Surmounting the Insurmountable: Wikipedia Is Nearing Completion
For about the last five years, Wikipedia has had trouble getting and keeping new volunteer editors. The foundation behind Wikipedia has made building up the editor base a major goal, and is attacking it from all angles, such as encouraging a culture that is friendlier to newbies, creating an easier sign-up page, and making the editing process more intutitive.
But what if the decline in engagement has little to do with culture or the design of the site? What if, instead, it's that there's just less for new Wikipedians to do?
It may seem impossible for an encyclopedia of everything to ever near completion, but at least for the major articles on topics like big wars, important historical figures, central scientific concepts, the English-language Wikipedia's pretty well filled out. (There is, of course, room for improvement in articles that have received less attention, but that is a different, yet still very important, set of challenges.) There's always going to be some tidying -- better citations, small updates, new links, cleaner formatting -- but the bulk of the work, the actual writing and structuring of the articles, has already been done. "There are more and more readers of Wikipedia, but they have less and less new to add," writes historian and Wikipedia editor Richard Jensen in the latest issue of The Journal of Military History.
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