10 Stats about Wikipedia

Wikipedia is one of the wonders of the modern world. The Library of Alexandria in a digital form. The font of all human knowledge being added to daily. We rely on Wikipedia for our day-to-day activities, university assignments or for proving a fact that nobody believes. We’ve pulled together some stats to show the expanse of Wikipedia, and hopefully some fun facts (that you can double-check on the site).

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1. Word Count

When starting out in 2002 Wikipedia was a humble 4,800,000 words (the equivalent of 18 copies of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). Within a year it had its fastest growth on record, shooting from 4,800,000 words to a hefty 32,100,000 (124 Orders of the Phoenix). This is a 569% increase YoY which is remarkable. With that mammoth update over one year, the editors thankfully slowed down with the percentage increase slowly moving downhill, with 2023-2024 being only a 5.8% increase YoY (that’s still 249,035,039 words in a year though).

What really puts the scale of Wikipedia into perspective is the word count as of 1/1/2024, a whopping 4,538,556,246 words. You read that right, over 4.5 billion words are all contained on one website (17,656 copies of Order of the Phoenix). If you were a real nerd, it would take 317,826 hrs (36 years) to read the whole thing,

2. Wikipedia Will Fit On A Blu-Ray

With all those words, you’d think that Wikipedia would take up a huge amount of space. However, if you were to take just the words (no images or graphics) you’d be able to fit the entirety of Wikipedia onto a blue-ray disc (~22.0GB of data). This means that there are hundreds of copies of Wikipedia backed up for offline use, or in case some world-changing event happens. This library of Alexander shall never burn down.

3. Number Of Articles

It’s no good having billions of words if they’re not in some usable format, and Wikipedia has no shortage of articles. The Last count on 01/01/2024 had Wikipedia’s article count at 6,764,492, a 2,400% increase on the 281,874 articles it premiered with. Based on a random sample of 1,000 articles, the overwhelming majority of articles seem to be biographical articles, the majority of which are written about males (dead or alive).

4. Women In Red

With such a bias for male-led content, there is a huge push in the Wikipedia community to balance the scales. This is being actioned through Wikipedia’s Women in Red project. Started in 2015 the project focuses on creating articles for key women in STEM and other fields. The project is named after the red hyperlink displayed in an article when there is a person of note without an article or biography about that person.

5. Most Popular Articles

With most of the articles on Wikipedia being Biographical, it’s no wonder they’re also some of the most viewed pages. Out of the top 10 viewed pages on Wikipedia, 6 biographical pages rank up there amongst the United States, India, World War II and the United Kingdom.

Wikipedia also provides a breakdown of the ‘people’ section so you can see exactly who’s the most viewed person. It ranks as follows:

  1. Donald Trump (243 million views)
  2. Elizabeth II (198 million views)
  3. Barack Obama (163 million views)
  4. Cristiano Ronaldo (151 million views)
  5. Michael Jackson (141 million views)
  6. Elon Musk (135 million views)
  7. Lady Gaga (129 million views)
  8. Adolf Hitler (129 million views)
  9. Eminem (127 million views)
  10. Lionel Messi (125 million views)

6. It’s Not For Sale

Wikipedia (and Wikimedia, its parent company) are not for sale, and never will be. The non-profit based out of San Francisco relies on donations and grants to keep its mission of “bring[ing] free knowledge to everyone”. Wikipedia is one of the top 10 most visited sites.

7. Wikipedia Has A Monument

Akin to Atlas with the world on his shoulders, the Wikipedia monument in Poland (called Pomnik Wikipedii in Polish) has four nude figures holding a 3D representation of the Wikipedia logo. It was created to “pay homage to thousands of anonymous editors all over the world, who have contributed voluntarily to the creation of Wikipedia, the greatest project co-created by people regardless of political, religious or cultural borders”.

8. Wikipedia and Wikimedia Are Free To Use (with a few conditions)

Wikipedia operates under a “free content license” (comprised of two open-source licenses) meaning that almost all of its content can be used if proper attribution is given. All they ask is you give credit to the original author, state the license of which it is being used under, and do not impose new restrictions on the content. This is also true for the majority of graphics and imagery on Wikipedia which are mostly public domain.

9. The Biggest WikiGnome

Steven Pruitt is the person with the most edits to Wikipedia articles and pages. He alone has made over 5,000,000 edits across the site. This equates to Steven having edited at least one-third of all English-written Wikipedia articles. He has also contributed over 33,000 articles to the website since joining in 2002.

10. There’s No Expectation Of Trust

Wikipedia admits that their works should be taken with a pinch of salt and do not expect the user to trust them. It is the nature of an open-collaboration project with any user being able to edit an article it is hard to police the whole website. However, with is being a group collaboration these rogue edits are usually swiftly picked up and corrected.

Wikipedia will hopefully be around in 100 years and it’s impossible to imagine how big it will be by then, and what information it will have on it. Will we have a VR Wikipedia where we can explore a digital library, full of tomes of human existence? Wherever it ends up I’m sure it will be one of the most important websites that will have existed in human history.

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