[Apologies for cross-posting]

Hi everyone,

Almost a year ago, we [1] embarked on a research project to understand who Wikipedia readers are. More specifically, we set a goal for finding a taxonomy of Wikipedia readers. In the upcoming Research Showcase, I will present the findings of this research.

The Research Showcase will be live-streamed on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 11:35 (PST) 19:35 (UTC).

YouTube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O24F1xkbNwI

As usual, you can join the conversation on IRC freedone at #wikimedia-research. And, you can watch our past research showcases at https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Research/Showcase.

Why We Read Wikipedia

Every day, millions of readers come to Wikipedia to satisfy a broad range of information needs, however, little is known about what these needs are. In this presentation, I share the result of a research that sets to help us understand Wikipedia readers better. Based on an initial user study on English, Persian, and Spanish Wikipedia, we build a taxonomy of Wikipedia use-cases along several dimensions, capturing users’ motivations to visit Wikipedia, the depth of knowledge they are seeking, and their knowledge of the topic of interest prior to visiting Wikipedia. Then, we quantify the prevalence of these use-cases via a large-scale user survey conducted on English Wikipedia. Our analyses highlight the variety of factors driving users to Wikipedia, such as current events, media coverage of a topic, personal curiosity, work or school assignments, or boredom. Finally, we match survey responses to the respondents’ digital traces in Wikipedia’s server logs, enabling the discovery of behavioral patterns associated with specific use-cases. Our findings advance our understanding of reader motivations and behavior on Wikipedia and have potential implications for developers aiming to improve Wikipedia’s user experience, editors striving to cater to (a subset of) their readers’ needs, third-party services (such as search engines) providing access to Wikipedia content, and researchers aiming to build tools such as article recommendation engines.

How to prepare? What to expect?
If you decide to attend, here are a few things I would like to ask you to keep in mind, especially if this will be your first time to one of our research showcases:

* Like many other research projects in fields that are not heavily explored, the findings of this research will create more questions than they answer. I encourage you to keep these questions in mind throughout the presentation and discussion: "What can we do with this finding? What other questions can we ask? What other ideas can we try?"

* Be open to ask these questions to yourself, especially if you are a Wikipedia editor, even before coming to the showcase: "Why do I edit Wikipedia? Who am I writing the content for, if anyone? Will I change the way I write content if I know more about who reads it (to encourage or discourage certain types of reading or readers)? What needs an encyclopedia should serve? What is Wikipedia: A place one can quickly find the answer to his/her questions, or a place that one can go to when he/she wants to spend a quiet time reading and learning, or a place for both and even more? etc."
* And, see if you would be interested to see the result of this study in your language. What will be presented is based on research on English, Persian, and Spanish Wikipedia (the data from the latter two projects have been used only for one part of the research). We are interested in running the study on at least 2-3 more languages to understand the robustness of some of the results across different languages, and to also help communities with having access to the results for their specific language project.

​Looking forward to seeing you there, and if you can't make it, please feel free to watch the video later and get in touch with us with questions/comments. :)

Leila Zia
Senior Research Scientist
Wikimedia Foundation

​[1] WMF Research and researchers from three academic institutions: EPFL, GESIS, and Stanford University, in collaboration with WMF Reading.