Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, December 1, 2014

80,000 Articles and Still Going Strong -- The FamilySearch Research Wiki

The title of this post came from another Blog post entitled, "FamilySearch Research Wiki Reaches 80,00 Articles." My history with the Research Wiki goes back to its first introduction and I wrote a blog post about the Research Wiki in September 2014, when the number of articles exceeded 80,000. It appears that the real reason for the recent FamilySearch post was to talk about the Online Genealogy Records pages. This is a great idea but redundant. Don't get me wrong, redundancy is absolutely necessary for a reference tool such as the Research Wiki. If those who maintained the Research Wiki insisted on having only one page for each topic, the whole program would bog down in trying to maintain the information.

In fact one of the oldest pages I can find in the Research Wiki dates back to the 14th of December 2007. If I remember correctly, the Research Wiki came online and was generally available in July of 2008. Pages added before that time were in the development stage. Just for fun, one of the oldest pages in the Research Wiki after the 28th of July 2008, when most of the pages began, is "Replacing Toner for Patron Computers at the Family History Library." Just thought you might want to know. That single page has been accessed 704 times and was last changed on 29 July 2008 about the time the Wiki was published online.

Here is how the Research Wiki works. If someone looking at the information in the Research Wiki decides that they have more information than is already on a certain page, they can immediately add in their particular contribution and then the Research Wiki has even more information. But if that same person has to do an exhaustive search just to determine if what they want to contribute is already there, then the benefit of having multiple users is nullified. Is having the information in the Research Wiki in more than one location a bad idea? No, because people may ask the same question differently and still find an appropriate answer.

This is essentially one of the key reasons why Apple Computer is the world's most valuable company. The Apple operating systems have always been very redundant, i.e. they allow users to do the same thing in a variety of ways. For example, there is a lot of hype presently about the utility of touch screens. I use both an iPhone and an iPad with touch screens and think they are very helpful. However, when I am sitting in front of my 27 inch iMac, I do not want to lift my arm every time I want to select something. That would be tiring and inefficient instead, I use a trackpad. With this device, I can select items, move items and do all the functions of a touchscreen without lifting my arm and making a mess of the screen with my greasy fingers.

I could go on with the advantages of redundancy, but the point is that the Research Wiki will continue to become more and more valuable because it has the ability to provide a high level of redundancy.

Now what about the number of 80,000 pages? By the way, the actual number as of the date of this blog post is 80,484 articles. That means 484 articles have been added since September, over two months ago. This is also expected. While the Research Wiki was growing, it had a lot of territory to cover. At one point I remember that hundreds of pages were being added in a week. Over the past few years there has been a transition from creating new subjects to adding more robust information to existing topics. We are presently not so much adding new pages as we are filling in the gaps in the information on existing pages. This continues to make the Research Wiki more valuable, but has the appearance of it slowing down.

Are there really slightly more than 80,000 articles in the Research Wiki? Well, yes, but that is really only part of the story. There are really a total of 158,827 pages in the Wiki including all the Help pages, Talk pages, redirects and a whole lot of instructions on how to use the program. Remember, that any numbers having to do with the Research Wiki can change at any moment. So, this number will probably be different the next time I load the program. Here are some other interesting numbers about the Research Wiki as of the date of this post:

Page edits since FamilySearch Wiki was set up 1,939,320
Average edits per page 12.21

Registered users 150,561
Active users (list of members) (Users who have performed an action in the last 30 days) 492
Bots (list of members) 2
Administrators (list of members) 50
Bureaucrats (list of members) 19
Moderator (list of members) 172
Reviewer (list of members) 163
Oversights (list of members) 2
Widget editors (list of members) 4

View statistics
Views total
(Views to non-existing pages and special pages are not included) 542,819,339
Views per edit 279.90

Most viewed pages
Main Page 306,215,778
United States 2,943,920
Utah 2,213,880
England 1,502,997
Denmark 1,470,928
Browse by Country 1,242,213
Germany 1,240,918
Salt Lake County, Utah 739,424
Utah County, Utah 520,907
Provo, Utah 490,686

I might note that I average about one edit per day and I made some edits today just to keep up my average. Oh, by the way, you might note that there are relatively very few people actually contributing and editing the Research Wiki, only 492 during the last 30 days and most of those have less than ten edits.

If you haven't worked on or contributed to the Research Wiki don't gripe about it. But if you haven't used it recently, it means you are ignoring the most valuable genealogical resource on the Internet.

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