A Third Of Americans Use Wikipedia

    April 25, 2007

When American Internet users want answers they turn to Wikipedia. More than a third of adults (36%) look to the user-generated encyclopedia according to a new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

On an average winter day in 2007, 8 percent of online Americans visited Wikipedia. Even with the controversy over the accuracy of the articles on the site it still remains popular for those who are well educated. For example, 50 percent of users with a college degree consult the site, compared with 22 percent of those with a high school diploma.

Wikipedia is also popular with the college crowd with 46 percent of students 18 and older using the site compared to 36 percent of the overall Internet population.

Young adults and broadband users who are considered early adopters of Wikipedia have embraced the site. While 44 percent of those ages 18-29 use the site to find information, only 29 percent of users age 50 and older visit the site. Also 42 percent of home broadband users look for information on Wikipedia, compared to 26 percent of home dial-up users.

Both Hitwise and comScore Media Metrix say that Wikipedia ranks regularly in the top 10 of the most popular sites on the Web.

The data from Hitwise offers a number of reasons for the popularity of Wikipedia. One reason being the broad amount of information on the site ranging from ancient history to current events and popular culture.

Wikipedia’s growth and popularity are also linked to Americans use of search engines. More than 70 percent of visits to the site in the week ending March 17 came from search engines, according to data from Hitwise.

Much of the information in the encyclopedia has links to other Wikipedia articles and other material on the Web. One of the factors in the Google search algorithm is the amount of links connected to a webpage. The site is able to achieve very high Google rankings on keyword queries. Because of this Wikipedia is the # 1 external site visited after Google’s search page and receives more than half of its traffic from the search engine.