Wikipedia:Millionth article FAQ
Welcome to the English Wikipedia Millionth Article FAQ.
- 1 What is this FAQ about?
- 2 What does all this mean?
- 3 Is Jordanhill railway station really the millionth title ever written in Wikipedia?
- 4 Who hosted the celebrations?
- 5 Is Jordanhill railway station a representative article?
- 6 How many articles have been completely finished?
- 7 At what point did someone know on which day the millionth article would be written?
- 8 Can this milestone be compared to the number of articles in other encyclopedias?
- 9 Are there other measures of growth which should be watched?
- 10 When will the next Wikipedia language reach 1 million articles?
- 11 Is the English language Wikipedia the largest encyclopedia of all time, in all languages?
- 12 Will we soon be celebrating the five-millionth English Wikipedia article?
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 are 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.
Is Jordanhill railway station really the millionth title ever written in Wikipedia?
No. Wikipedia articles are constantly being added, deleted, and merged. 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 29 million articles in the 286 other languages in which Wikipedia is being edited and written.
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 disambiguation pages. In addition, newer articles, which have not yet been reviewed for notability or appropriateness may not be encyclopedic. In fact, the percentage of new articles that are not encyclopedic is so high, it was decided to prohibit non-registered users from starting new articles.
So are there really 1 million English-language articles in the English Wikipedia?
By the above method of counting, yes.
Given that some of the earlier articles have since been merged or deleted, has a new article been designated as the 1 millionth article?
No. The point is to celebrate a milestone, not to keep track of what is the millionth article.
Although it is true that some articles that were written prior to March 1, 2006 have been deleted or merged into other articles (and became redirect pages), the opposite could also be true. Pages that were redirect pages on March 1, 2006 could have been developed to be independent articles (redirect pages do not count as articles). So although which article gets the title of being "the 1 millionth article" varies with time, it is not very important to know precisely which article is the 1 millionth article at any moment in time. What is important is that the milestone of the millionth article was achieved.
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 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.
Although the article about Jordanhill railway station is not a representative article, the process that the article has gone through to reach its current state is representative of the Wikipedia process. Wikipedia is a collaborative process in which many editors contribute to articles and improve them over the course of time. It is rare that a single contributor writes a long in-depth article. The vast majority of articles in Wikipedia reach maturity via a very long collaboration between many contributors who have to reach consensus. The process can at time get quite stressful.
Because the Jordanhill railway station was the 1 millionth article, it received much more attention than had it been the 999,999th article. This additional attention created the environment that allowed the article which would have most likely remained a short stub for a long time to quickly become a well written and detailed article.
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). Bets came in as to which day of the week would the one millionth article be created as late as the day prior to the occurrence.
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 would be useful, but do not yet exist.
When will the next Wikipedia language reach 1 million articles?
This is unknown. The Vietnamese Wikipedia is the tenth-largest, and currently has over 878,000 articles. Its growth has closely paralleled that of the English Wikipedia, doubling every 2 to 4 years. It is possible that another language could reach this milestone sometime next year.
- As of August 17 2009 (the date that the English Wikipedia reached the 3 million article mark), the German Wikipedia had 943,760 articles, and the French Wikipedia had 840,341 articles.
- On December 29 2009, the German Wikipedia exceeded the one million mark, becoming the second Wikipedia to reach that milestone. The millionth article was Ernie Wasson (English language version). The French Wikipedia remains the third largest with 893,518 articles. The Polish Wikipedia is fourth largest, with 662,709 articles, while the Italian Wikipedia is fifth largest, with 643.078 articles.
- On September 21 2010, the French Wikipedia exceeded the one million mark, becoming the third Wikipedia to reach that milestone. The millionth article was Louis Babel (English language version). The Polish Wikipedia remains the fourth largest with 729,508 articles, while the Italian Wikipedia is the fifth largest, with 729,060 articles.
- On May 16, 2013, the Spanish Wikipedia exceeded the one million mark, becoming the seventh Wikipedia to reach that milestone. The millionth article was not announced.
- On June 15, 2013, the Swedish Wikipedia exceeded the one million mark, becoming the eighth Wikipedia to reach that milestone. The millionth article was not announced.
- On September 25, 2013, the Polish Wikipedia exceeded the one million mark, becoming the ninth Wikipedia to reach that milestone. The millionth article was not announced.
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."
Will we soon be celebrating the five-millionth English Wikipedia article?
This remains to be seen. There is always the possibility that the pool of potential topics will continue to dry up, or that the average article length will continue to 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, the English version will reach its five-millionth article sometime in mid-2017.