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Yerevan Web Meetings: “Facebookization” - one of the challenges for Wikipedia


Chair of Wikimedia Germany Sebastian Moleski
Chair of Wikimedia Germany Sebastian Moleski

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax


Yerevan/Mediamax/. The master class of Wikimedia Germany Chair Sebastian Moleski within Yerevan Web Meetings 2011, a project implemented by Mediamax with VivaCell-MTS general sponsorship, was held in Yerevan on October 16.

Sebastian Moleski’s presentation focused on the basic principles of Wiki ideology, operation of the Wikipedia community of volunteers, history of foundation and development of the free encyclopedia.

In 2001, upon the foundation, the self-organized encyclopedia which can be edited by all the interested persons was available only in English. 24 thousand articles were submitted into the encyclopedia over the first year of its foundation and their number in the English Wikipedia currently makes 3.7mln.

German Wikipedia was also set up in 2001 and it was replenished with 3 000 articles over the first year, whereas it currently makes 1.3mln materials yielding only to the English version by the number of articles.

As a comparison, it should be noted that the overall number of articles in the Armenian Wikipedia makes 15 thousand and 8 editors go to 1million of Armenian-speaking users whereas, for instance, this number is three times more in the English version of the encyclopedia.

Sebastian Moleski said that the encyclopedia is currently available in 280 languages; it comprises overall 19mln articles and is the sixth largest website in the world by traffic.

According to Sebastian Moleski, the encyclopedia faces challenges at present, and the continuing decline in the number of editors, their gender disproportion (90% of them are men) and “Facebookization” are the major ones.

Explaining “Facebookization” effect, Sebastian Moleski said that people’s culture of interaction with social website changes due to expansion of social networks. People get more direct interaction with websites and the content dissemination becomes much easier whereas one should observe certain rules and principles to interact with the encyclopedia.

Sebastian Moleski noted that Wikimedia elaborates a number of strategic plans to face the risks and challenges. In particular, they plan to launch certain systems of volunteers’ encouragement, including contests and other initiatives. Wikimedia pays special attention to the cooperation with educational institutions of various countries which results in the quality growth of the encyclopedia.

As a result, the Wikimedia Fund expects stopping of outflow of editors, activation of volunteers in the “Global South” and increasing their share up to 27% (the overwhelming portion of the encyclopedia’s content is currently generated in the U.S. and Europe).

Wikipedia has one more ambitious goal: it aims to increase the share of quality articles (with rich references and bibliography) up to 25% till 2015. According to Sebastian Moleski, this goal is planned to be reached owing to cooperation with universities, contests and other initiatives.

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