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Wikipedia denies editor exodus


By Stuart Turton

Posted on 1 Dec 2009 at 08:39

Wikipedia has refuted suggestions that volunteer contributors are abandoning the site in droves.

A report by Dr Felipe Ortega of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid revealed that Wikipedia lost 49,000 of its contributors in the first three months of 2009. The figure was ten times higher than during the same period in 2008.

However, the group responsible for maintaining Wikipedia has hit back at the figures, claiming they're inaccurate.

"It’s important to note that Dr Ortega’s study of editing patterns defines as an editor anyone who has made a single edit, however experimental," responds Erik Moeller, deputy director of the Wikimedia Foundation, on his blog.

By our narrower definition, just under a million people can be counted as editors across all languages

"This results in a total count of three million editors across all languages. In our own analytics, we choose to define editors as people who have made at least five edits.

"By our narrower definition, just under a million people can be counted as editors across all languages combined. Both numbers include both active and inactive editors."

According to Moeller, the number of people contributing to Wikipedia peaked in 2007, dipped during 2008 and has since stabilised. "Every month, some people stop writing, and every month, they are replaced by new people," Moeller noted.

He also took umbrage with the study's definition of a lapsed editor. "It's impossible to make a determination that a person has left and will never edit again, there are methodological challenges with determining the long term trend of joining and leaving."

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User comments

So he's just changed the definition of an editor?

That's a horrible, weasely way to win an argument.

He's done nothing about the fact that 10x more people were recorded not coming back than the year before. It's a pretty good piece of information - why isn't he dealing with it?

By steviesteveo on 1 Dec 2009

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