Holy Grail Part 2

Aaron Swartz’s foundings on Wikipedia are more than interesting.

While Wales makes the claim that “50% of all the edits are done by just .7% of the users … 524 people. … And in fact the most active 2%, which is 1400 people, have done 73.4% of all the edits”, Swartz adds that “Almost every time I saw a substantive edit, I found the user who had contributed it was not an active user of the site. They generally had made less than 50 edits (typically around 10), usually on related pages. Most never even bothered to create an account.”

What more? Swartz says: “Instead of counting edits, as Wales did, I counted the number of letters a user actually contributed to the present article.” More: “few of the contributors (2 out of the top 10) are even registered and most (6 out of the top 10) have made less than 25 edits to the entire site … I ran it on several more randomly-selected articles and the results were much the same.”

Summarized: “an outsider makes one edit to add a chunk of information, then insiders make several edits tweaking and reformatting it. … insiders account for the vast majority of the edits. But it’s the outsiders who provide nearly all of the content.”

I share the experience of two commenters who say: “got fed up of the self-appointed officious jobsworths who would come along minutes later and revert your contribution or substantially modify it (so that it lost the important detail), in order that things would fit “their vision” for the sections they “patrol” and have “made their own”. My time is too valuable to argue with these people, sit monitoring discussion pages, or fight for ages to wrestle control back” and “I wrote several wikipedia articles, where I wrote an entire article up out of nothing. In each case, the article was then “edited” — without any notification to me — by some super-editors, who removed content, and turned what I thought was gosh-darn good writing into crap. I tried to explain to friends my frustrations, and they told me Why do you even bother? Of course it’s just a bunch of self-important snobs. So I went and looked at the people who “edited” my contributions, and saw that my friends were right.”


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