Wiki Growth Over Time

wiki1602.png This is a project conducted by ChrisDavis and IgorNikolic to visualize the growth of since its beginning in late 2004. Since then, it has grown to over 10,000 pages, and is now part of the officially supported ICT infrastructure of Delft University of Technology. This wiki is meant to be a free-form repository of information where people contribute content that helps with their research. This often takes the form of pages documenting articles that people have read, "how to" pages, and records of conferences and meetings.

Project Motivation

The wiki was originally deployed to facilitate collaboration among a group of researchers who use Agent Based Models to understand the growth and evolution of industrial networks, and is now in use by many groups around the university. After using the wiki in our daily work for several years, we realized that we really did not know what it looked like using a bird's eye perspective. It was clear that clicking from page to page was a completely inadequate way to get a sense of the scale and shape of it. At the same time, in much of our work, we seek to use insights about Complex Systems Theory. By visualizing the wiki, we were able to vividly provide an educational example of a complex system that we were intimately familiar with, and that other university faculty and students could participate in.


Pages are represented as nodes, while edges are links between those pages. A force directed layout is used, meaning that pages naturally push away from each other, while edges bring them closer together, just like springs. This results in highly connected pages migrating to the center, while less connected pages are pushed to the outside. The music used in the video is from DJ Cary's Eastern grooves album on

The lates movie is here :

The first one is below.


We have done other sorts of preliminary analysis, such as plotting the number of edits per user and visualizing co-authorship networks.

  • Number of edits per user - This strongly fits the 90-9-1 Theory. This states that 90 percent of people may read or just try it once. About 9 percent contribute from time to time. Most of the actual contributions come from the remaining 1% who contribute very often. The top contributor has made several thousand edits, and was also the same person who initiated the use of the wiki in the group. Many of the other top contributors are PhD students who have used the wiki over several years.

  • Coauthorship network - Whenever two people have edited the same page together, they are considered to be coauthors. This graph is also force-directed, so people who have not edited with other users are pushed to the corners. One of the outer clusters at the top involves a professor who used the wiki to facilitate a class with several students. People's place in the network is also a function of how long they have been editing the wiki

Further Analysis

There are still quite a few opportunities for further analysis. For example, the wiki is very much an alive thing. To grow and improve, it needs attention. We have noticed that some pages from the beginning of the wiki have seen considerable activity as users keep the information on those pages continually up to date, and enable them to serve as a hub for new related pages as well. Other pages fade into the background and may not experience any activity for years. So while we have visualized the link structure of the wiki, this is not exactly the true shape of the wiki, since this is dependent on not just the link structure, but also on the current areas of activity. As the community grows, we may see migrations to new sections, as old pages become less interesting, or we may just see people continually renewing certain core areas.

The Code

The wiki is based on the TWiki platform. The link structure is extracted through custom-built java code that also parses the revision history of each page. Visualization is then done using the Prefuse library.
Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
WikiEditsPerPerson.pngpng WikiEditsPerPerson.png manage 41.1 K 03 Sep 2009 - 21:23 ChrisDavis  
WikiNetworkForceDirectedGraph.pngpng WikiNetworkForceDirectedGraph.png manage 101.9 K 03 Sep 2009 - 21:23 ChrisDavis  
wiki1602.pngpng wiki1602.png manage 383.9 K 03 Sep 2009 - 21:22 ChrisDavis  
Topic revision: r8 - 27 Aug 2010 - 20:44:38 - IgorNikolic
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