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Is Wikipedia in a recruitment crisis?

Wikipedia, the huge online encyclopaedia, has seen a decline in the number of new admin approvals in the last couple of months – prompting fears of a crisis.

While anyone can contribute to the site, only a select few are admins – able to delete posts, block certain contributors or protect pages from being vandalised.

There are currently 1,461 Wikipedia admins, but this year has seen a drop off in the number of new admin applications.

May and June saw just one or two users granted admin status, compared to around 68 approved in December 2005 and an average of 40 a month in 2006 and 2007.

Decline in Wikipedia editors

The recent poor rate of admin approvals is also worse than last year, when an average of 12 new admins were approved each month. So far this year there have been just nine admin approvals.

The number of new editors is also in decline, with the last Wikipedia house assessment showing that new editors have fallen by 22%.

The number of editors peaked in 2007, and it has long been known that their numbers have been falling ever since. But the decline new admins could be a sign that this lack of participation is spreading.

No Wikipedia crisis, says Wales

However, Jimmy Wales, the found of Wikipedia, was quick to deny there is an admin recruitment crisis of any kind and told the BBC:

“The number of admins has been stable for about two years, there’s really nothing going on”

The admin decline has been put down in part to the rigorous recruitment process, which requires applicants to write essays, answer questions on copyright law and deal with hypothetical situations.

Wales has said there are no plans to make the process any easier, as an admin role is a vital one to ensuring the credibility of the website.

There is no doubt that Wikipedia is one of the best things to ever come out of the internet. But with more than four million pages, the number of admins might need to grow in order to maintain quality.

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