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EVERYONE'S A CRITIC

The most-edited Wikipedia posts of 2016

Thu-Huong Ha
By Thu-Huong Ha

Reporter

Where was Donald Trump’s father born? Did he graduate from Fordham University? And if not, can it still be considered his alma mater? Is there such a thing as “Trump ideology”? And what photo best represents him?

These are some of the questions quibbled over by Wikipedia contributors in the 200 edits made to Donald Trump’s page just over the last week.

Wikipedia is a crowdsourced encyclopedia, created and maintained by a cadre of dedicated volunteer editors who day in and day out watch the pages they care about. A list compiled by Wikimedia, the foundation that oversees the encyclopedia, shows the English pages they argued over the most this year, published in a blog post on Dec. 21. It provides a glimpse into the year’s obsessions, as seen through the eyes of the self-appointed keepers of the internet’s collective knowledge.

Donald Trump’s was one such highly edited page. So were pages on the Panama Papers, Kanye West’s album The Life of Pablo, and the number of bad guys in the fictional world of Transformers.

Wikipedia is one of the most popular sites on the web, so presumably what matters to its editors matters to everyone. Pages that get pored over could actually be more balanced, while pages that editors choose not to develop leave us in the dark. For the past decade, the year’s deaths have been the number-one edited pages, followed usually by big or controversial news items of the year: the civil war in Libya in 2011; the Pacific typhoon season in 2013; and Sarah Palin in 2008. In 2014, the Malaysian Airlines flight, ebola, ISIS, and the shooting of Michael Brown made the top-10 list.

The list also provides a window into the rather opaque and hard-to-access culture of the people who edit the largest English encyclopedia the world has. Technically anyone is free to edit the site, but the argumentative and often combative culture can keep new users out. Editors can join anonymously, but the bar to actually making a contribution that sticks is high, so even though there are 29 million registered editors, only about 130,000 are active. About 10% of the English editors were female in the last big survey of the editors conducted by the foundation, in 2012.

The editors tend to gravitate toward certain broad categories: entertainment, sports, and world events. Number 24 on this year’s list, two slots below Brexit, is the Miss Universe contest. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) shows up twice on the list, and indeed is the second most edited topic of all time, right after George W. Bush and before the United States.

Here are the 100 most edited English pages of the year:

RankWikipedia articleNumber of edits in 2016
1deaths in 201618,230
2Donald Trump8,933
3list of Hillary Clinton presidential campaign endorsements6,527
4United States presidential election6,162
5Republican Party presidential primaries5,715
62016 Orlando nightclub shooting5,540
7Bailando 20155,342
8list of Donald Trump presidential campaign endorsements5,328
92016 in sports5,277
102016 in South Korean music5,074
11Beverly Gray4,957
12statewide opinion polling for the United States presidential election4,743
13Panama Papers4,659
142016 in Philippine television4,600
152016 Pacific typhoon season4,244
162016 Atlantic hurricane season3,874
17Democratic Party presidential primaries3,736
18Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice3,593
19The Life of Pablo3,574
20Vincent van Gogh3,551
21Donald Trump presidential campaign3,513
22United Kingdom European Union membership referendum3,433
232016 ATP Challenger Tour3,412
24Miss Universe 20163,358
25A.J. Styles3,357
26WrestleMania 323,307
27occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge3,289
282016 Nice attack3,262
292016 in film3,236
30Views3,168
312016 Pacific hurricane season2,848
3220162,773
33El Coyote2,715
34Transformers: The Last Knight2,711
35list of 2016 albums2,703
36Manchán of Mohill2,702
37list of most viewed YouTube videos2,698
38Big Brother 182,691
39list of original programs distributed by Netflix2,603
40protests against Donald Trump2,592
41The Jungle Book2,582
42The Voice2,567
432016 in American television2,566
44list of WWE personnel2,559
45RuPaul’s Drag Race2,554
46athletics at the 2016 Summer Olympics – qualification2,508
472016 WTA Finals2,490
48Finding Dory2,472
49DC Extended Universe2,467
502016 Turkish coup d’état attempt2,464
51The Voice2,458
52RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars2,414
53Lonnie Mack2,351
542016 WTA Tour2,335
552016 ATP World Tour2,327
56Star Wars: The Force Awakens2,320
57Planet Nine2,318
58list of Autobots2,276
59X-Men: Apocalypse2,271
60American Idol2,258
61Deadpool2,257
62The X Factor2,252
63Forcade2,236
64nationwide opinion polling for the United States presidential election2,227
65Pokémon Go2,219
66America’s Got Talent2,216
67Zootopia2,202
68Jordan2,201
69Captain America: Civil War2,188
702016 Brussels bombings2,187
71political positions of Donald Trump2,185
72Great Britain at the 2016 Summer Olympics2,140
73Nuestra Belleza Latina 20162,138
74United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics2,120
752017 in sports2,118
76Muhammad Ali2,115
77Sausage Party2,112
78list of earthquakes in 20162,107
79Hillary Clinton2,082
80Independence Day: Resurgence2,081
81EgyptAir Flight 8042,081
82newspaper endorsements in the United States presidential election2,072
83Dangerous Woman2,065
84list of current champions in WWE2,055
85The Revenant2,044
86Bailando 20162,019
872016 AFL season2,015
88Brexit2,014
89Big Brother Canada2,007
90Bigg Boss 101,997
91list of terrorist incidents1,983
92garage rock1,965
93Ghostbusters1,960
94list of American Horror Story characters1,958
95Edge1,957
96India at the 2016 Summer Olympics1,953
97list of Decepticons1,930
98Legalism1,929
99David Bowie1,928
100Twice1,924
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