The Myth of Wikipedia Democracy

“The idea that a lot of people have of Wikipedia is that it’s some
emergent phenomenon–the wisdom of crowds, swarm intelligence, that sort
of thing… like we’re a lot of ants, working in an anthill,” Jimmy
Wales, the site’s co-founder, has said. “It’s kind of a neat analogy, but it turns out it’s actually not much true.”

Wales examined the numbers several years ago and was surprised to
learn that the most active 2 percent of users had performed nearly 75
percent of the edits on the site. “There’s this tight community that is
actually doing the bulk of all the editing,” he said. “I know all of them, and they all know each other.” —The Daily Beast

2 thoughts on “The Myth of Wikipedia Democracy

  1. Good points, Nick. I was on my way out the door when I blogged this and I was considering adding something about how in any reputation-based system, the small percentage of people who find value in doing something for free will do most of it…
    I see it in my own classes with blogging — a handful of students who get really into it spend the most time on it, and contribute the most to class discussions, and gain the most. Another chunk of students spend very little time on it, or don’t do it at all — yet they are still likely to complain that it’s too time-consuming.
    Thanks for the link to the Swartz article.

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