Wikipedia:No angry mastodons just madmen

Mastodons (and gomphotheres, as seen in the above image) existed 10,000 years ago. Today, they look like the Wikipedia roadkill of people who get mired (and stomped) in severe edit-wars and confrontations.

This essay, No angry mastodons just madmen, is a March 2009 follow-up to the prior essay ("No angry mastodons"), begun in 2006.[a] The fight-or-flight response developed by our pre-human ancestors may have helped them escape from angry mastodons, but it wasn't considered constructive in an online encyclopedia, well at least until millions of people joined. The size of Wikipedia has become almost unimaginably vast, with over 5.9 million articles, more than 37.7 million registered users, and over 6,500 people joining every day.

Wikipedia size & users
English articles: 5,981,221
Average revisions: 18.83
Total wiki pages: 49,169,012
Total admins: 1,148
Total users: 37,831,757
Users per day: 7315 per day,
computed hourly
(hour as 17).
UTC time: 17:03 on 2019-Dec-12

The actual size of the English Wikipedia and the user base is as follows:

  • Articles: 5,981,221     Users: 37,831,757 (live).

The count of users is as unique user ids.

In fact, the size of Wikipedia is so vast that it is also impossible to face the numerous troublesome users. Over half the user base (for years) had been teenagers, with no guarantees of maturity level. If only 1 user in 1,000 were trouble, that's still over 37,000 troublesome users. However, Wikipedia's goal is to write the encyclopedia, not provide therapy or "attitude adjustments" for madmen. Trying to arbitrate "peace in the valley" and devote sincere time, with just one person a day, 365 per year, would require almost 104 years of dedicated attention to address the behavior of each.

Beware potential troublemakers, and decide whether to "fight for justice" or just "flee and live to fight another day".

Some Wikipedia users have become entangled in personal disputes and have spent months in arbitration to settle user conflicts. That can sometimes be avoided: remember, there are over 11 million potential articles (including redlinks), so there may be no need to fight over any particular set of articles. It may be very easy to just drop the conflicts, early, before escalating a confrontation into a situation where someone is wiki-stalking to change every article after it is edited. That level of confrontation typically requires formal arbitration, or else changing wiki-username to disappear back into the masses of other users.

The fight-or-flight response is exactly what must be considered when facing the growing crowd of over 37.7 million other users. Consider how much time you could really afford to deal with endless quarrels.


  1. ^ Prior essay "WP:No angry mastodons" was begun on 2 February 2006.

See also[edit]