Will India Succeed Where Wikipedia Has Failed?


Wikipedia is arguably the world’s largest, and most complete encyclopedia, all the more impressive as its fully crowd-sourced by volunteers with a passion to detail the world’s knowledge. However, Wikipedia has a serious flaw. Because it is crowd-sourced, its really only complete where there is a crowd interested in adding information.

Let’s look at the number of articles per language, juxtaposed against the world’s population that speaks that language:

Language Articles Population
English 4,413,036 365 million
Dutch 1,715,221 22 million
German 1,669,864 92 million
Chinese 742,005 935 million
Hindi 109,404 295 million
Telugu 54,490 74 million
Marathi 39,722 73 million
Assamese 2,663 17 million

Do you notice anything amiss? Like how few articles are in languages other than English, regardless of population? Or how amazingly few are in four languages of India? That latter point has inspired the government of India to ask the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing to build Vikaspedia, a knowledge portal to reach the ‘un-reached’ communities of India, especially the poor, to make a difference in their social development.

Vikaspedia is starting in five local languages – Hindi, Assamese, Marathi, Telugu and English – and it will will eventually expand to 22 Indian languages. Though unlike the actual Wikipedia, it only has information on health, agriculture, education, social welfare, energy and e-governance, and curiously, isn’t running on actual wiki software, but on Plone, though you can register to contribute.