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Wikimedia Apps/Synced Reading Lists/Reading Lists Survey

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Reading lists have been in place in Wikipedia Android for almost a year, and the corresponding "Save for later" feature on iOS for over a year. Whilst some usage metrics are available, we lack direct feedback from users. A survey was therefore conducted on both iOS and Android to understand how and why reading lists are being used. It was intended that the information gleaned will help inform the ongoing development of this feature as we develop sync capabilities, and explore its potential as a cross-platform feature for all readers.


Understand what motivates users of reading lists.
A secondary goal was to see if there were any differences in responses from iOS users who may save to a single list, versus Android users may create multiple reading lists.

Research questions

  • What are the main reasons people use reading lists/save for later?
  • How important are different features in affecting their usage of reading lists?
  • Are ‘power users’ more likely to use reading lists for certain purposes?


Results from a reading lists survey conducted by WMF Design in May 2017.

This is a summary of the findings from the survey. Please view the linked presentation for more details, data visualizations and quotes.

Multiple lists are an important feature for using reading lists for a substantial minority of Android power users, and quite desired in general by iOS users.

  • "It would nice to be able to set up folders for different categories that you could save into"
  • "Allow in iOS version [the ability] to create folders, for specific subject."

Syncing across devices is desired, but even more important to users is being able to access and edit lists on the web, not just in-app.

  • "The most useful thing in the world would be syncing between devices! For PC would also be handy."
  • "I really want to sync across devices."
  • "Accessing lists from Wikipedia.org would be HUGE. It would be a game changer."

Users asked for more organizational controls
Controls desired ranged from being able to sort (iOS) and search lists, to enabling owner annotations and more list (sub)folders.

  • "Please create a method to better sort and/or search saved offline articles within [the] iOS app."
  • "Have a way to add a comment to articles in lists. I would use to note errors in article to fix later."

Users also want more information about their saved articles
Information such as the version date of the article saved, its filesize, or the last time it was updated was desired to help with their bookmarking and offline use.

  • "They should contain the date last synced so I know how up to date they are."
  • "It would be nice to see how much storage saved articles are taking up on my device."

Notifications and being apprised of updates to saved articles for editing and general monitoring was also quite important (more so than sharing)

  • "My only complaint is when I open an article in my list it's not current and I have to refresh it."
  • "Make sure that the date that the article is was saved is clear and is in chronological order."

Sharing capabilities overall were not highly rated
Neither platform’s users cited sharing as a highly motivating factor for saving articles to a list. It was the primary reason or main motivating factor for using reading lists by only about a tenth of respondents.

Android could benefit from adding user education/onboarding to increase awareness of reading lists Notably many more Android non-users didn’t know about Reading lists compared to iOS non-users of Save for later.

  • "I'm not sure I've used them, but this is 1st time I've heard of them. I use Wikipedia a lot."
  • "I don't know what they are, or what they're for, or how to use them. App feature info card, please?"


  1. An in-app card was shown on the Explore feed linking to a Google form from the weekend period of May 26-28, 2017 to both Wikipedia Android and Wikipedia iOS app readers.
  2. Participants answered a 3-part survey:
    1. An initial screener question (“have you ever used reading lists/save for later?”)
    2. Usage questions (skipped for those responding “no” in part A)
    3. Optional free-text feedback