Submissions/Discussion and Improvement Proposals for the Current Interwiki Linking System on Wikipedia

From Wikimania 2011 • Haifa, Israel

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Review no.


Title of the submission

Discussion and Improvement Proposals for the Current Interwiki Linking System on Wikipedia

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)

Presentation (it could also be a panel, if more people are interested in getting involved)

Author of the submission

Arkaitz Zubiaga

E-mail address or username (if username, please confirm email address in Special:Preferences)

User: User:TXiKi / Bot: User:TXiKiBoT

Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog

Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)

Wikipedias in more than 280 languages[1] are connected by means of external links so-called interwiki or inter-language links. Interwiki links of each page of a Wikipedia connect to pages about the same topic on other Wikipedias. The current interwiki linking system replicates the links to the other languages on each and every Wikipedia, so that it is necessary to run lots of interwiki bots[2] to keep them updated.

The increasingly number of languages and articles per language of Wikipedia is making the task more complicated and presents some issues, though. Even though all the active bots successfully work and cooperate towards getting all the Wikipedias well-connected, the current interwiki linking system does not ease its maintenance, and could substantially be improved. As an example, some of the main issues brought about by this are the following:

  • Interwiki links are replicated on all languages, so that it does not ensure that all the Wikipedias link to the same pages.
  • Some Wikipedias, like the one in Icelandic language, have complained about the trouble of having page histories overwhelmed by bot edits, and have decided to reduce the number of edits per minute by bots[3].
  • Renaming, redirecting, or deleting pages can take long to be updated on the other Wikipedias, and it many times yields autonomous problems[4].

As an approach to solving this, my take is that keeping interwiki links out of the pages as metadata, in a common place for all the Wikipedias (e.g., in a cross-project wiki like Commons) would provide several advantages. When users create a new page, they could just specify the link on one of the Wikipedias, and it would automatically be attached to the metadata. This would completely remove the activity of interwiki bots from page histories, and would avoid the need of replicating interwiki links, having the same links for all Wikipedias. Besides this, it should be change-aware (e.g., it should be notified when a page is redirected), so that the metadata are updated as the pages move.

In this presentation, I would like not only to more deeply present the issues of the current interwiki linking system and propose an approach for improving it, but also to discuss it with other bot owners and developers in order to share our thoughts.

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)


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Slides or further information (optional)


  1. List of Wikipedias
  2. List of interwiki bots on English Wikipedia
  3. Issues about interwiki bot edits on Icelandic Wikipedia
  4. An autonomous problem happens when the automated bot is running on a page and its neighbors on the other languages, and it finds more than a page for the same language, so that it is unable to know what is the correct one. This is very common to happen when a page is moved to create a new one with the old title, when the bot finds that the page it was linking to now links to a different set of pages.

Interested attendees

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  1. Incnis Mrsi
  2. Blahma 12:54, 1 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Vibhijain 12:41, 4 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Jaime Penagos 15:17, 17 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  5. I am very interested in this. A related proposal: Submissions/Ambiguous interwikis. --Amir E. Aharoni 09:34, 13 June 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Ruslik 09:11, 25 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]