Many thanks, Tillman,  for your reply and also Christophes. Your analysis shows there are factors effecting pageviews that needs a qualified analysis to get to understand the numbers .

I am also happy to see that there are clever people looking into this, and I was also  very glad to see, in the minutes from the Board meeting in November (coming out yesterday), that this negative trend was up on the table and discussed (twice?).

On the other hand I am still concerned. Could it be that our readers is less interested in our project and/or looking for information from other sites? We have been used to a steady increase of page views, and even if there are technical reasons (as you put forward) for very much of the decline, I still interpret the figures that the fact is it its_not_ increasing as it has been doing. And this even as our project is getting more substantiated and better quality content, and we still see a healthy big increase in many ("emerging") versions.

The minutes from November meeting (with its very much expended content-thanks for that) talks of a general guideline of increasing employed personnel with 10-20% for the coming three years. Is this for getting our platform more competitive as users look elsewhere for answers? But to have the ambition to match the platforms for Google and Facebook must be futile would it not? Or are we being naive making big investment for expansion when our "market share" is decreasing (if this is the case), and where consolidation would be more appropriate?

Would a proper market survey (of how our users look for info on the  net and over time)  be a thing to be made before committing to an expansionist three years plan?

Anders


Den 2018-01-25 kl. 07:57, skrev Tilman Bayer:
Hi Anders,

some notes about possible reasons below. As a data analyst in the
Foundation's Readers department, I am tracking our overall pageview
numbers on a monthly basis, which we report to the WMF board alongside
other metrics about editor activity etc. (This is also publicly
available at [1], where this recent pageview decline had already been
remarked upon earlier. What's more, you can check this regularly
updated chart for a visual year-over-year comparison: [2] )

There are probably multiple causes for this year-over-year decrease
observable during the last few months. We know about one of them for
certain: The recent rollout of "page previews"[3] to all but two
Wikipedia versions. This is a new software feature that shows an
excerpt from the linked article when the reader hovers their mouse
over a link. It is designed to save readers the effort of clicking
through certain links. So a decrease in pageviews was fully expected
and is to some extent actually evidence for the feature's success.
According to our A/B tests, this decrease is around 2-4% (of desktop
pageviews). We are on the other hand going to measure this new,
alternative form of reading Wikipedia (i.e. the number of previews
seen) just like we measure pageviews now; there is currently a
technical discussion about this on the Analytics-l mailing list. But
for now it is not yet reflected in our public traffic reports.

Google-referred pageviews did indeed see a year-over-year decrease of
some percent since November (but not before) [4], although this may
still not explain the entire rest of the year-over-year change in
overall pageviews. Regarding Google's Knowledge Panel - i.e. their
Wikipedia extracts that you mentioned - a research paper published
last year [5] has confirmed that it indeed has a negative effect on
our pageviews (which had long been the topic of speculation without
much actual evidence). However, Google already introduced this feature
in 2012, so it has been around over half a decade now and can't be
responsible per se for any recent drops. One would need to look for
more recent changes made by Google. (They actually made a tweak to the
panels for a particular topic category in early November [6], but to
me it seems rather unlikely to have had a noticeable effect on our
overall Google referrals.)

Likewise, the internet-wide multi-year trend towards mobile doesn't
really explain this recent trend in our total (desktop + mobile)
pageviews - as James already pointed out, just a year ago we were
actually seeing a year-over-year *growth* of several percent for an
extended time period.

Generally, keep in mind that while page requests by bots and spiders
are generally filtered out, the pageview numbers still encompass a
smaller amount of other automated views and artefacts, which can also
be responsible for sizable changes. In the data reported to the board
[1] I apply various corrections to filter out some more of these. But
the numbers at stats.wikimedia.org still include them. For example, if
you had looked at the same year-over-year change last summer, you
would have encountered an even bigger year-over-year pageview drop
which however is almost entirely spurious: An issue found and
mitigated in July/August 2016 had artificially inflated desktop
traffic up to 30% during these two months. There is a Phabricator task
to correct this in the publicly available data [7], but it is still
open.

Besides the monthly reports of core metrics at [1] which come with
brief observations about trends, we also publish a more in-depth slide
deck about readership core metrics once per quarter.[8] The next one
will come out in two weeks and I plan to do some further analysis
(e.g. check if the decrease was focused geographically) in preparation
for that; so perhaps we will know a bit more then.



[1] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Audiences

[2] 
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikimedia_pageviews_year-over-year_comparison_(since_May_2013).png

[3] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Page_Previews

[4] http://discovery.wmflabs.org/external/#traffic_by_engine and
http://discovery.wmflabs.org/external/#traffic_summary , select weekly
or monthly smoothing for easier comparison, but keep in mind the
default view includes bots/spiders

[5] Connor McMahon, Isaac Johnson, Brent Hecht: "The Substantial
Interdependence of Wikipedia and Google: A Case Study on the
Relationship Between Peer Production Communities and Information
Technologies" https://www.aaai.org/ocs/index.php/ICWSM/ICWSM17/paper/view/15623
. BTW we are still looking for someone to volunteer a summary or
review of this paper for the Wikimedia Research Newsletter/ Wikipedia
Signpost, so that more community members can learn about this research
- contact me in case you're interested.

[6] 
https://9to5google.com/2017/11/08/google-search-knowledge-panels-news-publications/

[7] https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T175870

[8] Cf. last quarter's edition:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikimedia_Foundation_Readers_metrics_Q1_2017-18_(Jul-Sep_2017).pdf


On Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 2:55 AM, Anders Wennersten
<m...@anderswennersten.se> wrote:
We are seeing a steady decrease of page views to our projects (Wikipedia). 
Nov-Dec-Jan it is decreasing in a rate of 5-10% (year-year), and for big 
languages like Japanese,  Spanish close to 10%, or some months even more  [1]

Is there any insights of why this is so? Could it be that Google take over 
accesses with their ever better way of showing results direct  (but then also 
with showing extracts of Wikipedia articles) .

Or that our interface on mobiles is inferior so we miss accesses from mobiles 
(now being 54% of total). Or horror of horror that users look for facts on all 
new sites with fake news instead of Wikipedia?

Anders

[1] https://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesPageViewsMonthlyCombined.htm


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