Unsurprisingly, Nobody Wants to Edit Wikipedia Anymore

Senior Contributor
07.17.12 4 Comments

Have you ever wanted to get lost a lengthy, tedious process to be approved for a volunteer job, a volunteer job where a large part of what you do will be arguing with stupid people at length? No?

Shockingly, Wikipedia is discovering that neither does anybody else, and a look at their “hiring” process shows why.

Applying to become an admin now involves answering questions about copyright law. You have to write essays about notability and explain how you would act in hypothetical situations. And other Wikipedia editors dig deep into your distant edit history, find any testy discussions you got in and grill you about them.

Wikipedia editors have long been noted on the Internet to be a somewhat self-righteous Internet subculture convinced that making sure articles about ’80s sitcoms are “notable” is somehow saving the world. Unsurprisingly, though, that attitude doesn’t make for a great vetting process. Wikipedia is down to promoting only a handful of people to admin status every month. What’s baffling is that they’ve known this is an issue for years and if anything the vetting process is getting worse.

The basic problem is that working for the Wikimedia Foundation is a thankless volunteer job and most people don’t even realize you can volunteer to become an editor in the first place. A second problem, that nobody is talking about, is that Wikipedia went from faddish neat thing to something people just accept. It’s always there, referred to constantly, and everybody finds the pledge drives really annoying. Nobody becomes an editor or an admin because it’s no longer cool to be an editor or an admin. Granted that it never was with most people, but it’s also lost its nerd cache as people defect to Reddit.

In short, a bunch of fussy nerds are finding it really difficult to find a group of nerds as fussy as they are. Shocking, we know.

(Image via Wikipedia)

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Dan Seitz is a grad student and freelance writer. He currently lives in Boston.

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