Saturday, August 01, 2009

Wikipedia Begins Flagging Revisions

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia anyone can write and edit, one of the top ten sites on the entire internet, the wonderfully useful if not fastidiously veracious repository of aggregate human knowledge, is becoming civilized.

There's a new sheriff in town, and his name is "Flagged Revisions."

Before the new content management system began governing changes, anyone could, in a manner of seconds, edit a Wikipedia article read by the entire world. The possibility of inaccurate or biased revisions has indeed sullied Wikipedia's reputation among academic purists. But with entries that are generally reliable and contain useful links to expand one's knowledge quest quickly and productively, Wikipedia has become the first stop for many amateur researchers and is now the "go to" site for those seeking basic information on topics and questions of general interest. (Following in Wikipedia's footsteps, even the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica has now begun experimenting with user-generated content.)

After malicious revisions to Wikipedia falsely announced the deaths of Senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd, however, Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales called for the swift introduction of Flagged Revisions to prevent such vandalism in the future.

New York Times technology writer Noam Chohen explains:

The new system, called Flagged Revisions, would mark a significant change in the anything-goes, anyone-can-edit-at-any-time ethos of Wikipedia, which in eight years of existence has become one of the top 10 sites on the Web and the de facto information source for the Internet-using public.

The idea in a nutshell is that only registered, reliable users would have the right to have their material immediately appear to the general public visiting Wikipedia. Other contributors would be able to edit articles, but their changes will be held back until one of these reliable users has signed off, or “flagged” the revisions. (Registered, reliable users would see the latest edit to an article, whether flagged or not.)

Click here to read Cohen's entire article.

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