Wikipedia shows traffic uptick during SOPA protest

Millions of people still flocked to Wikipedia despite a blackout of its encyclopedia.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Although Wikipedia completely blacked out its English language Web site yesterday in protest of potential U.S. antipiracy legislation, traffic on the Web encyclopedia was higher than usual, according to research and analysis company Zscaler.


"If you want a quick way of increasing traffic to your website--change or take down portions of your website in protest," Zscaler wrote on its blog yesterday. "At least that is what we have gleaned from today's (1/18) Wikipedia protest against SOPA."

Graphs on the Zscaler blog show that unique Wikipedia visits during the blackout were higher than surrounding days. However, Zscaler notes that these visitors were bouncing off the site fairly quickly and the majority of visits were to Wikipedia's main page and SOPA Initiative page.

Zscaler's stats break down to about a 365 percent increase in visits to Wikipedia's SOPA Initiative page and around a 77 percent increase across SOPA-related pages.

"This suggests that more people are flocking to Wikipedia today, but just to see the protest page and some details on SOPA," Zscaler wrote. "This behavior could be described as 'online rubber necking.'"

Wikipedia also confirmed high visitor numbers and said that its SOPA and PIPA page was accessed more than 162 million times during the course of the blackout. It also said that more than 8 million people looked up their elected representatives' contact information using Wikipedia's Web tool.

Although Wikipedia stated on its site that, "visitors were not able to read the encyclopedia, and instead saw messages about SOPA and PIPA," there was a fairly simple workaround that involved users going to Wikipedia's cached version of any desired topic.