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Reports of Wikipedia's imminent death greatly exaggerated, and more

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By BanyanTree and Cryptic C62

Wikipedia growth

The Guardian reports both the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) (see last week's coverage) and the imminent surpassing of the three million article mark. The writer reports PARC researcher Ed Chi's assertion that the higher rate of reversion for casual editors is evidence "that it is increasingly difficult to enjoy contributing to Wikipedia unless you are part of the site's inner core of editors." Web developer Aaron Swartz (User:AaronSw) is extensively quoted about his feeling "that the site feels more insular and exclusive than in the past". The writer suggests that the editing slow down is a result of a victory by deletionists over inclusionists, while Chi waxes metaphorical: ""As you run out of food, people start competing for that food, and that results in a slowdown in population growth and means that the stronger, more well-adapted part of the population starts to have more power."[itn 1][itn 2] A CNET article bemoans the PARC study, stating it "makes for the same kind of dispiriting reading that you might once have expected from a Politburo travel brochure" and comparing the described hierarchy to the U.S. Senate.[itn 3]

Wikipedia not threatened by Google Knol

A TechCrunch article asserts, "We’ve known for a while that Google’s Knol is no Wikipedia killer, but now the knowledge-sharing site is being reduced to a sad Craigslist wannabe". It is estimated that Knol attracted only 174,000 visitors in the past month.[itn 4] For comparison, Wikipedia's article on Barack Obama alone received nearly 700,000 visits in the same period.[itn 5] TechCrunch suggests that Knol should be closed, for it "will never come close to Wikipedia."

Search rankings: Associated Press takes on Wikipedia

On 12 August, the Associated Press announced plans to improve their content's search rankings in an effort to take on aggregation sites such as Wikipedia. The AP will create "news guide landing pages" that aggregate AP content on a particular topic. The internal AP analysis states,

The Wikipedia page on Michael Jackson is not very pretty to look at, but it has more blue hyperlinks than black type. Forget the "wiki" method of community updating, the key to Wikipedia’s success is that its pages are designed to catch traffic, provide key information and then send users on their way to deeper engagement on the subjects they’re interested in.[itn 6][itn 7]

Forbes writer muses on talk pages

Lee Gomes of Forbes describes the article discussion pages and gives an account of how Propofol, a drug article related to the Michael Jackson death, "was about 900 words long, and was as straightforward and helpful about the basic questions as you'd expect a Wikipedia article to be." He describes the article's talk page as mostly "a long argument—10 times longer than the actual article, in fact—about whether it was improper editorializing to use the term 'drug abuse'". Noting that the discussants were "passionate, sincere and, by and large, polite", Gomes opines, "If the Internet can bring people together like this to strive toward a common good, is there nothing it can't achieve?"[itn 8]


  1. ^ Bobbie Johnson (12 August 2009). "Wikipedia approaches its limits". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Also covered briefly in Bobbie Johnson (13 August 2009). "Wikipedia growth 'slowing' as it reaches 3 million articles". The Telegraph.
  3. ^ Chris Matyszczyk (13 August 2009). "Has Wikipedia editing gone the way of government?". CNet.
  4. ^ "Poor Google Knol Has Gone From A Wikipedia Killer To A Craigslist Wannabe". Techcrunch. 11 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Traffic statistics for Barack Obama". July 2009.
  6. ^ Seward, Zachary M. (12 August 2009). "Why The Associated Press plans to hold some web content off the wire". Nieman Journalism Lab.
  7. ^ Seward, Zachary M. (13 August 2009). "How The Associated Press will try to rival Wikipedia in search results". Nieman Journalism Lab.
  8. ^ Lee Gomes (13 August 2009). "Michael Jackson's Wisdom Of The Crowds". Forbes.
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