Wikimedia in CRISIS

Wikimedia in CRISIS

Edited by author.
Last edit: 12:25, 2 November 2010
look at page 10
This research is going to be replaced
you may want to turn-off Greasemonkey Reflect before reading this

Summary: As proposed using corporate life-cycle theory here, Wikimedia is entering a Participation Crisis. Number of active users will soon start to fall, as occured in mature wikis. This will almost immediately and directly damage Wikipedia-movement, starting with the fall of small wikis.

StrategyWiki has started and finished planning JUST IN TIME to both detect and solve the Issue. While the issue can only[1] be cured with a change in movement's MAIN TREND; there are still obstacles that will avoid the change to start.

Detail: You can read this table from top to bottom just like an article.

In slide 10 of this presentation Mr. Jimmy Wales says: "Number of active contributors appear to plateau as Wikipedias mature. is this a threat to future health and growth?"
  1. Threat? yes. I have evidence
  2. Plateau? No. plateau means flattening. but the number is falling (look at page 10)
organization maturity life-cycle or corporate life-cycle theory:

Every organization's growth from infancy to mature level is having the same challenge; the profit first slowly then rapidly grows and then slows down until it falls. this is shown in the picture.


  • 1 and 2
  • There are many books written about it.
  • please add the wikipedia article link here
This is a practical sociology theory on which organizations world-wide, base their growth.

Examples are:

  • 1, 2 and 3 can give you a better understanding.
  • It is even true about the economy of a country; it has been used in one of the best Revolution theories before 1970. the Soviet union's economy after World War started to fall causing a revolution that has been explained using these two theories. [2]
the corporate life-cycle theory suggests that the MAIN TREND of the corporation, if healthy, can guarantee profit for a while. but the company must start growing a new trend before the profit peak to replace the previous trend afterwards. that is in the red point; when the profit gained from the new trend is higher.
the solution for Wikimedia is to slowly and steadily replace the current trend with a new trend that increases the number of users again and in the red point as shown in figure 5 here.

StrategyWiki has detected the maturity peak just in time. but some obstacles don't let us start solving it:

6 current priorities; with a temporary key change.






1st: movement priorities aim "to Improve" the movement. not to "rescue" it.

2nd: while zero increase in readership, quality and innovation is not likely to harm Wikipedia in this 3 years, we have two threats:

  1. the upcoming definite fall in participation will immediately and directly injure Wikipedia-movement
  2. Infrastructure (money, hardware, ...) seems to be our next main challenge.[3]

Thus participation must become the main goal for 2 years. other priorities must be a tool for achieving it. this will be temporary of course. until the challenge is over.

3rd: neither the community, nor the StrategyWiki has predicted the fall in the participation.
  • Look at the picture. the only predictions are no growth and linear growth
  • Look at this survey. It's also good to see the published reslts.
  • Look at this. it says: "the Wikimedia movement has already achieved great things. We think greater things are possible if we can"
  • Dig the site. find something about any threat. everyone is aware of the lacks. but no one has felt a threat
4th: the community is not well aware of it's possible outcomes:
  • Wikimedia is not automated for many simple tasks.
  • It relies on it's users more than it's infrastructure
  • while the users don't rely on quality, innovation, and even infrastructure to continue editing. they only need ...

5th: thus the community is not even going to partially achieve it by chance. thus:

  • proposals are great, but Idealistic and focused on unimportant aspects.
  • The community is optimistic about the future.


  1. As proposed by the organization life-cycle theory.
  2. I saw it on Wikipedia once; but after 90 minutes search I couldn't find it. I think it has been removed because it compares US and Russia to US's favor which is not neutral
Saeed.Veradi21:53, 10 October 2010

I think the crisis comes not because the "current trend" is exhausted, but because it was usurped by one which is damaging. Specifically, I refer to "deletionism".

Obviously the growth of Wikipedia requires that articles be created and expanded about ever more detailed information. This means creating articles about more and more obscure things. The general notability guideline should mostly allow this - the creation of articles about anything for which good sources can be found. But in practice we see articles routinely deleted despite a great number of sources, not uncommonly out of personal bias. Information is disparaged because it is "too detailed" or "too technical". Knowledge needed to actually run a commercial operation, rather than merely act as a passive consumer, is deemed unworthy if not dangerous and faces an uphill battle.

These things create the impression that the resources for continued growth - active projects where people can make a difference - have become scarce. But the scarcity is artificial. End the deletionism, and growth phase will return.

Wnt01:22, 12 October 2010

It's more complicated than blaming one small group of Wikipedians for everything. The reality is that Wikipedia has processes for organization and decision-making that work well when you have a few users, a few articles, and very little scrutiny. Once you have thousands of users, thousands of articles, and all kinds of media attention, things become more complicated. It's easy for a few editors with similar values to figure something out. It's harder for hundreds of editors to actually agree on something, let alone when you have pressure of avoiding lawsuits and embarrassing errors in the background.

It's time for Wikipedia to improve how it makes decisions and resolves disputes. It's still a powerful and idealistic model that can be used on smaller articles. But for larger issues that affect a wide range of content and behavior, we need to empower change and progress. Allowing one or two editors to hold everything back prevents the whole system from evolving.

Which goes to Saeed Varadi's point: organizations that don't reinvent themselves every few years die out. Can Wikipedia really survive if the technology is basically the same as 2001, and the policies are basically the same as 2007?

Randomran01:08, 16 October 2010

The same stuff yet again :(

Blaming one group for everything that goes bad is always the easiest solution to not assume its own part of responsibility in the situation. Do people need so much bads guys so they can identify themselves as the good guys? Joke aside, there are plenty stuffs to be written about which would also pass inclusion guidelines but no one write about them. The reason is simple as What potentially can be written about != What i want to write about. This reflects what capabilities & subjects of interest our current contributors demography can offer.

My summary of how it is de-facto:

  • Wiki initiative capability: Limited
  • Wiki reaction capability: High

Bottom line on Wiki big changes happen near-exclusively through crisis.

KrebMarkt06:51, 23 October 2010

Deletionists are not truly "a group of editors", but rather, the current users of bad policies and precedents. An editor is not born deletionist, and railing against them is not the same kind of thing as blaming everything on the Jews. Once policies are established which hinder deletionism, there will be fewer people trying to push things that way, and hence, fewer deletionists.

Wnt23:01, 12 March 2011

Which policies do you think are "bad"? Policies by definition represent consensus areas. I see much more damage coming from editors who try to do whatever they want, consensus be damned.

Randomran22:49, 14 March 2011

I created a graph comparing actual Active Wikipedians versus the Strategy goal. I intend to update this on a regular basis (once every three months). By the way: The number of Total active Wikipedians is rather constant since 2008, the active English Wikipedians is falling slowly.

Update 19 oct: I added lines for top 2-10 and other wikipedias, (loose interpretation of mature and emerging projects)

HenkvD14:35, 17 October 2010

Thanks. if you just remove the picture's border it will appear better in the main article. thismight help you.

Saeed.Veradi07:24, 24 October 2010

People who are interested in this topic can join the discussion at Editor Trends Study.

Drdee03:28, 28 October 2010

I moved it here from the Village pump. I'll delete the subpage and change the links to here. then start merging the "useful" parts in the page itself. Is it good?

Saeed.Veradi05:09, 30 October 2010

If there is something like a "maturity life-cycle" we should compare a large Wikipedia with a midsize and small Wikipedia. Maybe we should define "large" not in size of number of articles, but in percentage of editors to the population.

Goldzahn10:19, 23 March 2011