Most people are aware that every single page on Wikipedia (or every Wikimedia wiki, for that matter) has a visible history tab. With one click you can see every single edit made to that page from its creation, including the names of the registered or anonymous user who made the edit.
With a few more clicks to the ‘cur’ or ‘last’ links on the left side of the history pile you can view how the current version of the page differs from historical versions, in essence seeing how the page has evolved (there’s a great diagram of what all the fields mean in Wikipedia’s help section).
But there’s a new kid in town. Somewhat subtly featured above the list of edits are two links to ‘revision history statistics’ and ‘revision history search.’
For demonstration purposes you can find ‘revision history statistics’ for today’s featured article on author Chinua Achebe here and the actual page it links to here.
The revision history statistics tool was built by User:Aka, from the German Wikipedia. In one complete page you’ll get a snapshot of interesting statistical information about the page: when it was created, how many edits since creation, all the users who have made edits, and the number of edits for any given month of the page’s existence.
Revision history search (aka WikiBlame) is another tool now accessible via the history page. Created by another German Wikipedian, User:Flominator, WikiBlame allows readers to search article histories against username and other criteria, primarily to ensure accurate use of copyright.
As Erik Zachte (creator of the wonderful Wikipedia Statistics page and contractor with the Wikimedia Foundation) points out on his newly created blog, there are some interesting trends to examine in the histories of recent high-profile articles.
Combined or separately, these tools provide us a window to the incredible stories that can be told through an article’s history. In time, and in concert with our community of volunteer statistics enthusiasts and technicians, we plan to bring even more tools and approaches to sifting through edits and histories of Wikipedia content.
Jay Walsh, Head of Communications
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