Wikipedia Wins in PEW Report

On his blog, Tame the Web, Michael Stephens pointed towards the following new report from the PEW Internet and American Life Project:

In this report, “Pew reports that 36% of online American adults consult Wikipedia. A table included in the report details top sites used for reference and education. Wikipedia has 24% use in a table provided by Hitwise of those types of sites.” (from Tame The Web: Libraries and Technology: Pew Report on Wikipedia and Reference Sites).

Another interesting fact in this report is that usage of Wikipedia increases in correlation to income. More respondents at higher income levels reported using Wikipedia. Also, not surprisingly, younger researchers were more likely to use Wikipedia than older ones. I was actually surprised that the disparity was not greater. Even 31% of those respondents aged 50-64 reported using Wikipedia.The report mentioned that over 70% of Wikipedia users connect to the site via search engines. Since Wikipedia includes a high number of internal links from article to article, it may generate artificially high results rankings for itself in search engines such as Google.

So what’s a library to do? Most likely, embrace Wikipedia. Michael suggests taking ownership of the resource by creating entries. We are certainly actively teaching students and faculty about its strengths and weaknesses. If you’re a librarian reading this, how is your library responding to the rise in popularity and use of Wikipedia?


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