Wikipedia’s Labor Squeeze and its Consequences

28 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2009 Last revised: 28 Feb 2014

See all articles by Eric Goldman

Eric Goldman

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Date Written: August 19, 2009


This Essay explains why Wikipedia will not be able to maintain a credible website while simultaneously letting anyone freely edit it. To date, Wikipedia editors have successfully defended against malicious attacks from spammers and vandals, but as editors turn over, Wikipedia will need to recruit replacements. However, Wikipedia will have difficulty with this recruiting task due to its limited incentives for participation. Faced with a potential labor squeeze, Wikipedia will choose to restrict users’ ability to contribute to the site as a way of preserving site credibility. Wikipedia’s specific configuration choices make it an interesting test case to evaluate the tension between free editability and site credibility, and this Essay touches on how this tension affects user-generated content (UGC) generally.

Keywords: Wikipedia, user-generated content, UGC, Web 2.0, peer production, wiki, online, volunteer

JEL Classification: J20, J41, L15, L86, M50

Suggested Citation

Goldman, Eric, Wikipedia’s Labor Squeeze and its Consequences (August 19, 2009). Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology Law, Vol. 8, Available at SSRN:

Eric Goldman (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States
408-554-4369 (Phone)


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