Sudden Attention Shifts on Wikipedia During the COVID-19 Crisis


  • Manoel Horta Ribeiro EPFL
  • Kristina Gligorić EPFL
  • Maxime Peyrard EPFL
  • Florian Lemmerich University of Passau
  • Markus Strohmaier RWTH Aachen
  • Robert West EPFL



Social media usage on mobile devices; location, human mobility, and behavior, Qualitative and quantitative studies of social media


We study how the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside the severe mobility restrictions that ensued, has impacted information access on Wikipedia, the world's largest online encyclopedia. A longitudinal analysis that combines pageview statistics for 12 Wikipedia language editions with mobility reports published by Apple and Google reveals massive shifts in the volume and the nature of information seeking patterns amidst the pandemic. Interestingly, while we observe a transient increase in Wikipedia's pageviews volume following mobility restrictions, the nature of what people seek for was impacted in the long run. These changes are most pronounced for language editions associated with countries in which the most severe mobility restrictions were implemented. We also find that articles belonging to different topics behaved differently, e.g., attention towards entertainment-related topics is lingering and even increasing, while the interest in health- and biology-related topics was either unsubstantial or transient. Our results highlight the utility of Wikipedia to study how the pandemic changed information seeking behavior regarding shifting needs, interests, and concerns.




How to Cite

Horta Ribeiro, M., Gligorić, K., Peyrard, M., Lemmerich, F., Strohmaier, M., & West, R. (2021). Sudden Attention Shifts on Wikipedia During the COVID-19 Crisis. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 15(1), 208-219.