A large scale study of reader interactions with images on Wikipedia
University of Turin, Turin, Italy
2 École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland
3 Wikimedia Foundation, San Francisco, CA, USA
4 ISI Foundation, Turin, Italy
Accepted: 22 November 2021
Published online: 3 January 2022
Wikipedia is the largest source of free encyclopedic knowledge and one of the most visited sites on the Web. To increase reader understanding of the article, Wikipedia editors add images within the text of the article’s body. However, despite their widespread usage on web platforms and the huge volume of visual content on Wikipedia, little is known about the importance of images in the context of free knowledge environments. To bridge this gap, we collect data about English Wikipedia reader interactions with images during one month and perform the first large-scale analysis of how interactions with images happen on Wikipedia. First, we quantify the overall engagement with images, finding that one in 29 pageviews results in a click on at least one image, one order of magnitude higher than interactions with other types of article content. Second, we study what factors associate with image engagement and observe that clicks on images occur more often in shorter articles and articles about visual arts or transports and biographies of less well-known people. Third, we look at interactions with Wikipedia article previews and find that images help support reader information need when navigating through the site, especially for more popular pages. The findings in this study deepen our understanding of the role of images for free knowledge and provide a guide for Wikipedia editors and web user communities to enrich the world’s largest source of encyclopedic knowledge.
Key words: Wikipedia / Images / Computer vision / User behavior
© The Author(s) 2021
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