Fluctuations in Wikipedia access-rate and edit-event data

Mirko Kämpf, Sebastian Tismer, Jan W. Kantelhardt*, Lev Muchnik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Internet-based social networks often reflect extreme events in nature and society by drastic increases in user activity. We study and compare the dynamics of the two major complex processes necessary for information spread via the online encyclopedia 'Wikipedia', i.e., article editing (information upload) and article access (information viewing) based on article edit-event time series and (hourly) user access-rate time series for all articles. Daily and weekly activity patterns occur in addition to fluctuations and bursting activity. The bursts (i.e., significant increases in activity for an extended period of time) are characterized by a power-law distribution of durations of increases and decreases. For describing the recurrence and clustering of bursts we investigate the statistics of the return intervals between them. We find stretched exponential distributions of return intervals in access-rate time series, while edit-event time series yield simple exponential distributions. To characterize the fluctuation behavior we apply detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA), finding that most article access-rate time series are characterized by strong long-term correlations with fluctuation exponents α≈0.9. The results indicate significant differences in the dynamics of information upload and access and help in understanding the complex process of collecting, processing, validating, and distributing information in self-organized social networks.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)6101-6111
Number of pages11
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number23
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the European Union project SOCIONICAL ( FP7 ICT 231288 ) for financial support.


  • Detrended fluctuation analysis
  • Exogenous and endogenous bursts
  • Information spread
  • Return interval statistics
  • Social network
  • Time series analysis
  • Wikipedia


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