Multilinguals and Wikipedia Editing

Scott A. Hale

This article analyzes one month of edits to Wikipedia in order to examine the role of users editing multiple language editions (referred to as multilingual users). Such multilingual users may serve an important function in diffusing information across different language editions of the encyclopedia, and prior work has suggested this could reduce the level of self-focus bias in each edition. This study finds multilingual users are much more active than their single-edition (monolingual) counterparts. They are found in all language editions, but smaller-sized editions with fewer users have a higher percentage of multilingual users than larger-sized editions. About a quarter of multilingual users always edit the same articles in multiple languages, while just over 40% of multilingual users edit different articles in different languages. When non-English users do edit a second language edition, that edition is most frequently English. Nonetheless, several regional and linguistic cross-editing patterns are also present.

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