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Latin videos at Wikipedia top 2 million views

Videos from Youtube struggle to get hits. Many creators are placing great work on Youtube, in the hope that their work will be noticed. These videos are struggling to get seen; yet the same content on Wikipedia is getting thousands to hundreds of thousands of video views.

A few caveats: Wikipedia statisitics don’t tell us much about the interaction of users with video, such as the length of a ‘view’; and they probably include people whose attempt to watch a video did not work, because Wikipedia’s purist open standards “Web Matroska” videos don’t play on iPhones and iPads.

Nevertheless, here are some of the statistics for the first brave adventurers who were kind enough to take the plunge and release their videos under a Creative Commons licence, so they could be added to Wikipedia. These are total views; currently Latin videos are being seen around 300,000 times a month on Wikipedia, and over 10,000 times a month on Vicipaedia.

Video (Wikipedia page)Wikipedia ViewsYT views
Cicero Speech against Catalina (Cicero)335,64111,574
Catullus 16 (Poetry of Catullus)218,8581463
Carthago (Ancient Carthage)192,1731300
Limes (Limes, Hadrian’s Wall)171,8892100
Urbs Hierosolyma (Jerusalem)145,5102700
Persepolis (Persepolis)104,0962000
Carpe Diem (Carpe Diem)96,2472470
Catullus 2a and 2b (Poetry of Catullus)90,601124
Catullus 5 (Poetry of Catullus)70,991417
Catullus 13 (Poetry of Catullus)54,356440
Viae Romanae (Roman roads)52,459970
Vita Romae (History of Rome)41,854605
Catullus 101 (Catullus 101)11,711507
Ninfa (Garden of Ninfa)11,595560
Baden Baden (Pellicula Mensis, Martii 2022)10,5001100
Catullus 21 (Poetry of Catullus)7826142
Catullus 38 (Poetry of Catullus)7784176
Video views on Wikipedia versus Youtube

The lesson seems to be that if you want people to see your videos, then Wikipedia is a much better bet than Youtube, if it is the right topic. Videos of Roman roads, Cicero, Jerusalem and Catullus are getting a lot of views on Wikipedia, as they are on very popular pages, and are seen by a large, English speaking audience. That audience is clearly interested and curious to listen to the Latin they find.

Vicipaedia now also has a Pellicula Mensis, hosted on their front page, which is getting around 10,000 views a month. While other videos on other pages may get less views, they are of course reaching a Latin-using audience who can see and hear first hand from other people speaking Latin.

This raises two obvious questions: why then, are so few people contributing video to Wikipedia; and what do people need to do to get more, very popular Latin language content onto Wikipedia?

On the first, people do not think about Wikipedia for video; or at least have not. I think this will change over time. However there is a different mindset required for Wikipedia; care and attention is needed to ensure you do not violate copyright, are truthful and accurate, and so on.

There are also, to be frank, issues of technical barriers that get in the way. Open Latin project will help with this, if you would like.

Wherever the videos, and whether they are watched by people who are interested or skilled in Latin, Wikipedia offers a stronger and more persistent audience than Youtube for most creators, as relevant videos can stay in prominent locations for a long time.

Most of us will find it takes years of effort to get tens of thousands of Youtube views, with a small number of Yotube stars dominating what Youtube shows their audience; the model is based on familiarity with personality of presenters and the channel rather than content as such. Content is valued if it appears exciting (“engaging”), rather than if it is useful or informative per se.

However, the first person to record a video and place it on Wikipedia of any of the following is pretty much guaranteed a mass audience, as the reverse is true of Wikipedia; the topic is everything:

Wikipedia page Video readingPage views per month
Julius CaesarGallic war200,000
ErasmusStultitiae Laus 10,000
Isaac NewtonPrincipia220,000
Thomas MoreUtopia70,000
Potential video audience on Wikipedia

You get the idea. There are many very famous Latin texts that are well known, culturally important, and will be listened to by audiences on Wikipedia and Wicipaedia. Many already exist on Youtube, and could easily be relicenced by their authors and added. If you are a creator, why not give it a go?

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