Papiamentu and Papiamento: Wikipedia is up and ready to go!


By Ciell


In 2018, on the initiative of UNESCO Nederland and Wikimedia Nederland, the Wiki goes Caribbean (WGC) project was launched, with the aim of expanding, enlarging, improving and updating the information about Suriname and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Wikipedia, Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons. In this context, the Wiki Goes Caribbean working group of Wikimedia Nederland decided to revive the Papiamentu/Papiamento Wikipedia. (For the readability of this blog, we will use ‘Papiamentu’ when referring to this language version of Wikipedia in this article).


This encyclopaedia in the language of the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao was founded in 2006. Years later, there was only one regular Wikipedia visitor who checked the recent changes on a weekly basis. The encyclopaedia was mainly filled by anonymous passers-by, and the live monitoring was mostly done by the Small Wikis Monitoring Team, who filtered out the most serious vandalism.

Renewed focus

In November 2020, the working group agreed to focus on four topics for the Papiamentu language Wikipedia:

  • a group of members focused on mapping and largely revising the category tree (the keywords assigned to each article)
  • translations of the software were being worked on so that new parts of the interface would also be in Papiamento
  • new moderators were needed
  • Wikidata (the central database behind all language versions of Wikipedia) in Papiamentu was made a priority.

Once that was done, the Papiamentu Wikipedia would be ready to welcome new editors.

Papiamentu and Papiamento

Papiamentu (Bonaire and Curaçao) or Papiamento (Aruba) is the most widely spoken language on the Caribbean ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) having official status in Aruba and Curaçao. Both are used on this Wikipedia language version. On the wiki, the agreement is that the choice of the article’s author is respected in this, so both variants are written on one Wikipedia. The Papiamentu Wikipedia is not unique: this agreement also exists for the Spanish and Portuguese language, but for example also the English Wikipedia has an equal agreement for the British and American spelling. On the Papiamentu Wikipedia, the choice of language can be indicated by means of a template.

For the Mediawiki software and the Wikidata database, Papiamentu was the only option, but since March 2021 it is also possible to add information in Papiamento. The software can now be translated (and still needs to be approved before it can be implemented) and for Wikidata a start can be made with the most basic labels such as “is a”, “country”, “person”, “profession”, but also for example “painting”.


To be able to classify the articles in the new category tree, all articles in the encyclopedia were checked: each one was assigned a category and if they were not already linked in Wikidata, they were added. Several articles in languages other than Papiamentu were removed, templates were copied from other Wikipedias, and overdue maintenance was addressed. For infoboxes, it was agreed to create an active link to Wikidata. This link ensures that when something is changed on Wikidata, the infobox accompanying the article is updated immediately. It keeps the infoboxes up-to-date in a maintenance friendly way.


Meanwhile, on Wikidata, a start has been made to add translations of the labels into Papiamentu with a bot: if there is no translation of the label into Papiamentu, the infobox displays the label in English. This has led to the number of labels in Papiamentu doubling from 400,000 before the turn of the year to 800,0000 at the beginning of April. From these labels 1.2 million Papiamentu descriptions of the items were added in the same period (the counter of Papiamentu descriptions was 100,000 before the turn of the year). Wikidata currently has about 100 million items, so the bot still has some work to do.

Want to join?

The Papiamentu Wikipedia is now completely up and ready to go! The Wiki goes Caribbean working group welcomes people who want to write or improve Wikipedia articles in Papiamentu/Papiamento. The WGC meetings regularly take place on Caribbean Saturday mornings and therefore Dutch Saturday afternoons, and Wikimedia Netherlands also regularly organises writing workshops and writing courses. And are you not quite sure about your spelling in Papiamentu? Don’t worry, there are people who are happy to help you by proofreading your texts before you put them online!

For more information, see the Wikipedia project page ‘Wiki goes Caribbean’.