Wolof reaches 1000 Wikipedia articles

A sixth African-language Wikipedia has reached the 1000 article milestone, with Wolof now sitting at 1068 articles.

Two other African languages, Somali and Kabye, are also closing in on the milestone, both having moved quite quickly into the 800’s, passing the relatively stagnant Igbo and Kikongo.

African Language Wikipedias

Language 1/1/2007 3/8/2009 30/5/2010
Swahili 2980 12631 17998
Afrikaans 6149 12568 15259
Yoruba 517 6261 8858
Amharic 742 3333 3810
Lingala 292 1148 1255
Wolof     1068

Swahili remains the largest African-language Wikipedia, and is moving rapidly ahead. Having passed Afrikaans in August 2009, it’s now almost 3000 articles ahead, while Afrikaans remains on a steady trajectory.

Swahili also benefited from a Google project to create more Swahili content, focusing on the Swahili Wikipedia. Google initially targetted 7 East African universities, and sponsored prizes. Contributers had between November and January to write new articles, and the contest resulted in a 30% increase (by words) in the size of the Swahili Wikipedia for that period. New articles were up to 35 a day (up from 9 in October), but it appears this was a temporary boost, as rates have dropped off to 5 or 6 new articles a day since, below the Afrikaans average of about 9.

So, the African language Wikipedias show steady progress, what about Wiktionary?

African Language Wiktionaries

Language 3/8/2009 30/5/2010
Afrikaans 14128 14669
Swahili 12956 13000
Malagasy 142 4253
Wolof 2675 2689
Sotho 1387 1389
Swati 31 371
Tsonga 358 359
Amharic 311 319
Rwandi 306 306
Oromo 186 218

Many of the languages have stagnated, with the possible exception of Malagasy, which at first glance appears to have taken off and is now the 3rd-largest African language Wiktionary. In March though, the Malagasy Wikipedia stood at 6119 articles, so it appears a large number were not article quality, or were spam, and have been deleted. Article count is not a good indicator of quality, as it’s quite easy to create large number of low quality stubs, which isn’t indicative of a vibrant project.

On to the South African languages in particular:

South African Language Wikipedias

Language 1/10/2007 3/8/2009 30/5/2010
Afrikaans 8374 12568 15260*
Zulu 107 187 195
Tsonga 10 169 174
Swati 56 157 173
Venda 43 124 162
Xhosa 66 112 115
Tswana 40 103 105
Sotho 43 79 69
Northern Sotho** 0 311 540
Ndebele 0 0 0

* – yes, one article has been created since I started writing this.

** – The Northern Sotho Wikipedia is going great guns in the incubator, but it appears no closer to becoming an actual project, even though it would easily be second to Afrikaans. The missing criteria is “having an active community”, a criterion most of projects still in the main space would fail.

Besides Northern Sotho, and of course Afrikaans, there’s been some minor activity in Venda and Swati, but otherwise the other South African language Wikipedias have all failed to come to life yet, with Sotho even reducing in size as spam articles are cleaned out.

And how about the Wiktionaries?

South African Language Wiktionaries

Language 9/12/2007 3/8/2009 30/5/2010
Afrikaans 9312 14128 14669
Sotho 1381 1387 1389
Swati 31 46 371
Tsonga 166 358 359
Zulu 102 127 131
Tswana 0 22 23
Xhosa 11 Closed Closed

Again, outside of Afrikaans, and a notable spurt from Swati that seems mainly to have been contributed by one person, nothing but the most superficial of progress.

Overall, only two languages, Swahili and Afrikaans, could be called success stories, but there’s some progress overall with some of the larger African languages.

Related articles


  1. Thanks for the update.
    With regard to the 30% increase of sw:wp due to the Google challenge, I would have been happier if you had stated it in number of articles (which is still a 10+% increase) than by database size. Looking at http://www.wikistatistics.net/?family=wikipedias&project=sw&subject=good&scanback=365 , I can tell you (as one of sw:wp’s bureaucrats) that the slow-down after the challenge was mainly due to clean-up. And one single contributor in April (mainly creating geography stubs) produced almost the same amount of new articles as the entire challenge. I guess it remains a challenge to realistically gauge the progress of wikipedias. We’re still hoping for regular and qualified contributors over at sw:wp!

  2. Hello,

    You have mentioned that Wolof wikipedia have reached 1 000 articles ; I don’t have understood if you only count native african languages WMF project or if you count all languages spoken in Africa.

    Malagasy is an Africa language and it has his version of Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Malagasy Wikipedia has actually more than 2,450 articles and he has reached the thousandth many weeks before Wolof reachs it. Why this omission ?

  3. Thanks Jagwar for the update. Malagasy is listed amongst the Wiktionaries, but it was an oversight in the list of Wikipedias. I see it reached 1000 articles in around April 2009.

  4. 1000 articles in Wolof, very cool!

    About Wiktionaries… I thought it was more interesting to first put effort into adding words from African languages to bigger existing Wiktionaries. That’s why I added over 1000 Bambara words to the French Wiktionary: http://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/Cat%C3%A9gorie:bambara

    It wouldn’t be very hard to write a bot that takes all these Bambara words to start off a Wiktionary in Bambara, once there is enough interest in working on a bm.wiktionary in the future.

  5. Hi, Greenman! We are currently have the 21,000+ articles on the Swahili Wikipedia. We’ve got that number around 4/5th October 2010. You might need to change the status as well. If you need any progress regarding the Swahili Wikipedia, please let me know.

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