3 min

Wikipedia on mobile


Wikipedia, the world’s fifth-largest website, but one with a relatively minuscule operating budget, has been especially slow to adapt to a mobile world.

Only 20 percent of the readership of the English-language Wikipedia comes via mobile devices, a figure substantially lower than the percentage of mobile traffic for other media sites, many of which approach 50 percent. And the shift to mobile editing has lagged even more.

Just 1 percent of changes to Wikipedia articles in all the more than 250 languages are made via mobile devices; for example, since July, there have been 200,000 mobile English-language edits, compared with 20 million total edits.

The concern in the Wikipedia movement and among people who study it is that smartphones and tablets are designed for “consumer behavior” rather than “creative behavior.” In other words, mobile users are much more likely to read a Wikipedia article than improve it.

She notes that as the screens used to read news or social media have become smaller, the screens of the so-called creative class have gotten bigger — often two screens together — for writing or designing or coding. The smaller screens of smartphones and tablets do not lend themselves to research and taking notes, or writing long encyclopedia entries.

Hold on a second. I disagree with the thought that a tablets and phones are not good devices for taking notes. It's possible for these devices to take notes in the field within reason, of course.

Mr. Möller of the Wikimedia Foundation, which has roughly 200 employees, is optimistic about adjusting to a mobile world. He notes that the transition to mobile will allow Wikipedia to enlist a more diverse editing corps, whether by age, sex or geographic location.

One frequent mobile contributor, Sajjad Altaf, an information technology consultant in Findlay, Ohio, says he edits wherever it is more convenient for him, noting that “it is difficult to edit from the phone, but I guess not that difficult to deter me from doing it.”

Mr. Altaf has written entire Wikipedia articles on his phone, including one about Noor Pur Baghan, his hometown in Pakistan, and disputes the idea that smartphones are passive devices. “If you are using your phone, you cannot just listen but not talk,” he said. “You cannot just receive an email but not reply to it.”

Wikipedia has other motives in embracing mobile use besides ensuring the continued editing of its entries. The interactive encyclopedia wants to expand in the developing world. As part of a “Wikipedia Zero” campaign, it has persuaded telecom companies to provide free access to Wikipedia in their phone plans in countries like Cameroon, Bangladesh and Malaysia.

Some Internet specialists argue that Wikipedia should adjust to a mobile world by harnessing “micro-contributions” like those on Twitter and Facebook. For example, they suggest creating a “like” button similar to Facebook’s that would allow a reader to flag errors in Wikipedia articles, or to suggest those that need to be updated. Quickly adding photographs to a Wikipedia article from an editor with a smartphone is another possibility.

One young Wikipedia editor, Nicholas Nuccio, a teenager from Staten Island, said he had made thousands of edits to Wikipedia from his iPod — usually about television shows — and was undeterred by the relatively smaller screen or more difficult editing tool.

#wiki - #mobile - #writing - #notes - #app - #blog_jr

By JR - 558 words
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