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By Alterego - August 2005

The Wikimedia Foundation has experienced an exciting amount of growth across all projects. The growth is attributed in part to more the more than three thousand users who register to contribute per month, and in part to the Foundation’s commitment to meet increased popularity with increased capacity.

Wikipedia in particular has experienced a dramatic rise in publishing, with creating more than 1,250 new articles every day at a 7% monthly increase. With more than 650,000 articles, the trend indicates that as the overall corpus grows, so too does the percent of new articles created in relation to it.

In the , Wikipedianer have been busy too, writing articles at a clip of 6% per month. As the total number of words grows at 8% per month, the depth of information increases in proportion to the breadth. According to Jakob Voss, a member of the German board, 20% of all German articles are focused on biographies of people.

Speakers of nearly 200 languages have come together in Wikipedia communities, resulting in similar - sometimes never-before-seen - linguistic phenomena. According to the Wikipedia Signpost, more than 100 different language Wikipedias each have more than 100 articles. With some of the languages being quite obscure, this may be the first time their culture has had a compendium of information such as an encyclopedia.

Most popular article for each top 10 wiki entering June
  1. English: Karla Homolka
  2. German: Ortsneckname
  3. French: France
  4. Japanese: Japan Airlines Flight 123
  5. Swedish: Pizza
  6. Dutch: Adolf Hitler
  7. Polish: Great Britain
  8. Portuguese: Brasil
  9. Spanish: Kufra
  10. Italian: Italy

Over all languages, there is a 10% growth of new articles per month, totaling 1.8 million at present. Between these articles there are 500 million words, 30 million inter-wiki links and 1.3 million links to other websites. These were contributed between 30 million edits by 60,000 registered, and many more anonymous users.

Having so much quality content freely available has made Wikipedia an attractive destination for visitors. According to data donated to the Foundation by Hitwise, the Wikipedia.org domain surpassed Dictionary.com as the most popular reference site in late May. This followed a 618% increase in share among traffic from all websites in the previous year. In the two months following the milestone, Wikipedia strengthened its lead by more than 25%, increasing its share of traffic to all reference sites by an additional 92%.

Search engines have increasingly recognized the encyclopedia’s value to visitors, sending 66% of all incoming traffic. Google, in particular, sends 50% of this traffic, taking an overall share of 33%. In late May, Google briefly increased the English Wikipedia’s PageRank ™ to 9 out of a possible 10, formally recognizing it as one the most trusted websites. This culminated in a great flurry of spidering as Google went from having 3 million Wikipedia pages indexed in March to more than 25 million in July. Pages from the Wikipedia.org domain currently occupy .32% of all pages in Google’s index, a number that synchs closely to the .20% of all search engine traffic that Wikipedia attracts. Wikipedia is now the 22nd most recommended site by search engines, and the gap continues to widen.

Among the thousands of keyword searches that Wikipedia ranks high for, several in particular consistently draw considerable traffic. These include Bobby Fischer, Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin and, most notably, Pope John Paul II.

Having been established as a primary source of papal news, when Pope Benedict XVI was elected an article was created instantly and received over 2,400 edits in its first day. It was then cited heavily by blogs and news sources such as Reuters, causing a large influx of traffic, peaking at 2,100 requests per second. While this number was spectacular at the time, only two months later it is common to receive over 2,500 requests per second.

As increased and better content attracts more users, who in turn expend more server resources, it has been necessary to greatly expand the Wikimedia server grid to several locations in Florida, France, Amsterdam and soon, South Korea.

There are now more than 100 servers, which, added up, have 260 gigahertz of processing power, 210 gigabytes of memory, and 16 terabytes of hard drive space.

As increased capacity is also a factor in attracting new visitors, these numbers can be expected to increase significantly.