Whilst reading an article on The Times web site about Britannica turning up late to the 2.0 party ("Britannica 2.0 shows Wikipedia how it's done"), this sentence jumped out at me:
Mr Cauz [Britannica's president] said the Britannica site was “definitely not as popular” as Wikipedia, attracting about 1.5 million people each day compared with Wikipedia’s approximate 6 million visitors a day.
Do those figures seem a little fishy to you? As Information Professionals, is your usage ratio of Britannica to Wikipedia 1:4?
According to Quantcast, in the USA alone, there are an average estimated 8,300,000 people visiting the wikipedia.org domain every day (or 69,565,464 people per month). A 2007 report on the comScore web site indicates that the USA represents around 20% of the worldwide internet audience so, potentially, Wikipedia may be attracting up to 41,500,000 people per day**.
The comparative US figures on Quantcast for the britannica.com domain are an average estimated 170,300 people per day or 3,925,622 per month.
Maybe Quantcast isn't that relaible? So, I went to Alexa and downloaded their daily list of the top 1,000,000 web sites. Not surpisingly, Wikipedia was near the top of the list (#8). Britannica doesn't even make the list. In fact, according to Alexa, the following sites (which do make the top million list) are more popular than Britannica…
- over 24,000 YouTube user pages
- 1,379 domains ending in .edu
…I wonder if Mr Cauz lies awake at night worrying that YouTube user happygal17 (SFW) is apparently more popular than Britannica?
I guess it's true what they say — you can't always believe everything you read in newspapers!
** – the figure will likely be much lower, as Wikipedia doesn't make the top 50 most visited sites in China (it's currently #65)