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Wikipedia Losing Contributors, Says Wales

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the citation-needed dept.

Wikipedia 533

derGoldstein writes "According to an AP report, 'Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said the nonprofit company that runs the site is scrambling to simplify editing procedures in an attempt to retain volunteers.' He explained, 'We are not replenishing our ranks... It is not a crisis, but I consider it to be important.' Despite Wikipedia's wide-reaching popularity, Wales said the typical profile of a contributor is 'a 26-year-old geeky male' who moves on to other ventures, gets married and leaves the website."

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CK ref: (-1, Offtopic)

alphatel (1450715) | about 3 years ago | (#36998084)

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree

Re:CK ref: (0)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about 3 years ago | (#36998174)

Where Alph the sacred river ran, through caverns measureless to man... Now care to explain why you quoted that? I don't get it.

Re:CK ref: (2, Funny)

pinfall (2430412) | about 3 years ago | (#36998286)

Where Alph the sacred river ran, through caverns measureless to man... Now care to explain why you quoted that? I don't get it.

An empty palace is still empty no matter how much trash you fill it with. Seemed obvious to me.

Re:CK ref: (0)

jbarr (2233) | about 3 years ago | (#36998320)

The parent article might have given him a Rush [wikipedia.org] .

Easy reason (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998086)

There's an easy reason for this. The admins are, generally speaking, dicks. This wouldn't be a problem if they were in touch with the community, but they aren't.

Re:Easy reason (4, Interesting)

royallthefourth (1564389) | about 3 years ago | (#36998130)

But how do you fix this? Who do you replace them with? The only people who would spend so much time editing instead of reading Wikipedia have got to be really weird.
Maybe all edits could be fed into a queue like the Slashdot metamod where they are evaluated by random visitors side-by-side to see if they are reasonable.

Re:Easy reason (3, Insightful)

roothog (635998) | about 3 years ago | (#36998242)

But how do you fix this?

Require admins, and anyone else who's privilege level is above the basic editor, to use their real names.

Re:Easy reason (3, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | about 3 years ago | (#36998368)

That's a bad idea. Administrators may be in a position of power on Wikipedia, but that doesn't mean that they have a commensurate level of power in the real world. Forcing real name use just opens up administrators to possible personal harassment and physical attack.

Re:Easy reason (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998406)

That's the point. If the admins are dicks, they should be personally harrassed and physically attacked, until they cease to be dicks.

Re:Easy reason (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 3 years ago | (#36998482)

Sometimes admins have to be the bigger dick in a situation because sometimes the admins will be right in an argument with someone who won't back down. Do you want the admin that won't allow creative design topics into the evolution page to have his house picketed by idiots who don't know better? Or the guy who manages the abortion page having his car firebombed because he won't let someone put in the pet statistics?

Re:Easy reason (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 3 years ago | (#36998512)

That's the point. If the admins are dicks, they should be personally harrassed and physically attacked, until they cease to be dicks.

The trouble is, it might be the people doing the harassment and attacks who are being dicks, not the admins. The odds go that way.

Re:Easy reason (5, Insightful)

roothog (635998) | about 3 years ago | (#36998412)

Power without accountability to the people that you're exercising power over is dangerous.

I'd go further and argue that editors should disclose their real names, too, as that provides some accountability for content. Some people really more qualified to edit an article than others.

Re:Easy reason (2, Insightful)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 3 years ago | (#36998484)

If your product is based on ostensibly presenting a version of the truth, at some point you must be held accountable for it. This means you must open yourself up to criticism and attack, but it also means you're open for praise. If you cannot be shown to be deceptive, manipulative, or otherwise false, you cannot in any way, shape, or form be expected to shepherd the truth. I do not understand how someone can think they should work in a scholarly capacity and expect anonymity while simultaneously having authority. Authority and anonymity are a recipe that breeds corruption and lies, as anyone who has had contact with a bureaucracy can attest.

To put it simply: Why should we believe anything Wikipedia says is true if they aren't even truthful about their identities?

Or more apropos: [citation needed, bitch]

Re:Easy reason (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 3 years ago | (#36998566)

To put it simply: Why should we believe anything Wikipedia says is true if they aren't even truthful about their identities?

Or more apropos: [citation needed, bitch]

Didn't you kinda answer your own question here?

Re:Easy reason (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 3 years ago | (#36998500)

Reduce there level of power. Yes if you say something in a public forum there might be consequences. Easy way to stop is it to randomly assign edits to be reviewed, since an editor need not know the subject after all. Now since an editor can no pick what he wants o work on he can not be coerced into editing something specific. If you do not agree with it you can make changes and they will be reviewed by a diff editor. Real names help people to be accountable, do not like it do not accept that position.

Re:Easy reason (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 3 years ago | (#36998436)

Or require them to upload a photo of themselves, smiling, at a bar or other social area, with a minimum of 4 friends who _don't_ look like they are being paid or held hostage.

In other words, prove that they are socially well adjusted. The big problem with wikipedia administration is that the folks who make it to the top get their largly because they have no actual lives outside the internet and as such spend huge chunks of their day trolling through wikipedia.

Re:Easy reason (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 3 years ago | (#36998460)

* get THERE

Please excuse that. It's Friday!

Re:Easy reason (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 years ago | (#36998280)

But how do you fix this?

Give less power to admins. They should only be needed to resolve disputes and handle cases of persistent bad behaviour.

Re:Easy reason (1)

geniice (1336589) | about 3 years ago | (#36998354)

Err anyone on wikipedia can resolve disputes (admins have no real special authority in that area) and single admins can't generally resolve persistent bad behaviour. Admins are more targeted to dealing with obvious vandalism, copyvios and other simple stuff.

Re:Easy reason (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | about 3 years ago | (#36998138)

Exactly. Generally speaking, it's better to retain the people you have rather than to find ways to replace them when they leave. Simplifying editing may or may not help replace the people you lose, but addressing the reasons why you're losing so many people is going to be more effective at keeping quality high. When I hear people talk about why they no longer edit Wikipedia, they never talk about the complicated editing process, but they almost always talk about the unreasonable and unaccountable admins.

Re:Easy reason (4, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | about 3 years ago | (#36998176)

I just stopped doing it because I lost interest in doing it. It's time out of my day that I can do things far more entertaining. (It's also my main gripe with people who think that taking care of the world's needs will bring some kind of utopian future. If I didn't have to go to work, I wouldn't do work. I'd be the best damn video game player in the world.)

Re:Easy reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998490)

I stopped doing it after all my changes kept being reverted for various stupid reasons. If they don't want people contributing, maybe they should keep some of the content that is actually submitted.

Re:Easy reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998226)

Not just the admins. There are various people who will stake out a particular page and just delete things for the hell of it, or stick those obnoxious [citation needed] tags all over the place. There are also the political operatives and the cult zombies who will constantly scrub their Glorious Leaders' pages.

Re:Easy reason (4, Informative)

cream wobbly (1102689) | about 3 years ago | (#36998250)

I once made a link from a mention of a leading kit car manufacturer to their web site. The self-appointed admin deemed the manufacturer not noteworthy, and marked my edits "spam". Even though several of his own edits were made to text incorporating links to far less notable manufacturers. I doubt the article in question has been cleaned up... let's check... Oh yeah, now there aren't so many external links -- the minor manufacturers have articles of their own.

So yeah, if you're an admin, you get to put up all sorts of crap. If you're just a regular contributor, you get reverted.

Real names, Jimbobbly, real names!

Re:Easy reason (1)

geniice (1336589) | about 3 years ago | (#36998374)

So care to provide a link to the article in question?

Re:Easy reason (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36998492)

Even though several of his own edits were made to text incorporating links to far less notable manufacturers.

If you think an article about a given manufacturer doesn't belong on Wikipedia according to your interpretation of the notability policy, take the article to AFD.

So yeah, if you're an admin, you get to put up all sorts of crap.

More experienced editors make mistakes too, and admins are just experienced editors with a mop. There's no rule against a new editor reverting an edit made by a more experienced editor. It's just that more experienced editors are more likely to 1. check on their recent contributions over the past week to see if they got reverted and then 2. take the time to discuss any reverted edits [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Easy reason (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998254)

The Admins are dicks? True. But so are many of the users.

I stopped editing purely because so many of the people were hostile and uncivil to ANY suggestion. You couldn't get them to accept even talking about a problem, they were much more concerned with bashing you than they were with whatever issue you brought up. There's a comment to one concern I brought up where months after I left it, and after I left Wikipedia, and somebody asked if anybody was working on that, the person just said "Oh ignore that person, he left" which just goes to show what kind of dicks there are.

I'd say shut it down instead.

Re:Easy reason (5, Insightful)

Afforess (1310263) | about 3 years ago | (#36998356)

This may be an unpopular theory, but I think Wikipedia's shrinking community has little to do with the admins behavior. I've only personally heard about their poor behavior from 3rd, 4th, or 5th hand accounts. But that's purely anecdotal and a side-tangent.

I think the reason the community is shrinking is because Wikipedia, at least the English version, is complete. I'm not implying that there isn't more information that can be added, but as far as the sum of human knowledge goes, I'd guess that they have gotten past that "magic" 95% marker for easily acquired knowledge. Most of the remaining work to be done is article maintenance, and filling in mundane details of niche articles or emerging fields. The days when 5th graders wrote articles on your home town or park near you is gone. My quaint home town article for Rockford, MI [wikimedia.org] (a town with less than 5000 people) is nearly 3 pages long! (I can't believe there was enough to even fill in 1 page, after the generic census data...),

This isn't a bad thing. It's the natural evolution of such a site. Wales should pat himself on the back and congratulate the community for his contribution to society as a whole. Wikipedia is a job well done and has moved our world forward in a positive direction, in what is becoming a rarer achievement every day.

Re:Easy reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998476)

You said this more eloquently than I could. I think we've reached the saturation point for wikipedia. Every time I've ever thought of looking something up on wikipedia it has had more than enough information.

Re:Easy reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998358)

This. Had a few friends trying to edit stuff that was true, and correct, and had correct sources, but was always edited by an admin and some of my friends were banned or gave up entirely.

Also heard about people who have a wiki page trying to edit things and remove untrue things and then they were banned....

Moar like dikipedia....

Re:Easy reason (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998362)

They are in touch with the community. With bludgeons and kangaroo courts. Then new admins come in and don't clean up the previously made mess.

Re:Easy reason (5, Interesting)

Anrego (830717) | about 3 years ago | (#36998386)

Yup!

This is definitely the core of the problem.

It only takes one aspergers inflicted admin to make a good long term contributer throw their hands up in the air and say "fuck that shit". Additionally other people see this happening and decide not to get involved at all.

The fact that this issue is brough up nearly every time wikipedia is mentioned would indicate that this is a serious and obvious problem ... not the editing interface. I have never heard anyone complain that "it was just so damn hard to get the text to look correct that I stopped contributing". I _have_ heard people rant about control-freak admins on a fairly regular basis.

I think the big problem, as someone mentioned, is that the people who make it to the top are the people who spend all day trolling through articles and correcting things. In other words... the people who are probably running on a lean mixture and take things just a little too seriously. The people you need admining wiki are the occasional contributers who are socially well adjusted (which is why they are "occasional" contributers.. they spend time doing other things with real people). How you achieve this I do not know.. but I think it's the answer.

Re:Easy reason (1)

MikeURL (890801) | about 3 years ago | (#36998572)

The problem I've had with editing is that when you do get to a dispute over an edit there is no group of normal people to arbitrate. If you have a disagreement with admins on and edit then it gets brought before more admins. That works less and less well as the ranks of the admin corps gets more and more inbred.

Personally I think the answer is a LOT more paid employees. I think most things that reach the point of arb should be overseen by employees of wikimedia. Of course that would require a lot more money but it would help introduce the concept of adult supervision and not just people playing a MMORPG.

Re:Easy reason (3, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | about 3 years ago | (#36998446)

There's an easy reason for this. The admins are, generally speaking, dicks. This wouldn't be a problem if they were in touch with the community, but they aren't.

Agreed. The kind of people that want power over overs in their free time are not the kind of people who are good at using that power productively.

I gave up everything but small spelling corrections and rephrasing on wikipedia ages ago.

Re:Easy reason (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998528)

Look, I'm an administrator there. Posting anonymously for obvious reasons.

We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Contributors are pussies. And Jimmy Wales is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes who just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate — and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!

A million monkeys typing (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 3 years ago | (#36998102)

Wikipedia sucks buttholes. It's run by a gang of mental midget dictator-for-life's who believe that capitalism is the one and only God-given way for humans to live -- in spite of all contrary evidence. Fuck that. Also, defend the Palestinian People! Down with the Zinoist mass murderers! For Arab-Hebrew workers revolution and a socialist federation of the Near East!

Re:A million monkeys typing (0)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about 3 years ago | (#36998202)

Your trolling gets less and less coherent as time goes on. I really don't get what you're trying to do. It must be that kind of night, I'm just not understanding people.

Re:A million monkeys typing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998562)

It's run by a gang of mental midget dictator-for-life's who believe that capitalism is the one and only God-given way

Are you on crack? Have you tried editing the page on Karl Marx or Che Guevara? WIkipedia has no shortage of leftards.

Sick of the cabals (5, Interesting)

Pope (17780) | about 3 years ago | (#36998116)

Or more likely they're sick of the cabals that form. Wikipedia has lost lots of contributers over the past few years because of them, and will continue to do so unless these spergmeisters are kicked off the pages that they edit camp.

As usual, it's a couple of intractable morons that ruin it for the casual contributor.

Re:Sick of the cabals (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | about 3 years ago | (#36998210)

The probability that a random new edit will be beneficial drops as the project matures and becomes more polished. Increasingly powerful and conservative cabals are natural consequence of any academic system defending its signal:noise ratio.

Re:Sick of the cabals (5, Interesting)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about 3 years ago | (#36998290)

I've grown up in a particular industry, I've worked in the industry for almost 20 years, it's a small specialist field referring to a particular geographic area in Australia, I try to add information to the pages that already exist and are not complete, I always cite my work when I edit something and I remain factual and not opinionated or personal... yet most of my work continually gets rolled back by editors based in the US who edit camp particular sections of wikipedia and don't seem to like ANY change to their pages.

Re:Sick of the cabals (1)

omglolbah (731566) | about 3 years ago | (#36998444)

Yup, common issue.

I dont bother with it anymore...

Re:Sick of the cabals (0)

geniice (1336589) | about 3 years ago | (#36998502)

Can you provide an example?

Who are you on en.wp? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36998522)

I always cite my work when I edit something and I remain factual and not opinionated or personal... yet most of my work continually gets rolled back by editors

I'd like to look through your most recent contributions to Wikipedia and offer tips, but you appear not to use the same username on Wikipedia that you use here. What is your username on Wikipedia so that I can find examples? Without examples, all I can recommend is to discuss all reverts on the article's talk page [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Sick of the cabals (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#36998252)

Yep. Wikipedia was in trouble from the moment "deletionists" became a word.

Unfortunate, but expected (1)

realsilly (186931) | about 3 years ago | (#36998118)

Many people go to Wikipedia as a 1st search hit. And it's always nice to get decent info. But it's inevitable that it would lose volunteers. It is common for many things. People help, then move on leaving room for others to take up the torch, but somehow the torch gets set down, and no one ever picks it up.

Re:Unfortunate, but expected (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 3 years ago | (#36998304)

it seems like there isn't as much work to do. The history of everything has been entered. All that's left to do is wait for the slow march of time to dispense new information. It doesn't help that most of the new information to contribute is along this vein [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Unfortunate, but expected (4, Interesting)

kbolino (920292) | about 3 years ago | (#36998388)

You imply laziness where others see frustration. I edited Wikipedia for a long time, and granted not all of my edits were good, but then I watched as my contributions, one-by-one, regardless of quality, got deleted. This took years, mind you, but it left me with the distinct impression that either I had nothing of value to add to Wikipedia, or Wikipedia had nothing of value for me. Perhaps both.

I would go back in a heartbeat if WP worked like it did in 2004 again. But it doesn't, and I don't think that's going to change any time soon, so my edits nowadays are minor, few, and far between.

AFDs plz (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36998550)

I watched as my contributions, one-by-one, regardless of quality, got deleted.

Please link to the "Articles for deletion" discussion pages for these contributions so that I can help you.

The problem is WikiPolitics (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998128)

Edit the "wrong" article the "wrong" way and you'll get some asshat jumping on you. Wikipedia isn't exactly a friendly place to new people, or even some veterans, so that makes it difficult to retain volunteers.

Re:The problem is WikiPolitics (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about 3 years ago | (#36998394)

I find it sad that someone downrated your comment (twice!) when it seems to be perfectly reasonable to me from my wiki experiences.

Uh (5, Insightful)

mikkelm (1000451) | about 3 years ago | (#36998140)

Perhaps if the whole thing wasn't run by a small clique of sociopathic dorks who wield a ridiculous bureaucracy in a manner that can yield any conclusion that they wish it to yield, then people might stick around for longer than their first editing war.

Every procedure on that site is a complete farce.

HEY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998156)

We're not dorks...

Re:HEY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998216)

Did your mother tell you that?

Politics in everything (2)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 3 years ago | (#36998184)

The WORLD is run by small cliques of bureaucracy wielding, sociopathic dorks.

Re:Politics in everything (4, Interesting)

idontgno (624372) | about 3 years ago | (#36998278)

Which gives the phrase "You can't fight city hall" its peculiar poignancy in the Wikipedia context.

You might wrestle with the cabals of incompetent, self-serving, mildly power-hungry bureaucrats if your life, liberty, family, or property were on the line. You'd walk away from the pointless (and probably fruitless) aggro if it's just Wikipedia, because there is no personal stake. It absolutely isn't worth it. If Wikipedia goes to hell, for the overwhelming majority of people the result will be "and nothing of value was lost."

Sad, too. It had such potential.

Re:Politics in everything (1)

winkydink (650484) | about 3 years ago | (#36998284)

You're confusing the world with most open source projects, I fear.

Re:Politics in everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998346)

The difference is, you HAVE to participate in the world. (Or you could commit suicide, but that's illegal for some reason.) If politics on Wikipedia (or Slashdot, or Digg, or the Lions Club or Halo or almost anywhere else) bugs you, you can refuse to participate, and *LEAVE*.
If you know someplace I can go to leave real-world politics behind completely, PLEASE post it below. I'll name one of my children after you.

Re:Politics in everything (1)

magarity (164372) | about 3 years ago | (#36998556)

If you know someplace I can go to leave real-world politics behind completely, PLEASE post it below.

I hear Mars has water on its surface these days.

Re:Politics in everything (1)

roothog (635998) | about 3 years ago | (#36998382)

That doesn't make it OK.

What do you want for nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998150)

I get so tired of people complaining that volunteers don't volunteer even more.

Stop complaining and try appreciating that someone gave you something gratis.

Better yet, try volunteering yourself instead of whining about the lack of a free ride.

Re:What do you want for nothing? (1)

Xacid (560407) | about 3 years ago | (#36998288)

You sound like a wikipedia moderator. Gee, I wonder why I don't bother contributing anymore - just read all the other posts above. It's no secret.

StackExchange (2)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about 3 years ago | (#36998160)

Wikipedia needs to adopt some of the stuff StackExchange does to encourage user participation and APPROPRIATE moderation. The SE platform wouldn't work for Wikipedia, but some aspects of the user system would be highly beneficial. Reputation of some sort would be great, along with better privilege levels.

Re:StackExchange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998310)

Introduce karma-whoring to wikipedia? Great idea!! /s

Let's see... my experience with editing Wikipedia (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 years ago | (#36998162)

I once was an editor there. Allow me to illustrate why I am no longer.

It all started when I dared to step into the turf of something one of the "higher ups" considered his. An edit of me was reverted. Not just something trivial that begs for a "citation needed", it was a well worded and sourced piece of information. The reason was that it was "not enough on topic". Ok, I see that differently, but so be it. Not like I have to have everything I write published.

What bugged me was that the day after, my entry was, almost verbatim, in there again. This time under the name of the person who thought it's "offtopic" only one day earlier. But ok, so be it, some people need it for their ego to be the "only authority" on some subject.

The problem started when this became the rule rather than the exception. Whenever something new developed in an issue, it descended into mind numbing bickering whose version gets to stand. And since I'm more in the fact-gathering and less in the butt-kissing game, usually it's not my version that stands. So hey, maybe they don't need me as an editor.

The last straw was when I removed some defacement (IIRC it was an article about greek pillars and someone made a rude reference of someone fucking someone else up the rear) and it got reverted by my personal stalker. It seems, they get butt-kissing brownie points for doing as many reverts as possible, preferably without reading first what got written.

So, in case you're wondering why you don't get more editors, take a look at the existing ones.

Re:Let's see... my experience with editing Wikiped (-1, Troll)

melikamp (631205) | about 3 years ago | (#36998418)

It all started when I dared to step into the turf of something one of the "higher ups" considered his. An edit of me was reverted. Not just something trivial that begs for a "citation needed", it was a well worded and sourced piece of information. The reason was that it was "not enough on topic". Ok, I see that differently, but so be it. Not like I have to have everything I write published.

What bugged me was that the day after, my entry was, almost verbatim, in there again. This time under the name of the person who thought it's "offtopic" only one day earlier. But ok, so be it, some people need it for their ego to be the "only authority" on some subject.

Whine whine whine... It is hard to take you and anyone else seriously unless you link to Wikipedia. Citation needed.

But even if what you say is entirely true, why exactly are you so mad? Anyone can go through the history and see that you were the one who wrote the original version, and the following edit was done by a self-promoting jackass. As Magic Johnson wisely said: "Don't worry. Sooner or later, people like that are exposed as the frauds they are." When I edit Wikipedia, I don't expect any recognition. I just hope that what I write there will be useful to many people thirsty for knowledge. Let it go, let the editors play their fame-game. They don't get paid, and most of the time it's harmless, so throw them a bone. And when it's not, when it comes at the cost of the article quality, punish them. One day your stalker will slip up, and you will get an opportunity to file a Web-form and drag him through the dirt.

Re:Let's see... my experience with editing Wikiped (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about 3 years ago | (#36998568)

So your response to a cyber-stalker is to stalk them back? Sounds like a healthy past-time.

Re:Let's see... my experience with editing Wikiped (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998468)

The point of Wikipedia is not to become super-awesome-editor-who-gets-credit-for-their-work. It's to produce encyclopedia articles. But if you're really going to get your panties in a bunch over your edits disappearing and then reappearing at the whim of another editor, just remember that somewhere in the history of that article, there's an edit with your name on it that puts that material in the article first.

Also, if you have a personal stalker reverting your edits without reading them, there are procedures in place [wikipedia.org] for dealing with such situations.

Re:Let's see... my experience with editing Wikiped (1)

orgelspieler (865795) | about 3 years ago | (#36998480)

wow... that's really strange. It's hard to imagine that somebody's main source of entertainment is just reverting a particular person's edits. Did your stalker just do this to you, or anybody who dared edit "his" page?

Losing them when they're better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998186)

My guess is that the married with kids geek is probably a little less of a dick than the 26 year old geeky male, which in turn could lead to other people contributing to Wikipedia who have been put off by the way things currently work there.

Wikipedia's policies are insane (5, Insightful)

Dwedit (232252) | about 3 years ago | (#36998194)

Wikipedia needs to amend its "Notability" and "Verifiability" policies badly, and stop deleting articles (which blocks access to the edit history). They don't accept evidence as verification, only "published sources" which use inaccurate speculation and second-hand information. Misinformation keeps reappearing on pages, because it has a citation to some other website which makes the claim, despite that it is untrue.

An example of a time I was highly frustrated is when I was trying to read about the software program called Impulse Tracker, then discovered that its page was deleted. So what if Impulse Tracker is "not notable", its file format is still used in the tracking scene, so I wanted to read about the original program, but can't because the page was deleted. And if I want to reconstruct the page, I can't because the edit history is blocked out.

Re:Wikipedia's policies are insane (3, Insightful)

qzjul (944600) | about 3 years ago | (#36998262)

This; when you've worked on an article over a month or so with a dozen people to make it better, and then random editors delete it for notability, it really turns you off from doing anything more...

Re:Wikipedia's policies are insane (1)

Derekloffin (741455) | about 3 years ago | (#36998494)

What really disgusts me about the deletions is apparently, admins are more than willing to delete an article that didn't even come close to properly following the deletion rules: One of the articles I follow, which admittedly has issues, had a standard editor who obviously didn't know what he was doing, put up the deletion tag on the article. However, said editor did it improperly, making the discussion sound like it was not about deletion but simply about article improvement. There also was no deletion discussion page made up. A couple weeks pass, being a low priority article it generally gets ignored save the usual vandal edits, admin comes along, and deletes it. No comment as to why (which really makes me wonder if these guys even LOOK at the deletion discussions which in this case was non-existent). Okay, so various editors notice this, I in particular ask where was the discussion on the deletion I apparently missed. Finding there was none, and that the deletion was put up in error in the first place, we request some talk from said admin (politely too), and he ignores us for 2 weeks. Finally we had to go to a completely different admin who promptly restored the article. Thankfully some admins seem to do their job and I thank them, but ones like the first are far too common. I should mention said first admin I later found has been named on /. before for... less than upstanding deletion behavior, yet he's still there.

Re:Wikipedia's policies are insane (2)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 3 years ago | (#36998314)

They don't accept evidence as verification, only "published sources"

Evidence wikipedia is fucked [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Wikipedia's policies are insane (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about 3 years ago | (#36998458)

-Blink- -blink- so... much... discussion.. about.. fermented shit being used as a drug???

Re:Wikipedia's policies are insane (3, Informative)

CanEHdian (1098955) | about 3 years ago | (#36998366)

Wikipedia needs to amend its "Notability" and "Verifiability" policies badly, and stop deleting articles (which blocks access to the edit history). They don't accept evidence as verification, only "published sources" which use inaccurate speculation and second-hand information. Misinformation keeps reappearing on pages, because it has a citation to some other website which makes the claim, despite that it is untrue.

An example of a time I was highly frustrated is when I was trying to read about the software program called Impulse Tracker, then discovered that its page was deleted. So what if Impulse Tracker is "not notable", its file format is still used in the tracking scene, so I wanted to read about the original program, but can't because the page was deleted. And if I want to reconstruct the page, I can't because the edit history is blocked out.

Another example is the history of PSP homebrew [wikipedia.org] . Anyone that knows anything about the timeline and the releases by nem (hello, world for FW 1.00), the ps2dev toolchain, the Swaploit and K-Xploit tools by PsP-Dev (which most definitely did not involve any "cracked code" from Sony) and Sony's firmware Japanese release dates knows that this Wikipedia article is definitely incorrect. For the exact same reason: anything that is printed-but-nonsense trumps not-printed-but-true. The sad thing is that a couple decades from now the Wikipedia version will live, but the actual history has long been forgotten: "History is written by the victors" is now "History is written by Wikipedia's clique of editors".

Re:Wikipedia's policies are insane (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 years ago | (#36998384)

wow, just like the academic scientific community then, where it matters where the information comes from than if the information has it's own merit and makes sense and is verifiable on it's own. case in point: usability science of today.

Re:Wikipedia's policies are insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998554)

Aww, some creationist is mad that schools aren't teaching his religion as science. Boo-fucking-hoo.

Perhaps we are taking it too much for granted (1)

mallyn (136041) | about 3 years ago | (#36998198)

I use Wikipedia all the time for basic research.

For example, I learned on it the basics of how cable internet works (routers, modems, etc).

I may be one of those who take it for granted. It's just there. Like the street in front of my house. I know deep down inside that my taxes are paying for it, but I don't think that all the time.

We all know deep down inside that Wikipedia needs volunteers and donors, but we don't remind ourselves of it. We just use it.

Wiki Nazis (4, Insightful)

fishb0ne (1190195) | about 3 years ago | (#36998214)

If by simplifying editing procedures you mean getting rid of the untouchable wiki nazi admins, there may be hope still.

Problem with Hobby v. Job (1)

IP_Troll (1097511) | about 3 years ago | (#36998220)

Isn't this the problem with all hobbies? As you mature and get older you move away from things with which you used to fill your leisure time. Hobbies drop off and are filled with spouse/kid/work related issues.

When the typical editor noted in the article ages through the honeymoon/kids period of their lives, I would suspect they will return to editing Wikipedia, even more so when they retire from work. The typical editor will return to editing just like the typical person that built models as a kid or played with toy trains, when they have leisure time to devote without distraction.

Re:Problem with Hobby v. Job (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#36998546)

No, that's not a problem with hobbies. That's a problem with jobs.

As opposed to frustration over bots gone mad... (1)

Marcika (1003625) | about 3 years ago | (#36998232)

[The typical guy who left is someone who] moves on to other ventures, gets married and leaves the website

Yeah right. The ones who left are people leaving in frustration when their contributions get deleted wholesale by script kiddies like Betacommand who are allowed to go postal with killbots.

Don't forget the ones leaving in frustration when the Arbitration Committee decides in favour of people who get paid to "own" a topic and who have the time to astroturf/argue/discuss about their biased edits as long as is needed to drive any honest contributor away. Hint: discussion page activity is in inverse proportion to how unbiased the contributor is....

Somewhat accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998236)

That's kind of funny. I'm a 26-year-old geeky male who recently got married. I used to edit Wikipedia, but I don't have the time for it these days.

Not that I did last year or the year before... Once I got out of school and got a job is when it started. I suppose for me Wikipedia was like an online version of the college bull session. If you have lots of time to wax philosophical and debate things, you can edit Wikipedia. Usually it's not really worth it. When you have other things to do it seems silly.

Especially, as the years went on, I was more and more bothered by the "career Wikipedians", many of them Administrators, who spend too much time absorbed in the "culture" of editing. They go around citing Wikipedia's ridiculously self-contradictory policies (my favorite example of this: they have an "Ignore all rules" policy) to justify their pet edits and pet reverts. These people are typically not very bright and don't have the clear logical thinking to see their own hypocrisy. I'll be frank: I think their net contribution to the universe is fundamentally negative.

not a crisis (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 3 years ago | (#36998240)

I agree that it is not a crisis. One would expect that at some point, the bulk of the work will be done. Peak knowledge, if you will. It is much easier to write a Wikipedia article about the process of galaxy formation than to develop a corresponding scientific theory, so I would expect us to catch up to our current state of knowledge. Subjectively speaking, most of the articles are already mostly written. At this point, it is up to specialists in narrow fields to continue improving Wikipedia and to keep it up to date. Speaking as one of them, this is a perfect task for people who work in higher education.

Not surpricing (5, Informative)

luvirini (753157) | about 3 years ago | (#36998244)

Given the "friendliness" that greets new contributors.

I have entered correct information with references and such in few articles where I am somewhat of an expert, like one where I did my masters in the topic and created couple of pages that were in the page request list in topics where I am fairly knowledgable.

End results: >70% of my edits were removed within few days and in several cases replaces with actual WRONG information. Of the created pages one has today totally wrong information, one has been proposed to merge with another page, but nothing has happened in way many months and a third page was just removed.

Re:Not surpricing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998306)

"End results: >70% of my edits were removed within few days and in several cases replaces with actual WRONG information."

Yes, that is exactly my experience too. I have made minor grammar fixes, corrects to some incorrect facts, and other things and most were reverted next time I looked at the pages.

Sorry, but the reversionists have driven contributors away from wikipedia. Until that changes, people will continue to leave. Why should I bother spending my time trying to improve pages only to see my changes reverted by some obsessive person who feels they "own" the page?

Re:Not surpricing (1)

inkscapee (1994086) | about 3 years ago | (#36998456)

As so many commenters have said already, it's the extreme dickish atmosphere that drives good people away. When everything you do is nitpicked to death, when your contributions are deleted or changed for the worse, when there are endless debates over who is notable enough to have a bio in Wikipedia, it becomes a pointless waste of time. If you want good people investing their time and expertise for free then you shouldn't let angry nutters stomp all over their work. This is such a big duh it suggests that mr "I am beautiful" Wales is awfully dense to not know it already.

Possible explanation - "Mission accomplished" (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 3 years ago | (#36998258)

The thing is, there's not much important left to write about. All the things people generally go onto Wikipedia for are well-covered - there's data on every country, language, mountain range, planet, president, prime minister, prince and poet. There's a ton of placeholder articles, yeah, but does anybody really want to write an article on a Venezuelan political party from the '40s, a minor asteroid of no special significance, a particular bird species (already well-documented in the family page), or an early-90s Congressman from Ohio? Those are all real examples, by the way.

There's still current events, yeah, but history isn't being made that quickly. And the rise of topic-specific wikis is draining Wikipedia of otherwise useless articles (and their authors). Why have a page for every Pokemon on Wikipedia when you can have a page for every Pokemon on a Pokemon-specific Wikipedia? That's actually a good thing - it lets Wikipedia be an introductory course to pretty much everything, and more specific wikis can be more thorough and detailed. But this does mean that all the obsessive fan-nerds will be moving their Star Wars expanded-universe character bios from Wikipedia to Wookiepedia.

So, really, is a decrease in editors really a bad thing? Does it decrease the quality of already-existing pages? No. Do we need articles being written at a high rate? Not anymore.

There was a time (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 years ago | (#36998272)

There was a time when the quality of Wikipedia articles was so bad that it was easy for me to add something to them and make them better. [Citation needed] didn't really exist, and most of it was uncited. Now a lot of it is complete enough (and has decent references) that it makes a good starting point for research in a lot of topics.

Married? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 3 years ago | (#36998298)

These Wikipedia people must not be slashdotters. They actually meet people of the opposite gender?

Re:Married? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998472)

These days its possible to marry someone of the same gender (even legal in some states or countries.)

Deletionists are the main problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998328)

Wikipeidia used to have excellent articles on physics, maths computer science and other hard science subjects. Most of them have simply disappeared. Wikipedia is not limited by paper. There's simply no goddamn reason to delete most articles, especially not factually correct scientific articles as opposed to meandering plot summaries of TV shows no-one adult who isn't a goddamn furry cares about.

Re:Deletionists are the main problem. (1)

geniice (1336589) | about 3 years ago | (#36998438)

Err one of the side effects of publish or perish is that hard science topics find it very easy to meat wikipedia's inclusion criteria.

And? What was expected? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36998334)

There are too many rules, the environment is too hostile (examine the default template "warning" about being blocked, it's a threat, not a warning), pages are guarded jealously by people who will claim that there is no consensus for any change they don't like, etc.

So, fewer people are editing for whatever reason, and many people who try and edit, are driven away.

Some specific reasons some people don't post are outlined [...] reasons [people] don't edit Wikipedia (in their own words) [suegardner.org] .

At the article Chronicling the abuses [pandagon.net] , a commentator made the point:

Wikipedia’s articles on anarchism are the demonstration of the weakness of their policies. They have a ‘teach the controversy’ approach which ends up promoting fringe views on the same level as actual scholarship, so the Anarchism subset of the site is heavily slanted towards the ‘anarcho’ capitalist view, when there is no historicity to the claims that anarcho-capitalism has any relations to the anarchist movement in general.

This type of slant (on other articles as well) also drives away editors who can't put up with the shit.

So, Wikipedia, because of, in many cases the policies and guidelines currently in place, fails to be inclusive. It is not "newbie" friendly (who has time to read all the rules...), and so newbies are bitten and leave.

So, what's the solution? Well, I think that's easy. Any big organization has problems of a much larger scale than small organizations. So, break Wikipedia up into subject specific Wikis. The general encyclopedia model has been demonstrated to have flaws. Now lets try again. The people who care about web comics can edit on Comicpedia. Etc. Fewer arguments about notability as well.

Why aren't more people editors? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 3 years ago | (#36998408)

The profile says it all.

That '26 year old single nerd' is perfect example of the intellectual crusader mentality so perfectly captured by xkcd: http://xkcd.com/386/ [xkcd.com]

If you're not one of them, you're not going to put up with the bullshit necessary to edit articles.

Further, have you ever tried to edit Wiki? It's not just a matter of posting some new text into a text box, there are all sorts of damn tags, etc that just make it too much of a nuisance to bother, even if I know a fact could be better corrected.

The next step (1)

Crag (18776) | about 3 years ago | (#36998452)

Clearly Wikipedia fills a niche. The next step is a p2p model.

Participants run a "shared reality documentation store" on their machines to host documents and media they endorse and a "shared reality documentation client" proxy service which behaves like a web site and queries the stores. It's like FreeNet without trying to preserve anonymity.

Instead of edit wars there would be multiple documents on the same subject competing for popularity. Looking up "Evolution" you'd get dozens of results. The top two would be endorsed by 90% of the well-liked network participants and would represent the two dominant views on the subject. Individuals' search results could be adjusted to take their own moderations into account. That is, if Alice tend to disagree with Bob, the meaning of Bob's input is reversed in the context of Alice's searches.

Users would be pseudonymous but (like Slashdot) would have some sort of aggregate "good citizen" metric based on past behavior as judged by their peers. Users could browse the public behaviors of their peers and assign valuations to actions, including other people's "moderation". I might hate your article endorsements but love your moderation. For people not interested in that kind of granularity, users could have the option to just like or dislike another user (like the friend/foe system here). Users would not be required to provide CPU and disk space to be considered good users, but their decisions about how much to contribute would be public and could be used to make automatic or manual judgments.

Articles would scores would be based on some function of the scores of the users who had endorsed them. Participants can only delete articles from their own store and then campaign for others to delete it from theirs. There would be no global "notability" threshold, only a cumulative score based on users' moderation actions.

This is basically how the internet works already, lobbyists and pending legislation not withstanding. The main difference here is formalization and making a uniform UI which non-techies would enjoy using.

(Yes, I realize this is a fairly raw and flawed proposal. I'm hoping someone will see the valuable parts of it and make it happen.)

Stop deleting stuff (5, Insightful)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about 3 years ago | (#36998474)

If you spend a lot of time writing something, and then somebody decides that it's not "notable", it's unlikely that you will contribute again.

Wikipedia is just bits, bits are cheap, why do the editors act like they are rationing a scarce resource?

I tried to edit Wikipedia once (4, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 3 years ago | (#36998496)

My changes were immediately reverted and I was harassed by one of their overzealous editors for not citing a source. The change in question was correcting someone's grammar. I'm not surprised one bit that they're losing contributors.
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