Take This Blog and Shove It!
When utopian ideals crash into human nature—sloth triumphs.Illustration by David Plunkert
In the history of the web, last spring may figure as a tipping point. That’s when Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”—a site that grew from 100,000 articles in 2003 to more than 15 million today—began to falter as a social movement. Thousands of volunteer editors, the loyal Wikipedians who actually write, fact-check, and update all those articles, logged off—many for good. For the first time, more contributors appeared to be dropping out than joining up. Activity on the site has remained stagnant, according to a spokesperson for the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit behind the site, and it’s become “a really serious issue.” So serious, in fact, that this fall Wikipedia will turn to something it has never needed before: recruiters.
Important reality check. Crowd sourcing is fascinating, and cool, but driven by exogenous factors — much, one might think, like open source.