Predictions of the end of Wikipedia
- This article was considered for deletion at Wikipedia on October 1 2020. This is a backup of Wikipedia:Predictions_of_the_end_of_Wikipedia. All of its AfDs can be found at Wikipedia:Special:PrefixIndex/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Predictions_of_the_end_of_Wikipedia, the first at Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Predictions_of_the_end_of_Wikipedia.
Various publications and commentators have offered a range of predictions of the end of Wikipedia. As soon as Wikipedia became well-known—around 2005—one scenario of decline after another has appeared, based on various assumptions and allegations. For example, some claim a degradation in quality of Wikipedia's articles, while others say potential editors are turning away. Others suggest that disagreements within the Wikipedia community will lead to the collapse of Wikipedia as a project.
Some predictions present a criticism of Wikipedia as a fatal flaw, and some go on to predict that a rival website will do what Wikipedia does, but without that fatal flaw. This would make it a Wikipedia-killer, capturing the attention and resources which Wikipedia currently gets. Many online encyclopedias exist; proposed replacements for Wikipedia have included Google's since-closed Knol, Wolfram Alpha, and AOL's Owl.
Wikipedia is crowdsourced by a few million volunteer editors. Tens of thousands contribute the majority of contents, and several thousand do quality control and maintenance work. As the encyclopedia expanded in the 2010s, the number of active editors did not steadily grow and sometimes declined. Various sources have predicted that Wikipedia will eventually have too few editors to be functional and collapse due to lack of participation.
Wikipedia has a few thousand volunteer administrators who perform various functions, including functions similar to those carried out by a forum moderator. Critics have described their actions as harsh, bureaucratic, biased, unfair, or capricious, and predicted that the resulting outrage will lead to the site's closure. Some such critics are aware of the duties of administrators; others merely assume they govern the site.
Others suggest that the unwarranted deletion of useful articles from Wikipedia may portend its end. That brought about the creation of Deletionpedia Template:Mdash which itself ceased to exist Template:Ndash with its contents consigned into the web archive.
Decline in editors
Template:Wikipedia editor graph A 2014 trend analysis published in The Economist stated that "The number of editors for the English-language version has fallen by a third in seven years." The attrition rate for active editors in English Wikipedia was described by The Economist as substantially higher than in other languages (non-English Wikipedias). It reported that in other languages, the number of "active editors" (those with at least five edits per month) has been relatively constant since 2008: some 42,000 editors, with narrow seasonal variances of about 2,000 editors up or down.
In the English Wikipedia, the number of active editors peaked in 2007 at about 50,000 editors, and fell to 30,000 editors in 2014. A linear decline at this rate would leave no active editors of English Wikipedia in eleven years.
Given that the trend analysis published in The Economist presents the number of active editors for Wikipedia in other languages (non-English Wikipedia) as remaining relatively constant, sustaining their numbers at approximately 42,000 active editors, the contrast has pointed to the effectiveness of Wikipedia in those languages to retain their active editors on a renewable and sustained basis. Though different language versions of Wikipedia have different policies, no comment identified a particular policy difference as potentially making a difference in the rate of editor attrition for English Wikipedia. Editor count showed a slight uptick a year later, and no clear trend after that.
Andrew Lih and Andrew Brown both maintain editing Wikipedia with smartphones is difficult and discourages new potential contributors. In a 2013 article, Tom Simonite of MIT Technology Review said that for several years running the number of Wikipedia editors had been falling and claimed the bureaucratic structure and rules are a factor in this. Simonite alleged that some Wikipedians use the labyrinthine rules and guidelines to dominate others and have a vested interest in keeping the status quo. Lih alleges there is serious disagreement among existing contributors how to resolve this. Lih fears for Wikipedia's long-term future while Brown fears problems with Wikipedia will remain and rival encyclopedias will not replace it.
Sources of viewers and funds
As of 2015, there had been a marked decline in persons who viewed Wikipedia from their computers. Increased use of phones was viewed as a threat, at least to fundraising. At the time, the Wikimedia Foundation reported reserves equivalent to one year's budgeted expenditures. On the other hand, the number of paid staff had ballooned, so that expenses increased.
- Helft, Miguel (23 July 2008). "Wikipedia, Meet Knol" (in en). https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/23/wikipedia-meet-knol/.
- Dawson, Christopher (28 July 2008). "Google Knol - Yup, it's a Wikipedia killer" (in en). ZDNet. CBS Interactive. http://www.zdnet.com/article/google-knol-yup-its-a-wikipedia-killer/.
- Dawson, Christopher (17 May 2009). "Wolfram Alpha: Wikipedia killer?" (in en). CBS Interactive. http://www.zdnet.com/article/wolfram-alpha-wikipedia-killer/.
- Techcrunch (18 January 2010). "Is Owl AOL's Wikipedia-Killer?" (in en). https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/120803/is-owl-aols-wikipedia-killer.html.
- Simonite, Tom (22 October 2013). "The Decline of Wikipedia" (in en). MIT Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/520446/the-decline-of-wikipedia/.
- Dawson, Christopher (9 December 2008). "Will Virgin Killer be a Wikipedia killer?" (in en). CBS Interactive. http://www.zdnet.com/article/will-virgin-killer-be-a-wikipedia-killer/.
- Lih, Andrew (20 June 2015). "Can Wikipedia Survive?" (in en). The New York Times. Archived from the original on 21 June 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150621032208/http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/opinion/can-wikipedia-survive.html. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
- Halfaker, Aaron; Geiger, R. Stuart; Morgan, Jonathan T.; Riedl, John (28 December 2012). "The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration System". American Behavioral Scientist 57 (5): 664–688. Template:Citation error. https://www-users.cs.umn.edu/~halfak/publications/The_Rise_and_Decline/halfaker13rise-preprint.pdf.
- Chen, Adrian (4 August 2011). "Wikipedia Is Slowly Dying". http://gawker.com/5827835/wikipedia-is-slowly-dying.
- Brown, Andrew (25 June 2015). "Wikipedia editors are a dying breed. The reason? Mobile". The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/25/wikipedia-editors-dying-breed-mobile-smartphone-technology-online-encyclopedia. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
- Angwin, Julia; Fowler, Geoffrey A. (27 November 2009). "Volunteers Log Off as Wikipedia Ages". https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB125893981183759969.
- Derakhshan, Hossein (19 October 2017). "How Social Media Endangers Knowledge". Wired. https://www.wired.com/story/wikipedias-fate-shows-how-the-web-endangers-knowledge/.
- James, Andrea (14 February 2017). "Watching Wikipedia's extinction event from a distance". https://boingboing.net/2017/02/14/watching-wikipedias-extincti.html.
- Carr, Nicholas G. (24 May 2006). "The death of Wikipedia". http://www.roughtype.com/?p=394.
- Meyer, Robinson (16 July 2012). "3 Charts That Show How Wikipedia Is Running Out of Admins". The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/3-charts-that-show-how-wikipedia-is-running-out-of-admins/259829/.
- Henderson, William (5 September 2012). "Wikipedia reaches a turning point: it's losing administrators faster than it can appoint them". Archived from the original on 4 December 2012. https://web.archive.org/web/20121204222243/http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/technology/williamhenderson/100007494/wikipedia-reaches-a-turning-point-its-losing-administrators-faster-than-it-can-appoint-them/. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
- Sankin, Aaron. "Archive of deleted Wikipedia articles reveals site's imperfections". The Daily Dot. https://www.dailydot.com/irl/deletionpedia-wikipedia-deleted-articles/. Retrieved December 13, 2019. "Wikipedia, which has an entry on fart jokes, still deems some topics unworthy of inclusion."
- "The future of Wikipedia: WikiPeaks?". The Economist. March 1, 2014. https://www.economist.com/news/international/21597959-popular-online-encyclopedia-must-work-out-what-next-wikipeaks. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
- Andrew Lih. Wikipedia. Alternative edit policies at Wikipedia in other languages.
- Simonite, Tom (October 22, 2013). "The Decline of Wikipedia". MIT Technology Review. http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/520446/the-decline-of-wikipedia/. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
- Dewey, Caitlin (December 2, 2015). "Internet Culture: Wikipedia has a ton of money. So why is it begging you to donate yours?". Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/12/02/wikipedia-has-a-ton-of-money-so-why-is-it-begging-you-to-donate-yours/. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
- WP:THREATENING2MEN Peake, Bryce (2015). "WP:THREATENING2MEN: Misogynist Infopolitics and the Hegemony of the Asshole Consensus on English Wikipedia". Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology (7). Template:Citation error. http://adanewmedia.org/2015/04/issue7-peake/.