Wikipedia:Size comparisons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
P cartesian graph.svg
WikiStats
Main
General statistics
Breakdowns

This article compares the size of Wikipedia with other encyclopedias and information collections.

Source material from which Wikipedia statistics in this article are derived is available;[1] the Footnote on WikiStatistics section at the end of this page provides technical discussion of this article.

Wikipedia[edit]

An image estimating the size of a printed version of Wikipedia as of August 2010. (Up-to-date image using volumes of Encyclopædia Britannica)

Currently, the English Wikipedia alone has over 4,606,449 articles of any length, and the combined Wikipedias for all other languages greatly exceed the English Wikipedia in size, giving a combined total of more than 18 billion words in 32 million articles in 287 languages.[2] The English Wikipedia alone has over 2.6 billion words,[3] over 100 times as many as the next largest English-language encyclopedia, Encyclopædia Britannica, and more than the enormous 119-volume Spanish-language Enciclopedia universal ilustrada europeo-americana.

In 2005 the English-language Wikipedia more than doubled in size, and many smaller Wikipedias have grown by a higher multiple.

As an example, in June 2011, there were more than 11 million edits in all Wikipedias and 3.6 million in the English version.[2][3]

Wikipedia is still in need of much expansion and improvement. Many of the articles are of poor quality and some mainstream encyclopedia topics are not covered adequately. In addition, the average article length is only a little over half the size of that in Encyclopædia Britannica, although many major articles are considerably longer.[citation needed] Over time the balance of the editorial effort is expected to slowly tilt towards a greater emphasis on increasing the quality, scope, classification and interlinkage of existing articles. However, new articles will probably always be created in large numbers, as Wikipedia's conventions on acceptable article topics incorporate huge numbers of potential new articles every year (newly prominent people, current events, media products, physical products, etc.). In mid 2006 the rate of new article creation was still rising, but only slowly. As of January 2007 it looks as if the rate of article creation may have peaked in mid 2006, though it would be premature to state that it did so for certain. See Wikipedia:Modelling Wikipedia's growth for more on Wikipedia's growth rate and expected future size.

Other online encyclopedic resources[edit]

There are many other online databases which combine several encyclopedias and encyclopedic dictionaries and allow users to search all of the works simultaneously. One example is Oxford Reference Online—a combined database of 221 encyclopedias and encyclopedic dictionaries, offering a total of 1.4 million articles as of 2011, with expansions planned for the future.[4] Another example is Xrefplus, which offers access to 262 encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference books.[5] This all added up to about 2.9 million entries when the database had 225 titles.[6] There also is HighBeam Research and GaleNet. GaleNet—which is likely the largest named so far—offers users the ability to search several encyclopedia databases, including the Biography Resource Center (1,335,000 people), Gale Virtual Reference Library (594 reference books),[7] and the Science Resource Center (51 titles),[8] among others.

Paper encyclopedias[edit]

The largest paper encyclopedia ever produced is possibly the Yongle Encyclopedia, completed in 1407 in 11,095 books, 370 million Chinese characters.[9] The individual books that made up the encyclopedia were small by modern standards; the work was twelve times the size of the 20 million word French Encyclopédie,[10] giving a total of 240 million words, or 21,600 words per book, although it is unclear if that is how it differs from the Encyclopédie in size. It is also unclear if it is twelve times larger than the original 28-volume version of the Encyclopédie completed in 1772 or the 35-volume version completed in 1780. The Yung-lo ta-tien was a collection of excerpts and entire existing works, rather than an original work. Only two copies were made and all that survives is a small fraction of one copy.

Comparison of encyclopedias[edit]

Numbers regarding total characters are based on an estimated average word length of five, plus a space, or six characters per word.

Encyclopedias by size
Encyclopedia Edition Articles
(thousands)
Words
(millions)
Est. characters
(millions)
Average words per article
Wikipedia English 4,600+ 2,714+ 16,284+ 590
Hudong (Chinese Wiki) Nov 2009 3,920+ 4,300+ 1097
Siku Quanshu (四庫全書)* 1782 800
Yongle Encyclopedia (永樂大典) * 1403 370[11] / 770[12]
Enciclopedia universal ilustrada europeo-americana 1933 >1,000 200 1,000
Gǔjīn Túshū Jíchéng (古今圖書集成) 1725 100
Encyclopedia of China (中国大百科全书) 1993 80 126.4 1580
Die Brockhaus Enzyklopädie 2006 >300 33  ?
Enciclopedia italiana 1939 60§ 50 247 833
Nationalencyklopedin 183**
Encyclopædia Britannica 2013 40[13] 44 650
Encyclopædia Britannica Online 120 55 300 370
Great Soviet Encyclopedia 1978 100 21†† 200 570
Encyclopédie 17511780 72 20 278
Microsoft Encarta Encarta Deluxe 2002 70‡‡ 40 200 600
Microsoft Encarta Encarta Deluxe 2005** 63 40 200 200
Microsoft Encarta 2002 Encarta Encyclopedia 40 26 200 200
Encyclopedia Americana 2006 45[14] 25 556
Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia Online 39[15] 11 70 280
Columbia Encyclopedia Sixth ed. 2000 51 6.5 40 130
Meyers Konversations-Lexikon Fourth ed. 1888–92 97 15.5 110
Encyclopædia Universalis 13th ed. 2008 41.5 60 350 1450

*Classical Chinese is a very compact language. The result is very short in size for the same content.

It is said that Yongle is larger than Siku, but it is uncertain how they were compared.

Kenneth F. Kister, Kister's best encyclopedias: a comparative guide to general and specialized encyclopedias, (1994) p. 450. [Article count is for the 82-volume edition, rather than the 119-volume one.]

§Alfieri, G. Treccani Degli. "Enciclopedia italiana" Diccionario Literario (2001 HORA, S.A.)

**Number of encyclopedic articles. The Nationalencyklopedin contains a total of 356,000 entries.

††Kister, op. cit., p. 365.

**Includes 10,000 historical archives.

‡‡Advertised as containing "over 63,000 articles...with 36,000-plus map locations, and over 29,000 editor-approved Web site links." The 2006 Premium CD-ROM had 68,000 articles.[16]

Advertised as containing 41,500 articles written by 6,803 authors, 60 million of words, 350 million of characters, 360,000 links, 122,000 definitions in the included dictionary, 130,000 bibliographical references.[17]

Size of other information collections[edit]

Note that Wikipedia is neither a dictionary nor a web index; these figures are just for order-of-magnitude comparison.

The cost of a printed Wikipedia[edit]

Evaluating the cost of a printed Wikipedia is fraught with difficulties. As of April 2014, there were approximately 22 billion characters so assuming 5,000 characters per page that would yield 4.5 million pages. If you then add 25% for extra space for photos, tables, and diagrams, that would yield 5.0625 million pages. This would produce 17,119 volumes of 400 pages each. As an example, allowing US$0.05 per page would yield a cost of US$281,250 without binding.

Footnote on Wikipedia statistics[edit]

Very detailed statistics for almost all aspects of Wikipedia are available from http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/Sitemap.htm.

Statistics for this page are taken from the Article count (alternate) table and from the Words table.

Excluding redirect pages, there are roughly (using figures from September 1, 2006):

  • 1.4 million articles that have at least a single link.
  • 1.3 million articles that have at least a single link and 200 readable characters (roughly equivalent to at least 33 words).

Taking the difference of these two figures, there are about:

  • 100,000 articles that have at least a single link but fewer than 200 characters.

There is also an uncounted number of articles which have no links. The current statistics provide no indication of the size of this last category. The 609 million words in fact span the 1.3 million bona fide articles, the remaining 100,000 linked articles, and the unknown number of articles without links. A rough estimate of the word count in the latter two categories is ten million words. Dividing the remaining 600 million words by 1.3 million gives a mean article length of about 460 words.

Further, of the articles on the English Wikipedia, perhaps 36,000 are "data dumped" gazetteer entries about towns and cities in the United States. It is controversial whether gazetteer entries should count towards the number of "real" encyclopedia articles; however, their statistical significance is very much less now than in October 2002 when they were added. Very many have been colonised by Wikipedians who have transformed them to varying extents, including to an unimpeachably encyclopedic status.

See also[edit]

References[edit]