Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Downfall of Wikipedia

New Study Predicts the Downfall of Wikipedia, OneIndia News, August 2009

"Researchers at the Palo Alto Research Center in California have predicted the downfall of the internet encyclopedia- Wikipedia. The study shows that Wikipedia's ascendancy to the top of a large pool of online reference sites may be coming to an end because the community-created encyclopedia has become less welcoming to new contributors."

"It's easy to say that Wikipedia will always be here. This research shows that is not a given," New Scientist quoted Dr Ed Chi, a senior scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center, as saying."


Wall Street Journal, TECH: Wikipedia on the Decline, 11/22/2009

WSJ's Julia Angwin interviews Andrew Lih, author of Wikipedia Revolution, about why volunteers are increasingly quitting Wikipedia.


The Decline of Wikipedia, MIT Technology Review, By Tom Simonite on October 22, 2013

"The sixth most widely used website in the world is not run anything like the others in the top 10. It is not operated by a sophisticated corporation but by a leaderless collection of volunteers who generally work under pseudonyms and habitually bicker with each other. It rarely tries new things in the hope of luring visitors; in fact, it has changed little in a decade...

Yet Wikipedia and its stated ambition to “compile the sum of all human knowledge” are in trouble. The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia—and must defend it against vandalism, hoaxes, and manipulation—has shrunk by more than a third since 2007 and is still shrinking. Those participants left seem incapable of fixing the flaws that keep Wikipedia from becoming a high-quality encyclopedia by any standard, including the project’s own...

The main source of those problems is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage..."

Newcomers Unwelcome...

"Without any traditional power structure, they developed sophisticated workflows and guidelines for producing and maintaining entries. Their only real nod to hierarchy was electing a small group of “administrators” who could wield special powers such as deleting articles or temporarily banning other editors. (There are now 635 active admins on the English Wikipedia.)

The project seemed laughable or shocking to many. Wikipedia inherited and embraced the cultural expectations that an encyclopedia ought to be authoritative, comprehensive, and underpinned by the rational spirit of the Enlightenment. But it threw out centuries of accepted methods for attaining that. In the established model, advisory boards, editors, and contributors selected from society’s highest intellectual echelons drew up a list of everything worth knowing, then created the necessary entries. Wikipedia eschewed central planning and didn’t solicit conventional expertise. In fact, its rules effectively discouraged experts from contributing, given that their work, like anyone else’s, could be overwritten within minutes. Wikipedia was propelled instead by the notion that articles should pile up quickly, in the hope that one Borgesian day the collection would have covered everything in the world."


The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration Community: How Wikipedia's reaction to sudden popularity is causing its decline, by Aaron Halfaker, Scientist

"Open collaboration systems like Wikipedia need to maintain a pool of volunteer contributors in order to remain relevant. Wikipedia was created through a tremendous number of contributions by millions of contributors. However, recent research has shown that the number of active contributors in Wikipedia has been declining steadily for years, and suggests that a sharp decline in the retention of newcomers is the cause. This paper presents data that show that several changes the Wikipedia community made to manage quality and consistency in the face of a massive growth in participation have ironically crippled the very growth they were designed to manage. Specifically, the restrictiveness of the encyclopedia's primary quality control mechanism and the algorithmic tools used to reject contributions are implicated as key causes of decreased newcomer retention. Further, the community's formal mechanisms for norm articulation are shown to have calcified against changes – especially changes proposed by newer editors.

What's Wrong with Wikipedia, Harvard Universsity

"Nevertheless, when you're doing academic research, you should be extremely cautious about using Wikipedia. As its own disclaimer states, information on Wikipedia is contributed by anyone who wants to post material, and the expertise of the posters is not taken into consideration. Users may be reading information that is outdated or that has been posted by someone who is not an expert in the field or by someone who wishes to provide misinformation."



"So most people don’t consider Wikipedia to be a reputable source, since its contents come from unverified sources and are not only prone to contain mistakes, but also lack proper supervision and editing."


GIGAOM, The Decline of Wikipedia

"It’s no secret that the community behind Wikipedia is insular, methodical and bureaucratic. But the high barriers of entry that Wikipedians have established to keep the website’s millions of pages under control are now coming back to haunt them, according to an in-depth feature by MIT Technology Review. There simply aren’t enough people to regulate and edit the firehose of information — both correct and incorrect — to keep to the high standard the community sets for itself, much less be a reliable encyclopedia. That insular group is going to need to open up, or risk collapsing under the weight of its own system."

Mail Online, Is this the decline of Wikipedia?

"A third of editors have QUIT complaining site bosses have 'lowered the bar' on quality
Changes by Wikipedia to modernise the site have disenfranchised loyal 'Wikipedians', claims study
Volunteer editors believe that in making changes to its systems Wikipedia has been 'lowering the bar'


The Raw Story, MIT report: Wikipedia has entered perpetual ‘decline phase’

"According to a recent MIT study, the volunteer editorial staff at Wikipedia has withered by more than a third since 2007, and its ranks are still declining.
At the same time, volunteer editors increasingly found themselves hamstrung by rules that became too arcane to police. In his study, Halfaker wrote that Wikipedia should change its motto from “[t]he encyclopedia that anyone can edit” to “[t]he encyclopedia that anyone who understands the norms, socializes him or herself, dodges the impersonal wall of semi-automated rejection and still wants to voluntarily contribute his or her time and energy can edit.”


Economics of Information: MIT Technology Review has an article on the decline of Wikipedia.

"The article summarizes the challenges faced by the 'The Free Encyclopedia' and one of the top ten most visited websites in the world as:
When Wikipedians achieved their most impressive feat of leaderless collective organization, they unwittingly set in motion the decline in participation that troubles their project today."


"So long as an illiterate drug addict can override the work of a Harvard professor, Wikipedia will never be an authoritative reference."
Credibility for Wikipedia, by BC Burleson Consulting.