Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that is written entirely by volunteers and allows anyone to edit its entries, is losing contributors, its founder complained Aug. 4, even as professors at some universities encourage their students to submit entries to the site.
Speaking with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the website’s annual conference, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said the nonprofit company that runs the site is scrambling to simplify editing procedures in an attempt to retain volunteers.
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“We are not replenishing our ranks,” said Wales. “It is not a crisis, but I consider it to be important.”
Administrators of the internet’s fifth most visited website are working to simplify the way users can contribute and edit material. “A lot of it is convoluted,” Wales said. “A lot of editorial guidelines … are impenetrable to new users.”
Wikipedia has more than 3 million entries but has been marred by subjective entries and pranks. Even so, Wikipedia cites studies that compare the website’s accuracy favorably to more conventional encyclopedias, while other studies give it lower marks.
Despite Wikipedia’s wide-reaching popularity, Wales said the typical profile of a contributor is “a 26-year-old geeky male” who moves on to other ventures, gets married and leaves the website.
Other contributors leave because, 10 years after the website was launched, there are fewer new entries to add, he said.
By March, Wikipedia had about 90,000 active contributors. The goal is to tack on another 5,000 by June of next year, said Sue Gardner, executive director of the nonprofit that runs the website.