Wikipedia’s 20th birthday celebration impact

On January 15, 2021 Wikipedia turned 20 years old. Across the world, this milestone was marked at community events, in press, birthday web hubs, banners across Wikimedia projects and on social media, kicking off a year of birthday celebrations.

With hundreds of leaders, and thousands of participants, this moment had a big impact in building awareness and appreciation for Wikipedia and the free knowledge movement. Here is a summary, covering the first half of 2021:

  • 970+ press stories from 81 countries – It was really good news with overwhelmingly positive sentiment of coverage
  • 115 community events in 62 countries – Video calls! Edit-a-thons! Virtual cake contests! Our community came together to celebrate
  • Over 4.6 million visits to birthday web hub in first week – More than 130,000 visitors clicked on from the web hub to donation pages
  • Over 16.3K #Wikipedia20 celebratory posts on social media – People from over 150 countries joined in the celebration online
  • 1.2 billion impressions on Central Notice birthday banners in seven languages – The click through rate was 0.4%, 2x the set benchmark!

Our goal with the 20th birthday campaign is to increase public awareness about our movement and celebrate the humans behind Wikipedia. We began by supporting global community activities and celebrations, driving international press coverage, and developing new partnerships and campaigns to build understanding of Wikipedia and Wikimedia movement around the world.

We invited collaboration from our communities, creating a system of global birthday symbols with guidelines for communities on how to mix, share and add to in order to make the celebration their own. 

Supporting the movement celebrations of the 20th birthday was a priority. We set out to ensure parties could happen all over the world, empowered by design assets, digital party kits, grants, messaging guidelines, and coordinated timelines.

Pandemic or not, our communities gathered to celebrate in a time where togetherness wasn’t always possible. A total of 115 events were hosted across 62 countries. Most events took place during the birthday week and most of them were virtual celebrations. 27 community proposals were funded through the Wikipedia 20 Rapid Grants program as of June 2021.

Graph showing most Wikipedia 20 events per country, held during the week of January 15-22, 2021

Working with affiliate groups and volunteer communities around the world, we utilized our messaging toolkit to help tell a cohesive, clear story about Wikipedia, the 20th birthday milestone, and the Wikimedia movement for everyone. In total, there were more than 974 articles published in over 80 countries in 40 languages, which was a new record for us in terms of media coverage globally. Positive coverage not only built awareness of Wikipedia in existing and new markets, but also provided a more in-depth view of the role of Wikipedia in the world today and the people who make it possible.

Our overall campaign strategy included digital communications, brand partnerships, creative, media, storytelling and executive thought leadership. More than 4 million people visited the Wikipedia 20 birthday hub in the first week alone, coming from 1.2 billion impressions on Wikipedia banners in 7 languages. Our animated birthday symbols, hosted and supported by Giphy, were seen more than 350 million times in the first 10 days, and our special birthday edition augmented reality filters earned over 11 million impressions.

As Anusha Alikhan, Senior Director of Communications, mentioned in the recent Foundation 360 series, “The campaign increased the public’s trust in Wikipedia, showcased movement and volunteer stories, and cultivated new supporters. It was an opportunity not just to celebrate the last 20 years but also recognize our gaps and welcome new people into the movement to fill them. We were able to showcase Wikipedia’s evolution from an idea that shouldn’t have been possible to one of the most trusted knowledge resources in the world.”

For a more comprehensive look at the project, the planning process, success metrics and impact, please see the full campaign report. A version of the Wikipedia 20 results is also available on Meta-Wiki hub

Congratulations and a big thank you to everyone who helped make all of this happen and to everyone who joined the celebrations to commemorate this exciting milestone!

Learn more about the ongoing #Wikipedia20 activities here.