Wikipedia in danger as contributor numbers drop

Website needs more editing blood to keep it current

August 5, 2011

Bad news for lazy undergraduates around the world looking for easy info for their essays – Wikipedia is on the wane.

The online encyclopaedia has provided all manner of semi-accurate information at the fingertips of users for years. But with a drop in the number of editors involved in keeping the site going, there are now fears that the project might flounder.

Site founder Jimmy Wales told AFP that he was concerned that Wiki volunteers were gradually dwindling, and new contributors are not being attracted.

“We are not replenishing our ranks,” said Wales. “It is not a crisis, but I consider it to be important.”

The non-profit site relies on an army of editors to keep articles up to date, and also to defend the site from pranksters intent on attacking entries.

Wales reckons that one of the problems has been the difficulty to actually edit the site, with rules often impenetrable for new users.

There were 90,000 active contributors in March this year, and Wikipedia hopes to add another 5,000 by next June.

One way that the organisation hopes to get more folks involved is to get university professors to task their students with contributing. We think this is a great idea. Every time a student is caught copying and pasting from the site they could be forced to do ten hours editing as penance.

Another idea that has been put forward is to use more social media tools, with one idea revolving around a Facebook ‘like’-style system.


Comments in chronological order (2 comments)

  1. Brian Turner says:

    It’s not surpising - some editors claim sections for themselves and prevent new users contributing anything of substance. And Wikipedia rules always favour any existing editor over any new.

  2. George Dance says:

    It seems to me that the main thing Wikipedia can do to attract and keep writers is to simply let them write. As is, anyone who goes there to write is going to find others moving in to delete or unilaterally change his articles, revert his own changes, and block him from writing completely if he dares to object. I certainly won`t be writing for Wikipedia again: stopping me from writing was originally Wikipedia`s decision, not mine, but it`s one I`m fully behind by now.

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