Internet Geographer


Posts tagged Mena
Interactive Wikipedia mapping tool

We know by now that all online platforms have distinct, and highly uneven, geographies. Wikipedia is no exception: and we therefore decided to make a tool that would allow people to explore what, and where, the world’s most popular encyclopedia represents. 

The tool, made by the excellent team at TraceMedia, as well as the Oxford Internet Institute's Bernie Hogan, and myself (Mark Graham) can be accessed at the following link

The tool is built as part of our project to study participation and representation on Wikipedia in the Middle East and North Africa. It currently allows you to explore the geography of all geotagged Wikipedia articles in Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, English, Farsi, French, Hebrew and Swahili. It also allows mapping of a range of metrics including the word count of an article, date created, number of authors, and number of images. 

A few screenshots of the tool are below. You can also read more about how it was built, or simply start playing. The tool is still work in progress, and there is a lot to add and fix, but we hope it is useful in the meantime!

Mapping Edits to Wikipedia from the Middle East and North Africa
As a quick follow-up to one of my previous posts showing the geography of edits to Wikipedia, I wanted to share another map depicting the huge inequalities in where contributions to the encyclopedia in the MENA region come from.  

In particular, this map allows us to get a sense of how many edits (to any Wikipedia language version) come from Israel compared to other countries in the region. In other words, Israelis are far more active in creating/reproducing knowledge in one of the world’s most used websites than their counterparts in the rest of the Middle East and North Africa. 

I’ll post some versions on these maps normalised by population/Internet population soon-ish.
Open invitation to a workshop in Amman: Middle Eastern Participation and Presence in Wikipedia

Your voice matters. Come and share your experience and opinions about Wikipedia with other Wikipedians, wiki producers, researchers, and representatives from the Wikimedia Foundation during a two-day workshop.

The goal of the workshop is to talk about and understand the most significant barriers to participation in Wikipedia in the Middle East and North Africa. As such, we would love to hear from you if you meet any of the following criteria:
  • A Wikipedian who edits Arabic Wikipedia
  • A Wikipedian who edits Wikipedia (in any languages) on articles about the Middle East
  • Someone who translates articles between any of the following language versions in Wikipedia: Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, English, French, Hebrew, Persian.
  • Someone who is eager to get more involved with the project, and would like to meet people with similar ambitions.
  • Someone that would like to give a short talk or presentation to other Wikipedians from the region (e.g. about conflict or marginalization, barriers to participation, and circumvention strategies and tools).
The workshop will have limited space available, so we ask everyone to submit a one page letter detailing why your participation will benefit Wikipedia, the goals of the workshop, and your personal development as a contributor to Wikipedia. 

Sessions and conversations will be held simultaneously in Arabic and English, and you will only need to be fluent in one of these languages to participate. 

In order to facilitate participation, we have a small number of scholarships available that will support travel to (and in some cases accommodation in) Amman.

Please email Dr. Ilhem Allagui at and express your interest in joining this workshop. Please discuss your experience and how involved are you with Arabic Wikipedia, you may be eligible to a travel grant to attend this workshop. 

Workshop location: Jordan Media Institute- Amman, Jordan
Workshop dates: April 11-12, 2012
More information about this project at:

Workshop organisers:
Mark Graham (University of Oxford)
Bernie Hogan (University of Oxford)
Ilhem Allagui (American University of Sharjah)

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.