“Knowledge is Power!”
Today’s world is mainly based on gathering information. He who has enough knowledge has the potential to rule the world.
Wikipedia is the modern equivalent of the Library of Alexandria. Unfortunately for humanity, Cesar decided to burn that because… Maybe he was bored, who knows?
Lucky for us, Wikipedia is safe and sound on the internet. Today the latest Wikipedia statistics reveal that as of October 2019, the online encyclopedia has nearly 6 million articles, with a growth rate of 20,000 articles per month.
How big will it eventually get?
Impossible to tell!
(My guess is that one day we might get something like the planet from a Doctor Who episode which is one enormous library containing all the books and data from the entire universe.)
But enough Sci-Fi mumbo-jumbo.
Let’s talk about some stats that are rooted in reality:
When Did Wikipedia Come into Existence?
The idea of a free online encyclopedia originated with Richard Stallman, who proposed that no central organization should control the project’s editorial process. This was in sharp contrast with the existing encyclopedias at the time such as Microsoft Encarta and Encyclopedia Britannica.
Based on Stallman’s revolutionary concept, Wikipedia is the brainchild of Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger.
And that’s how Wikipedia came to life on January 15, 2001.
Before launching Wikipedia, Wales experimented with a project dubbed Nupedia. It was similar to a traditional encyclopedia in that published articles had to be approved by professionals and scientists. However, the process proved too cumbersome and was not meant to last.
So, Wales decided to simplify things, which eventually led him to develop the idea of Wikipedia.
How different were the two?
Check this out:
Nupedia approved only 21 articles in its first month, whereas Wikipedia published some 200 over the same period.
This made all the difference in the world.
Now, let’s go back in time a bit:
A Short Wikipedia Timeline
Today, Wikipedia is one of the most visited sites in the world, with 15.5 billion Wikipedia page views per month. Let’s put things into perspective:
2000 – Inception of Nupedia.
2001 – Launch of Wikipedia.
2003 – Establishment of the Wikimedia Foundation. Creation of the recognizable jigsaw puzzle logo we know today.
2008 – The 10 millionth article on Wikipedia was published.
2011 – Wikipedia celebrates its 10th anniversary.
2017 – Wikipedia became the world’s fifth most popular website.
Quite a rise, isn’t it? Wikipedia is making the big bucks.
How much is Wikipedia making exactly?
And where is the money coming from?
The Wikimedia Foundation has a lot to do with it.
Here’s the deal:
Wikipedia makes money from reader donations and by selling goods on the Wikipedia store. Article contributions from readers also enable it to grow.
In the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Wikipedia made $75 million from its 4 million donors.
Let’s have a look at the Wikimedia Foundation Projects for a second:
- Wikipedia – a free collaborative encyclopedia.
- Wiktionary – a free multilingual dictionary.
- Wikibooks – a collection of open-content textbooks.
- Wikiquote – an online collection of sourced quotations.
- Wikivoyage – online worldwide travel guide.
- Wikisource – a library of source texts.
- Wikimedia Commons – a free library of different media.
- Wikispecies – species database.
- Wikinews – an alternative content to commercial news.
- Wikiversity – a collection of resources for education.
- Wikidata – central storage of structured data for Wikimedia projects.
Well, all these projects are under the Wikimedia Foundations banner and are crowdfunded and are only there to provide information. So, having seen the list… how much does Wikipedia make? Stick around, and we’ll give you the answer.
Fascinating Wiki Facts
Here we go:
1. Wikipedia received 825 million edits on 39 million pages of content in 2016.
In Wikipedia Foundation, the site has a source of funding fueled by its popularity. And many people from all over the globe are willing to contribute to Wikipedia – whether by donating money or by providing amusing or helpful articles.
It’s clearly working:
Wikipedia’s crowdsourcing model has resulted in 825 million edits on a content base of 39 million pages according to Wikipedia article traffic statistics.
2. Wikipedians create three-quarters of the 600 articles posted every day.
Wikipedia wouldn’t be anything without its Wikipedians!
In the dark old days, there were only a few hundred thousand supporters and contributors. As Wikipedia became increasingly popular, more and more people wanted to join the show.
However, only 1,300 out of 132,000 registered editors actively contribute to the site. About 40% of editors decide to jump ship after five weeks of commitment according to the recent Wikipedia stats.
3. Only about 10,000 articles on Wikipedia are considered A-class or better.
Crowdsourcing may be a helpful concept when it comes to gathering content and funds, but it has one flaw – quality assurance.
And this is the main problem Wiki faces. Out of nearly 5 million English articles, only 10,000 are rated high-quality.
How do we know this?
A Math professor went on to check the relevant Wikipedia facts and metrics and found some of them incomprehensible.
4. Wikipedia has experienced 1 billion edits from about 27 million users across 17.6 million articles.
To get a grasp of how enormous Wikipedia actually is, you need to crunch some numbers. The mere fact that it has 1 billion edits is hard to wrap your head around.
That’s not all:
There are tons of new contributions around the clock. And although there are editors who bail out early on, there’s no shortage of fresh replacements.
Basically, Wikipedia will never run out of people, as the Wikipedia contributors statistics suggest.
- 48,780,477 pages on Wiki including talk pages, redirects, etc.
- 882,744 uploaded files.
- 916,648,900 page edits since the inception of Wikipedia.
- 18.79 edits per page.
5. Sometimes articles experience an unexpected jump after receiving over 1 million hits a day.
Due to current events and emerging trends, certain Wiki articles experience a traffic jump every once in a while, Wikipedia statistics tell us. These spikes are highlighted when a single article receives 1 million or more visits in a day.
Here are some AWESOME examples based on page view statistics:
2009 – Battlestar Galactica: Series finale.
2010 – WikiLeaks: US diplomatic cables released.
2011 – Atlantis: New evidence of its existence came out.
2012 – Autorotation: For unknown reasons.
2013 – Harlem Shake: The meme broke out.
2014 – Ice Bucket Challenge: Social media campaign started.
2015 – Ghostbusters: New movie filming announced.
2016 – Pokémon Go: Peak of the game’s craze.
2017 – Plimpton 322: New scientific evidence on an ancient Babylonian tablet found.
6. There is a vote for the last ever Wikipedia article.
Rowling said the last word of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be scar… and then it wasn’t. So, don’t get too excited!
The good people of Wikipedia certainly have a sense of humor.
They have created a poll where people can predict which the last article uploaded on the site will be. You can enter the Wikipedia forecast on the final article by entering a headline in the appropriate section. Additionally, you have three votes to distribute.
Some ingeniously hilarious examples include:
- The World Will End in ___ Secs
- Let There be Light
- Why Zombies Won (… no comment!)
- The Complete History of Wikipedia
- The collapse of the Kingdom of Antarctica
- Vogon Constructor Ship Fleet
What do you think?
In case of a site failure or the inevitable destruction of the universe as we know it, what could be the final article on Wikipedia?
7. The most viewed page on Wikipedia is the main page according to Wikipedia stats.
You probably wouldn’t have guessed it, but Wiki stats tell us the homepage is the most visited page on Wikipedia. It actually makes sense if you think about it.
The second most visited is Special: Search.
While in the third place we have Special: Random.
As far as the most visited articles go, Wiki, Facebook, and YouTube make up the leading trio.
8. 90% of Wikipedia editors are male according to Wiki stats.
(Source: The Atlantic)
Wikipedia may be one of the most popular sites in the world, with editors from every nook and cranny, but it needs female contributors. Badly!
The thing is:
Men create about 90% of all content. Female editors are rare, and non-Western female creators are virtually nonexistent.
This has been a major cause of concern for the site creators, as it limits the influence of Wikipedia. That’s why they are currently looking for ways to attract and retain a female editorial crowd who might cover previously neglected topics and diversify the content.
9. The size of Wikipedia is about 200 terabytes.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia first and foremost, so most of its content is text. However, images, video, and audio files take up a far larger amount of space. (If you think you can compress the entire database on a single flash drive… not gonna happen!)
So how much space does Wikipedia take up?
Based on the latest research, we can tell you it is somewhere in the ballpark of 200 TB. Which is a lot!
10. Wikipedia reportedly earned $77 million by the end of the 2014 fiscal year.
(Source: The Washington Post)
Plenty of people are confused about Wikipedia’s earnings and how it actually makes money. That being said, it’s common knowledge that it is a non-profit organization that accepts donations through the Wikimedia Foundation.
So the answer to the question of:
Is Wikipedia making money?…
… is a big YES.
How much is a bit more difficult to determine.
Here’s what the numbers have to say:
The average donation amounts to $15, and Wiki store sales account for only 1% of the entire revenue.
However, a Washington Post article revealed that Wikipedia allegedly made $77 million in 2014, enough to keep servers going for 66 weeks.
Wikipedia Language Statistics
Wikipedia was originally created in English, but it quickly expanded to other languages. In fact, its international expansion started just a few days after the site was launched.
The first non-English Wikipedia was in German, followed by Catalan in mere hours. And it didn’t stop there.
Check this out:
- In January 2002, about 90% of the articles were in English.
- Two years later, fewer than 50% were written in English.
- In 2014, Wikipedia contained 85% of non-English articles.
Which brings us to the latest Wikipedia multilingual statistics:
11. There are more Wikipedia articles in English than in any other language.
It is not a surprise that English is the dominant language on Wikipedia. Even though Mandarin has far more native speakers than English, English remains the language of global business and entertainment.
Nevertheless, there are currently 304 different languages available on Wikipedia (although included, there are no articles available in Herero and Kanuri).
In October 2019, the Wikipedia languages with most articles are:
- English: 5,951,592 articles
- Cebuano: 5,378,869 articles
- Swedish: 3,748,557 articles
- German: 2,354,400 articles
- French: 2,146,737 articles
12. In 2009, a campaign was launched to increase language and content diversity.
After the initial success of Wikipedia, things started slowing down a bit. Then came fewer and fewer edits, particularly in the most popular languages like English, German, and Japanese.
So, a campaign was launched to encourage internet users from the global south to spur growth, with developing regions like Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as the primary targets.
And it’s paid off:
Wikipedia usage statistics show signs of optimism, and the number of articles in widely-spoken languages like Persian, Chinese, and Arabic continues to grow. Additionally, the number of users from the Philippines and India is also expanding, even though they primarily write articles in English.
13. Popular TV series dominated Wiki searches in all languages in 2015.
(Source: Pew Research Center)
According to research on language searches by Pew Research, most users search terms related to popular TV shows and movies. Based on the Wikipedia trends at the time, Star Wars and Game of Thrones were some of the most searched terms.
It makes sense, as The Force Awakens was released at the time, and the HBO series Game of Thrones was at its peak.
Here are some other interesting searches based on languages in 2015:
English Wiki: ISIS, Facebook, Bollywood movies, Game of Thrones, Star Wars.
Japanese Wiki: Pop culture, manga, anime, movies, music.
Spanish Wiki: sports (volleyball and basketball), Copa America 2015, history-related subjects about WWI and WWII.
Russian Wiki: Rival social platforms and VK.
14. Cheyenne is the least popular alternate-language Wikipedia.
Cheyenne is one of the least edited languages currently, with 10 active Wikipedia users and 57 articles available. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of Cheyenne language speakers, so there is a great possibility that this one might be shut down.
Sadly, this is the fate of many alternate-language Wikipedias, as there are simply not enough editors.
15. In 2017, Wikipedia supported 299 active language editions and 11 non-active ones.
Wikipedia supported 299 language editions in 2017. Since then that number has climbed to 304, according to the latest Wikipedia statistics from 2019.
Some of the non-active languages are among the most obscure ones you have ever heard of (or perhaps not heard of). They include Ndonga, Afar, and Herero with one editor, while languages like Choctaw, Kuanyama, Hiri Motu, Shan, Western Armenian, and Marshallese have no editors.
16. The Catalan Wikipedia was among the first non-English ones to be added.
Jimmy Wales announced that Wikipedia will be adding articles in other languages on March 16, 2001. German was the first one to be added, shortly followed by Catalan. However, the German version remained without Wikiarticles for quite some time, which left the door open for the Catalan one to add its own article.
In fact, the Catalan Wikipedia was the only non-English version with any sort of content for a period of about two months.
The first-ever Catalan article, which is also the first article written in a language other than English, was about Àbac.
Speaking of rarities:
17. Wikipedia statistics by language reveal that there are about 5 million articles in Cebuano.
If you look up Wikipedia divided by languages more closely, you will notice that there are 5 million of them written in Cebuano.
Cebuano is one of the languages spoken in the Philippines native to the Central and Eastern Visayas region. Even though it is a major language group in the Philippines, it is not the dominating language in the country.
Peculiar to see that a small language group like this garner so many articles, right?
Turns out bots like Rambot and Lsjbot were used to create additional articles in this language. Lsjbot is also responsible for creating articles in Swedish and Waray (another regional language of the Philippines).
Next order of business:
How many articles are there on Wikipedia?
After 18 years of existence, Wikipedia has a huge number of articles on all kinds of different topics. Basically, it’s managed to achieve what its creators originally intended, and it will most likely hit 6 million content pages by the end of the year.
Article growth rate was booming early on, hitting a record of 390% of the increased volume of content in 2003. These trends continued for the next three to four years.
Unfortunately, the past eight years of Wikipedia’s history have been some of the most uneventful in terms of content creation. It even hit rock bottom, with a mere 4.5% of new content in 2018.
So, how many articles are there on Wikipedia in 2019?
- 5,951,850 is the number of content pages currently available on the Wiki.
- 48,786,543 is the number of total pages on Wiki.
- 3,456,763,816 is the number of words from all the content pages on the entire Wiki.
Are you interested in more fun facts?
Here they come!
- 37,384,236 is how many members or registered users there are on Wiki.
- 131,827 of registered users are active users.
- 1,154 administrators.
- 302 bots.
- 1 Founder.
That’s all well and good. But which was the first Wikipedia page ever created?
The Home Page of course!
It was created on Monday, January 15, 2001, when Wikipedia was launched.
- Home Page: Jan. 15, 2001 – 19:27
- Wikipedia: Jan. 15, 2001 – 19:53
- Philosophy and Logic: Jan. 15, 2001 – 23:43
- United States: Jan. 15, 2001 – 23:47
- Popular Music: Jan. 16, 2001 – 18:51
How about edits then? Which were the first edits to be made on Wikipedia?
- To page Wikipedia UuU.
- To page Transport.
- To page User: ScottMoonen.
Although developing at a slower pace, Wikipedia statistics unveil that it is growing at a rate of 1.8 edits and 586 new articles added per day.
Wikipedia’s Impact on the World
A portable encyclopedia goes a long way.
It’s an amazing stacking all of the world’s knowledge in your pocket and carrying it with you. In fact, Wikipedia has done a lot more for our world than we can imagine.
Here’s the thing:
Wikipedia has changed the way we view and find information!
Today, many of us can’t think of a time without Wikipedia. It’s the fastest way of looking up things and will remain one of the strongest content resources on the internet.
But there are dissenting voices:
Wikipedia has been the target of criticism by many scholars, scientists, and professionals who do not view it as a viable source of information. You still don’t find Wikipedia articles cited in scholarly publications.
Perhaps the biggest flaw is rooted in its model – allowing everyone to add and edit articles without specific professional knowledge on the matter.
You cannot deny the fact that it is a very important fact-checking tool.
It has gotten to a point that if someone or something isn’t on Wikipedia, it may not even exist in the real world. This is where the true power and the most important impact of Wikipedia lies.
Why don’t we read some more stats to support our claim?
18. Wiki articles can be used as constantly updated open-access review articles in scholarly papers.
Academia is fighting Wikipedia!
This is a known fact, as scholars do not allow students to cite Wikipedia articles references because they are unreliable.
However, MIT professor Neil Thompson argues Wikipedia can be a valuable source for referrals. His idea is that Wikipedia English pages can be used as an open-access review article that is constantly updated.
The undeniable fact is that Wikipedia has changed the face of education.
19. Content on Wikipedia should come from diverse social and ethnic groups.
(Source: Publishing Perspectives)
Florence Devouard, the former chair of the Wikimedia Foundation and the co-founder of Wikimedia France, recently talked about Wikipedia’s impact on developing countries.
She emphasized that people from all over the world should be contributing. There is a larger number of rich people from the US already doing their work on Wikipedia, but diversity is sorely needed.
Wikipedia traffic statistics suggest there are not a lot of readers and contributors from Africa. Also, only 10% of participants are women. Wikipedia’s future depends on attracting people who can write about widespread topics from different parts of the world and from different perspectives.
20. Wikipedia is the collection of the most obscure articles on the planet.
While it may not have a boastful scientific background, Wikipedia has something else going for it.
You can find a lot of funny things there!
Besides Wikipedia stats and biographies, there are some articles that are worthy of top journals and magazines.
It’s all thanks to the imagination of the people who created them.
For instance, where else will you be able to read about the “geospatial summary of the High Peaks?”… (too specific, right?)
Or Jimmy Wales’s favorite article about Inherently Funny Words.
And let’s not forget, Wikipedia even has a whole section on Unusual Articles, which is a collection of articles that are identified as being somewhat weird. (Check it out, it’s hilarious!)
21. Wikipedia has been blocked in China three times since 2004.
We can even see Wikipedia’s impact on present-day politics. Some governments see their content as controversial and have banned the website on multiple occasions. Most notably, China has blocked Wikipedia three times already.
Wikipedia statistics show the site was originally blocked in 2004 because of the Tiananmen riots. The latest ban came in 2015.
But China isn’t alone:
The site or some of its articles have been blocked in Iran (which blocked Emma Watson’s page… the horror!), Turkey (completely banned since April 2017), and Venezuela (temporarily blocked in January 2019).
The popularity and size of Wikipedia in 2018 made it the fifth most visited site on the internet.
Naughton emphasizes the importance of Wikipedia, describing it as the site with the capability to harness humanity’s collective intelligence. It gives us freedom from the corporate world.
Need some info?
Wikipedia is there to help!
Even though the size of Wikipedia in 2019 is already massive, it is going to continue expanding.
The more we learn about ourselves and the world around us, the more things will be pumped into it. And maybe one day it will truly represent the cumulative knowledge of everything there is to know.
It may not have the power to change the world for the better, at least for now. But it can record everything for future generations.
That what all these incredible Wikipedia statistics tell us.