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Wikipedia Losing Contributors, Says Wales 533

Posted by Soulskill
from the citation-needed dept.
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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Wikipedia Losing Contributors, Says Wales

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  • Easy reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:00PM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:06PM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by roothog (635998) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:13PM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by quanticle (843097) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:21PM (#36998368) Homepage

          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 (Score:5, Insightful)

            by roothog (635998) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:26PM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

              by discord5 (798235) on Friday August 05, 2011 @02:04PM (#36998820)

              I'd go further and argue that editors should disclose their real names, too, as that provides some accountability for content.

              Which will most likely kill of 99% [citation needed] of edits on Wikipedia. Good job! [citation needed]

              Some people really more qualified to edit an article than others.

              Sure thing, Stephen Hawking is going to update that page on black holes immediately, right after he updates the Theory of Everything and breaks down the entire universe into a single formula [citation needed]. The man has little else to do anyway.

              The problem with wikipedia doesn't lie with the crappy contributions (those get edited out over time anyway), it lies with the people who insist on arguing about its content rather than improving it. This is why most pages [citation needed] are littered with "[citation needed]" left and right. Pointless little edit wars where a paragraph is added, removed, added again, removed again, simply because of clashing egos [citation needed] and not necessarily because the content simply wasn't up to shape [citation needed]...

              Adding real names to this isn't going to change that kind of dickish behaviour, because you have no way of verifying all of the credentials on the various subjects on wikipedia.

              Sincerely yours,
              Captain Dick Darlington
              Department of Funology and Funectomy
              Her Majesties Royal Army

              P.S.: If you want proof of my authority on the subject of funectomy, invite me to a party and allow me to suck all the fun out of the room. My certificate of authority from the Mexican University of Fun expired last week [citation needed]. Sorry about that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bacon Bits (926911)

            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 a

      • 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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eln (21727) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:06PM (#36998138) Homepage
      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 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nschubach (922175) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:09PM (#36998176) Journal

        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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by cream wobbly (1102689) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:14PM (#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 (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:14PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Afforess (1310263) <afforess@gmail.com> on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:21PM (#36998356) Journal
      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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:53PM (#36998712)
        You are getting modded up because your opinion is rather novel vs. 'the admins are dicks' theory, and for the purposes of full disclosure to which I also ascribe.

        However, I think you really underestimate the indexing of human knowledge. There are hundreds of thousands of stubs on Wikipedia that need expanding, especially outside of the Western sphere. I have a feeling that just because you don't spend a lot of time studying Asian or African topics that nobody does and therefore their expansion isn't needed. I'm rather quite a sinophile, I can assure you that Wikipedia's coverage of Chinese history, culture, and notable figures alone is respectable but far from complete. I can also tell you that Wikipedia's coverage of more minor cultures in Asia and elsewhere borders on poor. Thankfully this improves all the time, but the point is that your 'work is done' theory is very Western-centric I think.
        • Re:Easy reason (Score:5, Insightful)

          by emtilt (618098) on Friday August 05, 2011 @02:10PM (#36998890)
          You're right, but the parent is right, too, because in some respects what you describe is niche (regardless of its objective importance). I, for instance, despite being highly educated, wouldn't have any clue where to start contributing to Chinese culture articles.

          I used to edit wikipedia, but I rarely come across articles that I an improve aside from grammar and proofreading these days. The stuff that's missing requires quite a bit of expertise. The only articles I can still meaningfully contribute to are those related to my own field (astrophysics) or a hobby that I know in great depth (film).
        • by Teancum (67324)

          I think the breaking point came when new sister projects essentially stopped being developed. I spoke up as bluntly as I could put it [wikimedia.org] when the New Project Policy [wikimedia.org] page on the Wikimedia Meta project was declared an obsolete historical page. Mind you, that page has not been made historical because a new policy was developed to replace it, but rather because no new Wikimedia projects are being developed.

          Essentially, the Wikimedia Foundation killed the leavening yeast that helped to cause the projects to grow

      • by grumbel (592662)

        I think the reason the community is shrinking is because Wikipedia, at least the English version, is complete.

        Kind of. The core problem however isn't that it is complete in a good way, but that the current rules forbid you to extend it, which in turn brings you in conflict with the admins or regulars if you actually try.

        There is plenty of more information that could and should be added to Wikipedia, but that shouldn't be part of the normal overview article, as it might be to much detail. For a video game that could be things like list of cheatcodes, walkthrough stuff, character descriptions, etc. stuff you currentl

        • Re:Easy reason (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Friday August 05, 2011 @02:48PM (#36999298) Homepage Journal

          The problem here are those who feel that Wikipedia being snowed under by "cruft" articles like a synopsis of each episode of Star Trek or separate articles for each monster in World of Warcraft sort of miss the point of those kind of articles: Those articles help provide the "training" and experience for new users to expand into something more serious like John Robert [wikipedia.org] or Quantum mechanics [wikipedia.org].

          Wholesale deletion of the cruft articles drives entire communities away from Wikipedia, which in turn fractures the community and makes Wikipedia less due to the separation of those communities. A similar thing happened on Wikibooks, where most of the game walk through books were deleted on a wholesale basis, along with the "Jokebook" that worked as a proving ground for many new contributors. I still claim that "cleanup" of Wikibooks killed the project and similar things also happened on Wikipedia and the other sister projects.

      • Re:Easy reason (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Trixter (9555) on Friday August 05, 2011 @02:11PM (#36998902) Homepage

        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.

        Until the cancer of "not notable" is gone, it can never be "complete" (not 95%, not even 50%).

        I've seen articles on an entire range of software get deleted, while the page for Luke Skywalker goes on forever.

        • Re:Easy reason (Score:4, Informative)

          by AJWM (19027) on Friday August 05, 2011 @03:40PM (#36999898) Homepage

          This.

          With the probable exception of spam, anything posted was obviously notable enough to somebody to warrant the post in the first place.

          More and more, huge tracts of Wikipedia make it look like the online compendium of popular culture, rather than a place to find out about possibly obscure but real world topics, inventions or discoveries.

        • wikipedia is supposed to be "the sum of human knowledge", not a compilation of notable sources.

      • by hankwang (413283) *

        Most of the remaining work to be done is article maintenance, and filling in mundane details of niche articles or emerging fields.

        I disagree. It is true for most things that I know about enough to be confident in writing about without further research (i.e., physics-related stuff), but when I look up scientific-ish topics outside the more geeky fields (math, physics, computer science), I encounter articles all the time that could be improved vastly.

        Think about plant species. I look out of the window and se

    • Re:Easy reason (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anrego (830717) * on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:23PM (#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.

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        The Great Webcomics Purge made sure I'd never bother contributing.

        Personally, other than ease of access, I don't really care about articles that would already be in a real encyclopedia, because they're already in a real encyclopedia. What I do care about is all the minutia you can really only get from the obsessive geeks and otaku of that topic. "That's what wikia is for" people can go die in the malware infested fire that is wikia. We're not even close to peak bits, so who really cares if Pikachu and compa

        • Re:Easy reason (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anrego (830717) * on Friday August 05, 2011 @03:15PM (#36999598)

          Yes!

          The notability thing is high on my list of "stuff they need to take less seriously". It's a community driven project, so if the community wants to talk in gory detail about anime or star trek or whatever, what is the harm. If it's factual and well written.. who cares how "notable" it is.

      • another thing is, is there really a need to delete info deemed not necessary by editors?
        For instance, there are a lot of bands/artists whom have their entry deleted because they're not a "signed band".
        Ex: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calamine_(band) [wikipedia.org]
        Yes, they're the band that did the sealab 2021 theme song. Had an entry, but nope, deleted.

    • Re:Easy reason (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 1s44c (552956) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:28PM (#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.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        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.

        Yeah, instead they're busy playing cricket. Those damned bowlers, busy taking wickets!

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        Your spelling corrections don't get reverted? Mine always do. I completely gave up before I ever tried to make a non-trivial contribution.

    • by PriceIke (751512)

      Wikipedia used to be the "site that everyone could edit". Now it is the site that everyone can edit, so long as everyone is a Wikipedia admin. Everyone ELSE's edits get removed.

      One time I created a Wikipedia page for something I considered interesting, which didn't have a page yet. I wrote a detailed page with lots of links and information. It took me at least an hour. I wanted to contribute this small piece of knowledge to the whole, which I understood to be the whole point of Wikipedia. In less than 12 ho

  • Sick of the cabals (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pope (17780) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:03PM (#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.

    • 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.
      • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:16PM (#36998290) Journal
        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.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:14PM (#36998252) Journal

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

  • 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.

    • 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].
    • by kbolino (920292) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:23PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:05PM (#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.

    • by Tony Isaac (1301187) on Friday August 05, 2011 @02:40PM (#36999228) Homepage

      Slashdot has figured out how to fix this problem.

      Most comment sections on news Web sites are junk, usually not worth reading. But on Slashdot, the comments are generally more entertaining and useful than the articles themselves.

      Why is this? I think it's because of the clever moderating system. Ordinary users get to vote comments up or down, and the result is that the trash sinks to the bottom, and the good stuff gets highlighted.

      So Wikipedea should try the Slashdot approach...let people vote on the edits that should be reverted, and which ones should be kept.

  • Uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikkelm (1000451) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:06PM (#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.

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

      • by idontgno (624372) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:15PM (#36998278) Journal

        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.

      • by winkydink (650484) *

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

  • by YodasEvilTwin (2014446) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:08PM (#36998160) Homepage
    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.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:09PM (#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.

    • by Quila (201335) on Friday August 05, 2011 @02:27PM (#36999086)

      Long ago I noticed once that the well-sourced facts set out in one Wikipedia article contradicted a claim (not directly sourced) made in a related article. So I naturally edited the claim to correspond to the facts, mentioning the edit was for internal consistency. I hadn't come to edit an article, but I consider it to be a Good Thing to fix small errors as you see them.

      Unfortunately for me the claim happened to be in a gay-related article and apparently embodied the PC position towards this incident.

      The storm hit. An admin reverted it without comment (against Wikipedia rules). I explained the reasoning in Talk and reverted back. Then he reverted again, no comment. Now I reverted, explaining he was violating the rule about explaining reversions.

      Count: Two reverts for me, two for the admin.

      The admin reverted again, saying I needed to cite the source outside of Wikipedia (the same source the other article cited). So I re-did the entry and re-posted with the suggestion. I can work with people, and take positive editing suggestions seriously.

      Count: Three reverts for me (if you consider a repost to be a revert), three for the admin.

      He reverted it AGAIN without comment, blatantly breaking the three revert rule. Then he said if I tried to change it again it would count as a 3RR violation and I would be banned. I checked the admin's personal page, yep, a gay activist.

      At no time were the facts in the other related article challenged or changed. At no time did he tell me I was wrong, or that my edit was factually incorrect. He just didn't want the facts to be on that page.

      Even if an admin isn't involved, a cabal of supporters can do the same thing, reverting your posts at will. They can get one or two reverts each, winning while you hit your three revert ceiling. There is really no consensus as Wikipedia tries to reach, since a small, organized and dedicated cabal can easily win over the unorganized concensus of many casual editors. If the cause is a liberal one, it is most likely that their cabal will be supported by the admins.

      Now I try to stay away from anything relating to PC, but even then it can seep into the most neutral-seeming articles.

      • by bonch (38532) *

        People keep posting these personal experiences without links.

  • by Dwedit (232252) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:11PM (#36998194) Homepage

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by qzjul (944600)
      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...
    • They don't accept evidence as verification, only "published sources"

      Evidence wikipedia is fucked [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CanEHdian (1098955)

      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 decad

  • Wiki Nazis (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fishb0ne (1190195) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:12PM (#36998214) Journal
    If by simplifying editing procedures you mean getting rid of the untouchable wiki nazi admins, there may be hope still.
  • 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 pl
  • [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

  • 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
  • Not surpricing (Score:5, Informative)

    by luvirini (753157) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:13PM (#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.

  • 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 earl

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 Chronicli [pandagon.net]

  • by MpVpRb (1423381) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:31PM (#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?

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:32PM (#36998496) Journal
    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.
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:41PM (#36998578) Homepage

    The reality is that well-researched material is difficult and time consuming. You can get maybe 50-60% of the material that makes up what an encyclopedia was in the 1980s from people with passion and dedication but after that you are faced with just a lot of work. Work for no compensation other than ego-boosting.

    This reality has been utterly rejected by the Walesian philosphy of knowledge in which there is no real "truth" there is just concensus.

    What they are left with is a whole bunch of stuff of unknown quality that people with various passions have written over the years. OK, admittedly some of it is accurate and good but there is no telling what. There is plenty that was written by someone with an agenda and Wikipedia made (and continues to make) it possible for someone with enough dedication to block anyone from corrupting their perfect treatise. Eventually, it is going to be left alone even if the original contributor departs.

    The amount of passion that is out there for people to spend time writing and defending their turf in the Wikipedia world just isn't enough for the whole thing to work consistently for a long period of time. Sure, there might be a base of the truly hardcore, but it isn't enough. They seem to have some kind of rating now so people can continue to tune the text according to concensus, but concensus isn't important except in that Walesian dimension. As someone pointed out earlier what you tend to get with enforced concensus is the million-monkeys effect. While it is entirely possible you can get another Shakespear you absolutely will get a lot of drivel. What concensus does is form that drivel according to social norms so it isn't recognized. It is still nothing but the regurgitated ramblings of pop culture.

    How do you fix this? Well, I don't think it is possible. Walesian philosophy says that in large numbers there is truth and all truths are equal. With that in mind, what possible hope does a real subject matter expert have? Sure, there might be a few with real passion to tell the world their views on genetics, high energy particle physics or the social orders in ancient Egypt. But they chances they are going to win out over the concensus belief system are small indeed. It was an interesting experiment and it isn't entirely surprising that it lasted as long as it has. But passions move on and Jimmy is unlikely to find much passion out there filling in the cracks in what has been built or taking over what has been abandoned.

  • Theme song (Score:4, Funny)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:46PM (#36998634)
    For everyone who pointed out the _real_ reason why editors are leaving Wikipedia:

    Tom Smith - WikiPirates [blogspot.com]

    Some lust for gold and silver, and some for gems and jewels
    But some want greater treasures, and they use their software tools
    For some of us quest for knowledge, and we wants it undefiled,
    But now and then you get a troll who thinks he's Oscar Wilde.

    Beware the Wiki Pirates, who sail the server seas.
    They flaunt their fake credentials and their advanced degrees.
    They control the information with bullying moderation,
    'Cause arrogance and online swagger trump your expertise.

    No matter what your sources, no matter whom you cite,
    He doesn't want to hear it, 'cause he knows for sure he's right
    There is no compromising, no bargain or accord,
    He's never heard of you, or doesn't like you, or he's bored.

    Beware the Wiki Pirates, they love to wield their clout
    All day they'll argue details that no one cares about
    They don't see as overreachin' their demands for page deletion
    Web pages are in short supply, and what if we run out?

    Yo ho, yo ho, no one ever thought,
    Yo ho, yo ho, in this web we'd be caught,
    The Wiki's meant to document the stuff the mainstream missed,
    Instead we've got a pompous sot who's building up his wrist.

    So if ye've got a subject that really interests you,
    Beware the Wikipirates, they've got nothing else to do.
    Someday we'll have a knowledge base with all you want and need,
    Till then we'll take cold comfort that they're likely not to breed.

    Beware the Wiki Pirates, who whine at our attacks.
    They're only trying to help us, never mind the rules and facts.
    They're just honest, not unpleasant, it's not their fault that we're peasants,
    If we'd only see their brilliance, everybody could relax.

    Beware the Wiki Pirates, that basement-dwellin' band.
    They regulate and obfuscate what they don't understand.
    The grief they give ya will reduce ya to trivia and minutiae,
    And prayin' that you really do get banned,
    Only "public noteriety" will get you in their library,
    Be grateful they're all lost at sea... they'd try to delete the land.
  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:48PM (#36998648)

    When I search for particular subjects, the Wikipedia and aggregates always dominate the results. Since information on Wikipedia is questionable then what material they have is "contaminated" meaning you have to spend extra time verifying it. "If it's on the internet, then it must be true!" but I like webpages that have the name and contact of the person that wrote the material. And like everything else you have to consider the source, i.e. govt websites, company websites (download useful troubleshoot manuals or simply marketing by dweebs), websites by nutzoid people, websites by reputable people. As we all know who it comes from makes a difference in credibility of information. But many sites I cannot quickly find because Wikipedia hijacks search results!

    Wikipedia is useful if you want to find very basic information, i.e. is Gina Lollobrigida an actress, ESA astronaut or photographer? (she is only two of those three).

  • by Intron (870560) on Friday August 05, 2011 @03:40PM (#36999892)

    I wrote an article on someone who's career predated the internet, had published several books and published groundbreaking research with Nobel prize winners. Deleted for "lack of notability" because there isn't much about him on the internet. Meanwhile, there are 50 articles on Pokemon, an article on every NBA player, and an article on every town in America. Note: Ever been to Harpster, Ohio [wikipedia.org]? Not notable.

(1) Never draw what you can copy. (2) Never copy what you can trace. (3) Never trace what you can cut out and paste down.

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