Press-friendly background materials：This post is prepared for the journalists, reporters and media organizations who want to cover the Wikimania 2013 and Wikisym+ Opensym 2013, on the topics of China’s or Chinese-language “user-generated content” (aka. “user-created content“) and “online encyclopedias“.
Wikimania, Wikisym and Chinese-speaking regions
- Wikimania, an annual international conference for users of Wikipedia and other sister projects), has been held annually since 2005 (in Frankfurt that year). Wikimania 2013 will be held in Hong Kong on August 7-11. Each year local volunteers and/or chapters will bid for hosting the event. Ten cities have won the hosting bids (including Wikimania 2014 to be held in London), and three of them are Asian cities. Among the three Asian cities, two are cities with ethnic Chinese majorities: Taiwan (Wikimania 2007) and Hong Kong (Wikimania 2013).
- Wikisym, a conference dedicated to research on open collaboration and wiki practices, has been held annually since 2005 in San Diego, California, US. Setting a definition of “open collaboration”, WikiSym + OpenSym 2013 (The Joint International Symposium on Open Collaboration) will be held in Hong Kong on Aug 5-7, 2013, which will be the first time for Wikisym to be hosted in the Asian region, and also the first time outside North America and Europe.
- Wikimania and Wikisym co-located for two years so far: Gdańsk, Poland in 2010 and Hong Kong in 2013.
- According to a statistical report by the Data Center of China Internet (Qiang, 2010), as early as in 2010, the content produced by amateur Chinese Internet users has surpassed that produced by professional websites in amount.
- The data in the statistical reports by the China Internet Network Information Center (, 2013) and iResearch (, 2013) indicates that many Chinese online commercial successes depend on user-generated content, as in the case of Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, which have contributed to the growth of online advertising market in China.
(WǎngLuò BǎiKēQuánShū) 网络百科全书
- According to a research presentation at the Wikisym+ Opensym 2013 by an Oxford Internet Institute student (me, the author of this blog)(Liao, 2013), Chinese Wikipedia and Baidu Baike dominates Chinese-language Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). However, the choice of search engines, geo-linguistic preference settings, etc. influences whether Chinese Wikipedia or Baidu Baike will show up more often. This research confirms, on one hand, the prior observations that user-generated encyclopedias (especially Wikipedia) dominates search engine result pages (especially Google) (?uhalev, 2006, Charlton, 2012, Gray, 2007, Silverwood-Cope, 2012), and on the other hand, demonstrate how distinct mainland Chinese users’ search engine result pages (especially provided by Baidu) are from other Chinese-speaking regions such as Hong Kong and Taiwan: Baidu Baike dominates Baidu’s SERPs, and Hudong is on average ranked even lower than Chinese Wikipedia.
- According to the 2013 statistical reports by the CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center), around 66.1% of Chinese Internet users used blog/personal space, 54.7% used microblogs, 48.8% used social networking websites (, 2013).
- According to Netpop Research (, 2007), a US marketing firm, user-generated content websites in China has been contributed by 47% of broadband users and influenced 58% of purchase decisions in China; these figures are higher than those in the US.
- The so-called “public opinion monitoring sector” in China also depends on user-generated content, where up-to-date information services are sold to managers from both public (mostly) and private sectors: Such services depend on collecting and mining user-generated content from websites such as online forums, microblogs, personal spaces, etc. The Online Public Opinion Monitoring and Measuring Unit of the People’s Net (人民网舆情监测室), is reported to be the most successful case, which has the annual revenue near 200 million RMB (Luo, Li, 2010, Tan, 2012).
- Non-profit cases of user-generated content websites include notable cases such as Yeeyan (译言网) and various language versions of Wikipedia: Yeeyan (译言网) was established by a group of volunteer-translators who translate news articles from English to Chinese, a case with implications in fostering Chinese participatory culture (Zhang, Mao, 2013), alleviating the global linguistic ghettoization issues(Stray, 2010), and maintaining viable “crowd-sourcing websites” in China (Chen, Liu, 2011, Yang, 2010). Various language versions of Wikipedia, including Cantonese, Wuu and other Southern dialects groups, are also contributed by volunteer users, with contributions to increasing China’s or Chinese-language linguistic diversities(Ning, 2008). It also built formal collaboration with foreign media such as the Guardian with its more than 120,000 registered users; however, it was shut down for a few months by Chinese authorities (Chen, Liu, 2011, Yang, 2010).
- Also repeatedly blocked by Chinese authorities, the global Wikipedia websites have been out of reach from users in mainland China, especially during the time from 2005 to 2008 when Chinese Internet users experienced explosive growth rates, not to mention competing user-generated encyclopedia websites since 2006 (Liao, 2013)（See also Wikipedia in mainland China: the critical years of 2005-2008）.
(WǎngLuò BǎiKēQuánShū) 网络百科全书
- Chinese-language user-generated encyclopedias can be roughly categorized into two kinds: commercial ones and not-for-profit ones. For-profit Hudong Baike aggressively seeks to monetize its brand of “Chinese Wikipedia” and has attracted some capital from the US venture capital firms (Englehardt, 2009). Nonetheless, its competitor Baidu Baike has been using its dominant position in China’s search engine market (Baidu Baike is hosted by Baidu the biggest search engine company in China) to minimize its online visibility and thus likely financial viability (Yang, 2011).
- Not-for-profit global user-generated encyclopedia website Wikipedia has not only Chinese version, but also southern Chinese language/dialect versions and other ethnic minorities’ languages, posing a clear contrast to simplified-Chinese only Hudong Baike and Baidu Baike (Nigh, Liao, 2011). Among them, Chinese Wikipedia even allows users to read and contribute in their preferred language scripts and terminologies, formally accepting Taiwan orthodox Chinese, Hong Kong traditional Chinese, Malaysia/Singapore simplified Chinese, etc., in addition to mainland simplified Chinese (Liao, 2009).
- According to the latest visitor traffic statistics provided by the Wikimedia Foundation, Chinese Wikipedia’s traffic amounts to 2.8% of the global overall traffic. The highest number of visits to Chinese Wikipedia comes from Taiwan (35.8%), then China (32.9%), Hong Kong (16.7%), the US (4.5%), Malaysia (1.8%). For Cantonese Wikipedia, the highest comes from Hong Kong (47.4%), then Taiwan (20.1%), China (16.1%), etc. For Wuu Wikipedia: China (51.6%), the US (12.0%), and so on.
- According to a research presentation(Liao, 2013) at the Wikisym 2013 by a PhD student at the Oxford Internet Institute, Baidu Baike and Chinese Wikipedia dominates Chinese-language search engine result pages (SERPs) for most of the keywords; however for the search queries about the Fortune 500, China’s MBAlib.com, also a user-generated online encyclopedia enjoys high online visibility performance as well.
Background Information about this piece
The above information was compiled for an invited article, contributed to the book called “Internet in China, a Berkshire Essential”, to be published by Berkshire Publishing Group. It provides much-needed historical background on the communications revolution and technological developments that are transforming Chinese society in many ways, creating new conflicts as well as opportunities. Experts write about community building, social networking, social isolation, education, entertainment, and the digital divide. The volume can be used in a variety of courses, including communications, international relations, and human-computer interaction. Reference