Very active graph
Very active editor numbers (>100 edits per month) since the English Wikipedia’s launch in 2001. The thick red line symbolises a five-month moving average. Graph by Joe Sutherland, in the public domain.

The English Wikipedia’s population of very active editors—registered contributors with more than 100 edits per month—appears to have stabilized after a period of decline. We’re seeing some of the same trends globally on other language Wikipedias.

On a month-to-month comparison of 2014 to 2015 on the English Wikipedia, very active editor numbers have been consistently higher this year than last year. August’s very active editor total of 3,458 was the highest since March 2011. Globally, five of the last eight months have had more than 10,000 very active editors per month—the first time we’ve seen that consistently since July 2013. Broadly speaking, it appears the number of very active editors has recovered from a mid-2013 drop and, for the moment, is continuing upward aseasonally.

This trend is intriguing and raises several questions.

For example, active editor numbers—those with more than five edits per month—appear to be flat, both on the English Wikipedia and globally. Why are they not rising alongside the number of very active editors? And where are the new very active editors coming from? Are existing editors editing more? Are inactive editors returning?

Today, we are releasing a new dataset (documentation) to invite  community members and researchers to join us in analyzing this trend.  Some potential directions of investigation include:

  • Existing editors could be editing more
  • Fewer editors could be leaving
  • More editors could be coming back
  • The community could be reaching its new carrying capacity
  • Faster editing as a result of  December 2014’s performance improvements  (“How we made editing Wikipedia twice as fast“) could be enabling more edits
  • A temporary resurgence, known more colorfully as a ‘dead cat bounce

 

Please let us know what you find.

Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate
Aaron Halfaker, Senior Research Scientist
Wikimedia Foundation

Editors
Active editor numbers (>5 edits per month) since the English Wikipedia’s launch in 2001. The thick blue line symbolises a five-month moving average. Graph by Joe Sutherland, in the public domain.