Number of Wikipedia editors on the decline

November 23, 2009

Number of Wikipedia editors on the declineIt appears that the number of people interested in helping monitor “the sum of all human knowledge” is on a sharp decline.

According to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Spanish researcher Felipe Ortega has been studying the number of volunteers that assist in keeping Wikipedia up and running.  He found that in the first three months of 2009, over 49,000 editors stopped working on the site, a significant jump from the 4,900 who stopped working on the site in the same time period in 2008.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization behind the site, confirms the steep decline in editors, executives at the company don’t see this necessarily as a bad thing.  ”We need sufficient people to do the work that needs to be done,” says Sue Gardner, executive director of the foundation. “But the purpose of the project is not participation.”

While traffic to Wikipedia has grown around 20 percent over the past 12 months, the feeling is that the loss of editors is over the fact that the site has now passed over 3 million entries in the English language version; is there really that much more to write?  While there is constant updating to be done on some entries, there are many more that you can consider completed because of the limited scope of the entry.

There is also some speculation that some of the departures may be over some of the controversies that have swarmed around the site: From many arguments arising over how to edit the entries of controversial figures and subjects, to an ever increasing number of rules on style of entries.

Wikimedia feels it can maintain the site with a smaller pool of editors, but, personally, I think the idea that people are departing because their area of interest has been throughly covered sounds about right.  How much editing really needs to be done on the entry for author Jane Austen on an ongoing basis?

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4 Responses to “Number of Wikipedia editors on the decline”

  1. DavidB:

    I’d agree. So much “knowledge” is fully documented and could be said to be “done” that I’m sure many have moved on accordingly. The entries I’ve edited are “done” topics, I wasn’t editing in that time period, so while still interested in helping out I still alive I guess I would be considered to have “left”.

    From my BlackBerry Storm…

  2. Bill:

    The answer:

    There exists a clear and pervasive tone from the ultra left of the US political spectrum in a great number of articles. As the ultra left represents a minority of views in the US, this tone serves to alienate a wider audience. It is a fact that every US media outlet that has exclusively presented the ultra left position is dying from lack of support. Wikipedia on some levels has joined them and will ultimately do as they will: die or move to a more centrist position.

  3. Jahm Mitt:

    Yeah I used to really like contributing to Wikipedia; but it’s increasingly become more Nazi like as the place is over-run by pedantic shit heads who think they can lord it over the rest of us for writing in, what they have staked out as “THEIR CLAIM”.

    Now that wikipedia it has become a little squat of feifdoms, the peasants are fleeing from the overlords and their oppressive bullshit.

  4. Kisha Tillotson:

    Hi, you have yo do it on safari, and hold it for a while. x.

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