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Nearly All of Wikipedia Is Written By Just 1 Percent of Its Editors

IMAGE: Motherboard.vice.com

Researchers found that 77 percent of Wikipedia articles are written by 1 percent of Wikipedia editors, and they think this is probably for the best.

By Daniel Oberhaus | 7 November 2017

MOTHERBOARD — When Wikipedia was launched in 2001 by Jimmy Wales, an entrepreneur who cut his teeth linking to internet porn in the 90s, its stated objective was to “compile the sum of all human knowledge” and make it freely available to the world. Sixteen years later, the free encyclopedia and fifth most popular website in the world is well on its way to this goal. Today, Wikipedia is home to 43 million articles in 285 languages and all of these articles are written and edited by an autonomous group of international volunteers.

Although the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation diligently keeps track of how editors and users interact with the site, until recently it was unclear how content production on Wikipedia was distributed among editors. According to the results of a recent study that looked at the 250 million edits made on Wikipedia during its first ten years, only about 1 percent of Wikipedia’s editors have generated 77 percent of the site’s content.

“Wikipedia is both an organization and a social movement,” Sorin Matei, the director of the Purdue University Data Storytelling Network and lead author of the study, told me on the phone. “The assumption is that it’s a creation of the crowd, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Wikipedia wouldn’t have been possible without a dedicated leadership.” […]

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