Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Two Childish Questions about China

Why are there only 340, 230 articles on the Chinese Wikipedia and merely 37, 000 on the Hindi Wikipedia when, in contrast, the English Wikipedia boasts of over 3.5 million articles?

The primary reason for why there are not to be found even half a million articles in a language that is spoken by almost a fifth of world population is simple - the Chinese don't use Wikipedia.  Instead, they turn to two home grown encyclopedias - Hudong and Baike Baidu - for reference. Hudong has over four million(1) articles and Baike Baidu crossed the 2.8 million(2) mark in 2010.

To have a glimpse of these Chinese encyclopedias, compare the articles on Manmohan Singh, the current Indian Prime-minister, on Wikipedia, Hudong and Baike Baidu.

As far as the Hindi Wikipedia is concerned, there are two main reasons for the dearth of articles: 

a. There are more illiterates in India than any other country(3) and 
b. those who are lucky enough to have completed their education contribute mainly to the English Wikipedia(4)

If the Chinese government has banned Google, how  do they look for information on the internet?

Google was never as popular in China as it is in India; the proportion of population in China which used Google was only as significant as the number of people who use Yahoo! or Bing in this country.

Also, as far as I know, there are five countries, including China, where Google is not the most used search engine. They are: China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Russia and South Korea. Except for Japan, the rest of the four have developed their own search engines; Japan uses the Japanese language version of Yahoo! called Yahoo! Japan.

The Chinese love Baidu, the Czechs have developed an affection for Seznam, nostalgic Russians' response to American Google is Yandex and the South Koreans don't let a day pass without using their Naver.

Moreover, these are not small players by any standard. Baidu is the sixth most popular website(5) in the world and Yandex's Alexa Traffic Rank is 24. The tech loving Japanese use Yahoo! Japan so much that Alexa has ranked it the 12th most visited website globally.

References:

(1) = Wikipedia Article on Hudong
(2) = Wikipedia Article on Baike Baidu
(3) = A The Indian Express Report on Illiteracy
(4) = Aapka Apna Wikipedia; Eye, The Sunday Express
(5) = Alexa Traffic Rank - Baidu