[p2p-research] the wikipedia decline (another slashdot article)
Paul D. Fernhout
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Nov 28 19:34:25 CET 2009
Michel Bauwens wrote:
> Despite the dismissal by paul hartzog of my interpretation, the fall of
> wikipedia pretty much started with the victory of the exclusionists ... this
> is pretty much confirmed by the article,
> with the revolt of the german wikipedia hackers, we now have a realistic
> chance to regain a inclusionist Wikipedia with a real democratic peer
Another slashdot article related to a reply by Wikipedia staff:
"The Wikimedia blog has a new post from Erik Moeller, deputy director of the
Wikimedia Foundation, and Erik Zachte, a data analyst, to dispute recent
reports about editors leaving Wikipedia (which we discussed on Wednesday).
They offer these points to discredit the claims: 'The number of people
reading Wikipedia continues to grow. In October, we had 344 million unique
visitors from around the world, according to comScore Media Metrix, up 6%
from September. Wikipedia is the fifth most popular web property in the
world. The number of articles in Wikipedia keeps growing. There are about
14.4 million articles in Wikipedia, with thousands of new ones added every
day. The number of people writing Wikipedia peaked about two and a half
years ago, declined slightly for a brief period, and has remained stable
since then. Every month, some people stop writing, and every month, they are
replaced by new people." They also note that it's impossible to tell whether
someone has left and will never return, as their account still remains there."
An example chain of comments:
Oh, you can tell (Score:5, Interesting)
by CRCulver (715279) <crculver at christopherculver.com> on Saturday November
28, @08:22AM (#30254092) Homepage
They also note that it's impossible to tell whether someone has left
and will never return, as their account still remains there.
I stopped editing Wikipedia in 2004, IIRC. There were plenty of cases who
people left and you could tell they weren't likely to return, as their User
or Talk page had some spectacular meltdown where they cursed the entire
project and -- in the cases of the more qualified editors -- they vowed
never to write anything about their field outside of academic rounds ever again.
Re:Oh, you can tell (Score:4, Insightful)
by ACS Solver (1068112) on Saturday November 28, @08:49AM (#30254188)
Cursing or not, I can understand why people stop editing. I used to
contribute stuff but stopped some 3 years ago. One problem is that Wikipedia
has gotten very bogged down in its own bureaucracy. For making non-minor
edits, there's the distinct impression that you're supposed to know a huge
amount of rules and guidelines, proper procedures and whatnot. Then there's
the problem with other editors that won't accept your edits as valid unless
you can show them a citation they understand. Requiring citations is great,
but if I'm making edits related to a fairly small European language only
spoken in one country, what can I show? I can cite books or online resources
written in that very language - citations that some editors don't find
satisfying because they don't understand what it says.
Re:Oh, you can tell (Score:4, Insightful)
by mdwh2 (535323) on Saturday November 28, @09:13AM (#30254296)
The funny thing is, elsewhere on this artice will be people
bitching about "Well I left Wikipedia, I got fed up of people coming in an
making changes to articles, without discussing with people or following
basic guidelines". I'm not saying you're in the wrong, I'm just saying
there's no right answer here, and the fault is not with "Wikipedia" as an
The fallacy is referring to "Wikipedia" as if it was some
single entity. The problem is between the editors - and when you edit, that
includes you. There's no you-and-them, as the them may well be other people
who are complaining about "Wikipedia", when by "Wikipedia" they actually
mean their experience with you.
The only plausible time when a them-and-us argument is valid is
when discussing Wikipedia admins (who are granted special privileges). But
this doesn't apply to editors. You were an editor, and are just as much a
target of Wikipedia criticism as any other editor.
The bottom line is that when you have a massive collaboration
between people online who don't even know each other, there are going to be
disagreements. Unfortunately, rather than debate it with each other,
sometimes both sides of an argument will take it out on "Wikipedia", each of
them referring to the other side's view as wrong, and an example of how
doomed Wikipedia is.
Thankfully, criticisms on Slashdot comments or in the tabloids
don't change the fact that out of this collabaration, we nonetheless
actually have a resultant free encyclopedia that's pretty damn good.
I'm seeing one big issue here:
# 2.3.2 2. Collaboration is inherently composed of two primary components,
without either of which collaboration cannot take place: social negotiation
and creative output.
# 2.3.3 3. Collaboration in small groups (roughly 2-25) relies upon social
negotiation to evolve and guide its process and creative output.
Although social mediation is an inherent part of collaboration, when applied
in traditional face-to-face collaboration social mediation can provide a
barrier to the rapid and seamless integration of contributions that
characterises projects such as Wikipedia.org and the Open Source software
movement. It may be that there is simply so much complex information to be
negotiated when people communicate directly that the negotiations of the
many collapse under their own weight without the mediation of an
This is not to say that social negotiation does not take place in
stigmergic collaborative contexts – it may even be essential to developing
the collaborative community – but rather that negotiation takes a back seat
in terms of the creative drafting process. Most (if not all) stigmergic wiki
collaborations have discussions associated with the content being developed,
but it is possible to contribute (to Wikipedia.org, for instance) without
discussing what you are contributing or creating. Conversely, it is also
possible to take part in discussion without editing an article. Although
such discussions are most certainly an important and perhaps crucial form of
contribution, they are typically secondary to the objectives of the overall
project. For an example of a discussion accompanying mass collaboration, see
the Israel talk page at Wikipedia.org. In addition to such points of
discussion, bulletin boards, IRC (chat) and email lists often support and
augment the negotiation.
By focusing more and more on discussion, with ever more complex social
rules, and with deletionism and rollbacking related a lot to taking part in
discussion, Wikipedia makes the stigmergic part of the process harder to do.
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