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On January 15, 2016 Wikipedia celebrated turning 15 years old. Across the world, this milestone was marked at community events, in press, in a birthday site, and across Wikimedia projects in banners translated to 143 languages.
With hundreds of leaders, and thousands of participants, this moment had a big impact in driving awareness and appreciation for the Wikimedia movement. Here is a summary:
- 850+ press stories in 76 countries - 81.5% of English language press was positive, just 12.4% negative
- 188 community events in 78 countries - 42 different birthday cakes shared to Wikimedia Commons!
- Over 6.5 million visits to birthday site in first week - 1.4 million visits on birthday alone
- 98,213 happy birthday wishes shared on Twitter with #Wikipedia15 - Wikipedia was also the top Science & Technology trend on Facebook where over 1.9 Million people learned it was Wikipedia’s birthday
- 1.9 billion impressions on Central Notice birthday banners across 143 languages - The click through rate was 0.447%, 3x the Wikimedia benchmark!
Working with Communication Committee (ComCom) leads around the world, Wikipedia’s 15th birthday was covered in a wide breadth of media, far outpacing our goals of 2 broadcast stories, and 30 articles with a total of 45 broadcast stories and over 850 articles.
Articles were published in 78 countries, led by 142 unique articles in the US, 124 in Germany, 49 in Spain, and 43 in Russia. Coverage was also high in Egypt, India, Brazil, Mexico, and even China, where some Wikimedia projects remain blocked. Pitching 40 “Top Tier” media targets, the Foundation Communications team placed 39 stories in 23 outlets, nearly equalling Google, eBay, and Amazon’s 15th anniversaries coverage combined (49 total stories from 23 outlets).
Profiling the quality and tone of English language coverage, Wikipedia 15 articles to were found to be remarkably positive. In fact, on-message coverage of the birthday easily surpassed Foundation goals of 40% positive coverage, with less than 15% negative or inaccurate coverage. These goals were consistent with press objectives set for Wikipedia’s 10th birthday in 2011.
- Negative coverage: 12.4% of English-language press suggested Wikipedia is in decline, that it’s losing editors, and that the community is fraying.
- Positive coverage: 81.8% of English-language press celebrated the milestone as a global achievement, a world-changing movement, and fundamental to the current web.
Positive press examples
- "It's hard to imagine a world before Wikipedia. Saviour of student deadlines everywhere and settler of endless pub arguments, Wikipedia is now a ubiquitous part of the online world." - Emily Reynolds, Wired UK
- "Interested in giving Wikipedia a birthday gift? Head over to the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that runs Wikipedia, and make a donation." - Jason Abbruzzese, Mashable
- "We've learned one thing for sure—Wikipedia remains a good way to get a quick summary on just about any topic you can think of. Thankfully it's also a great way to find references to more reliable sources on said topic." - Ars Technica
- "If you want a modern wonder of the internet, look no further than Wikipedia, which turns 15 years old today. It's gigantic [...] and gigantically useful for those seeking a grounding in any topic. " - Charles Arthur, Daily Telegraph
Negative press examples
- "It will only thrive for another 15 years if that community can work cooperatively with the Wikimedia Foundation — and infighting doesn’t splinter the movement" - Andrew Lih, Washington Post
- "...despite the heroic efforts of its moderators, Wikipedia isn't always accurate. From fake pirates to showering pigeons, it's fake stories have made several media outlets look very stupid" - Max Williams, GQ
- "[38 million articles] may sound expansive, but the site has come under criticism for not covering all subjects, regions or issues with equal depth." - Tarek Bazley, Al Jazeera
There were 188 events in 78 countries to celebrate Wikipedia's 15th Birthday. India led the world with 19 events, followed by 14 in Italy, 12 in the US, 8 in Germany, and 7 in France. Nearly all events took place on Friday, January 15.
While there were a reported 470 events for Wikipedia’s 10th birthday, but the lists have not been de-duped so the total may be much lower. There was no event benchmark set for Wikipedia 15. Instead, support was offered across groups looking to celebrate.
Birthday site traffic
The Wikipedia 15 birthday site was one-part Annual Report, and one-part milestone microsite. It showcases 16 stories of Wikimedians, facts from 15 years of Wikipedia, and offers visitors a way to share their thoughts on Wikipedia means to them. It also contained 2015 Financials for the Foundation, a donor list, and an announcement page for the Wikipedia Endowment.
In just 6 days, the site collected over 6.5 million page views, with 66% of visitors accessing content from mobile devices. The average time on site was 39 seconds. About 47% of visitors stayed longer than a minute and after the "home" screen, the “History” page was most popular.
Social media results
Social media reach
Social media drove scale and personalization for the Wikipedia 15 milestone. In 6 days, Wikipedia’s own social content reached 3.5 million fans on Facebook and more than 432,000 users on Twitter surpassing our benchmarks of reaching 1 million fans on Facebook and 250,000 on Twitter. These goals were set from Wikipedia social content’s maximum reach ever achieved, so we were consciously looking to set new reach records.
- On Facebook, our birthday post reached almost 2 million fans, approximate 39% of our total global following.
- On Twitter, our campaign reach was 23% greater than our entire following (331,000 followers), and resulted in our most seen tweet ever with 430,000 impressions.
Social media buzz
Over 98,213 people shared birthday messages on Twitter with #Wikipedia15. On our birthday alone, there were over 75,000 tweets shared, most answering the question "What does Wikipedia mean to you?" which had been posed in Central Notice banners, on the Birthday site, and from Wikipedia's social media channels.
2,500 of the total tweets were sample for common words and phrases. What did people most say most about Wikipedia?
- mange tak
There were more than 250,000 engagements on Wikipedia 15 social media posts. Engagements include likes, comments, shares, and photo clicks on Facebook, and retweets, replies, likes, and content clicks on Twitter. The Foundation Communications team set goals of 30,000 engagements on Facebook and 5,000 engagements on Twitter, using the engagement totals from previous best content as benchmarks. Goals were surpassed by 8.1x on Facebook content with 243,000 engagements and 1.5x on Twitter content with 7,900 engagements.
Both platforms also set records for individual content engagements.
- On Facebook, our Happy Birthday post received 87.6k likes and 2.9k to become Wikipedia's most liked post of all-time.
- On Twitter, our Twitter post was retweeted 1,644 times to helping it become @Wikipedia's most viewed tweet ever.
Five birthday banner designs were created on Central Notice. Banner copy was finalized more than two weeks in advance, allowing the community to contribute 143 language translations.
Some translations were seen off-wiki, including the Russian and Chinese banners which were shown on CNN during Jimmy Wales' TV interview on January 15.
Over six days, the banners earned over 1.9 billion impressions, and maintained a click through rate of 0.447%. The banners were shown across Wikimedia projects, but were capped at ten impressions per user. The five banner designs were rotated randomly.
Four blog posts were written and published with stories about 15 years of Wikipedia. Ed Erhart & Jeff Elder’s January 14 post topped the set by read totals with over 20,000 impressions. The post was also critical to Wikipedia’s birthday press coverage, with 81 media outlets republishing or referencing it.
Wikipedia 15 mærker
Instead of one Wikipedia 15 birthday mark, we made dozens. There were 40 original marks made, with 98 more coming from community members across the globe for a total of 138 unique icons. Some have even been animated.
Den fulde rapport
Learn more about the Wikipedia 15 project, planning process, detailed goals, and key performance indicators in the Wikimedia Foundation's full Campaign Report.