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Research:Readership of Welsh Wicipedia

BackgroundEdit

Welsh Wicipedia is a rapidly growing website, growing by nearly 50% between January 2015 and January 2017.[1] According to statistics from the Wikimedia Foundation, the Welsh online encyclopaedia received 748,097 page views in March 2017.[2] Despite this growth in content and a stable readership levels, we know little about the people who read Welsh Wicipedia and their motivations for doing so.

The Wikimedia Foundation ran a readership survey in 2011, gathering 4,000 responses from 16 countries (250 responses each) including the United Kingdom. While the survey was translated into 13 languages it was not available in Welsh. Some of the information for the United Kingdom as a whole is included below for context, but the survey did not provide information on the audience of the Welsh Wikipedia. In 2015 and 2016, the Wikimedia Foundation ran a large-scale readership survey, getting nearly 30,000 responses, with a primary focus on behaviours on the English Wikipedia. The results found that motivations for using Wikipedia had some cultural variation, and this may be an area the Foundation explores further in the future.[3]

MethodsEdit

A Central Notice ran from 23 February 2017 to 21 March 2017 on the Welsh Wicipedia to encourage readers to take part in a survey hosted on Qualtrics. It consisted of 11 questions, and was expected to last a few minutes (mean duration of the survey was 3:19 and median was 2:22). A total of 101 people replied to the survey.

TimelineEdit

  • November 2016–January 2017 – preparation
  • 23 February 2017 – survey opens and the Central Notice began
  • 15 March 2017 – wording of Central Notice changed
  • 20 March 2017 – Central Notice removed
  • 21 March 2017 – final unfinished response automatically closed
  • April 2017 – publication of results

Number of responses to the survey over time

5
10
15
20
23 Feb
24 Feb
25 Feb
26 Feb
27 Feb
28 Feb
1 Mar
2 Mar
3 Mar
4 Mar
5 Mar
6 Mar
7 Mar
8 Mar
9 Mar
10 Mar
11 Mar
12 Mar
13 Mar
14 Mar
15 Mar
16 Mar
17 Mar
18 Mar
19 Mar
20 Mar
21 Mar

ResultsEdit

Q1 Which gender do you identify with?Edit

Female: 39 (38.6%)Male: 58 (57.4%)Transgender: 2 (2.0%)Prefer not to say: 2 (2.0%) 
  •   Female: 39 (38.6%)
  •   Male: 58 (57.4%)
  •   Transgender: 2 (2.0%)
  •   Prefer not to say: 2 (2.0%)

101 people responded to this question.

The percentage of male readers (57.4%) is similar to the results of the WMF's 2011 reader survey. Their research found that generally Wikipedia has more male readers, but that this is particularly pronounced in the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Australia where more than 60% of readers are male. The 2011 sample size for the UK was 250 responses. The breakdown by constituent country is unavailable, but given the population of Wales is 5% of the UK, it is likely that during 2011 fewer than 20 people responded from Wales. This therefore gives us a much clearer idea of the makeup of Welsh Wicipedia’s readers.

The gender breakdown varied according to age group, and amongst people aged 34 and under 50.0% of respondents were male, and 44.1% female. Conversely, amongst people aged 55 and over only 29.4% of readers were female, while 67.7% were male.

Q2 What is your age range?Edit

50,000
100,000
150,000
200,000
10
20
30
40
Under 16
16-19
20-44
45-64
65-74
75 and over
  •   2011 UK census
  •   2017 survey of Welsh Wicipedia
5
10
15
20
25
30
Under 16
16-24
25-34
35-44
45-54
55-64
65-74
75-84
85 and over

101 people responded to this question.

This distribution broadly mirrored that age distribution of Welsh speakers recorded by the 2011 United Kingdom census. The graph below shows the data from the two surveys mapped against each other. The 20–44 age groups are particularly strongly represented. The one area where the readership of Welsh Wicipedia is under-represented with people aged 15 or under. This is possibly because they are less likely to complete the survey, rather than necessarily reflecting their use of Wikipedia.

Q3 LocationEdit

Wales: 80 (79.2%)England: 13 (12.9%)Argentina: 0 (0.0%)other: 8 (7.9%) 
  •   Wales: 80 (79.2%)
  •   England: 13 (12.9%)
  •   Argentina: 0 (0.0%)
  •   other: 8 (7.9%)

101 people responded to this question.

Q4 What level would you say you are able to speak, read, or write in Welsh?Edit

Not at all Slightly Common Fluent Total responses
Speaking 2 2 16 81 101
Reading 0 7 14 80 101
Writing 1 9 17 74 101

101 people responded to this question; matrix, one answer per question.

As many as 10% of cy.wp’s readers might not feel they have the language skills to write Wikipedia articles, but people might be able to do spoken version of WP articles. If there was an easy workflow this might be useful.

Q5 Which of the following best describes your level of educationEdit

10
20
30
40
50
Primary school
Secondary school
University degree
Postgraduate degree
other

101 people responded to this question; choose one.

The 2011 UK census provided information on the highest level of education attained by people aged 16–64; 29.7% had a university degree, 46.9% had secondary school education, and 15.0% had no qualifications.[4] 81 people from this survey fall within that age bracket. The most notable difference is that of the group surveyed 81.5% had been to university, more than double the average for England and Wales. ‘Avid readers’ (see Q6) were more likely to have attended university (83.4% compared to 71.6%).

Q6 How often do you read Welsh Wikipedia?Edit

5
10
15
20
25
30
Once a month or less
1–3 times a month
4–5 times a month
2–3 times a week
3–5 times a week
6–7 times a week
more than once a day

101 people responded to this question; choose one.

The 2011 readership survey carried out by the WMF described ‘avid readers’ as “visit Wikipedia more than five times a month”. 33.6% of people fall into this category for Welsh Wicipedia’s readers, somewhat lower than the 49% of all readers from the 2011 survey. Females (33.3%) were nearly as likely to be avid readers as males (31.0%), indicating a similar level of trust between the two groups.

People under the aged 34 or under were more likely to be avid readers (41.2%), while those aged 55 and above were less likely to refer to be avid readers (23.5%).

Q7 Are you interested in writing for the Welsh Wikipedia?Edit

Not at all: 26 (25.7%)A little interested: 54 (53.5%)Yes, quite a lot: 21 (20.8%) 
  •   Not at all: 26 (25.7%)
  •   A little interested: 54 (53.5%)
  •   Yes, quite a lot: 21 (20.8%)

Of the 21 people who said they were very interested in learning how to edit 66.7% are male and 23.8% are female. People aged 55 or over were mostly a little interested in editing (61.2%). Amongst people aged 34 or under 32.4% were very interested in learning to edit.

Q8 Have you ever edited the Welsh Wikipedia?Edit

Yes: 33 (32.7%)No: 64 (63.4%)Unsure: 4 (4.0%) 
  •   Yes: 33 (32.7%)
  •   No: 64 (63.4%)
  •   Unsure: 4 (4.0%)

101 people responded to this question; choose one.

‘Avid readers’ were much more likely to have edited the Welsh Wicipedia, with 47.1% noting they had made an edit, compared to 25.4% amongst those who read Wicipedia less frequently.

Q8a If not, then would you consider editing if we had:Edit

Better directions: 30 (61.2%)Better support from the community: 16 (32.7%)Live training sessions: 3 (6.1%) 
  •   Better directions: 30 (61.2%)
  •   Better support from the community: 16 (32.7%)
  •   Live training sessions: 3 (6.1%)

49 people responded to this question; choose one. Only presented if respondent selected 'no' for Q8.

74.0% of people who were not avid readers suggested that ‘better directions’ would motivate them to edit. Amongst ‘avid readers’ there was much greater interest in live training sessions, with half of the 22 people from this group interested in such events. Women were more likely to find live training sessions useful (45.0%) while men were much more likely to ask for better instructions (71.4%).

Q9 Why do you read the Welsh Wikipedia?Edit

10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Interest and fun
School work/university
Daily work
To educate others in class
Others

100 people responded to this question; multiple answers allowed.

The primary motivator for men was reading Wicipedia for interest and fun (82.5%) followed by everyday work (28.1%). While this was true for women, the proportions are significantly different, with 51.3% of women reading Wicipedia for interest and fun and 41.0% for everyday work. Women were also more than twice as likely as men to use Wicipedia to educate others in the classroom (15.4% compared to 7.0%). 46 out of 100 people said that they used Wicipedia for school work/university or everyday work or both, which is a stronger motivation than indicated in the Wikimedia Foundation's 2015–16 survey where 16% of people indicated this was a factor.[5]

Amongst under 25s, an equal proportion used it for school/university work and interest and fun (both 55%). With people aged 25 or over, 73.8% of people used Wicipedia for fun, and 31.3% for work.

‘Avid readers’ listed interest and fun (80.0%), everyday work (56.0%), and school/university work (24.0%) as their top three uses. Amongst less frequent readers, a smaller proportion read for fun and everyday work (67.9% and 28.4% respectively) while a similar proportion read Wicipedia for school/university work (23.5%). Interestingly, only one avid reader used Wicipedia to educate others compared to 9 less frequent readers.

Q10 To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?Edit

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree Total responses
The information is accurate and reliable 3 5 5 64 18 95
The information gives a pretty good overview of some topics 1 6 5 53 31 96
The information is neutral and impartial 2 4 10 58 22 96
The information covers a wide range of topics 1 10 12 44 29 96
A person who is not an expert can understand the information 1 2 7 58 26 94

This question is similar to the WMF's article quality questions in 2011. The questions differ as the 2011 use a ten-point scale rather than five.

Question Value from WMF survey (2011) Value from Welsh Wicipedia survey (2017)
The information is accurate and reliable 7.54 7.87
The information gives a pretty good overview of some topics 7.77 8.23
The information is neutral and impartial 7.64 7.96
The information covers a wide range of topics 8.23 7.88
A person who is not an expert can understand the information 8.34 8.26
Average 7.90 8.04

This indicates that readers of the Welsh Wicipedia are more confident in its reliability, neutrality, and depth of information than Wikipedia in 2011, but that it has a narrower range of topics. The opinions on readability are comparable.

a) The information is accurate and reliableEdit

95 people answered this question.

Overall, 86% agree or totally agree with the statement. Men and those aged 45 or over were more likely to believe the information is reliable (94.6% and 91.3% respectively) compared to women and those under 45 (82.9% and 81.6%). There was little difference between how avid readers and less frequent readers responded to this question.

b) The information gives a pretty good overview of some topicsEdit

96 people answered this question

Overall, 88% agree or totally agree with the statement. Women and those aged 45 or over were more likely to feel that Wicipedia gives a good overview (94.5% and 93.5% respectively) compared to men and those aged under 45 (89.3% and 82.0%). Interestingly infrequent readers were more likely than avid readers to feel that Wicipedia gives a good overview of some topics (90.5% compared to 81.8%).

c) The information is neutral and impartialEdit

96 people answered this question

Overall, 88% agree or totally agree with the statement. Women and those aged 45 or over were more likely to feel that Wicipedia is neutral and impartial (91.7% and 89.1% respectively) compared to men and those aged under 45 (83.9% and 78.0%). Infrequent readers were less likely than avid readers to think it is neutral (81.0% compared to 87.9%).

d) The information covers a wide range of topicsEdit

96 people answered this question

Overall, 76% agree or totally agree with the statement. Women and those aged 45 or over were more likely to agree with this statement (83.3% and 78.3% respectively) compared to men and those aged under 45 (76.8% and 74.0%). Avid readers were slightly more likely than infrequent readers to agree that Wicipedia covers a range of topics (78.8% compared to 74.6%).

e) A person who is not an expert can understand the informationEdit

94 people responded to this question.

Overall, 89% agree or totally agree with the statement. Women and those aged under 45 were more likely to think that Wicipedia is written in an accessible manner (94.5% and 90.0% respectively) compared to men and those aged 45 or over (87.0% and 88.6%). Avid readers were also more likely than less frequent readers to consider Wicipedia to be accessibly written, indicating one of the reasons they may refer to the website more often (93.9% compared to 86.9%).

ConclusionsEdit

Overall this survey paints a positive picture of the readership of Welsh Wicipedia. The demographic make-up of the audience is similar to that found during the WMF's own survey in 2011, which included the UK, while the age range is similar to that of Welsh speakers at the 2011 UK census.

The encyclopaedia has a make-up of avid and less frequent readers, with a healthy proportion of people wanting to learn how to contribute to Wicipedia. There are clear differences in how men and women would like to learn about editing, with men favouring better written instructions and women in-person events. This suggests that the approach used by Wikimedia UK and Wikimedians in Residence – particularly Jason Evans at the National Library of Wales – empowers people who are typically under-represented amongst Wicipedia’s editorship.

Most people tend to use Welsh Wicipedia for interest or fun, but a significant proportion also use it for work and education. As under 25s are more likely to be in education, it is perhaps unsurprising that half use Wicipedia for school or university, but suggests an encouraging acceptance of Wicipedia as a source of information.

Readers were generally positive about Wicipedia’s content, and though breadth of coverage was the weakest area three quarters of people still agreed that Wicipedia did well in this regard. Key factors for people choosing to read Wicipedia were the accessible way it was written and its depth of coverage – both of which are particularly important for encouraging people to return to the site as a resource. Overall, this survey reinforced the importance of in-person events to develop editing skills.

​But, maybe, more importantly, 82 of the readers who responded believed that the 'information is accurate and reliable', with only 8 disagreeing. 80 readers believed that the '​information is neutral and impartial', with only 6 disagreeing with this statement. This is slightly higher than the 2011 survey, and shows that the Welsh Wikipedia is moving in the right direction.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Wikipedia Statistics Welsh" (March 2017). Wikimedia Foundation. Accessed 28 April 2017.
  2. "Welsh Wikipedia at a glance March 2017" (April 2017). Wikimedia Foundation. Accessed 28 April 2017.
  3. Singer, P.; Lemmerich, F.; West, R.; Zia, L.; Wulczyn, E.; Strohmaier, M.; and Leskovec, J. (2017). "Why We Read Wikipedia", WWW '17 Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on World Wide Web. pp. 8–9.
  4. Highest levels of qualification across England and Wales infographic (2014), Office for National Statistics. Accessed 20 April 2017.
  5. Singer, P.; Lemmerich, F.; West, R.; Zia, L.; Wulczyn, E.; Strohmaier, M.; and Leskovec, J. (2017). "Why We Read Wikipedia", WWW '17 Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on World Wide Web. p. 4