As we work on new product features to improve various aspects of editing Wikipedia, we asked our editors to share more about their editing experiences. Here are some highlights from the Editor Survey that we found to be valuable:
Posts by Mani Pande
Contributing to the largest online encyclopedia is not as simple as it appears: it involves a gamut of activities from writing new articles to writing policies and guidelines to participating in the deletion process. But when participants in our survey of Wikipedia editors were asked how often they contributed to certain activities in the last one month, the top three activities they named most frequently as those to which they contribute very often/often are in the article namespace: fix formatting, spelling, grammar or make other minor edits (50 percent), add content to existing articles (48 percent) and write new articles (23 percent).
Being a Wikipedian is not only about adding content to Wikipedia. Many Wikipedians work behind the scenes to ensure content on Wikipedia is of high quality and meets the standards of Wikipedia. More than one-fifth of editors (21 percent) patrol for vandalism, copyright violations or other problems with articles often/very often. A slightly smaller number (17 percent) participates in the discussion namespace often/very often, and nine percent participate in the deletion process including speedy and proposed deletion often/very often. Other popular activities include: doing translation work and uploading or editing images, media etc. (14 percent each).
With 3.9 million articles in March 2012, the English Wikipedia is one of the more mature and complete language Wikipedias. It’s no surprise that editors who edit other language Wikipedias are more likely to say that they write new articles or add content to existing articles often/very often. Editors who work on smaller Wikipedias are also more likely to do translation work. Compared to the English (4 percent) and German Wikipedia (5 percent), more editors from the Russian (18 percent), Spanish (28 percent), French (16 percent), Portuguese (35 percent) and Arabic (36 percent) Wikipedias stated that they did translation work often/very often.
If you are interested in more information about Wikipedia editors like age or country of residence, please check out the long-awaited topline findings from the survey.
In December 2011, we conducted an online survey of Wikipedia editors in 17 languages. This is the second in a series of blog posts summarizing our findings. If you are interested, you can find out more about the methodology of the survey here.
Wikimedia Foundation sites are the fifth most popular web property. So when we conducted our Readers Survey, we expected to hear from our readers that they valued Wikipedia as a reliable source of online information. But we were still pleasantly surprised to see the overwhelming positive feedback from readers mixed with a deep appreciation of Wikipedia and its community for the existence of the free and easily available online encyclopedia that offers a wide breadth of content. As expressed by some of the more than 2000 readers who took the opportunity to leave a free-form comment at the end of the survey: “love the site” “blessing” “thank you for existing and “you can find everything in Wikipedia.” Praise for Wikipedia was a common thread among many readers. “It is great.” “It is a living organism – constantly evolving.”
The real credit for building Wikipedia goes to the thousands of editors who volunteer hours every month editing Wikipedia, and as one reader from Egypt put it: “thank you to all who have contributed in this great work.” Readers who had never edited, but were aware that volunteers wrote Wikipedia articles acknowledged that they were embarrassed that they had never edited Wikipedia.
Although readers from all age groups read Wikipedia, with the average reader being 36 years old, Wikipedia remains an important tool for school students. “Great for school work,” said one. Acknowledging the role of Wikipedia as the first stop for information for school work, a reader in India said: “I wish I had Internet and Wikipedia when I was in school in the 70s. My grades would have sky rocketed.” Parents also acknowledged using Wikipedia for helping children with their school work.
Some readers took the opportunity to point out features that they believe can be improved on Wikipedia, like search, the ability to improve the reading experience through customizable fonts and more audio and visual content to facilitate understanding of complex topics. We heard similar needs from users when we conducted user experience research in India, Brazil and the US. We have improved search functionality on the mobile site, and other features to improve the reading experience are on the product roadmap.
To our surprise (this was the first time participants thanked us for providing them the opportunity to participate in a survey), many readers told us that they loved participating in the study since it helped them expand their knowledge about Wikipedia (e.g. learning about features that they had not been aware of, or about WMF’s non-profit status). “From today, I will certainly be using Wikipedia more, excellent survey, it made me understand things I have been missing,” said a reader from the UK.
We recently conducted an online survey of Wikipedia readers, limited to 250 participants each in 16 countries. This is the last in a series of blog posts summarizing our findings. If you are interested, you can find out more about the methodology of the survey here.
The mobile web is growing at a phenomenal pace. According to research, it will outpace the desktop internet web in 2014, when approximately 1.7 billion users will access the net on their mobile phone, many of them from the Global South, compared to 1.65 billion desktop web users. As part of our mission to provide free knowledge to everyone, we are committed to enhancing our mobile platform, and have made several improvements to the reading user experience. But most importantly, we recently launched a partnership with Orange to provide Wikipedia at no data cost to mobile readers in Africa and the Middle East.
To understand our current Wikipedia mobile users across different geographies and prioritize product features, we conducted a survey of Wikipedia mobile readers. You can read more about its methodology on Meta wiki.
Looking at the data from the survey, there is a strong case to be made for making Wikipedia accessible without data charges on mobile devices. Over half of Wikipedia mobile readers (52 percent) said that having Wikipedia free for their mobile data plans would increase their Wikipedia usage. Moreover, 28 percent indicated that it would increase their likelihood to buy from that mobile provider. Another 16 percent said that they would be willing to switch their mobile providers to have free Wikipedia access.
Looking globally, we found that Wikipedia readers in the Global South, specifically in Brazil, Latin America and MENA, indicated that they would use Wikipedia more often if no data costs were accrued, and even suggested this as a key motivating factor for switching to or considering alternative service providers.
We found high interest in Wikipedia access without data charges despite a majority of readers (54 percent) stating that their mobile data plan is not a significant monthly expense for their household. But it should be noted that the data is based on current mobile readers, and doesn’t survey those who don’t have current mobile Wikipedia access, some of whom might not have access to the mobile web due to high cost. Only 14 percent of respondents stated that their data plan was either a significant expense with their household actively managing usage, or too expensive leading to issues of affordability. In addition, about 32 percent stated that it was a significant expense, but that they were not concerned about it.
As part of our commitment to provide free knowledge to everyone, the foundation has been redesigning our mobile platform (m.wikipedia.org and mobile.wikipedia.org) to enhance the reading experience and allow editing. As a first step towards the redesign of the mobile gateway to better meet the needs of our users in the Global South, we conducted user experience research in India and Brazil among current and future users of Wikipedia mobile last summer. We also carried out user experience research in the US to have a comparison with a mobile market which is more mature in terms of smartphone and 3G penetration, and has a more widespread adoption of tablets.
Our research in India and Brazil brought forth the following three opportunities with the greatest perceived impact for the mobile platform:
- Improving our search: Our research revealed that there was a need to provide search suggestions, autocomplete, autocorrect and other tools that ease typing and search burdens on mobile devices; support search in all language Wikipedias as well as allowing users to chose and switch between languages; incorporate transliteration tools for languages with fonts and characters that have poor mobile support; support and even enhance users’ existing habits to use Google to reach Wikipedia articles; and enable users to search within a Wikipedia page. We are happy to report that drawing from the research our mobile team has already implemented some of these opportunities like full page search, autocomplete and inter-wiki links into our mobile beta site.
- Optimizing our reading experience for mobile devices and generalized use. Through our research, especially in India, we found that we were not redirecting a large breadth of devices in use to our mobile site. The mobile team quickly fixed this issue with the adoption of the open source library tera-WURFL for detecting mobile devices. After speaking with respondents in India and Brazil, we found that there was a desire among users to modify or set one-time preferences for the display of images, the font size, and any element that affects page loading time and size. Similarly, there is an opportunity for allowing preferences for language and navigation; the ability to watch or bookmark articles; or save content offline; offer content in more digestible pieces, or with quicker access (i.e. preview or easy access to the first paragraph, or a new “mobile summary”); search offline, i.e., while in transit or without a data plan; and generally follow expectations set by mobile web interactions and standards. Some of these recommendations have been incorporated into our mobile product strategy. Through this research we felt it was crucial to offer both an official iOS and Android app (which was officially released in January) that offers at minimum a simple and easy search and reading experience.
- Using the mobile platform to both increase user engagement and awareness of features on Wikipedia as well as providing new opportunities for participation. The mobile site and potential apps provide many new pathways for both engagement, participation, and contribution. At present, the mobile site can be used to build awareness around existing features on the site that current users are blind to (i.e. watchlists, accounts, editing, inter-language links, history); to provide features that make opening a Wikipedia account worth having, something that the majority of our participants do not currently see any reason to have; increase visibility of local language Wikipedias, especially in India since many English readers were not aware of the existence of Indic Wikipedias; prompt users to download an official app when possible; and interface with other web content on mobile devices (Google, news, entertainment, and sports content, for example “Wikitap”). The contributions that showed the highest potential for adoption were adding photographs, “flagging” or “marking” something that needs to be edited, removing or marking vandalism, adding links, adding location or geodata, and potentially making small typing or formatting edits.
- Mobile Editing. And finally, the mobile site can support the editing practice of existing editors by first offering those features in a mobile friendly format which are currently in high use on the site. Those with the highest demand and potential are the “recent changes” page, which is consumed like an update feed or email; accessing watch lists; making reverts, especially with respect to vandalism; logging in and accessing account and user pages; and serving discussion pages and article histories.
If you are interested in reading about our research in India and Brazil in detail, we have compiled the insights in a report which is available in PDF and wiki format. You can also watch video highlights from the interviews and check out some photographs from the field work in India and Brazil.
On Thursday, December 8th, the Wikimedia Foundation will launch its second semi-annual survey (2011) of Wikipedia editors. In order to capture editor trends, we are using the same methodology as the April 2011 Editor Survey – editors logged in to Wikipedia will receive a notification, as every editor is eligible to participate. To ensure that all editors have an equal probability of participating in the survey, all logged-in users will see the invitation only once. We’ll do a soft launch on Thursday (all Wikipedias, excluding English) and switch it on for the English Wikipedia next week, to accommodate the Harvard/Sciences Po survey that is launching soon on the English Wikipedia. We urge all Wikipedia editors to give us their feedback and participate in the survey. For more information, you can read the FAQ we’ve posted detailing the survey.
The survey is currently available in various languages in addition to English, including: Chinese (traditional, Hong Kong), Chinese (simplified), Arabic, Catalan, German, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Polish, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Russian and Serbo-Croatian. The Foundation will conduct the survey in languages for which translations are available, and for the remainder of Wikipedia language projects the survey will be available in English. The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete. Since we are interested in trending the data, about 90% of the questions are the same as in the April 2011 survey. We have added a few new questions based on findings from Wikipedia Summer of Research project and other research work that has been conducted at the Foundation.
The current survey covers the following topics:
- Brief section on editors’ technology usage
- Editing activities and contributions
- Editor interactions
- Opinions of editors about chapters, the Foundation and participation in board elections.
We’re looking forward to participation from editors all around the world while the survey is active. Please spread the word, and we would like to thank you in advance for taking the time to contribute your views!
Last week, our blog post about the readers study shared insights about how readers use search on Wikipedia, as well as new search functionalities that they are interested in. This week we share findings from our readers on more search improvements and other features that they would like to see on Wikipedia.
Every month approximately 400 million unique visitors across the globe read Wikipedia and its sister sites. But very little is known about them. In order to understand our readers and their relationship with Wikipedia, to bring their voice into our product strategy and to enhance their reading user experience, we conducted an online survey of Wikipedia readers across 16 countries (you can find out more about the methodology of the study below). We’ll be sharing findings from the study in a series of blog posts through the end of this year. To begin, here is our first blog post that provides demographic information about our readers and their reading habits.
- Average Wikipedia reader is 36 years old
- Almost half of Wikipedia readers visit the site more than 5 times a month
- Wikipedia has slightly more male readers than female
Average Wikipedia reader is 36 years old
Since its founding over 10 years ago, Wikipedia has emerged as a serious knowledge website, and repository of online information. The data from the survey shows that appeal of Wikipedia is spread across ages. Wikipedia readers are at different life-stages: students, young professionals, older adults and the elderly with an age range of 14-92 years (note: we didn’t survey anyone younger than 14 years for the study). The research showed that, contrary to the popular perception that most Wikipedia readers are school students who rely on Wikipedia for schoolwork, the average age of a Wikipedia reader is 36.59 years, and the median is 35 years. As expected, countries with a large youth population (India, Mexico and Egypt) have slightly younger readers, but even in these countries an average reader is either in their late 20s or early 30s. Egypt has the youngest readers at an average age of 28.03 and Japan has the oldest readers at 40.25 years.
Almost half of Wikipedia readers visit the site more than 5 times a month
With 15.8 billion page views in the month of September alone, it is no surprise that Wikipedia readers come back to the site often. On average 65 percent of Wikipedia readers visit the website at least 4 times a month. In fact, almost half of Wikipedia readers (49 percent) are Avid readers—they visit Wikipedia more than five times a month.
Overall, the top 6 countries with the greatest percentage of Avid readers of Wikipedia are: Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Japan,—these countries consisted of at least 75 percent of Avid readers and they also owned significantly more devices than other countries. In contrast, the lowest percentages of Avid readers were found in the following countries: South Africa, Egypt, Brazil, India, and Mexico.
Wikipedia has slightly more male readers than female
The Internet started as a male bastion and women have narrowed the Internet gender gap over the years, but even today in some countries there are more male Internet users than female. With reference to Wikipedia, we found that there are more male Wikipedia readers (56 percent) than female (44 percent). While most of the countries have a relatively balanced mix of male and female readers, there were some countries that skewed more male. Australia, Egypt, the United Kingdom and India all had a male ratio higher than 60 percent.
The online study was conducted during the summer of 2011. A 15-minute survey was administered to a total sample of n=4000 participants within the following 16 countries (n=250 each):
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Spain, South Africa, UK, and United States.
Wikipedia readers were divided into two main groups:
- Those who read Wikipedia articles at least once per month but less than 4 times per month on average were considered to be “Casual” readers.
- Those who read Wikipedia articles at least 4+ times per month on average were considered to be “Avid” readers.
All countries were weighted against reading frequency and editing frequency using ComScore Media Dashboard 2011 data and actual Editor data from the Wikimedia Foundation to ensure the dataset was representative for each territory and region.
Please stay tuned to hear more about Wikipedia readers in the coming weeks!!
Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research
Ayush Khanna, Data Analyst
(This is the first in a series of blog posts where we will be sharing insights from the 2011 Readers Survey)
The Wikimedia Foundation is working on new products and global initiatives to increase participation in our projects, specifically Wikipedia. To help inform the development of this work we’ve been researching the trends and patterns of Wikipedia editors, most recently through the Wikipedia Summer of Research initiative and also with data from the 2011 Wikipedia Editors Survey.
While studying editor participation trends, we have hypothesized that acrimony and disagreement in the editing community could be a leading cause of a decrease in project participation. To test this hypothesis as a segment of our analysis of responses to the Editor Survey (report here), we defined the Wikipedia Editor Satisfaction Index (WESI). The WESI is a metric gauging the overall satisfaction of the editing community and interactions/assessments of fellow editors. We used responses to two questions on the survey: how they described their fellow editors (picking from a set of adjectives), and whether they believed community feedback had helped them personally. These responses were weighted, and then normalized to a 0-10 rating.
The results were encouraging. About 47 percent of editors surveyed scored 10/10. In all, about 77 percent of those surveyed scored 7.5 or higher, indicating that the majority of our editing community is very satisfied with their experience on Wikipedia and has a healthy assessment of fellow editors. This is great news – as Wikipedia continues to focus on improving the editing experience, while also making efforts to foster new participation (especially in the Global South), the community’s support is vital.
Distribution of WESI scores across all surveyed Wikipedia editors
In order to understand what factors determine an Editor’s satisfaction with Wikipedia, we performed a multilinear regression1 on the WESI metric. Some interesting findings:
- Help is appreciated: Having others from the community add content or correct grammatical mistakes greatly increases the likelihood of an editor reporting a positive experience.
- Peer recognition matters a lot more than any other kind of recognition: Editors highly value the respect and recognition of their peers. Editors who received barnstars or any other form of reward from their peers were much more likely to report a higher score. Interestingly, events like having an article featured or promoted to the front page did not have a very significant effect on editor satisfaction.
- Explanations for reverts are key: When an edit is reverted, not explaining why has a strong negative impact on editor satisfaction. Similarly, an explanation actually has a strong positive influence on editor satisfaction.
A comparision of WESI scores reveals that women are, on average, less satisfied than men, though not by much – about 5 percent. Although transsexuals/transgenders (marked below as Others) together account for only 0.5 percent of our sample, it’s important to note that their satisfaction scores are significantly lower.
WESI score comparision by Gender
The Editor Survey Report highlights some more findings, but the emerging theme is simple: be nice to each other, and help out where you can!
As we work towards establishing the WESI metric as a standard for understanding the community’s experiences on Wikipedia, we’ll continue to share more findings (and implications) of the Wikipedia Editor Satisfaction Index.
Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research
Ayush Khanna, Global Development Intern
(This is the eleventh in series of blog posts where we previously shared insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey.)
Blog readers and the wider Wiki community alike have waited patiently for both the final report and raw data from the editor survey conducted in April. We have good news: it’s finally here.
This post links to the landing page for the final report on Meta, which is available on meta wiki itself and as a downloadable PDF. In addition, raw, anonymized data in a CSV format is available on data dumps for download and further analysis. We have also provided a codebook and documentation to aid in analysis.
The report covers the following research areas:
- Editing Activities: What drives editors to edit Wikipedia? What are the different types of editing activities? How do the editors assess the different tools available to them?
- Demographics: What is the educational background of editors? What is the gender and age distribution of editors? What are the differences and similarities among different groups of editors?
- Women editors: What are the experiences of women editors? Do women editors have different experiences compared to male editors? Can women editors be segmented into different groups?
- Editing community: What kinds of interactions do editors have with each other? What kinds of interactions are conducive to editing and what are deterrents to future editing?
- Location and Language:Where do editors live? How many language Wikipedias do editors edit? Which language Wikipedia gets the maximum attention?
- Technology and Networking: What kinds of technological devices do editors own or have access to? What devices do they use for editing and reading Wikipedia? Do editors use social media tools? How?
- Foundation, chapters and board: What is the assessment of the foundation, its chapters, and the Wikimedia movement? Do editors participate in board elections?
Such insights take time to develop, but we can assure you the results are worth the wait.
Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research
(This is the tenth in series of blog posts where we previously shared insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey.)