Critical issues presentations/Towards a multilingual Wikipedia

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Submission no. 119
Title of the submission

Towards a multilingual Wikipedia

Author of the submission
  • Denny Vrandečić
Country of origin

United States of America


Outreach, Projects, Technical

  • Wikipedia
  • Multilinguality
  • Small communities
  • Language

Imagine Wikipedia not being written in a natural language, but in an abstract syntax which gets translated into one of our 280 languages (or more) whenever someone wants to read it. This would make current Wikipedia editors 100x more productive, increase the content of Wikipedia by at least 10x, probably increase the number of Wikipedians, and make the Web much more useful for many people who currently have no content interesting for them because they speak a language not widely used on the Web today. For billions of users, this will increase the motivation to engage with Wikipedia. For many Wikipedias this will be the only chance to succeed. It is an important step towards enabling everyone to share in the sum of all knowledge.

Wikipedia and Wikidata have shown that it is possible for communities to create massive amounts of complex content. Wikidata has also shown that multilingual content can be created by our community, and be used in many different languages. But Wikidata has clear limitations: most of human knowledge cannot be expressed in it. We cannot explain how photosynthesis works, what the causes of World War II were, and how Lady Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage influenced each other in a system like Wikidata. A multilingual Wikipedia will considerably expand the expressivity of Wikidata, its interaction with the existing Wikipedias, and bring us significantly closer to realizing our mission.

In the last three years I have studied the challenges around this topic, explored possible solutions, and will present the current results and open questions. I will sketch a path that would allow us to reach the goal of a multilingual Wikipedia by 2020, and have more than a billion articles available to more than seven billion readers.


Not accepted