Critical issues presentations/Who Are Wikipedia Readers?

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Submission no. 214
Title of the submission

Who Are Wikipedia Readers?

Author of the submission
  • Leila Zia
  • Ellery Wulczyn
  • Robert West
  • Dario Taraborelli
Country of origin

United States of America; United States of America; United States of America; United States of America


Projects, Research, Technical

  • Wikipedia readers
  • Surveys
  • Webrequest logs

More than 120,000 webrequests hit the Wikimedia Foundation's Analytics clusters per second. These requests contain potential invaluable information about the reach of our projects: who seeks information, what kind of information is sought for, and how to best present the immense amount of knowledge in our projects to our readers across different projects and language editions. However, today very little is known about our readers beyond the sum of all readers as represented by the number of pageviews an article, a photo, or a Wikidata item receives. We know very little about why our readers come to Wikimedia projects, how much information they have prior to visiting our projects, and what length and kind of information they are interested in once in one of our projects. Knowing more about the audience that we thrive to help access free knowledge can help us prioritize, create, and structure content in potentially different ways than how we prioritize, create, and structure content today. For example, if we know that certain Wikipedia articles are used by a large subset of our readers only for a quick look-up, and not for an in-depth reading and learning, we, as the editors, may decide to not expand those articles, but instead allocate our invaluable time to other articles that indeed are sought for to access more in-depth and long-form knowledge. In this presentation we present some of our latest learnings about our readers in multiple Wikipedia language editions based on a series of large scale qualitative and quantitative studies directing at Wikipedia readers. We propose ideas for how to take these learning into account when prioritizing, creating, and structuring content in Wikipedia. We share our thoughts on potential future directions for understanding our readers and the impact of this knowledge on editing activity and seek suggestions from the editor community.


Not accepted