Wikipedia's very active editor numbers have stabilized—delve into the data with us

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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

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.

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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Ed & Aaron, you’re such a tease! Why do you think these numbers have stabilized? Do you accredit them to some recent (in the past few years) change to the way folks interact with Wikipedia? You mention speed improvements, but that alone wouldn’t seem to make such an improvement on its own. However there are many other initiatives (technical, on-boarding, etc.) that might have an impact.
I’m really curious as to the why and I hope further research helps us learn more.

For those of you who just want a quick peek on how other Wikipedias are doing, in editor trends and more:

In my experience, I have lost the pleasure to contribute a few months ago. The reasons: long discussions, unclear policies and rude administrators who apply rules arbitrarily; People who take possession of items (alone or in groups) and that erase almost systematically new contributions.

sizi tebrik ediyorum güzel bir değerlendirme

Congrats, everyone. Now I’ll raise another question: what’s up with that Gender Gap? The absolute number of active editors is far less concerning than the fact that they don’t seem to represent our active readers. So, when the latest survey I’ve been able to dig up finds that 90% of our active editors are men while the active readers are pretty much split down the middle gender-wise, this graph would get a lot more interesting if each gender had its own curve. So, any chance you guys can put a graph like that together with the data you’ve been collecting… Read more »

[…] est d’augmenter, ou au moins de stabiliser le nombre de ces contributeurs, sachant que plus il y a d’articles et de contenu, plus il est difficile de proposer des contri…. L’usage est financé par le don, mais les sommes restent modestes (20 millions de dollars […]

The stuff is really significant.

[…] 2014, this had fallen to just 3,000. In the first year of Tretikov’s time as executive director, that rose to 3,200, and currently stands at […]

I edited Wikipedia for a while. I left for the same reason I assume almost everyone does – over zealous senior editors, refusing to accept any changes to pages they basically think they own. The problem is, you’re not really a Wiki are you. People aren’t free to edit your pages. People are only free to request edits, from senior editors – which get turned down 99.99999999% of the time. So, don’t complain, when you’re not even fulfilling your basic function – being open sourced. You’re not open sourced. So people get annoyed. And then they leave. And then you… Read more »

As I said, the reason Wikipedia is failing, is it’s no longer open sourced. Editors, and groups of editors take ownership of pages, and don’t allow any changes whatsoever. Pages remain static for years. You can make a great, fully referenced update, based on your expertise and it nearly always gets rejected. And if you try and fight it, the senior editors use their knowledge of the arbitration system, and bureaucracy to grind you down, until you inevitably give up. So, if you want to make a simple change on a page, it has got to the point, where you… Read more »