Millionth article FAQ
From Electrical Engineering TA Handbook
de:Benutzer:Mathias Schindler/1m auf en Welcome to the English Wikipedia Millionth Article FAQ.
What is this FAQ about?
On March 1, 2006, the English Wikipedia celebrated the creation of its millionth article, about the Jordanhill railway station.
What does all this mean?
The MediaWiki software has an internal counting function, which tracks how many pages in the article namespace (all pages that don't begin with "Talk:" or "Wikipedia:" or other keywords, and which should therefore contain encyclopedic content). All pages with at least one internal link to another Wikipedia page count for these purposes, regardless of length; articles with paragraphs of text but no links do not.
Are all pages in the article namespace encyclopedia articles?
No. The most popular example is the Main Page, which is a portal. Most other portals are in the Portal: namespace; however there are a few other types of pages in the article namespace which are not traditional encyclopedia articles. These include lists and some of the newer articles, which have not yet been reviewed for notability or appropriateness.
So are there 1 million English-language articles in the English Wikipedia?
By the above method of counting, yes.
Who hosted the celebrations?
There were many celebrations of the millionth article. As many Wikipedians hang out on IRC, some celebrations were hosted on the Freenode IRC server,by ems. The celebration was advertised beforehand by lilo. It attracted 733 people before a script called countdownbot (hosted and coded by ems), which was roughly tracking the total # of Wikipedia articles, reached one million. (This was not involved in the official designation of the millionth article; that was done with a different script.)
The channel was moderated for most of the countdown, so that the observers could not chat in the room; when the countdown was concluded, the channel was unmoderated for 40 seconds; in that time over 3000 messages were posted, and it was quickly remoderated again until the celebration had dissipated a bit. Official logs will be posted soon.
Is Jordanhill railway station really the millionth title ever written in Wikipedia?
No. Wikipedia articles are constantly being added, deleted, and merged together. Many article titles have been created that are no longer associated with their own article. This was the first article to be created at a time when there were already 999,999 articles in the encyclopedia.
The counting method used does not count articles which were created and later merged with another article; nor redirects from misspelled names (there are almost another 1 million such redirects); nor articles which were deleted for any reason. However, one can reasonably say that, after this milestone, there are now 1 million distinct articles in the English Wikipedia.
Please also note that this is only counting articles in the English language Wikipedia. There are over 2.3 million articles in the 125 other languages in which Wikipedia is being edited and written.
Is Jordanhill railway station a representative article?
In many ways, it is not. Thanks to the attention it has received by virtue of being the millionth article, it has been subjected to all manner of relevant style guidelines. Over the course of a single day, Jordanhill railway station has grown from a one-sentence stub into a well-referenced and well-formatted article. It has been edited over 250 times; the average number of edits per article is 25. It is of representative length, however; the average article length is 2800 characters, including whitespace.
How many articles have been completely finished?
None. The hope is that all articles can be continually updated and improved. Some articles and categories are naturally broader than others; however, even the most specific articles are left open to future improvement.
At what point did someone know on which day the millionth article would be written?
This has been the subject of speculation for some time. The Millionth Article Pool was an informal set of guesses gathered last year; András Mészáros was the best guesser and the winner of the pool (Grand Prize: limited fame and glory). As recently as this past weekend, bets were still out on which day of the week it would be.
Can this milestone be compared to the number of articles in other encyclopedias?
Classical encyclopedia projects do not use the same kinds of open editing and proofreading, and so put more attention into each individual article. By allowing anyone to contribute, Wikipedia has attracted the efforts of over 100,000 editors; however, the editorial process, and therefore the results, are somewhat different.
If these numbers aren't quite comparable, why are people celebrating?
There is cause for celebration within the community, because the project has been successful so far, and has grown rapidly and steadily. The project has outstripped its original expectations of one day reaching 100,000 articles; and after all, you only reach 1,000,000 once.
Are there other measures of growth which should be watched?
Certainly. The question is, how much time one wants to put into evaluation. Some metrics - such as the number of words - are more resistant to different standards of article size. Another useful metric would be the number of independent statements or facts in the encyclopedia; but this is quite difficult to estimate. One could go so far as to create a matrix of coverage for a tree of topics, and identify how Wikipedia's coverage and depth compares to that of traditional reference works. These measures are useful, but do not yet exist.
When will the next Wikipedia language reach 1 million articles?
This is unknown. The German Wikipedia is the second-largest, and currently has 468,000 articles. Its growth has closely paralleled that of the English Wikipedia, doubling every 10 or 11 months. It is possible that another language could reach this milestone sometime next year.
Is the English language Wikipedia the largest encyclopedia of all time, in all languages?
This is a subtle question. The largest number of articles or pages? Almost certainly. The largest number of words? Probably. The largest number of individual facts? Perhaps. The largest collection of important information in a fixed, readable, usable form? No. There are other larger databases and collections of information which exist and have existed. There are also various works throughout history which may have been referred to as 'encyclopedias'; for instance, one could see the entire Internet to date as one enormous, lightly-sorted "encyclopedia."
Do quality and quantity go hand in hand?
See Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Chapter I..
Will we soon be celebrating the two millionth English Wikipedia article?
This remains to be seen. There is always the possibility that the pool of potential topics will dry up, or that the average article length will grow and smaller articles will be merged into larger ones rather than creating new articles for each new subtopic. The standards of notability for people, groups, events, and works are subject to change; these may become more strict, cutting back on the number of potential new topics. At its current rate of growth, Wikipedia is doubling every 16 months, which would put the two-millionth article sometime in mid 2007.
- update: Wikipedia reached two million articles in early September 2007.