The Signpost


If you're reading this, you're probably on a desktop

Contribute  —  
Share this
By FacetsOfNonStickPans
Editor's note: I don't know how in tarnation this never ended up getting published. When I rewrote some templates to better categorize Signpost drafts, it revealed that this had been languishing in the doldrums for quite some time. Oopsies woopsies!!! Anyway, it is a fine piece, and here it is. —J
*Desktop views and mobile views as per toolforge pageviews and massviews analysis

The Signpost in 2020, our sixteenth year of publication, contained twelve issues and 161 articles, compared to the 155 articles of 2019. This article reports data on articles, contributors, pageviews, and comments from 2020 and compares them to data from previous issues.

The 161 articles of 2020, created by 88 Wikipedia users,[a] received a total of 330,911 pageviews.[b] Adding in views from the first page and the single-page edition, the total pageviews reached 354,786. This is a decrease of Decrease 110,574 views from last year. This is also a five year low. The twelve issues have seen comments totaling 122041 words.[c] This is a decrease from last year by Decrease 2,735 words. Despite the noticeable fall in views, the amount of discussion has remained relatively stable.

Article pageview totals, both one week totals as well as full-year totals. Each dot represents an article, Dot 1 is Vol. 16, Issue 1, Article 1 and so on. A total of 161 articles are covered through Issue 12. (Full-year pageviews counted through 20 January 2021)
The Signpost (Vol 16, Issue 1 to Issue 12) Article pageviews (26 Jan 2020 to 20 Feb 2021); logarithmic scale; via massviews[d] (permalink)

A sharp fall in views is seen in the view count from the third and fourth issues. This general fall remained visible until the end of the year. Further 2021 signaled a five year low in total view count.

Contributors and comments

How many users have contributed to The Signpost in 2020?
The top 10 contributors to The Signpost (Vol. 16) amount to 52% of the total byline mentions, with the remaining 78 contributions accounting for the remainder.
What about the state of comments and discussion in The Signpost in 2020?

Articles with the most discussion:

Signpost desktop versus mobile views

85% of Signpost views are from desktop devices: For the period 27 January 2020 to 18 February 2021 and considering all issues of volume 16, 85% of Signpost views came from desktop. The remaining 15% views came from mobile views (mainly mobile web views and relatively negligible mobile app views). For comparison Wikipedia articles get around 35% to 60% of views from desktop as per the sample I have taken. It is also interesting to note that out of a sample of ~62M edits on the English Wikipedia taken in a study by Ainali, 10% of the edits were from mobile devices. Do Signpost creators use mobile or desktop to create their articles?


Q. What do Signpost outliers have in common?

Ans. Here are a few observations related to outliers:

  1. Outliers reach an internal audience wider than the usual Signpost readers through discussion on multiple fora such as RfC or MfD.
  2. Outliers reach an external audience which in turn can drive external conversation.
  3. Outliers can be highly controversial resulting in point one or two.
Year Article Author All- time pageviews Comments
2020 How billionaires rewrite Wikipedia Smallbones 20116 Is this an outlier? Why?
Jimmy Wales "shouldn't be kicked out before he's ready" HaeB, Bri and Smallbones 11572 Pageviews spiked on December 7, 2020 when the article made the front page of Hacker News. --HaeB
Cryptos and bitcoins and blockchains, oh no! David Gerard 11492 David, besides being a long-term Wikipedian, is also a professional journalist specializing in the crypto field. He has a tremendous following among crypto-skeptics so high pageviews were something I expected when I invited/arm-twisted his contribution to The Signpost. This isn't an argument to ignore the "extra pageviews" but it should probably be pointed out as a special case — Smallbones.
2019 The Curious Case of Croatian Wikipedia GregorB 31171 This article saw a large inflow of views 101 days after it was published, apparently due to an article on the Croatian website Also a Meta-Wiki RfC about the same subject had more than 130,000 pageviews.
Humour: Pesky Pronouns Barbara Page and SMcCandlish 16562 This article was highly controversial and discussed on multiple fora. At Miscellany for deletion (MfD), editors decided to blank, rather than delete, the article.
2018 NO OUTLIER (see massviews)
2017 Wikipedia has cancer Guy Macon 603236 While the article was published in February 2017, the article received 483670 views on 8 May 2017, supposedly due to conversation on Reddit. Other than the absurd number of pageviews this article has got the fallout is also clearly visible in the form of increased views to other articles for the same month making February 2017 the only outlier month.
Wikipedia's lead sentence problem Kaldari 15904 The RfC in response to this article attracted some response and discussion. Fallout of the Wikipedia has cancer article.
The chilling effect of surveillance on Wikipedia readers Tilman Bayer 12701 Fallout of Wikipedia has cancer. I assume the title also had a chilling effect on readers, which in turn drew more views than other articles that were affected by the fallout.
2016 Shit I cannot believe we had to fucking write this month Emily Temple-Wood 15066 Either this year has no outlier, or at least three (or more) outliers, depending on how you perceive outliers as compared to high pageview articles. See massviews.
The crisis at New Montgomery Street WWB 13389
German Wikipedia ArbCom implodes amid revelation of member's far-right political role Tony1 11212
(as on 20 January 2012)

The following input from Smallbones helped explain some of the statistical attributes of the Signpost data. The distribution of any data related to Wikipedia pageviews is "normally highly non-normal", i.e. it's usually highly skewed to the right and non-Gaussian. The skew to the right - some unusually big numbers or "outliers" - makes some usual statistical tools - like average (mean) - difficult to interpret.

The cause of the skew might be: some rather very good or very bad journalism! Internal controversy - which was really good (or bad) for us to have brought up. We touched a nerve. Posting links on other platforms, which can be good - an indication of quality journalism and interest by the outside world, or bad - somebody is trying to manipulate our pageviews or trying to make some type of point. The concept of outliers was expanded to this report after it was suggested by Smallbones in 2019.

Bingeing on Signpost

When conjuring up this article, I noticed that it inadvertently involved bingeing on the Signpost. I wonder if anyone else has done so. I have my reason, what was yours?

Part data: Signpost Statistics 2020; via toolforge pageviews massviews
  1. ^ Add an additional 831 editors if you count articles such as the essay Wikipedia:An article about yourself isn't necessarily a good thing or the humour collaboration Cherchez une femme from the French Wikipedia
  2. ^ From January 2020 to January 2021
  3. ^ Excluding signatures
  4. ^ Brought to you by MusikAnimal, Kaldari, and Marcel Ruiz Forns.
In this issue
+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

Curious that this page was written in 2021 by a now-blocked user, who also later requested for it to be deleted. I suppose technically the Signpost is somewhat independent, and also WP:OWN would apply to any content written here, but wondering if there was an deliberation about whether to publish or consultation with the author? Cheers  — Amakuru (talk) 09:15, 17 July 2023 (UTC)[reply]

@Amakuru: It's actually kind of a confusing mess. I tried to figure out what was going on, but it was remarkably impervious to this. Per this diff, the author's account seems to have been compromised in January 2023, at which point they went on a rampage. Yhe G6 nomination they made on this draft was during said rampage, which I suppose is why it was declined by Graeme ("not a good faith nomination"). Their account was indefinitely blocked for this, but later unblocked after they submitted evidence the account wasn't compromised. But they remained indef-blocked, and I guess didn't attempt to appeal it? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. At any rate, the situation it left us in was that we had a comprehensive and well-written statistical analysis of the Signpost in 2020 that was just rotting away in drafts — while there are many inactive drafts, few of them are fully written and complete articles — at the very least it has had its moment to shine and we do not have to think about it anymore. jp×g 21:58, 19 July 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, it is weird to see a byline by a blocked editor. Might be a first for the Signpost. Liz Read! Talk! 21:40, 20 July 2023 (UTC)[reply]


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0