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After Boom, Is Wikipedia Heading For Bust?

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The explosive growth of the Wikipedia online encyclopedia is petering out, while a less welcoming attitude toward new contributors could negatively affect the archive's quality in the long term, according to a team of Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) researchers.

The number of articles added to the Web site per month reached a plateau at 60,000 three years ago and has since fallen by about one-third, while the number of edits made every month and the number of active editors both stopped expanding in 2007.

Occasional editors' power has thinned as more active and established editors come to dominate, and infrequent contributors have a greater percentage of their additions deleted or reverted by other editors than they did before. "This is evidence of growing resistance from the Wikipedia community to new content," says the PARC team.

PARC researcher Ed Chi cautions that this resistance could hurt Wikipedia in the longer term by discouraging participation by new editors, thus reducing the number of editors available to identify and repair vandalism. "Over time the quality may degrade," Chi says.

The researchers will present their findings at the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration in October.

Blue Oxen Associates' Eugene Eric Kim, who is helping to lead a review of Wikipedia launched by the Wikimedia Foundation, says there are several possible reasons for the changes Wikipedia has undergone. He posits, for example, that the increasing use of spam software that embeds promotional text in articles may actually be responsible for the high number of reverts.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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