Wikipedia’s amazing growth rate seems to have taken a sudden downturn. Scientists at the Palo Alto Research Center have found that the reason behind this seems to be similar to the problem that brought down the once popular DMOZ directory.
Wikipedia took 5 years to reach 1 million articles, from its launch in January 2001. After that, it took just about 17 months to reach the 2 million mark, as the number of active contributors went up exponentially, from just a few thousand in 2004 to 300,000 in 2007.
Now in August 2009, nearly 2 years later, Wikipedia has published its 3 millionth article in English, a target that should have been reached much sooner. The reason this didn’t happen earlier is that the average number of articles being contributed daily has gone down from 2,700 in July 2007 to 1,300 in 2009.
While the number of contributors to Wikipedia has grown to 500,000, a large number of these are only occasional contributors. The number of highly active editors has remained almost the same.
Ed H Chi, a scientist with the Palo Alto Research Center, who has been studying how Wikipedia works, has found that regular editors are most likely to have their entries accepted. The refusal rate for changes suggested by these regular editors is just 1%.
Users who make between 2 to 9 contributions a month have a 5% chance of having their changes refused, while those that make only 1 entry per month have a 25% chance of having their changes and entries overturned by the regular editors.
This ongoing power struggle between the ‘deletionists’ and the ‘inclusionists’ seems to be plaguing Wikipedia just like the abuse of power by editors brought about the near-demise of the Open Directory Project (DMOZ).
The deletionists are very particular about the entries they accept. They want to create a very well written encyclopedia. The inclusionists, on the other hand, try to incorporate as many articles as possible in the hope that poor articles can be improved upon later.
At present it looks as though the deletionists have got the upper hand.
If things continue in this manner, Wikipedia may eventually ‘die’ just like DMOZ, which used to also be a Google favourite until a handful of unscrupulous SEOs became category editors and started abusing the directory for their own personal gain.