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Wikipedia sees traffic surge from blackout

19 Jan 2012
Wikipedia logo

Normally, one would think that deliberately crippling a web site and blocking users from content would be a good way to bring down traffic numbers.

In the case of Wikipedia, however, a forced outage has actually improved traffic numbers.

The crowd-sourced encyclopaedia took its English-language servers offline on Wednesday, as part of a protest against the US SOPA and PIPA legislations. Rather than access Wikipedia pages, users were taking to a special page explaining why the company was choosing to block its site for the 24-hour period.

It seems users more than noticed the protest. Traffic analysis from security firm ZScaler suggests that more people than usual are accessing the site.

According to ZScaler, total traffic numbers to the site are up, but with users spending less time on the site and accessing fewer articles, total bandwidth usage is down.

"More people are flocking to Wikipedia today, but just to see the protest page and some details on SOPA," ZScaler said.

"This behaviour could be described as 'online rubber necking'.

The blackout is part of a larger effort by web publishers to raise awareness of the controversial SOPA bills – a protest that appears to be working. After being condemned by President Obama, the bills have been pulled from vote and many of the original sponsors are beginning to pull out amid pressure from voters.

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Shaun Nichols
About

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for V3.co.uk. He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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