Wikipedia:Geographic imbalance

A geographic imbalance or geographical bias on Wikipedia is a disparity in which a very large number of articles exist that somehow pertain to a city, town, or region that is disproportionate with the locality's population or other factors of importance within the world. Though obtaining a mathematical percentage that the number of articles comprises out of the total number of region-based articles within all of Wikipedia is not easy, and is not attempted, in such cases, it is clear that if such a percentage were obtained, it would far exceed the percentage of the world's population that the region's population comprises.

Such articles that would be considered regional interests may include those about:

  • A region's towns, villages, neighborhoods, or parks
  • A city's or region's landmarks, such as office buildings, businesses (that are not part of a multi-city chain), malls, shopping centers, schools, places of worship, etc.
  • A city's or region's transportation infrastructure, such as streets, roads, highways, buses, or rail lines
  • People who are notable only within the region, and for whom all existing published reliable sources are local
  • News events that have occurred within the city or region, and have only been reported in local newspapers or broadcasts
  • The city's or region's history which has had little or no impact on the population beyond the region

There is no prohibition on writing such articles, and many of these articles that have been written fully meet Wikipedia's guidelines for inclusion. This essay is not about whether or not these should be included.

Causes of a geographic imbalanceEdit

A geographic imbalance may occur when one or more devoted Wikipedians compose numerous articles of interest mostly to those within a city, town, or region, and the same does not occur in other areas that are more heavily populated or otherwise of greater importance within the world.

In theory, this may occur as a result of regional lifestyle variations that allow some more free time to edit, and leave others too busy, or else may be pure coincidence.

Also, a version of Wikipedia in a certain language may have more articles on places where the language is spoken than on places where it is not.

Problems with a geographic imbalanceEdit

This is a question you may ask if you come across this essay: are there any problems with having a geographic imbalance?

The answer is there is no blanket policy against a geographic imbalance. All editors with accounts have the right to create articles, even if it is about some topic in their own region. In fact, a resident, native, or someone who otherwise frequently visits a place likely has far more familiarity with a region than one who has never been to the area, and may therefore be a much better candidate for writing such an article. But there are some things to keep in mind when writing an article about a topic within your hometown:

  • Be sure that the topic meets Wikipedia's notability guidelines. The notability may come into question and the article's existence may be challenged if all the sources come from the local papers or news networks, especially if similar articles have been deleted or have not been initially composed in other places with comparable populations.
  • Think from a global perspective. Write the article as if you are writing it for the whole world, not just locals. Wikipedia is not Yourtownpedia.
  • Be sure that all the information you provide is from existing reliable sources rather than your own knowledge of unpublished information. And be careful to avoid original research.
  • Familiarize yourself with Wikipedia's conflict of interest policies.

Solving geographic imbalancesEdit

If you are concerned about there being a geographic imbalance (for example, 100 articles on interests to a place with a population of 50,000, and just 20 relating to a place with a population of 500,000), the best thing you can do is to get involved.

Remember, Wikipedia is a work in progress. Wikipedia is not finished, and is not even close. It is because of people like you who want to be involved that Wikipedia is growing.

So if you discover that some other place on earth has far more articles than your own hometown, you could propose some of those articles for deletion, but there are several reasons why that is not a good idea. Wikipedia is not just an encyclopedia it is a gazetteer as well. Wikipedia:Five pillars. By suggesting deletion you will be working to dismantle the work in progress that is Wikipedia. Your account and user name will be associated with a large number of deletion proposals. And you may be hated as a result of this. Besides, there is a good chance that all settlements and municipalities will be keep, except for very local neighborhoods, pubs, bars, clubs, and parks. See WP:PLACEOUTCOMES.

The better option is to create a series of really good articles on the place where you live. Doing so will have some benefits. You will become a valued editor with a reputation as a builder of the encyclopedia. Your account and username will be associated with some very useful contributions. And most of all, you will no longer have to be jealous of some other place, for your own town will rank high up. Even better, you will inspire others to do the same where they live, as well as making their own contributions to your creations. This is a win-win for all.

Remember. There is no deadline. If the articles on your city or town do not exist today, check back again later. They may be here tomorrow, six months from now, in a year, in five years, or longer. Wikipedia is not being written in an organized fashion. Wikipedia is a volunteer service in which contributions will be made over the years when people have time. Hopefully, some day, someone will write about where you live. If you so choose, that could be you.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

  • Mark Graham (12 November 2009). "Mapping the Geographies of Wikipedia Content". ZeroGeography. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
  • Mark Graham (2 December 2009). "Wikipedia's known unknowns". The Guardian.
  • Mark Graham (12 December 2009). "The directionalities of Wikipedia: Concentration in language versions". ZeroGeography.
  • Mark Graham (30 November 2010). "Wikipedia in the UK". ZeroGeography.
  • Mark J. Nelson (17 May 2011). "Geographically densest Wikipedia coverage". Retrieved 2011-05-24.
  • Mark Graham (10 November 2011). "Mapping Wikipedia's augmentations of our planet". ZeroGeography.