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Grants:Programs/Wikimedia Research Fund/Abstract Wikipedia, diversity and neutral point of view: the dream of a language-independent encyclopedia

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statusnot funded
Abstract Wikipedia, diversity and neutral point of view: the dream of a language-independent encyclopedia
start and end datesJuly 2023 - July 2024
budget (USD)12,500 USD
fiscal year2022-23
applicant(s)• Galder Gonzalez




Galder Gonzalez

Affiliation or grant type

Basque Wikimedians User Group


Galder Gonzalez

Wikimedia username(s)

Galder Gonzalez: User:Theklan

Project title

Abstract Wikipedia, diversity and neutral point of view: the dream of a language-independent encyclopedia

Research proposal




Description of the proposed project, including aims and approach. Be sure to clearly state the problem, why it is important, why previous approaches (if any) have been insufficient, and your methods to address it.

Since John Wilkins tried to create an analytic language where all concepts in the world could be expressed with a sequence of letters, the dream of a language-independent encyclopedia has been a recurring topic. Leibniz’s theoretical development of an universal language has been as a theoretical pivot on this issue, even if he defended that "since the languages of men are various, and there is hardly any that is not already sufficiently cultivated, that any knowledge may be transmitted in it". Descartes also envisioned the possibility of explaining everything in the world in his work Le Monde, a book which displaced Latin as the universal lingua franca. This vision of explaining everything has been repeated by the Encyclopaedia Britannica (in English) and is itself the motto of Wikipedia, a non achievable vision itself.

Wikimedians try to adhere to the Neutral Point of View (NPOV), an ideal challenged in practice and theory. The idea of an encyclopedic work that can have a view-from-nowhere has been challenged by the standpoint theory. In fact, debates about diversity in the Wikimedia Strategy have embraced these discussions.

Abstract Wikipedia, combined with Wikifunctions, is a proposal to build a multilingual Wikipedia based on the idea of an universal mathematical language and cross-language collaboration. With this approach, wikimedians would be able to close knowledge gaps, creating content only once and making it available in all languages at once. While this approach is not leibnizian, the standpoint theory battle seems to be totally relevant. As more and more wikimedians approach this projects, the battlefield for representation and neutrality will not be limited within the walls of each language version of Wikipedia, but interlanguage conflicts will also arise. Abstract Wikipedia, as an artefact where strong objectivity could be achieved is thought, by design, as a summarized universal version of knowledge that may be over-ridden by language communities, making their own POV prevail over the one provided.

In this work, we will research this apparent contradiction between the promise of universal knowledge in an universal language as more neutral, as language-driven constraints are broken, and the clear assumption that language or community centered POVs may override this more universal knowledge in favour of their own consensus. Should wikimedians handle this apparent contradiction or is it apparent and there’s no contradiction at all?


  • Ekai Txapartegi: PhD director, Department of Phillosophy, University of the Basque Country.



Approximate amount requested in USD.

12,500 USD

Budget Description

Briefly describe what you expect to spend money on (specific budgets and details are not necessary at this time).

  • Salary or stipend: 7.500 USD. Researching for ten months half time.
  • Open access publishing costs: 2.000 USD (depending on the journal)
  • Other: 3.000 USD. Travel expenses for interviewing wikimedians. The best venues should be international conferences, as Wikimania 2023 and WikiIndaba, where more voices are represented.



Address the impact and relevance to the Wikimedia projects, including the degree to which the research will address the 2030 Wikimedia Strategic Direction and/or support the work of Wikimedia user groups, affiliates, and developer communities. If your work relates to knowledge gaps, please directly relate it to the knowledge gaps taxonomy.

Various strategic recommendations are addressed in this research. The research will help innovating in free knowledge, as the discussion about NPOV at Abstract Wikipedia vs other projects will identify policies in Wikipedia projects that act as barriers to content related to underrepresented groups.

It is related to identifying topics of impact, as globally curated articles will fill content gaps, but will, at the same time, make more strange the entry path for newcomers.

Abstract Wikipedia research will help in the goal of connecting cross-project and cross-language functionalities to provide an enhanced experience of the knowledge contained in the Wikimedia ecosystem.



Plans for dissemination.

I would like to have three outcomes:

  • A paper published in a peer reviewed scholarly journal, relevant to free knowledge.
  • A presentation at Wikimania 2024 (?) with results and an open discussion about neutrality on sitewide projects.
  • A shorter version of the paper with more available resources and links relevant to wikimedians at Meta (or Abstract Wikipedia if applicable), in the form of an essay, with recommendations to handle with the topics already present at the Movement Strategy.

Past Contributions


Prior contributions to related academic and/or research projects and/or the Wikimedia and free culture communities. If you do not have prior experience, please explain your planned contributions.

I have been a Wikimedian since 2006. In 2017 I started to work in the Education Program of the Basque Wikimedians User Group. I have been present at various events (Wikimedia Summit, Diversity Conference, Education Conference, Wikimania...). Recently, I have started my PhD where I'm trying to research strategies for smaller languages Wikipedia projects in a world where automatic translation can do a pretty good job, and why NPOV is relevant when we are talking about language related topics. I'm currently researching the lists of articles every Wikipedia should have, and how this lists are culturally driven.

I have submitted my first papers related to the PhD, but they will be published in early 2023.

I agree to license the information I entered in this form excluding the pronouns, countries of residence, and email addresses under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0. I understand that the decision to fund this Research Fund application, the application itself along with all the information entered by my in this form excluding the pronouns, country of residences, and email addresses of the personnel will be published on Wikimedia Foundation Funds pages on Meta-Wiki and will be made available to the public in perpetuity. To make the results of your research actionable and reusable by the Wikimedia volunteer communities, affiliates and Foundation, I agree that any output of my research will comply with the WMF Open Access Policy. I also confirm that I have read the privacy statement and agree to abide by the WMF Friendly Space Policy and Universal Code of Conduct.