My research has shown that English and German Wikipedia articles can be totally different even if they describe the same topic. An evaluation of the Wikipedia articles on Multiculturalism in English and Multikulturalismus in German has shown that these two articles are independent of each other and differ in terms of length, informativeness, wealth of details and pictures. Surprisingly, they also differ in terms of how they present points of view.
A first comparison of the two equivalent articles on Multiculturalism revealed that the German and the English article differ significantly in their lengths. The German article on Multikulturalismus has about 750 words, while the English equivalent article on Multiculturalism has about 7,500 words.
It is striking that the German article only gives a very brief and precise introduction which consists of a basic definition of the term Multikulturalismus. It, solely, introduces the readers to the article’s main idea and leaves out any irrelevant information. The introduction on the English Wikipedia page is, in the other hand, much longer and integrates a lot more details, quotes and examples. After the basic introduction, the German article is split into four sections which are in logical order: the main goals of a multicultural society are given, possible target groups are briefly named and existing counterpositions are presented.The article closes with a single-line definition of the term Multikulti. All in all, the German article is short, precise and appears to be incomplete. This becomes clear when comparing the German with the English language version.
The English Wikipedia article is more vivid and informative; it describes every aspect of Multiculturalism and gives a detailed presentation of the current situation in sixteen multicultural countries, including countries from all over the world. After this excursion follows a presentation of opinions which are in favor or against multiculturalism.
Concerning the use of images, facts and figures, it is striking that the German article doesn’t attach any pictures in the article, it restricts its article to a textual description and appears like a simple lexicon entry which tries to stick to facts. The English Wikipedia article, on the other hand, attaches a lot more images. Photos of monuments, maps and multicultural societies make the article more vivid and interactive. The readers are, hence, much more drawn into the article. Additionally, the English Wikipedia article provides a lot of references, external links and tips for further reading. The German article offers only a short list of references, literature and weblinks.
A third important difference between the English and the German Wikipedia articles on Multiculturalism can be found when comparing the presentation of existing counterpositions. Both articles should provide a balance of the different counterpositions in order fulfill the fundamental Wikipedia principles and remain neutral. Surprisingly, the English article -which in detail describes multicultural nations– provides a rather narrow-minded coverage of supposing and opposing opinions. While it informs the readers about current situations in different multicultural countries, it only puts weight on (counter-) positions across the North American continent and provides a biased presentation of supposing and opposing positions. The German Wikipedia article appears a little broader-minded since it presents the readers with various counterpositions from Germany and other European countries. It tries to be informative and aims at making the readers aware of existing supposing and opposing opinions but restricts its presentation of positions to European countries.
The comparison of the articles on Multiculturalism/Multikulturalismus has shown that there can be a number of differences between two “equivalent” articles. The German article is no translation of the English Wikipedia article and differs immensely from the English language version. In order to make either article more attractive, it could be helpful to integrate the information given in one article in the other article. This way, both articles could be more informative and less biased.