Taghreedat, the Middle Eastern volunteer group working to increase the amount of Arabic Web content has just struck a deal with the Wikimedia Foundation, launching the Arabic Wikipedia Editors Program.
The first regional program of its kind, it aims to find and train Internet users in the Middle East to become Arabic Wikipedia editors.
At the moment there are only about 630 Arabic Wikipedia editors. To put that figure in context, the original English edition has about 300,000 editors.
The newly launched program consists of both online and offline components, including training workshops. Taghreedat will offer participants access to a comprehensive Arabic Wikipedia guide, consisting of 0ver 70 pages detailing how to edit existing articles, how to create new articles and how to ensure that posts are media rich by adding images.
Efforts have already been set in motion to increase the amount of Arabic content on Wikipedia, with projects courtesy of institutions like the Qatar Foundation. Taghreedat’s project makes it the first online community project aiming to beef up Wikipedia’s Arabic offerings, courtesy of a group of volunteers.
The project, announced last night, has already been met with a fair share of enthusiasm, with 350 new volunteers expressing interest. As Taghreedat co-founder Mina Takla points out, that if just these 350 volunteers are added to the program, that accounts for an instant 50% increase in the number of Arabic Wikipedia editors.
The first training workshop will take place in the United Arab Emirates in mid-June at the twofour54 Abu Dhabi offices, when Taghreedat will unveil its new guide. UAE was chosen as the first location since most of Taghreedat’s volunteers are based in the Gulf country.
Wikipedia only hosts about 178,000 articles in Arabic, with new articles being added at a rate of 76 new articles per day. Since we last took a look at the number of Arabic Wikipedia articles exactly two months ago, 25,000 new articles have been added.
Speaking at the ArabNet conference in Dubai in March, Wikimedia Foundation’s Chief Global Development Officer, Barry Newstead, put these figures in context for us, comparing it to other languages on Wikipedia.
While Norwegian, which is spoken by only 4.6 million people, there are over 300,000 articles on Wikipedia in the language. Arabic, on the other hand, is spoken by roughly 374 million people, and so while the Arabic community is one of the fastest growing groups on the site, there is still a long way to go.
With just over 500,000 registered users, the Arabic language on Wikipedia ranks 27th among 280 other languages, while its rate of growth on Wikipedia is currently 3%.
We reported today that Arabic has overtaken English as the most popular language on Facebook in the Middle East, as the language continues to make strides throughout the social networking world. Arabic is also the fastest growing language on Twitter.
The Taghreedat initiative has been hard at work seeing to it that there is enough Arabic content to meet a growing online demand. Taghreedat’s other projects include an effort to translate Storify’s interface into Arabic, as well as compiling an Arabic dictionary of technology terms.