You might not be allowed to use it for school papers, but Wikipedia is effectively the go-to source for information in most of the non-graded sectors of the world. The thing we tend to forget, or at least not think about very often, is that Wikipedia isn’t written in stone. In fact, it changes faster than you can imagine. Wikistats, a new site that tracks the “trending pages” on Wikipedia, can give you good idea of what’s changing at any given time, and by how much. The results might not be what you’d think.
Utilizing technology from Datasift, a social data platform with a specialization in real-time streams, Wikistats lists some clear, concise information you can use to see how Wikipedia is flowing and changing out from under you. Using Natural Language Processing, Wikistats is able to suss realtime trends and updates. In short, Wikistats will show you what pages are being updated the most right now, how many edits they get by how many unique users, and how many lines are being added vs. how many are being deleted.
Already Wikistats has turned up some interesting information on how fast new announcements get to Wikipedia. Only three minutes after the big Microsoft Surface announcement, the tablet had a Wiki page. Not all modifications involve big-time breaking news though. From a glance at the site right now, I can see that the page on St. Michael’s High School has gotten 662 line edits by 19 different editors in the past 24 hours, and in that same time the page for the List of Powerpuff Girls Characters seems to be the scene of an edit war; 11 different authors have been applying edits, and between them they’ve deleted 10 lines, and added 10 lines. How much do you want to bet some of those additions and removals are of the same line? (I checked, turns out it was the site of some vandalism.)
Obviously this data has greater applications than sitting around tracking down cases of vandalism or watching a high school’s page get built line by line, but whatever the use, it’s staggering to see this data parsed in real-time, and enlightening to just peruse it for a little while. Granted, it’s not as viscerally stunning as watching the list of Wikipedia edits in real-time, but it yields a lot more interesting information. Whether you want to do that for more than seeing how many people are editing the Powerpuff Girls pages is up to you.