Wikipedia Looks Hard at Its Culture

Eurene KIM left his conference here on Thursday afternoon to visit the Plaza de Mayo, where the mothers of victims of Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and ’80s march silently, their hair swept under white scarves.The weekly marches began in 1977 to remember “the disappeared,” those who were snatched and killed by the dictatorship in an attempt to destroy the political opposition. Today, the mothers represent a movement — they are joined by supporters as they march, and there are key chains and T-shirts for sale. People like Mr. Kim come to take photographs.

The presence of the wiki-consultants was the most tangible sign of soul-searching among Wikipedians, and certainly at the foundation. Wikipedia has never been more influential but this success has come with burdens — errors or vandalism can resonate around the world, while the largest projects, English Wikipedia and German Wikipedia, were losing steam, adding fewer articles and scaring off potential new contributors. And to a certain temperament, great success naturally leads to the question, how long can it last?

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