How Wikipedia Manages Multilingual Content Expectations

Wikipedia came in second in our 2006 Web Globalization Report Card for a number of reasons. Not only does it offer content in more than 100 languages, it does a good job of managing content expectations.

It does not hide how much content it offers in each language. In fact, it tells you upfront how many articles it offers, such as 168,000+ articles in Swedish and 143,000+ articles in Portuguese.

wikipedia_detail.jpg

As shown below, Wikipedia groups all languages by the amount of content supported by each. It’s the long tail in action.

wikipedia_languages.jpg

How many corporate Web sites are transparent about how much content they offer in each language? Would users benefit from knowing that a site offers 50,000 Web pages in English but only 500 pages in Russian?

Successful Web globalization is all about managing expectations. Users can be very forgiving about sites that aren’t fully localized — but they can be equally dismissive of sites that create the impression that they offer more localized content than they actually do.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.