Why We Read Wikipedia
We are using qualitative and quantitative methods to learn why people read Wikipedia.
Every second 6,000 people view Wikipedia pages. In this research, we aim to understand their motivations and needs.
To begin answering our question, we ran a series of surveys on English, Persian, and Spanish Wikipedias and built a taxonomy of Wikipedia readers based on their motivation, the depth of their information needs, and their prior familiarity with the topic read. Next, we ran a large-scale survey in English Wikipedia and studied the prevalence of readers' use cases using this taxonomy.
We then combined the results of the survey with Wikipedia’s HTTP webrequest logs to create a deeper characterization of Wikipedia's readers. You can learn more about the result of this study by reading our full paper or listening to one of our presentations.
More recently, we ran another survey using the original taxonomy we built—this time in 14 Wikipedia languages. We wanted to test the robustness of the results of the first study and to learn about Wikipedia readers across a broader spectrum of languages. More than 210,000 responses were submitted, and we are now analyzing the results.
Wikipedia explains how those late-night reading binges happen"Most people visit another link when they look up a topic on Wikipedia." Our study is featured in Engadget.
An overview of “Why we read Wikipedia”A video of a presentation for the Wikimedia Foundation's Metrics and Activities Meeting, with an overview of our research, its takeaways and future directions
Reader behavior and motivations across 14 languagesWe repeated the 2016 study, this time in 14 languages. We collected more than 210,000 responses that we are currently analyzing.
Why we read Wikipedia: New paperWe published a paper with the research methodology and the resulting taxonomy of use cases, and the associated behavioral patterns, of readers of English Wikipedia.