May 03, 2010

The Geographies of Wikipedia in China

This post takes a more detailed look at the geographies of Wikipedia in China. Drawing only on the Chinese Wikipedia, this first map aggregates all geotagged articles at the provincial level.
The pattern is similar to what one might expect. A larger number of articles in Taiwan and the prosperous eastern provinces than than in poorer Western China. What is interesting though is the shift in pattern if we look at the geographies of all geotagged Wikipedia articles in all languages.
Here we see a radical shift in focus. Eastern provinces retain a relatively large number of articles, but it is Tibet and Xinjiang that really stand out. Is this because non-Chinese wikipedians are far more interested in writing about the two autonomous regions than their Chinese speaking counterparts?

It has been demonstrated that there appears to be a correlation between the locations of contributors and the topics that they write about. The fact that most Chinese Wikipedians are from eastern provinces would then seem to explain some of the differences between the geographies of Chinese Wikipedia and all other Wikipedias.

Or can we attribute these differences to either self- or government-censorship? There have certainly already been convincing claims made to that effect.

We plan to revisit this topic at regular intervals in order to map any possible spatial shifts over time. We would also appreciate any comments that help us to shed light on this issue.


  1. Love your blog :)

    Need your input on my new blog.


  2. This article is very interesting. I just visited China in March and from there, Wikipedia was blocked (homepage was not, but search results were).

  3. blog walking...

    haha.... interesting...
    i guess becoz of Dalai Lama? =P

  4. It is fairly ignorant of the author to automatically assume that the Chinese Wikipedia which is run by the Wikimedia Foundation and which the Chinese government has no control whatsoever over has been subject to self-censorship or government censorship when the author has hardly ever read any articles there which are deemed sensitive, or asked a Chinese-speaking person to translate it for him, or read or participated in the community discussions there. It is laughable indeed, especially when the author refers to the piece in nytimes, which had been dismissed in the Chinese Wikipedia as arrogance-ridden complete fabrication and defamation, as "convincing claims".


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