Wikipedia:Productivity of Wikipedia Authors

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By its very nature, Wikipedia lends itself preeminently for international comparisons. For example, currently Wikipedia (DE) has some 478,000 articles, Wikipedia (EN) comprises 5,752,206 articles. Does that mean, English-speaking Wikipedians write more than their German-speaking colleagues? And how does that compare to Wikipedia in other languages?

The results might give some clues on the intellectual climate in various countries.

Productivity of Wikipedia authors[edit]

A meaningful measure would be the Productivity of Authors, that is the number of articles in a language compared to the number of potential authors. To be a potential author, at least two requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Command of the language. This must be at least sufficient to write an article, perhaps with the help of other Wikipedians. For practical purposes this a too vague a measure. Therefore, in the following table only native speakers of each language have been taken into account because these numbers are available. However, this determines only the lower limit of potential authors - the real number will be higher and therefore their real productivity will be lower than shown below.
  • Access to the Internet On this there accurate statistics by geographic region. However, speaking a language can comprise several geographic regions - for example, English is a language spoken nearly all over the world. On the other hand, there are geographical regions where several languages are spoken - for example, Switzerland is a country where 4 languages are spoken).

Thus, in the following table there is a column "countries" which lists the main countries where native speakers of a language reside and over which the Internet penetration was averaged.

Productivity of Wikipedia authors by languages[edit]

                                               potential                  Productivity 
                Native Speakers     Internet-  Wikipedia-  Wikipedia      of Wikipedia 		      Age
               -----------------   Penetration  Authors     Articles        Authors			 as of Aug 2005 
Language  Wiki (mio) (countries)       (%)    (million)    ('000)    (articles/'000 pot. aut.)	  Begin	     (month)
--------  ---- ----- -----------   ----------- ----------  ------    -------------------------	-------- --------------  
English    en   322   USA,GB,CDN      66.6	221.1	     684		3.0		Jan 2001	56
German	   de   100    B,D,A,CH	      56.6	 55.5	     274		4.8		May 2001	52
Japanese   ja   125	J	      60.9	 76.1	     134		1.8		Sep 2001	48
French	   fr	 79   F,B,CDN,CH      49.9	 35.9	     148		3.9		Aug 2001	49
Polish	   pl	 43	PL	      27.8	 12.8	      80		6.1		Sep 2001	48
Dutch	   nl	 21	B, NL	      66.2	 16.6	      85		5.0		Aug 2001	49
Italian    it	 61	I	      48.8	 34.2	      55		1.6		Jan 2002	44
Swedish    sv	  8.8	S	      73.6	  6.5	      96	       14.8		May 2001	52
Spanish    es   332   E,MEX,Latinam.  14.1	 45.1	      60		1.3		May 2001	52
Portuguese pt   170	P,BR	      13.5	 23.0	      61		2.6		Jun 2001	51
Chinese    zh  1080	RC	       7.9	 85.3	      37		0.4		Oct 2002	34
Hebrew	   he     5.1	IL	      44.8	  2.3	      24	       10.5		Jul 2003	23
Norwegian  no	  4.6	N	      68.2	  3.1	      32	       10.2		Jan 2002	44
Finnish    fi	  5.2	FIN	      62.3	  3.2	      29		9.0		Sep 2002	35
Russian    ru   170	RUS	      15.5	 26.4	      29		1.1		Nov 2002	33
Danish	   da	  5.3	DK	      68.7	  3.6	      29		8.7		Feb 2002	43
Bulgarian  bg	  9.0	BG	      21.4	  1.9	      17	        8.8		Dec 2003	41
Slovene    sl	  2.0	SL	      47.5	  0.9	      17	       17.9		Jul 2003	23
Hungarian  hu	 14	H	      30.2	  4.2	      15		3.5		Jul 2003	23
Czech	   cs	 12	CS	      34.5	  4.1	      14		3.4		Nov 2002	33
Turkish    tr	 51	TR	       9.9	  5.0	       4.6		0.9		Dec 2002	32
                                                -----        -----              ---
                                                666.8       1924.6 (ca. 96%     2.88 avg.
                                                            of all Wikipedia)

Column Native Speakers comprises two sub-columns:

Column Internet-Penetration is the weighted average over the countries of native speakers of a language (see Interstat's Internet Usage Statistics)

Column potential Wikipedia-Authors is the product of number of native speakers and the average Internet-Penetration in their countries. This is the approximate number of people who might be capable of writing a Wikipedia article.

When you compare the number of potential Wikipedia-Authors and the number of Wikipedia articles (see the main page of each language). you get the productivity of wikipedia authors in articles per 1000 potential authors.


  1. Surprising is the great disparity among language communities: The most productive one, Slovenia, produced more than twenty times more Wikipedia articles per '000 potential authors than the last one, China. That's even more remarkable since Slovene is one of the youngest Wikipedias whereas Chinese is 9 months older.
  2. All Scandinavian countries rank very well (from Sweden to Norway and Finland and even Denmark is still far above average). That cannot be explained by their age alone - a number of older Wikipedias show less productivity.
  3. An outstanding productivity is achieved in Israel, though Hebrew is one of the youngest Wikipedias in this list.
  4. Remarkably well does Poland, while Polish is almost the same age as English, German and French.
  5. The languages most prominent in Wikipedia (English, German, French) are about average. Well, for arithmetic reasons that's not really astonishing. Thus, however, nearly 50% of all potential Wikipedians have about the same productivity (while, as said before, there are great differences among the others).
  6. Widespread languages (e.g. Chinese, Russian, Turkish) have rather poor productivity in writing Wikipedia articles, though all of them are nearly 3 years old.

More comparisons/graphs[edit]

Articles per person all Wikipedias.png

This graphs shows a comparison of a factor, which suppose to represent the number of articles per person for Wikipedias with more than 10,000 articles (as on 27th May 2006). The values "Articles per person" were calculated as: the number of articles in a given language divided by a number of people, for which that language is native. All numbers are based on the data given in English and Polish Wikipedias. If an accurate value was not available an average between the lowest and the greatest number was taken. The graph for language "Ido" was cut, because it amounted to 5.34, whilst the next best (Icelandic) is only 0.038.

Active wikipedians May 2006.png Ratio of active Wikipedians (with more than 10 editions per month) to the number of native speakers for Wikipedias with more than 10 000 articles. The values are given in promils (1/1000).

See also[edit]

External links[edit]