Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On the demise of #Wikipedia

Prophets of doom spring up regularly to announce the imminent downfall of that great experiment Wikipedia. The many reasons for the imminent demise of Wikipedia are legion;
  • the growth of the new articles is declining
  • traffic to "the" Wikipedia is going down
  • we will be sued out of existence
  • the number of active editors is declining
  • editing Wikipedia is too dificult
  • there is too much infighting
  • the arguments I forgot and,
  • next weeks argument ..
It is good that the growth of our articles slowed down because otherwise we would have all the sand kernels on the beach edit and add articles.

Traffic for the English Wikipedia is extremely healthy; it is expected that March 2010 will see a new high water mark. Traffic for all Wikipedias is doing equally well.

We have been sued, we have been sued repeatedly. We have had our days in court and are doing well. Having only one lawyer for an organisation, a website of our size is exceptional. We have BLP policies that prove effective and taking Wikipedia to court is bad karma.

Many of our editors leave, they get a job, go into relationships, have babies, have a life.. GREAT FOR THEM ! The trick is to interest new people to do our thing with us. The problem is that we are set in our ways, have to change and allow for change. That is tough on us.

Editing MediaWiki is difficult and this is getting attention in the usability initiatives. More problematic are the written and unwritten rules, this is why I hesitate to write articles. When it is hard on me, what will it be on a newbe ?

All the rules do not prevent the infighting, the barbs, the unthinking nastiness of procedural activities. It does prevent people from making their appearance as regular editors.

Given the many issues that have been overcome in the past, the many initiatives to morph the existing issues that we struggle with, I am not convinced that the demise of Wikipedia is imminent, I am not convinced at all. I do appreciate it when the prophets of doom come up with a new argument, when their argument is plausible we have learned what to concentrate on.

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