Open Codex HISTORICAL entry

2009 Feb 12 | Wikipedia's Final Days

In the conclusion of my dissertation I note how in 2004 a disaffected Wikipedian told me the project had gone downhill. Ironically, a few years later another Wikipedian who began their career in 2004 looked upon that year as the golden age from which Wikipedia had declined. Nostalgia is a fascinating phenomenon in human memory and history. Therefore, it's not surprising to find news stories year after year, since the Seigenthaler incident of 2005, speaking of Wikipedia's doom. These stories are often prompted by an embarrassing vandalism case or a competitor who claims to have righted all that is wrong in Wikipedia. This is yet another instance in a larger history of failed predictions about technologically related phenomena.

Even so, the past few weeks seems particularly pessimistic.

I am concerned about the brittleness that results from the tension of being open to both newcomers and attack. Yet, it also seems unavoidable as Wikipedia became more prominent; I don't think this issue will sink Wikipedia, and hope it is amendable to continued good faith discussion and hard work. I don't subscribe to the perpetual growth theory that seems to be the presumption of many of the participants of Wikipedia Weekly -- and the world markets prior to a year ago. I think Wikipedia will survive even though/if the number of contributors levels off and flag revisions are enabled. The latter feature might prompt a flurry of stories about how Wikipedia is over, but it might stem the flow of future stories about embarrassing vandalism. Wikipedia won't be the same a couple of years from now as it was a couple of years ago, but nothing ever is.

Posted by Moulton at Thu Feb 12 18:07:59 2009
Wikipedia is constructed on an unsustainable model for its intended purpose.

However, the model on which the project is happenstantially constructed is not entirely useless.

In many ways, Jimbo has crafted the Web 2.0's premier Drama Engine, fulfilling an important need of many people who have limited interest in polishing articles of encyclopedic merit, but who have considerable interest in participating in a post-modern theater of the absurd.

Even those who initially took the project at face value (and found it wanting) can still appreciate the usefulness of the site as workshop for political dramaturgy.

Posted by Joseph Reagle at Thu Feb 12 18:11:39 2009
A cynical but amusing commentary!

Posted by David Gerard at Tue Feb 17 09:21:42 2009
The typical time of being an active Wikipedian appears to be 12-18 months. (I'm looking for the paper on this, by Elonka Dunin.) The stated reason for the disillusionment may not take this into consideration.

Open Communities, Media, Source, and Standards

by Joseph Reagle