On January 15, 2021 Wikipedia turned 20 years old. Across the world, this milestone was marked at community events, in press, birthday web hubs, banners across Wikimedia projects and on social media, kicking off a year of birthday celebrations.
With hundreds of leaders, and thousands of participants, this moment had a big impact in driving awareness and appreciation for Wikipedia and the free knowledge movement. Here is a summary, covering the first half of 2021:
- 970+ press stories from 81 countries - It was really good news with overwhelmingly positive sentiment of coverage
- 115 community events in 62 countries - Video calls! Edit-a-thons! Virtual cake contests! Our community came together to celebrate
- Over 4.6 million visits to birthday web hub in first week - More than 130,000 visitors clicked on from the web hub to donation pages
- Over 16.3K #Wikipedia20 celebratory posts on social media - People from over 150 countries joined in the celebration online
- 1.2 billion impressions on Central Notice birthday banners in seven languages - The click through rate was 0.4%, 2x the set benchmark!
Have results from your Wikipedia 20 efforts to share? Please add them!
Working with affiliate groups and volunteer communities around the world, we utilized our messaging toolkit to help tell a cohesive, clear story about Wikipedia, the 20th birthday milestone, and the Wikimedia movement for everyone.
Press results surpassed the target of coverage in 50 nations by 162%. In total, there were more than 974 articles published in over 80 countries in 40 languages.
Positive coverage not only built awareness of Wikipedia in existing and new markets, but also provided a more in-depth view of the role of Wikipedia in the world today and the people who make it possible.
Key themes in coverage included:
- Wikimedia’s collaboration with WHO
- The volunteers around the world who make Wikipedia possible
- Wikipedia as a model for other platforms
Negative coverage was limited and tended to focus on diversity and representation in Wikipedia editors and how this impacts content on the site.
The Wikimedia Foundation Communications team found a 96.7% positive to neutral reaction to the 20th birthday milestone, with just 3.3% negative or inaccurate media coverage. That said, there were criticisms present in positive articles too. Please note that sentiment measures can be imprecise and only provide a rough figure.
- Negative coverage: 3.3% of press tended to focus on diversity and representation issues on Wikipedia.
- Positive to neutral coverage: 96.7% of press celebrated the milestone as a global achievement, demonstrated Wikipedia’s key values, its role as a source of trusted information, and how its model could act as a guide for the internet.
Positive press examples
- "Ndahiro and his team are running sessions to teach the general public on editing and curating content on Wikipedia to increase involvement. The platform is built out of belief in free knowledge, open collaboration, and trust on the internet." - Collins Mwai, The New Times, Rwanda
- "...there is a plethora of misinformation about the coronavirus on the web and social media. Now because of this and to stop the spread of false information, Wikipedia and the World Health Organisation have announced a collaboration to stem the tide of misinformation." - South Africa Broadcasting Corporation
- "Though all major tech platforms prepared feverishly for the election, the lack of scandal on Wikipedia during the US vote underscored what the website has come to stand for: a functioning open internet." - Richard Nieva, CNET
- "It has become the standard reference work for anyone with an internet connection. As social-media sites are lambasted for censorship, “fake news”, disinformation and conspiracy theories, its reputation is higher than ever." - The Economist
Negative press examples
- "As things stand, Wikipedia may simply replicate all the biases and narrow ideologies of history books and Western models of thinking, rendered for the internet." - Jenny Singer, Glamour Magazine
- "Wikipedia affects how hundreds of millions of people view history, science, and politics. She wants to organize the knowledge of the world and make it accessible to everyone, but her perspective is distorted: on her 20th birthday, she is still white, western and male." - Simon Hurtz, Süddeutsche Zeitung
- "And it still faces the same pressures that more conventional reference sources do, as it struggles to represent the history of the world with less of a focus on the white, male wealthy figures who make up so much of recorded history." - Alex Hern, The Guardian
- "However, of the 388,053 biographies published in Spanish, only 81,136 belong to women (20.91%), while in Basque the percentage is even lower (16.80%). Likewise, this gender gap is present among the people who edit... " - Marian Gonzalez, Diario Vasco
Enabling Wikimedians around the world to celebrate the 20th birthday was a priority. We set out to ensure parties could happen all over the world, empowered by design assets, digital party kits, messaging guidelines, and coordinated timelines.
Pandemic or not, our communities gathered to celebrate in a time where togetherness wasn’t always possible. A total of 115 events were listed on Meta and other local wikis, of which 103 events were hosted in 62 countries and 12 other events were global or thematic. Nigeria led the Wikimedia world in events with 7 total. India followed along with the USA with 5. Most events took place during the birthday week (Jan 15 - Jan 22) and most of them were virtual celebrations. 27 community proposals were funded through the Wikipedia 20 Rapid Grants program as of June 2021.
Birthday web hub engagement
The Wikipedia 20 birthday web hub is a special central storytelling point for press, donor, and reader audiences with an in-depth exploration of the work of our movement, our projects and the people behind them. It features a birthday video and 18 stories of our volunteers and supporters, who make Wikipedia possible, introduces our global movement, highlights key moments in our history, and offers tips and assets for celebrating with us. All site content is available in 7 languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, and Spanish).
In just 7 days, the site collected over 4.6 million page views, and 130,000 visitors clicked on to “donate” pages.
Social media results
Social media reach and engagement
Using social media, we were able to engage people around the world in celebrating Wikipedia’s 20th birthday all day long.
Our primary channels for promotion were the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels. We began teasing the birthday celebrations on January 1 (Public Domain Day). On January 15, social media celebrations ran from 7:00am UTC to 2:00am UTC on January 16!
In total, between January 1 - February 15, 2021, there were 127 posts from the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia channels about the 20th birthday, resulting in:
- 8.78M impressions (total number of times content was displayed to people)
- 6.87M reach (number of people who may have seen our content)
- 96.14K engagements (likes, comments, reactions, etc.)
- 1.09% engagement rate (percentage of people who engaged with posts after seeing them)
Social media buzz
Between January 15 - February 15, 2021, there were 16.3K mentions about Wikipedia’s 20th birthday, based on keyword searches, across Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Instagram.
- 153 countries were engaged in sharing posts about the birthday
- 15.1K total uses of the hashtag #Wikipedia20. (#Wikipedia20 was used in 93% of the mentions that discussed Wikipedia’s 20th birthday.)
- 93% positive or neutral sentiment
- Positive: 30%
- Neutral: 63%
- Negative: 3%
- Undetected: 4%
Augmented reality filters
Our special trio of 20th birthday edition augmented reality filters for Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat launched on January 15, May 21, and August/September 2021 (forthcoming).
The filters helped reach new, younger audiences in a fun way, embedding them inside of a Wikipedia article on Mount Everest and sharing trivia about and from Wikipedia, respectively. A final filter, coming August/September 2021, will feature images from Wikimedia Commons, highlighting another project in the Wikimedia ecosystem.
- 11,674,584 impressions (total number of times content was displayed to people)
- 256,635 user-generated content (UGC) shares (number of times people made and shared a video of themselves using the filters)
- 88,179 swipe-ups (to 20.wikipedia.org)
- 78% of people reached were age 24 or younger, indicating we were able to reach a younger audience through the filters
- 39 countries reached that received at least 4,600 impressions
Click from your phone to use these filters:
- “Mount Everest” on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook
- “Wikipedia trivia challenge” on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook
Central Notice birthday announcement banners were shown across 7 language editions of Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Meta-Wiki, capped at 5 impressions per device. The three sentence message announced Wikipedia’s birthday, educated readers that Wikipedia is part of a movement and celebrated how humans made Wikipedia what it is.
Over 7 days, the banners earned 1.2 billion impressions driving 4.8 million clicks to the birthday web hub, outperforming the Foundation 0.2% click through rate benchmark by 2x.
Birthday video reach
The 20th birthday “anthem” video was created to showcase and summarize the humans of Wikipedia in two minutes for use across media, events, and the birthday web hub all year. The video was produced in English with subtitles in six other languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Spanish).
As of June 2021, the video garnered over 957,800 views and 46,370 engagements (likes, comments, and shares) across YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Wikipedia 20 marks
In place of a single birthday logo, we developed a flexible, open system of symbols representing the colorful side of our black and white site: the knowledge, the people, cultures and history that make it possible. To create the starter set, we partnered with two illustrators from different parts of the world, who have never worked together before: Karabo Poppy Moletsane and Jasmina El Bouamraoui. There were 101 original symbols made, with over 100 more coming from community members across the globe. Over 30 symbols have been animated as GIFs and stickers. You can search #wikipedia20 on any Giphy supported social platform to use these.
And much more in the full campaign report
Learn more about the project, planning process, detailed goals, key performance indicators and full reporting of the results in the Wikimedia Foundation's campaign report.