Wikipedia is losing contributors. The Internet’s fifth most visited site, which features a wealth of authoritative encyclopedia entries, compiled by a cadre of amateur researchers, is losing popularity, even as traffic continues to grow. Arcane, and often hostile editorial policies are seen as chief culprits, though founder Jimmy Wales sees it slightly differently.
Despite Wikipedia’s wide-reaching popularity, Wales said the typical profile of a contributor is “a 26-year-old geeky male” who moves on to other ventures, gets married and leaves the website. Other contributors leave because, 10 years after the website was launched, there are fewer new entries to add, he said.
As of March there were still more than 90,000 active contributors, and Wales says he hopes to add 5,000 more by June of next year. With a little luck, it will be social media to the rescue:
The website has also introduced a new feature called WikiLove aimed at keeping users engaged. Visitors to the website select a graphic icon — choices include kittens, stars and the Mediterranean dessert baklava — and send it with a message of appreciation to a page contributor as encouragement. “It’s like a ‘like’ on Facebook,” Wales said.
Another initiative Wales mentioned is seeking out college professors who will assign the creation of Wikipedia entries as part of their student’s coursework, with a particular emphasis on institutions in India, Brazil, Canada, Great Britain and Germany.
Will badges be enough to stop the exodus?
h/t Stephen Downes