56% of Peoples' 1st Wikipedia Edits Are Good

If you thought Wikipedia had seen its heyday, you'd have thought wrong. A small study performed by Wikipedia staff and published today found that new Editors are signing up and making edits to the site at a far greater rate than they were years ago. A slight majority of their first edits are acceptable or better.

The number of new editors registering on the site has grown from 60 on an typical day in 2004 (when the site was 3 years old) to now 1800 people joining English Wikipedia and making at least 1 edit in a given day today. Vandalism is way up but still makes up less than 25% of edits from new editors. 55% of first edits by new editors today meet the site's (increasingly) stringent quality controls and require no clean-up by other editors. While that's down from 72% in 2004, it's still pretty good.

"Right now, our top priority is to promote the health of our projects and community and that means making sure that we're maintaining an open culture that welcomes newcomers," Wikimedia's Moka Pantages told us. "This preliminary look into the activity of new Wikipedia editors indicates that new people do have valuable contributions to make and we're looking at ways to invite them in and make sure they're able to contribute."

I'm a little surprised by these numbers, but it's also remarkable to think about how many people visit Wikipedia every day and don't sign up to edit anything. Twitter wishes people loved reading Tweets that much. It's interesting that a medium famous for making encyclopedic knowledge writable remains in the largest part a read-only phenomenon for most people.