Type of site
|Internet encyclopedia project|
|Available in||Written vernacular Chinese|
|Literal meaning||Chinese-script Wiki-encyclopedia|
The Chinese Wikipedia (traditional Chinese: 中文維基百科; simplified Chinese: 中文维基百科; pinyin: Zhōngwén Wéijī Bǎikē) is the (Standard) Chinese language edition of Wikipedia, run by the Wikimedia Foundation. Started in October 2002, the Chinese Wikipedia currently has about 863,000 articles and about 499,000 registered users.
- 1 History
- 2 Naming
- 3 Community
- 4 Automatic conversion between traditional and simplified Chinese characters
- 5 Differences with other versions of Wikipedia
- 6 Wikipedias in other varieties of Chinese
- 7 Blocking of Wikipedia
- 8 Self-censorship allegations
- 9 Competitors
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The Chinese Wikipedia was established along with 12 other Wikipedias in May 2001. At the beginning, however, the Chinese Wikipedia did not support Chinese characters, and had no encyclopedic content.
In October 2002, the first Chinese-language page was written, the Main Page. A software update on October 27, 2002 allowed Chinese language input. The domain was set to be zh.wikipedia.org. On November 17, 2002, the user Mountain translated the Computer science article into zh:计算机科学, thus creating its first real encyclopedic article.
In order to accommodate the orthographic differences between simplified Chinese characters and traditional Chinese characters (or Orthodox Chinese), from 2002 to 2003, the Chinese Wikipedia community gradually decided to combine the two originally separate versions of the Chinese Wikipedia. The first running automatic conversion between the two orthographic representations started on December 23, 2004, with the MediaWiki 1.4 release. The needs from Hong Kong and Singapore were taken into account in the MediaWiki 1.4.2 release, which made the conversion table for zh-sg default to zh-cn, and zh-hk default to zh-tw.
In its early days, most articles on the Chinese Wikipedia were translated from the English version. The first five sysops, or administrators, were promoted on June 14, 2003.
Wikipedia was first introduced by the mainland Chinese media in the newspaper China Computer Education (中国电脑教育报) on October 20, 2003, in the article, "I join to write an encyclopedia" (我也来写百科全书). On May 16, 2004, Wikipedia was first reported by Taiwanese media in the newspaper China Times. Since then, many newspapers have published articles about the Chinese Wikipedia, and several sysops have been interviewed by journalists.
Ivan Zhai of the South China Morning Post wrote that the blocks from the Mainland authorities in the 2000s stifled the growth of the Chinese Wikipedia, and that by 2013 there was a new generation of users originating from the Mainland who were taking efforts to make the Chinese Wikipedia grow. In 2013, there were 1.4 million registered users on the Chinese Wikipedia, and in July 2013 7,500 of these users were active, with most of them originating from Hong Kong and Taiwan. 715,000 entries for the Chinese Wikipedia, making it the 12th largest Wikipedia.
The Chinese name of Wikipedia was decided on October 21, 2003, following a vote. The name (simplified Chinese: 维基百科; traditional Chinese: 維基百科; pinyin: Wéijī Bǎikē) means "Wiki Encyclopedia". The Chinese transcription of "Wiki" is composed of two characters: 維/维, whose ancient sense refers to 'ropes or webs connecting objects', and alludes to the 'Internet'; and 基, meaning the 'foundations of a building', or 'fundamental aspects of things in general'. The name can be interpreted as 'the encyclopedia that connects the fundamental knowledge of humanity'.
The most common Chinese translation for wiki technology is 維基/维基; however, it can be 維客/维客 (literally "dimension visitor" or similar) or 圍紀/围纪 (literally "circle/enclose period/record" or similar), which are also transcriptions of the word "wiki". As a result, the term 維基/维基 has become associated exclusively with Wikimedia projects.
The Chinese Wikipedia also has a subtitle: 海納百川，有容乃大/海纳百川，有容乃大. It means, "The sea encompasses a hundred rivers; it has capacity i.e. is willing to accept all and is thus great." The subtitle is the first half of a couplet composed by the Qing Dynasty official Lin Zexu.
Origin of edits
Chinese Wikipedia contributors come from a variety of backgrounds. Just as English Wikipedia tends to be more detailed in western-related topics, the Chinese Wikipedia has very detailed descriptions of China-related topics. Within that region, the Chinese Wikipedia tends to be more detailed in topics about Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the wealthy east coast provinces of mainland China.
Also due to the geographical origin of its participants, the most discussed and debated topics on the Chinese Wikipedia are political issues about Chinese modern period history. For example, the six most edited articles as of August 2007 were Taiwan, Chinese culture, China, Mao Zedong, Chiang Kai-shek, and Hong Kong, in that order. In contrast, issues such as the Israel-Palestinian conflict are much less contentious.
As of August 2014, there are 83 administrators, or sysops. They are all elected by Chinese Wikipedians. Most of them come from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. There are also a few who come from the United States, Singapore, and Japan.
The first Chinese Wikipedian meeting was held in Beijing on July 25, 2004. Since then, Chinese Wikipedians from different regions have held many gatherings in Beijing, Shanghai, Dalian, Shenyang, Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Currently, a regular meetup is held once every two weeks in Shanghai, Taipei and Hong Kong, and once every month in Tainan City, Taiwan. In July 2006, Taiwanese Wikipedians also held a "travelling meetup", travelling by train through four Taiwanese cities over a period of two days. In August 2006, Hong Kong hosted the first annual Chinese Wikimedia Conference.
Chinese Wikipedians advertise Wikipedia in different ways. Many of them use weibo, a Chinese socializing website similar to Twitter. Several Chinese Wikipedians created the Wikipedia monthly magazine, or journal, called "The Wikipedians" in December 2012, which is currently published once a month.
In order to avoid systemic bias, editors are advised to avoid writing from the point of view of China or any other country/region; to avoid using terms such as 我国/我國 ("our country"; referring to the People's Republic of China or the Republic of China, depending on viewpoint), 本港 ("this port"; referring to Hong Kong), or 本澳 ("this Macau", referring to Macau); and instead, to refer to locations in the Chinese-speaking sphere or periods in Chinese history by explicitly stating China (e.g. "Yunnan province, China", instead of just "Yunnan province").
Automatic conversion between traditional and simplified Chinese characters
Originally, there were virtually two Chinese Wikipedias under the names of "zh" (or "zh-cn") and "zh-tw". Generally, users from regions that used Traditional Chinese characters (such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau) wrote and edited articles using Traditional Chinese characters whereas those from regions that used Simplified Chinese characters (such as mainland China, Singapore, and Malaysia) wrote using Simplified Chinese characters. Many articles had two uncoordinated versions; for example, there was both a Traditional (法國) and Simplified (法国) article on France. Further exacerbating the problem were differences in vocabulary (particularly nouns) and writing systems, between mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore . For example, a computer printer is called 打印机 in mainland China, but 印表機 in Taiwan.
To avoid this near-forking of the project, starting around January 2005, the Chinese Wikipedia began providing a server-side mechanism to automatically convert different characters and vocabulary items into the user's local ones, according to the user's preference settings, which may be set to one of two settings that convert the script only, or one of five settings that also take into account regional vocabulary differences:
Conversion is done through a set of character conversion tables that may be edited by administrators. To provide an alternative means to harmonize the characters when the server-side converters fail to work properly, a special template was created to manually convert characters and article titles in one specific page.
Furthermore, page title conversion is used for automatic page redirection. Those articles previously named in different characters or different translations have been merged, and can be reached by means of both Traditional and Simplified Chinese titles.
Differences with other versions of Wikipedia
According to a survey conducted between April 2010 and March 2011, edits to the Chinese Wikipedia were 37.8% from Taiwan, 26.2% from Hong Kong, 17.7% from Mainland China, 6.1% from United States and 2.3% from Canada.
Many editing controversies arise from current and historical political events in Chinese-speaking regions, such as the political status of Taiwan, North Korea's nuclear weapons, and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Wikipedias in other varieties of Chinese
The Chinese Wikipedia is based on written vernacular Chinese, the official Chinese written language in all Chinese-speaking regions, including mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore. This register is largely associated with the grammar and vocabulary of Standard Chinese, the official spoken language of mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore (but not exclusively of Hong Kong and Macau, which largely use Cantonese).
The varieties of Chinese are a diverse group encompassing many regional varieties, most of which are mutually unintelligible and often divided up into several larger dialect groups, such as Wu, Min Nan (of which Taiwanese is a notable dialect), and Cantonese. In regions that speak non-Mandarin languages or regional Mandarin dialects, the Vernacular Chinese standard largely corresponding to Standard Chinese is nevertheless used exclusively as the Chinese written standard; this written standard differs sharply from the local dialects in vocabulary and grammar, and is often read in local pronunciation but preserving the vocabulary and grammar of Standard Chinese. After the founding of Wikipedia, many users of non-Mandarin Chinese varieties began to ask for the right to have Wikipedia editions in non-Mandarin varieties as well. However, they also met with significant opposition, based on the fact that Mandarin-based Vernacular Chinese is the only form used in scholarly or academic contexts. Some also proposed the implementation of an automatic conversion program similar to that between Simplified and Traditional Chinese; however, others pointed out that although conversion between Simplified and Traditional Chinese consists mainly of glyph and sometimes vocabulary substitutions, different regional varieties of Chinese differ so sharply in grammar, syntax, and semantics that it was unrealistic to implement an automatic conversion program.
Objections notwithstanding, it was determined that these Chinese varieties were sufficiently different from Standard Chinese and had a sufficiently large number of followers to justify the creation of six Wikipedias for different varieties.
Finally, requests were also made, and granted, to create a Classical Chinese Wikipedia (zh-classical:), based on Classical Chinese, an archaic register of Chinese with grammar and vocabulary drawn from classical works, and used in all official contexts until the early 20th century, when it was displaced by the Vernacular Chinese standard.
All of the above Wikipedias have sidestepped the Traditional/Simplified Chinese issue. The Wu Wikipedia uses Simplified Chinese exclusively, and the Classical Chinese Wikipedia uses Traditional Chinese exclusively (The Gan and Cantonese Wikipedias default to Traditional, but have a conversion function similar to the Chinese Wikipedia). The Min Nan Wikipedia uses Pe̍h-ōe-jī. The Mindong Wikipedia and Hakka Wikipedias currently use Bàng-uâ-cê and Pha̍k-fa-sṳ respectively, which can be converted to Traditional Chinese characters, thus avoiding the issue completely.
Blocking of Wikipedia
Main article: Blocking of Wikipedia in mainland China
The People's Republic of China and internet service providers in Mainland China have adopted a practice of blocking contentious Internet sites in mainland China, and Wikimedia sites have been blocked at least three times in its history.
On May 19, 2015 Chinese Wikipedia was blocked again within mainland China.
Possibly related to this, on May 31 an article from the IDG News Service was published, discussing the Chinese Wikipedia's treatment of the protests. The Chinese Wikipedia also has articles related to Taiwan independence, written by contributors from Taiwan and elsewhere. A few days after the initial block of the Chinese Wikipedia, all Wikimedia sites were blocked in mainland China. In response to the blocks, two moderators prepared an appeal to lift the block and asked their regional internet service provider to submit it. All Wikimedia sites were unblocked between June 17 and June 21, 2004. One month later, the first Chinese Wikipedian moderators' meeting was held in Beijing on July 25, 2004.
The first block had an effect on the vitality of the Chinese Wikipedia, which suffered sharp dips in various indicators, such as the number of new users, the number of new articles, and the number of edits. In some cases, it took anywhere from 6 to 12 months in order to regain the stats from May 2004. On the other hand, on today's site, some of the articles are put under protection which may last for a month or more without any actions.
The second and less serious outage lasted between September 23 and September 27, 2004. During this 4-day period, access to Wikipedia was erratic or unavailable to some users in mainland China — this block was not comprehensive and some users in mainland China were never affected. The exact reason for the block is a mystery. Chinese Wikipedians once again prepared a written appeal to regional ISPs, but the block was lifted before the appeal was actually sent, for an unknown reason.
Third block and temporary unblocks
The third block began on October 19, 2005, and there was no indication as to whether this block was temporary or permanent, or what the reasons or causes for this block were. According to the status page currently maintained on the Chinese Wikipedia, the Florida and Korea servers were blocked, whereas the Paris and Amsterdam servers were not. Dozens of editors from across mainland China reported that they could only access Wikipedia using proxy servers, although there were isolated reports that some users could access Wikipedia without using a proxy. Most Chinese people were not able to connect to the site at all.
During October and November 2006, it first appeared that the site was unblocked again. Many conflicting reports came from news outlets, bloggers, and Wikipedians, reporting a possible partial or full unblocking of Wikipedia. Some reports indicated a complete unblock; others suggested that some sensitive topics remained blocked, and yet others suggested that the Chinese Wikipedia was blocked whereas other-language versions were not. From November 17 onwards, the complete block was once again in place.
On June 15, 2007, China lifted the block for several articles, only to then block an increasing number of articles. On 30 August 2007, all blocks were lifted, but then a block was placed on Wikipedia for all languages on 31 August 2007. As of 26 January 2008, all languages of Wikipedia were blocked, and as of 2 April 2008, the block was lifted.
By 5 April 2008, the Chinese Wikipedia became difficult to access from the Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou. Connections to the Chinese Wikipedia were completely blocked as of April 6, 2008. Any attempt to access the Chinese Wikipedia resulted in a 60-second ban on all Wikimedia websites. However, users were able to log on to the Chinese Wikipedia using https. All other languages were accessible, but politically sensitive searches such as Tibet were still blocked.
On 3 July 2008, the government lifted the ban on accessing the Chinese Wikipedia. However, some parts are still inaccessible. On July 31, 2008, BBC reported that the Chinese Wikipedia had been unblocked that day in China; it had still been blocked the previous day. This came within the context of foreign journalists arriving in Beijing to report on the upcoming Olympic Games, and websites like the Chinese edition of the BBC were being unblocked following talks between the International Olympic Committee and the Games' Chinese organizers.
On December 1, 2006, The New York Times published another report by Howard W. French, titled "Wikipedia lays bare two versions of China's past."
Since then Chinese Wikipedians have tried to clarify the situation. One Chinese Wikipedian sent a comment that was subsequently published in the Apple Daily Taiwan. The comment stated that:
In another email addressed to the Wikimedia Foundation mailing list, a Chinese Wikipedian stated:
Previous proposals to self-censor the Chinese Wikipedia in light of the P. R. Chinese government's censorship policies have been made before, but were overwhelmingly rejected by the community.
In April 2010, Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao reported the large-scale censorship of contents about Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and other Hong Kong related contents in which an administrator named "Shizhao" ("百無一用是書生" a.k.a. "時昭") was involved. The report also mentioned the failed recall of administrator.
A follow-up also by Ming Pao interviewed Shizhao and he made a statement that he is not a member of 50 Cent Party. He added that for controversial topics such as June 4, he should be a little more cautious. In the interview he denied the attempt of deleting an article about Concert For Democracy In China, he just questioned the notability of the concert by adding a template to the article.
However, he started a vote for deleting an article about a song criticizing Hong Kong government in 2007, enraging many Hong Kong netizens. Shizhao added that, at the time, he had already edited more than 50,000 times, deleting several articles including Manual for Librarians. He joked about the incident saying, "some may consider that is a kind of hate to libraries and hence is not suitable for monitoring Wikipedia."
On April 20, 2006, the online Chinese search engine company Baidu created Baidu Baike, an online encyclopedia that registered users can edit, pending administrator reviews. The content of the encyclopedia is self-censored in accordance with the regulations of the People's Republic of China government. Within weeks, the number of articles in Baidu Baike had surpassed that of the Chinese Wikipedia.
As of October, 2009, Hudong Wiki surpassed Baidu Baike as China's largest online encyclopedia.
Baidu Baike and Hudong are both commercial products. Whereas the Chinese Wikipedia is released under the GNU Free Documentation License, Baidu Baike and Hudong are fully copyrighted by their ownership; contributors forfeit all rights upon submission. However, Baidu Baike has been accused of "widespread copyright infringement" by mass-copying Wikipedia pages and incorporating them into Baidu Baike pages since 2007 (see Wikipedia:Mirrors and forks/Baidu Baike for details).