Wikimedia Movement Strategic Plan Summary/Increase Reach

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Strategic Priorities: Increase reach

Today, the Wikimedia sites reach about six percent of the world's population, which is roughly a third of of Internet users.[1] Wikimedia has achieved particular success among Internet users in the Global North. The reach of Wikimedia’s projects — and in particular Wikipedia, which accounts for 96 percent of all page views — has grown exponentially since Wikipedia's inception.

Use of the projects around the world, however, is not uniform. Large numbers of Internet users, particularly in countries with large and rapidly growing online populations such as India, have lower levels of use than the global average.[2] Wikimedia has dramatically lower reach in the Global South, which includes regions with the world's most rapid growth in Internet usage. In the coming years, a key challenge for Wikimedia will be to replicate its earlier successes in developing editing communities that create valuable, high quality knowledge resources in languages they are literate in, to engage a growing readership in all parts of the world.


The highest growth of Internet users is expected in Africa, the Middle East, and developing nations in the Asia Pacific region.[3]


Internet penetration – specifically broadband -- is growing, and that growth will enable more people to read Wikipedia from their desktop or laptop computers. The Wikimedia Foundation will work to ensure our sites are as fast and reliable for people in developing countries as they are for people in North America and Europe.

Wikimedia will need to expand its capacity to support access through other channels. The most critical will be mobile. Forecasts predict 6.5 billion mobile subscribers by 2015, and shipments of Internet-enabled handsets are expected to grow 29 percent, reaching almost 900 million units by 2015.[4] Mobile phone usage will continue to grow at a faster rate than personal-computer usage of the Internet. For many people in the Global South, the mobile phone will likely be their first, and potentially only, point of access to the Internet. Wikimedia needs to provide a good experience on mobile phones.

Not everyone will be able to have Internet access in the immediate future. More than half the world's population will not have ready access by 2015, even including mobile device access, and for many (possibly most) the cost of being always online will be too expensive. Those people have very limited access to information from any source, and are therefore the people that would be most helped by the Wikimedia projects. Wikimedia needs to create and make available low-cost and no-cost offline versions of its projects in a variety of formats, including print, in order to ensure information gets to people who otherwise would have no access to it.


Through 2015, the Wikimedia Foundation will:


Enhance the quality of the core user experience regardless of geography.

  • Build additional caching centers in key locations to manage increased traffic from Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, as well as to ensure reasonable and consistent load times no matter where a reader is located.


Invest in mobile products to broaden the movement’s reach to connected populations.

  • Develop partnerships with mobile providers and entrepreneurs that offer users who do not own expensive smartphones wide access to Wikimedia’s mobile products.

  • Invest in technology improvements that enhance mobile features, functionality and access.


Invest in offline products to broaden the movement’s reach to populations who will remain disconnected from the Internet.

  • Create new offline products and partnerships with the capacity to distribute versions of Wikimedia’s projects to large numbers of readers with limited connectivity at low or no cost.

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Footnotes

  1. Figures based on personal computer use only. comScore (January 2010) Media Metrix global unique visitor data. Retrieved from: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Stu/comScore_data_on_Wikimedia
  2. Analysis based on comScore Media Metrix data from July 2010. More data on reach by country can be found at: http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_penetration. A summary table that compares countries and regions with the greatest untapped potential of Internet users can be found at: http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Key_Geographies.png For the purposes of this analysis, a region was defined as a group of countries that share a common language and are in close geographic proximity.
  3. For more information, see: http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Internet_growth_by_region.png
  4. Based on International Telecommunication Union global mobile use projections. For more relevant data, see: http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mobile_reach