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There’s a nice little English-language article “Look it up in Wicipedia” published in the latest issue of Planet (195, pp 27-31) written by Craig Owen Jones from Bangor University (startling that such a fresh-faced young man should have responsibility for Punk Rock!).
The article makes a number of interesting points…
...including some ideas on how to measure the “quality” of a Wikipedia, suggesting a measure of “depth” (described as a “rough index of its collaborativeness”) based on number of edits, number of users, and number of stub pages. I’m not entirely sold on this as a measure of “quality” per se, but it does have some resonance for me in terms of thinking about the community of people involved rather than simply about the content itself.
It also mentions a campaign organised via Wicipedias Caffi section, to boost the number of articles. Similar campaigns appear to have been successful for Catalan. However, simply boosting the number of articles doesn’t necessarily make Wicipedia any better (depending on how we define “better” I suppose).
I agree with Craig that Wicipedia is important – or at least it has the potential to be important. He suggests that “presence is power” and whilst I kind of agree with him, there is also the danger that presence may be purely symbolic if it is not combined with use. Beyond the issue of use is the issue of effect – if a Welsh speaking pupil goes to Wicipedia to read about the moon landings and the article is poorly written or insufficiently detailed, they are very likely to go to the equivalent Wikipedia article. Next time they want some information, will they bother with Wicipedia or just go straight to Wikipedia?
Wicipedia is just one of a number of opportunities for Welsh language use on the internet, many of which appear to hold potential for language maintenance, however I am beginning to wonder about the extent to which this potential is actually being realised.