Wikipedia has been an amazing resource built on the contribution of many. It’s the place where you can go just about any time and get pretty accurate information on just about anything. No one seems to know where the information comes from, but they use it all the time. The project is currently faced with the problem that people are becoming less and less committed to the site. They also need more editors and administrators, since they are far outnumbered by the number of patrons.
In 2007, the number of volunteers editing on Wikipedia peaked and has since been in decline. Administrators on the site are responsible for managing the information on the pages, essentially protecting them from vandals. Sysops are people who are nominated to take on the application process for that role. Sysops are not paid, and continue to volunteer their services to the site.
In October 2005, 67 people were promoted to become sysops by Wikipedia. There were many months in 2005 and 2006 where 40 or 50 people would become sysops. Unfortunately, since 2006, the number of people who are interested in working for the site has been in steep decline. In fact, the number of people who were promoted to administrators had fallen into the single digits, causing worry.
Only two people became admins in March 2010, followed by only six in June of the same year. Author of The Wikipedia Revolution, Andrew Lih, who is also a journalism professor at the University of Southern California, said that the process that the new admins go through to become promoted is intense, claiming that the process is essentially a “hazing ritual” now. It’s difficult to imagine anyone going through a hazing ritual in order to do a job for which they are not going to be paid. n
Lih was a Wikipedia admin back in 2003. Back then, someone would nominate you, others would conclude that you were a good choice, and in about a week’s time, you would have new authority on the site. Lih said that the process back then was pretty easy.
Since then, the process has become more arduous. To become an admin these days, you have to answer questions about copyright law, write essays about notability and endure hypothetical simulations. Wikipedia editors would then dig into your history and grill you on it.
Lin, who is not satisfied with this new model says, “It’s a rejection of the commitment [Wikipedia editors] put into the project. Adminships used to be conferred without much fanfare, but now, even if you seek the position, you’re going to get a gigantic amount of scrutiny.” Thats probably why the commitment to the site has dropped so significantly in the last few years. This decline is likely to put Wikipedia in the end of the first era of social media.