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai) and an even bigger cluster of articles over Sana'a in Yemen. A series of relatively long articles about places in Iraq are also noticeable along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

But maybe the most visible cluster of user-generated information sits over Israel and the Palestinian Territories in the far-western side of the map. There are significantly more high-quality (i.e. long) articles about that area than the rest of the region. 

The cluster of information over Israel and the Palestinian Territories can be even more clearly seen in the map above. Amazingly, content about Cairo - the Middle East’s largest city - is barely noticeable compared to the glowing dots that represent information that has been created about the land between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan.