Smog covers Asheville, North Carolina in 2002. The first picture posted on the oldest Wikipedia entry for Smog.

Edit Smog on Wikipedia

Travis Korte

The first version of the Wikipedia article on former President George W. Bush was published on August 9, 2002. Since then, the page has been revised over 45,000 times, as editors quarreled over descriptions of the War on Terror and Hurricane Katrina, and Wikipedia's own “bot” accounts conducted automated upkeep. The current, finely tuned version looks almost nothing like the original, which contains such sentences as “The English press (anywhere else too?) tends to nickname him 'Dubya', [sic] on account of his pronunciation of the middle initial of his name.”

But across those 45,000 edits, a handful of words and phrases have persisted. Specifically, they have persisted without alteration or added links in the paragraphs where they were originally placed. Excluding articles, conjunctions and other minor words, as well as repeats and words in the page's title, this is the complete list of those enduring pieces:

Walker. Born July 6. President of the United States of America. Texas. States. The United States.

It turns out that nearly all of Wikipedia's most edited articles have between one and ten of these residual words and phrases, which have managed to survive over the past decade through tens of thousands of edits. These particulates are their parent article's “edit smog,” which no amount of cleansing has managed to remove, and which will likely remain until an editor specifically seeks to remove them. George W. Bush's page is the most edited article on the English language Wikipedia, and below is the edit smog of the rest of the top 50.

The page with the most edit smog, incidentally, is the article on Global Warming.

United States
American. Of the war. Subjects. And television. Known americans.

Encyclopedia. Is supported by. Articles. Wales. Editor. The project.

Michael Jackson

Of God. Islam. American. Josephus. Christ.

Catholic Church
Roman. Bishops. Local. Dioces. Parishes. Respectively. Liturgy. Pope John. Vatican.

Barack Obama
Democratic Party. United States. University.

Party. World War.

Britney A Spears
1999. Album. Success. Her career. Music.

World War II
Germany, the Soviet Union. France. German. Cities. Civilian. Naval.

Nintendo. Console.

The Beatles
The band. Record albums.

Republic. Asia. The second most. World.

The Undertaker
Professional wrestler. WCW. Win. WWF. World. Kane.

United Kingdom
Great Britain Aand Northern Ireland. Europe. History. London. Location. Economic.

2006 Lebanon War
[No edit smog]

Real Madrid C.F.
The team. Fooball clubs. Cup. Spanish.

Playstation 3
PS3. Blu-ray Disc. Sony.

World. Game. Gameplay. Quests.

Global Warming
Climate. Amounts. Greenhouse Gases. Fossil Fuels. Carbon. Models. Observed. IPCC. Based. Emissions. Reductions. UNFCCC.

Roger Federer
Association of Tennis Professionals. Wimbledon Championships. Record. Men's. U.S.

Led Zeppelin
Band. Albums.

Jehovah's Witnesses
Year. Time. Bible and Tract Society.

European Union
Member states. Area. International. Council.

FC Barcelona
Club. Football. First. Spanish. League.

American Idol
Billboard magazine. Season.

June 8 632. Islam. Founder. Arabia.


Kane (wrestler)
Jacobs. Career. WWE. He was repackaged. Masked. Being. Match.

Country. French.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Band. Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Released. Freaky Styley (1985). This Is The Place.

Album. Featured. Slim Shady.

New York City
British. George.

September 11
Plane. Terrorism. Osama Bin Laden.

God. Catholic. Christians. Other. Church. History. Themselves.

Elvis Presley
Music. First.

Professional wrestling. Business. McMahon. WCW.

Doctor Who
Television Series. BBC.

Mariah Carey
Named. Whitney Houston. Album. Release.

Ronald Reagan
George Bush. Second. First.

Society. Socialism. Should be. Government. Against.

John Cena

Paul McCartney
Yesterday. Children.

Hurricane Katrina
2005. News.

Xbox 360
Microsoft. New.

Cities. Most. Greater. Population.

Treaty of Peace. Map. State.

Newcastle United F.C.
Football Club. FA Cup. Season. Time. City. Team. Manager. Magpies. New.

Vijay (actor)
Made. Huge. Director. First time. Film.


Data for this article was collected on February 27, 2014