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.