Posted on August 5, 2011 ยท Posted in General

ReadWriteWeb recently posted an article wondering if Wikipedia is losing editors and I wanted to share some of my thoughts and experiences on contributing to Wikipedia.

I was never appointed an editor but in my prime I made at least 20 edits per month on everything from medical diseases to rap music to cities in Texas to obscure Mac apps from the mid-1990s. At first it’s fun to go in and make a meaningful edit to a page but then your edits slowly begin to give you less satisfaction as you correct poor grammar, SEO spam and vandalism. Finally I gave up and now I only make edits if I come upon a page that really needs changes. I no longer care about poor grammar or someone that’s managed to sneak in a link to their MLM site. I became disillusioned with the system and I have a few suggestions to make Wikipedia more accessible and less frustrating to manage.

Reducing Spam on Wikipedia

  • Require registration before editing. 95% of my vandalism / SEO spam reversions were from people that didn’t have an account. Requiring an extra step before someone can make malicious edits would cause a significant drop in spam because people don’t like making the extra effort.
  • The first 10 edits of a user have to be approved by an editor. Again this would reduce spam and the additional required management time would more than make up for time wasted reverting SEO spam
  • Implement a one strike rule for spammers. Currently there is a lenient system of warnings and getting banned requires a lot of work.

Improving Accessibility

  • Currently there is no wysiwyg editor and the markup language presented when someone wants to edit is difficult to engage with. People want to make meaningful contributions but it’s difficult when they are presented with a giant wall of text
  • Simplify photo rules and have an easy guide for people who want to upload images

Fixing the People Problem

  • Pay editors. Think of all the people with advanced degrees that would be able to contribute their academic expertise to Wikipedia if they had some incentive.
  • Work to stop the internal politics. Wikipedia editors can be very power hungry and I’ve seen legitimate articles nominated for deletion because someone wanted to flex their muscles or pick a fight with a rival editor.