Wikipedia Is Running Out Of Editors And Admins

Wikipedia is a wonderful resource — the kind of website that makes you marvel at what the internet can achieve. But it's only as good as its contributors, and while some are extremely committed, the sad truth is that the project is running out of editors and new admins.

The Atlantic reports from Wikimania, the official Wikimedia conference, that "volunteer editing of Wikipedia is on a long decline". Of course, you want figures.

Try these. The total number of active English Wikipedia editors making five edits or more a month is down from a peak of over 50,000 in mid-2007 to just 30,000 this year. In October 2005, Wikimedia elected 67 administrators, and a typical month around that time would see the number reach at least 40 or 50. Nowadays, that figure is in the single digits.

It's not at death's door yet, obviously. But the voluntary work required to maintain the open-source site most of us use every day is currently being spread across a dwindling team of contributors. Fortunately, Wikimedia is aware of the problem and plans to do something about it. From The Atlantic:

Wikimedia is planning on beta-testing a new WYSIWYG text editor last this year, to make it easier for new authors to join the Wikipedia legion. And it's adjusting design elements to make it clearer to new visitors that Wikipedia can be edited: the site's ubiquity is such that many web users just don't know about its greatest feature.

Whether that will be enough to engage users remains to be seen. It does, however, serve as a compelling reminder that we all can, and should, contribute to the site. [The Atlantic]

Image: pernillarydmark/Flickr



    I find the existing editors can be a bit defensive of their turf, too.

    It can put off well-intentioned casual contributors.

      Absolutely. I kept getting edits reverted for the pronunciation of the name of a village near where I grew up because the pronunciation wasn't cited in an online article! I've had references to newspaper articles removed as they are not proper references (read - 'not online references').

    Of course, the question that needs to be asked is how may editors and admins it requires. I would have thought that as it matures, it would require less.

      While this may be true, with the collosal size of the universe (almost if not infinite) you technically should always see a requirement for it to increase because infinite in itself is never ending.

      I'd think, like a tree, growth is exponential and admin numbers would also need to grow at an exponential rate

    just the idea that Wikipedia might disappear send chills straight through my spine... the free source of knowledge database is dying can be my worst nightmare. to me, it is more than all social networks, all groupon sites and all online shopping sites combined together.

    well, maybe only humanity is not enough.

      Wikipedia claims it needs more than ten millions dollars a year to run. My question is WHY DO YOU NEED TEN MILLION DOLLARS TO RUN WIKIPEDIA!?

      Seriously, where the hell does all that money go…

        Power for datacenters, techs and engineers to run datacenters.

        Looks like I found the answer:

    What would give it a huge boost would be to teach kids at school how to use and contribute to wikipedia. Make it compulsory for all high school students to do some course that shows how to write a properly cited wikipedia article and go from there. If it's part of education, the rest will flow from there.

      But how would they just copy it from... Wikipedia?

    It is on decline because Wikipedia is run by Zealots who will spontaneously undo your contributions because they think that they are better than you, instead of being more constructive by fixing it up if there is actually anything wrong with it that is not to the required format, but instead they just delete it.

    I think that it is also a design problem, content goes straight from Draft to Published with no review. They need an extra tab to formulate drafts which are agreed on before being published. Also need a discussion tab for opinions, to keep the opinions from sneaking into the article and out of the way.

      Good suggestion! And yes, it's the existing editors that are often the problem, I often turn to the "talk" pages to see what info is missing on subjects because editors have been dicks.

      Great idea about having a discussion page to separate the opinions from facts.

    I used to edit for Wiki, but I got sick of having my changes reverted. One was some kid. Another was this tin god who decided she owned a particular page. In the end I decided life was too short.

    My edits nearly always stay. This is because I know what is needed and how to add it correctly.

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