Wikipedia's tremendous growth as a reference source has been abruptly slowing down as the website has become 'less welcoming to new contributors', shows a new study by computer scientist Ed Chi and colleagues at the Palo Alto Research Center in California.
The scientist team has warned that the recent changes in the website could compromise the encyclopaedia's quality in the long term, says a report appeared in New Scientist magazine's website.
Currently hosting almost 3 million articles, the English language Wikipedia was launched in 2001. However, the team found that the number of articles added to the website per month flattened out at 60,000 in 2006 and has since declined by around a third.
They also found a negative growth of the number of edits made every month and the number of active editors.
"The balance of power within the people who contribute to Wikipedia also appears to have shifted away from casual contributors who make infrequent changes, toward more active and established contributors. This trend could shut out new users," Chi says.
'Occasional' editors, those who make just a single edit a month, have seen that 25 per cent of their changes were erased, or reverted, by other editors, a proportion that in 2003 was 10 per cent. The revert rate for editors who make between two and nine changes a month grew from 5 to 15 per cent over the same period, says the website.
Chi told New Scientist that the changes could harm Wikipedia in the longer term by deterring new editors from taking part and so reducing the number of people available to spot and correct the vandalism that constantly threatens the encyclopaedia.
The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit company that operates Wikipedia, has reportedly noted these changes and last month launched a strategic review of Wikipedia in an effort to understand them. It had also solicited for financial help from the public.
Do you think the online encyclopaedia is dying a slow death; or will it resurrect even from the ashes?
Login to add comments on this post.