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The Positioning Matters: Estimating Geographical Bias in the Multilingual Record of Biographies on Wikipedia

Author: Beytía, P.
Published in: WWW '20: Companion Proceedings of the Web Conference 2020, 806-810
Year: 2020
Type: Other publications
DOI: 10.1145/3366424.3383569

This article proposes that an appropriate assessment of the geographical bias in multilingual Wikipedia's content should consider not only the number of articles linked to places, but also their internal positioning –i.e. their location in different languages and their centrality in the network of references between articles–. This idea is studied empirically, systematically evaluating the geographic concentration in the biographical coverage of globally recognized individuals (those whose biographies are found in more than 25 language versions of Wikipedia). Considering the internal positioning levels of these biographies, only 5 countries account for more than 62% of Wikipedia's biographical coverage. In turn, the inequality in coverage between countries reaches very high levels, estimated with a Gini coefficient of .84 and a Palma ratio of 207. In all the tests carried out, the inclusion of the linguistic and/or relational positioning of the articles increases the estimate of inequality in biographical coverage. This suggests that previous estimates of geographical bias, which do not consider differences in internal positioning, have underestimated the degree of inequality in the distribution of information.

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Pablo Beytía

Assoziierter Forscher: Wissen & Gesellschaft

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