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Wikipedia Approaches Its Limits 564

Reservoir Hill writes "The Guardian reports that a study by Ed H Chi demonstrates that the character of Wikipedia has changed significantly since Wikipedia's first burst of activity between 2004 and 2007. While the encyclopedia is still growing overall, the number of articles being added has reduced from an average of 2,200 a day in July 2007 to around 1,300 today while at the same time, the base of highly active editors has remained more or less static. Chi's team discovered that the way the site operates had changed significantly from the early days, when it ran an open-door policy that allowed in anyone with the time and energy to dedicate to the project. Today, they discovered, a stable group of high-level editors has become increasingly responsible for controlling the encyclopedia, while casual contributors and editors are falling away. 'We found that if you were an elite editor, the chance of your edit being reverted was something in the order of 1% — and that's been very consistent over time from around 2003 or 2004,' says Chi. 'For editors that make between two and nine edits a month, the percentage of their edits being reverted had gone from 5% in 2004 all the way up to about 15% by October 2008. And the 'onesies' — people who only make one edit a month — their edits are now being reverted at a 25% rate.' While Chi points out that this does not necessarily imply causation, he suggests it is concrete evidence to back up what many people have been saying: that it is increasingly difficult to enjoy contributing to Wikipedia unless you are part of the site's inner core of editors. Wikipedia's growth pattern suggests that it is becoming like a community where resources have started to run out. 'As you run out of food, people start competing for that food, and that results in a slowdown in population growth and means that the stronger, more well-adapted part of the population starts to have more power.'"
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Wikipedia Approaches Its Limits

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  • by RevWaldo ( 1186281 ) * on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:10AM (#29051563)
    Not to knock golf, fishing, spoiling the grandkids or catching the early-bird special, but I could think of worse ways of spending one's retirement time than editing and writing articles for an encyclopedia.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:15AM (#29051641)

      I plan to spend my retirement trolling slashdot

    • by default luser ( 529332 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:04AM (#29052511) Journal

      Most of them range from young kids to middle-age, with hardly any of them old. They're just trying to make a name for themselves in "teh intarwebs." You need only check-out a few of their pages - most [wikipedia.org] are [wikipedia.org] pedestals [wikipedia.org] from [wikipedia.org] which [wikipedia.org] to [wikipedia.org] gloat [wikipedia.org] about [wikipedia.org] their [wikipedia.org] Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] penis [wikipedia.org], and yet these are the people IN CHARGE.

      It's this kind of arrogant attitude that's kept me away from Wikipedia the last few years - anything I add ends-up rejected because some stupid kid has a hard-on for his power position. You want to know why Wikipedia is not growing? It's because the new pack of cyber nerds is defending it's territory.

      Here's the full list [wikipedia.org].

      • by tvjunky ( 838064 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:16AM (#29052735)

        You need only check-out a few of their pages - most are pedestals from which to gloat about their Wikipedia penis, and yet these are the people IN CHARGE.

        So those people take pride in their voluntary work for a good cause and as a result were elected by the community to have a few more responsibilities beyond just editing articles. I don't see how that is a bad thing at all.

        • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:54AM (#29053367) Homepage

          Taking pride in doing the work is great. That's what keeps them coming back and doing good work. That's not the problem - You neglected this (very important) piece of that post:

          ...the new pack of cyber nerds is defending it's territory.

          That's really bad. You want to dig a well for orphans? Great! Want to brag about how you donated your time to help them? Cool. But if you get so excited about being the honored 'orphan-well-digger' that you deny others the opportunity to pitch in, and you've got the clout due to your good history to maintain your charity-monopoly, that's bad for everyone.

          • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @12:17PM (#29053667)

            That, in a nutshell, is wikipedia's problem.

            Look at the "top echelon" - the elites, the "friends of jimbo" clique. Most of them have been around forever (in relative terms to wikipedia's age).
            Look at the next level - the bureaucrats and laughably corrupt "Arbitration Committee". Same thing.
            Look at the ranks of the admins. What do you have? For the most part, a circle-jerk of backslapping nerds who congratulate each other on being abusive and rude in the exercise of their powers.
            Look at the next rank down - the "longtime respected users." How do they get there? By having admin friends to protect them during disputes. Why are they not on the next rank? Well, they're either just sockpuppet accounts for the admins, or they're the "enforcers" of one of the various cliques, designated to wade in and be as disruptive as possible to newcomers in order to provoke "ban-worthy" conduct while their friend the admin keeps them from getting banned.

            How do you get to be an admin? Not by proving you can handle a job of watching for legitimate disruption. No, you prove it by "level grinding" using automated tools on the "Recent Changes Patrol", looking for "vandalism" and amassing an edit count that rises higher and higher. You prove it by keeping your personal head down and letting someone else from whatever clique you connect with do the dirty work of "enforcing", so that your name is not connected with a block or ban. You get it by brown-nosing your way around certain known-quantity administrators and agreeing with whatever they do, especially when they're involved in clique behavior. You get it by submitting your RFA at the right time, so that people who would have something to say against your POV-pushing ways "happen" to not be around because they have a real life to work on.

            Wikipedia is illegitimate. Someone else pointed out that Wikipedia is like a game - most of the people who have admin bits or better have "leveled up". People who don't make RFA routinely are told it's because they haven't passed a certain edit-count threshold, whether or not they can keep a level head and use their tools sparingly as they should. It's a game, nothing more, and the behavior we see from them is "cyber nerds is defending it's territory" in the worst way.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:25PM (#29054633)

              My one experience with contributing a Wiki edit was to fix a spelling error. I don't mean one of those things where it would be correct in some form of English, like US vs UK spelling. I mean just a flat out mistake. My fix was reverted very quickly. I never did understand why. Sort of put me off wanting to make any more substantial contributions though.

              • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:34PM (#29054751)

                I can explain why. It's very simple.

                Someone was trying to drive their edit count up.

                That's all it takes. They're sitting on "Recent Changes" patrol, reverting everything in sight. They don't give a rat's ass what they revert, because when it comes time for the RFA level-up procedure in the Wikipedia MMORPG, all the entrenched group running RFA cares about is how many edits you have, not whether any of them were worth anything at all.

                Making an edit that screws up the grammar and spelling in an article (doing damage), or making an edit that fixes it and makes the article better (an improvement) mean precisely the same thing as far as the MMORPG goes: one more tick in your edit count.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        They're just trying to make a name for themselves in "teh intarwebs." You need only check-out a few of their pages - most [wikipedia.org] are [wikipedia.org] pedestals [wikipedia.org] from [wikipedia.org] which [wikipedia.org] to [wikipedia.org] gloat [wikipedia.org] about [wikipedia.org] their [wikipedia.org] Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] penis [wikipedia.org], and yet these are the people IN CHARGE.

        The pages that I checked out were no more self aggrandizing than any "webpage about me," they seemed like what the typical person does when given a chance to talk about themselves. They didn't scream "control freak trying to get famous for harsh wiki edits" they just screamed "typical lonely internet user." And didn't wiki start off being tended to by the same?

        What edits or additions of yours got rejected?

      • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @12:24PM (#29053783) Homepage Journal
        I tried to contribute an article about a local person of note, and I had to fight with an editor for a week who kept deleting the article. Not flagging it, not posting messages about how it could be altered to improve content, but outright deleting it. After a few experiences like that, I gave up on contributing to Wikipedia at all.
        • by StellarFury ( 1058280 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @12:42PM (#29054053)

          This shit bugs me.

          Just like TFA said, the deletionists have won. And to me, "to become a respected, citable encyclopedia" was never the purpose of Wikipedia. Seriously, academia just isn't going to consider Wikipedia a valid source, no matter how much they clean up their act. Besides - who the fuck cites encyclopedias in their work? They're all full of general knowledge stuff anyway.

          The goal, I thought, was to catalog the sum total of human knowledge - which would include local people, places, sights, and even those things considered "trivial" by most people - and present it in a readable, non-biased manner. I've long given up on creating or editing articles for exactly the same reasons.

        • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:04PM (#29054365) Homepage Journal

          I've had several experiences like this as well with one editor deciding the he was the end all and be all of what was significant and worthy of note. I had other bad experiences as well. As a matter of fact every time I've tried to contribute I've had a bad experience. So no more for me... they have people on power trips that are out of control. It's sad because the idea behind Wikipedia is so good and solid as long as it's kept OPEN and FAIR. I don't think it's either at the moment.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13, 2009 @02:18PM (#29055395)

          I tried to contribute an article about a local person of note, and I had to fight with an editor for a week who kept deleting the article. Not flagging it, not posting messages about how it could be altered to improve content, but outright deleting it. After a few experiences like that, I gave up on contributing to Wikipedia at all.

          This is similar to my bad experiences on Wikipedia.

          Most recently, I improved an article about a controversial national television advertising campaign by describing the latest commercials. A senior editor came along and reverted my material with no explanation. I contacted him on his Talk page and he said he thought my material was vandalism, because it could simply not be true and accurate. I explained that it was most certainly quite true and accurate, and that anyone could turn on the TV to verify this fact. He declined to undo his reversions. (Since the article was entirely about the controversial nature of the commercials, you'd think he would have considered in the first place whether it might all be true!)

          I've also had cases where my edits were deleted from articles about events in which I was a personal primary participant, and technical details about things I invented (in favor of editors who had merely heard about it decades later and were wildly speculating). In one case, the editors even deleted the Discussion logs to eliminate the evidence of their embarrassing behaviour!

          Needless to say my opinion on Wikipedia is that it's a pile of crap that eschews reality and truth in favor of the distortions of a group of strange elite editors. There's no point in contributing or editing to such a thing. There is no real accountability - not even crowd consensus - it's just another elite power structure masquerading as something else. While the editors often have a POV and adgenda that they are enforcing, resulting in biased articles, that's just a side effect. Wikipedia is, as others have said here, really a system for the feted inner core to get their power play and masturbatory delusional ego boost.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:13AM (#29051603)

    If you have a 25 percent probability that your edit will be reverted, why bother? Coupled with abuse of the "notability" concept for new articles, Wikipedia has gone from "the encyclopedia of everything that everyone can edit" to the "encyclopedia of things we like and some people may edit."


    • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:16AM (#29051647) Homepage Journal
      Precisely. But that's fine, I mean there are wikis for many other subjects so that you can delve into those subjects in much more detail. On these subject specific wikis, as long as its related to the subject, its ok.
      • by vintagepc ( 1388833 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:23AM (#29051763) Journal
        That's also part of the problem- There are too many fields, and everyone is trying to cover everything. While I don't expect wikipedia to have an article on everything I search for (and in fact, it doesn't) I would appreciate links to other sites... For (a bad) example, Uncyclopedia will link to Wikipedia if you search for a non-existent article. Why can't wikipedia do the same to other specialty wikis?
        Anyone know if there is a meta-wiki somewhere that keeps a list of wikis?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by cashman73 ( 855518 )
          I'm not sure if there's specifically a list of wikis anywhere, but there is a wiki for Conservatives [conservapedia.com]. Most articles seem to be mostly fixated on debunking Abortion, Evolution, and Homosexuality.
          • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:08AM (#29052595) Journal

            I'm not sure if there's specifically a list of wikis anywhere, but there is a wiki for Conservatives [conservapedia.com]. Most articles seem to be mostly fixated on debunking Abortion, Evolution, and Homosexuality.

            That's awesome! I didn't know Conservatives had their very own slanted wiki. Now all we need to do is start ones for the rest of the population:

            American big-city Liberal wiki:
            Firearms: Evil devices designed only for murder.
            Rural America: The part of the country filled with inbred hicks who are too stupid to govern themselves.

            Communist Chinese wiki:
            Tiananmen Square: No such article found.

            Revisionist Japanese wiki:
            Rape of Nanjing: No such article found.
            Bataan Death March: No such article found.
            Burmese Death Railway: No such article found.

            Revisionist American wiki:
            Trail of tears: No such article found.

            French wiki:
            American revolution: The war waged by France against Great Britain with some minor assistance from 13 British colonies.
            Fall of France: No such article found.
            Dien Bien Phu: No such article found.

            Southern wiki:
            War of Northern Aggression (redirected from American Civil War)

            Neo-con wiki:
            Anti-Americanism: They hate us because we are free!

            Hippie Liberal Douche wiki:
            Anti-Americanism: They hate us because every single injustice in the world is caused by American aggression and imperialism.

            Ahmadinejad wiki:
            Homosexuality in Iran: No such article found.

            Tin-foil hat wiki:
            TWA Flight 800: A civilian airliner shot down by the US Navy.
            9/11: The attacks carried out on the United States in 2001 by agents of the Mossad with the backing of the GWB administration.
            Wi-Fi: A wireless communications system that is known to cause brain cancer and other neurological disorders.

            Security theater wiki:
            Bottled water: Portable containers of bottled water. When sold in containers greater than 3oz it becomes the single greatest threat to civilian aviation since the invention of the box cutter.

        • by Ex-Linux-Fanboy ( 1311235 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:18AM (#29052767) Homepage Journal
          Tv Tropes [tvtropes.org] is the most fun Wiki I've found in a while. While a little more serious than the Unencyclopedia, it looks at media (Video games, role playing games, movies, TV, comics, etc.) with a more fun and lighthearted approach than the Wikipedia.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SeePage87 ( 923251 )
          No, but I was just thinking about this. A meta-wiki would be amazing, as for each high level subject there could be a page talking about the main bits of it, but then also link to the subject's own wiki for which you can explore all the different aspects of that subject. The only catch is that currently all the wikis are independently run, so there's some loss of standardization (which is useful) and of course the problem of selecting the proper sub-wiki (if it even exists). Perhaps best not to use exist
      • by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:30AM (#29051939)

        Why should i have to go wandering round multiple sites of unknown reliability when wikipedia could at least serve up the basics!
        It wouldn't piss my off so much if wikipedia had always aimed to be an "encyclopedia of things we like and some people may edit.", but it didn't it was meant to be "the encyclopedia of everything that everyone can edit", and it pretty much was until a ruling clique formed!

        • by massysett ( 910130 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:57AM (#29052413) Homepage

          "the encyclopedia of everything that everyone can edit", and it pretty much was until a ruling clique formed!

          I think they are trying to keep it from degenerating into a blog, or a chat space, or an encyclopedia of trivial things like the Star Wars universe. Some wikis, like Wookiepedia, started out because Wikipedia kept kicking out certain stuff, like exhaustive detail of the Star Wars universe.

          This article makes the change in Wikipedia sound nefarious, like there is some elitist cabal that wants to accrue power. Sure that is true in part. But as the site has grown it is more important to keep things out than it is to add things. The alternative is that every article about a politician will include nasty, defamatory, and useless content and that vociferous fans of various fantasy genres and celebrities will take over all coverage of things related to their realms.

          Wikipedia needs people who say "no", and if those people are a bunch of elitist editors, then fine.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ari_j ( 90255 )

            Let's leave defamation to the side - first off, to be defamatory, the facts stated must be false, so they don't belong in an encyclopedia anyhow. Other than that, though, who decides what content is "useless"? Why is some information so unimportant that it cannot be stored in Wikipedia?

            Wikipedia's article on itself declares that it is an encyclopedia. Its article on encyclopedias defines the term as "a comprehensive written compendium that holds information from either all branches of knowledge or a part

          • by Fujisawa Sensei ( 207127 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @12:54PM (#29054227) Journal

            "the encyclopedia of everything that everyone can edit", and it pretty much was until a ruling clique formed!

            I think they are trying to keep it from degenerating into a blog, or a chat space, or an encyclopedia of trivial things like the Star Wars universe. Some wikis, like Wookiepedia, started out because Wikipedia kept kicking out certain stuff, like exhaustive detail of the Star Wars universe.

            Preventing it from becoming a chat space or blog is fine.

            But the so-called trivial elements like Star Wars universe make wikipedia a one stop shop for information. I know that I've looked up stuff and someone has flagged the article for deletion because it was supposedly trivial. If it were actually trivial, why am I as an end user looking at it?

          • by Achromatic1978 ( 916097 ) <robert.chromablue@net> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:06PM (#29054379)

            I think they are trying to keep it from degenerating into a blog, or a chat space, or an encyclopedia of trivial things like the Star Wars universe. Some wikis, like Wookiepedia, started out because Wikipedia kept kicking out certain stuff, like exhaustive detail of the Star Wars universe.

            Perhaps. But they used to be quite happy to be so. Then, perhaps entirely by coincidence, the co-founder, Jimmy Wales, started a for profit Wiki business on the side, Wikia. Devoid of content, it needed ad revenue, and lo, there came forth an edict, moving huge swathes, 100s of thousands of pages, to Wikia, which also became, completely coincidentally, the only external (and "independent") site that was able to get past the spam filters.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
        So why not have a mechanism for moving articles to the relevant specialised wiki and adding a stub page in Wikipedia (or a redirect to an index page) with a link to that specialised wiki, rather than just delete someone else's work?
        • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:57AM (#29052411)

          > So why not have a mechanism for moving articles to the relevant specialised wiki and adding a stub page in Wikipedia (or a redirect to an index page) with a link to that specialised wiki, rather than just delete someone else's work?

          Because deleting someone's article is about power - it's about showing them that you have it and they don't. All the rhetoric about notability and "reaching a consensus" is just a cover for demonstrating that you can shaft them. Moving the article to a specialised Wiki wouldn't achieve this.

          In fact articles about specialised Wikis keep getting deleted as "non notable", because the people that run Wiki don't have any power of them.

          Everyone likes to think that we're an evolved species interested in knowledge but actually everything is about hierarchies, chimp style. Actually if wikipedia stopped being about consensus and switched to voting a lot of these problems would disappear.

          • by Rutefoot ( 1338385 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @12:05PM (#29053507)
            I've posted a reply about this a long time ago in a different threat, but this is pretty relevant to repost:

            The owner of a website I frequented was once added to Wikipedia. Moderators started debating whether him and his (albeit popular) website were notable enough for an entry. They pretty unanimously agreed that he was not.

            Which was great, because the owner most definitely did not want the article on the site. He signed up and politely requested the article removed (Something along the lines of:"I'd rather have a cactus shoved up my ass then see an article about me and my website on wikipedia. Did I mention the cactus would be on fire and covered in bees?"

            Almost immediately many of the moderators started rethinking their original decision and decided the topic was notable enough after all.

            If that's not a group of people who have control issues, I don't know what is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SilverEyes ( 822768 )
      Many people add edits without checking the discussion page to see that they hold a commonly held belief that is wrong. Or it's just vandalism. Look at a popular page's history and many of the edits are pointless re-organizations, vandalism, insertion of incorrect information, and an equal number of reverts to get it back the way it was.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:26AM (#29051839)

        OTOH there are cases of people trying to correct info only to have it "corrected" by people who break Wikipedias guidelines. An example of this would be "BUFF" in the article about the B-52 Stratofortress, it means "Big Ugly Fat Fucker" but last time I checked someone had decided to make the article "child-friendly" by changing this to "Big Ugly Fat Fellow" despite Wikipedia guidelines stating that one should not bowdlerize articles, and this was also pointed out multiple times on the discussion page.

        • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:30AM (#29051931) Journal

          An example of this would be "BUFF" in the article about the B-52 Stratofortress, it means "Big Ugly Fat Fucker" but last time I checked someone had decided to make the article "child-friendly" by changing this to "Big Ugly Fat Fellow"

          That's pretty ironic when I can go to this article [wikipedia.org] and see a picture of the female sex organs. Won't someone please think of the children?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by corsec67 ( 627446 )

            Why would anatomy not be child-friendly?

            Since about half of the people on this planet have the organ depicted in that article, why should it not be relevant to people with that organ?

      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:39AM (#29052093)
        I'll go further, it would be a disaster if wikipedia didn't converge. Established facts are not in constant turmoil, neither should be an encyclopedia.
      • by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:47AM (#29052235) Homepage

        Like the articles about wikipedia's founder for example. Oh wait ... For a "self-avowed objectivist to the core" he sure has a low tolerance for criticism. (I refuse to link to his wikipedia page, if you want to see masturbation in action there are quite sufficient sites depicting that, and none of them should be linked)

      • by rel4x ( 783238 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:02AM (#29052487)
        I disagree. I'm not an editor there, but I frequently read the talk pages(I find them more interesting and more telling than the main pages sometimes).
        The top editors quite obviously revert edits from "lesser" users for no reason other than disagreement with POV, or just pride in what they initially wrote. Wikipedia at this point has so many rules that someone who spends a lot of time on Wikipedia can almost entirely control articles with them.
        If you don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of these rules(even though many are selectively enforced) you really have no control over the article. It's quite similar to the idea that police have so many laws at their disposal that they can nearly always find something wrong with your driving/car if they really want to give you a ticket(such as slight overhangs of the license plate frame)

        One glaring example I remember is Bristol Palin. Someone managed to get her article removed(though she was obviously notable), redirected it a section about Sarah Palin's family, then changed the the anchor so that the place it was redirecting to had nothing to do with her. Could it be an accident? Yeah. But there's a lot of similar examples.
        Also, despite the number of articles with built in criticism sections, large corporations and political figures will often remove the criticism section entirely, or move it to a separate article. Why? Because those locations get a fraction of the traffic.
        Wikipedia ranks too well in the search engines for special interest groups and PR/reputation management companies to ignore. Slowly but surely, they've been building up influence and sockpuppet accounts. And Wikipedia has changed a lot as a result.

        Obviously I can't cite any of this, so I understand if you guys take it with a grain of salt. But it's been something I've been seeing for quite awhile now, and I'm quite confident it's happening.
    • Amen to that (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:21AM (#29051749) Homepage

      I've had stuff reverted which I've known to be 100% true (because it was about some software I personally wrote) and yet some muppet halfway across the world who probably knows next to nothing about the software thinks its wrong because theres no other source to verify against. In the end I just kept re-adding it until he gave up but it really pissed me off and I suspect I'm not alone.

      • Re:Amen to that (Score:5, Insightful)

        by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:24AM (#29051801)

        The "muppet" was right to do so. Information that is not independently verifiable does not belong in an encyclopedia.

        Publish the information somewhere else as an authority on the subject, then make the edit and add a citation.

        • Re:Amen to that (Score:5, Informative)

          by grumbel ( 592662 ) <grumbel+slashdot@gmail.com> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:42AM (#29052135) Homepage

          Information that is not independently verifiable does not belong in an encyclopedia.

          True, but the problem is how Wikipedia defines "verifiability". In most cases I have encountered it was used in the "it was printed on paper" sense, it didn't matter if the source was trustworthy, a press release or any other incorrect crap, as long as it was paper. Other Wikis, Blogs or Forums that might have easily verifiable knowledge of certain subjects aren't accepted as source. The PSP Homebrew article for example is pretty worthless blubber for that reason, mainstream press just doesn't like to talk about homebrew.

        • Re:Amen to that (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:44AM (#29052171) Homepage

          "Information that is not independently verifiable does not belong in an encyclopedia"

          Well he could always have downloaded the software, compiled it up and run it but I guess he couldn't be bothered.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Well he could always have downloaded the software, compiled it up and run it but I guess he couldn't be bothered.

            Did you provide a link to the software as a reference?

        • Re:Amen to that (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:55AM (#29052375) Journal
          Or as apparently what many people are doing - just give up and don't bother.

          Sometimes on a whim, I'll just add some info or make a correction. But I rarely bother to see if it stays. If people revert it, it's their or Wikipedia's problem, not mine.

          It's not like I'm an avid supporter of wikipedia (esp given the sort of things they and their admins do). So I don't see the point of putting in extra effort for them (unless someone paid me enough :) ).

          I've seen pages with pretty obvious stuff that's full of "citation needed" tags. I doubt that sort of thing is due to people trying to establish the truth, these sort of occurrences are more due to egos or politics or some astroturfing. Just a google search will provide tons of citations, so why clutter the wikipage with a citation for every other statement?
        • Re:Amen to that (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:06AM (#29052567) Homepage Journal

          And that's one of the insane concepts that many experts hate about Wikipedia.

          They say that democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner. That's a simplified metaphor to point out a crucial flaw of majority voting.

          In the same way, one could say that Wikipedia is where an anonymous blog posting (which can be linked to) is the more trustworthy authority on spacetime than a direct edit by Stephen Hawking himself.

          Protest all you want, reason all you want, the simple truth is that that's how it is.

        • Re:Amen to that (Score:5, Insightful)

          by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:29AM (#29052957)

          That kind of mindset is exactly the problem.

          It's the dichotomy of reality and truth. In the beginning, Wikipedia was pretty good about mixing reality and truth. There was a little bit of both. Most articles contained reality, and when there were disputes on what was reality, truth was substituted.

          At some point, the mindset started to skew towards truth. People with a stake in it started trying to make it respectable. At around that time, there were a large volume of articles online and off about how Wikipedia can't be sourced in research or considered a good source of information and whatnot. Looking back, it's pretty apparent the truth movement was a result of all the publicity.

          What has happened to Wikipedia is that it has grown too popular too fast, and got lost somewhere along the way. It has lost its direction. The higher ups are trying to make it what it wasn't, isn't, and shouldn't be. They are trying to force Wikipedia to become an encyclopedia like Britannica or World Book when it's really a wikipedia.

      • Re:Amen to that (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@nosPAM.hackish.org> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:27AM (#29051877)

        That's the intended outcome, though. Wikipedia used to be just a collection of information put together by random people, but the goal is increasingly to build a well referenced collection of information put together by random people. If you can't cite any at least halfway-decent source for an addition, it doesn't belong in a Wikipedia article, because there would be no way for a reader to verify for themselves that the information wasn't just made up.

        The fact that Wikipedia didn't do this often enough, and was to a large extent a collection of unreliable information put together by people with no credentials, with no way to verify any of it was accurate, was one of the most frequent and strongest criticisms in the early years (and still persists to some extent). So I'd say it's a definite shift in the right direction to require sources more stringently.

      • Re:Amen to that (Score:4, Interesting)

        by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:03AM (#29052505)

        I've had a simmilar experience. I am a subject matter expert on a particular area of optical physics and periodically edit a section I initiated. Lately I find these edits reverted within minutes. it's truly aggravating. It's not for lack of citations since the citations there contain the info. and Moreover many of the edits I make are neutral in content but simply refactor the description or consolidate repetitious parts. Sometimes I this revert battle goes on and on.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mdda ( 462765 )

      Even non-core contributors have a 75% chance of getting their changes accepted - and my guess is that the probability is even higher if the changes make sense...

      And rather than being a story about 'scarcity of resources', isn't it more one of Wikipedia approaching perfection?

      • by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:20AM (#29052799)
        I've corrected spelling and had my changes reverted. I've reworded paragraphs so that they are coherent English and had the changes reverted. I've split a 2-page run-on sentence into proper sentences and paragraphs and been reverted. It's not about whether a change makes sense. Much more often, it's about someone having a pet article that only he can touch, no matter how poor of a writer he may be. That's why I quit editing Wikipedia. I got too sick of people not wanting their articles to be improved.

        Perfection has two basic meanings. It can mean 'done' or it can mean 'flawless.' Wikipedia is definitely approaching the former, but will never attain the latter.
        • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @03:02PM (#29055909)

          That's why I quit editing Wikipedia. I got too sick of people not wanting their articles to be improved.

          That's a shame.

          Personally I have created 1 article in Wikipedia with the full intent of others to edit it.

          Back in 2005 to my dismay I found that there was no article on the Gunkanjima island so I put together a three sentence article with some links [wikipedia.org] to show that it existed.

          Now 4 years later the article evolved into this well done article with maps and pictures [wikipedia.org] and I have not edited the article once.

          It went through some name changes and merges and I am sure I could have edit wars whether Gunkanjima or Hashima island was the better name but I was always pleased that someone more knowledgeable saw the article and put some real effort into it.

          If I was determined that my early article was the best it could be... Then well I would be just dumb and stupid.

    • by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:26AM (#29051833) Homepage Journal

      >>Wikipedia has gone from "the encyclopedia of everything that everyone can edit" to the "encyclopedia of things we like and some people may edit."

      Pretty much. Elitism on the part of the core editors combined with a provincial desire to have articles "their way" combined with healthy doses of fucktardery has basically made me give up on contributing to wikipedia.

      Case in point:
      I went to an article, saw that it was missing ISBN numbers for the books the subject was written.

      I looked up the ISBN numbers, and added them to the bibliography.

      The core editor who claimed it as part of his domain reverted the edit. Within a matter of seconds; certainly less than a minute. No comment on the revert.

      I waited a day, added the ISBN numbers again. He reverted the edit again, again no comment.

      I tried it a third time, then left a notice on his user page telling him that he shouldn't be acting like that.

      One of his admin friends came onto his user page, reverted out my warning to him, said there was no evidence the editor was rejecting edits arbitrarily (even though I'd linked the reverts in the notice), and that I essentially shouldn't say such things to my betters.

      So yeah, I waited a month, did it again, and they were accepted without comment. Because, you know, there's nothing controversial about ISBN numbers. :/

      But that was enough for me. Wikipedia is an incestuous cesspool.

    • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:39AM (#29052091)

      No kidding.

      The problem is the incestuous "culture" - or more to the point, the haves-and-have-nots attitude of the majority of their administrators and so-called "respected users" - that works on the basis of gaming the system.

      Words by a former wikipedia administrator [livejournal.com] that showed me how their system really works. And then of course there's scandal [newsvine.com] after scandal [textfiles.com] after scandal [theregister.co.uk] after scandal [theregister.co.uk] (the last one is incredible fun, too... if you think that's the only secret organizing list for abusive wikipedians, admin or no, you're delusional).

      Wikipedia doesn't work. It hasn't worked for a long time and I don't think it ever really did. It has horrible bias [kuro5hin.org] against anyone who is a verifiable expert in their field. It has MASSIVE problems with cliques going around pushing their agendas and claiming that anyone new coming to an article or set of articles on their favorite topic (global warming, middle eastern conflict/culture, scientology, etc). If you show up with well-researched refutals to the crap that is 99% of wikipedia, you are labeled a "troll", or abused, or targeted by one of their throwaway accounts so that a friendly behind-the-scenes admin can slap an indefinite ban on you. This is deliberate: 20 newcomers to an article might be able to outweigh the morons pushing bad information, but as long as they can pick them off one at a time, they "win" in the wikipedian system.

      A few wikipedians have been there "Forever." They'll never go away. More have been there "A very long time" and have developed incestuous, corrupt relationships with each other and with the "forever" types. Meanwhile, anyone new coming in is instantly accused of being a "sockpuppet", "meatpuppet", or whatever other epithet can be thrown at them.

      It's no coincidence that the "Checkuser" tool, which was originally ripped out of David Gerard's corrupt grasp after a series of false-attack incidents (privately hushed up, naturally) has on en.wp been removed from the ability to "prove innocence." The accusation of "sockpuppetry" is an abuser's tool of force, pure and simple. In the Wikipedia "judge, jury, and executioner" administrator zone, any tool that could prove someone is innocent is to be neutered as soon as possible.

      The statistics on blockings/bannings and responses to them are likewise hidden. Why? Because analysis of these shows what really goes on. Most administrators don't bother to communicate with users when placing a block. They drop indefinites immediately with no remorse, using wikispeak code rather than plain language. The "appeal" process is a laughable joke as well, with maybe 5-8 active "reviewers" who basically use it as a stress-relief tool, beating up on people who are helpless (because they don't have the admin bit) to begin with.

      Face it. Wikipedia is worthless with the current "leadership." All the good editors and conscientious administrators were driven away long ago.

      • by MikeURL ( 890801 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:02AM (#29052497) Journal
        In my estimation the main problem is that you can "level up" in Wikipedia. That turns it into a game where a win is measured by gaining more special powers in the MMORPG. And then what good are those special powers if you don't use them in the game? They're useless. So you wind up with people who may have even started out well-intentioned but eventually they get to the top of the pyramid and take on a "my way or the highway" attitude.

        For Wikipedia to return to its roots it has to remove the "level up" culture. All special access has to be removed from everyone who is not an employee of the WF. Yep, edit wars will result and that is as it should be. A free encyclopedia that anyone can edit SHOULD be like making sausage. Instead they went the route of janitors, admins and Friends of Jimbo.
    • by Ploum ( 632141 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:49AM (#29052263) Homepage

      indeed, I had the same feeling since a few months. What I find completely astonishing is the "no blog" policy.

      I'm not a real wikipedia contributor but, sometimes, I correct a mistake or add an information I know. In the recent months, nearly all my edits were reverted because of "no source". And when I add a source, it's often a blog and deleted as "not acceptable, it's a blog". Worst : all blog references are now purchased and deleted. I was recently reading the french entry about freediving. For months, the external links section contained a few links to very interesting blogs about the subjet. I was really happy to find them and I would not have discovered them without wikipedia. Last week, I discovered than one link was dead so I removed it : immediatly after, an editor removed all the links with the comment "no blogs allowed". The article doesn't have an external links section anymore. What's the benefit of thatÂ???

      There's also the "notability" problem.
      Sometimes, when I look for something and don't find a page, I start it, putting the raw information IÂhave. So far it has always been deleted because "it was not notable" enough. I agree that it's often specialized and, if you are not interested by the subject, you might not knowing it. As an answer, I will provide links to articles speaking about the subject, links of blog created specifically for that matter. But no, those are blogs so it means the subject is not important enough. I even saw twice that I was not the first to try to create a given page. I know that it's specialized but Wikipedia even has pages for Porn actor !

      In the end, I don't contribute anymore to wikipedia because :
      1) It will be deleted anyway
      2) It will raise the page I'm editing under the "veteran editor" radar and they will likely delete stuffs on that page or even remove the page completely (yes, it happened to me that the page I contributed after finding it was removed because "non notable" after my edit).

      On the other hand, pages that haven't been touched since the 2007 golden era are pretty safe. Out-of-date, maybe, but at least safe.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 )

      I don't buy the premise of TFS at all. First, afaict it's always been hard to not have an edit reverted. After I had an accommodating IOL inserted in my left eye, I edited the Cataract Surgery article [wikipedia.org] to add the accomodating lens with the monofocal and multfocal lenses, and it was reverted almost immedately. I tried again several times to update it (my surgery was in 2006, the CrystaLens was three years old at the time), and all efforts were unsuccessful.

      It took a mention of these efforts to edit the wiki h

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rtaylor ( 70602 )

      Yup. I submitted fixes for things like the date of an event which I knew to be incorrect since I was at the event. I found the correct date in a document already cited for other facts.

      I left a note explaining where the correct date came from, the citation, and personal experience confirming the correct article. My edit got reverted and this article still shows the incorrect date 5 years later and it seems I'm not the only person to attempt to correct it.

      That's the only edit I've ever attempted and the only

    • Consensus (Score:5, Informative)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfreak@@@eircom...net> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:05AM (#29052543) Homepage Journal

      No. It's the encyclopedia you may edit so long as you have "consensus".

      I recently decided to edit out a particularly rambling and circular introduction [wikipedia.org] to the Exponential Function. Needless to say, my excision was not taken too kindly. I found myself in a protracted and frankly, surreal struggle to make the article in some way useful for the people who come to read it.

      Long story short, my opinions on how best to present the exponential function were labeled a POINT OF VIEW [wikipedia.org], a major no-no contrary to the higher WP:PRINCPLES. Having found myself lumped in with Holocaust deniers and cranks of every degree [wikipedia.org], my chances of making further edits to the article were in fact pretty slim. What debate there once again was petered out without any "consensus", which meant I couldn't alter the status quo.

      This is at least the fourth time this has happened to me on Wikipedia.

      The usual routine is that someone who "owns" the article with throw up a mountain of WP:RULES and WP:TRADITIONS, each more underhanded in intent than the last, in an effort to stonewall you for as long as they can. They can keep this up for months. Any "debates" with the aim to achieve consensus are farcical to begin with, as everyone involved knows that they never, ever reach consensus on anything. Good men get frustrated, demoralised and bored, and leave, letting evil triumph. I do not use evil in a rhetorical way. I firmly believe that the great majority of wiki-lawyers have petty malice and megalomania as their primary motivations rather than concern for the quality of articles.

      The Wikipedia page for World War 2 had the start date for the conflict as "Late 1930s" for over 5 months [wikipedia.org]. Five months with a totally incorrect date for one of the most important events of human history because one editor felt things needed to be more "inclusive". I'm all for inclusivity, but stupidity is where I draw the line. The usual farce ensued. The editors set up a Mediation Cabal [wikipedia.org] to reach "consensus" on the issue(Their discussion once again petered out impotently), all while the the obscenity of a start date sat, unmolested for 5 months on one of the most visited pages on the site, no, on the internet. The thought of how its precence may have shifted general human knowledge and understanding of the conflict saddens me.

      There is a deep and by now, inoperable rot and the centre of how things are run and done at Wikipedia. The rot began with Jimbo Wales and his simple inability and unwillingness to properly run a project of this scope and importance. As time went by, only the most devious, duplicitous and underhanded of editors prospered and gained control. Now, as the site enters its consolidation phase, the altruism and effort of millions of honest editors has been crushed under the weight of one of the most corrupt and intransigent bureaucracies in the world today.

      Wikipedia is rotten from the Top to the Bottom and cannot be trusted for anything, by anyone, for any reason. Even as a reference section. Not even the chemistry and astronomy pages can be relied upon these days,. Things will only get worse as the Wikicrats, Wikilawyers and Wikiticians assume total oligarchical control.

  • Surprising? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Helios1182 ( 629010 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:15AM (#29051623)

    The rate at which new articles has decreased; I would hardly call this surprising. The coverage of Wikipedia is so great that the only place for new articles are more obscure concepts and greater specialization of existing ones.

  • Quality standards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:15AM (#29051639) Journal
    Personally, the drive for higher quality standards has driven this more than anything else I imagine. Add something that you don't have documentation for, and its likely to get reverted.


    Then add the pile of people doing snow jobs, Steven Colbert stunts, reversion wars, etc, and I don't think its surprising at all.

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:16AM (#29051653) Homepage

    An entire article about a british financial journalist and author was deleted recently by some french guy because he'd never heard of her. Well duh, he's from France, she's an english language journalist, why would he have heard of her? Until these sorts of idiots are weeded out I'll keep wikipedia at arms length and double check everything.

  • by jayhawk88 ( 160512 ) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:24AM (#29051799)

    Because jackasses can't stop making edits about Obama being the antichrist, bears and elephants fighting with robots in the year 2525, or Metamucil and Clorox mixed together being better than cocaine. This is why we can't have nice things on the internet.

  • Saw this coming (Score:5, Interesting)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:26AM (#29051835)

    I have been saying for some time, the historical significance of Wikipedia will be as an extremely well documented social experiment, rather than as an encyclopedia.

    It was a genuine attempt to create a new way of gathering and ordering human knowledge, but ultimately it failed to overcome the problems in the society that it occupied. Petty politics and corruption ate away at the original vision. I am not intellectually lazy enough to just shrug and say 'human nature' - I think there is more to it than that.

    Wikipedia, like the rest of the Internet, might appear to be a new cultural space but the fact remains that everyone who contributed to it still occupies a real world cultural space. Real life Democrats are wikipedian democrats. Real life creationists are wikipedian creationists. Technology itself doesn't let you outrun who you are, so ultimately the same conflicts that make real life debate and conflict suck made Wikipedia suck as well.

    I'm hoping, for the sake of the web and for the sake of Wikipedia itself (a victim of its own dominance; everyone wants access to the first hit on a Google search of their pet topic) that something else displaces it. Having a single, flawed, starting point for finding out information on the Internet (as many people do with Wikipedia) reduces its utility for research.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by steelfood ( 895457 )

      Give it about two generations, if society doesn't clam up even further. Knowledge is power. Knowledge empowers people to become better than those that hold power over them. The internet is an enabler of such.

      Why do you think there's so much noise coming from the far right? These people who thrive on ignorance are seeing their power base erode, slowly but surely, by technology that enables people to see the world beyond their own borders. But that's neither here nor there.

      In two generations, if the internet

  • Fuck Wikipedia. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snarfies ( 115214 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:26AM (#29051861) Homepage

    I stopped contributing to Wikipedia years ago. If you write an article, no matter how well-written, there's a good chance over 9,000 deletionists will pop up and go "HURR HURR NOT NOTABLE" and either speedy delete, prod, AfD, or some combination of the above. Those who cannot create instead focus on destroying.

    • Re:Fuck Wikipedia. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:58AM (#29052425) Homepage Journal

      Most importantly: You can't write about anything that the deletionist crowd doesn't know about. They're like republicans: "Please, oh mighty god, let there not be a world outside my windows".

      I've had quite a few articles deleted on subjects that are considerably more notable - but less geeky or important to the in-crowd - than lots of the articles that remain.

      I've taken to sarcasm since. Every minor porn starlet has her own wikipedia page, but lots of non-porn movies, games, books that were seen by a lot more people don't. What does that tell you about wikipedia and the people that run it? :-)

  • by Random5 ( 826815 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:29AM (#29051927)
    The problem with wikipedia is that these regular editors are extremely fussy about changes and take control of articles - I may come along, correct an error in something I know very well and think 'that's my part taken care of' only to have the one guy who's basically taken control of the article revert a few hours later because I didn't add yet another reference to the bottom of the page citing this new information. It may not be more significant than anything else on the page but this page has become that editors article (unless it's a large popular article) and if it doesn't have a reference for each point, they're not accepting it. Also see [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:J.K._Rowling/Archive_06#Pronunciation]this[/url] storm in a teacup.
  • Power corrupts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stry_cat ( 558859 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:31AM (#29051951) Journal

    Actually what it really means is that a few editors have amassed all the power (much like a few people amass all the power in the government). This problem has been around for a while. I personally stopped contributing after they kept deleting the the article on the stolen sidekick [evanwashere.com]. Its been reduced down to just a few lines [wikipedia.org] in some other article.

    There is of course Deletionpedia [dbatley.com], but it looks like their bots aren't always on top of the situation. Several of the articles I've tried to find there weren't saved in time.

    It's a shame, since Wikipedia could be so much more that the narrow vision of the deletionists.

  • by CopaceticOpus ( 965603 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:33AM (#29051999)

    I have only made a few contributions to Wikipedia, and the experience of having my changes reverted has killed my interest in contributing again.

    I'd like to see a new/competing version of the online encyclopedia which attempts to be more inclusive of all information. Rather than removing information because it is not deemed notable, contributions should be rated for how notable and essential they are. However, the less notable information would still be there - it just wouldn't be the first thing to come up in search results.

    This could even apply within specific articles. The main article would contain the most important information, and would look much like an article on Wikipedia today. However, more arcane / tangential information on the topic would be available for those who wanted it. They would just click on a link for "all details" or click to expand certain sections of the article.

  • several explanations (Score:4, Interesting)

    by prgrmr ( 568806 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:33AM (#29052001) Journal
    There are several explanations of what's going on with wikipedia. There's the perception that, based on the amount of information already there, that there's less to do, so the sense of urgency for contributing likely has dropped among potential contributors. In other words, wikipedia is approaching the point to where it is a victim of its own success.

    There's the problems with inaccurate information being cited and then very publicly refuted, which is likely engendering feelings of reluctance to be associated with that sort of public failing by potential contributors. Some of these people probably should be discouraged from contributing, given that's how those errors got there, so this is not entirely a bad thing.

    Then there's the reason given in TFA, regarding the core group of editors. There very much appears to be an attitude of exclusivity, if not outright elitism, among some of the more outspoken "regular" editors, to the point where a person such as myself who may have some specific knowledge on a particular topic doesn't feel that the reward is worth the effort to fight the system.

    There are several topic that are either woefully incomplete (numismatics) or contain both explicit errors and copious errors of omission, presumably in attempt to present a "neutral point of view" (uss pueblo), that there are many opportunities for contribution to existing articles. However, the perception of the effort required to amend an existing article quickly brings me to the conclusion that it's not worth the time needed to do the research simply to have it removed by some editor for no other reason than because I'm not an accepted authority by virtue of not being part of the elite circle.
  • by eddy the lip ( 20794 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:38AM (#29052087)
    ...as Wikipedia matures and common issues get covered. There are fewer "easy" items to add, and editorial standards rise. In the beginning, everyone was new. Now the more casual, less experienced editors are more likely to be reverted, at least until they rise to a higher bar than was required in the beginning. It could be that it's just becoming an incestuous cesspit, but I think increasing coverage and quality are likely reasons.
  • Why I edited (Score:5, Insightful)

    by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:42AM (#29052147)

    I edited Wikipedia because I found significant errors and omissions in areas I was familiar with. The articles are accurate enough now. And, yes, I had an edit reverted. After we discussed it on the talk page, I redid the edit, and it was much better the second time.

    So, I'd like to propose a completely innocuous explanation for the figures given: the number of casual contributors has gone down because there's a lot less room to go into an article and be an expert. Also, casual contributors very often haven't learned how to make a good Wikipedia edit, and having it reverted is ultimately a good thing. Moreover, with the lesser need for the casual contributor, the proportion of crackpots and vandals has doubtless increased. This could well account for the large number of reverts.

    While Wikipedia has definitely changed, it doesn't look to me like it has changed for the worse.

    • Re:Why I edited (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @12:16PM (#29053655) Homepage

      the number of casual contributors has gone down because there's a lot less room to go into an article and be an expert

      You don't need to be an expert on the topic, just having a reasonable grasp of the English language and (roughly) a high school level of knowledge on how to write a report... Too many Wikipedia articles are confusing masses, with facts all over the place, repetitive and redundant bits, and confusing and inconsistent organization.
      And even when you are an expert - you're often judged not on the facts, but on the opinions of the soi-disant 'experts' who have appointed themselves guardians of the article. (Which you, unwittingly, admit in the following sentence.)

      Also, casual contributors very often haven't learned how to make a good Wikipedia edit, and having it reverted is ultimately a good thing.

      "Them darkies love being slaves, a bit of the lash is good for them".
      Seriously, when you start using phrases like "a good Wikipedia edit" you starkly display just how deeply the rot has spread. It's no longer about facts, clarity, and organization - it's about being a good little Wikipedian who defers to his elders and the convoluted and often bizarre rituals and fetishes of their culture.

  • good science (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:43AM (#29052161) Homepage Journal

    Excellent study. Lots of people have felt this way for a few years now, but this is what science is for: Replacing "gut feeling" with hard facts.

    The next step, of course, will be the most interesting: Research into what one can do, how one has to build a community to avoid these problems, and keep it running along the successful path.

  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:45AM (#29052187) Homepage Journal

    It has nothing to do with the "inner core" and everything do with morons who watch their favored pages and revert anything and everything that undoes the axe they ground in it. Most people's time is more valuable than that of the cultists, conspiracy theorists, fanboys, and ideologues who make up the bulk of the editors.

    The inner circle's flaw is that they don't enforce standards of credibility, not just of the editors, but of the sources used to cite information into the encyclopedia.

  • by HonestButCurious ( 1306021 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:56AM (#29052381) Journal
    I wanted to write an article about the Solovetskiy Stone [justfuckinggoogleit.com], which is a monument to victims of political persecution in the former USSR erected by former Gulag residents right across the KGB headquarters.

    I didn't want to create a user - sorry Jimbo, I just don't want to join your fan club. As a form of punishment, I was tormented with like a 17-step wizard with questions such as whether I am writing about a "MUSICAL GROUP, DJ, ALBUM, or SONG". After I finally got to the part where I write my part, it was unceremoniously deleted by the EarWig robot (eh?), because some of the text - basically the address of the place in Moscow - was copy-pasted from memorial.ru. And this is the site with a 10-page article listing the secondary characters in the Final Fantasy world. Sorry, somebody else would have to create this article instead of me and yes, I was shocked at how bad Wikipedia had got.
  • by managementboy ( 223451 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:07AM (#29052585) Homepage

    I am one of those who edits a page once a month. I have a few pages and topics a like and have added to my watch-list. Most of the reverts I see and do myself are plain vandalism. The remainder are punctuation and a bit of grammar.

    I have had few cases of something I thought to be good being reverted. Recently on a page I added a few new facts that had been reported in the news, with citations. They where reverted by a moderator without a comment (I call that rude). After confronting him on his personal page, he argued that he could not read Spanish, therefore could not confirm my citation. Oddly, as I pointed out, the topic was a topic for which you absolutely need to be fluent in Spanish to read primary and secondary sources. Well, after a bit he got a moderator who could read Spanish to check my citations. But did not revert his revert, I had to do it myself.

    Did this make me stop contributing to the Wikipedia. NO! It is our duty to confront such morons until they give in.

  • Room for a lot more (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dmcq ( 809030 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:20AM (#29052795)
    There's loads of good new topics which aren't covered in Wikipedia yet. The problem is people don't seem to be interested in writing them up, instead they compete on what everybody else is interested in. I'm not sure when I last had a revert so I guess I must be one of that 'elite'. And yes I do do a fair amount of reverting too. Mainly vandals writing their girlfriends names or parts of their anatomy. Plus there are a fair number of loons. I'm afraid yes I quote wikipedia policy at them, in particular no original research and notability. I say yes what you've written may be true, it's not up to me to judge, but you've got to convince others first by getting it published and people talking about it as wikipedia can't publish your original discoveries. What am I supposed to say, you're cracked - go talk to a lamppost? I don't bother with the current biography articles but editors on them have to be especially careful not to report things without evidence and there are a lot of people trying writing up the latest thing they heard on twitter or whatever. If you want to write on wikipedia think of something a little boring to start with where you're not fighting over Islam or what some movie star did or some pacman character first appeared. There is a truly monstrous list of 'Requested articles' plus an enormous number of stub articles that need developing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by damburger ( 981828 )
      There is a very good reason much remains to be covered; Wikipedia is not about knowledge it is about territory. Biographies of obscure people are not good territory, as they are not visited often or linked to very much. Pages about world leaders, or major current events, are prime real estate and people will fight tooth and nail for domination of them. As other posters have stated; its pure chimpanzee social dynamics.
  • Galt's Gulch, year 8 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:49AM (#29053277)

    Wales is himself, a professed objectivist, and Wikipedia is his society. Ayn Rand fanboys should take note.

    Underneath the exterior, its a complete hash of bickering, factionalism, vicious territorial disputes and power struggles. Its policed by a secretive clique that tolerates neither criticism nor dissent. Were it a real life territory of any kind, it would be a hell hole. What is now done with harsh words and moderator privileges would be done with truncheons and bullets. There would be a cult of personality surrounding Wales himself, backed by force, and no personal freedom.

    This is how your world would turn out, Randroids. It doesn't matter one iota what you say, or even what you believe, about liberty; the simple fact that you believe you have access to a perfect, immutable truth means your world would be doomed to look like this - because people disagree with you and you think such disagreement is evil.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @12:24PM (#29053797) Homepage

    It's good that Wikipedia's growth is slowing. That's an indication that the job is approaching completion.

    Most of the important articles were in the first 500,000. New articles at this point tend to be marginal or unwanted. Here are the last five articles added to Wikipedia:

    • Robert S Vibert "Robert S. Vibert is a 'big-picture" Applied Researcher of numerous techniques, philosophies and methods developed both in ancient and modern times to provide awaren..." (First article by new editor, a bio of some unknown self-improvement guru. Queued for speedy deletion.)
    • National Management Association "The roots of NMA began in southwestern Ohio in the dark years following World War I. Poor working conditions were everywhere, yet any working condi..." (Advertising. Copyright violation. Cut and paste of organization's web site. Already deleted.)
    • WALLIS STUDIOS"WALLIS STUDIOS are based within the DARO WORKS, 80-86 Wallis Road, Hackney Wick, London E9 5LW and were established five years ago. WALLIS STUDIOS have expanded ove..." (First article by new editor. Promotes the business he works for. Contested speedy deletion, already deleted.)
    • Va va bloom Va Va Bloom is a well known Florist based in the heart of Edinburgh. Va Va Bloom provide a wide cross section of customers from both ..." (Blatant advertising. Speedy deletion requested.)
    • Eirik solheim "Eirik Solheim is a professor in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Bergen in Norway, and a specialist on ..." (Created by "Eiriksolheim", which Wikipedia frowns upon. Proposed deletion flag: "Fails WP:PROF. No secondary sources")

    That's what's coming in right now. Most of the articles being added to Wikipedia at this point are either junk like that, or on very obscure topics. That's why growth is slowing. This is a good thing. Throwing out the trash is a hassle for everyone involved.

  • by rm999 ( 775449 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:47PM (#29054939)

    I think the reason why is pretty obvious, but I have no evidence to back it up (except for the fact that I'm a semi-regular editor, like 2-10 edits a month).

    Many articles on Wikipedia have become "stable". This means several people have spent years fine-tuning the articles to the point that a large change better be damn good to warrant inclusion. On these stable articles, most changes will be minor edits or vandalism related. We are starting to see the law of diminishing returns in effect - each edit does far less, so casual people have less interest in making edits. There are still plenty of important articles that need work, but the number is fewer than it was a couple of years ago, which drives down the number of edits for everyone.

    One reason why regular editors are still making a lot of edits is vandalism. This also explains why the one-off edits are reverted at a high rate. I'd like to see statistics on the number of edits VS the number of reverts for these groups of people.

  • by petrus4 ( 213815 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @04:59PM (#29057595) Homepage Journal

    Wikipedia has always (yes, since its' inception) suffered from two major problems.

    a) Its' policy is terrible.
    b) The people running it are a serious problem.

    The policy is a continually moving target, with flavour-of-the-month, entirely subjective and arbitrary fads dictating editing style. Edits get rejected because of such vague and ridiculous notions as, "weasel words," or "peacock phrases." One of my edits, to the character bio of John MacClaine from the Die Hard movies, was rejected because it sounded "too much like a magazine article." WTF does that mean?

    Another problem is overwhelming bias, particularly in the direction of materialistic/scientistic atheistic bias. The biographical article for Richard Stallman is a good case in point; it's a blatant, totally unrepentant whitewash. Stallman is a lot more controversial than that article makes him out to be; it's not NPOV at all. There were a number of people who for some time were trying to add information about the other side of that particular story, but the article's self-appointed keeper is an individual of the alias Gronky, whose slavish, utterly single-minded worship of Stallman would simply induce pity if it wasn't so disturbing. He has continually deflected every attempt to add links to any material that is in any way critical of Stallman at all, to the point where the people who were trying to add said links have apparently given up.

    This type of scenario is also deeply typical for Wikipedia. It's very common for a single individual or small group of individuals to use a particular article as a podium for expressing their view, and only their view, about the given topic, and any attempts to make edits contrary to their perspective will be continually reverted.

    The claim that it is "an encyclopedia which anyone can edit," is thus, in practice, a complete lie. You can make an edit, sure; but good luck having it last for more then thirty seconds before one the army of pedantic atheistic fanatics reverts it for some entirely arbitrary reason, that generally makes sense to them alone. A lot of the time they don't even bother citing a reason, now; there's no point. That more than anything else, is the reason why I haven't bothered trying to edit on a regular basis for probably nine months now.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll