Most-edited Wikipedia pages of 2016 revealed

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Van Gogh’s Wikipedia page underwent thousands of changes

The most-edited Wikipedia pages of the year have been revealed and the top 20 includes “Deaths in 2016”, “Vincent Van Gogh” and “Donald Trump”.

Other pages related to the US election were also in the list, according to the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia.

The site was a “marvel” but not always right said author Dan Gillmor, a friend of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Van Gogh’s page received 3,551 edits during the year.

This was because it was rewritten by four Wikipedia editors in order to achieve “featured” status – a mark of high quality.

“[Van Gogh has been] an artist misunderstood for decades, constantly being misinterpreted, reinterpreted, studied, re-studied, yet seemingly always escaping a clear understanding of his true nature,” said one editor using the name Modernist.

Catalogue of death

The high-profile individuals to have died in 2016 include David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali and Fidel Castro.

The “Deaths in 2016” page had 18,230 edits in total, making it by far the most-edited article on the site.

“We also found that Wikipedians’ drive to provide free knowledge brings topics outside the time span of this year back to the forefront,” said a spokeswoman for the Wikimedia Foundation.

“Bailando 2015, an Argentinian dance show where dancers compete on live television, made it into the top 10 for the year, for instance.”

In August, “Great Britain at the 2016 Summer Olympics” received 1,578 edits – after Team GB won 67 medals, including 27 golds at the Rio Games.

While data for the month of December is of course not yet complete, the page for reality show Bigg Boss 10 currently has the most edits – but is closely followed by “Fake news website”.

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Among the many high-profile deaths chronicled on Wikipedia this year was that of rock star Prince

Mr Gillmor, who invests in Mr Wales’s private company Wikia, said: “I would say the vast majority of people contributing, including by the way my students who I require to contribute, do so because they see value to the community.”

He added that while the site had potential to spread misinformation, he thought it had probably done more to safeguard facts online – but readers still needed to approach it with critical-thinking skills because pages are sometimes vandalised.

“I think people who use Wikipedia who are researching or looking for information just need to recognise how it works and what a pitfall might be,” he told the BBC.

Many thousands of human editors maintain Wikipedia’s pages but they are assisted by large numbers of bots – automated computer programs – that also make changes to articles.

Earlier this year, the Wikimedia Foundation revealed the most edited articles of all time.

The top spot was taken by the page for George W Bush with 45,862 edits. It was followed by “List of [World Wrestling Entertainment] personnel” – with 42,836.