WikiSym 2009 Paper: The Singularity is Not Near: Slowing Growth of Wikipedia

Authors: Bongwon Suh, Gregorio Convertino, Ed H. Chi, and Peter Pirolli (Palo Alto Research Center) (United States)

Abstract:

Prior research on Wikipedia has characterized the growth in content and editors as being fundamentally exponential in nature, extrapolating current trends into the future. We show that recent editing activity suggests that Wikipedia growth has slowed, and perhaps plateaued, indicating that it may have come against its limits to growth. We measure growth, population shifts, and patterns of editor and administrator activities, contrasting these against past results where possible. Both the rate of page growth and editor growth has declined. As growth has declined, there are indicators of increased coordination and overhead costs, exclusion of newcomers, and resistance to new edits. We discuss some possible explanations for these new developments in Wikipedia including decreased opportunities for sharing existing knowledge and increased bureaucratic stress on the socio-technical system itself.

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