Like many web users, I’m a frequent user of the variously reliable wonders of wikipedia (not least as a topic for blog posts). Or rather, I’m a frequent user of the English version. For there are a quite astonishing number of wikipedias in other languages that are, by definition, opaque not only to myself but to most English-speaking users of the web: 253 at the time of typing, ranging from Afrikaans to Zulu via Kashubian. And because most wikipedias are generated from scratch, they represent an intriguingly autonomyous, if overlapping, compendium of web worldviews.
As you might expect, the oldest and largest wikipedia is the English language one—founded on the 15th January 2001, it reached the two million articles mark in September 2007, although its share of total articles is down 3% on last year. The German and French editions come next with, respectively, 660,000 and 580,000; then you move on to Polish (440,000), Japanese (430,000), Dutch (370,000), Italian (370,000), Portuguese (340,000), Spanish (300,000) and Swedish (260,000). And then you’re below a quarter of a million, in the realms of Russian, Mandarin, Finnish and Norwegian.