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Posts Tagged ‘UNU-Merit’

First preliminary results from UNU-Merit Survey of Wikipedia Readers and Contributors available

From late October to early November 2008, the Wikimedia Foundation and UNU-Merit conducted the first multilingual survey of Wikipedia readers and contributors in 20 languages. In total, more than 130,000 Wikipedia readers and contributors completed the extensive survey questionnaire (out of more than 300,000 people total who took at least part of the questionnaire).* This level of response far exceeded our expectations, and the data that was collected provides a wealth of information about the Wikipedia community. English, German and Spanish were the most responsive Wikipedia editions and together make up two thirds of the responses.

The UNU-Merit team has spent the previous months cleaning and preparing the data, and is now making available first results for some of our priority questions. Key outcomes of this first analysis include:

  • 65% of respondents self-described as readers, and 35% as (mostly occasional) contributors. Former contributors are analysed separately.
  • Respondents came from over 200 countries, ranging from 10 to 85 years completed the survey; their average age is 26 years, and 25% of the respondents are younger than 18 years. Female respondents are a bit younger than the average (24 years)
  • Among these, readers and contributors are on average in their mid-twenties, and predominantly male (75%)
  • Women, with a share of 25% in all respondents, are more strongly represented among readers (32%) and less strongly represented among contributors (13%).
  • Both educational levels and age are slightly higher among contributors than among readers.
  • Regarding their motivations to contribute, respondents mentioned as their top two reasons that (1) they liked the idea of sharing knowledge, and (2) that they had come across an error and wanted to fix it.
  • The concern that they might not have enough information to contribute is the main reason holding back potential contributors, mentioned by 51% of this group. Fourty-eight percent mentioned they were happy readers of Wikipedia, and saw no reason to get involved as contributors.
  • The most common reason why respondents have not donated money to the Wikimedia Foundation, mentioned by more than 42% of respondents, is that they don’t know how. (If you happen to be one of them, we suggest you go to ;-) )

Ruediger Glott and Philipp Schmidt from UNU-Merit have made available additional data in the online workbook of their analysis (PDF file), and we’re planning to give you regular updates with new data every couple of weeks from now on. The survey team also maintains its own website at

This is a landmark moment in the history of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement. These and future findings that will result from this data will help to shape our efforts to reach new contributors and new readers.  The Wikimedia Foundation wishes to thank everyone who has made this survey possible, especially the UNU-Merit Team and the community of translators.

Erik Moeller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

* In addition to the 130,000 responses overall, we’ve received 40,000 responses from the Russian Wikipedia, which very significantly overrepresents this group in the total response set. The survey team has excluded this group from the data until the possible causes for this overrepresentation can be fully understood.

[UPDATE 4/16] Naoko Komura, who project-managed the survey translation and launch on the Wikimedia Foundation side, sent a list of translators who helped us to run this survey in 20 languages. They are: Jeandré du Toit, Mohamed Magdy, Meno25, Toni Pulido, Jordi Roqué Figuls, Xavier SMP, Zirland, MF-Warburg, Tim Landscheidt, Michael Bimmler, Arno Lagrange, Ariel T. Glenn, Ziko van Dijk, Verónica Rivero, Salvador Espada, Sébastien Beyou, Plyd, Delphine Ménard, Philippe Verdy, Daniel U. Thibault, Maximilian Hasler, Rex Alberto, Morris Mastini, Federico Leva, Hatukanezumi, Henrdrik Maryns, Robin P., Wojciech Pędzich, McMonster, Jennifer Hobbs, Thomas Buckup, Aleksandr Sigachov, Ilya Haykinson, Mayooranathan Ratnavelupillai, BalaSundaraRaman, C.R. Selvakumar, Manop Kaewmoracharoen, Nguyễn Thanh Quang, Trần Vĩnh Tân, Ting Chen, Andrew Leung. Thanks to all of them for their help — it’s wonderful to have so much volunteer support in a project like this. Thanks also to Naoko herself, who helped to create the Japanese translation, and to the UNU-Merit webmasters, Herman Pijpers and Mourik Jan Heupink. :-)<

Multilingual Wikipedia Survey Launched

In collaboration with the the Collaborative Creativity Group at UNU-MERIT (, we want to invite you to take the first multilingual survey of Wikipedia readers and contributors. For the
first time, this survey will provide an overview of the Wikipedia community and how the content of Wikipedia is created, used, and perceived. We therefore encourage everyone to participate in this
survey and to fill in an online questionnaire that will be made accessible to you in the coming two weeks. We have prepared survey versions in more than 20 languages. In order to keep the traffic
manageable we have chosen a staggered approach for the surveys.

The survey is currently running in Dutch, Vietnamese, and Tamil, and we have received more than 2500 complete responses already. (We can track the responses by language, so we can choose to examine any subset we want.)

The following language versions will be launched in the coming days: Russian, Arabic, Polish, Portuguese, Greek, Esperanto, Czech, Japanese, Italian, Russian, Afrikaans, Indonesian, French, Thai,
Spanish, German, English, Chinese-simplified and Chinese-traditional.

The survey will be featured in the site-wide announcement banners of those languages.

I want to extend a BIG thank you to all the volunteers who have worked on this survey, especially all the translators. We will compile translation credits for the press release when the survey is
completed.  Thanks also to the UNU-Merit team (Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, Rüdiger Glott, Herman Pijpers, Jan Philipp Schmidt), and to Naoko Komura, who has been project managing the survey since September. And, thanks to all colleagues who have given feedback along the way.

We’ve tried to design questions that make sense. Please feel free to send any and all feedback to info(at)wikipediastudy(dot)org.

Translations have been reviewed by multiple people, but if anything is an obvious error, we will try to fix it. We will not be able to address all feedback in this first run, but we will try to learn from
it for future surveys. This one won’t be perfect, but it will tell us lots of things we’ve never been able to talk about with any degree of confidence.

Finally, a note on the coming analysis, and on privacy.

In terms of analysis, UNU-Merit will collect and analyze the data, and publish analyses of the results, available under a Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License on a public website as well as in
established academic journals. Anonymized data will be published under a CC-BY license for other researchers to study.

In terms of privacy, no personally identifiable information will be released by UNU-Merit or the Wikimedia Foundation without permission of the respondents. Personally identifiable data will also only be retained for a year from closure of the survey, except for participants who provide express permission to be included in a panel for a follow-on survey.

I’m looking forward to seeing the first results, and I hope many of you will take the survey. :-)

Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation


Help translate our first survey of readers and contributors

In July 2008, the Wikimedia Foundation, in collaboration with UNU-Merit, plans to launch the first general survey of Wikimedia readers and contributors (with a focus on Wikipedia). This survey will ask questions on:

  • demographics (gender, profession, etc.)
  • factors which influence whether people contribute or not
  • topic and activity areas of interest for readers and contributors
  • awareness of Wikipedia sister projects and the Wikimedia Foundation

The more languages we can present this survey in, the better! It will give us invaluable information about who our audience and our contributors are to different language Wikimedia projects, allowing for comparisons across languages and cultures. The anonymized data from this survey will be freely licensed.

If you speak and write languages other than English fluently, please help us to translate the survey. :-)

Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation<