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The Internet

Has Wikipedia Peaked? 484

Posted by kdawson
from the overworked-and-unpaid dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After more than a year with no official statistics, an independent analysis reported Wednesday showed that activity in Wikipedia's community has been declining over the last six months. Editing is down 20% and new account creation is down 30%. After six years of rapid growth and more than 2 million articles, is Wikipedia's development now past its peak? Are Wikipedians simply running out of things to write about, or is the community collapsing under the weight of external vandalism and internal conflicts? A new collection of charts and graphs help to tell the tale."
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Has Wikipedia Peaked?

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  • Answers (Score:1, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@nOSpaM.barbara-hudson.com> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:00AM (#20939267) Journal

    "is Wikipedia's development now past its peak? Are Wikipedians simply running out of things to write about, or is the community collapsing under the weight of external vandalism and internal conflicts?"

    No, no, and no.

  • Running Out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bostons1337 (1025584) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:02AM (#20939295)
    Wiki is just running out of things to document. They literally have almost anything you can think of. I'm a computer science major and I've wiki'd some really advanced topics that appear on there but hardly anywhere else on the internet.
  • Natural? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilovegeorgebush (923173) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:03AM (#20939315) Homepage
    I think the decline of new articles is probably just natural due to 2 million existing articles being a LOT of information. Sure, there's plenty more to write about but I'd have thought the majority of the hobbiest-contributors (i.e. those who aren't die-hard users) simply don't have anything else to write.

    Either way, I think this is a little over the top - there's still a million and one things to write about. Hell, if it has peaked - it's not going anywhere!
  • Wikiphobia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:05AM (#20939333)
    I think I'd have a lot to add to Wikipedia, but I don't. Any time I have made any contribution, substantial or minor, someone else comes around and knocks it off. The feeling I've gotten is that people seem to 'own' pieces of territory in Wikipedia. Be it individual articles, or their interpretation, or something else. My contributions have no chance of surviving in the face of these Wiki die-hards. So what is the point? I'm a read-only user now.
  • by the_skywise (189793) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:06AM (#20939347)
    If the hype dies off then it'll be less of a target towards vandalism and the "die hards" that continue to add to it will do so in a more responsible manner.

    I highly doubt it'll become a wasteland...
  • by James_Duncan8181 (588316) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:08AM (#20939367) Homepage
    Yes, the scratch the itch factor is starting to go down. It's quite impressive to note the way that Wikipedia now does genuinely contain a reasonable % of all topics (and yes, even Pokemon).

    I'd actually say that Wikipedia has been far more successful as an example of a collaborative Free product than Linux has. Wikipedia actually dominates the market now.
  • by Chris_Jefferson (581445) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:10AM (#20939393) Homepage
    I used to edit wikipedia a lot. The main reason I left was that many articles I'd helped to write got to the point where every edit was making the article worse, so either someone had to keep an eye on it and remove changes or the articles would slowly rot under bad edits. I'm not specifically thinking of trolls here, just bad editing.

    For example, the C++ article was better than it is now a year ago. Looking at the history list, almost every edit is undone by someone else. Can the article be improved? Possibly, but the way to do that is not to allow anyone to edit it, then expect someone to put the time into undoing 95% of the edits... that's soul-destroying.
  • No such thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by njfuzzy (734116) <ian@@@ian-x...com> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:11AM (#20939399) Homepage
    Anyone who thinks that Wikipedia can run out of things to document has a pretty narrow view of just how much information humans generate (and uncover in the Universe). This is not a matter of finishing the job, or anything nearly so monumental. It's just that for something like Wikipedia to thrive, it needs a lot of volunteers-- and that means a lot of people who think it is *cool* enough to spend their time on. The buzz is fading, and people are moving on to other trends. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Re:Running Out (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <.ten.enilnotpo. .ta. .rehtorgw.> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:11AM (#20939411) Journal

    I find it hard to imagine that given the diversity of things in the universe and then number of people on the planet, that there is nothing left to write about. Perhaps all the stright-forward, easy topics have been covered, but there are vast ranges of experience and knowledge still to be discovered. And after all, Wikipedia is a living thing -- nothing in it not of a historic nature can remain static for very long.

    Frankly, I think everyone wants a breather.

  • Spam analogy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ThirdPrize (938147) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:13AM (#20939441) Homepage
    Perhaps like 90% of e-mail is spam, 20% of all wiki edits were vandalism and that's been stamped on now.
  • Re:Answers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:18AM (#20939523) Homepage
    Actually, the answer is slightly more complex than that. A year ago, I would have left to Wikipedia's defense, and I would have been right to do so. However, while there are a lot of things to write about, people aren't really doing this. What would really be interesting would be the amount of edits to the Wikipedia namespace, as opposed to the main article namespace. It's the internal conflicts, navel-gazing and meta editing that is killing Wikipedia.
  • statistics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:20AM (#20939561) Homepage Journal
    As usual, statistics tell what you want them to tell.

    For example, "new user creation is down 30%" means that the number of users is still increasing, but the rate of increase is less. Which also means the rate of the rate of increase is now negative. Hey, how's that for a headline? :-)
  • Re:Natural? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Itchyeyes (908311) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:21AM (#20939565) Homepage
    Also, you have to consider the fact that more well known topics would have been covered first. As the site matures the scope of topics not covered becomes more and more obscure and the pool of people knowledgeable enough to edit them gets smaller and smaller.
  • Deletionism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:21AM (#20939569)
    The most obvious change in the editorial policy of late has been a campaign to delete stuff that is irrelevant. But the problem is that this is a highly subjective judgement and it creates a sense that it is useless to contribute anything that some junior editor is going to come around and delete. This is especially sad when it limits the development of articles on esoteric technical topics that might not be popular but are certainly valuable forms of knowledge.
          This really is a pity because it's not as though there is a legitimate practical reason to make Wikipedia concise in any way. Even if there were, there would certainly be a better way to organize the effort than simply to have people going around deleting things. The biggest problem with self-selecting voluntary enforcers is that they're usually the last people who should be trusted to do such things.
          People contribute voluntarily to spread knowledge and they may be biased or misleading but people who volunteer to delete others words are far more circumspect.
  • Re:Wikiphobia (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:25AM (#20939643)
    I've heard a lot of people express the same point, but it's not something I've experienced, so I suspect it must have to do with the amount of interest in an article. I generally tend to write about fairly obscure topics, except when I'm just making spelling or grammar corrections in an article I'm reading. Perhaps topics with a lot of interest just tend to be modified more frequently, and it's not that you're being shoved out of someone else's turf, it's just that the turf in question happens to be subject to frequent change in general.

    As far as the general decline in new articles, I'd say it's more than likely that every remotely obvious topic has already been covered and re-covered several times, so there will naturally be a decline unless WP is going to descend into trivia even more trivial than, say, detailed, heavily crosslinked articles on individual Pokemon. Likewise, as articles reach maturity, edits will be fewer, particularly on topics that are not subject to a great deal of change.
  • Re:Natural? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:27AM (#20939679) Homepage
    More and more obscure, meaning more prone to deletion by other editors. Wikipedia's goal has morphed from being the repository of all human knowledge to being the repository of all notable human knowledge. This seemingly minor distinction fundamentally alters what Wikipedia is all about, and causes things such as the deletion of "trivia" sections and the removal of entire entries because they are not "notable". While I agree that not every schmuck out there should necessarily have a Wikipedia entry, I think the standards for what is and is not "notable" may be set too high, which puts a heavy limitation on the number of articles that can be created.

    The set of all human knowledge is near infinite in its breadth, but the subset of "notable" human knowledge, depending on how you define that, is much smaller. It would be expected that as the site matures, the new information being added would be more obscure, and there would be more battles about the notability of that information.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:28AM (#20939697)
    many of wikipedia's attempts to limit "abuse" actually discouraged input from well intentioned individuals

    as well, there are just a lot of greedy people who can't stand the truth and work hard to maintain their evil justifications

    personally I say, please, leave wikipedia alone, let it grow naturally
  • Re:Running Out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NickCatal (865805) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:30AM (#20939723)
    Notable things which there are sources to cite are dwindling. 2 million articles is getting a bit excessive IMO. Wikipedia needs to focus on quality and not quantity (which is what Mr. Whales has been saying for a few years) and people aren't as excited about editing existing articles compared to making new ones.

    Or at least that is what I believe.
  • Woah! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:38AM (#20939833) Journal
    I'm a computer science major and I've wiki'd some really advanced topics that appear on there but hardly anywhere else on the internet.

    Are you saying that because a computerized knowledge base, owned, operated, and edited by people with computers, has a lot of stuff about computers in it, that it must therefore have a lot of stuff about everything in it? What about needlepoint? String collecting? Mayan hunting techniques? No, my friend, there's a lot more stuff to wiki about.
  • by Guysmiley777 (880063) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:44AM (#20939919)

    I am annoyed about how they're trying to rid of trivia sections. Those are some of the most interesting parts of an article if you ask me.
    The problem I have is that the trivia section of an article can get to be larger than the rest of the article. Maybe someone should start Wikitrivia, where every topic can have an unlimited amount of inane blather, all linked together. Then you could write like a meta degrees of Kevin Bacon, where it will automatically calculate how many articles it takes to link back to Kevin Bacon! It'd be awesome!
    On a serious note, maybe a sub-page of trivia for an article where the main article page randomly displays one trivia factoid, and if you're REALLY interested you can go to the trivia page?
  • Re:Wikiphobia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:47AM (#20939981) Homepage Journal
    The GP's point is that one shouldn't need to buddy up or create their own territory on Wikipedia. The basis of the site is for any random person to add information. So if people delete things that "invade" their territory or that don't have the support of a long-time contributor than the site's being abused in a sense. It's deviated from its mission if new users are treated this way.
  • by Bromskloss (750445) <auxiliary DOT ad ... privacy AT gmail> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:50AM (#20940021)

    ...is making it easier for people to start helping out. Decent discussion pages for starters. Right now they are plain wiki pages, relying on users to indent themselves to indicate whom they are replying to. They need proper methods for quoting and linking to individual posts. What is now called "archiving" (i.e., moving old comments to a separate page) wouldn't be so cumbersome anymore. As it is, you do it manually or with a program that parses the page. Silly.

    A lot of other things confuse a newcomer as well. There are 9 policies [wikipedia.org] and 23 guidelines [wikipedia.org], each with a loong page of its own.

    Uploading files isn't too simple either. (A lot of instructional text that would put anyone off.) Here is also one of many examples of poor separation between content and presentation. You specify a license by including the appropriate box on the description page of the file. It should be a flag, people!

    Want to discuss something? First, you need to find out whether it should go on the Village pump [wikipedia.org] or the Request for comment [wikipedia.org].

    Dispute? Gotta read up on negotiation [wikipedia.org], mediation [wikipedia.org] and arbitration [wikipedia.org]. I know I would sooner give up.

    If you click on "Editing help [wikipedia.org]", you are greeted with one rudimentary page which probably don't cover what you want and tons of links to similar pages with overlapping content.

  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:59AM (#20940151) Homepage Journal

    I'm a computer science major and I've wiki'd some really advanced topics that appear on there but hardly anywhere else on the internet.

    Are you saying that because a computerized knowledge base, owned, operated, and edited by people with computers, has a lot of stuff about computers in it, that it must therefore have a lot of stuff about everything in it? What about needlepoint?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Needlepoint [wikipedia.org]
    Seems pretty well researched. Huh, lookadat... didn't know they had an "embroidery" category :)
  • Re:Answers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Steve B (42864) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:00AM (#20940173)
    Wikipedia can't hit a peak until the number of articles starts going down... that's not going to happen until all contributions stop.

    Huh? If 50 articles are added and 500 are removed in some Wikiadmin's delitionist binge, the number of articles goes down by 450.
  • Re:Natural? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:16AM (#20940405)
    It's not that they delete things that aren't notable, it's that the criteria are so... unevenly applied.

    I don't want to trot out the tired old Pokemon example again, but it's so easily applied. There are tons of Wiki pages dedicated to describing every Pokemon, while Viva Pinata (another video game with tons of fictional animals) isn't allowed to have more than one page. And, of course, at the same time they're aggressively deleting the trivia section of movies, books, and games because trivia isn't "encyclopedic."

    That all said, I do believe they need to encourage the creation and expansion of "encyclopedic" topics... there are tons of historical events and figures that have far too little coverage. But deleting content isn't the right way to go about it, not in my opinion. I say have hundreds of Pokemon pages, have thousands of them. But at the same time, make sure that your coverage of the important native American leader Weetamoo ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weetamoo [wikipedia.org] ) has a full bio. (For example; there are tons of articles like this that are extremely important topics, but have too little coverage.)
  • by Moryath (553296) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:25AM (#20940595)
    It's the internal conflicts, navel-gazing and meta editing that is killing Wikipedia.

    In other words - the abusive administrators and longstanding POV groups are finally driving so many people off of the project that they get to make it what they want to make it, nothing but a propaganda disaster.

    Then again, they've shown how it goes [livejournal.com] time and again. I even had an experience in a Wiki administrator on Slashdot claiming he'd "look into" any reasonable issues - instead, he did exactly jack crap, kept whining about how the issues I brought were "old" or "nobody else would look at them." He eventually bailed from wikipedia completely [wikipedia.org] because of all the stupid bullshit [wikipedia.org] that's involved in wikipedia.

    If you look at the history of railroaded users who tried to fix wikipedia from within the system, and instead were tarred as "trolls" and worse by the established assholes and POV pushers of the admin "community", you get an idea of what wikipedia really is.

    Best quote ever:
    Because this is precisely the goal of the abusive administrators. They want, no, need, to drive away anyone new who disagrees with them, because if they did not, then ultimately they bear the risk of enough new users coming in to overturn their bogus "consensus" on the articles they control.
  • Re:Running Out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:32AM (#20940729)
    Since people love comparing wikipedia to Britanica, how does the comparison hold up here? Is Britanica multiplying in size over and over again with every new edition? If not, why not? I'd guess it's because the parent posters are correct.
  • Re:Wikiphobia (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:36AM (#20940793)
    So in other words, if I suck your cock, I can keep my Wiki edits? Jesus.

    Come on!

  • by McDutchie (151611) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:39AM (#20940845) Homepage

    http://www.wikitruth.info/ [wikitruth.info] has some info... but don't take it's word on it. Give editing Wikipedia a shot and see the shitstorm it can raise.

    I'm a casual Wikipedia editor -- I edit Wikipedia on and off, semi-regularly but certainly not enough to be part of any incrowd. I have never run into any shitstorms. In my impression, most of the people who keep running into conflicts are actively looking for them. The site you cite is a nice case in point -- the whole tone of it screams extreme, borderline-psychotic hostility. It seems designed to create problems rather than solve them.

    If you're civil, respect established community consensus without accepting it as gospel, familiarize yourself with rules and traditions so that you can follow them or break them wisely, offer constructive and well-argumented criticism, and generally avoid behaving like a bull in a china shop, you should be allright. In the rare cases in which you get nowhere, just edit something else for a while, or take it to the arbitration committee [wikipedia.org] if you feel that strongly about it. Yes, Wikipedia has mechanisms for conflict resolution -- funny how the critics never seem to try those!

    Even if it's true that some articles are guarded by people with a sense of ownership or control over them (and it probably is true), the only difference between them and those bitter critics is that the former managed to gain control, and the latter tried and failed. Both categories of people have control issues, otherwise the critics wouldn't be so bitter over their lack of control over Wikipedia. Non-control freaks, on the other hand, don't generally have a problem reaching consensus, even on Wikipedia.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people lack an essential life skill: the ability to accept that not everyone everywhere is always going to agree with you. Wikipedia seems to attract such people by the bucketload for some reason. It's actually possible to learn to let go of a silly conflict without taking your ball and going home. But some people seem so blinded by spite and bitterness they can't seem to see that anymore. Sad.

  • Re:Natural? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doctor O (549663) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:41AM (#20940891) Homepage Journal
    Amen. I haven't contributed to the English Wikipedia much, but I see the phenomenon you quote on German Wikipedia a lot. New articles get deleted left and right by regulars who don't know shit about the topic at hand or think it's not notable, even if it e.g. covers an online event in which several hundred people participated non-stop for 72 hours straight. Of course such "editors" won't discuss the reasons, either. It definitely drove me away from contributing, and several other people I know.

    Netcraft won't confirm it yet, but if said attitude is prevalent enough, it *will* kill Wikipedia, or turn it into a page with a three-digit number of editors again. And that, over time, will render it quite useless, as the information in it degrades.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @11:06AM (#20941235) Homepage

    Maybe someone should start Wikitrivia, where every topic can have an unlimited amount of inane blather...

    That's what Wikia really is. They have the Star Wars wiki, the Halo wiki, the Bioshock wiki, the Marvel Database, etc. It's all about monetizing fancruft.

  • Re:Wikiphobia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @11:09AM (#20941287)
    This is somewhat problematic, because a lot of material on the level Wikipedia operates is unsourceable. Sources basically come in two forms: articles and papers published on "new" discoveries or creations, and texts designed to teach major subjects to people unfamiliar with them.

    If a piece of information is well-known but not part of a field that somebody would want to write a book about, then it won't ever appear in either of these things, so you can't source it. This is most common with the sort of basic, low-level knowledge that is passed around in communities. This also happens to be exactly the sort of information that Wikipedia should be collecting.

    As people in the field say, "if you implement TCP to the specifications then you get something which doesn't work on the internet".
  • by overunderunderdone (521462) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @11:28AM (#20941533)
    You've made his point. There are a dozen links under Needlepoint to particular stitches 2/3rds of which go nowhere and the remainder are stubs. Only one goes to an actual article. Needlepoint isn't a particularly obscure activity yet there isn't much on wikipedia about it beyond that single article. A far more obscure topic from computer science would be fully fleshed out with plenty of links to even more obscure sub-topics.
  • Re:Wikiphobia (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lars T. (470328) <Lars.Traeger@g[ ... m ['oog' in gap]> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @11:29AM (#20941545) Journal

    Well, the question is how "independent" the source is. I've seen it more than once that it's been basically a circle-jerk. When you dig deep enough you'll see that those "sources" pretty much link to one another.
    Gee, just like science ;-)
  • Re:Answers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @11:32AM (#20941581) Journal
    Wikipedia has already hit a decline. Basically, it's too much of a pain-in-the-ass to work on the darn thing. There's tons of rules and regulations. Talk pages aren't fun. The articles are routinely turned into crack-pot crap in a misguided effort to be fair. There is too much emphasis on being factually correct and not enough on being timely. The get 'er done attitude that used to pervade is gone, replaced with a fear about lawsuits because some knucklehead or other is not actually dead yet.

    Like an large organization, wikipedians who used to contribute have been replaced by web-bureaucrats. Like bureaucrats everywhere, efficiency and style is replaced by pointless efforts at standardization and supporting documents. Certainly, these are important, but they have reached the point where they are stifling ideas.

    It's fine for me to say all this, but what's the solution? It's easy to condemn but hard to fix.

    If Wikipedia wishes to fix all this, it must slash the number of those with administrator power. It should remove the focus on formulas and documentation. Let Wikipedia revert back to the "wild west" anything goes culture that first made it special. Wikipedia is not a reference, it's a starting point. Treating it like a genuine reference kills what makes it special.

    And if it contains more pages about Simpsons episodes than social sciences, so what? It'll eventually work itself out like any open market. Jimbo and crew should just take their hands off, lean back, and see what happens.
  • by ultranova (717540) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:00PM (#20941985)

    Thats because there's nothing left that wikki doesn't know!

    Of course there are, many things. However, the Wikipedia editors have, in their blind rush to become a "real" encyclopedia, put up barriers of "notability". In practice this means that articles often get deleted if the editor doesn't consider them important ("notable").

    Dead-tree encyclopedias have a bar of notability because they have limited size and primitive searching facilities (alphapetical order), so a non-notable article takes space which could be better used on something more important, while increasing the size makes the whole thing more expensive and harder to search. Wikipedia has in practice limitless size and advanced searching facilities (internal links and full text search), so adding an article always adds value.

    There is the fundamental difference between online and dead-tree encyclopedias; it is a pity Wikipedia hasn't quite grasped this.

  • Re:Answers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kelbear (870538) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:04PM (#20942039)
    If no articles are added or updated, then that may increase pressure on a reader to contribute and bring up the rate of contribution.

    When people read a wiki article and find that it's gone out of date or need new additions that person can potentially be the one to rectify the situation. If they read it and find that it knows as much or more than them, they of course won't have anything to add and won't contribute.

    If people get tired of background politics and excess bureaucracy in wikipedia, they'll leave...which frees up the landscape, correcting the situation and so on and so forth.

    There's a potential equilibrium here and a decline in contributions does not necessarily represent a fundamental change to the forces that maintain it, it's probably just normal fluctuation. I don't see anything replacing wikipedia or eliminating the benefit that is gained from its existence. I don't believe wikipedia has run out of money yet.

  • I agree.

    Personally, I think Wikipedia suffers from being too limited in scope. Yeah, creating a free encyclopedia is great and all, but I'm not entirely convinced that's what the world really needs. It's good in that it provided some competition to Britannica, and forced them to open up some of their content, but where Wikipedia is most useful is where it goes well beyond any traditional "encyclopedia." Sadly, these tend to be the areas where Wikipedia bureaucrats and administrators are most likely to delete content.

    Wikipedia has the potential to blow away the entire concept of an 'encyclopedia,' but it's held back by narrow-minded ideas of what 'encyclopedic' content is.

    You see this "emulation complex" in a lot of projects. Bottom line: you can never be better than a thing you are trying to imitate. If you want to be better than it, you have to stop trying to be it. This goes for some parts of Linux desktops trying to emulate Windows, it goes for OpenOffice trying to be Microsoft Office, and it goes for Wikipedia trying to be a traditional encyclopedia.
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:17PM (#20942219) Homepage
    Wikipedia only works if there are multiple competent editors interested enough in the subject to corrects each others mistakes. Without that, it just becomes a soapbox / blog representing one persons opinion.

    I see the "notability" criteria as an effort to make it likely the articles will be cross checked.
  • Re:Wikiphobia (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _14k4 (5085) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {t.navillus}> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:45PM (#20942563)
    Personally, I stopped eating sawdust years ago.

    Seriously though, thanks for that link. I'll see what I can do when time permits. If even simply citing the article and noting that a subscription is required, etc. I too heard about the leptin and the feeling full concept; an interesting one. Another one of the 'i heard's is the idea that it is addictive.

    We (my family) have worked most of the HFCS out of our diet and found that, health benefits aside, what the action of purging it really does is help you to be more conscious of what is inside the food you are going to eat.
  • by gsslay (807818) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @01:29PM (#20943199)
    The point of notability (besides vastly increasing the chances of the information be verifiable) is that attempting to include every single non-notable bit of knowledge would be a disaster as the useless crud submerges the stuff worth reading. Notability is just another spam filter.

    Consider if Wikipedia contained a page on every sucky band ever formed by three teenagers in dad's garage. So now you have 300 articles titled some variance on "Rock Pwnage (band)". Who's every going to ever look them up? Answer; no-one. And even if they did, how would you ever know which one is the one you're interested in reading about? And say, god forbid, one Rock Pwnage makes it big and people actually do want to look their page up. They have to find their way through 299 other near-identically titled pages full of non-entities. You think people are going to continue using Wikipedia if every search produces results that are 99% garbage about people who no-one, other than their mothers, would ever be interested in?? That's what myspace is for!

    There is the fundamental difference between online and dead-tree encyclopedias; it is a pity Wikipedia hasn't quite grasped this.
    So why do they have a policy that says exactly that? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_wikipedia_is_not#Wikipedia_is_not_a_paper_encyclopedia [wikipedia.org]

  • by Zardus (464755) <yans@yancomm.net> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @01:50PM (#20943595) Homepage Journal
    The problem with that is their definition of "sources that are independent of the subject". They don't count blogs, even well-known and respected blogs (for example, Joystiq), as valid sources so things like Fanboys Online (a webcomic) or The Noob (another one) are deleted, even though they shouldn't be.

    Personally, I used to be a frequent contributor to Wikipedia, but having to justify every article I was really interested in editing to some powerhungry asshole out for an ego boost got really tiresome, so I stopped. I know other people with the same experience, and would be willing to bet that this experience represents a large chunk of Wikipedia's decline.
  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @02:40PM (#20944455) Homepage
    ### Notability is just another spam filter.

    The problem is that notability is far to often used as a wildcard to delete articles over topics the admin simply no clue about. I have seen this happening with a lot of articles on open source games, a whole bunch of them got deleted or threatened to be deleted, sometimes even with the topic locked afterwards (hint: if an article exists in many different languages and people are continually trying to recreate it, there might actually people interested in the topic). Now some month later the idiot admins seem to have been overturned and all the articles are back again. But doing uphill battles against admins just isn't fun. When a random idiot is doing vandalism that can be annoying enough, but when the admins turn out to be the bigger problem, something is fundamentally wrong.
  • by big_paul76 (1123489) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @02:48PM (#20944585)
    OK, I'm a big fan of wikipedia, though I've never edited it. So I've been concerned with a lot of the stuff I hear about allegations of clique-ish behavior, and abuse of power, and the like on the part of cliques or cabals of admins.

    I've read a lot on David Brandt's wikipedia watch, looked at wikitruth.info, and just spend the last half-hour or so skimming through Parker Peters' LJ, and here's the thing: I notice a lot of broad generalizations, a lot of references or links to stuff that seems like very, very, ambiguous information, and a shortage of facts. What I'm consistently looking for, and not finding, is a timeline of point-by-point, "just the facts, Ma'am" type of description of bad behavior on the part of wikipedians.

    For example, on Parkerpeters.livejournal.com, we have this:

    "Lie #1: "It's the message, not the messenger."
    This is often quoted by administrators claiming they are "fair" on a given topic.

    Unfortunately, the opposite is shown by the evidence at hand. If the message was to be dealt with fairly, administrators would not be in such a rush to hunt down "suspected sockpuppets" constantly, vandalizing user pages and terrorizing new users while claiming they are "sockpuppets" of some long-lost grudge."

    Um, why the vague generalizations? If it is in fact the case that people are being targeted for unpopular messages or unpopular points of views, why not cite specific cases of "I suspect that editor X disagreed with my point of view on topic Y (George Bush, climate change, the validity of postmodern literary criticism) and that lead to A, B, and C bad behaviors, which I suspect is why I'm banned"?

    Am I missing something, or am I seeing the tail end of a personality conflict that some people are trying to confuse with inherent flaws with Wikipedia?
  • by Xeth (614132) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @03:05PM (#20944857) Journal

    You're wrong. Notability is a very important restriction. And it will very rarely remove something that is actually important. In order to meet notability, somebody reliable needs to write something about the subject. That's an incredibly small hurdle to jump over. And it there to prevent any idiot from spreading lies. What's to stop someone from setting up a website and just randomly making up falsehoods?

    Furthermore, to claim that Wikipedia is of unlimited size is incorrect. Oh, technically, a vast number of articles could be created. But there are only so many good editors, and they need to spread across articles. If Wikipedia had 100 times as many articles, and the same number of active editors, each article would get massively less attention. That would result in an encyclopedia that is, overall, much lower quality.

    And the articles that get deleted are generally of no real importance. Small organizations, neologisms, unimportant people. These aren't the kind of things that people are going to be looking for in an encyclopedia.

    I assure you, a great many people on Wikipedia "grasp" your point of view; they just disagree with it.

    Let me guess, your band's article got deleted?

  • by drDugan (219551) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @03:05PM (#20944873) Homepage
    Wikipedia needs to build out tiers of content:

    Top-tier: notable, professional, encyclopedic, widely desired content
    mid
    mid
    low
    low
    minutia

    basically, have articles start at the bottom, and work their way up the tiers by community consent, edit history, and most importantly: internal consistentcy. This will allow a resurgence in interest in the concept. Each person on the planet can have their own minutia page on themselves, each and every party that happened, each and every minute detail of life can be cataloged - and those that become interesting, they go up the chain and eventually become Wikipedia articles.

  • by doom (14564) <doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @06:20PM (#20947465) Homepage Journal

    Personally, I think Wikipedia suffers from being too limited in scope.

    This is certainly one of the problems. For one thing, I suspect that instead of forbidding "original research", they should be providing an outlet for it... some place to work on figuring things out, where the "encylopedia" is used as a summary of findings.

    A related problem: they're parasitic on print media publications, but over time those are guaranteed to become less important. What do you do if you want to talk about a subject that doesn't exist in the print media world yet?

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @09:09PM (#20948835) Homepage
    What really is happening is wikipedia is being wikipedia. It is changing, growing shrinking mutating over time. Adding new users and losing old users. Rather than building new content it is shifting into refining old content. It holds it's own unique place in the net universe, a useful site for queries on most any topic.

    Perhaps it's greatest problem is that it is too useful and people are becoming to fussy and pedantic, and critical and anal and etc. Wikipedia is what it is, enjoy it and have fun.

    Wikipedia certainly is not the be all and end all of Internet encyclopaedias, so people should stop trying to make it one.

    Perhaps finally, eventually, the worlds universities might work together to create their own shared versions to adheres to all their rules, and leave wikipedia as the peoples encylopedia, where everybody people share and exchange knowledge, now is that really so bad.

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