Hugh Pickens writes "CNET reports that the volunteers who create Wikipedia's pages, check facts and adapt the site are abandoning Wikipedia in unprecedented numbers, with tens of thousands of editors going 'dead' — no longer actively contributing and updating the site — a trend many experts believe could threaten Wikipedia's future. In the first three months of 2009, the English-language version of Wikipedia suffered a net loss of 49,000 contributors, compared with a loss of about 4,900 during the same period in 2008. 'If you don't have enough people to take care of the project it could vanish quickly,' says Felipe Ortega at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, who created a computer system to analyze the editing history of more than three million active Wikipedia contributors in ten different languages. 'We're not in that situation yet. But eventually, if the negative trends follow, we could be in that situation.' Contributors are becoming disenchanted with the process of adding to the site, which is becoming increasingly difficult says Andrew Dalby, author of The World and Wikipedia: How We are Editing Reality and a regular editor of the site. 'There is an increase of bureaucracy and rules. Wikipedia grew because of the lack of rules. That has been forgotten. The rules are regarded as irritating and useless by many contributors.' Arguments over various articles have also taken their toll. 'Many people are getting burnt out when they have to debate about the contents of certain articles again and again,' adds Ortega."
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