Seth Anthony is a graduate student in chemistry education and physical chemistry at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. He holds an undergraduate degree in chemistry with a minor in music theory from North Carolina State University, and has been active in the Wikipedia community since 2003.
Wikipedia relies on strictly voluntary, uncompensated effort to supply the majority of its content. Consequently, Wikipedia and similar projects face the dual difficulties of acquiring and retaining productive content creators in spite of a number of obstacles. Both new and veteran editors face learning curves, personality conflicts, administrative obligations, and "real world" distractions, and many efforts have been taken within Wikipedia communities to combat the factors which distract from productive editing.
Based on both analysis of editing patterns and surveys of Wikipedians, we identify trends in Wikipedian "life cycles" and offer a more formal breakdown of hindrances and facilitators to productive content creation, with particular attention to the relative importance of different factors between different Wikimedia projects and across the five-year history of Wikipedia.