Is Wikipedia nearly 'finished'?

If you do a basic online search for something, chances are that Wikipedia will pop up in your results. Anyone can edit this encyclopedia, so if you're interested in adding information about robots, for example, you can. This free content is published in dozens of different languages and the count of English-language articles alone is over four million.

Despite Wikipedia's popularity, the number of contributors are dwindling. Historian Richard Jensen explains why in his article "Military History on the Electronic Frontier: Wikipedia Fights the War of 1812″:

Most of the major articles in Wikipedia were written in 2006-2007, and have gotten relatively little attention from editors since then. The busiest season was the summer of 2006, when 2,000 new articles appeared every day. After an encyclopedia reaches 100,000 articles, the pool of good material shrinks. By the time one million articles are written, it must tax ingenuity to think of something new.

Since it's well over one million articles, there just isn't that much left for volunteer editors to add. So, the folks behind Wikipedia are considering hosting textbooks and courses, along with other features that could improve usability. According to Richard Jensen:

Wikipedia is now a mature reference work with a stable organizational structure and a well-established reputation. The problem is that it is not mature in a scholarly sense. The amateurs are enthusiastic for details but cannot see the forest that has been mapped out in the historiography.

He suggests giving the most motivated volunteers access to scholarly journals to turn Wikipedia into a more dependable source for information.

Check out the 1990 commercial below advertising Encyclopedia Britannica — remember these?

Via NBC News

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