Google Research

Architecture for a multilingual Wikipedia

  • Denny Vrandecic
Google (2020)


Wikipedia’s mission is a world in which everyone can share in the sum of all knowledge. That mission has been very unevenly achieved in the first two decades of Wikipedia, and one of the largest hindrances is the sheer number of languages Wikipedia needs to cover in order to achieve that goal. We argue that we need a new approach to tackle this problem more effectively, a multilingual Wikipedia where content can be shared between language editions. This paper proposes an architecture for a system that fulfills this goal. It separates the goal in two parts - creating and maintaining content in an abstract notation within a project called Abstract Wikipedia, and creating an infrastructure called Wikilambda that can translate this notation to natural language. Both parts are fully owned and maintained by the community, as is the integration of the results in the existing Wikipedia editions. This architecture will make more encyclopedic content available to more people in their own language, and at the same time allow more people to contribute knowledge and reach more people with their contributions, no matter what their respective language backgrounds. Additionally, Wikilambda will unlock a new type of knowledge asset people can share in through the Wikimedia projects, functions, which will vastly expand what people can do with knowledge from Wikimedia, and provide a new venue to collaborate and capture the creativity of contributors from all around the world. These two projects will considerably expand the capabilities of the Wikimedia platform to enable every single human being to freely share share in the sum of all knowledge.

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