In the winter semester of 2015/2016 at the University of Passau I’ve taken part in an academic research to compare via a qualitative analysis the Wikipedia articles on various conflicts, like the Palestine-Isreali conflict, the Ukraine conflict from 2014 or the Refugee crisis in Germany, in different languages. The aim of the group research was to find out whether Wikipedia is a reliable source of information in the field of current international or non-international conflicts.
Wikipedia as you know is a free, open content online encyclopedia created through the collaborative effort of a community of users known as Wikipedians. Anyone registered on the site can create an article for publication; registration is not required to edit articles. The site’s name comes from wiki, a server program that enables anyone to edit Web site content through their Web browser. “Wiki” is a Hawaiian word meaning “quick”.
The results of the research were stunning since we discovered that there is a clear connection between an article in a certain language and it’s governments position on a certain conflict. I researched the Wikipedia-entries on the Russo-Georgian war of 2008. The article in Russian used 86% Russian Media as their source and another 3% of sources from Russian influenced territory. The English article used approximately 89% Anglo-Saxon sources. Even the article from a tiny country like Lithuania in the Lithuanian language used 25% of it’s own national media as their source of information. This shows that there is a lot of trust in the national media, which mostly reflect a governmental position towards a certain conflict. When I looked at the other 11% of the English Wikipedia article’s sources, they were mostly from countries that have a strong alliance with the US Government. The Lithuanian Wikipedia article on the other hand used 15% Georgian sources and 8% Russian media sources – so clearly the Lithuanian audience considered the Georgian information as “more reliable”.