Wikipedia has lost many of its English-language editors in the past 5 years, which is crippling its ability to keep pace with its mission to be an online source of knowledge, a study has revealed.
The study, led by Aaron Halfaker of the University of Minnesota, found that the number of “collaborators” or volunteer editors have declined from around 56,000 in 2007 to about 35,000 at the end of 2012, the Herald Sun reported.
The researchers said that there were numerous reasons for this, including the rise of automated programs or “bots,” but also noted that some potential editors were discouraged by the website’s structure.
They said that while Wikipedia had tried to remove less competent editors, its rules had also disheartened “desirable newcomers,” who got discouraged when their contributions were deleted.
The site has editions in 285 languages, and its founder Jimmy Wales has cited the need to make it more open to newcomers, to keep up with the vast amount of information that it tries to process.
But the authors of the study said that the site was being crimped by its rules that were trying to improve its quality.
The study has been published in American Behavioral Scientist.