Germans don’t talk, quantitative analysis says

Felipe Ortega obtained his PhD with a thesis about “A quantitative analysis” of Wikipedia (Madrid, 2009). There are many graphs and numbers in it, and I do not pretend to understand all the math behind, but there was one assertion that struck me:

“Finally, if we turn now to talk pages, we find that […] the French version stores more than 150K more pages than the German one. In this case, French Wikipedians seem to support more active discussion about article content than German ones.” (p. 74)

According to him, Wikipedia in French had 630.000 articles and 367.000 talk pages, Wikipedia in German 700.000 articles and only 220.000 talk pages.

The more talk pages, the more “active discussion about article content”? Knowing my talkative fellows from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, I couldn’t believe Felipe Ortega’s finding and had a closer look.

A geographical article in French language Wikipedia such as “Chauvigny” (a small municipality in central France) has indeed a talk page (Discussion Chauvigny). But the only entry on that talk page is a template that the article belongs to a WikiProject about French municipalities. No discussion took place on this and many other talk pages.

In contrast, Wikipedia in German rarely uses this kind of templates (on talk pages). That’s why many talk pages have not been created. So the difference between de.WP and fr.WP has nothing to do with national differences in talk culture, just with different quality management systems.

Do you now understand why my trust in quantitive analysis has its limits?


2 thoughts on “Germans don’t talk, quantitative analysis says

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