Wikipedia traffic thrives on news events

Since the beginning of 2008, the highest number of page views for Wikipedia's "open educational resources" article was on April 5, 2012.

On April 5, the popular news site Tech Crunch ran a story about a lawsuit involving Boundless Learning, a Boston-based maker of open educational resources (OER).

I’ll let you go straight to the source for that important story; but here, I’d like to use it as an example, to show how improving Wikipedia content can pay off at unpredictable times.

Importantly, Tech Crunch linked to Wikipedia’s article on OER.(It’s likely that other sites’ coverage of the issue did as well.) And as the chart above illustrates, 755 people visited Wikipedia to learn about OER that day. Not enormous as a raw number, but it’s more page views than the article has received on almost any other day in its history. (Bonus points for anyone who can identify what drove the traffic on April 8, 2008!)

This is a common phenomenon. In a far more dramatic example, a moderately famous entertainer’s article spiked from a few hundred page views per day to 85,000 page views when a sex tape was leaked to tabloid media.

If you care about the public (and/or specific stakeholder groups or decision-makers) having access to high quality, factual information on a topic, improving Wikipedia’s coverage of that topic can pay huge dividends.

Maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.

About Pete Forsyth

Pete Forsyth is the principal of Wiki Strategies, and a Wikipedia expert. Full bio here:
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