Jimmy Wales denies Wikipedia admin recruitment crisis

Jimmy Wales Wikipedia is testing ways of increasing engagement with its users

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has disputed reports the online encyclopaedia could suffer because of a lack of new administrators.

The number of users being granted administrator status is falling, Wikimedia Foundation figures show.

While anyone can edit the website, some - the admins - are given the ability to carry out tasks such as deleting posts.

The news has added to concerns about declining user participation in the site.

There are 1,461 appointed admins on the site, but the rate at which new ones are being approved has dropped significantly.

The figures, detailed in The Atlantic magazine, show only two users were granted admin status between May and June this year compared with 10 over the same two months in 2011.

But Mr Wales told the BBC he was unconcerned.

"The number of admins has been stable for about two years, there's really nothing going on," he said.

The process for vetting admins, which had been criticised for being "arduous", was not set to become more lenient, Mr Wales added.

The Wikipedia Revolution author, Andrew Lih, had told The Atlantic the process was "pretty much a hazing ritual at this point... akin to putting someone through the Supreme Court".

Start Quote

Declining participation is by far the most serious problem facing the Wikimedia projects”

End Quote Wikimedia Foundation Annual report
'Serious problem'

Wikipedia, which continues to grow in popularity, has admitted the number of active general users - those without admin privileges - on the site is declining.

While being seen as a vital research resource for millions around the world, the site relies entirely on its mass of volunteers keeping tabs on new articles and editing inaccuracies on its pages.

In its most recent annual report, the Wikimedia Foundation - the body which oversees Wikipedia and other sites - described the falling numbers as an "intractable" problem.

The report read: "Declining participation is by far the most serious problem facing the Wikimedia projects: the success of the projects is entirely dependent upon a thriving, healthy editing community. We are responding with a multi-faceted approach."

This approach includes recruitment drives in places like Brazil and India.

More recently, the site announced it was working on a tool that would allow users to leave feedback on articles, but not necessarily edit them.

"This new version of Article Feedback provides a new way for readers to contribute productively on Wikipedia," wrote the site's product manager, Fabrice Florin, in a blog post.

"It engages them to make suggestions about articles they are reading — and invites editors to improve these articles based on this feedback.

"Our research also suggests that this new tool can help readers become editors over time."

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