Search, translation tools on top of agenda for readers

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Last week, our blog post about the readers study shared insights about how readers use search on Wikipedia, as well as new search functionalities that they are interested in. This week we share findings from our readers on more search improvements and other features that they would like to see on Wikipedia.
a. Improvements to finding information
b. Sharing, downloading and printing
c. Integration with social networking websites

a. Improvements to finding information

As we wrote on this blog last week, Wikipedia readers noted that they would read Wikipedia more if search was improved.  In the same vein, it is hardly a surprise that, for our readers, the most important feature for finding information on Wikipedia is better search.
Unlike social networking websites like Facebook or Twitter, where people are listening to or participating in online conversations, Wikipedia is an information website. Hence, readers arrive at Wikipedia when they are looking for specific information.  We have been brainstorming how we can make improvements to the website that make it easier to find information.
To begin with, we asked our readers what improvements they believe they would use to find information more easily. Since most online users rely on keyword search, especially those who visit our site via search engines like Google, we were not surprised to find that 48% of respondents said that they would use Wikipedia more if we improved our search accuracy.
There is also demand for translation tools to read articles from other languages (45%).  During ethnographic research conducted in the US, India and Brazil, we found that readers often read Wikipedia in more than one language (mostly English and their native language). They expressed the desire to be able to read articles of the same quality and breadth as on the English Wikipedia in other languages.  With Wikipedia being available in over 250 languages, localization remains a challenge for us.  20% of our survey respondents noted that they would use Wikipedia more if there were better typing solutions for searching in their own language. To find a solution to localization across 250 languages, we recently formed the localization team that is going to be working on fixing some of the pressing localization issues – for instance, text not rendering correctly in browsers or devices and the lack of transliteration tools.
Another feature related to search that readers would use in Wikipedia is auto-correct. 32% of readers pointed that they would like auto-correct in search so it is easier for them to find information in Wikipedia.
Interestingly, readers also desire more convenient methods for re-accessing information and articles.  Specifically, 41% of readers believe that they will use a feature that allows them to save articles for offline reading, while over a third (36%) believe a feature for bookmarking articles would be useful.

Q: If Wikipedia offered the mechanism below to help you find information more easily, which would you use?

b. Sharing, downloading and printing

The desire for easier offline reading that was found in the previous section shows also in the following more specific results: 40% expressed an interest in downloading PDF versions of articles, 36% want a print-friendly version of an article or 34% are interested in the ability to email articles to others. While Wikipedia articles can already be accessed as a PDF or in a printer-friendly version (though only on the desktop version), it is not directly possible to email an article. 26% expressed interest in rating an article on Wikipedia – a new feature, known as the Article Feedback Tool, that was launched last year and became available for all articles on the English Wikipedia a few months ago.
Although most of our readers do use social networking websites, we found small support for specific features like posting articles to sites such as Facebook (26%) and “liking” articles using Facebook (22%), which are integrated into many content websites like the New York Times.

c. Integration with social networking website 

Having found limited support for having specific Facebook features on Wikipedia (more details below), we were curious to know whether Wikipedia readers will be open to Facebook integration in general. 78% of readers said that they were likely to use Wikipedia more often (probably/definitely) if it was integrated with Facebook. Only one percent said that they would use Wikipedia less if it was integrated with Facebook. Currently, our partnership with Facebook drives traffic to Wikipedia due to the presence of Wikipedia content on Facebook Pages, but there is no feature integration (Facebook “likes” or posting content directly to Facebook).

Q. How interested are you having the following Facebook functions integrated with Wikipedia? Base 3200. Top 2 box.

Q. If Wikipedia had features that enabled better integration with Facebook, how would that change your usage of Wikipedia? Base: 2089

If you are interested in finding out more about our product roadmap, please check out this product white paper.
Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research
Ayush Khanna, Data Analyst, Global Development
We recently conducted an online survey of Wikipedia readers, limited to 250 participants each in 16 countries. This is the third in a series of blog posts summarizing our findings. If you are interested, you can find out more about the methodology of the survey here.

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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[…] [WP : le 2.0 et les réseaux sociaux] Une étude a montré que l’intégration à des réseaux sociaux augmenterait la consultation de WP [lien]. […]

So wait, 40% expressed an interest in downloading PDF versions of articles, and 36% want a print-friendly version of articles? We not only have those features, we’ve had them for years… It’s also kind of interesting that only 1% would use wikipedia less with more facebook integration, given how much people yell and scream about it, but I suppose the types of users who don’t want facebook integration (Editors mostly, and editors involved in politics at that) are different from those surveyed. Also, what does “search auto-correction” mean? What it means to me is something we already do (did you… Read more »

Bawolff, the majority of people I know do use Facebook rather actively. Everyone hates it for all its bugs (most people aren’t interested in the privacy issues) and so on but the world is definitely a better place with social networks such as Facebook that without them. Furthermore, the fact Google+ for example is an alternative doesn’t make it useful unless a user’s friends have moved over to that. I personally would have no problem with it but I still wouldn’t use it as it would seem pretty geeky! Not even my closest friends know I edit Wikipedia. 😉 I’ve… Read more »

Re Ioannis: Well google+ is probably even worst from a privacy perspective than facebook. (At the end of the day social networking and privacy are opposing goals and you can’t please everyone). And if you think google+ is geeky, I can’t imagine what you think about diaspora… 😉 Anyway, I doubt privacy concerns are a main concern (a share on facebook link can be done without privacy issues. A “like” button is much more problematic), more people seem to just be opposed to it in general every time it comes up (although like most things on wiki, its probably just… Read more »

PDF download option does not work for any Indian languages , or complex scripts in general. Many wikis have disabled that link for a long time.

* Search inside categories (an input for a single category name on Special:Search)
* Alert me when new pages are added in my favorite categories
* Alert me on changes to pages in my favorite categories

I love Ioannis’ definition / proposal of auto-correction. Currently, you can’t search “food” because it poitns directly to that article with no option of actually searching.

@NaBUru38: The search input of the Vector skin is not very userfriendly. Enter “food” and at the end of the list click “containing food”. This will search the keyword, instead of use the “Go” feature. Even I only found that out after talking to the devs. Proper usabilty is different.

[…] full-fills only basic needs. We acknowledged this fact a long time ago but we hope that with a refreshing focus (based on Wikipedia research)  things can get better and we can see some real improvements that […]

Things appear more balanced here than in the article discussion pages I have visited.
Congratulations all, IMHO.
As for translation, it appears from all the appeals to the contrary, that Google
killing their English dictionary/translator facility will be a great loss.
Could Google perhaps donate it to Wikipedia?