Danish Wikipedia becoming meaningless

With under 200,000 articles on offer, and less than 7,000 contributors, Denmark’s Wikipedia lags behind those written in similarly sized languages

Wikipedia may be a worldwide sensation, but its Danish counterpart is lagging behind other Scandinavian versions of the user-maintained encyclopaedia. In fact, most of northern Europe has been able to develop national versions that have comparatively more content than the Danish version.

Currently, there are only 6,500 registered Danish Wikipedians – the name for those that help maintain Wikipedia content – which is half as many as there are in Norway and Finland, which both have similar populations to Denmark. In the Netherlands, which has three times as many people as Denmark, there are four times as many Wikipedians administrating the Dutch version.

In addition, the amount of Danish articles that have been published on it are also at a regional low, with no more than 170,000 pages up and running, whereas the Swedes, of which there are about twice as many as there are Danes, have 500,000, and the Dutch have well over a million pages on offer.

Ole Andersen, Wikipedia's spokesperson in Denmark, said the relative lack of Danish content could be chalked up to the fact that many Danes over-estimate their ability in English, and this may influence their choice of Wikipedia version. The English version of Wikipedia is far more popular amongst Danes than it is with its Scandinavian neighbours.

Danes preference for the English site means that the quality of Danish entries tends to lag. Without regular traffic, aspects such as fact checking are neglected, a problem that Andersen is well aware of.


"Everybody can edit, so people will occasionally try to use the platform for personal gains or issues," Andersen said. "We are currently focusing on cleaning controversial articles on living people in order to keep that number of such articles down.

User-friendliness is an issue being addressed by all Wikipedias, Andersen said, but said because of the relatively small number of Danish users, the job takes time.

“We try to look through the uploaded articles in order to determine what’s right and what’s not, but obviously that process would be a lot quicker with web traffic helping you out.”

One solution could be to allow Danish users to directly edit content on the site, but any useability changes need to be made by the Wikipedia Foundation, the US-based non-profit that operates all versions of Wikipedia, and that would take a lot of  time.

Nonetheless, Andersen knows where to begin.

“What we first need to do is to find articles that that need editing most – such as those relating to contemporary personalities – and install them with an 'edit' option,” Andersen said.

The Danish Wikipedia only has 37 administrators and 24 ‘patrollers’ to keep an eye on the site. If they find anything they deem to be inappropriate, they can directly block users by locating their IP addresses, and blacklisting them from the site.