Thursday, November 09, 2006


Discuss: Future of Wikipedia?

What do you foresee for the future of Wikipedia? Do you feel that the number of entries will continue to grow at the current astronomical rate? More generally, what is the future of the kinds of projects that evolve according to the behavior of a collective intelligence?

I think the Wikipedia's number of articles is going to level off somewhat. The site has already taken steps to control the content, such as limiting some articles that have been vandalized or are hot-button issues. That's the beginning of an editorial system, a measure of control that will slow the number of new entries as it becomes more difficult to make those entries.

Further, I think people are starting to see the Wikipedia as a reference and not just as fun. When the fun declines, so does the interest. Fewer people will continue to post summaries of "Real Ghostbusters" episodes and focus on major events, the kind of thing that happens more slowly. When that sort of seriousness establishes itself in a text, the text slows down significantly.

Of course, this analysis rests on one presumption: that culture will continue to regard references (and truth) in the same way as it has in the past. Web 2.0 sites like Wikipedia may be changing that, but it happens slowly. The real question is whether or not Wikipedia will survive the transition while preserving its collective features.
Wikipedia's growth is already starting to taper off: this last month (October) saw the slowest growth rate for which information is available, and certainly in at least a few years. I personally think this is a combination of overly aggressive recent-change patrollers and overly aggressive deletionists.

There are many topics not covered by Wikipedia for no good reason. Just the other day I noted that Wikipedia has no article about the Liebert Corporation, despite the fact that they are one of the leading suppliers worldwide of precision cooling systems. However, I suspect that any attempt to create such an article would be deleted by the officious deletionistas that seem to be in charge at the moment, either on the grounds of not being relevant (because Wikipedia's editors have a very slanted view of what is and is not relevant, mainly because most of them are teenagers with very limited real world experience) or because it must be advertising (whether it is or not).

The much stronger commitment to inclusionism set forth in Citizendium (see Tawker's blog post on Citizendium for more) leads me to believe that Citizendium, and not Wikipedia, will be the place where new article creation takes place. Wikipedia may find itself starved for editors if it doesn't change its ways. But, hey, competition is good, or so sayeth the free market religionists....
wikipedia has given access of knowledge to people like us living in remote areas of the world with out the extra buck we cant afford. i think its the best human effort ever in the history...
Weird. I woke up this morning & thought, "What should I write about today?" And the final number of articles Wikipedia will have was what I decided on.

The short version of my answer? It'll level off somewhere between 5 and 10 million: we just can't keep up the effort beyond that.

The long version? Read it here. And it is long.

agree with becker

"I think the Wikipedia's number of articles is going to level off somewhat. The site has already taken steps to control the content..."

and, unfortunately, grow number hacker`s attack, be careful, friends
Information should be free to stand on its own in a democratic fashion. The bias of an intermediate editor merely interferes with collective expression. This is where the wiki system of today will fall short. The idea of open source intelligence edited by the masses will eventually lead to true intelligence as today's wiki successor. This is where you come in. It starts now...
I wonder if a separate pop culture heavy "wikipedia pop" might generate revenue for the wikipedia project while segregating more dubious material from the main body of wikipedia.

When I noticed that many more recent tv shows have entries not only for the show and primary acting and production personnel, but for the characters as well,it occurred to me that this is something of a waste of storage and bandwidth with respect to the main body of wikipedia.

Yes,I realize this is a value judgement. But Monk's fictitious assistants each get their own article separate from the article on the show?

But I look at how google's image search allows 3 different levels of "safety" (strict, moderate, and unfiltered) in terms of violent or sexual images, and it occurs to me that something similar could be done with wikipedia, with respect to the level of conventional academic legitimacy of an article:

we could have "academic","mainstream", and "pop", or
"wikischolar', "wikidefault" and "wikipop" settings, with the 1st 2 being free and the 3rd being ad-supported. Think of a venn diagram in which the 2nd item would include all of "wikischolar" and a goodly portion of the 3rd, "pop" category, while access to the more in-depth ephemera(as it were!) of wikipop would require enabling ads.

Contributors could tag an article as belonging in 1, 2 or 3, or write abbreviated versions of pop culture articles for wikidefault and lengthier ones for wikipop. A discussion of popular recording artist in the default(2) version might be pretty much like the one in no. 3, but leave out a lengthy discussion of her singles which takes up again almost as much space as the main article-- and many of you have already seen exceptionally long articles like this. Let the people who want to know about the singles watch the ads.

Potentially this might also allow faster searching of wikipedia with less demand on bandwidth by persons using "wikischolar", except perhaps for scholars of popular culture!
Wikipedia is facing quality issues and Citizendium has been proposed as a solution. Is Citizendium the new and improved Wikipedia? Discussion at
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I have a new found respect for wikipedia after viewing the wikidump.
Cheezy Poofs
Wikipedia has become just another institution and like all large institutions it is now becoming driven more by institution-speak than the simple truth of simple writers who wanted to document something, anything and share that knowledge.

When it started it was a noble experiment and part of that experiment rested on the transparency that existed in its early days when there were a workable number of people involved; the idea of it being transparently managed and run was then a real possibly. Perhaps because of the fear of certain people that a bunch of teenagers or wacked out internet phreaker/hacker trolls were going to trash it people got scared and started trying to control certain aspects of it. I believe that those irrational fears have deeply shaped the way Wikipedia has dealt with a lot of people who are now so frustrated that they have left this project permanently (sadly I hear the deletionists applauding now).

That is a shame, and I think that the people who are now controlling the dialogue are really interested in making it an institution that is not really responsive to individuals but some kind of hive mind. Anyway, resistance is futile, but since Wikipedia is open source there can be a thousand of these entities and they can all use any of the information that has been amalgamated into the wikiworld. Knowledge is infinite, it can never be reduced to a database as shows. Bravo WikiDumper!!!
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