Wikipedia: No Longer Hip, but Still Practical
by David King
1 Comment November 23rd, 2009 Uncategorized
Today the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Volunteers Log Off as Wikipedia Ages” noting the decline in committed editorial volunteers on the online community-generated encyclopedia.
As usual, the most interesting conversation is in the comments, which feature a long list of complaints – not about the volume of volunteers – but the quality. Today’s wiki-contributors have been worn-down by a long, thankless job of editorial policing, and are very trigger happy to delete, but too lazy to make genuine contributions.
Case in point, when updating the company name on an executive profile, an editor reversed our changes as slanderous revisions to a controversial public figure. Did he even look at the changes? Probably not.
One commenter on WSJ even concluded that Wikipedia’s days are numbered. Since editors are not rewarded, they will fade away and Wikis will become grossly outdated antiques. Then, readers will move on to “The Next Big Thing.”
Wikipedia is greatly under-prioritized in the marketing mix, because it’s old enough to have lost its buzz and become a regular, less exciting, part of daily life. Wikipedia doesn’t get headlines for a brisk growth pace, because it’s already grown and still huge.
I don’t think Wikipedia will fade, but people with a motive will learn to make edits that benefit them and their readers, while people without motive will police those with motive. Meanwhile, Google’s Knol offers an interesting alternative that offers incentive through authorship and credit, but still hasn’t gained nearly as much traction in readership.
What do you think is the future of Wikipedia? Have you heard of their competitor Google Knol and will Knol challenge Wikipedia’s dominance?