Containing well over two and a half million articles in English alone, written and updated by anyone with access to the web, Wikipedia is an amazing resource. It’s also the eighth most visited site on the web, and many people’s first port of call when looking for information on something or anything.
For this reason, I often recommend that clients check the Wikipedia entries relevant to them to make sure the content is objective and fact-based, as it should be (note: I’d never recommend amending an entry so that it is overly supportive of a client’s position, brand etc – 1) it goes against the spirit of Wikipedia, which is to be a balanced and fact-based source of information, and as an avid user, I want everyone to abide by that spirit, otherwise it’d stop working; and 2) content which is not objective or well-referenced is simply removed by other users, so there’s no point).
Many times, clients don’t think it’s important. An article in a trade publication read by 10 people is, but a site with tens of millions of visitors every day isn’t. Go figure. However, I recently discovered a site which gives stats for every wikipedia entry, and since clients have started understanding the numbers at stake, they’re seeing Wikipedia in a different light.
Just take any current controversial topic and you can see just how many people landed on the relevant page on Wikipedia in any given month. Some sample stats for October to whet the appetite:
- Sarah Palin: 2,489,570 visits
- GMOs (article: genetically modified organism): 37,400 visits
- Pesticides: 24,040 visits
- Artificial flavouring (article: flavor): 13,100 visits
- Sub-prime lending: 183,900 visits