"Wikipedia is like any other organization," Matei told me. "Leaders matter tremendously. They invested so much of their time and seeded the collaboration process."
In this respect, Wikipedia isn't that much different from other for-profit social media companies. And like these companies, its leadership has created its own share of problems. In a publicly available audit of its volunteer editors published in 2011, the Wikimedia Foundation found that the overwhelming majority—91 percent—of its editors were male. The Foundation set itself a goal of bolstering female representation among editors to 25 percent, but as of 2013—the most recent year this data has been collected and published—84 percent of editors were male.
The number of active editors in general has also been on a decline since 2006. In 2011, the Wikimedia Foundation set itself a goal of 200,000 active editors by 2015, and today it is still 70,000 editors short of that mark.
As detailed in a 2013 feature in the MIT Technology Review, the decline of active editors with more than 10 edits under their belt has been attributed to the increasingly bureaucratic nature of the editing process. The semi-automation and stricter editing process was initially launched as a way to combat vandalism on Wikipedia pages. Although the new protocols did result in a decrease in vandalism, it also resulted in a steep drop off of new editors that stayed 2 months after their first edit.
The shrinking number and lack of diversity among Wikipedia editors is troubling. Not only does it skew the information available in the largest encyclopedia ever created toward topics geared for Western, male audiences, these biases are then also liable to crop up in the increasing number of artificial intelligences that use Wikipedia as their training data.
According to Matei, however, the solution isn't likely to be found through the distribution of content production to larger groups of people. He thinks a strong core of leaders is indispensable to Wikipedia's success so it's more about how to encourage more diverse leadership.
"You can open Wikipedia editing up to more people, but projects that do that tend to flounder," Matei said. "The better question to ask is, 'How can we diversity the people at the top?'"
Also posted on Slashdot, where it attracted the usual numerous complaints about patrollers and abusers. I no longer see WP fans/insiders on Slashdot arguing their case or trying to shout down critics.
https://tech.slashdot.org/story/17/11/0 ... edium=feed
FWIW: I gave Matei the 2011 edit logs they used to assemble this study, because no one at the WMF could be "officially" bothered to keep the logs around. I also told him some of WP's most serious problems, like the declining participation and high turnover and baked-in biases and lunatic admin gang. You know, little things like that.
Sadly they failed to notice the large percentage of this article creation and editing being performed by bots. I figure it's hovering around 40-50% at present and could easily be more. And as usual, the journalists are calling Jimbugger the "Sole Flounder".