SECTION 6: TECHNOLOGY AND NETWORKING: SOCIAL MEDIA IS POPULAR
Wikipedia was founded in the desktop era, and most editors continue to read it on full screen devices. However, we are now witnessing growth in readership on mobile devices among editors, and some editors are even editing Wikipedia on the phone (via desktop site) despite Wikipedia’s mobile site not supporting editing. As we experiment and discuss new ways of social engagement in Wikipedia, the data shows that our editors are already using social media. The majority of editors also contribute to social media streams across different platforms: Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc.
6.1 The mobile phone is extremely popular, but not everyone has a smart phone
The mobile phone is the most popular device among Wikipedia editors. Among those surveyed, 76% have a desktop and 74% have a laptop or netbook computer, and 84% of editors have a mobile phone. But among mobile phone owners, only 38% have a smart phone. The rising popularity of tablets is reflected in our data, with 8% of editors surveyed owning a tablet.
6.2 Desktops and laptops are devices of choice for reading Wikipedia, although one-third read it on mobile phones
Most editors read Wikipedia on their desktop (82%) or laptop (73%), and the majority edit Wikipedia on a desktop (78%) or laptop (66%). Notably, 34% read Wikipedia on the phone, and 7% reported editing Wikipedia on a phone despite Wikipedia’s mobile site not supporting editing. Almost everyone who owns a tablet PC reads Wikipedia on a tablet.
6.3 Access to email is more important than editing Wikipedia
When asked how important are the following online activities, more editors rated email (60%) as more important than contributing to Wikipedia (32%). Following a general trend in the population – a shift in preference towards the use of social networks as a means of communication in the younger generation – we found that younger editors were less likely to rate email as important, and more likely to rate social networking websites as more important.
The latter half of the last decade has seen the rise of the social web. Even among Wikipedia editors, Facebook is the dominant social tool with more than half of editors commenting on friends’ status updates. A little less than half of editors surveyed stated that they regularly “liked” content on social networking sites, shared links or content on Facebook or Twitter, and posted status updates or pictures on social networking sites.
Social media surveys have shown that women contribute more to social media compared to men, especially in advanced economies. Our survey also shows that female editors contribute to Facebook and blogs more than male editors. They are more likely to post status updates, comment on friends’ posts, like content, etc.
6.6 Searching for information and reading Wikipedia are the two most popular activities on mobile devices
Although a majority of respondents don’t own a smart phone, many still use the mobile Internet on their phone, demonstrating that Wikipedia editors go online on feature phones. Searching for information and reading Wikipedia are the two most popular mobile activities. In addition, 35% accessed Facebook and 10% Twitter on a phone. The trend that smart phones are increasingly becoming gaming devices is also reflected, with 39% of respondents playing games on their phones.
6.7 Ability to save offline ranks highest amongst desired features for the mobile website
Since we are revamping our mobile platform to provide a better reading experience and add editing functionalities, we asked the editing community about features that they are likely to use. 38% of editors said that they were extremely/very likely to use a feature that would allow them to save articles for offline reading or editing use. We were surprised that the feature editors pointed out as the least likely to be used was uploading pictures to Wikimedia Commons (only 21% provided strong support), since uploading a photo requires fewer clicks than writing a paragraph. Despite mobile phones not being the best devices for entering text, 28% said they were extremely/very likely to use a feature allowing paragraph and sentence editing, and 22% expressed support for a feature that would even allow the creation of new articles.