The ongoing story of how the world’s largest encyclopedia gets written comprises several distinct historical eras. An initial linear growth phase, followed by an era of rapid exponential growth, and over the past 7 years a maturation phase characterized by slower growth in article creation and a gradual decline in regular participation among the core community of Wikipedia editors.
Crowd researchers have learned a lot about collaboration from studying Wikipedia during the “peak editing” era. Peak editing (after like peak oil) roughly comprises the years 2006 – 2008 when Wikipedia’s increasing popularity created a huge demand for new content, and there was plenty of encyclopedia work to go around.
Now that Wikipedia is a mature collaboration, does it still have anything new to teach us?
One key to Wikipedias success during this period were WikiProjects, collaborative workspaces (and the teams of workers that inhabit them), focused on coordinating particular kinds of work. Traditionally, that work of WikiProjects has involved editing articles within a particular topic, like Feminism or Military History.