Internet Geographer


The directionalities of Wikipedia: Concentration in language versions

Very distinct patterns are evident when the different language versions of Wikipedia are mapped out. Below are maps I made of the Czech and Portuguese versions of Wikipedia.

What you see is that most of the geo-related articles are perhaps unsurprisingly about places in which most of the contributors probably live. Czech articles are overwhelmingly about places and events in the Czech Republic. Similarly, if you look at articles in the Portuguese Wikipedia, there is a lot of information about Portugal and Brazil, a moderate amount about other Lusophone countries, and then very little about everywhere else.

What is somewhat unexpected is that there is so little available information about foreign subjects in most versions of Wikipedia. The Portuguese Wikipedia is the 9th largest, so you might expect to see a broader coverage of the non-Lusophone world. If you only speak Portuguese, there is a clear directionality to the available information – and indeed you see this same pattern if you map out almost any Wikipedia language version. English and German are the only notable exceptions.

The virtual cloud of information in Wikipedia is thus only a faint wisp in most places in most languages. But as a Mancunian I should be used to the idea that clouds are always thickest over your own home.