Forum:Declining numbers of Wikipedia editors

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Forums: Yew Grove > Declining numbers of Wikipedia editors
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This thread was archived on 15 January 2010 by Degenret01.

Here's a fascinating article on editors quitting the Wikipedia.

(If that link doesn't get you to the whole article, search "Volunteers Log Off as Wikipedia Ages" in Google and click the first link.)

"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..."

I thought this was an interesting passage:

"But as it matures, Wikipedia, one of the world's largest crowdsourcing initiatives, is becoming less freewheeling and more like the organizations it set out to replace. Today, its rules are spelled out across hundreds of Web pages. Increasingly, newcomers who try to edit are informed that they have unwittingly broken a rule—and find their edits deleted..."

Horsehead Talk 17:31, December 2, 2009 (UTC)


Question - Are they counting unregistered contributers? Youdead00 17:40, December 2, 2009 (UTC)

I don't think the article defines editors. It seems to group everyone into volunteers.
"Wikipedia contributors have been debating widely what is behind the declines in volunteers. One factor is that many topics already have been written about. Another is the plethora of rules Wikipedia has adopted to bring order to its unruly universe—particularly to reduce infighting among contributors about write-ups of controversial subjects and polarizing figures."
"'Wikipedia is becoming a more hostile environment,' contends Mr. Ortega, a project manager at Libresoft, a research group at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid. 'Many people are getting burnt out when they have to debate about the contents of certain articles again and again.'"
But it is not necessarily a gloom-and-doom article. For example, here is this passage:
"'The number one headline I have been seeing for five years is that Wikipedia is dying,' said Mathias Schindler, a board member of Wikimedia Germany. He argued that Wikipedia needed to focus less on the total number of articles and more on "smarter metrics" such as article quality."
Horsehead Talk 17:51, December 2, 2009 (UTC)
I would be curious about what metric is being used to assert this number, although I will not that I think the hostility found on Wikipedia to be incredibly harsh, and seemingly indifferent administrators on some pretty substantial issues that do come up from time to time.
This is just a guess on what is actually being measured, but it is possible to count how many people (both anon IP edits and "registered users") are actively engaged in adding substantial content to Wikipedia and how many are no longer currently involved with editing. Unfortunately, the article does not go into any details about what exactly is being measured, nor what sort of metric is being used to define an "active" editor vs. an "inactive" editor. That particular quality is something that has been hotly debated on Wikipedia in the past, and really has no clear standard either. Every time elections come about for Wikimedia Foundation trustees, the debate re-opens in terms of who is considered an active editor.
I see the issues facing Wikipedia as something that can be solved, and that eventually the elitists attitude that the unwashed masses are incapable of adding legitimate input into something like a Wikipedia article will eventually be shown to be wrong. I saw that attitude with Nupedia, and look how many articles Nupedia was able to publish? Based on featured articles and "A" class quality articles, Wikipedia has far and away done much better than Nupedia could have ever hoped for.
Of course I happen to like wiki-style projects in general anyway :) --Robert Horning 18:45, December 2, 2009 (UTC)

Comment - I concur. Wikipedia is becoming more diverse than ever. i.e., The featured article is always different. I think it has outgrown, but some articles are imcomplete by far. What can we do? Youdead00 18:43, December 2, 2009 (UTC)

Comment - [email protected] I'm pretty sure the Featured Articles were always separate for each day...--Fruit.Smoothie 01:19, December 3, 2009 (UTC)

Featured Articles on Wikipedia have about a six month backlog at the moment, and there have been several "featured articles" which have been demoted over the years due to improving standards. There is also a classification for articles which pretty much fit the quality for featured articles but for the sake of room in the featured article queue simply haven't made it in yet. Those are usually "A" class articles. For details, see wikipedia:Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team/Assessment, which sort of fits into our discussion of stubs.
In three years of operation, Nupedia prepared 24 articles and "accepted" about 74 articles that were in various stages of development. Altogether, it had a couple thousand "supporters". By contrast, there are now nearly 3000 articles that are of featured article status on Wikipedia and another 500 or so that are "A" quality. The "polished" articles on Nupedia would now be rated as "B" class or even "C" class if they were honestly rated, of which there are now nearly 100k articles that fit those classifications. There are many articles that are simply not even assessed (about 400k)... some of which might also fit into higher quality articles. The growth of these numbers is what I was referring to here, and much of this was done by simply allowing ordinary folks to edit.
The Citizendium, in contrast, uses a much more strict process system for working on articles and has actually polished up 120 different articles in the three years of its existence. I guess that is a bit better than Nupedia was able to accomplish, but stands in huge contrast to what Wikipedia has. As "competition" to Wikipedia, this is about the best that there is except for "professional" encyclopedias like Encarta and Encyclopedia Britannica.
As it applies to this wiki, I've seen a similar kind of general improvement, and the issues toward trying to be more friendly to new users have been addressed in the Yew Grove as well. In fact, I've seen a general improvement over the past couple of years toward trying to be more inclusive to new users... and I hope that attitude continues... arguments and debates not withstanding that we've also had and even currently have. --Robert Horning 02:24, December 3, 2009 (UTC)
I believe Wikipedia has no sense of community. There are just too many users and you see a new one every day. I like it here, how you know everyone, like you might see Robert's name in the Yew Grove and you know your in for a very well-thought out debate where he voices his opinion very well. I was at Wikipedia for awhile where I knew a few users a bit better than others, but I left for awhile and came back to find so much crap had happened to the editing aspect. They had blocked my userpage to protect it from so called "Usurpers" and I had been plagued about minor edits that I had done incorrectly. Then about 10 people posted on my page how I had a bad rationale for images which I had downloaded 2 years ago and I had a anger fit and got blocked for an hour >_> I'm sick of that so called friendly community now and their rules-to-articles ratio of 10:1 (not fact). Chicken7 >talk 06:13, December 3, 2009 (UTC)

Comment - I think Wikipedia has become too big and too professional. The community has been ripped apart because there are so many users, with many joining and quitting each day, that it's hard to even know many of them. Also, editing Wikipedia has become hard: you must include references and all that stuff - I have added several true things to this wiki that are so not-proven that they would have just thrown the information away.
It is very coincidental, however, that (according to the article), 49000 left this year and 4900 did so last year. The numbers are a bit too much alike. Ancient talisman.png Oil4 Talk 06:30, December 3, 2009 (UTC)

OVER 9,000 left this year? Well, that's not good! But does this really belong in the YG? :/http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/3921/thehimmemote.pngGone. 01:43, December 4, 2009 (UTC)

It may change the wiki, so we do not end up like Wikipedia. - TehKittyCatTalk Wikian-Book 02:56, December 4, 2009 (UTC)
Why would changes on Wikipedia affect us? http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/3921/thehimmemote.pngGone. 17:33, December 4, 2009 (UTC)
Not directly, but we can learn from Wikipedia's issues. - TehKittyCatTalk Wikian-Book 19:30, December 4, 2009 (UTC)
I know we've learnt a lot from the mistakes of other wikis, especially with new features that Wikia released. Chicken7 >talk 07:31, December 5, 2009 (UTC)

Comment - I think that Wikipedia has been overedited (Similiar to overrided). It may have too many users. THis may be possible, but not confirmed. Youdead00 03:48, December 8, 2009 (UTC)

Comment - I think there just need be two rules be enforced, Don't be a dick and the Style Guide. If both those were followed, Wikipedia wouldn't need that crapload of rules and policies. Same with us, but we're fine with our ~dozen rules. We have a controllable amount. Wikipedia is becoming more and more, well, imagine everything on this page into one word. In fact, I'll make up a word for this. Austeric. Yes. That works. — Enigma 04:49, December 8, 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedia's rules are there for a reason; people shouldn't be quitting because they broke a rule. White partyhat old.png C Teng talk 23:43, December 9, 2009 (UTC)

It's not because the broke them. It is just how many there are. You sign up and add one sentence to a page and get 1 policy for each fricken word in your sentence... Chicken7 >talk 11:13, December 10, 2009 (UTC)
I don't have a problem with it. White partyhat old.png C Teng talk 11:59, December 10, 2009 (UTC)

Anyone have any examples of a pointless Wikipedia policy? White partyhat old.png C Teng talk 11:59, December 10, 2009 (UTC)

Once, I saw a statistic that I knew was very outdated and low as compared to what it actually was. I updated it without giving a source and someone reverted me, giving a link to WP:OR. Paraphrasing, it was better to have something incorrect and with a source than something correct but without a source.Dragon medium helm! Whaddaya know?Chiafriend12Better than rune!Loon is best buttlord 06:34, December 11, 2009 (UTC)
I think that is an example of somebody missing the whole point of the rule instead of a useless rule. WP:OR was instituted as a palatable and politically correct means to tell the UFO conspiracy nuts that they couldn't write articles on the Greys, Areas 51, or the host of other major topics in the UFO community without something very substantial to back up their ideas and document that it wasn't something coming out of their behind. During the early days of Wikipedia, that was a major problem and it had to be put under control in a big way. Yes, you will find an article on wikipedia:Area 51, but you will notice that it is heavily referenced and if you can find some way to access how many folks "watch" that article, it would be quite substantial. As a means to keep some really wacky articles off of Wikipedia, WP:OR does a pretty good job. Unfortunately is it also more strictly observed by some over zealous users and admins sometimes to a fault that starts to hurt the project effort. That is where rules like wikipedia:WP:IAR come from, noting that sometimes strict observance to all rules in all cases can do more harm than good. That we have the same rule here on the RS Wiki should show this isn't a problem just on Wikipedia. BTW, I do consider this to be a problem of folks in general who are younger and inexperienced... as you get older you tend to mellow out and not be so hard-nosed about everything around you. --Robert Horning 14:41, December 11, 2009 (UTC)


The primary fault with much of the argumentation of this page is that unless you cite your source, your "correct new fact" cannot be checked by anyone else, and as such it is by definition of a lower grade than any referenced source. For a game wikia that doesn't really matter too much, because few people go about attaining facts scientifically (it takes way to lonog to waste your free time on). However, on real wikipedias that deal with facts, unless you cite a source, who knows if you've just invented the numbers or not? I'm not going to comment on the amount of rules, but the use of references is so vital in all academic work (which wikipedia strives to be) that failing to include a reference, even if you're new, is like an author failing to use punctuation at all in a whole book. Tortilliachp 12:35, December 11, 2009 (UTC)tortilliachp

Closing- Discussion was a point to be considered, no action is taken--Degenret01 14:17, January 15, 2010 (UTC)