How fast is Wikitree growing and is Wikitree growing tall or wide?

+21 votes
I am curious to know in what ways WikiTree is growing specifically. I am focused on my direct ancestors, so I know my portion of the WikiTree is mainly growing tall.

I know that my mom's side of the family has a bunch of genealogists known to me, so I know that side of the family is fairly well documented, but my father's side of the family is only well documented on my grandmother's side, and they don't talk to me. I know then that my paternal line is mostly incomplete and in need of a lot of investigative work. I know the growth rate of that side of the family genealogy is significantly stunted to about a profile a month or less.

I would think that WikiTree as a community is best served by the WikiTree growing wide, but this is generally in direct contradiction to personal genealogies trying to connect with the global family graph which benefits from growing tall first. What I mean by growing wide is seeking for the descendants of ancestors rather than seeking for the ancestors of a descendant.

I've been informally tracking the growth rate of WikiTree genealogists and WikiTree profiles, but I would like it if I could see a graph of the rates of growth. And I would like to know if the majority of WikiTree profiles are growing in terms of living descendants or in terms of dead ancestors.
in WikiTree Tech by Ian Mclean G2G6 Mach 1 (12.4k points)
retagged by Ian Mclean
I like this question. I believe it is mostly growing wide because most people know more about their ancestry since the 1700's.  Much of the pre 1500 European ancestry which is easy to discover is already in WikiTree.

I hope someone will figure out how to illustrate what WikiTree's ancestral tree actually looks like.
Be sure to share anything you learn, Ian. We don't have much in the way of "official" stats here. Thank you!
Looking at the database dump statistics for 2016 05 01 shows that of 11,106,321 profiles 58.91% of the profiles are open profiles which I think would immediately imply that the majority of profiles are of long dead ancestors. I would be interested to know if there are significant contingents of living people who set their profile to open, but I would bet against it.

Between 2016 04 01 and 2016 05 01, Open profiles grew by .4%. Growth in all other profile privacy types was less than that. Public profiles gained 3,000 new profiles with an unknown number of duplicates and actually lost .4% of the overall share of profiles on WikiTree. All other profile privacy types either gained or lost .0x% of the overall share.

I expect from just that preliminary view of the data that most of the growth is going almost exclusively to open profiles. The good news is that there was a .05% growth in the share of "Private with public biography and family tree" profiles which is a growth of 22,845 profiles of likely living members of WikiTree. I think that's pretty fantastic.

Almost all the growth in profiles for April to May is between the 18th and 20th century; each century grew by about 100,000 profiles with growth dropping rapidly off to thousands of profiles for the 16th and 17th century and to tens of profiles for each centuries 1st through 15th. Notable uptick in the 14th century. With quiet a few of the pre-14th actually losing profiles.
Good stuff, Ian. Thanks!

Small note: According to our rules, living people *must* be set as private.
I am aware. I agree with that policy. And what I meant by "set their profiles to open" I was mostly talking about genealogists managing profiles other than their own.

Though the fact that living and active profiles are necessarily private to some degree allows us to infer the rate at which WikiTree is growing by living people.

Wikitree grew by about 162947 public and open profiles vs 47253 basically private profiles between April and May. So I think we can tentatively conclude that WikiTree is growing mostly tall by a 3.45 to 1 ratio.
Excluding all the profiles excluded by the Database dump statistics, WikiTree grew by 1.924244% between April and May. Which is almost 2% growth in a month. 77.5% of the growth was in what are presumably primarily dead ancestors, and 22.5% of the growth was in what are presumably primarily living descendants.
Wikitree reports on its front page that there are 327,390 genealogists on the site contributing to 11,263,674 profiles as of May 5th. I have made the top 1000 contributors list two months running; I am 465th in the April 2016 club 100 and 726th overall for April 2016. I estimate that I have contributed strictly fewer than 100 profiles in the two months I have been contributing; the contribution ranking statistics would seem to suggest that the contributors below me in rank have probably contributed a similar or lesser number of profiles to WikiTree.

Based on that, I would infer that almost all genealogists are contributing less than 50 profiles on average per month. From the database dump statistics, we can actually find an average number of profiles per month based on the increase in the number of profiles.

209,678 profiles were added between April and May. 209678/327,390= 0.64 profiles per month per WikiTree genealogist. If I am representative of the Club 100 contributors then I would expect that Club 100 contributors add on average around 10 profiles per month, and I would expect that Club 1000 contributors might add on average 100 profiles per month; there are 261 Club 1000 contributors and 1382 listed Club 100 contributors. In total, there are 1643 genealogists in the Club 100 or Club 1000 contributor list shown which is 0.5% of the total listed number of genealogists on WikiTree.

From this, I would think that the vast majority of Genealogists are inactive and the vast majority of profiles added are due to genealogists not in the the Club 100 or Club 1000 contributors list. The top Club 1000 contributor has 12,197 edits which I expect translates to around 1200 profiles or a maximum of 12,197 profiles in a month; there are nine Club 1000 contributors who have contributed in excess of 5000 edits with almost all Club 1000 contributors contributing significantly fewer edits than that. Even with the prodigious output of the top 9 contributors, the vast majority of edits would have to come from the other 99.5% of editors.

Growth for WikiTree then comes more from new people joining and adding at least one profile; the effect of dedicated genealogists contributing massive amounts of profiles relative to other genealogists is unlikely to contribute significantly to the overall growth of WikiTree.
Love these stats you're collecting, Ian.

This goes without saying, but to say it for any reader who would find it offensive not to: quality matters as much or more than quantity. :-)
In the absence of this month's statistical analysis of the data dump, the WikiTree front page reported 11442341 profiles as of 9:55pm on the 30th of May 2016 and 11264037 profiles as of 6:50pm on the 5th of May 2016; the difference is 178304 profiles in about 25 days. This represents about a 1.6% growth in the number of profiles during that interval of time; 7132 profiles per day.

The number of genealogists for the 30th is 333,857 and for the 5th is 327,408; the difference is 6449 genealogists in about 25 days. This represents about a 1.9% growth in the number of genealogists during that interval of time; 258 genealogists per day.

1 Answer

+7 votes
Best answer
Hi Ian,

You might be interested in Aleš stats project, link below - though it doesn't exactly answer your question, its a great starting point.

You may also wish to add the statistics tag to your post as well, as it might get a few more of the people who can answer this looking.

My feeling is the tree will be getting wider rather than taller though as the more recent records are much easier to access and many family historians are completionist's so will put in everyone who is related to them by blood, not just their direct ancestors.
by Paula Dea G2G6 Mach 5 (59.4k points)
selected by Ian Mclean
While am one who likes to collect descendents, I don't tend to do that here since I don't see the sense of starting a bunch of profiles which are not open for editing.  And since I have tons of people on my Family TreeMaker trees, I work down and then wiggle around avoiding the most recent generations.  That may change if I keep getting DNA hits and spend more time on that.
That's something that I had been thinking about when I wrote this question.

I note that it is difficult to fill out members of my family who are within about two or three generations of me because most of their records are locked down in quasi-public databases, and the privacy/control system for profiles on the various genealogy sites make linking to living people cumbersome.

That would seem to indicate a strong institutional or systematic bias towards growth by dead ancestors rather than growth by living descendants which again supports the hypothesis that Wikitree is growing tall rather than wide.

Big individual trees but not necessarily big forests.

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