Monday, November 23, 2009
The Wall Street Journal reports($) that Wikipedia is losing volunteers at a quickening pace, casting some doubt on the future of the world's most popular encyclopedia.
Wikipedia.org is the fifth-most-popular Web site in the world, with roughly 325 million monthly visitors. But unprecedented numbers of the millions of online volunteers who write, edit and police it are quitting.Wow - three million active contributors. They could probably stand to lose a few more and not be impacted too much. As for the reason for the decline, one commonly heard explanation is that nearly everything has already been written about and now it just needs to be maintained.
That could have significant implications for the brand of democratization that Wikipedia helped to unleash over the Internet -- the empowerment of the amateur.
Volunteers have been departing the project that bills itself as "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" faster than new ones have been joining, and the net losses have accelerated over the past year. In the first three months of 2009, the English-language Wikipedia suffered a net loss of more than 49,000 editors, compared to a net loss of 4,900 during the same period a year earlier, according to Spanish researcher Felipe Ortega, who analyzed Wikipedia's data on the editing histories of its more than three million active contributors in 10 languages.