Need It Simpler? Simple English Wikipedia Is For You

I know what you’re thinking. Simpler Wikipedia? If you find yourself struggling with the language in some of the more technically challenging Wikipedia articles, then maybe you see the utility. Simple English Wikipedia is a version of Wikipedia, indeed a Wikimedia property, that contains simple, straightforward and to the point articles on various topics. Unfortunately, not quite as many topics as the big cousin, English Wikipedia. 86,169 compared to 4,032,663. CTangent, an Admin for Wikmedia’s “simple” cousin, explains it thusly on Reddit:

 

SEWiki was designed for non-native speakers of English that are hoping to improve their command of the language. SEWikipedia, unfortunately, has been used as a political platform at the cost of the integrity of the project. For aspiring administrators of the full English Wikipedia, being an admin of the SEWikipedia is a nice thing to put on the resume. Many of these people would make very terrible administrators for various reasons. However, since SEWikipedia is so small, they can often gain adminship on this smaller wiki and use it to slingshot to a position of power on the English Wikipedia. In fact, when I was there, one of the founding members was de-adminned and banned by the other admins (including me) because he was using the SEWikipedia to prove a political point to the members of the English Wikipedia, who had banned him before. In principle, though, it’s a good idea. Technical articles are simplified for the layman, and non-technical articles are written so that non-native speakers can learn the language. There was a simple english Wiktionary too, but I think that got killed by the powers that be in Wikimedia.

 

I get it. Power struggle. All machinations aside, I can see why it could be useful even for English-speakers, particularly on highly technical articles. Some of the scientific articles I have read have left me bleary-eyed and cotton-brained. And I practice insurance law and read policies for a living. Having a simple English explanation for string theory would, at the very least, make me sound like I sort of know what I am talking about when my child asks me for help with his science homework.

 

So, how does Simple Wikipedia look and compare? Take the following two examples on the heading “Jurisdiction”, the first from Simple Wikipedia and the second from English Wikipedia. While I understand which version offers a better education on the topic, let’s be serious here,which would you rather read?:

 

 

 

 

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