Tipping Point

Moved from w:Wikipedia:Village pump

Hi. Many of you probably know about the Tipping Point idea popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, and if you don't, you should--it rocks. Anyway, I was wondering, does anybody have any predictions about when Wikipedia will tip? Or if it already has? I posit that the tipping and the 2,000,000 articles (English? all languages? I dunno) will happen at about the same time. jengod 00:28, Jan 23, 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure what exactly you mean, but you may want to look at Wikipedia:Awareness statistics. You can also compare our overall traffic ranking against other lage websites here.—Eloquence 00:42, Jan 23, 2004 (UTC)
Compared to the massive size of the web, the numbers at niether place are that impressive. (Alexa data in particular is suspect as it depends on self reporting by people who have chosen to use the Alexa toolbar. Given that older versions of Netscape and I.E. are not supported, nor Mozilla, nor Opera... Alexa data also only appears to provide raw acess statistics, not unique vistor counts.) Looking at the number of Usenet posts, it's a vanishingly small number. "Mention of the Wikipedia outside of the Wikipedia" finds a lot of Slashdot posts and other places where you'd expect to find a mention. etc... etc... Wikipedia is far from reaching the 'tipping point'. Elde 01:13, 23 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Well, I don't know about you, but I am very impressed by how far we've come in three years. Nearly half a million articles in 50 languages, coverage in major news media, many highly ranked articles, many excellent ones. We've managed to do this with little more than two low-end servers, some free bandwidth and free software written by volunteers. True, Wikipedia is not a household name yet. Then again, when I speak to people who have any Internet experience at all, they are often already familiar with us. Among geeks, the Tipling Point has surely been reached.
And there is so much in the works that will make us even more accessible. New features, faster servers, bought with $20 K in donations, new and better policies and procedures. We've grown faster than our hardware could handle, and we've paid a price for it -- contributors and readers were driven away by slowdowns. Now we have enough hardware for at least a year of decent growth. I predict that Wikipedia will pick up even more pace in the next few months. We should definitely be among the Top 500 sites before the year ends. And by any measure, Wikipedia is surely the most interesting Internet project currently around.—Eloquence 03:13, Jan 23, 2004 (UTC)
You mistake me. I did not say the accomplishment was unimpressive, but that the data given that the Wikipedia had reached critical mass in the public consciousness was not. A few stories major news media does not equate to reaching the tipping point. (Also you might check some of those 'highly ranked articles', as a random sampling of 5 shows that in none of them is the Wikipedia article still in the top ten.) Yes, it's interesting and fun and well known in the geek community, but it's not well known in the public I don't think.Elde 07:13, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I don't think we're there yet either. Reading the page, I get the feeling that reaching the 'turning point' would mean that Wikipedia would be the 'natural choice' for the 'average internet user' for a certain function - in our case finding information and/or disseminating information. It's a level to which very few websites get - google, ebay, yahoo, msn, on a smaller scale imdb. We're not in that illustre list yet. However, we might be closer than I myself tend to think. Andre Engels 08:17, 23 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I think Wikipedia made such a transition a couple of years back. I don't forsee anything on that magnitude occurring again. -- Tim Starling 00:51, Jan 23, 2004 (UTC)
I find that if I do a Google search on a topic which one would expect to be in an encyclopedia, the Wikipedia article on that topic will frequently be in, say, the first twenty hits. I also find that new Wikipedia articles get indexed by Google within a couple of days. I find both of these things impressive. Dpbsmith 01:55, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Once you know that Google spiders highly linked pages/sites and rapidly changing pages/sites more often than it does others, it's not so impressive. The Wikipedia is highly linked because of the number of sites using it's data, and it's rapidly changing... It's high google rank is unsurprising because that's the exact type of site Google was designed to rank highly in the first place! Elde 07:13, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)
WP will never reach the "tipping point" of becoming a genuine reference source for the wider online public until it solves the twin problems of stability of content and quality control which are inherent in the Wiki method. People do not expect a real encyclopaedia to be a mixture of quality writing and rubbish (as it currently is), nor do they expect to find articles which change every three minutes or which are accompanied by pages of abuse and polemic by the contributors. See my Talk page for some further comments on this. Adam 11:24, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Gladwell's Tipping Point is (IIRC) at the number 150 -- "the maximum number of individuals with whom anyone can have a genuinely social relationship". Some related stats: [1]. I'm not sure how well Gladwell's work is applicable to Wikipedia, where there are highly varied levels of participation. Martin 01:34, 25 Jan 2004 (UTC)

To clarify the question, "metrosexual" tipped this fall. I'm thinking parallel levels of media and social saturation. *shrug* :) jengod 18:43, Jan 24, 2004 (PST)

I don't know anything about tipping or the statistics on Wikipedias popularity, but I can tell you this, I and practically everyone I know, go to Wikipedia and Wiktionary first when we need information. I have friends in California and 4 Canadian provinces and all of them use Wikipedia. When I first discovered it, I told everybody. Whenever my daughter has something to do for school we use the Wikipedia. It's better than a regular encyclopedia because it has so much about popular culture. It's a very useful source of information. Yes, it's true occasionally someone has added a bunch of garbage, but we can usually weed this out. Plus, we don't rely solely on the information we get from it.