A study led by Aaron Halfaker of the University of Minnesota discovered that Wikipedia, one of the world largest web sites, is losing many of its English-language editors making it very difficult to keep up with its goal of being a source of knowledge online.
The study states that the number of volunteer editors or "collaborators" has steadily dropped over the years. Having around 56000 in 2007, the number has almost halved by the end of 2012 with 35,000.
The researchers noted that while there were various reasons like automated programs (bots), another underlying factor was that the rules set in place to keep Wikipedia to maintain quality and consistency has also become so restrictive that it is putting off potential new authors from contributing. Many newcomers are getting discouraged when they voluntarily put in their time and effort only to see their entry deleted.
Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, has stated the need to make Wikipedia more open to newcomers, to keep up with the vast amount of information it is trying to process. But the authors of the study said Wikipedia is being crimped by its rules trying to improve quality. "Wikipedia has changed from 'the encyclopedia that anyone can edit' to 'the encyclopedia that anyone who understands the norms, socializes him or herself, dodges the impersonal wall of semi-automated rejection and still wants to voluntarily contribute his or her time and energy can edit."