Research:Wikipedia Readership Survey 2011/Results

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

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 this report.

Average Wikipedia reader is 36 years old[edit]

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[edit]

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%) 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% 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[edit]

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%) than female (44%). 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%.


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.

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

Search and Wikipedia[edit]

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:

a. About half of our readers specifically look for Wikipedia in search engine results[edit]

Slightly over half of our readers (51%) said they specifically chose Wikipedia over other sources while searching the Internet because they trust it as a resource. Naturally, this indicates that Wikipedia enjoys greater brand recall, and trust and credibility amongst these readers as a reliable source of online knowledge. India (72%), Russia (68%) and Italy (60%) reported the highest number of respondents who chose this option. On the other hand, about 41% of our respondents said they chose Wikipedia over other sources because it was on top of the search results. For this set of readers, Wikipedia depends on search engines to drive traffic to the website. These numbers were especially high in Japan (59%), France (51%) and Australia (50%). In addition, 8% of readers said they choose Wikipedia due to other reasons.

Q. What is the main reason you choose Wikipedia over other sources of online information?

b. Search is the most desired improvement to Wikipedia[edit]

About 32% of our readers said they were extremely/very likely (score of 9+ out of 10) to use Wikipedia more if the search functionality was improved. Better search emerged as the most desired feature, over others like more multimedia content, a better mobile site, a more simplistic design, and so on.

Q. How likely would each of the following changes make you use Wikipedia more? – Wikipedia search was better (by region): Top 2 box (9-10)

We found an interesting pattern – emerging countries reported a much higher desirability for better search: Brazil (53%), Egypt (58%), India (41%), Mexico (55%) and Russia (60%). Meanwhile, European nations (22%) expressed significantly less interest in better search. Similarly, in the ethnographic research we conducted in India and Brazil, several respondents told us that there was a need to improve search. Some of the search features desired by these readers were: auto-completion for search terms and better keyword search for both Portuguese and Indic languages, and also transliteration plugins for Indic languages.

c. Readers speaking Portuguese and Arabic are much more desiring of better search[edit]

Across the entire sample, we observed differences in the importance of better search capabilities. The relatively less mature language Wikipedians expressed a much higher desire for better search, which is consistent with our findings in section (b).

A10a. How likely would each of the following changes make you use Wikipedia more? – Wikipedia search was better (by language): Top 2 box (9-10)

Arabic (56%) and Portuguese (51%) speakers assigned much more importance to search – it is an important concern for the Wikipedias in these two languages. About a third of the respondents for both of these languages said they very were extremely likely (10 out of 10) to use Wikipedia more if search was improved.

d. Search on mobile platforms does not perform as well as desktops[edit]

Readers did not rate search on the mobile website as favorably as its desktop cousin. While about 50% of the respondents rated the desktop search a 9+ on 10, only about 15% awarded a 9+ to mobile search. On average, mobile search scored about 24% lower than desktop search. The difference between search performance between mobile and desktop platforms was most pronounced in Egypt (33%) and Spain (30%). Search on mobile phones is constrained by lack of screen real estate as well as unavailability of full-size keyboards, which presents challenges to quickly finding relevant content. We recently launched the beta mobile site, and are looking at new ways of improving the mobile Wikipedia experience – not only making search better, but also introducing features that enable contributing to the website. You can find out more information about our mobile product roadmap here. A comparison of how readers access Wikipedia across devices points to a marked difference between desktop/laptop devices and mobile phones. Significantly fewer readers go directly to the website on mobile phones (27%), which means that a lot of them arrive via search engines. Not surprisingly, there is no significant difference between desktop and laptop access.

C6. How do you access Wikipedia from the following devices? (note: different bases for desktop/laptop/mobile)

India, Egypt and Russia (all 37%) report significantly higher readers that go directly to our website even on mobile devices. The ethnographic research that we conducted in India suggested support for going to the Wikipedia website via a mobile browser versus using a search engine. On the other hand, Japan records significantly fewer visits to the website, even on desktops (26%). We are committed to improving the reading experience – including search, for our readers across devices.

Search, translation tools on top of agenda for readers[edit]

In this section of the study, 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[edit]

As stated in the previous section, Wikipedia readers noted that they would read Wikipedia more if search was improved. In the same vein, it is hardly a surprise that, for our readers, the most important feature for finding information on Wikipedia is better search

Unlike social networking websites like Facebook or Twitter, where people are listening to or participating in online conversations, Wikipedia is an information website. Hence, readers arrive at Wikipedia when they are looking for specific information. We have been brainstorming how we can make improvements to the website that make it easier to find information.

To begin with, we asked our readers what improvements they believe they would use to find information more easily. Since most online users rely on keyword search, especially those who visit our site via search engines like Google, we were not surprised to find that 48% of respondents said that they would use Wikipedia more if we improved our search accuracy.

There is also demand for translation tools to read articles from other languages (45%). During ethnographic research conducted in the US, India and Brazil, we found that readers often read Wikipedia in more than one language (mostly English and their native language). They expressed the desire to be able to read articles of the same quality and breadth as on the English Wikipedia in other languages. With Wikipedia being available in over 250 languages, localization remains a challenge for us. 20% of our survey respondents noted that they would use Wikipedia more if there were better typing solutions for searching in their own language. To find a solution to localization across 250 languages, we recently formed the localization team that is going to be working on fixing some of the pressing localization issues – for instance, text not rendering correctly in browsers or devices and the lack of transliteration tools.

Another feature related to search that readers would use in Wikipedia is auto-correct. 32% of readers pointed that they would like auto-correct in search so it is easier for them to find information in Wikipedia.

Interestingly, readers also desire more convenient methods for re-accessing information and articles. Specifically, 41% of readers believe that they will use a feature that allows them to save articles for offline reading, while over a third (36%) believe a feature for bookmarking articles would be useful.

Q: If Wikipedia offered the mechanism below to help you find information more easily, which would you use?

b. Sharing, downloading and printing[edit]

The desire for easier offline reading that was found in the previous section shows also in the following more specific results: 40% expressed an interest in downloading PDF versions of articles, 36% want a print-friendly version of an article or 34% are interested in the ability to email articles to others. While Wikipedia articles can already be accessed as a PDF or in a printer-friendly version (though only on the desktop version), it is not directly possible to email an article. 26% expressed interest in rating an article on Wikipedia – a new feature, known as the Article Feedback Tool, that was launched last year and became available for all articles on the English Wikipedia a few months ago.

Although most of our readers do use social networking websites, we found small support for specific features like posting articles to sites such as Facebook (26%) and “liking” articles using Facebook (22%), which are integrated into many content websites like the New York Times.

c. Integration with social networking website[edit]

Having found limited support for having specific Facebook features on Wikipedia (more details below), we were curious to know whether Wikipedia readers will be open to Facebook integration in general. 78% of readers said that they were likely to use Wikipedia more often (probably/definitely) if it was integrated with Facebook. Only one percent said that they would use Wikipedia less if it was integrated with Facebook. Currently, our partnership with Facebook drives traffic to Wikipedia due to the presence of Wikipedia content on Facebook Pages, but there is no feature integration (Facebook “likes” or posting content directly to Facebook).

Q. How interested are you having the following Facebook functions integrated with Wikipedia? Base 3200. Top 2 box.
Q. If Wikipedia had features that enabled better integration with Facebook, how would that change your usage of Wikipedia? Base: 2089

If you are interested in finding out more about our product roadmap, please check out this product white paper.

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

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 Tool to assess the quality at an article level, we wanted to understand readers’ perception of quality on Wikipedia as a whole.

I. Individual Measures[edit]

a. Trustworthiness

On average, readers rated Wikipedia 7.54 on a 10-point scale on trustworthiness. India (8.09), Mexico (8.13) and Egypt (7.94) reported the highest scores on this front. German (7.89) and American (8.02) readers also rated the site significantly higher than average on this measure. We observed less favorable ratings from other European countries.

In the US, Russia, Mexico, India and Egypt, almost half of the respondents found Trustworthiness to be Very Good/Excellent (9+/10).

b. Comprehensiveness

On average, readers rated Wikipedia 7.77 on a 10-point scale on Comprehensiveness. Readers in the United States (8.39), Brazil (8.27) and Mexico (8.35) scored significantly higher. Readers from the UK (6.95) and Japan (6.44) assigned the lowest scores on this measure.

In Brazil, Mexico and US, more than half the respondents find Comprehensiveness to be Very Good/Excellent (9+/10).

c. Neutrality

In the survey, we defined neutrality as “information providing a balanced point of view”. Readers rated Wikipedia 7.64 on a 10-point scale on this metric. Readers in the US (8.16), Germany (7.96), India (7.91) and Mexico (8.32) had the most favorable ratings with respect to neutrality. Again, other European countries were less favorable with their ratings.

In Mexico, Brazil, and US, more than half of our readers reported Neutrality as Very Good/Excellent (9+/10).

d. Variety

On average, readers rated Wikipedia 8.23 on a 10-point scale in terms of Variety. Readers in the US (8.81), Canada (8.69), Brazil (8.65) and Russia (8.64) reported significantly higher scores on this metric. It’s interesting to note that this metric exhibited the largest deviation in ratings across readers. This deviation was especially pronounced in Egypt and Spain. Readers in Egypt (6.16), Spain (7.84) and Japan (7.55) scored significantly lower on this measure.

That said, readers are rather satisfied with the variety of articles on Wikipedia as a whole, with more than half the readers (52% across all 16 surveyed countries) rating Variety as Very Good/Excellent (9+/10).

e. Ease of understanding

With an average rating of 8.34 out of 10, readers are perhaps most pleased with this aspect of a Wikipedia article. Also, this metric exhibits the least deviation, which means that readers across countries fairly consistently find articles easy to understand. Readers from US (8.83) and Russia (8.77) report the best ratings. In fact, 60% or more readers from as many as six countries – Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Poland, Russia and US – rated Ease of Understanding as Very Good/Excellent (9+/10).

II. Quality Perception Index[edit]

To get a better idea of the overall perception of quality of Wikipedia articles, we calculated a composite index, by combining scores for each of the five metrics mentioned above. The resulting Quality Perception Index presents some interesting observations.

Quality Perception Index

The average Quality Perception Index (QPI) across respondents in all 16 countries is 7.92 on 10. There is an interesting contrast between readers of English and non-English Wikipedias. Readers in the US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Australia and India, where 94% or more respondents primarily read the English Wikipedia, report a higher QPI than average (8.02). Also, they report a much higher QPI than readers from other nations where 89% or more respondents read non-English Wikipedias (7.85). If we remove some countries that report good scores on the QPI (Brazil, Mexico, Russia) from this group, this gap only widens. On average, about 43% of the respondents rated Wikipedia articles as Very Good/Excellent (9+/10) on all measures. Readers in Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia were the most favorable, with half or more respondents assigning a Very Good/Excellent rating. Japan was a definite exception, with only 16% of the readers reporting similar ratings.

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

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 section, 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[edit]

While more than 85% of readers own a mobile phone in 12 of the 16 countries, only 21% have ever used their phone to access Wikipedia. Among current readers, the US (31%) and the UK (30%) lead in mobile Wikipedia readership, though Mexico (27%) also reported higher usage.

C4. Have you EVER READ Wikipedia on the mobile phone? (Base: 4000)

Only about a fourth of our current readers who own mobile phones have accessed Wikipedia on them. In addition, the relatively low cost and easy availability of mobile phones mean that they are used by a lot of people, even in the Global South. Hence, we believe that the mobile platform has the biggest opportunity for growth of Wikipedia readership. We are hoping that we’ll be able to attract new readers through the revamp of our mobile platform to enhance reading and search (and even introduce some editing functionalities). We are also developing Wikipedia Zero – a lightweight, text only version of our mobile site optimized for slower connections, and available to readers at zero rate or zero cost.

b. Smartphones are a significant opportunity for Wikipedia growth[edit]

42% of Wikipedia readers own a smartphone with the most prominent shares coming from developed countries. Among smartphone owners, only 65% said that they had read Wikipedia on their mobile compared to 19% of feature phone owners.

C7a. What type of mobile phone do you have? (Base: 3516)

For countries with fewer smartphone owners, the intent to purchase one within the next year is significantly higher than for countries currently leading smartphone owners. However, Japan is unique among developed countries. Most Japanese readers own a basic phone (used for calls & texts only), and very few of them are interested in buying a smartphone. This is especially true when they are compared to other countries with lower smartphone penetration. Smartphone interest is particularly high in the Global South – almost two-thirds of our readers in Brazil, India and Mexico plan to buy smartphones in the next year.

C7b. Are you likely to purchase a smartphone in the next year?(Base: 1963)

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

Among mobile readers, more than a third mentioned that the mobile experience on Wikipedia’s site was better than other mobile content sites, and 56% pointed out that it was about the same as other mobile content.

E2. How is your experience reading Wikipedia on your mobile phone? (Base: 1194)

Readers in most countries convey that Wikipedia is meeting their overall expectations for a mobile experience. Readers in the US (53%), India (53%) and Mexico (51%) rated Wikipedia mobile more favorably than other content they access on their mobile, whereas readers in Poland (23%) were much more likely to rate it worse than other content.

E2. How is your experience reading Wikipedia on your mobile phone? (Base: 1194)

d. Wikipedia Mobile is the most popular smartphone app[edit]

Among smartphone users, 41% have used a Wikipedia app. The number one Wikipedia app is Wikipedia Mobile (14%) – our official iPhone app. Wikipedia Mobile is the most popular app across countries, despite the fact that it is only available on the iPhone. Among smartphone owners, Wikipedia Mobile is more popular in the US (20%), Mexico (21%) and India (20%). We are currently working on bringing the app to Android devices, to broaden the app’s reach to more readers, especially in the Global South, where low-cost Android phones are more common.

C8a. What third party online and/or offline Wikipedia apps have you used? (Base: 2121)

e. Desktops remain most widely used device for reading Wikipedia[edit]

Despite the increasing popularity of laptops, tablets and smartphones across the globe, desktop computers are still the most widely used for reading Wikipedia articles. In fact, 85% of our readers own desktops – and almost 90 % of those read Wikipedia on them.

C4. Now, think about all the times you have read articles in Wikipedia. On which devices have you EVER READ Wikipedia? (Base: 4000)

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

Lastly, the growing popularity of tablets means that many people consume Wikipedia content on them. Overall, 7% of respondents said that they had read Wikipedia on a tablet at least once, but only 1% read it primarily on a tablet. The only country with a significant number of tablet readers is the US (21%), though even here, only 1% read primarily on tablets. In the ethnographic research that we conducted in the US, we found tablets are being used as a companion device for reading Wikipedia. While tablets aren’t completely cannibalizing laptop/desktop readership, readers are turning to them because they are mobile, and faster to use for browsing.

C4. Now, think about all the times you have read articles in Wikipedia. On which devices have you EVER READ Wikipedia? (Base: 4000)

The insights from this study on device usage are one of the building blocks towards providing a good and consistent Wikipedia experience across devices. Our ethnographic research suggests that readers consume Wikipedia on different devices, and they are looking for porting their reading habits and history across devices. Moving forward, we’ll be looking into new ways of providing an improved cross-device experience.

From Readers to Contributors[edit]

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[edit]

Only 6% of Wikipedia readers indicate that they have ever edited Wikipedia content. (It should be noted that the survey was an online survey based on a household survey panel, i.e respondents had signed to participate in online surveys, and these numbers might be slightly higher as a result.) In the US, 31% of readers stated that they had edited Wikipedia at least once, and readers in Germany (12%) and the UK (9%) reported slightly higher numbers. According to our earlier findings about 80% of our editors are from the Global North. In most other countries, a very small number of respondents as percent of total sample say that they had edited Wikipedia. About 19% of our readers across the entire sample weren’t aware that they could edit Wikipedia. Awareness is especially low in Egypt (32%) and South Africa (27%).

B3. Have you EVER edited Wikipedia (for instance, fixed a mistake or changed spelling)? (Base: 4000)

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

The most prominent reason for not editing was readers feeling happy with simply reading the articles. Of those who don’t edit, a strong majority feels that they don’t have enough expertise to contribute to Wikipedia. Very few pointed out that technology was a barrier to editing: 3% said the edit interface wasn’t user friendly, 6% said that they weren’t comfortable with technology. In addition, 6% pointed out that they didn’t edit because they believed that their edits will be removed.

B5. Why don't you edit Wikipedia? (Base: 3461)

c. Avid Wikipedia readers, readers with heavy online activity, Twitter users, men, younger readers and online contributors are strong candidates for editors[edit]

The findings from the April 2011 Editor Survey suggest there is a general agreement among the community that Wikimedia Foundation should focus on improving technology infrastructure and developing new features that make editing easier. We were interested in learning if there were any identifying characteristics amongst our current readers that might make them more likely to edit Wikipedia.

We performed logistic regression to compare people who had made at least one edit to those who had never made an edit. The characteristics we considered were: Frequency of reading Wikipedia (avid/casual), Online activity (heavy/light), Gender, Education, Online contributions, Use of social networking websites (like Facebook, Twitter) and age. Facebook usage and Education did not have significant effects on our readers’ interest in editing. Our findings were:

  1. Avid Readers (those who read Wikipedia 4 or more times monthly) are 2.4 times more likely to edit Wikipedia compared to casual readers (1-3 times monthly). October 2011 comScore data suggests that the average reader visits Wikipedia approximately 4.9 times a month.
  2. Readers with heavy Online activity are 3.1 times more likely to edit Wikipedia compared to those with lighter activity online. These readers use the following websites more frequently: micro-blogging websites like Twitter, news websites like BBC, news aggregators like Huffington Post, newspapers like the New York Times, social networking websites like Facebook, professional and individual blogs.
  3. Twitter users are 1.7 times more likely to edit Wikipedia compared to non-Twitter users.
  4. Men are 1.6 times more likely to edit Wikipedia compared to women.
  5. Younger readers are more likely to edit Wikipedia compared to older readers. With every increase by one year in age, the probability of editing Wikipedia decreases by 0.99 times (about 1 percent).
  6. Online contributors (readers who contribute comments or other information to blogs etc.) are 1.2 times more likely to edit Wikipedia.

What does this mean for attracting new editors? At the foundation we have often spoken about adjacent spaces as fertile ground for recruiting new editors. Based on this analysis, for example, there is a case for channeling our efforts to increase the number of women editors among women who are avid readers of Wikipedia, are extremely active on Twitter and blog or contribute to blogs. Similarly, another adjacent space is younger men who are heavy online users and avid readers of Wikipedia.

Readers compare Wikipedia favorably with most major websites[edit]

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, as discussed in Section II. Although ratings varied across countries quite significantly, in most cases there was little deviation in ratings relative to other websites, with some exceptions.

a. Interface/look and feel[edit]

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?

b. Ease of Navigation[edit]

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.

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

Wikipedia's donors[edit]

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 the reader survey as a means of understanding who are our donors, and what motivates them to donate to Wikipedia. Please note that these results are from a sample of our reader population, and not actual donor data.

a. Only about half of our readers realize that Wikipedia is a non-profit, editors much more likely to donate[edit]

A lot of our readers are simply unaware of the fact that Wikipedia is a non-profit entity run entirely on donations from the general public. On average, 47% of our readers were unaware of this fact. Lack of awareness was especially high in Russia (64%), Brazil (56%) and the United States (56%). Readers in India (61% were aware of Wikipedia’s non-profit status) and Egypt (70%) were the most informed. Readers with a graduate level education were significantly more likely to be aware of this fact. With over 400 million unique visitors every month, awareness about Wikipedia’s non-profit status is not an easy goal to achieve. Interestingly, 28% of readers who had edited Wikipedia were also unaware that it was a non-profit. That said, editors are much more likely to donate – 26% of them have donated, vs. only about 3% of the non-editing readers. In addition, while almost all non-editors have donated three or fewer times, as many as 21% of the editors have donated more than five times. Also, while men were more likely to donate once (44%) than women (36%), women are much more likely to be continued supporters, with 14% of them having donated more than 5 times, compared to only 6% of men. Donations made towards Wikimedia Chapters were similarly scarce – only about 3% of our readers have ever donated. Again, editors (22%) were much more likely to donate to them.

b. An appeal from Jimmy is a popular reason for donating, but people in different regions are motivated differently[edit]

The top two reasons for donation specified by readers were I felt a small donation would be welcomed(37%) and I saw an appeal from Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia founder)(34%). While 61% of Canadian donors thought of donations as a way of contributing since they don’t edit, 75% of Russian readers donated because they saw Jimmy’s appeal. Interestingly, as many as 15% of the donors were motivated by appeals from others on social networks.

Base: 4000 F6. What prompted you to donate money to Wikipedia?

c. About one-fourth of our respondents said they would donate; readers from US, Egypt and India most likely to do so[edit]

As mentioned earlier, several readers aren’t aware of the non-profit status of Wikipedia. After reminding our users that Wikipedia a. is run by a charity b. doesn’t use advertisements and c. has the mission of promoting free knowledge worldwide, 24% of donors said they would donate to Wikipedia. Readers from India (42%), Egypt (33%) and US (33%) expressed a stronger desire to donate. Portuguese speakers (33%) were also more inclined towards donating. Respondents from Germany (13%), France (11%) and Japan (15%) were relatively less inclined to donate. As expected, editors were much more inclined towards supporting the cause, with 49% of them saying they would donate to the cause.

d. Readers cite affordability as the biggest reason for not donating[edit]

About 46% of our readers said they do not donate because they cannot afford to make a donation. Awareness is one possible explanation for issue – the most common donation amounts from the 2010 Fundraiser (stats for 2011 aren’t available yet) were $20, $5 and $10 respectively. Early indicators suggest these were the most common denominations this year as well. The high value of the dollar also has an effect, with 68% Japanese readers and 57% Indian readers citing affordability as a reason. However, about 60% of UK readers also cite this reason.

Base:4000 F8. Why have you chosen to not donate to the Wikimedia Foundation? Please choose all that apply