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Arabic Language Initiative/blogs/Impact Report August 2012

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The Arabic Language Initiative was announced in the strategic plan laid out by the Wikimedia Foundation in 2010. The initiative actually launched in September 2011, with some concerted energy at WMF as well as working with Moushira, a contractor on the ground in Egypt. One year into the project, we want to take the time to reflect on the changes over the past 12 months!

Overall, the Arabic Wikipedia appears to be poised for tremendous growth, as it has begun to enter into its potential over the last 12 months, in particular. Comparing the last 12 months (September 2011 - August 2012) with the previous 12 (September 2010 - August 2011), we see lots of promising potential:

  • Bringing in new editors: 28% increase in the average # of new editors from declining trend
  • Increasing contributions: 31% increase in average active editors from declining trend (4% very active editor growth)
  • Increasing content: 52% increase in avergae daily new article creation from declining trend
  • Expanding readership: 2-5 percentage point increase in reach from declining year

Timeline of work


Timeline of Arabic Language Initiative

For more information on all projects, including an overview of the specific impact of the Education and Contribution Campaign, see "ALI Projects."

New editors are coming into Arabic Wikipedia to edit
Historically strong numbers of new editor growth has been restored in 2012 Increases in year-over-year growth began being seen mid-2011 through 2012

New editor inflow has been coupled with greater growth in people actively participating on Arabic Wikipedia
Increasing number of active editors Growth Active Editors recovered from 2010 and early 2011 slump Positive trajectory of YoY Very Active editor growth

And these editors are adding new content.
Declines in average new articles per day in 2010 and 2011 have seen resurgence in 2012.


Readership of Wikipedia in the region is increasing.
Page views of ARWP have been increasing since 2011 Wikipedia is reaching more connected people in the region in 2012

Readership of Offline Wikipedia appears to be increasing as well.
Downloads of the offline Wikipedia in MENA have become ~50% of the total downloads. Feedback from Oman downloader on why downloaded

"to use it in my life and to use it without connecting to the internet .also to have more information about the world and to use it in my life. I think it will be useful for me; thanks to everybody."

Some learning and observations


1. We're in the right place at the right time


Wikipedia is perceived as a prominent example of the power of new media, especially with regards to the "democratization" of content. People in India and in Brazil are heavily using social media platforms like Facebook as well. What seems to be different in the Arabic speaking world is the hunger for freely accessible, trustworthy and neutral knowledge. And that's what Wikipedia stands for. We have seen this even in the choices of the articles the students in the Cairo pilot chose to edit: "Civil Disobedience," "French Presidential Elections," etc.

2. People are highly enthusiastic about our goals


When we started traveling the region in September 2011, we focused heavily on finding out which was the strongest incentive for teachers and students to contribute to Wikipedia. We spent a lot of time listening to people. And everybody we talked to (university administrators, professors, students, Wikipedians, other volunteers) was enthusiastic about increasing the amount of Arabic content on the web. We showed people charts that compared the Arabic Wikipedia to other language versions. In most cases, we encountered the same reaction: people were driven by the idea of seeing Arabic content on the web flourishing.

The results of surveys we conducted in the first half of 2012 confirms our assumptions: a high percentage of the survey participants indicated they were motivated by the idea of having more content in their own language available and even more of the survey participants were enthusiastic about the idea of making information about Egypt available to the global community of web users.

Arabic has a high satisfaction index compared to other Wikipedias

3. We're operating in a welcoming environment


Although the community on the Arabic Wikipedia is very small, we have seen lots of participation and eagerness to collaborate to make the Arabic Wikipedia stronger. For the education program, we had more Wikipedians who applied as Online Ambassadors than we had slots to fill. Community members were eager to help, both online and offline. Wikipedians quickly took over responsibility when it came to leading the training sessions for professors and students. There seems to be much hospitality and eagerness to help each other.

Across our wiki experiences, we have seen that a welcoming Wikipedia environment is a staple for people enjoying and embracing a Wikipedia experience. The students coming in through the education program and those inspired through the contribution portal immediately experience this.

WMF next steps

  • Expansion of Egypt Education Pilot (Annie, Faris, Leader TBD)
  • Editor contribution campaign (Haitham)
  • Partnership support (Haitham)
  • Mediawiki development for Arabic (Alolita, TBD)
  • Outreach / community building work (TBD)
    • E..g, support to grants to Morocco and Tunisia


  • stats.wikimedia.org, retrieved August 25, 2012. (August 2012 data retrieved Sept. 18, 2012.)
  • Offline statistics: Sourceforge