Wikipedia has succeeded through the dedication of its volunteer editors, who have created over 22 million articles across 285 language Wikipedias in just eleven years. Today, the English Wikipedia, the largest of the Wikipedias, celebrated its four millionth article, a remarkable milestone.
The four millionth article was Izbat Al Burj (عزبة البرج), a city in the Damietta Governorate in Egypt, with a population of 70,000. Within a few hours, the article had over 50 edits and was expanded from a short entry to one with several citations and multiple maps.
The article was written by volunteer editor Mohammed Farag (محمد فرج), an active Wikipedian on Arabic and English Wikipedia. Farag, whose user name on-wiki is Meno25, lives in Alexandria, Egypt.
“I am proud that I helped Wikipedia to reach 4 million articles and become the largest encyclopedia in the world,” Farag wrote in an email. “With about only 20,000 good and featured articles, I believe that all of us Wikipedians should concentrate more on the quality of the encyclopedia rather on the number of its articles.”
Though 4 million articles is a very large number, there is still a great deal of work to be done. There are new topics emerging each day which deserve coverage, and in a best case scenario, the great majority of Wikipedia articles could do with some improvement. About 20,000 articles out of these four million have been given ”good article” or ”featured article” status, which are assessment grades given by editors based on comprehensiveness, research quality, and writing style. They are awarded to articles only after they undergo a peer review process.
English Wikipedia celebrated the one millionth article on 1 March 2006 (Jordanhill railway station), and reached the 2 million milestone on 9 September 2007 (El Hormiguero) and 3 million on 16 August 2009 (Beate Eriksen). The German Wikipedia reached one million articles on 27 December 2009, the French Wikipedia on 21 September 2010, and the Dutch Wikipedia on 17 December 2011. The Italian, Spanish and Polish Wikipedias are all near the 1 million article mark as well.
On projects that see thousands and thousands of edits an hour, where articles are regularly created and other articles are deleted, it can be challenging to precisely pinpoint which article is exactly the 4 millionth. Other articles created around the same time as Izbat Al Burj (عزبة البرج) include Idaho State Highway 48, the Siersza Power Station in Poland, ”Mushtum,” an Uzbek humor magazine, Albert C. Baker, an early 20th-century American judge, Brazilian cruiser ”Rio Grande do Sul”, an early 20th-century warship, and Intelsat 605, a satellite launched in 1991.
Wikipedia, and the other Wikimedia Foundation projects, aim to provide accurate and useful information to every person around the globe. This is being accomplished by the generous support of volunteers who provide their time, knowledge and expertise to the projects. While we celebrate what is certainly a major milestone, we hope you’ll join our community and help improve Wikipedia and its sister projects.
Matthew Roth, Global Communications Manager
With significant contributions from The ed17 and an unregistered user, who helped with the early drafts