The main purpose of the event is to provide unique opportunity for participants to check their knowledge of the Russian language, thereby promoting the language.
Totalny Diktant was initiated by the Novosibirsk Student Society in the Humanities Department in the 2000s.
Although it started as a small annual event held by a group of students within the University of Novosibirsk, over the past 12 years it gradually has become an international flash mob. In 2014 Totalny Diktant was held in 47 countries (352 cities) and 64,000 people attended the event, whilst other 52,000 people participated on-line by watching the live stream. The official organizer of the event is the Linguistic Competence Fund Totalny Diktant.
In 2017 Totalny Diktan twill be held in 800 cities around the world. 37 Russian cities joined the dictation, as well as 287 foreign ones from 72 countries.
In the last few years, the organisers of Totalny Diktant used dictation texts written by both modern and classical Russian authors, suchas Dmitry Bykov, Zakhar Prilepin, Boris Strugatsky, Dina Rubina, Alexey Ivanov, and others. In 2015, the text was written by Yevgeny Vodolazkin known for his novels «Solov’yov and Rarionov» and «Lavr».
The participation of the Russian Antarctic expedition in Totalny Diktant was of particular importance, as it demonstrated that all six continents hosted the event. Also, Oleg Artemyev, a Russian astronaut and a member of the International Space Station Crew, joined the project in space.