May 19, 2022

Research Report Looks at Wikipedia Article Creation Trends

Summary From the Wikimedia Research and Data Team Monthly Update

Research on article creation trends on the largest Wikipedias and found substantial differences between different language Wikipedias; specifically, where anonymous editors are allowed to create articles, their success rate (% of articles kept) is substantially higher than that of newly registered editors. We also found that articles that started as Articles for Creation (AfC) and userspace drafts have a near 100% success rate, but the transition that English Wikipedia made toward directing newcomers to start AfC drafts appears to have substantially reduced the amount of successful articles created by newcomers, presumably due to the large review backlog.

From the Report:

Research has established that the number of active editors in the English Wikipedia has entered a decline and that this decline is the result of decreased retention of new users. Subsequent research by Halfaker et al. has shown evidence that this decline is not due to the quality of newcomers, but rather the increasing complexity newcomers must manage in order to successfully contribute and the negative reactions they receive.

One of the key factors in Halfaker et al.’s model predicting the retention of new editors was whether they created articles that were quickly deleted.

Related work by User:Mr.Z-man confirmed that new editors who created articles that were deleted are less likely to continue to contribute. Research performed in parallel found that the rate at which newly created articles are deleted has risen sharply in recent years and the speed at which new articles are tagged and deleted has increased dramatically.

Given that several other large Wikipedias exhibit trends similar to the English Wikipedia (e.g. German) and the recent interest in creating native draft functionality in the English Wikipedia, we have set out to better understand the nature of newcomer article creation. Specifically, we sought to understand how drafts have affected the success rate of newcomers’ articles.

Read the Complete Report, View Several Charts

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.