It is estimated that 61% of the world does not have access to the internet. But that’s changing quickly. Over the past decade, a quarter of the world’s population has connected to the internet, many through mobile devices. In India alone, more than 100 million people have gained internet access every year since 2014.
In 2016, the Wikimedia Foundation created a task force to understand the needs of new internet users. The New Readers team researched internet use in eight countries and traveled to Mexico, India, and Nigeria to interview nearly 200 people about their information-seeking habits. The findings portray internet use as dominated by mobile devices, limited connectivity, task-oriented browsing, and trust in the search bar over specific web properties.
Now the New Readers team is working with colleagues across the Foundation on new solutions to help readers in places with low to limited internet connectivity. The Reading team is building mobile features that will save Wikipedia content for offline use, while the Global Reach team is increasing support for programs that eliminate data costs for mobile traffic to Wikipedia around the world. Other teams are working on advocacy and local outreach to raise awareness about Wikipedia. As more of the world gains internet access, we intend to ensure that Wikipedia works for them.