Wikipedia Haemorrhaging Editors

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The world’s favourite collaborative encyclopaedia has been revealed to have lost somewhere in the region of 49,000 of its editors in the first quarter of this year, roughly ten times the number lost over the first three months of last year.

This news follows claims made during the summer that Wikipedia’s most frequent editors’ enthusiasm was likely to kill the site’s ability to maintain up-to-the-minute articles on just about everything. According to researchers at the Palo Alto Research Centre earlier this year, Wikipedia has long since stopped undergoing the exponential growth that characterised its rise.

Moreover, it was the assertion of researcher Ed Chi that the vast majority of edits made to articles by so-called “occasional editors” were reverted or somehow revised/rewritten by more zealous editors. It was expressed then that Wikipedia’s regular contributors were keeping the casual editors the site needs to remain accurate from making changes effectively.

Now, we’re seeing some harder numbers to back up the claims that Chi and his team made back in August, with word from the BBC that the service is losing editors at ten times the rate it was at the same time last year.

If that’s the case then Wikipedia could be very much in a position where the willingness of its routine editors to make changes to articles edited by others is putting people who could be best placed to post new information from bothering to do so at all… and when they do make a contribution, it is often quickly edited or expunged by a more frequent contribution.

For now, the folks at Wikipedia are sticking to their, “Nothing’s wrong with Wikipedia,” tack, but it seems as though the service could find itself in trouble sooner than anyone might have expected, especially if it continues to experience the drop-off rate it saw at the start of this year.

If you’d like to read more about the current state of Wikipedia, you should check out the BBC’s piece on it.

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