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Alexa ranking down to 13th worldwide

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By Smallbones and Tilman Bayer

Alexa ranking down to 13th worldwide

Wikipedia's Alexa ranking has fallen from the 5th most popular website in early August to 13th most popular last week. The newly more popular websites are based in China as can be seen in our List of most popular websites (June 2019) and the current version of the article. Wikipedia's ranking in individual countries is holding steady – in the U.S. (7), the U.K. (7), Australia (8), India (6), and many other countries – but it does not appear in the top 50 in China, where access to Wikipedia is blocked.

Space shrinking and moving

Wikimedia Space is being shut down with its blog to be moved. The space was started in June with the big goals of becoming a news and discussion space for the entire Wikimedia movement. It was designed to encourage participation by being open to all languages, friendly, and safe. It was run and moderated by WMF Community Relations.

In practice it served mostly as an English language discussion site with a small number of participants, who were more diverse by nationality than you'd see on a single language Wikipedia. A blog space, which will be continued after a move, was a bit more successful.

The announcement of the closure is here.

An RfC that followed from last month's From the editor column asked the Wikimedia Foundation to enforce the Terms of Use against new violations by Status Labs. In 2013, the company - then known as Wiki-PR - was banned by the community, along with 250 sockpuppet accounts, in what was then the the largest paid editing scandal in Wikipedia history. The recent RfC was closed after four days with 100 editors supporting to 2 editors opposing.

Kobe Bryant's death causes DDOS-like outages

US basketball player Kobe Bryant (1978-2020)

On January 26, users in several geographical regions reported outages when trying to access Wikipedia. The official Wikipedia Twitter account announced later that day that "engineers have addressed the problems some readers had when accessing Wikipedia in the last day" without giving further details, but on her personal Twitter feed, WMF Executive Director Katherine Maher confirmed a user's assumption that the situation was caused by a DDOS (distributed denial of services) situation: "we are mitigating the current DDOS using a service from Cloudflare. We have been working on new DDOS resiliency but it isn't up and running yet."

As reported previously, back in September, a deliberate DDOS attack had prompted the Wikimedia Foundation to use a then-novel service by Cloudflare, which is apparently side-stepping some of the privacy concerns that have been associated with the company's traditional DDOS protection mechanism. No official information about the new setup has been posted yet and the September attack hasn't yet received the customary incident report, although in October, the WMF Communications team expressed "hope to have something for you in the next few weeks." In her January 26 Twitter conversation, Maher explained that "we decided against posting further information as doing so shares information that could increase exposure for a similar attack. We have been evaluating third party DDOS support services since the last outage, but weren’t going to share more until they go into deployment."

That said, at least the causes of January 26 incident were subsequently documented in an incident report posted two weeks later, explaining that "at 19:47 UTC [on January 26], the news of Kobe Bryant's death was announced. This caused a surge in both edits and page views, causing a stampede of [server] requests and a general slowdown". In 2009, the death of Michael Jackson had similarly caused technical issues (cf. Signpost coverage).

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Comparing the two Alexa Top 500 Global lists, the newcomers are Tmall and Login.tmall.com, QQ.com (Tencent QQ), Sohu, Taobao, 360.cn (360 Safeguard), JD.com. My guess this is not a methodology change, but genuine increase in Chinese consumer activity on the Internet. ☆ Bri (talk) 20:37, 1 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, if they are being newly added to Alexa's survey of sites, I guess this "sudden" fall is not so surprising. Liz Read! Talk! 20:43, 1 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's not what I meant. I meant the newcomers to the spots above Wikipedia. China had something like 50 million new Internet users last year [1]. That kind of growth will show up in Alexa. ☆ Bri (talk) 20:54, 1 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I understand how many internet users they are in China but Wikipedia was at #5, #6 or #7 for over a decade. It's surprising, at least to me, to fall so far practically overnight. Liz Read! Talk! 21:50, 1 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, 'fall' is a questionable manner in which to describe the change, insofar as the actual number of people using the encyclopedia has not diminished (at least not appreciably) and its ranking remains the same in almost all regions. All that has changed is that there are new major services in China and a significant number of new users in that market as well (where Wikipedia is incidentally unreachable as a technical matter). But the figures (in terms of real numbers) have not really changed and Wikipedia remains roughly as popular as it has been over recent years. Frankly, the byline is a little misleading, bordering on click-bait-ish; it really ought to read "Immersion of major new Chinese social media sites drops Wikipedia's relative ranking on Alexa" or something along those lines. The existing wording of the byline suggest an absolute drop in traffic and even the language that follows fails to appropriately clarify what is going on here. Snow let's rap 12:20, 2 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Quite disappointed to hear the setback in Alex's rankings but the worse thing we will witness in the future is the speculations over closing of Wikipedia market in India. It will even cause a significant drop in Alexa rankings and Indian government ruling BJP has planned to follow strict data protection policies ever since the Citizenship Amendment Act protests. I personally believe Indian government purposefully wanted to shut down Wikipedia because Wikipedia has huge collection of information about Citizenship protests and also recently the North East Delhi riots article seems to have caused headaches to ruling BJP. The author of North East Delhi riots article User:DBigXray faced criticisms and political attacks for providing accurate information about the protests by maintaining neutral point of view. We need to protect our valuable Wikipedia editors from these attacks. Abishe (talk) 19:14, 2 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But VPN adds another layer to accessing Wikipedia. It is like anti-theft devices. They are made to frustrate ordinary people long enough to give up and seek alternatives. In China there are alternatives (i.e. Baidu's Baike) to Wikipedia, even if they are being censored. We wouldn't ever know what would have been the true traffic as such, even if somehow Alexa manages to know that the users are from China behind a VPN. robertsky (talk) 03:08, 6 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Widespread transclusion of Wikipedia content is undoubtedly a major contributing factor to the statistical decline as well. We have reached a point where everything from Google searches to Windows Start Menu queries and Smart TVs and mobile phones all include cached summaries or versions of articles. We should get more aggregate data from public surveys and major organizations like Google and Facebook, but you can bet that the real rate of access is far beyond Alexa's take.    C M B J   03:41, 26 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]





       

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