Friday, July 26, 2013
Are Arabic articles in Wikipedia reliable?
No they are not. There is a huge gap between the accuracy of the information that exists in an English Wikipedia article and in the Arabic version of the same article. Wikipedia is the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet, ranking seventh globally among all websites on Alexa as of June 2013, and it is one of the most important resources for common readers as well as students in today's world. Although Wikipedia is an open content source and pretty much anyone can edit or contribute to its articles, it is still viewed as a reliable source of information, however, this is not the case for the Arabic content of Wikipedia as many articles do not meet any encyclopedic standards.
Much of the content in Arabic the deals with history, natural sciences, nature, zoology etc. is indeed reliable as it is just a translation to the English or French content, but the content the deals with sensitive issues like Islam, the west, women rights, Jewish history etc. are not. Many of the sensitive content include a lot of anti-Western and Islamic propaganda. Here I'm going to offer some humble examples of those articles:
One article that is very frustrating and disappointing in the Arabic article about Women in Islam. While the English article offers a neutral detailed count of how Islam views women, it does not miss to mention and redirect you to issues like the debate about women rights within Islam, gender segregation, status of women in Arab societies, progressive criticism etc, the Arabic article offer a clear fundamentalist Muslim male dominant statements like "Allah honored women and relieved them from leadership and responsibility and gave them to man." the article goes on in another place and suggests that "Western enemies of Islam are criticize women status in Islam."
Wikipedia offers a very nice entry about Islam and Violence which discusses the relationship between Islam as a religion and the violence behavior of many Muslims, a very important global issue and concern no doubt. The article is available in English, Farsi and Arabic. The English and Farsi versions are quite objective and neutral as any other Wikipedia entry, however, I should tell you the Arabic one is not. The Arabic article, very long and formal, could have been written by a Hamas or a Hezbollah member as it defends Jihad and justify it as a tool of countering Western imperialism. The Article is strongly anti-Western and pro-Jihad, one can fairly describe it as propaganda. The article has been like this since last March.
Another worrying Arabic article was the one about "Protocols of Zion" which included clear antisemitism describing the protocols as the Jewish conspiracy to dominate the globe and many other antisemitic statements that made me edit the article many times myself.
Personally, I'm a fan of Wikipedia. It is a great easy source of reliable information that can be easily verified through the list of references. But it is important that people understand what Arabs do write and read in Wikipedia. I wish that many Arabic speaking editors in Wikipedia would commit themselves to the western standards of encyclopedic writing, saving the readers from being exposed to another Arabic nonacademic propaganda and a lot of misinformation.