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Submissions/Pluricentric languages and Wikipedia - where to draw the line... and where not to

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
Pluricentric languages and Wikipedia - where to draw the line... and where not to
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)


Author of the submission
Philip Kopetzky
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
None that I know of
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The biggest languages on Wikipedia are usually pluricentric (or polycentric) languages that share one encyclopedia. Because of this, conflicts arise between users from different regions over matters like en:Football (British English), en:Elevator or en:Center (American English). These conflicts lead to long discussions, moves and unmoves, merges and unmerges and so on. In some cases these conflicts are solved by creating style guides that split articles into national groups (also called "national ties"). These groups of articles are then patrolled by one group. At the same time, the validity of the made agreements is challenged by another group or individuals. Both sides tend to use arguments that underline the cultural ignorance existing in both groups.

The following questions provide an outline of the topics discussed in the presentation:

  • How do the differences between the varieties cause conflicts within the community and what are the solutions to these problems (if they are solved)?
  • How widely accepted are those solutions?
  • Does it matter if a pluricentric language is symmetric or asymmetric?
    • Are symmetric languages also symmetric in their respective wikis?
    • How much room is given to minorities in asymmetric languages?
    • How well respected are those boundaries and does cultural blindness play a role in not accepting those boundaries?
  • How much influence does a "standard language" have?

The presentation will also present the most common arguments in those conflicts and analyse their validity based on statistics and scientific opinions. It will primarily focus on English and German as examples for symmetric and asymmetric pluricentric languages, but also contain examples from languages like Spanish or French. The discussion afterwards will hopefully provide insights into other languages, offering a well rounded view of how national varieties are handled in Wikipedia today and also providing solutions for languages where these conflicts haven't been resolved or contained yet.

Slides or further information (optional)
Slides as PDF
  • WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
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  1. Siebrand (talk)
  2. --Claudia.Garad (talk) 13:30, 24 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Paolaricaurte (talk) 03:06, 2 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  4. CT Cooper · talk 22:06, 2 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Orderinchaos (talk) 22:24, 2 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Man77 (talk) 20:18, 3 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Raimund Liebert (WMAT) (talk) 10:32, 6 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Jean-Frédéric (talk) 00:44, 8 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  9. WereSpielChequers (talk) 17:11, 14 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Darafsh Kaviyani (Talk) 16:36, 19 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
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