The other day I went to Wikipedia.org and the site was down. The error page was very complete, however, and included a link to Alexa.com (which Amazon.com owns, by the way), a site that ranks websites by — among other things — daily page views. The link, which I’ve duplicated here, shows a graph of “Reach” of Wikipedia.org compared to Slashdot.org. I assume reach means unique viewers, as opposed to page views. Also, the graph I link to here spans the maximum available two years, rather than the one year Wikipedia’s error page linked to.
The graph is surprising. Why has Wikipedia experienced a mammoth increase in traffic since October 1, 2004? It’s currently the 40th most visited site on the Internet (scroll down the page I linked to). Slashdot is right around 800. In the span of one year Wikipedia has gone from 800-class to 40-class. How? Why?
I know that over the last six months or so I’ve grown more interested in Wikipedia. I posted about it. Has it made some sweeping improvement? Has word of mouth built it up? Or has its content reached critical mass? Maybe it’s gotten so large and so deep that it’s just too powerful to ignore. Maybe it’s gotten so useful that people use it once and they’re hooked. Is that what happened to Google? Probably.