Critical issues presentations/What's edited and why: the most-edited topics on Wikipedia

From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy
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Submission no. 139
Title of the submission

What's edited and why: the most-edited topics on Wikipedia

Author of the submission
  • Stephen Laporte
  • Yana Welinder
Country of origin

United States of America; United States of America


Outreach, Research

  • Wikipedia trends
  • Data visualization
  • History
  • Open data
  • Current events
  • Most-edited topics

We'll explore the most-edited topics on Wikipedia and the stories behind them. Using data visualization, we'll tell some of the stories of how Wikipedia is shaped. Wikipedia is especially important as a driver of change because it provides a platform for people to share knowledge with the world openly in perpetuity. Openness allows more people to share knowledge and study how knowledge is created. Wikipedia's most edited articles reflect both events in society, and depend on the dedicated efforts of many individual contributors. We will talk about how that knowledge is compiled in real time and the events that have driven editing. The session will focus on English Wikipedia, but we will include data and discussion from non-English project as well. The talk will be of interest to anyone who wants to follow Wikipedia history and trends.

Last year, we started a weekly email digest with the most edited and discussed articles on Wikipedia, available in 14 languages ( The project provides a regular reminder of the significant trends on Wikipedia. It started off as a personal project, and grew as more Wikipedians wanted to stay up-to-date on on their project's growth. The general public is also often interested in trends on Wikipedia. In celebration of Wikipedia's 15th Birthday, we also provided data on the most edited English Wikipedia articles by year (read more: These articles reflected Wikipedia's significant coverage of political events, pop culture, and many other unusual topics.

The talk will include some data on the most edited topics, which will be both presented visually and available for further analysis and discussion following the presentation. We will use the data as an initial illustration of the trends on Wikipedia. Using a few specific cases from highly edited articles, we will discuss a taxonomy of different editing patterns among the most-edited articles. Within this taxonomy, we will review how current cultural events influence (and are influenced by) coverage on Wikipedia. Finally, we will discuss and share some opportunities for watching Wikipedia's trends in the future. We will also cover the methodology for this sort of data analysis.

We hope data visualization and anecdotes will bring some of the contributors motivations to life. This will help us share a deeper understanding of how Wikipedia works best, as well as its significant relationship with society.


Not accepted