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The Decline of Wikipedia?

wikipedFrom MIT Tech Review:

The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage…

The foundation’s campaign will bring the first major changes in years to a site that is a time capsule from the Web’s earlier, clunkier days, far removed from the easy-to-use social and commercial sites that dominate today. “Everything that Wikipedia is was utterly appropriate in 2001 and it’s become increasingly out of date since,”…

via The Decline of Wikipedia: Even As More People Than Ever Rely on It, Fewer People Create It | MIT Technology Review.

An interesting article for a number of reasons. In my experience Wikipedia is amazingly accurate, except when it is not. For basic science and facts, like “what is the capitol of Denmark?” it is great. For any subject with political or differing points of view it can be a problem.

It seems the number of volunteer Wikipedia editors had fallen sharply in recent years and new editors are driven off by a maze of beurocratic rules and a distinct insularly old boys network. This pattern is almost universal with online communities.

In the early days of the Internet I joined one of the first online dental groups IDF, the Internet Dental Forum. It was incredible. Dentaltown came along a few years later and followed the same path just on a bigger scale. It started as a fresh and amazing freewheeling source of information and discussion. Soon certain voices came to dominate and others were forced to the sides. Small scale vandalism followed which resulted in more rules then editors and eventually few new participants. The end result I lost interest and drifted away.

Those heady early days of the Internet when we first realized than instantaneous group communication was possible and absurd crowd sourced projects like Wikipedia might be possible have dissolved. We still aggregate online but we do so differently. We use Facebook.

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