Wikipedia Co-founder Defends Site

Wikipedia is often a battleground for contested information, and now Jimmy Wales, one of the site’s co-founders, is contradicting a new study that indicates a huge dip in the number of volunteer editors. “Our internal numbers don’t confirm all the claims made,” he said. “The new editors are replaced at about the same pace as existing editors are leaving.” The study showed that in the first three months of 2009, 49,000 volunteer editors left the site, a drop ten times higher than the year before. Wales sees this as a stabilization of Wikipedia’s rapid initial growth, pointing to finite numbers of potential editors. “You can’t keep growing forever, there are only so many people on the Internet,” he said. The site has also been criticized recently for a new process called “flagged revisions,” in which a group of select editors fact-checks any updates to the page of a living person before the information is published. Though it comes in response to a growing number of pranks and vandalism, the move has been criticized as a departure from the site’s core values. “There is a mythology that Wikipedia used to be a crazy anarchy, but that just isn’t true,” responds Wales. “We have an ongoing trend towards openness–which is getting more open.”