Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts Tagged ‘Readers survey’

“Thank you to all who have contributed in this great work”

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.”


Word cloud of open ended responses from the Wikipedia Readers Survey


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.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

Ayush Khanna, Data Analyst, Global Development

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.

Who are Wikipedia’s donors? Answers from the readers study

We recently concluded our annual fundraiser, and it was a great success. With over one million individuals pitching in from almost every country, our donors are a diverse and interesting group in themselves. While we don’t directly collect demographic or other information from our donors, we used our readers survey as a means of understanding who our donors are, and what motivates them to donate to Wikipedia. Please note that these results are from a sample of our reader population, not drawn from actual donor data.

a. Only about half of our readers realize that Wikipedia is a non-profit, editors much more likely to donate
b. An appeal from Jimmy is a popular reason for donating, but people in different regions are motivated differently
c. About one-fourth of our respondents said they would donate; readers from US, Egypt and India most likely to do so
d. Readers cite affordability as the biggest reason for not donating

Readers compare Wikipedia favorably with most major websites

In a previous blog post, we discussed our readers’ perception of article quality. In addition, we asked our readers to compare Wikipedia as a whole to other prominent websites – Facebook, Twitter, New York Times, Google, YouTube, Yahoo and CNN. Of course, there are several key differences between them, but we wanted to understand how Wikipedia stacks up against other high-traffic websites.

Readers from all 16 countries in our sample compared Wikipedia’s interface and ease of navigation to other Internet properties. If we look at the sample as whole, Wikipedia (8.09 on 10) was rated a close second to Google (8.44) on these measures. What makes this even more interesting is Wikipedia’s relationship with the search engine, which we mentioned in an earlier blog post. Although ratings varied across countries quite significantly, in most cases there was little deviation in ratings relative to other websites, with some exceptions.

Interface/look and feel

When asked about the Wikipedia interface, readers scored Wikipedia 7.92 out of 10 on average, just behind Google (8.3). About 46 percent of our readers scored the interface 9+ out of 10, compared to 54 percent for Google. We did not find significant deviations across countries or languages, with one exception: Readers in Egypt (and by extension, Arabic speakers) rated Wikipedia lower than YouTube, Facebook and Yahoo. A desire for better right-to-left support is one plausible explanation for the result.

D8a. How appealing do you find the interface or look of the following sites?

Ease of Navigation

Readers scored Wikipedia 8.27 on this metric, slightly lower than Google (8.59). 53 percent of our readers rated the ease of navigation 9+ out of 10, compared to 63 percent for Google. As above, Arabic/Egyptian readers rated Wikipedia below YouTube, Facebook, and Yahoo.

D8b. How easy do you find it to navigate the following sites?


Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

Ayush Khanna, Data Analyst, Global Development

We recently conducted an online survey of Wikipedia readers, limited to 250 participants each in 16 countries. This is the seventh 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.

From Readers to Contributors

In our recently concluded Annual Plan, we identified increasing the number of active contributors as one of our strategic priorities. As of September 2011, there are 79,890 active Wikipedia contributors (active is defined as those making five or more edits in a month), while we want to increase active editors to approximately 95,000 on all Wikimedia projects in June 2012.

a. Only 6% of our readers have ever made an edit to Wikipedia

b. Most readers are happy to just read, many cite lack of expertise

c. Avid Wikipedia readers, readers with heavy online activity, Twitter users, men, younger readers and online contributors are strong candidates for editors (more…)

Most people read Wikipedia on desktops, but mobile and tablets present huge potential

When Wikipedia began in 2001, desktop PCs were the dominant device for web access. However, a lot has changed in the last 10 years with the growth of the mobile web and the introduction of a new class of devices like digital music players, smartphones and tablets. As we are ready to step into 2012, we find that readers are consuming Wikipedia across a gamut of devices – desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, gaming devices and so on. In this blog post, we share insights about the devices on which readers consume Wikipedia content.

a. Only 21% of our readers have read Wikipedia on their mobile phone

b. Smartphones are a significant opportunity for Wikipedia growth

c. Most of our readers have a positive opinion of mobile Wikipedia

d. Wikipedia Mobile is the most popular smartphone app

e. Desktops remain most widely used device for reading Wikipedia

f. 21% of US Wikipedia readers have read Wikipedia on a tablet

Readers in US, Russia, Germany and India are the most pleased with Wikipedia Article Quality

In the recently conducted Wikipedia readers study, we asked respondents to rate the quality of Wikipedia articles on several aspects: trustworthiness, comprehensiveness, neutrality, variety, and ease of understanding. Although we already employ the Article Feedback Toolto assess the quality at an article level, we wanted to understand readers’ perception of quality on Wikipedia as a whole.

I. Individual Measures

II. Quality Perception Index


Search, translation tools on top of agenda for readers

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.

a. Improvements to finding information
b. Sharing, downloading and printing
c. Integration with social networking websites

Google drives traffic to Wikipedia, but half of readers look for Wikipedia content

Search and Wikipedia

Search is central to the Wikipedia experience – both as a way of reaching the website as well as discovering content on Wikipedia.  Several questions on the Readers Survey 2011 were aimed at understanding the search experiences across nations, languages, and devices. Here are some of the key insights about search from the study:



Average Wikipedia reader is 36 years old

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

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)