English Wikipedia
85%
Logo of the English Wikipedia
Screenshot
The homepage of the English Wikipedia
The homepage of the English Wikipedia celebrating its 5,000,000th article in November 2015
Type of site
Internet encyclopedia
Owner Wikimedia Foundation
Created by Jimmy Wales, Larry Sanger[1]
Website en.wikipedia.org
Commercial No
Registration Optional, but required for certain tasks including
  • protected page edit 
  • page creation 
  • file upload 
Users 34,717,757
Launched 15 January 2001; 17 years ago (2001-01-15)
Content license
Creative Commons Attribution/
Share-Alike
3.0
(most text also dual-licensed under GFDL)
Media licensing varies

The English Wikipedia is the English-language edition of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Founded on 15 January 2001, it is the first edition of Wikipedia and, as of November 2017, has the most articles of any of the editions.[2] As of October 2018, 12% of articles in all Wikipedias belong to the English-language edition. This share has gradually declined from more than 50 percent in 2003, due to the growth of Wikipedias in other languages.[3] As of 15 October 2018, there are 5,734,866 articles on the site.[4] In October 2015, the combined text of the English Wikipedia's articles totalled 11.5 gigabytes when compressed.[5] On 1 November 2015, the English Wikipedia announced it had reached 5,000,000 articles[6] and ran a special logo to reflect the milestone.[7]

The Simple English Wikipedia is a variation in which most of the articles use only basic English vocabulary. There is also the Old English (Ænglisc/Anglo-Saxon) Wikipedia (angwiki). Community-produced news publications include The Signpost.[8]

Pioneering edition

The English Wikipedia was the first Wikipedia edition and has remained the largest. It has pioneered many ideas as conventions, policies or features which were later adopted by Wikipedia editions in some of the other languages. These ideas include "featured articles",[9] the neutral-point-of-view policy,[10] navigation templates,[11] the sorting of short "stub" articles into sub-categories,[12] dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation and arbitration,[13] and weekly collaborations.[14]

The English Wikipedia has adopted features from Wikipedias in other languages. These features include verified revisions from the German Wikipedia (dewiki) and town population-lookup templates from the Dutch Wikipedia (nlwiki).

Although the English Wikipedia stores images and audio files, as well as text files, many of the images have been moved to Wikimedia Commons with the same name, as passed-through files. However, the English Wikipedia also has fair-use images and audio/video files (with copyright restrictions), most of which are not allowed on Commons.

Many of the most active participants in the Wikimedia Foundation, and the developers of the MediaWiki software that powers Wikipedia, are English users.

Users and editors

English Wikipedia statistics
Number of user accounts Number of articles Number of files Number of administrators
34,717,757 5,734,866 879,126 1,202

The English Wikipedia reached 4,000,000 registered user accounts on 1 April 2007,[15] just a little over a year since it had crossed a threshold of 1,000,000 registered user accounts in late February 2006.[16]

Over 800,000 editors have edited Wikipedia more than 10 times.[17] 300,000 editors edit Wikipedia every month;[citation needed] of these, over 30,000 perform more than 5 edits per month, and a little over 3,000 perform more than 100 edits per month.[18] By 24 November 2011, a total of 500 million edits had been performed on the English Wikipedia.[citation needed]

As the largest Wikipedia edition, and because English is such a widely used language, the English Wikipedia draws many users and editors whose native language is not English. Such users may seek information from the English Wikipedia rather than the Wikipedia of their native language because the English Wikipedia tends to contain more information about general subjects. Successful collaborations have been developed between non-native English speakers who successfully add content to the English Wikipedia and native English speakers who act as copyeditors for them.[citation needed]

Arbitration committee

The English Wikipedia has an arbitration committee (also known as ArbCom) that consists of a panel of editors that imposes binding rulings with regard to disputes between other editors of the online encyclopedia.[19] The committee was created by Jimmy Wales on 4 December 2003 as an extension of the decision-making power he had formerly held as owner of the site.[20][21]

When initially founded, the committee consisted of 12 arbitrators divided into three groups of four members each.[20][22] Since then, the committee has gradually expanded its membership to 18 arbitrators.[23][not in citation given]

As with other aspects of the English Wikipedia, some of Wikipedia's sister projects have emulated the arbitration committee with their own similar versions.[24] For instance, in 2007, an arbitration committee was founded on the German Wikipedia called the Schiedsgericht (de).[25]

Controversies

Threats against high schools

Several incidents of threats of violence against high schools on Wikipedia have been reported in the mainstream press.[26][27][28] The Glen A. Wilson High School was the subject of such a threat in 2008,[26][27][28] and a 14-year-old teenager was arrested for making a threat against Niles West High School on Wikipedia in 2006.[29]

Disputed articles

A 2013 study from Oxford University concluded that the most disputed articles on the English Wikipedia tended to be broader issues, while on other language Wikipedias the most disputed articles tended to be regional issues; this is due to the English language's status as a global lingua franca, which means that many who edit the English Wikipedia do not speak English as a native language.[clarification needed] The study stated that the most disputed entries on the English Wikipedia were: George W. Bush, anarchism, Muhammad, list of WWE personnel, global warming, circumcision, United States, Jesus, race and intelligence, and Christianity.[30]

Varieties of English

One controversy in the English Wikipedia concerns which national variety of the English language is to be preferred, with the most commonly advocated candidates being American English and British English.[31] Perennial suggestions range from standardizing upon a single form of English to forking the English Wikipedia project. A style guideline states, "the English Wikipedia has no general preference for a major national variety of the language" and "an article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation uses the appropriate variety of English for that nation".[32] An article should use spelling and grammar variants consistently; for example, color and colour are not to be used in the same article, since they represent American and British English, respectively. The guide also states that an article must remain in its original national variant.

There has been a similar issue in the Chinese-language Wikipedia concerning regional differences in writing. Efforts toward a language fork for Portuguese Wikipedia have failed, but those regarding Norwegian Wikipedia succeeded.

Andrew Lih wrote that the English Wikipedia "didn't have the chance to go through a debate over whether there should be a British English Wikipedia or an American English Wikipedia" because the English Wikipedia was the original edition.[33][clarification needed] Editors agreed to use U.S. spellings for primarily American topics and British spellings for primarily British topics. In 2009 Lih wrote, "No doubt, American spellings tend to dominate by default just because of sheer numbers."[34]

Wikiprojects, and assessments of articles' importance and quality

A "WikiProject" is a group of contributors who want to work together as a team to improve Wikipedia. These groups often focus on a specific topic area (for example, women's history), a specific location or a specific kind of task (for example, checking newly created pages). The English Wikipedia currently has over 2,000 WikiProjects and activity varies.[35]

In 2007, in preparation for producing a print version, the English Wikipedia introduced an assessment scale of the quality of articles.[36] Articles are rated by WikiProjects. The range of quality classes begins with "Stub" (very short pages), followed by "Start", "C" and "B" (in increasing order of quality). Community peer review is needed for the article to enter one of the highest quality classes: either "good article", "A" or the highest, "featured article". Of the about 4.4 million articles and lists assessed as of March 2015, a little more than 5,000 (0.12%) are featured articles, and fewer than 2,000 (0.04%) are featured lists. One featured article per day, as selected by editors, appears on the main page of Wikipedia.[37][38]

The articles can also be rated as per "importance" as judged by a WikiProject. Currently, there are 5 importance categories: "low", "mid", "high", "top", and "???" for unclassified/uncertain level. For a particular article, different WikiProjects may assign different importance levels.

The Wikipedia Version 1.0 Editorial Team has developed a table (shown below) that displays data of all rated articles by quality and importance, on the English Wikipedia. If an article or list receives different ratings by two or more WikiProjects, then the highest rating is used in the table, pie-charts, and bar-chart. The software regularly auto-updates the data.

Researcher Giacomo Poderi found that articles tend to reach featured status via the intensive work of a few editors.[39] A 2010 study found unevenness in quality among featured articles and concluded that the community process is ineffective in assessing the quality of articles.[40]

Quality-wise distribution of over 5.5 million articles and lists on the English Wikipedia, as of 29 January 2017[41]

  Featured articles (0.11%)
  Featured lists (0.04%)
  A class (0.03%)
  Good articles (0.50%)
  B class (2.00%)
  C class (4.32%)
  Start class (26.41%)
  Stub class (53.01%)
  Lists (3.65%)
  Unassessed (9.94%)

Importance-wise distribution of over 5.5 million articles and lists on the English Wikipedia, as of 29 January 2017[41]

  Top (0.91%)
  High (3.20%)
  Medium (12.21%)
  Low (51.68%)
  ??? (32.00%)
500,000
1,000,000
1,500,000
2,000,000
2,500,000
3,000,000
Top
High
Medium
Low
???
  •   Featured articles
  •   Featured lists
  •   A-class articles
  •   Good articles
  •   B-class articles
  •   C-class articles
  •   Start-class articles
  •   Stub articles
  •   Lists
  •   Unassessed articles and lists

[Note: The table above (prepared by the Wikipedia Version 1.0 Editorial Team) is automatically updated daily by User:WP 1.0 bot, but the bar-chart and the two pie-charts are not auto-updated. In them, new data has to be entered by a Wikipedia editor (i.e. user).]

Automatic quality assessment of Wikipedia articles is a known and wide scientific problem.[42] For example, as measures for assessing quality, it can be taken into the account number of the references, text length, number of images, sections, articles popularity and others.[43]


Graphics

Internal news publications

WikipediaSignpostIcon.svg

Community-produced news publications include The Signpost.[8] The Signpost (previously known as The Wikipedia Signpost[48]) is the English Wikipedia's newspaper.[8][49][50] It is managed by the Wikipedia community and is published online weekly.[8][51] Each edition contains stories and articles related to the Wikipedia community.[52][53] A wide range of editors contribute articles and other pieces.[8]

The publication was founded in January 2005 by Wikipedia administrator and later Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, Michael Snow.[8][48][54] Originally titled The Wikipedia Signpost, it was later shortened to simply The Signpost.[48][55] The newspaper reports on Wikipedia events including Arbitration Committee rulings,[56] Wikimedia Foundation issues,[57] and other Wikipedia-related projects.[58] Snow continued to contribute as a writer to The Signpost until his appointment to the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation in February 2008.[59]

Investigative journalism by The Signpost in 2015 on changes to freedom of panorama copyright restrictions in Europe was covered by publications in multiple languages including German,[60] Italian,[61] Polish,[62] and Russian.[63] Wikipedia users Gamaliel and Go Phightins! became editors-in-chief of The Signpost in January 2015; prior editor-in-chief The ed17 noted that during his tenure the publication expanded its scope by including more reporting on the wider Wikimedia movement and English Wikipedia itself.[64] In a letter to readers upon the newspaper's tenth anniversary, the new co-editors-in-chief stressed the importance of maintaining independence from the Wikimedia Foundation in their reporting.[65]

The Signpost has been the subject of academic analysis in publications including Sociological Forum,[66] the social movements journal Interface,[67] and New Review of Academic Librarianship;[68] and was consulted for data on Wikipedia by researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Dartmouth College.[69] It has garnered generally positive reception from media publications including The New York Times,[70] The Register,[71] Nonprofit Quarterly,[72] and Heise Online.[73] The book Wikipedia: The Missing Manual called The Signpost essential reading for ambitious new Wikipedia editors.[74]

Other past and present community news publications include the "WikiWorld" web comic, the Wikipedia Weekly podcast, and newsletters of specific WikiProjects like The Bugle from WikiProject Military History and the monthly newsletter from The Guild of Copy Editors. There are also a number of publications from the Wikimedia Foundation and multilingual publications such as the Wikimedia Blog and This Month in Education.

See also