The singularity is not near: slowing growth of Wikipedia


Suh, B.; Convertino, G.; Chi, E. H.; Pirolli, P. L. The singularity is not near: slowing growth of Wikipedia. 5th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (WikiSym); 2009 October 25-27; Orlando, FL. NY: ACM; 2009; article 8.


Prior research on Wikipedia has characterized the growth in content and editors as being fundamentally exponential in nature, extrapolating contemporary trends into the future. We show that recent editing activity suggests that Wikipedia growth has slowed, and perhaps plateaued, indicating that it has come against limits to growth. We measure growth, population shifts, and patterns of editor and administrator activities, contrasting these against past results where possible. Both the rate of page growth and editor growth has declined. We also show that as growth has declined there are indicators of increased coordination and overhead costs, exclusion of newcomers, and resistance to new edits. We discuss some possible explanations for these changes including decreased opportunities for writing up existing knowledge and increased stress on the socio-technical system itself.

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