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The Internet

English Wikipedia Reaches 3 Million Articles 192

FunPika writes "It has taken more than eight years and the work of vast numbers of people around the world, but the English version of Wikipedia has finally amassed more than three million articles. The site broke through the 3 million barrier early on Monday morning UK time, with the honors taken by a short article about Norwegian actor Beate Eriksen — a 48-year-old cast member of a popular local soap opera."
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English Wikipedia Reaches 3 Million Articles

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:12PM (#29094417)

    The site broke through the 3 million barrier, with the honors taken by a short article about Norwegian actor Beate Eriksen

    And then the Wiki editors quickly deleted this article for being not important enough.

    • by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:16PM (#29094495) Homepage
      Fun from the talk page. A Wiki language geek "honored" the article by translating it into Anglo-Saxon for the Anglo-Saxon language version of Wikipedia. Because if there's one language that Wikipedia needs to be translated in, it's one that no one actually speaks anymore. http://ang.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beate_Eriksen [wikipedia.org]
      • A Wiki language geek "honored" the article by translating it into Anglo-Saxon for the Anglo-Saxon language version of Wikipedia.

        I love the fact that there's an article on the Atari Jaguar [wikipedia.org] written in Anglo Saxon. (^_^)

        • Sadly, there are no Anglo-Saxon words for 'Atari' or 'Jaguar,' so the Vikings would probably just bash your head in before you got a chance to challenge them to a game of Tempest 2000.
    • by NeoSkink ( 737843 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:41PM (#29094871)
      Which brings up the next obvious question: Will the next milestone be 4 million articles, or 2 million articles!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Trepidity ( 597 )

        Although amusing to ponder, I don't think there's any real question. The deletionist controversy has only ever been over edge cases, some of them high profile, but always swamped by the huge numbers of new articles that nobody's attempted to delete. Even if deletionists won on some really major class of article---delete all Pokemon characters, maybe---it'd at best be only a blip in the time v. # of articles graph.

        • I have felt for a long time that Wikipedia really needs to be split into two: one dealing with things that are at least nominally real, and one dealing with expressions of culture (which would include all articles that start with "this article is about a fictional ..."). That last one could contain all the Pokemon characters, X-files plot synopses, and Star Trek star ships humanity could think of, while the first could act as an actual encyclopedia.

          Mind, I'm not saying to just delete all the fictional stuff

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            I totally agree.

            I personally would also like to separate out all the entries regarding contemporary entertainment (movie makers, actors, actresses, pop music, cartoons/anime, video games), from things of real concerns... but that is of secondary importance.

            The fictional stuffs which currently plagues Wiki, however, is a real threat, because it makes pseudo-achievement looks equal to real achievement. Actually doing science is much harder, and much less glamorous than making a sci-fi movie. If both are given

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by xaxa ( 988988 )

            What's the problem with the extra articles? They don't interfere with the "real" ones (whichever those are), and the category system serves to, well... categorise them. I've never come across an article on Pokemon, X-files or Star Trek, but if I needed some information on them I'd know where to look^W^W^W^Wkill myself.

          • I have felt for a long time that Wikipedia really needs to be split into two: one dealing with things that are at least nominally real, and one dealing with expressions of culture (which would include all articles that start with "this article is about a fictional ...").

            "Expressions of culture" are real (and not even merely "nominally" real.) To what extent they are "encyclopedic" is, of course, debatable, but much of the historical idea of what is "encyclopedic" (which would often include classical refere

          • by DaleGlass ( 1068434 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @04:52PM (#29097465) Homepage

            I disagree.

            I want a wikipedia with absolutely everything in existence in it. Pokemon, Star Trek, every single general that participated in WWII, and a page for every cat whose owner wants to make one thrown in for good measure.

            I never had a problem with there being too much stuff in wikipedia, I keep bumping into that there's too little, because some obscure trivia that I actually find helpful got removed.

            IMO, at this rate wikipedia will end up dying, because they need donations, and every time I find something I liked gone I decide not to give them anything. I'm probably not the only one who thinks that way.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by lokiomega ( 596833 )
              Agreed. I like everything. I think what makes Wikipedia most useful is the trivia. It makes it a more useful information compendium than even Google.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

              I want a wikipedia with absolutely everything verifiable in existence in it.

              Fixed that for you. This may have been what you meant, but it's an important point - in many cases, material isn't deleted for being non-notable, but because it isn't verifiable - with no reliable 3rd party sources, we have no idea if it's true, or something someone just made up.

              But aside from that, I do agree, in that I lean towards the liberal end of notability. I feel that as long as it's got 3rd party reliable sources, I usually

              • Although equally we have people who complain about Wikipedia having "too much non-notable stuff". Indeed, that's why the argument exists in the first place! What makes you think that the "deletionists" don't contribute to the site? You're not the only one who donates.

                I think deletionism doesn't scale.

                Every time somebody tries to contribute something to say, a Pokemon page and finds their stuff removed by some guy who thinks it's "not important" you get a potential contributor very discouraged to ever try ag

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by linhares ( 1241614 )

        Which brings up the next obvious question: Will the next milestone be 4 million articles, or 2 million articles!

        Actually, you're pointing out a serious flaw in wikipedia. I believe it's possible [ycombinator.com] that a fork of wikipedia might make to wikipedia what it did to Britannica. Think about this:

        Deletionists have a mindset from those pre-web days; an article about paper cutters might very well have been deleted on Sept 10th 2001. If the article you're thinking is on another encyclopedia, then that's no good for your encyclopedia.

        Also, I've never seen anybody in Academia or Business use wikipedia as a source (this of cours

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by dedazo ( 737510 )

          But THE POINT is: if your encyclopedia is NOT a "reliable source"; then WTF is wrong with your encyclopedia?

          Wikipedia is the largest organized compendium of popular culture in the history of the human race. It has some encyclopedic content, and happens to be massively cross-referenced, so some people call it an "encyclopedia".

          I like Wikipedia. I read it sometimes when I'm bored. It is undoubtedly valuable in many ways. But it's not an encyclopedia by any stretch of the imagination. A culture that shuns subj

          • by I.M.O.G. ( 811163 ) <spamisyummy@gmail.com> on Monday August 17, 2009 @04:19PM (#29097023) Homepage

            A culture that shuns subject matter experts and at the same time pretends to inform me about said subjects may be entertaining, but never trustworthy.

            This implies wikipedia shuns subject matter experts. This is a popularly circulated stance which has no grounding in fact. They happily accept material from subject matter experts, they just require that the subject matter experts reference their published material which shows them as subject matter experts.

            If someone speaks as an authority on a topic in wikipedia, I should be able to refer to the sources they cite in order to determine how much weight I place in the statements I read. I do not want to go to Wikipedia and read un-cited "expert testimony" from the internet. It is both reasonable and wise to expect that any subject matter expert should be able to provide reference of published work.

            • Really? Every time I've seen experts comment on Wikipedia, they've been edited because you aren't allowed to cite anything written by yourself.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dedazo ( 737510 )

              Right, I suppose "shuns experts" was a bit vague. Let me clarify. Wikipedia is the place where an expert's credentials and experience are no match for an unknown conspiracy theorist who has decided an article must include certain content _he_ believes is perfectly valid and useful to mankind.

              That joke about the astrophysicist having to contend with the kid from Kansas who owns a book that talks about the laser-wielding sharks at the center of the galaxy, while humorous, has a well-documented basis in realit

              • I have had exactly the same experience - any idiot can find "references" to any idiotic thing they want, whereas established experts in the same field are effectively locked out by not being able to quote themselves.

        • Also, I've never seen anybody in Academia or Business use wikipedia as a source

          Well, this just proves that you work neither in Academia, nor in Business. I work in both (imagine that), and it is used all over the place. Not in publications of course, only for the actual research.

          • Also, I've never seen anybody in Academia or Business use wikipedia as a source

            Well, this just proves that you work neither in Academia, nor in Business. I work in both (imagine that), and it is used all over the place. Not in publications of course, only for the actual research.

            well, I'll bite your trolling, genius boy, despite your silly little ad hominem, I said specifically "as a source". If you will not cite it, then it's not a "source"; an *official* place to get info from. And this is what I'm pointing out above. EVERYBODY uses wikipedia (do I REALLY need to say that? Did you really understand it THAT backwards?), but there is a huge margin for improvement. If it were as respected as *official sources* are it would not be subject to being attacked as I pointed out above.

            • Academia is very snobbish. If your article isn't accepted in the first rag, you resubmit it to the next rag until it gets a quorum of tired reviewers that are ever so slighly out of their depth in reviewing your article that they will accept it. Presto, a peer-reviewed publication is born. Nobody will ever check it again, and it will be a valid reference for kingdom come. Academia doesn't really want to acknowledge that 99.9% of what they produce is crap (like Wikipedia), so they insist that 100% is trustwo
              • There. I agree with what you're saying; it boils down to tradition. That's exactly why I think wikipedia *as it is right now* is not sustainable in the long run.
        • by Korin43 ( 881732 )
          Wikipedia is a good/reliable encyclopedia. Problem is you shouldn't be using encyclopedias as sources.
    • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:45PM (#29094919) Journal

      And then the Wiki editors quickly deleted this article for being not important enough.

      Anybody else find it ironic that the site that has descriptions of objects like the lightsaber [wikipedia.org] and "events" like Battle of the Line [wikipedia.org] deletes articles about actual people and/or places because they aren't noteworthy?

    • by Lev13than ( 581686 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:50PM (#29095029) Homepage
      Congratulations to Wikipedia for celebrating this historic ***ERIC IS A FAG*** [theonion.com] milestone, only 750 years in the making!
    • What I both love and hate about Wikipedia is how any article about sex or sex acts, even when only a paragraph long will have several gratuitous photos. Some even feature the best illustrations I've seen anywhere else on Wikipedia. But go search on some fascinating topic, where you'd expect a ton of images and you'll find a several page long article with no photos and perhaps a chart if you're lucky.

      • by WNight ( 23683 )

        Then stop browsing sex articles to check out the pictures and upload some photos for the other articles.

  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:16PM (#29094499) Journal

    And for those of you keeping track, that's roughly 50,000 non-Manga/anime/Simpson's related articles.

  • by grub ( 11606 ) * <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:29PM (#29094695) Homepage Journal

    Beate Eriksen (who?) will be more famous for being the 3,000,000th wiki article than for his acting skills.
  • just when I was beginning to think the internet was getting boring and staid...

  • by GPLDAN ( 732269 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:33PM (#29094755)
    Poor Beate. He now knows he's only the 3 millionth thing people got around to caring about.

    Beate baby - gotta work on your rep! Get a new agent. Have a scandal with an underage girl. No wait, this is Norway, make it a boy. You'll never make it into the post-apocalyptic ark that Norway is building in the Fjords at this rate!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Desler ( 1608317 )



      Did Beate recently get a sex change or something? Last time I checked, Beate was a female.

    • by ajs ( 35943 )

      No, he's about the 10 millionth. The other 7 million were deleted because they weren't considered "notable," but were actually better known and more readily written about than Beate Ericksen.

  • by line-bundle ( 235965 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:33PM (#29094763) Homepage Journal

    I am personally waiting for it to reach 3294199.

    (For those of you mathematically illiterate that number is pi*(2^20).)

    Wake me up when we get there.

    • by gnick ( 1211984 )

      You're neither proactive enough nor do you bother with enough precision. I plan on writing that article, but I'm holding off a little for 3294198 to be posted. You see, my fireworks are poised to fire when I'm 65.8% done writing it. Posting it will just be a formality.

  • Let me quickly defend the Wikipedia here: Yes, the deletionists are annoying. However, there is a reason why "non-notable" articles are deleted: To minimize the number of articles that have to be watched to make sure spammers and vandals don't damage the articles.

    Every time someone makes an article, that's one more article admins have to baby-sit. Even with thousands of people looking for spam and vandalism, there's a lot of subtle vandalism that gets in under the radar.

    If every single high school or

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:49PM (#29095013) Journal
      If that is the reason, than it sounds like what is needed is a method, perhaps some flavor of tagging, for indicating salience/likely level of admin attention. Have it sort of like those "no lifeguards on duty" signs. Sure, there aren't enough lifeguards to cover all possible swimming locations; but you don't coat all the beaches you can't watch with razor wire, you just let people know that nobody is even going to notice if they drown there.

      On wikipedia, the same basic thing would apply. If you wander into a low interest/low traffic area, you'd have a little notice at the top of the page, telling you that this is a minimally trafficked article, and anybody could have scrawled anything on it, and nobody would notice.

      With storage costs(particularly for minimally formatted text) so damn low, you don't save much by deleting(and you potentially lose something by doing so) which makes some means of organization that allows a compromise much more attractive.
      • by JSG ( 82708 )

        Perhaps some sort of user contributed moderation system maybe with meta-mod on top could help there. As we all know it works wonders on /. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if the many chatterers here weren't held in check by moderation. I'm only joking - just browse at >=4 and you get some pretty reasonable stuff here, although the threads get a little torn up!

        It might be interesting to see what happens to the output from some of the admins on Wikipedia (WP) if they were meta modded by their readers.

        • It'd probably be vulnerable to gaming, if not constructed cleverly; but I'd be inclined to suggest a system based on traffic analysis(of data the wikipedia servers already have, or could gather).

          Since the wikipedia servers send you every wikipedia page you see, and since the page will look different depending on whether you are logged in or not, wikipedia knows exactly how frequently a page gets looked at, and how many of those looks are anonymous, how many are registered users, how many are highly regar
      • I think that the natural progression will simply be to link to specialized wikis. There are already tons, from Blubapedia (Pokémon) [bulbagarden.net] to Memory-Alpha (Star Trek) [memory-alpha.org]

        Why have "a page for every Pokémon" on Wikipedia when you can have one page explaining the basics, and a link to an expansive wiki of solely Pokémon. It will probably never happen, but I'd like to see a "One Page per Franchise" rule on Wikipedia. If a movie/series/band/company needs more than a single page, it

    • Well it's true Wikipedia does a lot more traffic than Slashdot, Alexa rankings are total bullshit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ajs ( 35943 )

      That excuse was invalid when it was first asserted, and is equally invalid today. The claim is that at 1million articles, Wikipedia was at the bursting point, and deletion was necessary to keep spam and abuse at bay. Now the claim is that at 3mil, WP is at the bursting point, and deletion is necessary to keep spam and abuse at bay. Guess what, neither was true.

      Wikipedia could allow articles about everything anyone ever cared about in a reasonable way, without any loss of quality overall if it started from t

    • by gambino21 ( 809810 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @02:04PM (#29095239)

      Why would the admins have to watch these pages? Does it even matter if there is vandalism or spam on a page about some small garage band or anime episode X? The people (if any) who are interested in those pages are the ones who will notice or care if there is spamdalism on those pages, and I'm sure many of them would be happy to fix it. The reason wikipedia is successful I believe has a lot more to do with the decentralization of administration than the diligent efforts of the deletionist admins.

      Just as an example, let's say I go to a page about important topic A (let's say Obama's page) this causes me to follow links to several other relevant topics (Health care, economy, etc). Where in this scenario will I be affected by the spam on the page of Joe the garage band member?

      Another scenario, I know Joe the garage band member and I look up his band on wikipedia. Oops, it has an add for penis enlargement. Since I know Joe I check the history and revert the changes to see the page. Compare this with going to Joe's bands page and finding nothing. I spend 20 minutes writing something up. The next day it is deleted. Now the next person who goes to the page after seeing Joe's band at a local bar also finds no information on wikipedia.

      My main point is that an article with history and spam is better than no article at all. It doesn't matter if the admin's can't monitor all the pages about every trivial topic, no one expects them to. I think a non-deletionist wiki could beat wikipedia in the long run. The problem is that wikipedia just has so much momentum that it would be very tough for a new site to catch up.

      • The people (if any) who are interested in those pages are the ones who will notice or care if there is spamdalism on those pages, and I'm sure many of them would be happy to fix it.

        One would think, but in reality a lot of wikipedia was "completed" 2-5 years ago and isn't currently being actively edited or watched by anyone (except through automated anti-vandalism tools). The problem also isn't penis spam, but mostly POV insertion or poorly written sections that lower the overall article quality.

        Maybe you are willing to accept that as just internet democracy in action, but the people running Wikipedia have a reputation to uphold and want to avoid the GeoCities scenario of hosting milli

        • by azgard ( 461476 )

          This problem can be correctly addressed by stable versions. After some time, the new material added/deleted on the development page would get merged to the stable page. This would ensure no significant information loss due to vandalism. Outside of the merge process, the stable versions would be monitored by robots and automatically reverted (or protected).

          Also, knowing how many people (or which) watches a given page would help. It would allow administrators to better allocate resources to pages that are not

    • by Tweenk ( 1274968 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @02:23PM (#29095503)

      Every time someone makes an article, that's one more article admins have to baby-sit.

      If admins have to babysit each article, something is wrong. And in fact they don't have to. There are already spam prevention bots that do it for them. The entire deletionist argument has absolutely no standing, and is only a weak attempt of control freaks to justify their behavior.

      It's amazing that admins are able to keep the vandalism under control as much as they have been able to.

      Keeping vandalism under control is actually easy because they can't really delete anything - everything is preserved in the revsion history. And the common trait of people responsible for vandalism is that they are easily bored - revert them 2 or 3 times and they will never come back.

  • on friday (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @01:47PM (#29094981) Homepage Journal

    in other news, the english Wikipedia is expected to reach 2.5 million articles by friday, when all the deletionists are back from their holidays and are back on track again.

  • by JoeBuck ( 7947 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @02:36PM (#29095673) Homepage
    I guess it's too late to stop people from claiming that a barrier has been broken whenever some round number has been exceeded. The sound barrier was a real barrier, in that aerodynamics works very differently above and below the speed of sound, meaning that engineering a plane to fly stably above the speed of sound was a nontrivial undertaking. But it was no harder to write article number 3 million than article number 2,999,999. There was no barrier.
  • A Pause for Pidgey. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfreak.eircom@net> on Monday August 17, 2009 @02:57PM (#29095951) Homepage Journal

    I've mentioned the sad case of Pidgey before, but considering this milestone, I think it's worth bringing it up again.

    Pidgey is a Pokemon. In February 2007, Pidgey had his own page [wikipedia.org] at Wikipedia. You could go there and see a small template(since deleted [wikipedia.org]) explaining to you what Pidgey is and various other pieces of information about him. It was objectively a useful resource.

    Pidgey no longer has a page. Pidgey has a paragraph [wikipedia.org]. A tragically short and dry affair devoid of even the most basic image. One can learn very little about Pidgey from reading it. And why is this? Why must Pidgey be so excised from the the site? Because he is a Pokemon? Does being a cartoon character or a children's toy or anything else automatically make something unworthy of a few kilobytes of page space on the the supposed repository of all the world's knowledge. The sad fact is that answer to that question is a resounding YES.

    "A page for every Pokemon" was once used as a derogatory remark about Wikipedia. Evidently, enough faceless wikicrats took exception to this and decided to purge all mention of Pidgey and all the rest of the Pokemon, beyond the barest minimum of exposure, to make sure Wikipedia was regarded as a "professional" and "encyclopedic" resource. Pidgey and the Pokemon, and countless others have been subjected to the digital equivalent of a book burning by people who held an opinion that certain information was not "worthy" of archival. This from the same crowd of people who think that the Cloud Gate [wikipedia.org], Wood Badges [wikipedia.org], Ima Hogg [wikipedia.org] and Books on the psychology of Est [wikipedia.org] are all topics worthy enough to be Featured Articles [wikipedia.org]. Compared to such worthies, perhaps Pidgey, merely part of a 5 billion dollar franchise [american.edu], does fall a little short. But as short as all that?

    Technology is improving, access to knowledge and the cost of providing it are plummeting; Yet Wikipedia's growth is slowing [slashdot.org]. Pidgey is merely a symptom of the underlying decay present in the online encyclopedia. His purge was less about practicalities than it was about running Wikipedia in a way at odds with it ostensibly free, open and inclusive nature. His fate was the result of all information on Wikipedia that falls under the baleful eyes of those editors with opinions and the power to exercise them.

    Pidgey's was not the first page to be purged from Wikipedia, nor the most important. But it will not be the last, or the smallest.

    • I agree completely. Seriously, what's it costing them to keep it? Wiki is not paper.

    • I don't know how many people I speak for, but I don't give a toss about Pidgey. Fight your battles if you will; I think you'll find most people could care less whether there is a Wikipedia entry for Pidgey.

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