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Watch That Article Length
Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I enjoy talking about many things with my teens, including Internet topics. Of late, the things they've had to say about Internet behavior had me giggling like crazy, though they made some pretty good points. Our latest bru-ha-ha was over the length of Wikipedia's articles. I introduced my teens to Alexa and explained what its charts and data represented. We looked up Wikipedia's stats because it's one of my favorite sites. And I commented that I was very surprised at Wikipedia's high bounce rate.

As a regular user of Wikipedia, I truly enjoy the breadth of information there. I even enjoy the site's existing link structure. Clicking through to new topics is a pleasurable activity for me. Apparently, my teens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of others don't feel the same.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

'Anything is better than having to read through all that. I mean, do I really have to scroll though pages and pages just to find out Bruce Lee wasn't murdered?!'

My youngest teen, for example, proposed Wikipedia's bounce rate is so high 'cuz nobody wants to sit there and read those long ass articles.' My oldest teen complained about the same thing and said after reading so many paragraphs of a non-answer to his question, he'd rather go to Yahoo Answers to find what he was looking for, regardless of whether the result was right or wrong.

They Made a Good Point

Though my teens are too young to appreciate Wikipedia's approach to providing comprehensive content, they made a good point. Very few people have the patience to read 'a lot of stuff.' Very few people have the patience to do much of anything these days, in fact, which is why manufacturers are busy creating gadgets and mechanical aids designed to quicken everything. Perhaps as content providers (myself included), we should listen to my teens, other teens, and whoever is contributing to Wikipedia's high bounce rate.

More Leave Wikipedia Than They Leave Google

As it stands, more people leave Wikipedia faster than they leave Google -- a search engine that leads people away from its own website! Unless you want people to leave your website with the same fury, I encourage you to keep your articles short enough to hold the attention span of the average teenager. In this household, the rule is 3 - 6 short paragraphs per article, or they're outta there!


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