Contributors Flee Wikipedia's Stricter Rules

Effort to combat bias, vandalism has thinned ranks by 49K
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2009 10:18 AM CST
The Wikipedia home page.   (Wikipedia)

(Newser) – In an attempt to rein in the lawlessness and veiled opinion running rampant among its volunteer editors, Wikipedia may have shot itself in the foot. In the first 3 months of this year, there's been something of a stampede of contributors exiting the crowdsourced online encyclopedia, leading to a net loss of 49,000, analysis shows, compared to just 4,900 in the same period a year earlier. And some blame new restrictions meant to curb vandalism in a community where one of the rules used to be “Ignore all rules.”

“Wikipedia is becoming a more hostile environment,” the researcher who noticed the trend tells the Wall Street Journal. “Many people are getting burnt out.” The new rules require a more thorough vetting of certain articles after a recent uptick in blatant lies and biased articles, and at least one expert thinks the falloff may be a good thing. “It's too many cooks in the kitchen,” he says. Perhaps so—though participation has fallen off, the number of visitors is booming.