Editor Survey 2011/Profiles

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Many myths about Wikipedia editors have been perpetuated over the years that were not supported by data. We found that editors are more educated and older than what we believed. In addition, not every Wikipedia editor is a programmer or familiar with open source.

2.1 Majority of Wikipedia editors have a college degree[edit]

Contrary to the popular perception that most Wikipedians are high school students, the survey found a majority of editors have finished college. 61% of Wikipedia editors who took part in the survey have a bachelors, associate or higher/graduate degree. Within this group, 35% have a bachelor’s, associate degree or diploma, 18% have a master’s degree, and 8% have a doctorate degree. It is interesting to note that over a quarter (26%) of Wikipedia editors have a post-graduate degree. 9% of Wikipedians have only a primary degree, i.e. they have completed elementary or middle school, and 30% have finished secondary school, i.e. high school. In addition, 43% of respondents said that they worked full-time, 15% worked part-time, and 42% were not currently employed.

D3a. What is the highest level of education you have completed? (n=5,073)

2.2 Two-thirds of Wikipedia editors are not programmers[edit]

92% of editors who participated in the study are proficient in computers: they are able to download and set up files and applications and programs (56%) and create their own applications (36%). But only 36% of Wikipedians can be classified as techies, i.e. able to program & create applications. Female Wikipedia editors are less technologically savvy, with only 18% of female editors stating they can program and create their own applications, compared to 39% of male editors. As a corollary, women editors (72%) are more comfortable downloading, setting up files & applications, and not programming compared to male editors (54%).

D12. Describe your level of proficiency with computers and computer applications (n=4,996)

2.3 Wikipedia editors are older than believed[edit]

The popular image of a Wikipedia editor is a high school or college/university student (late teens or early 20s) working at night to edit Wikipedia. But contrary to popular perception, Wikipedia editors are much older, with an average age of 32, and half of them are younger than 28. In fact, the largest age cohort of editors is 40 and older. More than a quarter (28%) of Wikipedia editors are 40 or older.

D2. Wikipedia editor age distribution. (n=4,930)

2.4 The more prolific editors are a lot older than the others[edit]

The age distribution gets even more extreme when we look at the edit counts. By contrasting the self-reported ages with the actual edit count data, we found that the percentage of young editors (ages 12-25) drops drastically with edit count. For instance, young editors make up 48% of the population with less than 100 lifetime edits, but this drops to 29% when we look at those with 10,000 or more lifetime edits. Those in the 40+ age segment, on the other hand, make up 36% of those with 10,000 or more edits.

To counter for the fact that some of the Editors might have been around for much longer, we looked at the data from the last 12 months. These figures favored the younger editors: they now accounted for 34% of the population with 10,000 or more edits. Editors in the 40+ age group still stood for 35% of the population in this segment.

Distribution of editor age by edit level. (n=4,766)

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