Staple student reference site Wikipedia has come under some hard times recently. The English language version of the site is crying out for $7.5 million USD worth of support to keep the site up and running and more crucially, free.
Research carried out by Felipe Ortega, from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid suggests that if the downward trend continued it could spell problems for the site. "If the negative trend is maintained for too much time, say one or two years, eventually the project could enter a problematic phase," he said.
A further kick in the teeth for Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopaedia, is being reported on by the BBC News' Technology page, where new University research suggests that Wikipedia "lost" 49,000 of its volunteer editors in the first three months of 2009, compared to a meagre 4,900 over the same period in 2008.
With so many individuals dropping from the site, there are fears that perhaps the novelty of Wikipedia has worn thin. The website, which provides a service as an online encyclopaedia is a popular reference website, with students especially in regular use of it; becoming famous at universities and colleges for being a help with assignments and essays. It provides an important academic and general point of reference upon the internet. More of a community of people, writing articles about things they feel that they are knowledgeable, rather than a site full of qualified academics - It is a communally designed website, which encourages its visitors to act as editors and make any editorial changes as they see fit.
Despite the obvious concern surrounding the drop in editors, Wikimedia UK, a chapter of the organization that operates Wikipedia, has denied that it means the site is struggling. It says that it is seeking more expert contributors. "We're trying to engage a bit more at the moment with people who are very knowledgeable, people who are experts, so working with museums was the obvious next step," said Michael Peel of Wikimedia UK to the BBC.
"Wikipedia is definitely not dying. It's freely licensed which means that content that has been added will be there forever," he added in an interview with The Times newspaper.