Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2013-02-04/Special report

Examining the popularity of Wikipedia articles: catalysts, trends, and applications

On February 12, 2012, news of Whitney Houston's death brought 425 hits per second to her Wikipedia article, the highest peak traffic on any article since at least January 2010.
It is broadly known that Wikipedia is the sixth most popular website on the Internet, but the English Wikipedia now has over 4 million articles and 29 million total pages. Much less attention has been given to traffic patterns and trends in content viewed. The Wikimedia Foundation makes available aggregate raw article view data for all of its projects.
This article attempts to convey some of the fascinating phenomena that underlie extremely popular articles, and perhaps more importantly to editors, discusses how this information can be used to improve the project moving forward. While some dismiss view spikes as the manifestation of shallow pop culture interests (e.g., Justin Bieber is the 6th most popular article over the past 3 years, see Tab. 2), these are valuable opportunities to study reader behavior and to shape the public perception of our projects.

Wikipedia's most popular articles

We have begun producing two weekly charts on the most popular articles on Wikipedia, the WP:5000 list, and the moderated WP:5000/Top25Report.
WP:5000, an automated list of the 5,000 most popular pages on Wikipedia, is now being compiled weekly. It also identifies how many featured articles, good articles, and lists are included. For the current list covering January 27 to February 2, we find 239 featured articles and 468 good articles in the top 5000 pages. However, this report is based on raw data and includes non-article pages and popularly requested redlinks, like "Com/fluendo/plugin/KateDec.class" at No. 15 on the current list (a script used to stream media content; see Cortado (software)), as well as 18k Gold Watch at position 166, a recurring entry likely fueled by spambots. More information on how the WP:5000 results are computed is found below.
The WP:5000/Top25Report is a manually moderated weekly Top 25 list started in January 2013 of the most popular articles on English Wikipedia. Similar in format to best-selling book or music charts, it is a bit more user friendly in that it excludes non-article pages, likely DOS attack entries, and the Main page. It also tracks how long an article has remained in the Top 25. Throughout January 2013, certain American football-related pages have been popular (a yearly trend seen during the playoff season of that sport), as well as popular recently released movies such as Django Unchained and notable recent deaths such as Aaron Swartz.

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