WASHINGTON — WIKIPEDIA has come a long way since it started in 2001. With around 70,000 volunteers editing in over 100 languages, it is by far the world’s most popular reference site. Its future is also uncertain.华盛顿——自2001年创办以来,维基百科(Wikip

本文摘要:WASHINGTON — WIKIPEDIA has come a long way since it started in 2001. With around 70,000 volunteers editing in over 100 languages, it is by far the world’s most popular reference site. Its future is also uncertain.华盛顿——自2001年创办以来,维基百科(Wikip


WASHINGTON — WIKIPEDIA has come a long way since it started in 2001. With around 70,000 volunteers editing in over 100 languages, it is by far the world’s most popular reference site. Its future is also uncertain.华盛顿——自2001年创办以来,维基百科(Wikipedia)获得了相当大变革。它是迄今为止全世界最热门的参照网站,有约七万名志愿者用100多种语言对其展开编辑。

但它的未来也充满著了不确定性。One of the biggest threats it faces is the rise of smartphones as the dominant personal computing device. A recent Pew Research Center report found that 39 of the top 50 news sites received more traffic from mobile devices than from desktop and laptop computers, sales of which have declined for years.维基百科面对的仅次于威胁之一是智能手机的兴起,它已沦为占有主导地位的个人计算出来设备。

皮尤研究中心(Pew Research Center)最近公布的一项报告找到,在前50家新闻网站中,39家网站接管的来自移动设备的流量,多达来自台式机和笔记本电脑的流量。而台式机和笔记本电脑的销量多年来仍然呈圆形下降趋势。

This is a challenge for Wikipedia, which has always depended on contributors hunched over keyboards searching references, discussing changes and writing articles using a special markup code. Even before smartphones were widespread, studies consistently showed that these are daunting tasks for newcomers. “Not even our youngest and most computer-savvy participants accomplished these tasks with ease,” a 2009 user test concluded. The difficulty of bringing on new volunteers has resulted in seven straight years of declining editor participation.对一向依赖志愿者在键盘前弓身查询参考文献、辩论更改后用一种类似的标记代码编写文章的维基百科来说,这是一个挑战。甚至在智能手机普遍普及之前,就有研究完全一致指出,这些对新人来说是艰难的任务。


In 2005, during Wikipedia’s peak years, there were months when more than 60 editors were made administrator — a position with special privileges in editing the English-language edition. For the past year, it has sometimes struggled to promote even one per month.在维基百科尚能处在巅峰时期的2005年,有几个月里被升任管理员的编辑多达60人。这些管理员在编辑英文版维基百科时拥有类似权限。而过去一年里,有时候每月提高一名管理员都很难。The pool of potential Wikipedia editors could dry up as the number of mobile users keeps growing; it’s simply too hard to manipulate complex code on a tiny screen.随着移动用户人数持续减少,潜在的维基百科编辑群可能会消失。

在一个小屏幕上操作者简单代码觉得太难了。The nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia’s operations but is not directly involved in content, is investigating solutions. Some ideas include touch-screen tools that would let Wikipedia editors sift through information and share content from their phones.非营利性的维基媒体基金会(Wikimedia Foundation)负责管理维基百科的运营,但不直接参与内容编成。该基金会正在研究解决办法。现在的一些点子还包括设置触摸屏工具,让维基百科的编辑能在手机上仔细检查信息并共享内容。

What has not suffered is fund-raising. The foundation, based in San Francisco, has a budget of roughly $60 million. How to fairly distribute resources has long been a topic of debate. How much should go to regional chapters and affiliates, or to groups devoted to non-English languages? How much should stay in the foundation to develop software, create mobile apps and maintain infrastructure?不过资金筹措方面仍未受到影响。总部坐落于旧金山的该基金会的支出大体为6000万美元(约合3.7亿元人民币)。如何公平地分配资源仍然是一个争论点。

应当给地区性分支和附属机构,以及致力于非英语语言版本的团体分多少?为了开发软件和移动应用于,以及确保基础设施,基金会要留给多少钱?These tensions run through the community. Last year the foundation took the unprecedented step of forcing the installation of new software on the German-language Wikipedia. The German editors had shown their independent streak by resisting an earlier update to the site’s user interface. Against the wishes of veteran editors, the foundation installed a new way to view multimedia content and then set up an Orwellian-sounding “superprotect” feature to block obstinate administrators from changing it back.这些紧绷关系不存在于整个维基界中。去年,基金会史无前例地擅自在德语版维基百科上加装了新的软件。


The latest clash had repercussions in the election this year for seats to the Wikimedia Foundation’s board of trustees — the most influential positions that volunteers can hold. The election — a record 5,000 voters turned out, nearly three times the number from the previous election — was a rebuke to the status quo; all three incumbents up for re-election were defeated, replaced by critics of the superprotect measures. Two other members will leave the 10-member board at the end of this year. Meanwhile, the foundation’s new executive director, Lila Tretikov, has been hiring developers from the world of open-source technology, and their lack of experience with Wikipedia content has concerned some veterans.距今最近的冲突,影响到了今年维基媒体基金会董事会席位的议会选举。这是志愿者能兼任的最有影响力的职位。此次议会选举是对现状的反驳。


与此同时,基金会的新任继续执行董事丽拉·特拉蒂科夫(Lila Tretikov)仍然在从开源科技界召募研发人员,但他们与维基百科内容有关的工作经验的短缺让一些资深人士深感忧虑。Could the pressure from mobile, and the internal tensions, tear Wikipedia apart? A world without it seems unimaginable, but consider the fate of other online communities. Founded in 1985, at the dawn of the Internet, the Well, the self-proclaimed “birthplace of the online community movement,” hosted an influential cast of dot-com luminaries on its electronic bulletin board discussion forums. By 1995, it was in steep decline, and today it is a shell of its former self. Blogging, celebrated a decade ago as pioneering an exciting new form of personal writing, has decreased significantly in the social-media age.来自移动领域的压力,以及内部的紧绷关系不会最后毁坏维基百科吗?世界没有了维基百科或许无法想象,但看看其他在线社区的命运吧。自称为“网络社区运动的发源地”的The Well创办于1985年,时值互联网时代的黎明。



在社交媒体时代,十年前被誉为首创了一种激动人心的个人文学创作新形式的博客,已大幅度衰败。These are existential challenges, but they can still be addressed. There is no other significant alternative to Wikipedia, and good will toward the project — a remarkable feat of altruism — could hardly be higher. If the foundation needed more donations, it could surely raise them.这些是牵涉到生死存亡的挑战,但它们还是可以解决问题的。


The real challenges for Wikipedia are to resolve the governance disputes — the tensions among foundation employees, longtime editors trying to protect their prerogatives, and new volunteers trying to break in — and to design a mobile-oriented editing environment. One board member, María Sefidari, warned that “some communities have become so change-resistant and innovation-averse” that they risk staying “stuck in 2006 while the rest of the Internet is thinking about 2020 and the next three billion users.”维基百科确实的挑战是解决问题管理方面的争端,即基金会员工、希望维护既得权利的长年编辑和企图转入权力中心并设计一种以移动设备为导向的编辑环境的新志愿者之间的紧张局势。一位名为玛丽亚·塞菲德里(María Sefidari)的董事会成员警告称之为,“一些团体显得如此杯葛变革、赞成创意”以至于面对着“固步自封在2006年的风险,而互联网的其他参与者正在考虑到2020年和接下来的30亿用户”。For the last few years, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives and other world-class institutions, libraries and museums have collaborated with Wikipedia’s volunteers to improve accuracy, quality of references and depth of multimedia on article pages. This movement dates from 2010, when the British Museum saw that Wikipedia’s visitor traffic to articles about its artifacts was five times greater than that of the museum’s own website. Grasping the power of Wikipedia to amplify its reach, the museum invited a Wikipedia editor to work with its curatorial staff. Since then, similar parternships have been set up with groups like the Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit organization that focuses on evidence-based health care, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.过去几年里,史密森尼学会(Smithsonian Institution)、美国国家档案馆(National Archives)和其他一些世界级机构、图书馆和博物馆与维基百科的志愿者进行合作,以提高准确性、参考文献的质量和文章页面上的多媒体深度。这项措施可追溯到2010年。

当时,大英博物馆(British Museum)找到,维基百科上有关其藏品的文章的访问量,是它自己网站的五倍。该博物馆确切地意识到,可以利用维基百科的力量来不断扩大自己的影响力,于是邀维基百科的一名编辑和自己的策展员工合作。

从那时起,维基百科还和注目循证医疗保健的非营利性的组织科克伦协作网(Cochrane Collaboration)及美国疾病掌控与防治中心(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)等的组织创建起了类似于的合作关系。These are vital opportunities for Wikipedia to tap external expertise and enlarge its base of editors. It is also the most promising way to solve the considerable and often-noted gender gap among Wikipedia editors; in 2011, less than 15 percent were women.这些是维基百科利用外部专业知识,并不断扩大编辑基础的最重要机会,也是解决问题经常被提及的维基百科编辑中性别差距极大这个问题最不具潜力的方法。2011年,其女性编辑所占到比例严重不足15%。

The worst scenario is an end to Wikipedia, not with a bang but with a whimper: a long, slow decline in participation, accuracy and usefulness that is not quite dramatic enough to jolt the community into making meaningful reforms.最差劲的局面是维基百科不是轰然倒地,而是抽泣着爬到向走过:参与度、准确性和简单性长年较慢下降,轻微程度却足以让这个群体惊醒释怀,以展开有意义的改革。No effort in history has gotten so much information at so little cost into the hands of so many — a feat made all the more remarkable by the absence of profit and owners. In an age of Internet giants, this most selfless of websites is worth saving.史上没哪项活动能以如此较低的成本向这么多人获取这么多信息。




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