Granted, “Chicken Little” Wikipedians are always discussing how World’s 15th largest website is a complete failure. But there seems to be a growing trend of disguntled Wikipedians fleeing the site in frustration, as I noted here (Is Wikipedia Becoming a Totalitarian State?).
The essay in question was written this Saturday by longtime Wikipedian Worldtraveller. Worldtraveller joins a growing number of beleaguered Wikipedia veterens who have fought one too many edit battles.
Worldtraveller’s essay raises many salient points. The current policy of dealing with edit wars and abusive users seems to be taking its toll on good contributors. The policy must adapt. Furthermore, Worldtraveller believes Wikipedia has been better at producing quantity than quality. Referring to the fact that only 3,000 articles have achieved “featured” status, Worldtraveller summarizes:
If Wikipedia just aimed to be a social site where people with similar interests could come together and write articles about anything they liked, it would certainly be succeeding. However, its stated aim is to be an encyclopaedia, and not just that but an encyclopaedia of the highest quality. Six years of work has resulted in 3,000 articles of good or excellent quality, at which rate it will take many decades to produce the quantity of good or excellent articles found in traditional reference works. Almost 1.6 million articles are mediocre to poor to appalling in quality.
I am not nearly as pessimistic as Worldtraveller, but I am disturbed by recent trends in Wikipedia. Personally I do advocate much stricter penalties for abusive edits. Wikipedia is one of the greatest achievements of the internet. And I believe it will continue to evolve and grow. But it does seem the time is ripe for a review of Wikipedia’s policies.