COVID-19, presidential election top Wikipedia's most-read articles in 2020

The online encyclopedia's year was a lot like everyone else's.

Andrew Morse Former executive editor
Andrew Morse is a veteran reporter and editor. Before joining CNET, he worked at The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Bloomberg, among other publications.
Andrew Morse
2 min read

Wikipedia relies on tens of thousands of volunteer editors 

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Wikipedia's 2020 looked a lot like everyone else's 2020: full of coronavirus and politics. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and the US presidential election dominated the online encyclopedia's year, with seven articles related to the two broad topics landing in its Top 10 for most-viewed articles of the past 12 months. Those seven articles generated a combined 297 million page views, according to preliminary data provided by the site. The Top 10 generated a combined 396 million page views. (Wikipedia published a blogpost with the Top 25 most-read articles on Monday.)

The traffic to Wikipedia articles underscores the site's authority as an information source, an unexpected turn given early misgivings about an encyclopedia that anyone could edit. Now, Google uses snippets from the site directly in its search results, and YouTube links to it from info blurbs that appear under false or misleading videos. 

Wikipedia, which is owned by the non-profit owned by Wikimedia Foundation, has put energy and effort into burnishing its reputation. The organization formed a disinformation task force for Election Day with dozens of people from the foundation's security, product, legal and communications teams guiding unpaid volunteers who edit it.

More than 56,000 volunteer editors protected Wikipedia's roughly 2,000 election-related pages using real-time feeds to monitor changes to the material. Similarly, Wikipedia has almost 7,000 pages with material about COVID-19 that have generated almost 580 million combined page views.

Three articles on the coronavirus -- COVID-19 pandemic, coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic by country and territory -- netted nearly 145 million page views combined. The articles were Nos. 1, 6 and 8, respectively. 

More articles on the election made the Top 10, though they were more diverse in terms of topic. Donald Trump, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden and the 2020 United States presidential election racked up 152 million combined views. They ranked Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 9, respectively. 

Articles on late NBA star Kobe Bryant and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II also made the list, as did an annual article on the year's notable deaths.

Here are the Top 10:

COVID-19 pandemic

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Rank: 1
Views: 83,040,504

Donald Trump

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Rank: 2
Views: 55,472,791

Deaths in 2020

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Rank: 3
Views: 42,262,147

Kamala Harris

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Rank: 4
Views: 38,319,706

Joe Biden

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Rank: 5
Views: 34,281,120


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Rank: 6
Views: 32,957,565

Kobe Bryant

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Rank: 7
Views: 32,863,656

COVID-19 pandemic by country and territory

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Rank: 8
Views: 28,575,982

2020 United States presidential election

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Rank: 9
Views: 24,313,110

Queen Elizabeth II

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Rank: 10
Views: 24,147,675