Wikipedia suffers decline in volunteers

Wikipedia loses volunteers

The popularity of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, is under question, after a study revealed the site suffered a net loss of over 49,000 volunteers in the first three months of 2009.

An investigation by Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid discovered the drop in volunteers after comparing the net loss of 'editors' - administrators who ensure that user-submitted information adheres to particular standards - over a one-year period. Over the same three months in 2008, the report revealed only 4,900 individuals abandoned the site.

An opinion piece in The Guardian suggested the site was struggling to maintain editors because of its strict editorial guidelines.

"As Wikipedia tries to be more robust, editing has become less straightforward. Click on "edit this page" and you're presented with a series of directives encouraging you to create an account and absorb key Wikipedia principles if you want your contributions to stand. Go to an article on a current event, or a celebrity, and you're likely to find that it's been "protected" from tinkering by newcomers."

Wikipedia remains popular

Despite the drop of volunteers, the site remains the sixth most-visited domain in the world. Charles Matthews, one of the editors at Wikipedia, is unconcerned about the decline in users.

"Wikipedia was really hot in 2007. After that peak, we were left with those who are relatively serious about the encyclopedia."