Wikipedia Top Articles: School's Out For Summer

In May, we highlighted top Wikipedia articles, showing that a little more than a quarter of the top 100 articles (based on the number of visits in April) were dedicated to research, with the rest focused on pop culture, TV, music and sex.

An interesting analysis the original post didn’t touch on was the wide variance in traffic to top articles when comparing total visits vs. total time spent. While sex and pop culture dominated top articles in terms of visits, general research captured nearly 40% of time spent among the top terms. But with summer in full swing, how has usage of Wikipedia changed?

From April to July, Wikipedia’s overall attention grew by about 1%. More interesting is the shift in attention among top Wikipedia terms. The chart below shows the share of attention among Wikipedia top articles by category.

  • The Wikipedia Related category includes Featured Content, Current Events, Contents, other links from the Main Page, and the Wikipedia page on Wikipedia.
  • Consumers spent dramatically less time on top general research articles in July than April, with total time spent within this category falling 91% from April. This could represent a shift in mindset among visitors; summer is playtime for most students.
  • Time spent on top movie related articles grew by more than 18x. This growth was driven primarily by summer blockbusters Transformers and Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix.
  • Sex, while still in the top categories, fell by nearly 40% between April and July in terms of time spent on top pages. Other top categories music and anime fell too.

For just about every query you could think of, Wikipedia shows up as highly relevant in search engine results. To better understand how search queries relate to traffic on the site, we compared top search terms driving traffic to Wikipedia with top Wikipedia articles (based on total visits to that article over the past 3 months). Top searches driving traffic to Wikipedia skew heavily towards the general research category, with historical, literary, and scientific terms capturing over 60% of the top one hundred search terms driving traffic to Wikipedia. This is strangely at odds with top visited Wikipedia articles during the same period.

My theory? Boredom. When school is in session, students using the service are tasked with research, but ultimately get bored and start looking up music, sex, and other their favorite television characters. When summer comes, there’s little need to conduct research, so Wikipedia becomes the pulse of consumer interest.

Want to develop your own interpretation? Here’s the data"¦go nuts.

Top 1000 Wikipedia pages (May — July 2007)

Top 1000 Search Terms Driving traffic to Wikipedia

Categories: Uncategorized

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