Editor Survey 2011/Location & Language

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The foundation recognizes that large segments of the world population, especially those living in the Global South, don’t edit Wikipedia. Increasing the diversity of Wikipedia contributors is the priority of the foundation, and the data from the survey clearly shows that Wikipedia editors are disproportionately from countries in the Global North. In addition, English Wikipedia draws editors from other projects, sometimes at the expense of less mature projects.

5.1 More editors live in the US than any other country, and English is the most popular language[edit]

We have considerable ground to cover to meet our strategic goal of increasing diversity in our editor base. Most of our editors still reside in Europe and North America. According to the survey, 20% of Wikipedia editors live in the US, making it the number one country of residence of Wikipedia editors, followed by: Germany (12%); Russia (7%); UK (6%); and Italy (4%). The only country from the Global South among the top 10 is India, with 3% of survey participants listing India as their country of residence.

D7b. Percent who live in the following countries. (n=4,930

The majority of Wikipedia editors surveyed chose English as their primary language (52%), followed by: German (18%); Russian (10%); Spanish (10%); and French (9%). The only two native languages from the Global South in the top ten list are traditional and simplified Chinese (2% and 3%, respectively), and Hindi (2%).

D. Percent whose primary language(s) are listed. (n=4,930

5.2 Editors from other language projects contribute to English Wikipedia[edit]

An overwhelming majority of Wikipedia editors read and edit English Wikipedia – which also has the largest and most diverse pool of editors, as editors from other projects contribute regularly. In total, 76% of Wikipedia editors contribute to English Wikipedia, although only 40% primarily contribute to English Wikipedia. In other words, in addition to the 40% of editors who primarily edit English Wikipedia, 36% of editors from other language projects contribute to English Wikipedia.

An impressive 93% of Wikipedia editors read English Wikipedia, and about half of them (49%) primarily read English Wikipedia. We can clearly see that editors who work mainly in other language projects help English Wikipedia grow.

Q1a. Percent who contribute to the listed language Wikipedia / Q1b. Percent who primarily contribute to the listed language Wikipedia (n=4,930).
Q2a. Percent who read the listed language Wikipedia / Q2b. Percent who primarily read the listed language Wikipedia (n=4,930).

It’s no surprise that German (which is the second largest language Wikipedia after English) is the second most popular Wikipedia, both for reading (30% of editors read German Wikipedia) and editing (20% have edited German Wikipedia). There remains, however, a wide gap between editing and reading activity on English and German Wikipedia, with English Wikipedia far ahead of German Wikipedia in editor activity.

5.3 Majority of editors contribute to, and read more than one, language[edit]

More bilingual and multilingual individuals populate the world than do monolingual, and the global community of Wikipedia editors is no exception. Over half of Wikipedia editors contribute to more than one language Wikipedia, and an overwhelming majority (72%) read Wikipedia in more than one language.

Q2a. Number of Wikipedia languages read (n=4,930)
Q1a. Number of Wikipedia languages edited (n=4,930)

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