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Wikipedia has disputed claims that it has lost a huge number of editors that help maintain the online encyclopaedia.
On 26 November it was reported that ten times more editors had left Wikipedia in early 2009 than during the same period in 2008.
Writing on the blog, Erik Moeller, deputy director of the Wikimedia Foundation, and Erik Zachte, one of its data analysts, said that while Dr Ortega's article comprehensively described the challenges and opportunities facing Wikipedia it mischaracterised the changes in its editing population.
The pair said that the numbers of people contributing to Wikipedia hit a high in early 2007, declined slightly and have since stabilised.
"Every month, some people stop writing, and every month, they are replaced by new people," they wrote.
The confusion arose over the differing definitions of what constitutes an editor. Dr Ortega counted everyone who made one change as an editor giving a total population of three million people.
Report: Wikipedia Loses 49,000 Editors [webmasterworld.com]
Even if it's true no one is going to admit anything. What are they going to say?
The truth, whatever it may be, and what they feel the appropriate reaction should be; short-term and long-term. If there is nothing new or out of line, they should say so. If they have reached a tipping point that will require adapting, they should be honest. It's the last thing that occurs to most people, organizations or companies, but surprisingly useful, IMO.
If the numbers are right, is 1.6% a "mass" exodus?
1) Can the number be trusted?
2) Whatever the 'real' number, it is less how many than who is leaving. If a very small percentage of key people leave an organization, that could easily be enough for small, controllable issues to spin out of control. The Pareto Principal (80 - 20 rule).
3) Is a spiral effect a legitimate concern if the small percentage is an influential group with legitimate issues? If there is a problem and 'Deny, Deny, Deny' is the response the number could move in a hurry. They exist as the result of free effort, work, and content. Those people and their work could find other places to go right quick.