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A new Oxford University study has found that nearly half of all edits to articles about places on Wikipedia were made by editors living in just five countries: the UK, US, France, Germany and Italy.

Wikipedia world view shaped by editors in the west

 Photo credit: Shutterstock

After geocoding Wikipedia edit entries on articles mentioning places, they also found there were more editors in the Netherlands than all of Africa combined. It is assumed that Wikipedia, the world’s largest and most used repository of user-generated content, offers a platform for 'local voices'. However, this study maps where Wikipedia editors live and finds local voices rarely represent and define their own country. Digital connectivity is only one factor, it concludes, with the network effects of the internet crowding out less 'visible' parts of the world. 

It concludes that high-income countries have a ‘disproportionately loud voice’. Large blocks of editors who live in Europe and America are largely defining what information appears online about their home countries and everywhere else in the world. The forthcoming paper by researchers from the University’s Oxford Internet Institute will appear in the journal, Annals of the Association of American Geographers

Read more on the University website (opens new window)