The ‘Decline’ of Wikipedia

No Wikipedia

A world without Wikipedia? Sounds good to me.


Tom Simonite in the MIT Technology Review looks at the “decline” of Wikipedia (that would, of course, assume that it was ever worth anything).

Yet Wikipedia and its stated ambition to “compile the sum of all human knowledge” are in trouble. The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia—and must defend it against vandalism, hoaxes, and manipulation—has shrunk by more than a third since 2007 and is still shrinking.

Those participants left seem incapable of fixing the flaws that keep Wikipedia from becoming a high-quality encyclopedia by any standard, including the project’s own. Among the significant problems that aren’t getting resolved is the site’s skewed coverage: its entries on Pokemon and female porn stars are comprehensive, but its pages on female novelists or places in sub-Saharan Africa are sketchy. Authoritative entries remain elusive. Of the 1,000 articles that the project’s own volunteers have tagged as forming the core of a good encyclopedia, most don’t earn even Wikipedia’s own middle-­ranking quality scores.

The main source of those problems is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage.

See “Me vs. Wikipedia.”

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in History, Wikipedia and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The ‘Decline’ of Wikipedia

  1. My area of expertise is Houdini and I helped build up the Houdini Wiki page years ago, but I’ve driven out my trolls and people with agendas (yes, there are agendas in the Houdini world) who go unchecked. The page is now a mess. Trouble is, journalists still turn to the Houdini Wiki page for their research. I’m constantly seeing inaccuracies from that page reported in news stories. And Google will aways call up a Wiki page as the first thing in a search. It’s a shame.

    • lmharnisch says:

      I had exactly the same experience. Wikipedia had a noble goal, but it could not overcome human nature and it has become a victim of its own culture. Many knowledgeable people have abandoned it for exactly the reasons you cite. I certainly did.

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