After English, Cebuano is the Language With Most Wikipedia Articles
In the 20 years since its inception, Wikipedia has amassed over 55.6 million articles in more than 300 languages on its online encyclopedia. Some might still mock Wikipedia for its lack of credibility, but the fact of the matter is that it’s steadily garnered more respect over the years, courtesy to its thousands of volunteer editors and admins, all of whom are united by the common passion for knowledge.
It’s easy to assume that English is the language with the most number of Wikipedia articles—and you wouldn’t be wrong. English currently dominated Wikipedia with over 6.2 million articles, managed by 1,113 admins and over 126,000 active users.
But the second language is the real surprise. It’s not Spanish or Mandarin, which are among the most spoken languages in the world. In fact, the second most common language on Wikipedia is none other than Cebuano.
With over 5.5 million articles, Cebuano is the language with the second most number of articles on Wikipedia after English. Swedish, German, French, Dutch, Russian, Italian, Spanish, and Polish follow, making Cebuano also the only Asian and non-European in the top 10.
Meanwhile, Waray-Waray, native language of Eastern Visayas, which is spoken in Tacloban and the like, is the 11th most written language on Wikipedia, trumping Japanese and Chinese articles. Tagalog came in 92nd place.
The Cebuano articles, of which there are millions, are managed by only six admins and 176 active users. But they do have a secret weapon: a translation bot that can automatically translate millions of stories into Cebuano for the locals who speak the language.
While majority of English language articles are written by humans, majority of the Cebuano articles (5.3 million, to be exact) were in fact created by bots, namely the Lsjbot, which was created by Swedish physicist Sverker Johanssen. The Lsjbot also helps handle the Waray-Waray Wiki.
Bot-created content has long been a contested issue in every content creating industry. Journalists are currently fighting AI-generated news stories, and the same is occurring in Wiki. In 2017, one faction of the Wikipedia community proposed to close the Cebuano Wikipedia on the basis that it was being handled solely by a bot and was not being vetted for quality. The proposal was ultimately rejected on the premise that bots didn’t go against community standards and that millions of Cebuanos would lose a source of information if it the Cebuano Wiki was closed.
But the debate still stands to this day and many still argue that a Wiki page of poor quality is worse than nothing at all.