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Is There Trouble at Wikipedia?

The Wall Street Cheat Sheet (here) asks an even more blunt question:  Is Wikipedia Dying?  In November, The Wall Street Journal reported (here) that volunteers who run the online encyclopedia site have been resigning in significant numbers.  The discontent seems to be that a few "Master Wikipedians" are restricting what lower ranking volunteers input, leading to discontent among the masses.

Two graphics are displayed at The Wall Street Cheat Sheet which have been annotated and are shown here:





The two numbers on the second graph that are hard to read are 30 M (upper number) and 15 M and refer to usage worldwide.  The first graph refers to U.S. usage.

The two graphs lead to different conclusions, although both are negative.  Both the one year and two channels are sloping downward, indicating a contraction of usage.  The rate of decline in the first graph from October, 2008 to October, 2009 is about 0.33 Million users lost per month in the U.S.

The rate of loss worldwide, calculated from the second graph is very similar, 0.29 Million users per month.  However, the number of users lost worldwide from October 2008 to October 2009 (reference line not drawn) is much larger, around 0.90 Million.

The conclusion drawn from the above numbers is that usage of Wikipedia outside the U.S. is shrinking much more rapidly than within the country.  About 4 Million less people in the U.S. used Wikipedia in October 2009 than in the same month in 2008.  That is a 5% decline.  Worldwide, usage for the same one year time period declined by 11 Million per day.  That is a one year usage decline of more than 40%.

Wikipedia may indeed be dying as a worldwide reference.  Another two years like the past twelve months and the rest of the world will have usage not  much more than the U.S.  A year ago the U.S. usage of Wikipedia was about 10% of worldwide usage.  Could that go to nearly 50% in a period of only three years, even as U.S. usage is declining by 10% to 15%?  Extension of current trends would result in just that.  It would be a colossal collapse.     

Disclosure: No stocks mentioned