Has Wikipedia peaked? Was it just a fad? These are questions that people are asking today after an independent analysis found that activity over at the popular online encyclopedia has been declining. More specifically, editing has been down 20% while new account creation is down 30%. Wikipedia hasn’t bothered to update their statistics page for just about two years which is why the analysis was conducted independently.
So what does this mean? In my opinion, I see this as more of a natural decline. There is SO much information already available on Wikipedia and at some point, it was bound to drop. A drop in editing and new account creation doesn’t mean that Wikipedia’s growth has come to a halt by any means, nor does it mean that it was just a fad. I think the more important question to ask is how many people use Wikipedia as a “read-only” service and don’t contribute? I’m definitely one of those people. I’ve never once contributed, but I sure do read it and I think at this point, that’s how the majority of people will use Wikipedia.
The graph below from Compete.com shows us that Wikipedia’s traffic has actually increased over the last several months:
Beta News points out how this decline could also be from recent arguments among the site’s community. They write, “Those known as the “deletionsists” seem quick with the delete key and have high standards for “notability.” However “inclusionists” disagree, saying that articles shouldn’t be deleted quickly because they may be expanded later” It’s possible that the disagreement over what should and shouldn’t be included could be keeping some of their biggest contributors from adding new content to the site.
In other related news, Wikipedia is making the big move from Florida to San Francisco – the Technology capital of the U.S. They’ll make the move in January, and once they move, they plan to hire on more staff to add to the six full-time employees that they currently have. According to Florence Devouard, chair of the Wikimedia Foundation, “San Francisco is the center of high-tech in the United States and will give the foundation access to a rich array of resources.” Considering how long Wikipedia has been around, I’m surprised they didn’t make the move sooner. They join the long list of other tech companies who have left their homes to relocate in California.