Jump to content

Wikimedia users

From Strategic Planning

Participants of Wikipedia

Wikipedia growth overview

There exist some very baseline statistics for what makes a stalled Wikipedia, and what makes a growing Wikipedia (note, these stats exist only for Wikipedia, not other content generating projects).

Facts about growing Wikipedias Facts about stalled Wikipedias
~570 active contributors, 23% change ~20 active contributors, -18% change
~66,000 substantial articles, 80% change ~700 substantial articles, 30% change
.07% of global total page views .001% of global total page views

Contributors as a percentage of all visitors

The following comes from an analysis of WikiStats [1] and ComScore data [2]. Note that the ComScore data is very much preliminary and carries with it a few caveats, including:

  • It does not count Internet users from Internet cafes
  • It does not draw from page views, but rather from a survey of individuals

This data suggests that for larger Wikipedias, active or very active contributors make up 0.02-0.03 percent of all visitors. Russian, meanwhile, is something of an exception, with nearly 0.05 percent of visitors registering as active or very active contributors.

Less than 0.05% of visitors to Wikipedia are active contributors to the encyclopedia.


The following findings come from the preliminary findings from the 2009 survey of 100K+ Wikipedia users.[3] Bridgespan has done some additional analysis on top of the published findings.

Some caveats here: It is unclear how representative this sample is of the Wikipedia community at large. For example:

  • This survey had an over-representation of editors vis-a-vis the general population.
  • There was an over-representation of Russian respondents, who were removed from the study pending some explanation for this anomaly.

The survey suggests that respondents were more likely to be male, age 18-30, have at least undergraduate education, single, and without children.

Contributor demographics appear skewed toward particular characteristics.

Breakdown of editing patterns

The following chart draws from a 2009 Harvard Business School study of Twitter, Wikipedia, and an unnamed social networking site.[4] The preliminary findings suggest that the vast majority of contributions to the English Wikipedia in May 2009 were made by a small minority of users.

About 90% of contributions are made by 10% of contributors.

The fact that a minority of users make most of the revisions is confirmed in Wikipedia: A Quantitative Analysis, by Jose Felipe Ortega Soto. This trend is true for all the different language Wikipedias.

A few authors have the most revisions, while most authors have the fewest revisions.

Similarly, most articles are edited by only a few editors, with a few articles attracting most of the activity on all the language Wikipedias. However, the number of contributions per article is not as uneven as the number of contributions per editor.

A minority of the articles attract the majority of the contributions.

Additional information here from Ed Chi's work would be useful here.

Participants of Wikibooks

About 95% of Wikibooks participants are male.[5]

Participants of the other Wikimedia projects

Looking for data and insight here

Growth in contributors to Wikipedia

WikiStats suggests that while the number of contributors (those registered user who have made 10+ edits) is rising, the rate of growth is slowing.

This is confirmed in an analysis from Wikipedia: A Quantitative Analysis, by Jose Felipe Ortega Soto.

Around 2006-2007, the number of authors leaving Wikipedia (by stopping contributions) begins to outnumber the number of users creating Wikipedia log-ins. This trend has been true in all the different language Wikipedias.

The total number of contributions from anonymous authors has also stabilized.

Meanwhile, contributions from anonymous authors have experienced a slowed rate of growth.

The growth in the number of contributions from anonymous authors has also stabilized.

Growth in active and very active contributors to Wikipedia

The following analysis is also based on statistics from WikiStats.

After adjusting for date of creation, a sample of several Wikipedias suggests that the number of active contributors (those making 5+ edits in a month) peaks after 5–6 years, with Russian emerging as a key exception.

Active contributors appear to have peaked for larger Wikipedias.

A similar picture emerges when looking at very active contributors (those making 100+ edits in a month).

Very active contributors also appear to have peaked for larger Wikipedias.

Language-specific data

There is more detailed, language-specific trend data here.

Impact of Wikipedia contributors on content and contributions

The following analysis is based on statistics from WikiStats.

An analysis of three large Wikipedias suggests that although contributors may be peaking, the number of articles on these Wikipedias is continuing to grow (albeit at slower rates).

Plateau in contributors correlates with slowing growth rate, but number of articles continues to grow.

The following analysis comes from Wikipedia: A Quantitative Analysis, by Jose Felipe Ortega Soto. Talk page activity has slowed in its growth.

The number of talk page contributions has also stabilized.

Active contributors to other Wikimedia projects

As is the case for many Wikipedias, the active contributor base for many of the other Wikimedia projects appears to be peaking.

Contributors to other Wikimedia projects is peaking.

Future growth projections

The above analysis suggests two findings:

  • Larger Wikipedias will continue to grow, though at a slower rate than they have in the past.
  • The number of active and very active contributors appears to have stabilized for many Wikipedias.

Wikimedia penetration

Wikimedia penetration by country

One way to think about expanding reach is to increase the number of Internet users who use Wikimedia projects. By examining Wikipedia, the most popular project, it is clear that there is ample opportunity to increase the number of Wikipedia users simply by expanding its use amongst people already online. The following table provides estimates for the percentage of the online population using Wikipedia for all regions of the world and select countries. This table shows that even amongst countries such as the United States, Germany, and Japan whose population speaks the languages of the three largest Wikipedias and serve as home to many of the most active Wikipedia community members, there is still some room for expansion. However, the greatest opportunities for growth are amongst Asian countries such as China, Korea, and India where below 10% of the online population is currently using Wikipedia. An estimate of the total global population that uses Wikipedia is between 17 and 25%.

See also Erik Zachte's recent analysis based on Wikimedia statistics.

Estimate of Internet users who use Wikipedia, by region and selected countries.[6]
Region Country Estimated range of
Internet users who
use Wikipedia
Asia & Pacific 10-16%
Australia 21-27%
China 1%
India 8- 20%
Japan 26-38%
South Korea 5-7%
Taiwan 10-13%
Middle East & Africa 12-30%
South Africa 14%
Europe 26-37%
France 36-39% *
Germany 25-42%
Russian Federation 18%
United Kingdom 28-37%
Latin America 15-30%
Argentina 22-26%
Brazil 9-22%
Mexico 19-35%
North America
Canada 45-50%
United States 24-32%

Wikimedia penetration by language

The following table displays the top 11 languages by number of native speakers and the number of Wikipedia articles in that language. It also shows the number of language speakers per Wikipedia article. This is one possible way to measure penetration by language, with higher numbers meaning that there is less content available per speaker. It is clear from this table that some of the most widely spoken languages such as Arabic, and Hindi and Bengali have significantly smaller Wikipedias.

Number of native language speakers and number of Wikipedia articles.[7]
Language Number of Speakers (millions) Number of Articles (thousands) Number of speakers/Number of articles
Chinese 1,213 255 4,757
Spanish 329 440 748
English 328 3'048 112
Arabic 221 99 2,232
Hindi 182 34 5,353
Bengali 181 20 9,050
Portuguese 178 496 359
Russian 144 440 327
Japanese 122 603 202
German 90 925 97
Javanese 84 108 778

Articles per number of speakers

The following chart provides another take on the penetration of Wikipedia by language.

The main resource to create Wikipedia articles are speakers of the language. Drivers to contribute might differ per culture or language.

In the table below are listed the Wikipedia in descending order of number of articles per thousand speakers of the language. This table might change your view on the reach and participation. Included are languages with 20 million speakers or more. Also included are Wikipedias with more than one hundred thousand articles. Please note that English is not within the top 10 of this list.

Warning: The number of speakers are rough estimates of vernacular language speakers (secondary language speakers have apparently been ignored). The effective source of data should be retrieved from an accurate and maintained source, such as the Unicode CLDR extra data, which also includes data about the literacy level (in order to estimate the number of readers of the language).

Language Wikipedia Speakers
per speaker

Volapük vo 000.00003 0,120 4,000,000.0
Esperanto eo 002.00000 0,117 0,000,058.5
norsk bokmål nb 005.00000 0,225 0,000,045.0
svenska sv 009.00000 0,325 0,000,036.1
suomi fi 006.00000 0,213 0,000,035.5
Nederlands nl 020.00000 0,553 0,000,027.7
català ca 007.00000 0,192 0,000,027.4
dansk da 005.00000 0,114 0,000,022.8
slovenčina sk 005.00000 0,109 0,000,021.8
polski pl 050.00000 0,627 0,000,012.5
čeština cs 012.00000 0,134 0,000,011.2
Deutsch de 105.00000 0,943 0,000,009.0
italiano it 100.00000 0,596 0,000,006.0
English en 510.00000 3,000 0,000,005.9
română ro 026.00000 0,130 0,000,005.0
日本語 ja 130.00000 0,609 0,000,004.7
українська uk 044.00000 0,158 0,000,003.6
français fr 270.00000 0,839 0,000,003.1
português pt 180.00000 0,500 0,000,002.8
Türkçe tr 060.00000 0,134 0,000,002.2
Bahasa Melayu ms 023.00000 0,046 0,000,002.0
ไทย th 030.00000 0,049 0,000,001.6
español es 320.00000 0,504 0,000,001.6
русский ru 280.00000 0,422 0,000,001.5
Tiếng Việt vi 068.00000 0,096 0,000,001.4
한국어 ko 078.00000 0,108 0,000,001.4
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски
+ српски / srpski
+ hrvatski
+ bosanski
+ sr
+ hr
+ bs
021.00000 0,024 0,000,001.1
فارسی fa 070.00000 0,066 0,000,000.9
azərbaycanca az 031.00000 0,025 0,000,000.8
తెలుగు te 070.00000 0,044 0,000,000.6
Bahasa Indonesia id 180.00000 0,109 0,000,000.6
Sunda su 027.00000 0,014 0,000,000.5
العربية ar 250.00000 0,100 0,000,000.4
मराठी mr 068.00000 0,024 0,000,000.4
മലയാളം ml 035.00000 0,011 0,000,000.3
中文 zh 900.00000 0,270 0,000,000.3
தமிழ் ta 066.00000 0,019 0,000,000.3
Jawa jv 075.00000 0,020 0,000,000.3
ಕನ್ನಡ kn 035.00000 0,007 0,000,000.2
贛語 gan 021.00000 0,004 0,000,000.2
ગુજરાતી gu 046.00000 0,008 0,000,000.2
اردو ur 060.00000 0,010 0,000,000.2
粵語 zh-yue 071.00000 0,011 0,000,000.2
閩南語 / Bân-lâm-gú zh-min-nan 046.00000 0,006 0,000,000.1
বাংলা bn 185.00000 0,020 0,000,000.1
हिन्दी hi 360.00000 0,036 0,000,000.1
မြန်မာဘာသာ my 032.00000 0,002 0,000,000.1
吴语 wuu 077.00000 0,004 0,000,000.1
پښتو ps 023.00000 0,001 0,000,000.0
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ pa 057.00000 0,002 0,000,000.0
ଓଡ଼ିଆ or 032.00000 0,001 0,000,000.0
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî hak 034.00000 0,001 0,000,000.0
湘语 (Xiang) hsn 036.00000 0,000 0,000,000.0
मैथिली mai 030.00000 0,000 0,000,000.0
भोजपुरी bh 026.00000 0,000 0,000,000.0
Hausa ha 024.00000 0,000 0,000,000.0

Sister projects global penetration

Wikipedia: 96 % of total requests
Number of contributors and page views, compared
Sister project Number of contributors[8] Contributors over total (%) Monthly page views (millions) Page views over total (%)
Wikibooks 12,942 1.28 35.6 0.33
Commons 6557[9] 0.65 173 1.63
Wikinews 2969 0.30 12 0.11
Wikipedia 962,555[10] 95.44 10,175 95.71
Wikiquote 5963 0.59 33.5 0.31
Wikisource 4605 0.46 34.1 0.32
Wikispecies 633[11] 0.06 8 ca.[12] 0.08
Wikiversity 2329 0.23 6.6 0.06
Wiktionary 10,021 0.99 151 1.42
Total 1,008,574 99.7[13] 10,631 99.97[13]

With regard to share, Wikiversity and Wikibooks seem to have a number of contributors which is "four times" the number of page views, Wikinews "three times", Wikiquote "twice", Wiktionary "two thirds", Commons almost "one third" (but the figure is wrong), other projects quite balanced. What does this mean? If

  1. the total number of edits / number of active contributor ratio is more or less the same in all projects, and
  2. if the number of edits is an indicator of the total effort of the community more or less equal in all projects,

then we can consider that

  1. we have some projects where the community does a better focused work (i.e. less work, more useful to readers), either
    1. because the community is better directed/more able,
    2. or because the whole project is more needed than another (i.e. maybe a dictionary is more needed than a wiki newspaper),
    3. or because the project is more difficult and needs more effort to achieve some critical mass to be useful,
  2. or we have an unequal distribituon of:
    1. readers: some projects should be more advertised or linked from other projects/other web resources/other offline resources (e.g. schools);
    2. editors: some projects fail to attract the needed editors, either because they're "wasted" on another projects which needs them less, or because they are not able to attract new wikimedia editors (i.e. editors who don't arrive from another project) for some reason (see Participation).

See also Proposal:Make Wikimedia projects scale.

Note that the premises need to be verified:

  1. a project can attract more very active editors and another can attract more less active editors (e.g. because maybe to collect quotations is less difficult than to write a book);
  2. some projects may require more "external" preparative work (e.g. a public domain dictionary which is processed offline and then uploaded to Wiktionary by bots) or spread work on many edits (e.g. the uploading of a book full text on Wikisource requires an edit per page plus others for index, metadata etc.).

Demographics of Wikimedia’s main audience

  • Age (Wikipedia only)
  • Geographic region
    • Nationalities (TBD)
  • Education (Wikipedia only)
  • Income

Demographics of American WP users

The following charts were produced from survey data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project Survey in March and February of 2007. The survey data is representative of Americans age 18 and older who have a telephone or cellular phone. [14] All data analysis was performed by the Bridgespan Group, and the Pew Internet and American Life Project bears no responsibility for the interpretations presented or conclusions reached based on analysis of the data.

As of March 2007, approximately 25% of Americans had used Wikipedia according the Pew survey

As of March 2007, Wikipedia users in the United States are younger than internet users who do not use Wikipedia and non-Internet users according to Pew survey data

According to March 2007 Pew survey data, Wikipedia users in the United States are better educated than internet users who do not use Wikipedia and non-internet users

According to March 2007 Pew survey data, Wikimedia U.S. usage is balanced by gender; Somewhat of a skew toward men when compared to averages of Internet users/nonusers

According to March 2007 Pew survey data, Wikimedia U.S. usage is balanced by race; Somewhat of a skew toward white people when compared to averages of Internet users/nonusers

March 2007 Pew survey data affirms that U.S. students use Wikimedia more than non-students

March 2007 Pew data shows that Wikipedia users are more likely to use the Internet daily then Internet users who do not use Wikipedia

March 2007 Pew survey data affirms that people who have more access to the Internet use it more frequently

According to March 2007 Pew survey data, people who use Wikipedia are more likely to have access to the Internet both at home and work compared to people who use the Internet but do not use Wikipedia

According to March 2007 Pew survey data, amongst daily Internet users, people who use Wikipedia have higher education levels


  1. http://stats.wikimedia.org/
  2. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/meta/2/2a/ComScore_trend_data_on_WMF_Sites.pdf
  3. Wikipedia Survey – First Results. April 2009. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/a/a7/Wikipedia_General_Survey-Overview_0.3.9.pdf
  4. "New Twitter Research: Men Follow Men and Nobody Tweets." http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/cs/2009/06/new_twitter_research_men_follo.html
  5. http://wiki-riki.wikispaces.com/file/view/Wikibooks-edmedia-proceeding-Lin,+Sajjapanroj,+and+Bonk.doc
  6. Estimates for upper bound of range from ComScore for the month of December 2008. Estimate on lower bound of range produced by Bridgespan using both ComScore December 2008 figures and the International Telecommunication Union 2008 data on internet use ITU data. In cases where no range is given it is because the two sources converged on the same number. Note that ComScore data is produced though an opt-in panel of two million internet users around the globe and uses a range of statistical techniques to create an internally consistent portrait of the global internet audience. However it is important to note that they do not estimate users who access the Internet via Internet cafés, and people below age 15, therefore, their statistics will not be representative of certain populations. For information on ComScore as well as what countries are included in the regions see ComScore data on Wikimedia (*)Upper bound from ITU and ComScore data. Lower bound from ComScore data.
  7. Numbers from Data on language speakers from Ethnologue 2009 http://www.ethnologue.com/ethno_docs/distribution.asp?by=size#3, data on Wikipedia articles from wikistats http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/Sitemap.htm
  8. From WikiStats, authors who edited at least 10 times since they arrived, total number for all subdomains (when appliable), e.g. Wikiquote. August 2009.
  9. This figure is wrong because WikiStats does not consider edits to categories and file description pages, and thus considers only 1/30 of the total edits (compared to e.g. 1/3 on Wikipedia).
  10. July 2009.
  11. June 2009.
  12. From WikiSpecial WikiStats figures (August 2009): 11844 views/hour*24 hours*30 days in September/1,000,000.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Approximation error.
  14. Pew Internet and American Life Project http://pewinternet.org/ Further information about the survey methodology can be found on pages 21-22 of the following report http://pewinternet.org/~/media/Files/Data%20Sets/2007/Feb.Mar.2007.topline.zip.zip

How do people access Wikimedia?

  • Computer
  • Mobile device
  • Off-line
  • Web portal (Google, direct, Yahoo etc)

Why do people access Wikimedia?

We have some stories that people shared when they donated money. Those stories are private, but we could get permission to share more of them.

Unanswered questions

  • Demographic breakdown, motivations and usage by country-of-origin/language of contribution