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17 August 2009, 12:31

Wikipedia notches up 3 million English-language articles

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Wikipedia logo Free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia is celebrating a new milestone – an article on Norwegian actress Beate Eriksen added on Monday took the English-language version of Wikipedia over the three million article mark. The encyclopaedia, which first went online in January 2001, now contains a total of more than 13 million articles in more than 200 languages. The English-language Wikipedia, as the oldest version, remains the leading version. The German version is second with more than 940,000 articles, and the French version is third with 840,000 articles.

In its first few years the rate of article growth was exponential. Now fewer new articles are being created. Researchers at the Palo Alto Research Centre have looked at Wikipedia's growth and determined that the turning point for the English-language Wikipedia was reached in March 2007 and that the rate of growth of new articles has been decreasing since that date.

The researchers also identified one reason for this decline – the most active Wikipedia authors, contributing more than 1,000 articles per month, are having an ever greater influence on the content of the free encyclopaedia. Occasional authors, by contrast, are having ever greater difficulty getting their content into the encyclopaedia, with their changes increasingly being reverted. Active authors, on the other hand, have little need to fear reversions. In an initial analysis, researcher Ed Chi writes "We consider this as evidence of growing resistance from the Wikipedia community to new content, especially when the edits come from occasional editors." The Wikipedia community is making efforts to counteract this development by making it easier to edit articles. In December, the Wikimedia Foundation used a major donation to launch a project to revamp Wikipedia's user interface.

Although Wikipedia's popularity among authors may be on the wane, for readers it remains a key destination. This popularity, however, attracts undesirables out for a fast buck. The Wikimedia Foundation recently took successful legal action against a typo-squatter. In early August, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) granted Wikipedia's suit and ordered the transfer of two domains. It is not yet clear when ownership of the typo domains will actually be transferred.


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