Wikipedia – encyclopedia extraordinaire and the probably most commonly known and used internet database in existence. Millions of articles offer information and insight on everything ranging from art over people to politics and technology. The flow of information seems endless, in some languages more than in others. Different language Wikipedias differ not only in the actual count of articles, but also greatly vary in the content. While many articles are mere copies of articles in different languages, some avert this and instead differ greatly from the English version, sometimes to a point where one has to wonder whether reading articles only in one language is enough to gather all the desired data.
While articles on for example world-wide famous people such as Mozart tend to share so many similarities it is difficult to note the differences, articles on smaller, less globally known things tend to divide in content just a little. In Video Games, for example, articles can vary greatly, due to the already specific target Group of certain games as well as differences in the game depending on the Version and language of the game. One such example is the recently-released Dragon Age: Inquisition, third in the Dragon Age series of BioWare fame.
Different at first Glance
While both the English and the German version focus their introduction of the article on simple facts, already the information sheet on the right of the sites differ. They use different pictures, one of the box art, one of the in-game logo and cite different producers in the sheet, the English mentioning the composer of the game’s music while the German article mentions the lead developer. They share a list of release dates and both state the genre of the game, but while the English article seems content with only mentioning the graphics engine, the German one instead furthers the information by adding language, copy-protection software, PG rating and hardware requirements for Windows computers.
The information box is only the tip of the iceberg however, as the articles themselves continue the trend: The English article is much more focused on plot, story and reception, omitting many technical details and information about future DLCs. While it does share the ‘Reception’ part with the German article, as well as a the ‘Development’ and ‘Synopsis’ (though the actually content does differ), the German article does not go quite as deep into the material, but features a ‘Characters’ table with voice actor names provided as well, which the English counterpart lacks completely.
Quality and Quantity
Even when they share a headline, parts of the articles vary greatly. The English ‘Gameplay’ section spans just over 1000 words, with hardly a mention of Multiplayer Mode, while the German one is merely 260 words long, with however a second section dedicated solely to the aforementioned Multiplayer. As such, the first is considerably more in-depth, while the second spans a separate aspect untouched by the English. Information is split between the articles, making it impossible to grasp the game in its entirety without consulting both of them.
Similarly, ‘Development’ and ‘Synopsis’ have great differences, with the German ‘Development’ sub-article even expanding on DLC, the Dragon Age Keep which is used to transfer data between games, and a mini-game prequel to Inquisition. The English article in question is merely a list of dates on which new information on the game was released during the last two years.
Two widely different Experiences
Only with effort can the two articles be put on the same level. It is not that either of them is better or worse, they simply offer widely different content. Why this is the case, one can only speculate – is it because German people lean towards technology and details more than others do while being less interested in the actual story? Or is it, perhaps, due to the tendency towards order and facts? The different demographic and reception? Even the difference in Wikipedia contributers and count of edits to the article might matter, considering the difference in numbers and actual editors. The German and English information pages on Wikipedia hold tables which make this very obvious.
No matter the actual reason, the fact that these differences are so present in direct comparison leaves enough food for thought, and should be enough to warrant a re-evaluation and perhaps re-write of this article, among many others suffering the same problem.