African language Wikipedia update

There’s been some momentum recently in the local Wikimedia world.

The process for forming a local chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation was jumpstarted at a workshop at Wits University in August last year, and is now nearing the final stages. The legal documentation is close to being complete, and will be submitted shortly to the Wikimedia Foundation for approval. Once they’ve given the go ahead, we’ll register a local non-profit organisation as the official presence of the local community.

This is happening at the same time as another bid to host Wikimania, the annual conference of all things wiki. I co-ordinated the Cape Town bid in 2008, and this time around Stellenbosch is bidding, with the event to be hosted at Stellenbosch University.

With all this activity, I was invited to talk on SAFM radio yesterday afternoon, in particular about the local chapter, and the local language Wikipedias. It was a short interview, so in spite of hoping to mention both the local bid, as well as the fact that there’s more than just Wikipedia, I was pleased to discuss the much-overlooked local language Wikipedias.

I don’t listen to radio, and I don’t know what sort of impact it, or this particular show on SAFM, has these days, so as soon as the interview ended, I loaded up article counts for all the local language Wikipedias, and now, about eight hours later, I’m looking to see if there’s been any noticeable activity.

Of all the official South Africa language Wikipedias, all but Afrikaans, and of course English, are extremely low traffic, where a single edit is a noteworthy event!

So, how much impact did the interview have, and, more importantly, how have they been doing since my last update?

South African Language Wikipedias

Language 1/10/2007 30/5/2010 11/2/2011
Afrikaans 8374 15260 17002
Swati 56 173 308
Zulu 107 195 209
Venda 43 162 192
Tsonga 10 174 185
Sotho 43 69 117
Xhosa 66 115 116
Tswana 40 103 105
Northern Sotho** 0 540 597
Ndebele 0 0 0

**The Northern Sotho Wikipedia, in spite of being the 3rd largest official South African language, is still in the incubator due to not meeting more recent criteria for a new project – in particular active community support.

In the last eight hours, not much has happened as far as editorial activity goes. A new Sotho user registered, and there was a substantive Venda edit, while a new Zulu article and user appeared. So perhaps speaking on an English-language radio station is not the best way to gain users!

A milestone occured in the Afrikaans Wikipedia though, with the 17000th article being created – by my reckoning it was an article on the Afrikaans metal band K.O.B.U.S! (who make Die Antwoord look like Boney M).

Since my last count, the Swazi Wikipedia has seen quite a jump – mostly a single user adding country entries.

There’s been a flurry of activity in the rest of Africa though. A number of languages have shot past 1000 articles, and two are even growing faster than the relatively stable Afrikaans.

African Language Wikipedias

Language 1/1/2007 30/5/2010 11/2/2011
Swahili 2980 17998 21244
Afrikaans 6149 15259 17002
Yoruba 517 8858 12174
Amharic 742 3810 6738
Malagasy   2450 3806
Somali     1639
Kinyarwanda     1501
Lingala 292 1255 1394
Wolof   1068 1096

Swahili has raced past 20 000 articles, and a number of other languages are now growing faster than 2nd-placed Afrikaans. Yoruba has started growing rapidly and gained about 3000 articles on Afrikaans since the May 2010 update, and Amharic also gained more articles in the same period. Lingala and Wolof seem to have both stalled, being leapfrogged by both Somali and Kinyarwanda, which become the eighth and ninth African language Wikipedias to pass 1000 articles.

Kabyle will also pass the 1000 article milestone shortly.

After getting a bit distracted by K.O.B.U.S! above, it’s a bit late, and I’ll update the Wiktionary stats another time.

Related articles


  1. When I visited Kinyarwanda Wikipedia and pressed 10x the random button about 7 articles presented a mosque in Sweden or Saudi Arabia. But on the other hand side: more content brings more traffic and more traffic brings more visitors; more visitors brings more contributors. Lingala Wikipedia suffers the missing landlines in Congo-Kin, Internet is available over Satellite or mobile phone.

  2. I got 4 out of 10, but yes, it does appear that the Kinyarwandan Wikipedia covers mosques disproportionately well.

    Small wikis can easily be swayed by the interests of one or two particular editors. It’s all fine though, as people edit what interests them, and that’s how it should be.

  3. Hi, i don’t know how i found your blog but i love looking at Wikipedia statistics. Your entry is great. I have arab background so my interest is more related to Wikipedia Arabic and other languages in the Arab world. But i have been following some asian and african languages on Wikipedia and i hope they will keep growing. Sadly, i have to say that both Yoruba and Malagasy wikis are growing because of bots. I took a look at many articles. Almost all of of them were generated by bots and they have one or two sentences. The same thing can be said for the Swahili, Somali, Wolof and Amharic wikis but to a lesser extent. It’s quite disappointing knowing that some countries such as Nigeria or Kenya have millions of Facebook accounts and Wikipedia ranks very high on their ranking but apparently people prefer going straight to English Wikipedia rather than the African language wikis.

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