Some news and thoughts on Wikipedia

Wikipedia seems to be suffering some growing pains. According to a study cited by the BBC, in its ongoing efforts to become more authoritative, Wikipedia lost approximately 49,000 editors in the first quarter of 2009. BBC columnist Rory Cellan-Jones shares his thoughts on why that might be.  Some interesting observations from his op-ed (the comments on this op-ed also bring up some lively points for debate):

One theory is that the whole project has simply lost its early innocence, and that’s caused editors to drift away. It was incredibly easy in the early years to plunge in and write a new entry – or more likely edit an existing one.

But gradually the utopian idea of a worldwide community of unpaid enthusiasts creating an invaluable resource, making the world’s information available freely to anyone with an internet connection, has had to confront a nasty reality – the web is an argumentative place where a few noisy and sometimes malicious folks can spoil things for everyone. Repeated vandalism of controversial entries…has led the Wikimedia Foundation gradually to introduce more and more rules about the way articles are edited. It’s clear some early enthusiasts have been put off by the increasing bureaucracy surrounding the project.

And from the comments: “The problem is that people have lost sight of what Wikipedia was. There’s too much effort in trying to make it into a “proper” encyclopedia. Wikipedia is a project that could document a huge amount of information, yet they keep coming up with new ways to restrict what is covered.

Want to know more about why you can’t cite Wikipedia in your research even though it often has good info? Read our earlier blog post here!

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