The Most Edited Wikipedia Pages Are for These Controversial People and Topics

Articles about politics, wars and religion see the most revisions

(Photo: Wikipedia)
(Photo: Wikipedia)

Anyone can edit any Wikipedia page, which keeps the site updated, unbiased and, for the most part, pretty accurate. This feature can also lead to “Wikipedia wars,” where users, usually triggered by some event, jump to a specific page to change something they don’t agree with. (Ja Rule started one the other day, and one recently erupted when someone called Justin Bieber a “notable millennial,” for example).

To no surprise, some Wikipedia pages are edited more frequently than others. The site tracks all revisions, and a quick look at Wikipedia’s own revision report page shows that some articles are constant Wikipedia war zones.

Below are the site’s most edited pages, ranked by number of edits as of this morning. Included are both articles and Talk pages, which are pages for users to discuss changes being made to a certain article. The list does not include administrative pages, which are frequently edited as well. The list:

  1. George W. Bush (45,777 edits)
  2. Talk: Barack Obama (44,173 edits)
  3. List of WWE Personnel (42,102 edits)
  4. United States (35,283 edits)
  5. Talk: Global Warming (34,150 edits)
  6. Wikipedia (33,849 edits)
  7. Talk: Intelligent Design (30,246)
  8. Talk: Sarah Palin (28,358 edits)
  9. Michael Jackson (28,042 edits)
  10. Jesus (27,732 edits)
  11. Talk: United States (26,328 edits)
  12. Catholic Church (25,948 edits)
  13. Talk: Jesus (25,885 edits)
  14. List of Programs Broadcasted By ABS-CBN (24,995 edits)
  15. Talk: Gaza War (24,677 edits)
  16. Barack Obama (24,564 edits)
  17. Adolf Hitler (24,501 edits)
  18. Britney Spears (23,739 edits)
  19. World War II (23,628 edits)
  20. Talk: Gamergate Controversy (23,163 edits)

One could look at this list and attribute many of the pages’ presences to the fact that there is a lot going on with the subjects and their pages require a lot of edits simply to keep the information up to date. After serving two full terms as president, for example, there is certainly a lot of necessary information about George W. Bush, whose page is the most edited. But a closer look at the revision history of his page shows the edits aren’t all coming from users simply keeping information updated for our preservation of history.

Today, six years after his reign as president ended, the George W. Bush Wikipedia article is still seeing daily edits that are nit-picky in nature and essentially miniature Wikipedia wars. The majority of the edits make the subject look better or worse and are clearly rooted in users’ own opinions about him. Nearly every other revision is someone reverting the page back to an earlier version in order to eliminate a new edit.

Screen shot 2015-09-08 at 2.16.34 PM
Part of a recent discussion about the legitimacy of the 2000 election. (Screengrab: Wikipedia revision history)
Screen shot 2015-09-08 at 2.15.51 PM
The page is susceptible to vandalism. (Screengrab: Wikipedia revision history)

The notion that the most edited pages see so many revisions, not because they necessarily need them but because there are a lot of people with strong opinions on them, becomes even clearer when considering the list of top pages as a whole. Nearly every article is related to religion or politics, which are perhaps the two most debated topics worldwide. The U.S. politicians included on the list have served while the country is more polarized than ever and have both extremely loyal followers and adamant protesters.

Wikipedia’s editing culture undeniably speaks to what we find controversial, but it’s important to remember that the facts are not compromised. There are moderators keeping the pages accurate, and when someone vandalizes or sways content too far in one direction, well, someone on the other side will always come along and correct it.

The Most Edited Wikipedia Pages Are for These Controversial People and Topics