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    While I’m not going to argue against their findings per say, you do have to wonder if the drop off in contributors is in large part simply due to the completeness of the wiki. Not that Wikipedia EN actually encompasses all of human knowledge, but that 90% of the low hanging fruit has been plucked already. As time goes on contributions will only become more or more specialized. I don’t think this is a bad thing at all, and I believe actually mimics the growth of software projects.

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      One should also keep in mind that the bigger and more mature a wiki becomes, contributing becomes a bit more difficult for newcomers, since they either might not know where or whether to add something or they might not be familiar enough with the user’s/admin’s etiquette, thus “scaring” them away from contributing.

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        I was an editor during 2003–06 and the culture was just toxic but, amazingly, most of the articles (95–99 percent) were excellent, even then. If a topic wasn’t controversial, you’d find something decent. The product itself, I think, has even gotten better. I don’t see a slight decline in the number of editors as necessarily a bad thing, although it will have to bring in new talent.

        I do think Wikipedia was easier to get into, in 2003, probably because the standard to which one had to write an article to make it fit in was lower. These days, articles tend to have pictures with captions, footnotes, and a lot of other adornments that make the pages better, no doubt, but possibly make the editing process more intimidating. That said, I hope the toxic hostility I encountered in the mid-2000s has abated.

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          This might be unpopular, but I find articles on controversial topics to be high-quality and well-sourced due to the editing wars those articles endure: If you can’t edit a paragraph into a sloppy form because people are actively monitoring that article to ensure that old fights aren’t starting back up, the paragraphs are going to be pretty tight; similarly, they’re not going to be one-sided because both sides will know the system well enough to start a resolution process when well-sourced material is being kept out.

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            I don’t edit in particularly controversial areas, but I haven’t found the bar for contributing lately to be all that high. The main way it’s gotten higher is that sources aren’t optional anymore. In the early days it was common to just write a bunch of text without necessarily citing anything, with the expectation that it could be properly referenced later if necessary (more of a classic wiki style of working, like how things were done on the old C2 wiki). Now, if you’re creating a new article, it’s expected you’ll cite some decent sources for it. But like one or two decent sources and one paragraph of text is fine. I create a lot of short biographies of historical figures, and short articles on archaeological sites, and nobody has ever complained about them as far as I remember.

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              I got interested in unusual architectures in GCC tree and wrote some articles with sources. They were swiftly deleted for “not being notable”.

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                The notability requirement has always seemed bonkers to me… that made sense in a paper encyclopedia, but wikipedia can have as many articles as it wants…

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                  Notability is still useful because you have to draw a line somewhere, lest Wikipedia becomes an indiscriminate collection of information.

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                    To me, having an upstream GCC port automatically makes an architecture notable (there are only 49 of them at the moment), but Guardians of Wikipedia (TM) seem to disagree.

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                    It’s probably to block self-promotion. A lot of people used to write articles about themselves.

                    In reflection, now that I am borderline “notable”, the absolute last thing I would want is a Wikipedia article about me. There’s likely to be one after my book comes out (mid-2019) and I’m dreading the thought.

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                      For currently living people, the standards have been tightened up (especially around sourcing) partly because a lot of people share that view: they’d rather have no article about them than a bad one. The subject still doesn’t get a veto over the article, but there are some interests to balance there. I mean any bad article is bad in some way just because it spreads disinformation. But a bad article about a specific person who’s currently alive, especially if they aren’t even a major public figure, is bad in a more personal way in that it can harm the reputation, job prospects, etc. of that person directly.

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            The perception of rampant deletionism didn’t do any favors for a lot of folks who had, say, put a lot of effort into covering works of literature, film, anime, manga, or other things like obscure historical events this probably had a chilling effect.

            Additionally, community just seemed really…I don’t know…silly and officious. The amount of seriousness which Wiki folk seemed to take themselves, coupled with occasionally blatant lack of expertise in editing or moderating, say, technical articles, might make one think twice before contributing.

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              Well, Wikipedia is a serious business. It is the foremost social verifier of our time. (If you don’t want to click, I quoted the relevant passage below.)

              So: a social verifier is an institution, authority, Web 2.0 server, etc, etc, which collects and distributes information that its users trust. Wikipedia is a social verifier. So is the Catholic Church. So is the New York Times. So is UC Berkeley… So is the scientific peer-review system. And so on.

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                Deletionism killed it for me, I don’t bother any more except to fix small mistakes.

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                  I was never a contributor but the deletionism thing would make me think twice for sure. Not about if my content was notable but about if I wanted to help Wikipedia.

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                  Aaron’s Swartz’s research on this seems relevant, if dated.

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                    I’m looking forward to poking at the raw data. I’m wondering what the wiki population was, and whether it was dominated by wikias, and to what extent wikia might generalise to other wikis. I suspect wikia has its own special kind of problems and behaviors. Several large wikis there have reached a fork point and split out from wikia, and when that happens, the old one doesn’t go away. So that might skew any general results.