First, the birth of Wikipedia.
To when do we go back in time? We go back to 1999, to Jimmy Wales,
one of the founders of Wikipedia. He was an internet entrepreneur
who had a company with two partners. They developed websites and platforms
to make money with. They thought: Let’s build an encyclopaedia.
-They wanted to start an encyclopaedia written by scientists
and with fairly strict editing procedures. With peer reviews, and the idea was
that once they had this encyclopaedia they’d place advertisements to make money.
-A logical internet business model? Yes, after a year they had produced
16 articles so it went very slowly. It was slow and bureaucratic
and it was difficult to find scientists who’d contribute to it so they realised they
wouldn’t find advertisers or investors. And somehow they came across Wiki. Wiki is actually a software application
that runs on a server and that makes it possible
for other people to edit your webpage. It seemed an option to breathe
new life into this encyclopaedia so you could involve a broad audience who all edited
a small part of this encyclopaedia. That turned out to be a success. In the first year,
they had 16 scientific articles. They switched to the other model
and then? Within a month they had 600.
It went like a wildfire. One of the growing pains was
that the site grew very rapidly. There were a lot of visitors,
there were a lot of editors but there were also a lot of vandals
who wanted to turn the site upside down. You need volunteers to keep it neat
and tidy, but they had so much work so they can explain to every newcomer
who makes a mistake how it works but it’s more efficient
to hit the History button to go back a version and it’s all fine
again, but that frustrates people. One of the fears was
that this would make people stay away which would result in excluding
a lot of potential editors. The Holy Shit graph demonstrates that the number of editors dwindled
and people spent less time on it. So there is an established order
that spends time on it and is active but the newcomers stay for a short while. How many people are there
in the Wikipedia community? Not just consumers like most of us are,
but also the active contributors? For the Dutch Wikipedia
that’s about 200 people. A small group does most of the work
and that applies world-wide. That’s one of the issues: the active contributors are
highly-educated Western young men. So there are also many
highly-educated Western young men subjects. Such as sports and technology
that are over-represented while far less knowledge is available
of huge parts of the world.