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Wikipedia Approaches Its Limits

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the time-to-start-over-i-guess dept.

The Internet 564

Reservoir Hill writes "The Guardian reports that a study by Ed H Chi demonstrates that the character of Wikipedia has changed significantly since Wikipedia's first burst of activity between 2004 and 2007. While the encyclopedia is still growing overall, the number of articles being added has reduced from an average of 2,200 a day in July 2007 to around 1,300 today while at the same time, the base of highly active editors has remained more or less static. Chi's team discovered that the way the site operates had changed significantly from the early days, when it ran an open-door policy that allowed in anyone with the time and energy to dedicate to the project. Today, they discovered, a stable group of high-level editors has become increasingly responsible for controlling the encyclopedia, while casual contributors and editors are falling away. 'We found that if you were an elite editor, the chance of your edit being reverted was something in the order of 1% — and that's been very consistent over time from around 2003 or 2004,' says Chi. 'For editors that make between two and nine edits a month, the percentage of their edits being reverted had gone from 5% in 2004 all the way up to about 15% by October 2008. And the 'onesies' — people who only make one edit a month — their edits are now being reverted at a 25% rate.' While Chi points out that this does not necessarily imply causation, he suggests it is concrete evidence to back up what many people have been saying: that it is increasingly difficult to enjoy contributing to Wikipedia unless you are part of the site's inner core of editors. Wikipedia's growth pattern suggests that it is becoming like a community where resources have started to run out. 'As you run out of food, people start competing for that food, and that results in a slowdown in population growth and means that the stronger, more well-adapted part of the population starts to have more power.'"

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How many editors are retirees? (5, Insightful)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051563)

Not to knock golf, fishing, spoiling the grandkids or catching the early-bird special, but I could think of worse ways of spending one's retirement time than editing and writing articles for an encyclopedia.

Re:How many editors are retirees? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051641)

I plan to spend my retirement trolling slashdot

Re:How many editors are retirees? (-1, Troll)

Desler (1608317) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051701)

You gonna retire from your job of cum squeegeeing?

Re:How many editors are retirees? (-1, Offtopic)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051925)

The technical term is "jizz mopper". Show some respect!

Hi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051571)

Hello to everyone !

It's their own fault (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051603)

If you have a 25 percent probability that your edit will be reverted, why bother? Coupled with abuse of the "notability" concept for new articles, Wikipedia has gone from "the encyclopedia of everything that everyone can edit" to the "encyclopedia of things we like and some people may edit."


Re:It's their own fault (3, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051647)

Precisely. But that's fine, I mean there are wikis for many other subjects so that you can delve into those subjects in much more detail. On these subject specific wikis, as long as its related to the subject, its ok.

Re:It's their own fault (4, Interesting)

vintagepc (1388833) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051763)

That's also part of the problem- There are too many fields, and everyone is trying to cover everything. While I don't expect wikipedia to have an article on everything I search for (and in fact, it doesn't) I would appreciate links to other sites... For (a bad) example, Uncyclopedia will link to Wikipedia if you search for a non-existent article. Why can't wikipedia do the same to other specialty wikis?
Anyone know if there is a meta-wiki somewhere that keeps a list of wikis?

Re:It's their own fault (3, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052043)

I'm not sure if there's specifically a list of wikis anywhere, but there is a wiki for Conservatives [] . Most articles seem to be mostly fixated on debunking Abortion, Evolution, and Homosexuality.

Re:It's their own fault (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052105)

Debunking homosexuality? You mean claiming it doesn't exist?

Re:It's their own fault (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29052349)

It worked for the President of Iran.

Re:It's their own fault (1)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052195)

You mean they don't believe abortion and homosexuality exist? Even worse than I thought.

Re:It's their own fault (1, Interesting)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051791)

"Precisely. But that's fine, I mean there are wikis for many other subjects so that you can delve into those subjects in much more detail."

And what do you know, Wales' for-profit company Wikia offers those!

Re:It's their own fault (4, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051939)

Why should i have to go wandering round multiple sites of unknown reliability when wikipedia could at least serve up the basics!
It wouldn't piss my off so much if wikipedia had always aimed to be an "encyclopedia of things we like and some people may edit.", but it didn't it was meant to be "the encyclopedia of everything that everyone can edit", and it pretty much was until a ruling clique formed!

Re:It's their own fault (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052201)

Your emphasis is wrong. It's an encyclopedia of everything that everyone can edit. Encyclopedias are tertiary sources of information. So if all you have are primary sources, then you need to create/find a reliable secondary source first.

Re:It's their own fault (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052069)

So why not have a mechanism for moving articles to the relevant specialised wiki and adding a stub page in Wikipedia (or a redirect to an index page) with a link to that specialised wiki, rather than just delete someone else's work?

Re:It's their own fault (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052249)

Wikipedia has that. It's called a Soft Redirect. When a relavant wiki exists, the information is encouraged to be moved there. But when the information is "This game that my friend bill and I invented in school that's a variation on paper football" finding an appropriate wiki is a bit difficult.

Re:It's their own fault (2, Interesting)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052071)

Having everything into one place is easier, and means you don't have to search for that subject-specific wiki.

More to the point, these specific wikis are often hosted on Wikia, which is bloated with JavaScript and has a horrible lay-out. Lately, Wikipedia has also started bloating its pages with JavaScript, though...

Re:It's their own fault (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052277)

You can turn off javascript. And you can customize your CSS/skin for both Wikipedia and Wikia.

Re:It's their own fault (3, Interesting)

SilverEyes (822768) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051673)

Many people add edits without checking the discussion page to see that they hold a commonly held belief that is wrong. Or it's just vandalism. Look at a popular page's history and many of the edits are pointless re-organizations, vandalism, insertion of incorrect information, and an equal number of reverts to get it back the way it was.

Re:It's their own fault (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051839)

OTOH there are cases of people trying to correct info only to have it "corrected" by people who break Wikipedias guidelines. An example of this would be "BUFF" in the article about the B-52 Stratofortress, it means "Big Ugly Fat Fucker" but last time I checked someone had decided to make the article "child-friendly" by changing this to "Big Ugly Fat Fellow" despite Wikipedia guidelines stating that one should not bowdlerize articles, and this was also pointed out multiple times on the discussion page.

Re:It's their own fault (5, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051931)

An example of this would be "BUFF" in the article about the B-52 Stratofortress, it means "Big Ugly Fat Fucker" but last time I checked someone had decided to make the article "child-friendly" by changing this to "Big Ugly Fat Fellow"

That's pretty ironic when I can go to this article [] and see a picture of the female sex organs. Won't someone please think of the children?

Re:It's their own fault (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052399)

Why would anatomy not be child-friendly?

Since about half of the people on this planet have the organ depicted in that article, why should it not be relevant to people with that organ?

Re:It's their own fault (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052337)

People revert against policy/guidelines, and that's a shame, but the solution is for more people to do their part in monitoring changes, and use proper dispute resolution when needed. It really works pretty well.

Re:It's their own fault (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052093)

I'll go further, it would be a disaster if wikipedia didn't converge. Established facts are not in constant turmoil, neither should be an encyclopedia.

Bingo (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052397)

As more articles approach a reasonably good state, more changes will have to be reverted because they decrease the quality of the article. It's not a bad thing, it's a positive sign.

Re:It's their own fault (5, Informative)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052235)

Like the articles about wikipedia's founder for example. Oh wait ... For a "self-avowed objectivist to the core" he sure has a low tolerance for criticism. (I refuse to link to his wikipedia page, if you want to see masturbation in action there are quite sufficient sites depicting that, and none of them should be linked)

Amen to that (4, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051749)

I've had stuff reverted which I've known to be 100% true (because it was about some software I personally wrote) and yet some muppet halfway across the world who probably knows next to nothing about the software thinks its wrong because theres no other source to verify against. In the end I just kept re-adding it until he gave up but it really pissed me off and I suspect I'm not alone.

Re:Amen to that (5, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051801)

The "muppet" was right to do so. Information that is not independently verifiable does not belong in an encyclopedia.

Publish the information somewhere else as an authority on the subject, then make the edit and add a citation.

Re:Amen to that (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29052111)

"The "muppet" was right to do so. Information that is not independently verifiable does not belong in an encyclopedia."

There are two types of "independent verification":

1) citing a different, published source for the information
2) doing it oneself -- as in a scientific experiment that will independently test a claim

It's fine and dandy to cite another published source for information, but we all know that people can and do slap up a web page making whatever wacky claims they want, and then cite that page in Wikipedia as if it is useful. In the scientific realm, citation of other publications only goes so far: those publications could still be wrong. The ultimate independent verification is to do the experiment yourself.

If I make the claim that water is extraordinarily toxic and hazardous to people's health and cite the DHMO website [] as my source, does that make my claim automatically "independently verified"? Can I go ahead and change the Wikipedia entry on water? Or are people more likely to accept their own personal experience and their ability to test the claims directly?

You and Wikipedia are right to expect a strong level of independent *documentation* for a claim, but there is more than one way to independently verify something, and sometimes personal experience or experimentation should be accepted as a valid approach. Anyone can independently verify that water boils at 100 degrees C at STP. Do I really have to cite a written source in order to say that in Wikipedia? If you have been there or done something that qualifies as first-hand knowledge of the issue, or anyone could verify the claim for themselves (e.g., do X yourself and you will see result Y), why shouldn't you correct an obvious mistake? Slavishly expecting a citation is silly in some circumstances.

Re:Amen to that (5, Informative)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052135)

Information that is not independently verifiable does not belong in an encyclopedia.

True, but the problem is how Wikipedia defines "verifiability". In most cases I have encountered it was used in the "it was printed on paper" sense, it didn't matter if the source was trustworthy, a press release or any other incorrect crap, as long as it was paper. Other Wikis, Blogs or Forums that might have easily verifiable knowledge of certain subjects aren't accepted as source. The PSP Homebrew article for example is pretty worthless blubber for that reason, mainstream press just doesn't like to talk about homebrew.

Re:Amen to that (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052171)

"Information that is not independently verifiable does not belong in an encyclopedia"

Well he could always have downloaded the software, compiled it up and run it but I guess he couldn't be bothered.

Re:Amen to that (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052375)

Or as apparently what many people are doing - just give up and don't bother.

Sometimes on a whim, I'll just add some info or make a correction. But I rarely bother to see if it stays. If people revert it, it's their or Wikipedia's problem, not mine.

It's not like I'm an avid supporter of wikipedia (esp given the sort of things they and their admins do). So I don't see the point of putting in extra effort for them (unless someone paid me enough :) ).

I've seen pages with pretty obvious stuff that's full of "citation needed" tags. I doubt that sort of thing is due to people trying to establish the truth, these sort of occurrences are more due to egos or politics or some astroturfing. Just a google search will provide tons of citations, so why clutter the wikipage with a citation for every other statement?

Re:Amen to that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051865)

Would you mind linking to said changes? Additionally, Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought [] . If you're the only source of the information, it shouldn't be going in Wikipedia.

Re:Amen to that (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051877)

That's the intended outcome, though. Wikipedia used to be just a collection of information put together by random people, but the goal is increasingly to build a well referenced collection of information put together by random people. If you can't cite any at least halfway-decent source for an addition, it doesn't belong in a Wikipedia article, because there would be no way for a reader to verify for themselves that the information wasn't just made up.

The fact that Wikipedia didn't do this often enough, and was to a large extent a collection of unreliable information put together by people with no credentials, with no way to verify any of it was accurate, was one of the most frequent and strongest criticisms in the early years (and still persists to some extent). So I'd say it's a definite shift in the right direction to require sources more stringently.

A halfway decent source? How? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052271)

Pay a journalist or magazine to review it? FFS get real. Anyway , all the guy had to do was download the software and run it to check the veracity of my claims but I guess its easier to google for 10 seconds then just press "revert".

Re:Amen to that (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052075)

I've had stuff reverted which I've known to be 100% true (because it was about some software I personally wrote)

Yeah, what you need to do is write a blog post or something (in your capacity as the author of that software), and then cite that in your wikipedia edit (written in your capacity as an encyclopedian).

Re:It's their own fault (3, Insightful)

mdda (462765) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051781)

Even non-core contributors have a 75% chance of getting their changes accepted - and my guess is that the probability is even higher if the changes make sense...

And rather than being a story about 'scarcity of resources', isn't it more one of Wikipedia approaching perfection?

The Incestuous Cesspool (5, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051833)

>>Wikipedia has gone from "the encyclopedia of everything that everyone can edit" to the "encyclopedia of things we like and some people may edit."

Pretty much. Elitism on the part of the core editors combined with a provincial desire to have articles "their way" combined with healthy doses of fucktardery has basically made me give up on contributing to wikipedia.

Case in point:
I went to an article, saw that it was missing ISBN numbers for the books the subject was written.

I looked up the ISBN numbers, and added them to the bibliography.

The core editor who claimed it as part of his domain reverted the edit. Within a matter of seconds; certainly less than a minute. No comment on the revert.

I waited a day, added the ISBN numbers again. He reverted the edit again, again no comment.

I tried it a third time, then left a notice on his user page telling him that he shouldn't be acting like that.

One of his admin friends came onto his user page, reverted out my warning to him, said there was no evidence the editor was rejecting edits arbitrarily (even though I'd linked the reverts in the notice), and that I essentially shouldn't say such things to my betters.

So yeah, I waited a month, did it again, and they were accepted without comment. Because, you know, there's nothing controversial about ISBN numbers. :/

But that was enough for me. Wikipedia is an incestuous cesspool.

Re:The Incestuous Cesspool (1, Insightful)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051969)

Can you cite your sources?

You Should Have Outed Your ISBNs (5, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052181)

Because, you know, there's nothing controversial about ISBN numbers.

If, however, a story had once run in the National Enquirer that the ISBN numbers were gay, not only would they have been included in the article, but three more paragraphs would have been added about them, with supporting citations from overseas versions of the National Enquirer, and a photograph of the ISBN number with some Dewey Decimal number believed to be it's life partner. ...and don't mod me flamebait until you've read the talk pages for Anderson Cooper, Tom Cruise, et. al.

Agenda? nahhh...

Re:It's their own fault (1)

psm321 (450181) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051857)

This. I do not contribute to wikipedia except for occasional typo fixes for exactly this reason. I haven't even had many of my own personal edits reverted, I am just tired of seeing useful information being gone because of the deletionists, and cannot in good conscience spend my time contributing to a place infested with such people.

Re:It's their own fault (5, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052091)

No kidding.

The problem is the incestuous "culture" - or more to the point, the haves-and-have-nots attitude of the majority of their administrators and so-called "respected users" - that works on the basis of gaming the system.

Words by a former wikipedia administrator [] that showed me how their system really works. And then of course there's scandal [] after scandal [] after scandal [] after scandal [] (the last one is incredible fun, too... if you think that's the only secret organizing list for abusive wikipedians, admin or no, you're delusional).

Wikipedia doesn't work. It hasn't worked for a long time and I don't think it ever really did. It has horrible bias [] against anyone who is a verifiable expert in their field. It has MASSIVE problems with cliques going around pushing their agendas and claiming that anyone new coming to an article or set of articles on their favorite topic (global warming, middle eastern conflict/culture, scientology, etc). If you show up with well-researched refutals to the crap that is 99% of wikipedia, you are labeled a "troll", or abused, or targeted by one of their throwaway accounts so that a friendly behind-the-scenes admin can slap an indefinite ban on you. This is deliberate: 20 newcomers to an article might be able to outweigh the morons pushing bad information, but as long as they can pick them off one at a time, they "win" in the wikipedian system.

A few wikipedians have been there "Forever." They'll never go away. More have been there "A very long time" and have developed incestuous, corrupt relationships with each other and with the "forever" types. Meanwhile, anyone new coming in is instantly accused of being a "sockpuppet", "meatpuppet", or whatever other epithet can be thrown at them.

It's no coincidence that the "Checkuser" tool, which was originally ripped out of David Gerard's corrupt grasp after a series of false-attack incidents (privately hushed up, naturally) has on en.wp been removed from the ability to "prove innocence." The accusation of "sockpuppetry" is an abuser's tool of force, pure and simple. In the Wikipedia "judge, jury, and executioner" administrator zone, any tool that could prove someone is innocent is to be neutered as soon as possible.

The statistics on blockings/bannings and responses to them are likewise hidden. Why? Because analysis of these shows what really goes on. Most administrators don't bother to communicate with users when placing a block. They drop indefinites immediately with no remorse, using wikispeak code rather than plain language. The "appeal" process is a laughable joke as well, with maybe 5-8 active "reviewers" who basically use it as a stress-relief tool, beating up on people who are helpless (because they don't have the admin bit) to begin with.

Face it. Wikipedia is worthless with the current "leadership." All the good editors and conscientious administrators were driven away long ago.

Re:It's their own fault (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052175)

If you have a 25 percent probability that your edit will be reverted, why bother?

I guess you'll never publish in an academic journal, because the chances of rejection are a whole lot more than 25%.

Re:It's their own fault (3, Interesting)

Ploum (632141) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052263)

indeed, I had the same feeling since a few months. What I find completely astonishing is the "no blog" policy.

I'm not a real wikipedia contributor but, sometimes, I correct a mistake or add an information I know. In the recent months, nearly all my edits were reverted because of "no source". And when I add a source, it's often a blog and deleted as "not acceptable, it's a blog". Worst : all blog references are now purchased and deleted. I was recently reading the french entry about freediving. For months, the external links section contained a few links to very interesting blogs about the subjet. I was really happy to find them and I would not have discovered them without wikipedia. Last week, I discovered than one link was dead so I removed it : immediatly after, an editor removed all the links with the comment "no blogs allowed". The article doesn't have an external links section anymore. What's the benefit of thatÂ???

There's also the "notability" problem.
Sometimes, when I look for something and don't find a page, I start it, putting the raw information IÂhave. So far it has always been deleted because "it was not notable" enough. I agree that it's often specialized and, if you are not interested by the subject, you might not knowing it. As an answer, I will provide links to articles speaking about the subject, links of blog created specifically for that matter. But no, those are blogs so it means the subject is not important enough. I even saw twice that I was not the first to try to create a given page. I know that it's specialized but Wikipedia even has pages for Porn actor !

In the end, I don't contribute anymore to wikipedia because :
1) It will be deleted anyway
2) It will raise the page I'm editing under the "veteran editor" radar and they will likely delete stuffs on that page or even remove the page completely (yes, it happened to me that the page I contributed after finding it was removed because "non notable" after my edit).

On the other hand, pages that haven't been touched since the 2007 golden era are pretty safe. Out-of-date, maybe, but at least safe.

Re:It's their own fault (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052275)

I don't buy the premise of TFS at all. First, afaict it's always been hard to not have an edit reverted. After I had an accommodating IOL inserted in my left eye, I edited the Cataract Surgery article [] to add the accomodating lens with the monofocal and multfocal lenses, and it was reverted almost immedately. I tried again several times to update it (my surgery was in 2006, the CrystaLens was three years old at the time), and all efforts were unsuccessful.

It took a mention of these efforts to edit the wiki here at slashdot to get wikipedia updated; it now mentions the accomodating lens. Its descriptions of the monofocal lens (you still need reading glasses and often bifocals) and multifocal lens (which works somewhat like bifocal or trifocal eyeglasses) are somewhat vague, but having the experience of not being able to sucessfully edit it I'm not even going to try.

As to the drop in new articles, that's entirely understandable. In wikipedia's early days there was a lot less information in it, and a lot more possible articles to write.

Uncyclopedia, otoh, is too easy to edit. Its article on crack cocaine used to be hilarious, now it's just stupid.

Re:It's their own fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29052291)

I'm not sure this is such a bad thing. I think it makes since. In the beginning there and there was a lot of low hanging fruit, but over time the encyclopedia has filled out. Why would you continue to change an article once it's converged on a generally accepted form? If a million monkeys bashing at keyboards produced Shakespeare would you have them keep typing? They've already made Shakespeare anything else is just noise. Comparing this with food running out in a community is a poor anology. People don't need to endlessly contribute to Wikipedia for it to be useful. Quite the contrary, now people can reap the benefit of all the work that was put into it and enjoy the quality community produced articles. I'm sure contribution will never stop. There is always going to be new entries to add, and new information brought to light on old entries, but one would expect the rate of change to slow overtime as the community converges on ideal articles and it becomes harder to find topics with no entries.

Re:It's their own fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29052389)

If you have a 25 percent probability that your edit will be reverted, why bother? Coupled with abuse of the "notability" concept for new articles, Wikipedia has gone from "the encyclopedia of everything that everyone can edit" to the "encyclopedia of things we like and some people may edit."


Your comment is absurd. What it (and the article) fails to take into account is the rate of vandalism from different sources. The reversion rate is higher from the different sources because the rates of vandalism are different. A good faith edit on Wikipedia, even by an IP address only edit, does not just get reverted at a 25% rate as this article sort of implies. Those edits consist of stuff like "Todd is a dick!", so it's a damn good thing they get reverted. I think your comment does a great disservice to the people who have helped create one of the greatest resources ever made. The notability issue is separate but, if anything, the notability guidelines should be made stronger, not weaker, otherwise you'd have a encyclopedia with six and a half billions biographies acting like some sort of myspace.

Surprising? (4, Insightful)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051623)

The rate at which new articles has decreased; I would hardly call this surprising. The coverage of Wikipedia is so great that the only place for new articles are more obscure concepts and greater specialization of existing ones.

Re:Surprising? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051875)

Exactly; obviously when you're trying to catalog everything in the known universe and its history, you will have a lot of to write. Once you more or less finish, you just have to keep it up-to-date. I have no idea why this is news.

Re:Surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051983)

I'm not surprised at all. There are many wiki style website that pays a small amount of money to its contributors (e.g.,, Google wiki Knol, etc). Others sites work on ad sharing basis. Some users started their own blogs or wikis and adding Google adsense to make money to pay their bills or support their hobbies. Some became professional bloggers. In other words die hard fan left because of bad wikipedia policies or they just want to make money out of it. It's all about money baby, all about money.

Quality standards (4, Insightful)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051639)

Personally, the drive for higher quality standards has driven this more than anything else I imagine. Add something that you don't have documentation for, and its likely to get reverted.


Then add the pile of people doing snow jobs, Steven Colbert stunts, reversion wars, etc, and I don't think its surprising at all.

Re:Quality standards (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051685)

Steven Colbert stunts

You mean the population of the African elephant hasn't tripled in the last decade? Say it isn't so!

Re:Quality standards (2, Interesting)

SilverEyes (822768) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051823)

Yeah it is getting to be of a higher quality. Tuesday I checked out [] as I just listened to a podcast about them. I was under the mistaken belief that they have virulent bacteria in their mouth. Wednesday I unearthed my account name and set to work, and someone had greatly improved the article, added a citation and corrected this information. I was impressed.

Then again, for some things, it's important to consider the systematic bias presenting itself in many articles. I think wikipedia [] has a good article on it... :P

Re:Quality standards (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052231)

These quality standards are a double-edged sword, though. You may have some great information that doesn't have references, or something may be blatantly obvious, but if it doesn't have references that's considered by Wikipedia to be a reputable source, it gets reverted.

And of course, there's bias and untruths. All that seems to matter is references, truth be damned.

And the "editors" are just as bad as ever (3, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051653)

An entire article about a british financial journalist and author was deleted recently by some french guy because he'd never heard of her. Well duh, he's from France, she's an english language journalist, why would he have heard of her? Until these sorts of idiots are weeded out I'll keep wikipedia at arms length and double check everything.

Re:And the "editors" are just as bad as ever (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052377)

Well, that won't work, will it? In this case, the problem is that there's useful information you won't find because some Wikipedia metagamer decided it couldn't possibly be useful since he'd never heard of it. Double checking does not help with that.

IMO, this is a far worse problem than a couple of errors here and there. I came across a case where maybe the world's foremost expert on Binary Coded Decimal was told he knew nothing about it, and got his contributions reverted by people who thought "BCD is useless! It's what they used in ENIAC's day, so it can't possibly matter!".

Apparently, just because you can convince IBM to include a decimal floating point unit in their processors, you can't therefore convince Joe Average Wikipedian.

oblig. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051675)

I, for one, welcome our Wikipedia Information Nazi overlords.

The Power... To Move You? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051693)

FTFA: "...the stronger, more well-adapted part of the population starts to have more power." ...assuming anyone actually _wants_ said power.

Bringing in natural selction = lame (1)

ixache (123955) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052009)


Why, oh why, do they have to compare a cultural phenomenon (the emergence of an elite caste (sp.?), viz. the Wikipedia editors, those who are "more equal" among the equals) with natural selection? It makes no sense at all. Darwin would make a double take on this one.

Ob. old geezer lament : where are the social science of yesterday? Do these youngsters even know of "methodology" and "skewed metaphors"? (Actually this exact text was found carved in clay on sumerian tablets. I kid you not.)

Ob. disclosure : I haven't read a word of the actual article. But it goes without saying, this Slashdot after all...



Hi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051695)

Hello to everyone !!!

Who is actually pulling the strings? (2, Interesting)

psyque (1234612) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051743)

What kind of opportunities can arise from certain groups/governments getting their people inside the main editing groups? Articles can be subtlety edited to be bias to certain ideals and points of view that would not be questioned. Every time I hear news about Wikipedia it starts to sound more and more likely.

Glad to see I'm not alone (1)

ProteusQ (665382) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051761)

I will correct grammar in a rare article now, but that's all. I'm not in the inner circle -- therefore, it's not worth my time to fight for anything.

Re:Glad to see I'm not alone (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052281)

If I care about the article and see a mistake, I'll fix it. But if I don't, then I don't bother anymore because it'll get back to hell soon anyway.

It's worse (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051777)

It's not just numbers of articles. Articles are shrinking. Trivia sections get eliminated if not integrated in the rest of the article in order to conform with "style" (no matter how interesting/surprising the trivia bits are), images that aren't strictly conforming to copyright get purged (even if they probably qualify for fair use -- but someone hasn't made the argument, and bots eventually get the images out), anything controversial gets mired in edit wars or simply deleted, and so on. Some great articles that I've gone back to over time are little more than stubs now. At least the earlier versions are preserved in the edit history.

Success and the desire to make it a more polished product is slowly whittling Wikipedia away and discouraging casual (but knowledgeable) contributors. It's becoming a pain to contribute and more boring to read.

It's more and more like a "real encyclopedia" every day.

That's really a no-issue (1)

Luke_2010 (1515829) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051793)

I don't see the point in saying the number of new articles has decreased in that last 2 years. It's like saying I'm not satisfied of my 34.347.293 volumes enciclopedia because it grows only 2 volumes per months and not 4. Wikipedia is already the biggest enciclopedia on earth, nothing compare to it, there are articles about things traditional enciclopedias would never dream to cover such as consumer products, software programms, videogames characters, movies, etc..etc.. I think the number of articles has decreased simply because there aren't so many new topics to talk about and general knowledge has already been completely covered. Wikipedia keeps being one of the most valuable assets of the whole Internet.

And why has Wiki become this way? (5, Funny)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051799)

Because jackasses can't stop making edits about Obama being the antichrist, bears and elephants fighting with robots in the year 2525, or Metamucil and Clorox mixed together being better than cocaine. This is why we can't have nice things on the internet.

Re:And why has Wiki become this way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051873)

Metamucil and Clorox mixed together being better than cocaine

But, it is. I should know, as I've tried it before!

Yup (1)

BeardsmoreA (951706) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051827)

Yep - I've stopped bothering. What's the point of correcting mistakes you see or adding updates when you know they'll just be bounced. And notability being tested by 'has this member of the cabal heard of X' isn't entirely sensible I feel. Shame, the quality and range of info on there is bound to suffer as a result of this.

Re:Yup (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052331)

Last time I came across a page marked for deletion (the page on the Scrotwm window manager), I had a look at the revision history of the account that made the deletion suggestion. It turned out that every single one of the edits made by that account had been nominations for deletion. I can't help think that Wikipedia would be improved a great deal if your vote was weighted in some way by the amount of positive contribution you'd made.

Modifying good info (1)

realsilly (186931) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051831)

One of the best benefits was that people could correct the entries of information, but when good / correct information is modified with someone elses agenda, it can be come exhausting having to clean up a mess of bad infomation to spin things a specific way.

I can see why colleges will not allow users to utilize Wikipedia as a valid reference. While there is often very useful and helpful information, it's not reliable that the information will be static from one hour to the next.

I think that more people would be willing to help keep it updated if it wasn't so easily corruptable.

Saw this coming (5, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051835)

I have been saying for some time, the historical significance of Wikipedia will be as an extremely well documented social experiment, rather than as an encyclopedia.

It was a genuine attempt to create a new way of gathering and ordering human knowledge, but ultimately it failed to overcome the problems in the society that it occupied. Petty politics and corruption ate away at the original vision. I am not intellectually lazy enough to just shrug and say 'human nature' - I think there is more to it than that.

Wikipedia, like the rest of the Internet, might appear to be a new cultural space but the fact remains that everyone who contributed to it still occupies a real world cultural space. Real life Democrats are wikipedian democrats. Real life creationists are wikipedian creationists. Technology itself doesn't let you outrun who you are, so ultimately the same conflicts that make real life debate and conflict suck made Wikipedia suck as well.

I'm hoping, for the sake of the web and for the sake of Wikipedia itself (a victim of its own dominance; everyone wants access to the first hit on a Google search of their pet topic) that something else displaces it. Having a single, flawed, starting point for finding out information on the Internet (as many people do with Wikipedia) reduces its utility for research.

Ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051845)

when the pot and kettle mutually deny their own existence.

Fuck Wikipedia. (4, Insightful)

snarfies (115214) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051861)

I stopped contributing to Wikipedia years ago. If you write an article, no matter how well-written, there's a good chance over 9,000 deletionists will pop up and go "HURR HURR NOT NOTABLE" and either speedy delete, prod, AfD, or some combination of the above. Those who cannot create instead focus on destroying.

This just in... (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051949)

Wikipedia learns what Everything-2 learned 10 years ago. Details at 11...

It's unfortunate that you made the subject of the comment what you did... Because you're likely to get modded as a Troll even though you speak the truth.

Not likely notable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051979)

So I assumed you wrote an article that was deleted? What was the article about? Articles about your backyard garden are certainly not material to be put into Wikipedia....

Re:Not likely notable (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052365)

It was probably something about current or recent popular culture, which Wikipedia admins consider not-notable, but sociology students 20-30 years from now would find incredibly useful.

It's all about compromise. (2, Insightful)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051913)

Compromise, however, is difficult to achieve because everyone has a different perspective of what's a good point of compromise. Wikipedia works that way -- as does my U.S. of A. -- but there's always going to be times when that compromise is being made in favor of one perspective over another for a long enough period of time to alarm the peeps. Hopefully, "balance" will be restored (though nothing is ever truly and completely balanced) to a point that is generally acceptable to the most interested parties.

Re:It's all about compromise. (5, Funny)

SilverEyes (822768) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052065)

Do you speak of the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to Wikipedia?

No reference, no update (3, Interesting)

Random5 (826815) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051927)

The problem with wikipedia is that these regular editors are extremely fussy about changes and take control of articles - I may come along, correct an error in something I know very well and think 'that's my part taken care of' only to have the one guy who's basically taken control of the article revert a few hours later because I didn't add yet another reference to the bottom of the page citing this new information. It may not be more significant than anything else on the page but this page has become that editors article (unless it's a large popular article) and if it doesn't have a reference for each point, they're not accepting it. Also see [url=]this[/url] storm in a teacup.

Power corrupts (2, Insightful)

stry_cat (558859) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051951)

Actually what it really means is that a few editors have amassed all the power (much like a few people amass all the power in the government). This problem has been around for a while. I personally stopped contributing after they kept deleting the the article on the stolen sidekick [] . Its been reduced down to just a few lines [] in some other article.

There is of course Deletionpedia [] , but it looks like their bots aren't always on top of the situation. Several of the articles I've tried to find there weren't saved in time.

It's a shame, since Wikipedia could be so much more that the narrow vision of the deletionists.

Good info gets better (1)

MistrX (1566617) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051953)

I think that when one has good information (backed up with valid sources) I see no reason why it should be reverted, even if you are new to Wikipedia or not. And I see lots of work for the individual languages. I think a lots of pages could be translated (I spend my retirement in translating Wikipedia).

Especially on the non-English ones (1)

Tellarin (444097) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051967)

This happens even more on some of the non-English versions of Wikipedia. Especially (in my experience) in the pt one. I gave up contributing on that one a couple years ago because of that.

Re:Especially on the non-English ones (1)

acid06 (917409) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052127)

I was going to post exactly this same thing.

The Portuguese Wikipedia is hell. I try to maintain some Perl-related articles in there and it's very common for random people, completely unknown to the subject, to revert my edits.

One thing that drives me insane is the stupid "fight" created by wikipedians from Portugal when someone changes the words to their Brazilian Portuguese version. Usually they go on and revert the entire edit just because of a single word - they even have bots for that.

I hope the other localized versions aren't as silly as the pt one. I guess it somewhat reflects the Brazilian and Portuguese society, where petty power is *even more* valued than elsewhere.

Re:Especially on the non-English ones (1)

dword (735428) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052173)

Of course their "elite" editors stayed the same, because their contributions are accepted... because they are the are part of the "elite". Yup, I just gave a circular argument there.

OTOH, editing Wikipedia is nearly impossible for "one-timers" because it's getting more and more features so it's becoming more and more difficult to just add a freakin' row in a table. This may be keeping new people from entering the group of "elite" editors, because they give up only a few seconds after they try to edit something. There is much information I would gladly contribute with, I would have the time to write about it, but I don't have the nerves to learn Wikipedia's special features.

sh17 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29051985)

get tough. I hope would take akbout 2

and yet (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051989)

wikipedia is still the best model for what it does

criticism is always welcome, but criticism without a better model in mind is empty, nevermind if it vouches for dead models of doing something like an encyclopedia

you see a lot of voices that criticize wikipedia because it supplies an open forum for discussing certain topics that certain groups would like a monopoly on, that goes against their party line or a propagandistic agenda. this is of course further ammunition for their criticism, but criticism that doesn't have fair play or freedom of speech in mind, but in fact, the opposite

its the cathderal versus the bazaar, and the bazaar has been found to have price fixing and collusion between vendors and a powerful union at work, possibly corrupt. and yet the bazaar is still superior to the cathedral and the problems inherent in that model

and if wikipedia worsens, and begins to evolve towards the cathedral model as it ages, a new wikipedia-like replacement will emerge. such is life and death. creative destruction. its all good

Time for a new take on Wikipedia? (5, Interesting)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#29051999)

I have only made a few contributions to Wikipedia, and the experience of having my changes reverted has killed my interest in contributing again.

I'd like to see a new/competing version of the online encyclopedia which attempts to be more inclusive of all information. Rather than removing information because it is not deemed notable, contributions should be rated for how notable and essential they are. However, the less notable information would still be there - it just wouldn't be the first thing to come up in search results.

This could even apply within specific articles. The main article would contain the most important information, and would look much like an article on Wikipedia today. However, more arcane / tangential information on the topic would be available for those who wanted it. They would just click on a link for "all details" or click to expand certain sections of the article.

several explanations (3, Interesting)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052001)

There are several explanations of what's going on with wikipedia. There's the perception that, based on the amount of information already there, that there's less to do, so the sense of urgency for contributing likely has dropped among potential contributors. In other words, wikipedia is approaching the point to where it is a victim of its own success.

There's the problems with inaccurate information being cited and then very publicly refuted, which is likely engendering feelings of reluctance to be associated with that sort of public failing by potential contributors. Some of these people probably should be discouraged from contributing, given that's how those errors got there, so this is not entirely a bad thing.

Then there's the reason given in TFA, regarding the core group of editors. There very much appears to be an attitude of exclusivity, if not outright elitism, among some of the more outspoken "regular" editors, to the point where a person such as myself who may have some specific knowledge on a particular topic doesn't feel that the reward is worth the effort to fight the system.

There are several topic that are either woefully incomplete (numismatics) or contain both explicit errors and copious errors of omission, presumably in attempt to present a "neutral point of view" (uss pueblo), that there are many opportunities for contribution to existing articles. However, the perception of the effort required to amend an existing article quickly brings me to the conclusion that it's not worth the time needed to do the research simply to have it removed by some editor for no other reason than because I'm not an accepted authority by virtue of not being part of the elite circle.

This is what I'd expect... (2, Interesting)

eddy the lip (20794) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052087) Wikipedia matures and common issues get covered. There are fewer "easy" items to add, and editorial standards rise. In the beginning, everyone was new. Now the more casual, less experienced editors are more likely to be reverted, at least until they rise to a higher bar than was required in the beginning. It could be that it's just becoming an incestuous cesspit, but I think increasing coverage and quality are likely reasons.

Evolution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29052119)

"As you run out of food, people start competing for that food, and that results in a slowdown in population growth and means that the stronger, more well-adapted part of the population starts to have more power."

Well that's how evolution works. The trolls and casual editors start to die off early without leaving offspring and the elite editors start to reproduce and breed a new super race!

What? Nerds don't have sex...? oh crap...

Why I edited (5, Insightful)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052147)

I edited Wikipedia because I found significant errors and omissions in areas I was familiar with. The articles are accurate enough now. And, yes, I had an edit reverted. After we discussed it on the talk page, I redid the edit, and it was much better the second time.

So, I'd like to propose a completely innocuous explanation for the figures given: the number of casual contributors has gone down because there's a lot less room to go into an article and be an expert. Also, casual contributors very often haven't learned how to make a good Wikipedia edit, and having it reverted is ultimately a good thing. Moreover, with the lesser need for the casual contributor, the proportion of crackpots and vandals has doubtless increased. This could well account for the large number of reverts.

While Wikipedia has definitely changed, it doesn't look to me like it has changed for the worse.

good science (2, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052161)

Excellent study. Lots of people have felt this way for a few years now, but this is what science is for: Replacing "gut feeling" with hard facts.

The next step, of course, will be the most interesting: Research into what one can do, how one has to build a community to avoid these problems, and keep it running along the successful path.

This FP foR GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29052185)

Don't walk a8ound

No (2, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052187)

It has nothing to do with the "inner core" and everything do with morons who watch their favored pages and revert anything and everything that undoes the axe they ground in it. Most people's time is more valuable than that of the cultists, conspiracy theorists, fanboys, and ideologues who make up the bulk of the editors.

The inner circle's flaw is that they don't enforce standards of credibility, not just of the editors, but of the sources used to cite information into the encyclopedia.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29052241)

Good because there's too much shit that no one cares about on Wikipedia as it is...

Maths (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052307)

[Thing()]{0,l} -> l; [Novelty()]{l,0} -> 0; [Cliquishness]{0,l} -> n^2

My bad Wikipedia experience (3, Interesting)

HonestButCurious (1306021) | more than 5 years ago | (#29052381)

I wanted to write an article about the Solovetskiy Stone [] , which is a monument to victims of political persecution in the former USSR erected by former Gulag residents right across the KGB headquarters.

I didn't want to create a user - sorry Jimbo, I just don't want to join your fan club. As a form of punishment, I was tormented with like a 17-step wizard with questions such as whether I am writing about a "MUSICAL GROUP, DJ, ALBUM, or SONG". After I finally got to the part where I write my part, it was unceremoniously deleted by the EarWig robot (eh?), because some of the text - basically the address of the place in Moscow - was copy-pasted from And this is the site with a 10-page article listing the secondary characters in the Final Fantasy world. Sorry, somebody else would have to create this article instead of me and yes, I was shocked at how bad Wikipedia had got.
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