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Users’ move to mobile concerns Wikipedia

Sajjad Altaf, an information technology consultant, edited Wikipedia pages on his cellphone in an Ohio hotel room.
Sajjad Altaf, an information technology consultant, edited Wikipedia pages on his cellphone in an Ohio hotel room.Fabrizio Costantini/New York Times

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The Internet behemoths Google and Facebook have proved they can still attract users and advertisers as their traffic shifts from desktops to mobile devices.

But at Wikipedia, the giant online encyclopedia, the transition to a mobile world raises a different existential question: Will people continue to create articles and edit its 9 million existing ones on the small screen of a smartphone or tablet?

“This is definitely something we were pretty worried about in 2013,” said Erik Möller, deputy director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia with donations rather than ads. To address this concern, the foundation has formed a team of 10 software developers focused on mobile. In July, for the first time, mobile users could edit and create articles.

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