The State of Wikipedia: Inclusive or Exclusive?

By Deane Barker on August 13, 2009

Wikipedia enters a new chapter: Some interesting statistics about Wikipedia, found by data-mining performed by PARC.  Wikipedia is becoming more elitist, it seems.

[…] they discovered, a stable group of high-level editors has become increasingly responsible for controlling the encyclopedia, while casual contributors and editors are falling away. […] One of the measures the Parc team looked at was how often a user’s edit succeeds in sticking. “We found that if you were an elite editor, the chance of your edit being reverted was something in the order of 1% – and that’s been very consistent over time from around 2003 or 2004,” he says.

Meanwhile, for those who did not invest vast amounts of time in editing, the experience was very different. “For editors that make between two and nine edits a month, the percentage of their edits being reverted had gone from 5% in 2004 all the way up to about 15% by October 2008. And the ‘onesies’ – people who only make one edit a month – their edits are now being reverted at a 25% rate,” Chi explains.

The entire article is a really interesting look at how the site is changing.  The article discusses the eternal battle between two factions:

On one side stand the deletionists, whose motto is “Wikipedia is not a junkyard”; on the other, the inclusionists, who argue that “Wikipedia is not paper”.

Deletionists argue for a tightly controlled and well-written encyclopedia that provides valuable information on topics of widespread interest. Why should editors waste time on articles about fly-by-night celebrities or wilfully obscure topics? Inclusionists, on the other hand, believe that the more articles the site has, the better: if they are poorly referenced or badly written, they can be improved – and any article is better than nothing. After all, they say, there is no limit to the size of the site, and no limit to the information that people may want.