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The Dutch wikipedia is a fun place to be. Even though Dutch is not one of the biggest languages in the world, it still manages to rank quite high in the list of biggest wikipedias. Perhaps being a "small" language has its advantages too, since the stats show Dutch and Belgian wikipedians are very active in a multitude of other wikis, too. Yet the place is not without problems.

The Dutch Wikipedia is on its way to their 250.000 articles and this size is forcing us to implement some policies, adapt others and the politics of it does not go down well with everyone. Since we're growing in size and the Dutch are not widely known for their uncritical stance, many disputes rage and the Village Pump (De Kroeg) is a busy place, with sometimes over a 1000 edits a day. Deletionists are called deletion fetishists, one user has managed to get into a barfight with a recluse monk (I kid you not) and tempers sometimes rise to a level that would melt most metals.

Wiki-nl suffers from exactly the same problems as any wiki that's growing beyond the size that can be managed on an ad-hoc basis, but also from some that people may claim to be typically Dutch. The administrators (at the moment 82), whose job is hard enough elsewhere, have to deal with the Dutch disregard, nay, contempt for all forms of authority, which makes the place slightly anarchistic. Registered users get blocked and unblocked two days later by popular demand and the poll about these matters is subject to polls to decide whether the poll was valid or not, which in turn is subject to a third poll to decide... umm... something.

WPgrowth(sep06).png

Don't worry, though. Karl Marx noted that a revolution is impossible in The Netherlands, since everyone has to be home at six for dinner. The things described above are no more than Dutch society's social rules extending into the wiki. It's a sign of a vibrant, lively place, not of impending doom. The necessity of more stringent guidelines and policies is sinking in and I have no doubts the process will result in a workable solution, inspired partly by the English wiki, partly by the German but essentially Dutch.

This picture shows the number of articles versus time of a few of the bigger wikipedias on a logarithmic scale. A straight line implies an exponential growth. The line for the de: wikipedia shows a different behaviour from the ones from en:, fr: and nl:: after a steeper growth in 2003 and 2004, it levelled down from 2005 onwards. For en:, fr: and nl: the number of articles is consistently doubling every nine months or so.