Thursday, November 12, 2009

Google wants great Wikipedias in African languages

There are many Wikipedias, and one of the questions that has been asked often is, what is the relevance of the smaller Wikipedias. The Bangla Wikipedia for instance is the biggest resource of that language on the Internet. As this is one of the biggest 50 languages this is quite special.

When there is significant content on the Internet, when search engines support the language, when there are adverts in that language I believe that there is no doubt about the future of a language.

Google came to people in the Wikimedia community and asked what it could do to grow our content in the Swahili Wikipedia. Google wants to grow its business in Africa and relevant content in the Swahili language is seen as an important stimulus for the traffic in Tanzania and Kenya.

They organise a challenge to university students and people interested in joining the challenge to write quality articles and, there are prizes to be won and training to be had.

I am really happy with Google's approach, it has Wikipedians involved. The Swahili Wikipedia shows a nice autonomous growth anyway and it is left to the contestants to decide what they are going to do to win a prize. At that I would have liked it when Google had given emphasis on what people want to read.. They do know what people in Tanzania and Kenya are interested in. When we learn from Google what the top subjects are that we do not have an article for, we will know what is likely to grow our traffic for this Wikipedia most. In this way we achive not only quality articles, but also quality articles that people want to read.

Articles that people want to read benefits both the Wikimedia Foundation and Google as they both want to grow our traffic.
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