German-language Wikipedia

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languages German
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items 2,501,489
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On-line March 16, 2001 (currently active)
Main page of the German language Wikipedia on December 13, 2010

The German-language Wikipedia is the edition of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia in German .

It was founded in March 2001 as the first additional language edition about two months after the English language Wikipedia . As far as the number of articles is concerned, it is currently the fourth largest Wikipedia, with 2,501,489 articles after the English-language and the Swedish - language and Cebuano-language Wikipedia editions, which are heavily influenced by computer-generated articles . Measured by the number of article edits, but also the administrators, authors and particularly active authors, the German-language Wikipedia is the second largest after the English-language Wikipedia. The number of active authors has been falling since 2007.


Article growth of the German-language Wikipedia from 2001 to 2018

Early phase 2001 to 2003

The wiki for the German-language Wikipedia, at that time still with the UseModWiki software, was set up on March 16, 2001 under the domains and; the first articles appeared in the same month. Initially, the wiki was mainly used as a collaboration platform for the German-speaking Nupedia translation team, but its members were skeptical of the wiki concept. This is how Nupedia employee Rainer Zenz described his relationship with Wikipedia in July 2002:

“To be honest, I haven't really dealt with Wikipedia that much. It has its appeal to be able to publish and change it so directly, but what I liked about Nupedia was the personal collaboration and discussion about a topic and formulations - I miss that a bit about wikis.

There is another wiki problem: the first impression. Very spartan, a bit puzzling, what nerds . And dubious, because everyone can write what they want ... You only notice that there is a great concept behind it when you look very closely. "

One of the most committed employees and supporters of the project in the early months was Kurt Jansson, then a sociology student in Berlin.

The version histories from the beginning are only incomplete, as the UseMod software automatically deleted old versions after two weeks. This peculiarity, although known and problematic with regard to the mandatory naming of authors according to the current GNU FDL license , was given little importance at the time. The early archives of the Wikide-1 mailing list were destroyed by negligence, so that the archiving only dates back to August 2003.

The wiki software used for the German-language Wikipedia is divided into three phases, called phase I to phase III. The UseMod software was later referred to as Phase I after Phase II had become the name for the wiki software developed by Magnus Manske especially for Wikipedia. The English Wikipedia was switched to phase II on January 25, 2002. After massive performance problems in the spring of 2002, the focus was on optimizing and correcting errors and deliberately refrained from converting the other language versions as well. Finally, Lee Daniel Crocker consolidated the code base into software specially developed for Wikipedia. The result of this redesign was then referred to as Phase III; later the software was named MediaWiki . When the German-language Wikipedia was switched to phase III on August 28, 2002, the user identification numbers were reassigned. For these reasons, it is no longer possible to determine exactly what the first articles were and how the project developed.

On August 19, 2001, the German-language Wikipedia had 1000 pages. Most of the articles from the early days are still preserved; some categories and project pages have been redesigned and deleted.

In the early phase, the encyclopedia grew slowly, only on January 24, 2003 the mark of 10,000 articles was exceeded. On this occasion, the first press release of the German-language Wikipedia, written collaboratively in the wiki, was sent out. Seven days earlier, the English Wikipedia had the 100,000. Article celebrated.

From 2004

On February 24, 2004 and in the following days, large media in Germany reported for the first time on Wikipedia. Starting with Spiegel Online and the next day with a report in the ARD Tagesthemen (about 2.26 million viewers), Wikipedia became known throughout Germany. Because of this, and due to other parallel media reports, the number of users and page views doubled within a few days. The Wikipedia servers repeatedly collapsed briefly under the onslaught of new users.

On June 13, 2004 the association Wikimedia Germany  - Society for the Promotion of Free Knowledge e. V. founded.

Up until April 27, 2004, relevance criteria that were not specified until August 15, 2005 were not used.

In September 2008 there were more than 800 million hits on the German-language Wikipedia per month.

On the occasion of the deletion of an article about the association AbrauchsOpfer gegen InternetSperren (MOGIS) in 2009, numerous blogs, including Fefes Blog and Spreeblick , complained that the deletion practice was too rigid for Wikipedia articles with contentious relevance. The debate was subsequently taken up by Spiegel Online , Die Zeit , Heise online , Telepolis and at the Chaos Communication Congress .

In response, the Wikimedia Germany association organized a panel discussion on the topic to discuss the various points of view on relevance politics in Wikipedia. There was also a podium at the 26C3 .

On December 27, 2009, the German-language Wikipedia exceeded the 1,000,000 mark, with Ernie Wasson as the anniversary article . The mark of 1,500,000 articles was exceeded almost three years later, on November 18, 2012; Barrack Wilhelmine is considered a milestone item . Four years later, on November 19, 2016, the 2,000,000 followed. Items.

In 2010, an internal Wikipedia debate on the subject of "The Danube Tower  - observation tower or television tower" reached a level that caught the attention of the national media. In addition to the factual question, animosities and differences of opinion between German and Austrian authors came to light. Likewise, when it comes to Swiss, Liechtenstein or Luxembourg issues, there are occasional conflicts due to the different spelling and cultural differences.

Around 72 percent of Internet users aged ten and over in Germany preferred Wikipedia and other online reference works for their research in the first quarter of 2011.

In June 2013, Der Spiegel addressed the analysis of Wikipedia usage data. Among other things, the Wikipedia Live Monitor was considered , which reports articles that are suddenly changed in several Wikipedia versions at the same time as breaking news candidates . The Spiegel employees themselves examined noticeable leaps in user interest in the German-language Wikipedia. In addition to articles on current topics of conversation, the article banana peel also caught the eye. It was in the Wikipedia section. Did you know? on the main page and had found over 38,000 interested parties in one day. According to a study by Oxford University, the most controversial articles in the German-language Wikipedia in 2013 included Jesus Christ and conspiracy theories as of September 11, 2001 .

In March 2016, the number of new articles added to the German-language Wikipedia was around 350 every day.

In April 2019, the German-language Wikipedia had almost 355,000 unique categories. The average article in this language version had 5 categories while the number of unique categories per article was 0.155. The largest number of articles had the category People (15%) and Organizations (13%).

organization structure

Simplified schema of the user groups in Wikipedia

In its early days there were three user groups in the German language Wikipedia: unregistered users ("IPs"), registered users and administrators ("admins"). Administrators were found on the mailing list, so to speak; in January 2003 there were seven admins; in April 2003 there were fifteen. From May 2003 the suggestions were discussed centrally on a page in the Wikipedia namespace. It was not until March 2004 that voting rules such as a required two-thirds majority and a restriction of the right to vote to registered users with a certain minimum number of contributions were introduced.

The skills of administrators were initially limited to deleting and protecting pages and blocking unregistered users. A server administrator had to block registered users directly via the database, as well as granting administrator rights after the election. As of February 25, 2004, the function to block registered users was activated and the first two blocks were imposed. The admin function of directly reading the database via SQL query was deactivated in 2005 for security reasons.

In 2004, the newly introduced user group of bureaucrats took over the assignment of administrator rights. In February 2004 the users “Sansculotte” and a few days later “Head” were chosen as the first two bureaucrats. The number was later increased to three, and there are currently five bureaucrats on the German-language Wikipedia. The competencies have also been expanded: initially only responsible for assigning administrator rights, later the bureaucrats also took on the renaming of user names.

In April 2004, with the user “Fantasy”, a user of the German-language Wikipedia was also chosen in the first steward elections.

Not all user roles that were added over time in MediaWiki, the software used, were also used immediately in the German-language Wikipedia. In July 2006 the first three check users were selected, a user role introduced in November 2005 that can view the IP addresses of registered users. A confirmatory opinion poll was held in May 2009 about the use of the oversight function introduced in August 2006 , with which versions can be hidden for data protection purposes.


The first WikiReader

Numerous websites take advantage of the free license offer and mirror Wikipedia content, some earn money by showing ads. There were also several versions for cell phones and smartphones .

In the Offline -dissemination the German-language Wikipedia has played a pioneering role. The Munich Wikipedian Thomas Karcher put together the first “WikiReader”, a selection of the Wikipedia articles on Sweden, which appeared in June 2004 with an edition of 1500 copies. At about the same time, Thomas Koll also had a WikiReader on the subject of the Internet printed.

In autumn 2004, the Berlin publisher Directmedia Publishing published the first CD version of Wikipedia in collaboration with the Wikipedia community. Since then, DVD editions have been published roughly every six months and are also made available for download on the Internet.

The Zenodot publishing company took the concept of WikiReader and published in 2005 and 2006 in the paperback series WikiPress a number lektorierter collections of Wikipedia texts.

“WP 1.0”, the plan to publish the entire Wikipedia in a hundred-volume print version like classic encyclopedias by subscription, was abandoned by Zenodot after negative feedback from the Wikipedia community and sparse subscriber numbers. The first volume should appear for the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2006; after fifty months, in December 2010, the work should be finished. Even if no volume has ever been published, the project has left its mark on Wikipedia in the form of the specialist editors set up for this purpose, which continued to exist even after the plan was abandoned and were given a permanent place in the Wikipedia's institutional structure.

In 2008, the 992-page one-volume book Das Wikipedia-Lexikon was published in one volume from the first paragraphs of the almost 20,000 most frequently accessed articles published by Bertelsmann-Verlag. Since June 2009 it has been possible to order books-on-demand compiled from Wikipedia content from PediaPress .


A first edition of the German-language Wikipedia was published as a DVD-ROM by Directmedia Publishing GmbH as a special edition of the digital library .

In 2005, the German-language Wikipedia received the Grimme Online Award in the categories of knowledge and education and audience award .

In comparison with other language versions, the German-language Wikipedia was described in 2009 by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales as being of high quality, and in 2011 by the then Wikimedia managing director Sue Gardner as the best language version. It is accurate, detailed, well-maintained, contains long articles and is easy to read.

Self-promotion by Wikipedia: online vs. Printing Encyclopedia

Secondary literature on Wikipedia

The first large-scale comparison of the German-language Wikipedia with the established digital reference works Microsoft Encarta Professional 2005 and Brockhaus multimedial 2005 Premium appeared in October 2004 in the computer journal c't (issue 21/2004). There it achieved the highest average total number of points in the content test, whereas the free encyclopedia did worse in the multimedia category - German-language Wikipedia achieved similar ratings shortly afterwards in a lexicon comparison of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit . Both tests were based on a small sample of 60 to 70 articles from different subject areas. In 2007 the c't carried out a further comparison between Bertelsmann Encyclopedia 2007 , Brockhaus multimedia 2007 Premium , Encarta 2007 and the German-language Wikipedia, in which Wikipedia did not score worse than the commercial encyclopedias in terms of number of errors and in the categories “completeness” and “topicality “Was in front. The testers often found the articles on Wikipedia to be too detailed and lengthy.

In December 2007 the magazine Stern published a comparison between Wikipedia and the online edition of Brockhaus . The research service "Wissenschaftlicher Informationsdienst WIND GmbH" in Cologne checked 50 randomly selected entries on the subjects of politics, economy, sport, science, culture, entertainment, geography, medicine, history and religion for correctness, completeness, topicality and comprehensibility. Wikipedia achieved an average grade of 1.7 according to German school grades across all areas , while the Brockhaus entries for the same keywords only got an average grade of 2.7. The Wikipedia testers gave 43 articles better grades than the paid competition, in one case both reference books received the same grade, and Brockhaus was ahead in six key words. Likewise with the intelligibility; the testers found some Wikipedia articles too complicated, others too diffuse and lengthy. The star praised the particularly good performance of Wikipedia in the “Topicality” category, while he was surprised that Wikipedia also won the “Correctness” category; "In view of the fact that volunteers compete for free against professional editors, this [was] not to be expected."

In the internal namespace of Wikipedia - i.e. with the Wikipedia community as the target audience - several summaries of external articles or publications are maintained on Wikipedia. In the "Press" and "Mirrors" press articles are compiled. There is also the internal Kurier magazine and - as “self-reflection” - a collection of articles on language versions of Wikipedia and related projects and processes.

Legal disputes

Both the Wikimedia Germany development association and the Wikimedia Foundation were involved in legal disputes over Wikipedia articles. Although Wikimedia Germany only operates the domain, on which only one search mask for several Wikipedia language versions can be found (the web address of the German version is, the association became the main addressee of complaints, warnings and lawsuits.

For example, the comedian who portrays the stage character Atze Schröder complained that his real name appeared in the article on his character. After the press chamber of the Hamburg Regional Court had burdened him with the costs of the proceedings and also took a position against the suppression of the name, he withdrew the lawsuit against the then Wikimedia Germany managing director Arne Klempert.

By means of an injunction from the Lübeck Regional Court , the politician Lutz Heilmann , member of the Bundestag and the Left Party , obtained on November 13, 2008 that the internet address would no longer be linked to the internet address, which was used in the United States, for several days States is registered, was allowed to be forwarded. After the representations that, in his opinion, violated his personal rights had been largely removed, Heilmann declared the legal dispute over.

The regional court in Cologne was the first to deny the German association's responsibility for Wikipedia content. It dismissed the lawsuit of the Frankfurter Verlagsgruppe, which saw an appropriation of the content in the forwarding of the page to Wikipedia against Wikimedia Germany.


The German-language Wikipedia accounts for between seven and eight percent of global Wikipedia traffic. According to Wikimedia statistics, 79.6% of the page views on the German-language Wikipedia came from Germany, 8.3% from Austria and 6.2% from Switzerland. The remaining 5.9% came from the rest of the world, particularly the United States, Luxembourg , Italy ( South Tyrol ), Belgium and Namibia . The German-language Wikipedia is the most-read edition of Wikipedia in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

Language versions of Wikipedia accessed in European countries, Sept. 2009 – July 2010
Where do the edits of the German Wikipedia come from?
GermanyGermany Germany
AustriaAustria Austria
SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland
United StatesUnited States United States
FranceFrance France
ItalyItaly Italy
United NationsU.N. Other countries
(Percentage of edits, March 1, 2012 - February 28, 2013)
Where do the page views (readers) of the German Wikipedia come from?
GermanyGermany Germany
AustriaAustria Austria
SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland
United StatesUnited States United States
United NationsU.N. Other countries
(Percentage of page impressions, March 1, 2012 - February 28, 2013)

Use in Germany

According to a survey in November 2015, 79 percent of Internet users aged 14 and over in Germany said they used Wikipedia. Most users of Wikipedia are therefore with 92 percent in the age group of 14 to 29 year old internet users. For 30 to 49 year olds, it is 84 percent and 74 percent between 50 and 64 years. According to the survey, the proportion of Wikipedia users among Internet users over 65 is 43 percent.


The number of active authors peaked at around 8,500 people per month in 2006 and 2007 and has since declined significantly. In 2018 it was 5200, the lowest value since 2004.

Number of active authors (≥ 5 articles per month) in December from 2001 to 2018

See also


Web links

Commons : German-language Wikipedia  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Jimmy Wales: [Wikipedia-1] Alternative language wikipedias. March 16, 2001, accessed February 25, 2018 .
  2. ^ List of Wikipedias. In: Retrieved February 25, 2018 .
  3. a b c Wikipedia Statistics: Active Wikipedians (Users who contributed 5 times or more a month) , accessed on May 22, 2020
  4. ^ Rainer Zenz: Some questions ( Memento from July 8, 2003 in the Internet Archive ). (Mailing list German-l, July 28, 2002)
  5. See KeptPages in the MeatballWiki operated with the UseMod software . The “forgive and forget philosophy” should help prevent resentful discussion behavior.
  6. ^ Jimmy Wales: Copyright problem (Wikipedia-1 mailing list, February 8, 2001)
  7. ^ Jimmy Wales: Copyright problem (Wikipedia-1 mailing list, October 16, 2001)
  8. Brion Vibber: Bugs and missing features in the conversion script of the German WP (Mailingliste Wikitech-l, August 25, 2002)
  9. Jimmy Wales: German speakers, please test (Wikitech-1 mailing list, August 28, 2002)
  10. Magnus Manske: Wikipedia: Phase III software (version from August 30, 2002)
  11. Wikipedia Announcements / August 2001. August 19, 2001. Wikipedia, January 15, 2005, accessed February 25, 2018 .
  12. Wikipedia celebrates the ten thousandth German-language article (press release of the German-language Wikipedia of January 24, 2003)
  13. Torsten Kleinz: Free encyclopedia Wikipedia celebrates one hundred thousandth entry. In: January 21, 2003, accessed February 25, 2018 .
  14. SPON: Wikipedia: "I know something that you don't know ..." from February 24, 2004
  15. ^ German TV coverage of Wikipedia from 2004-02-25. Retrieved October 8, 2015 . - An English transcript of the contribution in the ARD Tagesthemen from February 25, 2004
  16. ^ Wikipedia: Relevance criteria
  17. Wikipedia, massive: More than 10 billion hits per month . In: The Standard . October 20, 2008 ( online [accessed October 8, 2015]). Erik Zachte: Wikimedia page view stats I. (No longer available online.) 2008, archived from the original on September 24, 2015 ; accessed on October 8, 2015 .
  18. ^ Wikipedia - Deleted due to irrelevance Panel discussion at the 26th Chaos Communication Congress
  19. Felix Knoke: Netzwelt-Ticker - Wikipedia authors pull in the fire fighting against cats. In: Spiegel Online from October 20, 2009; Retrieved October 21, 2009
  20. Thu Oct 15 2009. Fefes Blog, October 15, 2009. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  21. Relevance in the discussion Call for a panel discussion by the Wikimedia Association
  22. Entry in the congress timetable.
    Recording: mp4 iProd ( MP4 ; 439 MB) 3gp mp3 ogg
  23. See as an example the article by Mathieu von Rohr: Inside the world knowledge Der Spiegel , No. 16/2010 from April 19, 2010.
  24. Around 72 percent use Wikipedia. , accessed on July 31, 2012 .
  25. ^ A b c Maximilian Schäfer, Christina Elmer and Kurt Jansson: Datenlese. This is how the heatwave hit Wikipedia. In: Spiegel Online, June 22, 2013, accessed February 25, 2018 .
  26. ^ Online encyclopedia: What Wikipedia users like to argue about the most , Die Welt, July 29, 2013
  27. heise online: 15 years of German-language Wikipedia. May 10, 2019, accessed March 8, 2020 .
  28. Wikipedia: Admin Candidatures / Archive, as of May 12, 2009
  29. "Wikipedia: Admin candidacies / Alt01" - diff. April 1, 2004, accessed October 8, 2015 .
  30. cf. User blockage log, first blocking of a registered user on February 25, 2004
  31. see "Wikipedia: Administrators" - version history , disappears there in 2005 from the function overview , exact point in time not found
  32. "Wikipedia Discussion: Administrators" - old version. February 20, 2004, accessed January 26, 2016 .
  33. "Wikipedia Discussion: Administrators" - Version Difference. February 29, 2004, accessed January 26, 2016 .
  34. Meta-Wiki: Stewards, as of May 12, 2009
  35. Meta-Wiki: CheckUser_policy, as of May 12, 2009
  36. Wikipedia: Wikipedia: Checkuser / Wahl-Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia . 2008.
  37. ,
  38. Wikipedia: On the move - overview of the cell phone and smartphone versions of the German language Wikipedia
  39. Wikipedia: WikiReader / Issue 1: Sweden
  40. Wikipedia: Archive / WP 1.0
  41. ^ Wikipedia The free encyclopedia edition 2006/2007 , Directmedia Publishing GmbH, Berlin 2006, digital library, ISBN 978-3-89853-021-7 .
  42. ^ Grimme Online Award 2005 - The winners. In: Grimme Online Award. Grimme Institute, accessed on July 30, 2019 .
  43. Page no longer available , search in web archives: Praise for the German Wikipedia ZDF morning magazine from April 6, 2009@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  44. a b 10 Years of Wikipedia. Interview with Sue Gardner (audio and transcript). In: On the Media. WNYC Studios, January 14, 2011, accessed on July 30, 2019 (American English): "I think it's fair to say [LAUGHS] the German Wikipedia is the best language version. It's accurate, it's comprehensive, it's well maintained, the articles are longer, the articles are well referenced, and so forth. "
  45. Dorothee Wiegand journey of discovery: digital encyclopedias explain the world. In: c't 6, 2007, p. 136ff.
  46. Knowledge for everyone . In: . December 25, 2007 ( [accessed December 9, 2017]).
  47. Star test: Wikipedia beats Brockhaus from December 5, 2007
  48. Wikipedia: Press review
  49. Wikipedia: Exterior mirrors
  50. ^ Wikipedia: Courier
  51. Category: Wikipedia: Encyclopedia
  52. Heise Online: Atze Schröder loses legal dispute against Wikimedia managing director , June 27, 2007
  53. Wikipedia blocking: Lutz Heilmann and the “Streisand Effect” Focus from November 17, 2008
  54. Politician no longer wants to insist on Wikipedia blocking ( Memento from December 15, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Tagesschau from November 16, 2008.
  55. ^ Heise: Court: Wikimedia Germany is not liable for Wikipedia , May 16, 2008
  56. Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report - Page Views Per Wikipedia Language - Breakdown
  57. Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report - Wikipedia Page Views Per Country - Trends
  58. Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report - Wikipedia Page Views per Country: This analysis is based on a 1: 1000 sampled server log (squids). Period 04/2010 - 03/2011.
  59. Page Edits Per Wikipedia Language Wikistats SquidReport, de.wikipedia for period: 1 Mar 2012 - 28 Feb 2013
  60. Page Views Per Wikipedia Language Wikistats SquidReport, de.wikipedia for period: 1 Mar 2012 - 28 Feb 2013
  61. Four out of five Internet users do research on Wikipedia. In: Bitkom press release. January 11, 2016, accessed February 11, 2016 .
  62. Four out of five Internet users regularly read Wikipedia. In: January 12, 2016, accessed February 11, 2016 .