Wikipedia's Economic Value

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Citation: Jonathan Band, Jonathan Gerafi (2013-10-07) Wikipedia's Economic Value.
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Wikipedia's Economic Value


Survey of papers estimating the economic value of Wikipedia (all language editions, about 22 million articles).

Valuation if Wikipedia were for-profit:

  • $10b-$30b based on valuation of sites with similar visitor and in-link popularity
  • $21.1b-$340b based on revenue if visitors had to pay, akin to Britannica
  • $8.8b-$86b based on potential revenue if Wikipedia ran ads

One-time replacement cost:

  • $6.6b-$10.25b based on freelance writer rates

Ongoing maintenance cost:

  • $630m/year based on hiring writers

Annual consumer surplus:

  • $16.9b-$80b based on potential revenue if visitors had to pay
  • $54b-$720b based on library estimates of value of answering reference inquiries

Conclusion: " Wikipedia demonstrates that highly valuable content can be created by non-professionals not incentivized by the copyright system."

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

Summary blog post at