Editing stats

Editing frequency statistics show decline in participation

Accounts per month with at least 20 article edits, January 2001 – September 2008
Ratios of high-edit users to all active users since 2005, relative to September 2008 values (article namespace only)
New accounts registered per month, October 2005 to December 2008

New statistics on editing frequency, produced by User:Dragons flight, show that the size of the active editing community of the English Wikipedia peaked in early 2007 and has declined somewhat since then. Like Wikipedia's article count, the number of active editors grew exponentially during the early years of the project. The article creation rate (which is tracked at Wikipedia:Size of Wikipedia) peaked around August 2006 at about 2400 net new articles per day and has fallen since then, to around under 1400 in recent months.

Corresponding data for the number of active editors was available from Erik Zachte's Wikipedia Statistics site, but due to the large size of the complete database dump, the numbers for English Wikipedia have not been updated since October 2006, just when Wikipedia appeared to be entering a new phase of growth. The new data shows that the community continued to grow for about six months after the peak in article growth rate, reaching a maximum of 18,126 registered user accounts (excluding bots) with at least 20 article namespace edits in the month of March 2007. By September 2008 (the last month covered by the new statistics) only 13,971 accounts made 20 or more article edits. Anonymous edits and total non-bot edits across all namespaces also peaked in March 2007.

The proportion of active users who contribute heavily has remained relatively stable since the peak of activity in 2007, although active users were more likely to have high edit counts during Wikipedia's period of very rapid growth in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, users making at least one article edit in a given month were about twice as likely to make over 100 edits that month than in 2007 and 2008. However, the proportion of active users making at least 2500 article edits per month has been rising since early 2007.

User:MBisanz has charted the number of new accounts registered per month, which tells a very similar story: March 2007 recorded the largest number of new accounts, and the rate of new account creation has fallen significantly since then. Declines in activity have also been noted, and fretted about, at Wikipedia:Requests for adminship. In 2008, only 201 editors were granted adminship, compared to 408 in 2007; in December 2008, there were only nine successful requests for adminship, and on December 31, there were no active requests. However, the number of active administrators (which appears to have peaked just above 1000 early in 2008) has seen only slight decline; as of January 2, 2009 there are 944 administrators who have made at least 30 edits in the past three months.

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    Discuss this story

    There will always be both fluctuations in activity (in part dependent upon "topics in the news" and other incentives to do something) and individual declines in participation (once one has "seen to" most of the articles one is interested in).

    However - trawling through 'list of articles from (insert date)' (as with several of the Open Task lists) can be time consuming. Would it be feasible to create something similar to the Random Plot Generator [1] - which finds 'several' articles requiring improvement under particular categories? Jackiespeel (talk) 15:32, 7 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]

    Usage changes don't necessarily equal deterioration

    Just a "keep your chin up" note. I think that the usage changes that are being measured don't mean that Wikipedia is going to go away. It will just go through different phases of development. The kinds of activity that were needed during the initial ramp-up may be different from the kinds of activity that will define the mature phases. The "initial filling of the vacuum" era is tapering off, but the "maintaining and improving the content" era is only just gradually dawning. — ¾-10 19:27, 10 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]

    Agree with the above. Another possibility: all human knowledge has now been captured: WE ARE WIKIPEDIA. Now it's just a case of keeping up-to-speed with current events... Tim Ruddell (talk) 19:14, 26 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]
    I can vouch for the fact that in my particular areas of content interest, there is still a lot of human knowledge that is absent from WP; but it's more related to better explaining the topics already broached than to introducing new topics. Most of the "easy moves" have already been made, and what's left is more challenging. So I agree with Tim in that although there are still content gaps, we are definitely headed in the general direction of what he said. My way of saying it would be "most topics have now been broached. Now it's just a case of elaborating on them." — ¾-10 00:06, 27 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]
    I agree with Three-quarter-ten. What s/he calls the mature phases will attract a different sort of editor, and attitudes to people who persistently add unverified facts to articles will harden, so that probably means fewer, longer edits by increasingly "professional" editors. In terms of statistics, the move towards inline citations makes a significant difference to editor productivity as measured by edit counts. It can take hours to find references to support material that pervious editors have inserted. In doing this, the content gets improved too, but my impression is that the volume of citations is increasing much faster than the volume of content. For example:
    In one year the content doubled but the number of citations increased twenty times. By "words" I mean words in the article text and headings, excluding the TOC, infobox, image captions, citations, references, and the "See also", "Further reading", "Fiction", "References" and "External links" sections. I chose this article "at random" as one where no new material (discovery, biography, announcement) would have triggered rewriting. - Pointillist (talk) 13:10, 7 February 2009 (UTC)[reply]


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