Posts Tagged ‘community’

Growing Pains

March 19, 2011
Decline in active editors at Wikipedia

Decline in active editors at Wikipedia.

In an earlier blog post, we explored the role of Sue Gardner’s support of Jimbo Wales in his misguided disruption of the Wikiversity community. Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, recently offered some comments about the decline in the number of editors at Wikipedia (see the graph). She talked about “growing pains” and the attempt by the Wikipedia community

“to integrate the newbies while at the same time striving to preserve the ability to do its work. It does that by developing self-repair and defense mechanisms – which in our case, turned out to be things like bot- and script-supported reverts, deletions, user warnings, and complex policies.”

Sue Gardner did not mention the deeper and more systemic problems. Before 2006 new editors were welcomed to Wikipedia and given a chance to learn how to edit collaboratively. After 2006 a cadre of misguided sysops had been deployed — sysops who delete rather than discuss and block rather than edit. A good example is what happened to Moulton, a Wikimedian from academia who tried to correct a violation of Wikipedia’s policy for Biographies of Living People. For his trouble, Moulton was blocked from editing and banned from all Wikimedia wiki projects by Jimbo Wales (related blog post).

Of course, the policy-violators continue to disrupt Wikimedia wiki projects along with the abusive Wikimedia Functionaries who blocked and banned Moulton. Sue Gardner gave her full support to Jimbo’s disruptive interventions into Wikiversity community affairs. Given such sickening behavior by toxic Wikimedia officials, is there really any surprise to see a decline in the number of active editors? Is there any way for honest and conscientious Wikimedians of integrity in these dysfunctional wiki communities to protect themselves against the Barney Fife Tin Badge Syndrome that I call Wikipedia Disease?  Or is it better to abandon WMF-sponsored projects as hopelessly regressed into the Dark Ages?

Related reading: Ting Chen on declining trends in editing activity.