Revisiting Patreon

In March 2015 I started a series, 30 Artists in 30 Days, where the plan was to find 30 artists to support on Patreon. The 30-days part ended up being a little loose. Read that post first if you haven’t already.

It’s been about 18 month since then, and I thought I’d go back and see how Patreon is working out for those artists.

Here’s the list:

Active means has posted on Patreon since June 2016.

Artist Current Status Mar 2015 Sep 2016
Nate Maingard Active 153 $1343 269 $1309
Amanda Palmer Active 3935 $29,193.25 8,317 $33,080
Cyra Morgan Inactive 22 $140 25 $139
Julia Nunes Active 504 $2,010.84 531 $1,424
Dan Newbie Inactive 16 $43 21 $49
George Aguirre Inactive 16 $221 removed
Okori Active 13 $50.50 23 $68
Walt Ribeiro Inactive 28 $158.11 removed
TimH Active 53 $844.35 55 $968
Peter Yuen Active 47 $558 78 $838
Peter Blanchard Active 14 $251 18 $177
The DarkSide Active 1 $1 1 $1
Raina Rose Active ?? ?? 62 $198
James O’Deorain Inactive ?? ?? removed
Caitlin de Ville Inactive ?? ?? 61 $336
Danielle Ate the Sandwich Active 181 $1,011.85 193 $693
Nika Harper Active 302 $1,918.41 194 $877
Scott Bradlee Active 955 $3,427.59 620 $1316
Lauren O’Connell Inactive 342 $1,463.68 357 $1,193
Ana Free Active 75 $445.00 53 $390
Sean Osborn Inactive 3 $31.00 5 $37
David Sides Inactive 5 $9 4 $7
Cyrille Aimee Active 79 $705 152 $1,125
Phil J Active 9 $34 9 $40
Tony Lucca Active 178 $1,373.00 165 $1,003
Christopher Bill Active 48 $287.50 47 $98
Walk Off the Earth Active 1448 $15,805.50 1,287 $9,512
Taylor Davis Active 370 $1,857.00 412 $1,707
Unwoman Active 293 $593.61 399 $751
Gabby Young Active 40 $226.00 51 $260

Like Wikipedia, the concept behind Patreon seems to me like one those things the internet was designed for. Freeing up artists from the middlemen so that they can interact and earn directly from their audience.

So I was quite surprised to see that the majority have seen a reduction in their Patreon income, some quite substantially. A few no longer have Patreon accounts. Only 12 of the 30 have seen an increase. Most have fewer patrons, but even some with more patreons are earning less – so the average pledge has come down. I can’t really see a good reason for this. Patreon’s site was exploited in in October 2015, and perhaps this had an effect, frightening people off. But Patreon’s still getting good press, and still seems to be attracting new artists, so it’s a pity and a mystery to me that artists have not been able to grow their income in a way many would have hoped.

Related posts:
* 30 Artists in 30 Days

Wikipedia and systemic bias

Systemic Bias
A while ago, I noticed a comment on the talk page of one of the Wikipedia editors that I follow. An article he had created was nominated for speedy deletion.

Speedy deletion is the kind of thing reserved for articles about my pet cat, my high school teacher, the rock band I’ve started in my my basement that will be performing its first gig soon, the brilliant new open source content management system I wrote last night. In other words, articles that are uncontroversially deemed to be a waste of space.

The editor, Bobby Shabangu, has created many articles, almost exclusively African content, on the English Wikipedia, as well as the Swati Wikipedia. He’s on the board of Wikimedia South Africa. So, unlikely to add an article about his rock band then.

I took a look at the article. It was on David Tlale, a South African fashion designer. At the time (and it’s still the case as I write), the article was very short, a stub, but had a couple of good references.

In no way was it worthy of nomination for speedy deletion.

But it’s the kind of situation African editors routinely face. Whenever African content is added, the chances of it being nominated for deletion are high. In many cases, the editor is at fault, having not provided sufficient references, but in many cases it’s simply a case of systemic bias. Wikipedia recognises this (there’s a whole article on the issue, and how to tackle it), but that doesn’t help minimise the impact. At any gathering of African editors, there’s almost always much grumbling about the latest rejected content, a sharing of war stories. Another member of the South African board says he no longer contributes to the English Wikipedia for this very reason. And undoubtedly, if you’re able to contribute in another language, it’s far more rewarding to see your contributions gratefully accepted rather than viewed suspiciously.

I started editing in 2002/2003. At the time, the English Wikipedia was a giant blank page. It wasn’t hard to find a new article to create. The city of Durban? The Springbok rugby team? Kaizer Chiefs? Lawrence Ferlinghetti? Walter Sisulu? The Pan-Africanist Congress? I created the articles for all of these and more, and many articles were in a far worse state than Bobby’s once I submitted them. References? Pfft, too much trouble, who needs them.

Today, the English Wikipedia is a very different beast, the criteria are far more stringent, and it’s no longer possible to find such low-hanging fruit to create. But Wikipedia still severely under-represents African content.

Because I happened to spot, Bobby’s article I could remove it from consideration for speedy deletion. But shortly after it was nominated for deletion, which involves more energy spent justifying an article’s existence.

If I had faced the obstacles new editors face today, if my new articles were continually rejected, deemed unworthy, and I had to spend all my energy in fighting to keep them, I can safely say I wouldn’t still be editing 13 years later.

Let’s go back to David Tlale. Let’s imagine he was an American fashion designer. He’s had articles published about him in the New York Times and the Washington Post. His work has appeared at the New Fashion Week and the Paris Fashion Week. Would his article be seen as the equivalent of one about my pet rabbit?

Of course not.

Systemic bias doesn’t imply that administrators nominating African content for deletion are malicious, out to sabotage the project. No, I’m sure they are well meaning, and having to deal with a constant stream of rubbish contributions must test one’s patience, so when they see another article about someone they don’t recognise, when because of their background they can’t quickly tell the difference between references from South Africa’s largest media companies and various personal blogs, the outcome is not too surprising.

So what can be done about it?

Since I’ve been editing for so long, I’ve been granted the “autopatrolled” right. This means any new article I create is listed as “reviewed”, and is far less likely to attract the attention of a trigger-happy administrator editor looking to delete it.

At today’s Wikimedia South Africa board meeting, I proposed that we identify various experienced, trusted editors, and nominate them to receive the autopatrolled right. Most editors don’t know it exists, or don’t want to go through the red tape of applying and justifying themselves. This won’t help new editors, but it will help retain experienced editors who’re consistently beaten down by the opposition they face.

Let’s see how it goes!

Related posts:
* Wikimedia South Africa Workshop
* March 2016 African language Wikipedia update

26000 runners and a walker

While about 11 000 people decided to run 56km this morning, and another 16 000 took it easy with the half-marathon, I decided it was perfect weather to cover a little less distance than that, and go for a walk on the mountains.

Silvermine (pre-fire)

27 000+ people were blocking the route I planned to go, so I ended up walking near Silvermine. Walking is a great mood-enhancer if I’m in a bad mood, and what I most want to do if I’m feeling good, so there’s never a bad time to go. Like most of us, I don’t always end up doing what I want to and I haven’t done much recently, although the summer heat where all I’ve wanted to do was curl up under a cold shower didn’t help. But, the first autumn cold front made perfect weather.

I took Dorje sometime in 2014, and it was a wonderfully windy day, hanging on to the beacon in the maelstrom as the clouds poured by, occasionally revealing the sun, or the view below.

But that pales compared to the wind today. For most of the route, the wind was moderate, but it picked up in the afternoon, and coming back I took a detour to the lookout point over Hout Bay. As I got closer, sand started blasting my face, and I had to cover my eyes. As I reached the lookout point, I could barely stay upright. The wind was thudding into me, a brief moment of calm, and then raging with all the fury it could muster. I tried using some rusty tai chi to stand rooted on a rock, but just couldn’t keep balanced. I love Cape Town’s wind, but this was too much even for me, and I’m sure the runners are happy it was much milder in the morning!

Luckily the wind was blowing from the sea, otherwise I would probably be spending the night half way down the cliff face.

Coming back down past Silvermine Dam, unsurprisingly deserted, the water was the wildest I’ve seen, the wind was blowing the water over the dam wall, and any swimmers would have risked being dashed by the waves against the wall.

If I’m not too stiff after oiling my walking rust, I may just do it all again tomorrow!

Image from Wikipedia

March 2016 African language Wikipedia update

My feeds have been full with Dumi editing up a storm on the Xitstonga Wikipedia recently, as well as helping the Ndebele Wikipedia into the incubator. Ndebele is the only South African official language without a Wikipedia, and it’s great to see this hole being plugged. So, it’s time for another African language Wikipedia update. The usual disclaimer that this only takes into account number of articles, an imperfect metric, as not all articles are equal. This article is in a far healthier state than this one, for example.

But as an indicator of trends and activity, it’s as good as any, so let’s see what been happening:

African Language Wikipedias

Language 11/2/2011 13/4/2012 9/5/2013 17/6/2014 26/6/2015 5/3/2016
Malagasy 3,806 36,767 45,361 47,144 79,329 81,240
Afrikaans 17,002 22,115 26,752 31,756 35,856 39,065
Swahili 21,244 23,481 25,265 26,349 29,127 32,565
Yoruba 12,174 29,894 30,585 30,910 31,068 31,172
Egyptian Arabic   8,433 10,379 12,440 14,192 14,839
Amharic 6,738 11,572 12,360 15,968 12,950 13,031
Somali 1,639 2,354 2,757 3,646 3,446 3,878
Northern Sotho 557 566 685 691 1,000 2,830
Kabyle     1,503 1,876 2,296 2,643
Shona     1,421 2,077 2,321 2,459
Lingala 1,394 1,816 2,025 2,077 2,062 2,131
Kinyarwanda   1,501 1,817 1,832 1,780 1,785
Hausa 1,345 1,360
Kongo 1,122
Igbo 1,019 1,112
Wolof 1,116 1,814 1,161 1,201 1,023 1,044

Afrikaans as always continues to show steady growth, and while at times growth in other languages has spiked for a short while, Afrikaans has shown steady, consistent progress, and most of its articles are high quality as well.

Swahili too shows steady growth, and has passed Yoruba, which was the beneficiary of a brief spike.

Most dramatic has been been Northern Sotho, which is the most recent official language of South Africa to get a Wikipedia, and which only recently broke the 1000 article barrier. It has now surged past seven other languages, with 2830 articles. Much of this growth (a whopping 1544 new articles) is down to User:Aliwal2012, a hospital pharmacist living in Lady Grey who’s also extremely active on the Afrikaans Wikipedia, and modestly contributes to the English Wikipedia as well. Modest is a relative term, since in spite of being around for about decade less than me, and English only being their third most active language, they’ve still created more new articles in English than I have!

A great example of the impact one person can have, made more visible by it being in a language that has little content.

Kabyle, a language spoken mostly in northern Algeria, as well as France, has also shown some growth, passing Shona.

Kongo, spoken in the DRC, Republic of Congo and Angola, has now also broken 1000 articles and is a new edition on the list, and Kikuyu is knocking on the door as well.

Exciting to see new languages and bursts of activity, with only a few being relatively stagnant.

On to the South African languages specifically:

South African Language Wikipedias

Language 19/11/2011 13/4/2012 9/5/2013 17/6/2014 26/6/2015 5/3/2016
Afrikaans 20,042 22,115 26,754 31,756 35,856 39,065
Northern Sotho 557 566 685 691 1,000 2,830
Zulu 256 483 579 630 683 742
Tswana 240 490 495 510 503 538
Xhosa 125 136 148 333 356 473
Swati 359 361 364 400 410 412
Tsonga 192 193 240 303 266 352
Sotho 132 145 188 197 223 299
Venda 193 190 204 209 151 228
Ndebele (incubator) 12

The results here are particularly pleasing, as with the exception of Swati, all the languages are showing activity. As Northern Sotho and Xitsonga, have shown, one person can make a substantial impact.

Anecdotally, some of the of this activity may be down to the content translation tool – it’s great to see a useful tool put to use by the community.

This has probably been the most optimistic report since I started these a number of years ago. Long may it continue, as we get closer to a world where each human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

Related articles

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Trust Us, We’re a Payment Gateway

A friend told me today about an experience of attempting to book a flight on His credit card wasn’t working, but there was an option for bank transfer (EFT), so he chose that.

The EFT option used SID, a payment option promising secure EFT transactions. All good so far, so he followed the link.

The SID window asked him to enter his bank account login details… You know, the kind you’re constantly warned about to never give to anyone and never to enter on any other site except your banks.

I couldn’t believe that this is actually what happened (perhaps the friend had missed his morning coffee), so I checked it for myself. Looking into SID’s documentation, they claim to be externally verified, not to store the login details, and to use the bank’s own security system. But yes, you are asked to enter your bank account login details in their window.

I’ve got no reason to doubt that SID does what it says, but the methodology seems hopelessly flawed.

Let’s say I start a new payment system called SAD. At the same time I launch my casino website, relying on trusted SAD security. I state clearly that SAD uses the bank’s own security systems, and doesn’t store any of the login credentials. Totally secure!

The transaction succeeds, and the customer has a credit to spend on my casino site. They spend many happy hours on my casino website, winning up a storm, and dreaming of their new Tesla. For some reason the cashout option isn’t working today, but check back soon…

Some time later, they decide to check their bank balance, and find, to their horror, it’s all gone. They immediately phone their bank. Perhaps the conversation goes something like this:

HORRIFIED CUSTOMER: There’s a transaction clearing out my entire balance! It wasn’t me! The transaction needs to be reversed!

BANK: Hmm, our records indicate you logged in from internet banking, and transferred the money out. When was the last time you remember logging in?

HC: Er, I logged in to and made a R50 transfer to their account from my bank account, using the safe and secure SAD system.

BANK: OK, no problem, we’re refunding the money now, apologies for the mistake.

Or perhaps not…

Perhaps the bank, in their charming and professional manner, laughs you off the phone and tells you you’re and idiot for giving your login details to another site.

Merchants asking customers to trust them, assuring them that their bank details are secure, is a recipe for disaster. Just don’t do it.

Related posts:

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Learning Man and the Talent Exchange

I’ve just come back from Learning Man festival, held on a farm just outside Riviersonderend.

The festival describes itself as a call to co-create a great social experiment in community resilience, focusing on Experimenting with Off Grid Living, Adventures in Freedom, Learning skills for an empowered life and Using Our own Economy.

Learning Man continues until after New Year, and I’m back early, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but mainly because it was too hot. If anything will make me emigrate to New Zealand, it’s not to see hobbits, it’s because (for now at least) it’s usually a lot cooler there. There was a river to swim in, and ample showers, but mostly I spent the time feeling too hot. Since today was 40° in Cape Town, I’m very happy not to have been roasting out there today.

Besides the heat, I need to up my camping game. The tents next to me included such must-haves as:

  • misting spray to keep cool
  • outside lights to guide the way back at night (after my first after-dark return was spent bumbling around in the dark with all sense of direction gone)
  • blow-up mattress (I used the sleeping bag as a mattress)
  • camping chairs
  • food (I had the bright idea of fasting while I was there and taking only a box of chia meal along for emergencies. Not so easy when all around are cooking and inviting you to eat with them)
  • bug repellent (I’ve come back having provided much sustenance for the local insects)

So, I was hot, not particularly comfortable, and missing Dorje who didn’t come with.

The festival is highly child-friendly. Dorje has many advantages over my childhood, but one of the ways he’s worse off is in rarely experiencing the freedom to roam without supervision, and the festival would have been perfect for this.

As the name suggests, one of the main purposes of the festival was learning, and there were numerous interesting talks and demonstrations on offer, such as How to build a compost-heated water system, Fire walking, Money alternatives – crypto-currencies and community exchanges, Sacred economy: The re-emergence of the collaborative commons and peer production as a viable economical model, Conduism and Channeling with the Ancient Shamanic Plant Medicine Iboga. There’s a longer list at Learning Man website, and there were also a number of spontaneous offerings, such as a couple’s discussion on their experiences with polyamory.

The festival was used as an opportunity to boost the Talent Exchange – all offerings at the festival needed to be either gifted, exchanged, or exchanged for Talents. There’s been a burst of new offerings as a result, but the concept was also challenged, as some of the participants objected to being “forced to join a website”, or “expected to sell things in order to earn Talents”. The discussions were animated, some misunderstandings were cleared up, and once again the Talent Exchanged proved a great way to introduce many financial concepts to people.

The festival is still ongoing, but it’s been an interesting experiment in bringing different communities together. Many of the people that attend the Space of Love events, based on the Anastasia books, were there. Those gatherings are usually much more contained and intimate, and there seemed to be differing expectations of the levels of participation, volunteering, and so on. Similarly, it’s likely there’ll be a big influx just for the New Years party,which may change the dynamic some more.

There was a police visit during the festival. I’m not sure if it was for a drugs raid, but they would have been highly disappointed at the findings (I didn’t even see any alcohol while I was there), and seeing child-friendly areas of the festival where not even smoking cigarettes was permitted.

It’s been a worthwhile experiment, and hopefully will continue to develop in future years.

Related posts

Swiss Precision

Bathroom scaleI have an old analog scale, inherited from my parents. It sits in Dorje’s room, mostly gathering dust.

I’ve never worried much about weighing myself, but in my own mind, I’ve been 80kg most of my adult life, and, more recently, since becoming “fat”, moved up to 85kg. The analog scale is not particularly accurate – I can lose 5 kg in 30 minutes, but still, on the rare occasion I stood on it, I never went above 85kg.

The friends I stayed with in Switzerland had a bathroom scale. All digital, shiny and new, measuring to the 100g. I decided to give it a try. Since I’d walked up a storm in Berlin and Prague, and felt a little lighter than when I arrived in Europe, I imagined something like 83.9kg.

No. 91.1kg it claimed! So much for Swiss precision… Clearly one of those scales handed out as free marketing for a weight-loss supplement.

After a few days of alpine walking, on the morning I left, I braved it again. 90.9kg! Pfft. No more accurate than before.

I rushed to weigh myself on the old scale when I got back home to Cape Town. A sprightly 75kg! Much more like it.

Still, it may not be coincidence that I’ve jogged around the field outside a few times the last couple of days. Yes, jogged. I don’t think I’ve jogged since school – it’s been all sedate walking or all out action since then. And have obviously managed to put on 5kg of pure muscle, weighing in at 80kg two days later.

I don’t really know how to explain the increase to 82kg since I started writing this post though… Perhaps those 7-minute workouts I do every few weeks have a delayed muscle-building effect?

Related posts:

Image from Wikimedia Commons

South African Literary Awards Online – 6 Years Later

In 2009, I wrote about the sad state of South African Literary Awards online. While sites such as do great work keeping on top of things, the bodies administering the awards did not and, at the time, many did not even have up-to-date, or in some cases any, pages listing their award’s winners.

Jumping ahead six years, surely things are rosier? Even if it’s just a Facebook page, surely not even the most digital-phobic or badly-administered award would have failed to recognise the importance of having some sort of web presence?

In short, no, and in some cases it’s even worse.

I’ve been helping to keep the South_African_literary_awards section on Wikipedia more or less updated with recent winners since then, but every now and again I dive into looking up some of the missing historical winners, and am still amazed at how poor the record-keeping is.

As an example, let’s take the English Academy, which administers a number of awards. In 2009, they had a page listing award winners (albeit only until 2007). In 2014 I noticed that this page had disappeared (breaking the Wikipedia citations), and wrote to them asking them to restore the link, or let me know the new location. They responded a few week’s later by saying that they were updating the list and hoped to put it on the website soon. As of today I’m still waiting, but they have achieved something special by making their new awards page one of the more unreadable out there. One (very) long page begins with a call for submissions for the 2015 Olive Schreiner Prize, continues with a blow-by-blow account of the 2015 award ceremony, including a list of who was thanked in the speeches, and of the wine and good food enjoyed at the ceremony. Next up is a description of the 2014 Gold Medal award winner, including his full acceptance speech. After much scrolling, next up is a press release on the 2014 Percy Fitzpatrick award, followed by a horribly formatted table of winners of various awards from 2012-2013, where the nominators names are more prominently displayed than the winners. Next up is a slightly-better formated table of the 2011-2012 winners. And so it continues, acceptance speech, citation, acceptance speech…

By the end of the page my mouse wheel is crying for mercy, but there’s no list of winners. If I’ve been playing very careful attention, I may have been able to decipher some of the recent winners, but nothing resembling a comprehensive list.

What about the award described as the most prestigious in Afrikaans literature, the Hertzog Prize, administered by the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns? The page used as a citation on Wikipedia again disappeared, but at least they replaced it with a new page, even if they didn’t bother to redirect the old link. “New” is perhaps overstating it, as the list of winners stops at 2013, so while perhaps the 2014 winners of the most prestigious award in Afrikaans literature may be mentioned somewhere on their site, it’s nowhere to be found on the awards page.

The litany of woe continues from award to award. What about the Media24 Books Literary Awards? Surely Media24, the dominant online media empire in South Africa can get it together and have a comprehensive list?

Sadly it appears not, and unlike most of the other awards, which at least give it a brave try, Media24 don’t seem to even have any sort of awards page.

While there’s always Wikipedia (and the section needs some love, so feel free to help out), it’s sad that so few of the local literary awards respect their own awards enough to bother recording them somewhere accessible.

I know, say, the Alba Bouwer prize is not the Nobel Prize for Literature, but some of us are still interested!

Related posts:
* South African Literary Awards and the internet

Picture from Wikimedia Commons.

Film heaven with Mubi

I’ve recently joined Mubi, a video on-demand site for film lovers. Netflix, which, in spite of users having to jump through DNS hoops as it’s not officially available in South Africa, is extremely popular, while Mubi is not well-known at all.

Mubi has some advantages though.

Firstly, it’s officially available to South Africans, so no need to pretend we’re American. It has an interesting model. At any one time, only 30 films are available. Each day, one drops off the list, to be replaced by another. Knowing they’re going to be disappearing soon creates a sense of urgency to watch the films.

So while the range at any one time is limited, most importantly, they show the kind of films I like to watch, which they describe as cult, classic and award-winning films.

To give you an idea of the films they list, here’s what I’ve watched in the last few days (remember these will be dropping off each day so may not be available by the time you read this)
* Lascars, an animated film about two petty crooks set in a French ghetto
* Dancer in the Dark, the Lars von Trier classic featuring the brilliant Björk
* Trash Humpers featuring actors in old people masks humping trashcans (I didn’t get much further than that before moving on to something better, but I’m sure it has a cult following).
* Pink Saris, the award-winning documentary following Sampat Pal Devi, ‘Pink Gang’ leader and her attempts to bring justice to abused women on the streets of Uttar Pradesh in India.

So, after a long drought, I’m in film heaven. I don’t normally like affiliate schemes, but if the site appeals, this one benefits you too. Sign up on your own and get a 7-day free trial, or through this link, and get a 30-day free trial.

And let me know if Trash Humpers turns you on and I’ll be sure to leave the rubbish bin out next time you visit.

Related posts:
* The Bloody Miracle
* Inside Job, ideology and regulatory contradictions
* Shortbus
* Sithengi

June 2015 African Language Wikipedia Update

I recommend that anybody new to Wikipedia editing starts, if possible, with one of the smaller Wikipedias. It’s far more fun, contributions will probably be openly welcomed, and there’s less likelihood of experiencing some sort of bureaucratic nightmare. An example fresh in my mind is the OpenCart article, which doesn’t exist. Anyone attempting to create it will be faced with this page, and need to persuade the administrator who locked it (due to previous abuse) that they should be permitted to do so, and who therefore holds veto power over its creation. A bridge too far for most new editors!

While the English Wikipedia makes the news due to the declining number of editors, and has a particularly bad reputation (as can be seen in the mailing lists) amongst African editors who’ve had experience with some of its trigger-happy bureaucrats, how are the African language Wikipedias themselves faring?

African Language Wikipedias

Language 11/2/2011 13/4/2012 9/5/2013 17/6/2014 29/10/2014 26/6/2015
Malagasy 3,806 36,767 45,361 47,144 47,061 79,329
Afrikaans 17,002 22,115 26,752 31,756 33,392 35,856
Yoruba 12,174 29,894 30,585 30,910 30,989 31,068
Swahili 21,244 23,481 25,265 26,349 27,021 29,127
Egyptian Arabic   8,433 12,440 12,934 14,192
Amharic 6,738 11,572 12,360 15,968 16,229 12,950
Somali 1,639 2,354 3,646 3,680 3,446
Shona     1,421 2,077 2,091 2,321
Kabyle     1,503 1,876 1,967 2,296
Lingala 1,394 1,816 2,025 2,077 2,087 2,062
Kinyarwanda   1,501 1,817 1,832 1,834 1,780
Hausa 1,386 1,345
Wolof 1,116 1,814 1,161 1,201 1,148 1,023
Igbo 1,017 1,019
Northern Sotho 557 566 685 691 966 1,000

Malagasy has shot up, but it’s always been an outlier – a language for which, due to its unusual characteristics, there’s always been a great deal of outside interest. Afrikaans continues to grow steadily, albeit at a slightly slower pace than before. Swahili, in 4th place, is growing at a faster pace than Yoruba in 3rd. Yoruba had a huge burst from 2011-2012, but has only been slowly growing since then.

Egyptian Arabic is also growing steadily, but after that there are some interesting figures. Amharic has lost over three thousand articles. Articles being deleted is not uncommon. Spam gets removed, articles get merged and so on. Losing so many articles simply means the growth before was mostly made up of these kinds of articles, and that there’s little growth outside of that.

With the exception of Kabyle, most of the languages that follow share a similar fate, or are static. Wolof has even fallen to lower than its 2011 level. The one noteworthy milestone is that Northern Sotho has (just) joined the 1000 club.

So, barring Malagasy, while the only fireworks amongst the top African language Wikipedias are of the going out kind, and there are no trigger-happy bureaucrats to blame this time, are things in the far south looking any better? What about the South African language Wikipedias specifically?

South African Language Wikipedias

Language 19/11/2011 13/4/2012 9/5/2013 17/6/2014 29/10/2014 26/6/2015
Afrikaans 20,042 22,115 26,754 31,756 33,392 35,856
Northern Sotho 557 566 685 691 966 1,000
Zulu 256 483 579 630 686 683
Tswana 240 490 495 510 513 503
Swati 359 361 364 400 408 410
Xhosa 125 136 148 333 380 356
Tsonga 192 193 240 303 309 266
Sotho 132 145 188 197 202 223
Venda 193 190 204 209 208 151

So while Afrikaans continues steadily, Northern Sotho makes it to 1000 articles (albeit with the energy of an athlete somewhere near the back of the pack crawling over the finish line at the end of the Comrades marathon) and Sotho has managed to haul itself off the bottom, all the other languages are static or have shrunk.

The Xhosa deletion log, for example, gives an idea of the kind of articles being deleted, while the latest article to be created at the time of writing, Star Wars, is just blank, and probably also not long for this world.

Northern Sotho is an interesting case, as for a long time it sat in the Incubator, but the experience seems to have helped, as in spite of having less native speakers than both Xhosa and Zulu, it sits well above them in articles created.

Hopefully there’ll be some fireworks to report in the next update!

Related articles

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Before, you are wise, after, you are wise. In between, you are otherwise.