The purpose of this paper is to examine the rather unsuccessful Wikiproject for Cambodia. Despite its lack of success, it is a case that can be used to draw lessens for dealing with the issue of geographical under-representation on Wikipedia as a whole. After presenting evidence of the Wikiproject’s failure to achieve the goals for which it was created, the author will discuss the pressing issues of imbalances in geographical coverage on Wikipedia as well as the deeper issues involved in remedying these imbalances, namely, the question of who gets to represent whom.
The author takes a broadly qualitative approach to the study of Wikipedia. For this study, the Cambodia Wikiproject main page, as well as the various talk page archives associated with it, was downloaded in November 2016 and subjected to a content analysis. Descriptive statistics are also used when necessary to build the argument.
Wikiproject Cambodia has failed to appreciably improve the coverage of Cambodian topics. This is likely due to its inability to attract for a prolonged period of time a champion able to anchor the project and provide a sense that someone is listening. But the makeup of the project members also suggests that even if a champion could be found, the question of who gets to represent whom remains difficult to deal with. It is unlikely that Cambodia will anytime soon develop a strong community of Wikipedia editors given the economic and social constraints the country imposes on the most of its population.
This work builds on the small, but growing body of literature dealing with coverage gaps in Wikipedia. Given Wikipedia’s growing importance as part of the everyday information infrastructure people use, such gaps and potential solutions to these gaps should be a vital part of the information science community’s agenda.
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