The big fat guide to Wikipedia statistics

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The big fat guide to Wikipedia statistics

Wikipedia develops at a rate of 1.9 edits per second. English Wikipedia alone includes more than 6 million articles and averages nearly 600 new articles per day.

How popular is Wikipedia?

Whether you call Wikipedia an encyclopedia, a website, or a community, one thing’s for sure:  it’s impressively massive. Since being launched in January 2001 by tech entrepreneurs Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, Wikipedia had grown to be the largest online encyclopedia known to man. But even that distinction doesn’t put into perspective the true vastness of the website and its community of readers and editors. 

While some scholarly folk might discuss the accuracy of a user-edited encyclopedia, there’s no denying Wikipedia’s popularity, especially considering it has more than 32 million Wikipedia editors, versions in 321 different languages, and an average of 600 new articles a day added to English Wikipedia alone. In fact, Wikipedia is the 8th-ranked website in the United States in traffic and engagement and 13th globally. 

Some of Wikipedia’s popularity stems from the fact that it’s one of the first user-generated online encyclopedias, allowing its visitors to contribute to the content. Its prevalence is global and undeniable, which leads to some interesting Wikipedia statistics and facts

There’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to interesting Wikipedia statistics, a fitting accompaniment for the numerous articles of Wikipedia facts and stats found throughout the web. To put the best of that information in one place, here’s your big fat guide to Wikipedia statistics and facts.

The most edited Wikipedia articles

In data taken between 2005-2015, George W. Bush had the most Wikipedia page edits of all time with more than 46,000 edits. The former President of the United States also held the record for the most edited entry in a single year with nearly 21,000 edits in 2005. 

The decade-long snapshot shows that articles on public figures and topical events were amongst the most edited Wikipedia articles

The most edited Wikipedia articles

Source: Statista

For a more recent snapshot of statistics about Wikipedia’s most popular articles, here are the most visited Wikipedia pages in March 2020.

Most visited Wikipedia pages

Source: Statista

The many languages of Wikipedia

Wikipedia currently has pages in 321 different languages. English Wikipedia currently has the most articles with 6,313,539, and the languages Herero and Kanuri have the least amount with zero articles besides their main page. Interestingly, Cebuano — a language native to the Philippines — has the second most Wikipedia articles. German, French, Russian, Italian, and Spanish are all also in the top 10.

Why don’t women edit Wikipedia as much as men?

A 2008 survey revealed that less than 13% of Wikipedia contributors worldwide were women. That number trended down even further from there, as a follow-up survey in 2011 saw that number fall to 9%. In the U.S., the percentage was a bit higher at 15%. However, what is strange about these disproportionate editing percentages between men and women is that these surveys showed no significant gender difference in readership rates.

The trend has continued in recent years. Despite launching several initiatives, Wikipedia failed to meet its goal to increase women’s participation to at least 25% by 2015. In direct response to the editor community’s gender ratio, co-founder Jimmy Wales has been quoted as saying “The biggest issue is editor diversity.”

So why don't women contribute to Wikipedia as much as men?

Well, two professors, one from Stony Brook University’s College of Business and one from Carnegie Mellon University, analyzed survey data in 2008 and found that women reported feeling less confident about their expertise and, therefore, more reluctant to edit others’ work. The study also found that women, who can be less confrontational than men, avoid Wikipedia edits because editing the work of others can sometimes engender conflict. 

Whether these postulates prove accurate or not, many believe Wikipedia’s ability to grow and thrive in the future relies on its ability to recruit more women editors moving forward.

Does Wikipedia have a liberal lean?

Some conservative people in the U.S. believe Wikipedia leans toward the left, and as a result started an alternative Wikipedia called Conservapedia.

Wikipedia describes Conservapedia as “an English-language wiki-based online encyclopedia project written from a self-described American conservative and fundamentalist Christian point of view.”

There’s little solid evidence that Wikipedia as a company has a liberal bias, but liberal leaning editors can be found in abundance.

Reputation X works with Wikipedia editors to balance the information about companies online. But doing so is often like kicking a hornets nest. For example, if a company had done wrong in the past, but they've turned things around, it is very difficult to get Wikipedia editors to allow adding the new positive information to the company Wikipedia page even though the information meets every Wikipedia guideline.

Some Wikipedia editors call this "whitewashing" when it's actually just trying to bring the Wikipedia article more inline with a neutral point of view - something Wikipedia advertises as important but that many powerful editors treat as an anathema. 

At the end of the day Wikipedia is about the collective viewpoints of its strongest editors. And like all humans, Wikipedia editors have their own biases. This is nearly impossible for Wikipedia to manage effectively which is one of the reasons some people believe Wikipedia is not the best reference available. 

Other impressive, crazy, and surprising Wikipedia stats and facts

  • Wikipedia’s official theme song is The Eagles’ 1976 hit Hotel California. 
  • There’s a pool to guess what the topic of the last Wikipedia article ever written will be.
  • Wikipedia archives some of its weirdest articles and labels them as “DAFTs,” or “deleted articles with freaky titles.” 
  • Wikipedia stood up to Congress by banning congresspeople for a week. In July 2014, Wikipedia enforced a 10-day ban on anyone with a U.S. Congress IP address after the online encyclopedia found that many congresspeople were aggressively editing an array of articles, including those about certain conspiracy theories and the first moon landing.
  • Wikipedia’s birthday — January 15 — is recognized as “Wikipedia Day” and it includes online and offline celebrations.
  • Wikipedia’s most viewed page is always its Main Page, but some of the other most viewed pages include Facebook, YouTube, the United States, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama.
  • As of March 2016, the non-bot Wikipedia user with the most edits is a Wikipedian (what they call Wikipedia users) named Ser Amantio di Nicolao, who has approximately 1.6 million edits to their name. But even his score can’t compare to that of the top bot user, which has produced more than 5.1 million edits since March 2016.
  • Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has the most visited article on a single day with 7.4 million views on Oct. 6, 2011, the day after he died. The next most-viewed article on a single day is Donald Trump’s after he won the presidential election on Nov. 9, 2016. The former President of the United States’ page received 6.1 million views on that day.

Wikipedia statistics FAQs

How popular is Wikipedia?

With 321 different language versions, more than 32 million active editors, and an average of 600 new articles a day on English Wikipedia alone, Wikipedia is massively popular. Wikipedia is the 8th-ranked website in the United States in traffic and engagement and 13th in the world. 

How many languages have Wikipedia pages?

Wikipedia currently has pages in 321 different languages. English Wikipedia currently has the most articles with 6,313,539. Cebuano — a language native to the Philippines — has the second most Wikipedia articles. German, French, Russian, Italian, and Spanish are all also in the top 10. The languages Herero and Kanuri have the least amount with zero articles besides their main page.

What are the most popular Wikipedia articles?

A decade-long data sample from 2005-2015 shows that current events and public figures are typically the most popular pages on Wikipedia. Because of Wikipedia’s wealth of information and frequency of editing, the popularity of its articles has much to do with what’s going on in the world at the time. For example, in March 2020, the most visited Wikipedia articles were almost all COVID-19 pandemic-related or election-related.