Number of Wikipedia Editors on the Decline

Recent statistics show that Wikipedia–the largest online, volunteer-driven encyclopedia–has been losing editors for the past six years. But who is to blame as to why less and less people are writing and amending content in Wikipedia? A research study from the University of Minnesota suggests that we could point the finger to the new rules and algorithms for quality control implemented in 2007.

The study shows a sharp increase in “reverts”, when edits were rejected by established editors, among new editors. From a small 6% in 2006, new editors’ amendments to content were reverted by as much as 25% in 2010.

Some may view it as a conflict between the newbies and the oldies, but longtime Wikipedia editor William Beutler sees it as a way the online encyclopedia matures.

“Wikipedia went from zero articles to 4 million articles in about 10 years, so there is less opportunity to create new material,” Beutler tells Mashable. “Some longtime editors have run their course, added everything they know. It’s worth pointing out that Wikipedia’s exponential growth could not continue forever. Most likely is that Wikipedia is finding its natural stable base of editors.”

But the author of the study, Aaron Halfaker, disagrees. In an interview with Mashable, he says: “I don’t think that hitting newcomers with an algorithmic hammer is the best way for a community to level off its size. I’d assert that newcomers not finding work to do is a much better driving force for reducing the editing population. Yet our results suggest that the algorithmic reverts are the stronger predictor of the churn.”

Source: Mashable

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