Three months ago I blogged about mobile traffic to Wikipedia. I explained how we track two different metrics: on one hand traffic to our mobile site, on the other hand traffic from mobile devices (as detected from the so called agent string).
While preparing my presentation for Wikimania Haifa, which shows a visualization of global page views (more on that soon), it dawned on me that the chart I presented in that earlier blog actually shows incomparable metrics. They are not wrong, but a comparison of apples and oranges.
Above is the updated plot. Both existing lines are unchanged. I added a new line.
The issue is this: the blue line shows the ratio of page views to our mobile site, based on page views only, aka html requests. At the present our mobile site serves 6% of our page requests. (BTW read more on recent plans to redirect even more traffic to our mobile site).
The red line shows the ratio of requests that originate from a mobile device (to any of our sites), based on all traffic: not only html requests but also images and script files. There is a caveat here: many handheld clients (app/browser) do not retrieve a full Wikipedia page, but only the html file, and just a few of the images and scripts files. This skews the ratio, and not a little bit!
The new purple line shows the ratio of page views from handheld devices, disregarding all non-html file types. The difference is striking. It turns out at least 15% of our page views comes from mobile devices. I say at least as we do not factor in API calls yet, my colleague Nimish Gautam thinks this might further drive the ratio upward (to be continued).
It is not possible to generate the new metric for traffic activity older than 3 months. WMF only keeps request logs for a short period due to privacy considerations. Although somewhat confusing without this explanation, I will keep the red line for a while, to allow for long term trend assesments.