“The Death of Wikipedia?” — Exploring the Impact of ChatGPT on Wikipedia Engagement

Paper by Neal Reeves, Wenjie Yin, Elena Simperl: “Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world, serving as a major source of information and learning resource for millions of users worldwide. While motivations for its usage vary, prior research suggests shallow information gathering — looking up facts and information or answering questions — dominates over more in-depth usage. On the 22nd of November 2022, ChatGPT was released to the public and has quickly become a popular source of information, serving as an effective question-answering and knowledge gathering resource. Early indications have suggested that it may be drawing users away from traditional question answering services such as Stack Overflow, raising the question of how it may have impacted Wikipedia. In this paper, we explore Wikipedia user metrics across four areas: page views, unique visitor numbers, edit counts and editor numbers within twelve language instances of Wikipedia. We perform pairwise comparisons of these metrics before and after the release of ChatGPT and implement a panel regression model to observe and quantify longer-term trends. We find no evidence of a fall in engagement across any of the four metrics, instead observing that page views and visitor numbers increased in the period following ChatGPT’s launch. However, we observe a lower increase in languages where ChatGPT was available than in languages where it was not, which may suggest ChatGPT’s availability limited growth in those languages. Our results contribute to the understanding of how emerging generative AI tools are disrupting the Web ecosystem…(More)”. See also: Are we entering a Data Winter? On the urgent need to preserve data access for the public interest.