September 2017 African language Wikipedia update

African language map

It’s time to look at the state of the African language Wikipedias again, as always based on the imperfect metric of number of articles.

African Language Wikipedias

Language 11/2/2011 9/5/2013 26/6/2015 24/11/2016 5/9/2017
Malagasy 3,806 45,361 79,329 82,799 84,634
Afrikaans 17,002 26,752 35,856 42,732 46,824
Swahili 21,244 25,265 29,127 34,613 37,443
Yoruba 12,174 30,585 31,068 31,483 31,577
Egyptian Arabic   10,379 14,192 15,959 17,138
Amharic 6,738 12,360 12,950 13,279 13,789
Northern Sotho 557 685 1,000 7,605 7,823
Somali 1,639 2,757 3,446 4,322 4,727
Lingala 1,394 2,025 2,062 2,777 2,915
Kabyle   1,503 2,296 2,847 2,887
Shona   1,421 2,321 2,638 2,851
Kinyarwanda   1,817 1,780 1,799 1,810
Hausa 1,345 1,400 1,525
Igbo 1,019 1,284 1,384
Kikuyu 1,349
Kongo 1,173 1,176
Wolof 1,116 1,161 1,023 1,058 1,157
Luganda 1,082 1,153

This is the 2nd update in a row that gets to welcome a new language to the thousand article mark – congratulations Kikuyu which has now joined the list, and is already hot on the tail of Igbo.

I know some of the Afrikaans Wikipedia editors have been a bit disappointed by the slowing pace of growth as they move towards 50,000 articles. But, to put it in perspective, the 2013 Global Brittanica had about 40,000 articles, so there are less and less obvious gaps in content. Afrikaans is also one of the highest quality Wikipedias for its size – there’s a focus by many editors on the quality of articles rather than just the numbers. And they shouldn’t be too disappointed by the pace – Afrikaans is still the fastest growing African-language Wikipedia, catching up to Malagasy, which has the most articles.

It’s interesting that Afrikaans is getting more media attention, but still has to deal with concerns such as but anyone can edit it, how can we trust it?, the kind of thing the English Wikipedia has long moved on from. A definite focus area for us as the Wikimedia South Africa chapter.

Swahili continues to grow steadily, and Egyptian Arabic as well, and the other languages continue to grow slowly.

South African Language Wikipedias

Language 19/11/2011 9/5/2013 26/6/2015 24/11/2016 5/9/2017
Afrikaans 20,042 26,754 35,856 42,732 46,824
Northern Sotho 557 685 1,000 7,605 7,823
Zulu 256 579 683 777 942
Xhosa 125 148 356 576 708
Tswana 240 495 503 615 639
Tsonga 192 240 266 390 526
Sotho 132 188 223 341 523
Swati 359 364 410 419 432
Venda 193 204 151 238 256
Ndebele (incubator) 12 12

Looking at the South African languages in particular, besides Afrikaans, Northern Sotho has returned to a more natural growth compared to the spurt of the previous period. User:Aliwal2012 continues to be the standout contributor there, having now created 3,228 pages.

Growth in the Zulu Wikipedia has picked up slightly, with a few relatively new editors contributing the majority of recent additions.

Two other languages have also seen an uptick. Tsonga has leapfrogged Swati, mainly thanks to User:Thuvack, who’s on track to make 2017 his record year for Tsonga contributions.

Sotho has also passed Swati, with User:Aliwal2012 active there as well.

So what are you waiting for? If you haven’t edited before, don’t be afraid that you’ll find the syntax difficult – be bold, and there’ll always be someone to ask for help. All it takes is clicking that “Edit” link and getting started. With just a few edits a week and you could be making a noticeable difference to one of the African language Wikipedias!

Picture from Wikimedia Commons.

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3 thoughts on “September 2017 African language Wikipedia update”

  1. Hi Ian,
    the article statistics do not give a realistic picture of strength and weaknesses of African Language Wikipedias.
    like Malagasy has the high number of articles because of bot activity. As a consequence its readership is small (that is just an indicator, the relevant comparison would be to compare to other Malagasy language websites and their reader numbers).

    I tried to introduce criteria for quality and ‘market share” – have a look
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/African_language_Wikipedias_2017_Ingo_Koll_slides_wikiindaba_Accra.pdf

  2. I agree, article count is an imperfect metric, but it’s easy to measure and indicates trends over time. Thanks for the link to your presentation – very happy to see more detailed analyses out there.

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