Wikipedia's smaller growth shows the masses may not be as reliable as we need
Jan 31, 2013
Wikipedia's growth slowdown highlights the importance of heavy users in crowdsourcing initiatives.
The massive expansion of the digital community in the last decade and a half has spawned various phenomena - such as crowdsourcing and long tail, for example - and gives (or rather, still gives) the feeling that the growth of the digital economy may be eternal. This impression, a legitimate child of capitalism, is misleading. Digital phenomena also have limits. The slowdown in activity that keeps Wikipedia alive is a sign of this. Heavy users are limited in number and ventures based on crowdsourcing will increasingly need resources from gamification. The ability to attract users willing to participate is increasingly the soul of the business.
Wikipedia is perhaps the most finished example of production through crowdsourcing, as it has developed a very efficient quality control system for its size. Its growth in size and engagement over the last decade has made the URL one of the most visited. It has become a reference for students and journalists and manages to have entries that are spectacularly deep. However, it was to be expected that the increase in traffic would have a limit. Not everyone had the habit of consulting encyclopedias and you cannot make an illiterate a reader without teaching him to read first.
The drop in growth does not mean stagnation. The site has about 360 million readers and one hundred thousand active contributors to handle the 25 million articles in 275 languages. The pace of increase in this number is what falls, indicating once again that the most valuable resource of a community or site are its heavy users and they tend to be increasingly valued as the Internet reaches its saturation.
[caption id=“” align=“aligncenter” width=“592”] Wikipedia's monthly growth rate.[/caption]
The size of Wikipedia combined with the slowdown of its growth (again: traffic continues to grow - only the pace has decreased), however, indicates delicate questions that the management of the service will have to make. The contributors of the digital encyclopedia have their scarce time disputed by numerous focuses of attention, such as other sites and social networks and it is in this fight that Wiki will have to reinvent itself, just like any other crowdsourcing initiative.
This reinvention involves a treatment to renew the stimulus of the collaborators. There are a number of resources available (including cash payments, of course), but gamification is probably what will grow the most, because it involves much less material resources than strategy. The stimuli of collaborators on crowdsourcing platforms are widely modifiable, ranging from rankings to different statuses, or, in more sophisticated cases, through the creation of virtual prizes (like badges or credits) or materials, depending on the nature of the project.
The growth and saturation of the virtual environment tend to force the managers of these services to compete for these users capable of lifting large projects like worker bees in a hive. In the case of Wikipedia, specifically, a stronger investment in social sharing and optimization for easy use of content through feeds signed by the project would certainly impact the recruitment of new members. There is no imminent risk for the world's largest encyclopedia for now, but in the digital environment, the next step always has to be taken in advance.