The English Language Wikipedia Just Had Its Billionth Edit

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Just after 1 A.M. on January 12, a prolific Wikiepdian edited the entry for the album Death Breathing. The small edit was the addition of a hyperlink and it was the billionth edit done to the English language Wikipedia.

“The article on the album Death Breathing was amended by Wikipedian Ser Amantio di Nicolao, one of over 3.9 million edits done by the Wikipedian with the highest edit count other than bots,” said a note in Wikimedia-l, a listserv that documents various Wikimedia matters.


Wikipedia relies on volunteers who constantly assess, edit, and argue over the specifics of the information in its vast online encyclopedia. Every edit is catalogued, tagged, and assigned a unique URL when it’s pushed through. The Death Breathing edit secured the billionth.

Death Breathing is a noise album released by Alec Empire in 1998. Empire is a Berliner and a founding member of Atari Teenage Riot, an anti-fascist band that opposed German neo-Nazis in the 1990s.

The announcement on Wikimedia’s listserv noted that this is only the billionth edit if you don’t count the early years of Wikipedia when it had yet to migrate to its own servers and software.

“Pedants may be aware that this is only the thousand million since the move to MediaWiki software and not all of the hundreds of thousands of previous edits have since been reloaded,” the notice said. “So if we could work out the true counts since edit one it probably came one, maybe two days earlier.”

“I don't have the exact numbers but there were definitely many edits made that aren't recorded in the current system,” Wikiepdian “The Cunctator” told Motherboard in an email. “Many of the UseModWiki edits were reintegrated with the history but there is a lacuna that covers my peak of editing in about August 2001 to February 2002 (I was the primary editor of September 11 related content). I don't know if the edit count reflects deleted edits or edits on deleted pages. One point that isn't made enough when discussing Wikipedia is how much of Google's wealth is built on its abuse of Wikipedia copyleft.”

“But Death Breathing got the edit with the thousand million counter,” the Wikimedia-l notice said.