Chinese Wikipedia’s Surge in Growth

Here in the PRC, it has been four days since the block of Chinese Wikipedia (ZH) was fully lifted. All reports indicate it is indeed accessible from everywhere in the country – an improvement on the initial partial lifting of the block on 10/10.

So I wondered – was there any way to check the effects of the block being lifted? A trip to the Wikipedia logs of new user registrations and new articles this morning shows a dramatic story. In short:

Where ZH was previously getting 300-400 new registrants a day, the weekend after unblocking has seen over one thousand new registrants a day. November 12 (interestingly, a Sunday) saw over 1,200 new registrants.

New Users in Chinese Wikipedia

As a result – though ZH is only the 12th largest language Wikipedia, in terms of “new users registered each day” it has suddenly vaulted from the middle of the pack to be the 2nd largest growing Wikipedia by users, now far outpacing the German, French and Spanish Wikipedia juggernauts. (English Wikipedia is in a different universe at number one)New Users for Various Languages

That same Sunday, there were 75% more new articles added to ZH than the previous week (Nov 12 v Nov 5).Rate of New Articles in Chinese Wikipedia

This sharp growth is certainly exciting, but it will truly test this community to absorb this volume of newbies so quickly. Get those neutral point of view and wiki markup tutorials in place.Before the lifting of the block, a quarter of the active contributors were from Hong Kong, another quarter from Taiwan. The rest were a mix from Singapore, Malaysia, US, Canada, PRC and other places. That’s going to shift in a major way, starting this week.

Also, this weekend ZH surpassed 100,000 articles. At this rate of new user signup and article creation, the next 100,000 will come very quickly.

The ZH community has been waiting over a year for this moment, and how prescient it was that just last night Tom Friedman was in Beijing extolling the virtues of Wikipedia at the Bookworm Cafe, saying that the world has been flattened by this new “upload” culture.

Welcome PRC users, to a global online community the likes of which you have never seen before.

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