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Wikipedia Announces Tighter Editorial Control

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the cracking-down-on-the-idea dept.

Businesses 407

Daedalus_ wrote to mention a Reuters article reporting from Wikimania. "Wikipedia, the Web encyclopaedia written and edited by Internet users from all over the world, plans to impose stricter editorial rules to prevent vandalism of its content, founder Jimmy Wales was quoted as saying Friday." (Update: 08/06 23:45 GMT by J : But see his response here!) Meanwhile, kyelewis writes "WikiMania, the First International WikiMedia Conference is open in Germany, but if you couldn't gather the money or the courage to fly over, you can listen online in Ogg Vorbis format, or if you miss the talks, you can download them later. The WikiMania Broadcast page has more information, and the WikiMania Programme is also available, so jump in and learn more about the mysterious technology that is the wiki."

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Isn't that an oxymoron? (3, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253240)

Not to be mean (I looove wikipedia), but doesn't more control mean less 'wiki-like'?

Wondering the same... (1, Interesting)

nathan s (719490) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253257) feels like if they do this, it won't be the Wikipedia we all know and love.

I wonder if this means that various Wikipedia forks will be gaining a lot of contributors?

Re:Wondering the same... (1)

daviq (888445) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253296)

It will change Wikipedia, but for the better. As you may have seen on Wikipedia, there has been some vandalism, and this looks dumb and takes away from the greatness of Wikipedia.

Re:Wondering the same... (0)

secolactico (519805) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253469)

It will change Wikipedia, but for the better. As you may have seen on Wikipedia, there has been some vandalism, and this looks dumb and takes away from the greatness of Wikipedia

I agree absolutely. Adding a simple registration and verification system could go a long way. I just hope they don't add a "reputation" system like E2, where people will post crap in order to increase their number of articles.

(but I'll admit that Emperor Palpatine's picture in Pope Benedict XVI was funny).

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (2, Interesting)

perdelucena (455667) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253263)

Maybe the idea is to make it more pedia-like

my 2cs

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (1)

Paranoia Agent (887026) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253280)

That's my main worry, what I liked was the kind of controlled chaos of the idea, but I have no idea how much effort goes into keeping the entries clean(I would imagine it's alot.) Paranoia Agent

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253327)

How about keeping the spelling clean? "Alot" is not a word. You don't write "aword" or "alittle", do you?

Re: Isn't that an oxymoron? (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253370)

> That's my main worry, what I liked was the kind of controlled chaos of the idea

Yeah, I like that too. Unfortunately, on the internet, once your site reaches a high enough profile every dickhead in the universe feels obligated to do whatever they can to screw it up.

Like Slashdot, for example.

Re: Isn't that an oxymoron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253410)

... Unfortunately, on the internet, once your site reaches a high enough profile every dickhead in the universe feels obligated to do whatever they can to screw it up.

Like Slashdot, for example.

I'd like to take this moment to apologize, I don't mean too, I just can't help myself. I'll try and stop.

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (4, Insightful)

solive1 (799249) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253301)

The problem is that many people view Wikipedia, but when you see Emperor Palpatine in the spot where Pope Benedict's picture is supposed to be, Wikipedia loses credibility. Wikipedia wants to be a credible source of information that is open for people to add and contribute to, but since its popularity has risen, more and more people are going to abuse the power to contribute in less than meaningful ways.

I like Wikipedia because I can look up almost anything and find an entry. They're trying to curb the problem of malicious users before it gets out of hand, which is good, IMO.

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (2, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253353)

I'm not saying this is a good thing (trust me, I want it to stay very credible and use it often), but I just merely wanted to point out that they are growing out of their roots (which isn't always a bad thing).

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (5, Informative)

ifdef (450739) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253549)

I've been involved in editing some wikipedia articles, and in observing what was going in them.

Certainly, you don't want to put too much of a damper on people's ability to modify the text in good faith, but some people are just vandals. In one case, somebody thought his version of history was the correct one, and whenever anybody edited the article, he would always just put his own version back. The thing is, he wouldn't discuss the issues, so there was no way to come to any kind of consensus about how to say something in a factual and neutral way, he would simply replace the current version with his own version. What little discussion he did actually get involved in was mostly him calling all the other editors extremely rude and racist names, and saying they should all go to the gas chambers. This is not a disagreement about the facts or the point of view, this is simply vandalism.

I've also seen the text of articles replaced in whole or in part by obscenities. Not controversial articles, not appropriate or funny obscenities, just obscenities. Again, simply vandalism.

As is replacing the Pope's picture, I suppose, but I would think that that was just a joke, which I suppose may have been offensive to some people, etc, etc, but that's the type of mistake I myself have made more times than I care to remember.

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (0, Troll)

Momoru (837801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253383)

1) Create a encylopedia free-for-all-editing
2) Let people all over the world fill it with content
3) Take said content, turn off free-for-all-editing
4) Profit!

Seriously though, I feel like this is what a lot of open source organizations are doing these days, for example Redhat and most recently Mozilla/Firefox....start a small project, let everyone spend lots of time on then becomes really popular, and suddenly they change the model and profit.

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253420)

If they profit, can we slap a class-action suit on them for misleading us? I have contributed because I thought they were doing something for the good of all. In that spirit, I gave freely. Had I known there was money, then I would have been less apt to spend my time lining their pockets.

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (1)

at_18 (224304) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253499)

Dude, wikipedia license is GFDL, like the GPL for software. Anyone can fork the entire contents if they want. Commercial profit, by Wikipedia or any other individual with a hard disk and a printer has always been allowed by the license.

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253505)

Who said anything about profit? This just means that not everyone will have the analog to instant CVS access to the kernel. There's nothing anti-open about this: just trying to assert some degree of oversight.

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253388)

Wikis work best somewhere between too little people to catch vandalism quickly and popular enough to attract hordes of trolls, apparently they think they have passed the later.

Re:Isn't that an oxymoron? (2, Insightful)

hellomynameisclinton (796928) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253391)

Yes, but it will me more 'pedia-like', which IMHO is better.

While wiki can be dynamic and fluid, it was never meant to be a bulletin board or a chat room. With some highly contentious topics you end up with an off-topic name-calling match between 2 authors (if you read the revisions), and that's not in anyone's best interest.

We're not talking about imposing a complete editing and peer-reviewing process like a print encyclopedia (which is also good, since dissenting opinions tend to not get preserved once they cross an editor's desk). We're talking about making it more dificult to deface, and more difficult to be off-topic.

it's needed (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253428)

I'm active in another site that has a wiki based documentation section. The damn spammers have found it and almost daily add lots of links to porn and other unwelcome and unrelated sites. More recently they have also started deleting good information when they insert their spam rather than just appending it. And the wiki software doesn't present a good way to just back their changes out. There is a history that one can find the old information in, but that still seems to cause problems with loss of formatting, links, and the like.

So there is a need to make some changes on our site and I would think it would be even much more important with Wikipedia. Maybe it could be as simple as having approved editors who scan changes before they take effect. While this might at first involve a lot of work in filtering out spam, in the end the spammers would likely quit spamming the wiki since they would learn that doing so doesn't get their crap onto the wiki pages.

Wikipedia also has another serious problem in that anyone who doesn't like what has been said can just remove it. What's the point in having something called a encyclopedia when one crackpot with a grudge against Darwin or a one-sided view on UFOs can delete any information that he doesn't like, and frequently will? It's unfortunate but true that some forms of content control need to be put in place to stop a few people who deal with disagreeing with previous input by deleting it.

A sign of worse things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253502)

I used to like Wikipedia very much, but somehow along the line Wikipedia has become too politically correct and less concern of the truth. One can see this especially when it concerns world religion. it's alright to have anything perceived as negative in entries on Christianity, Hinduism, etc.. and links for more info to those entries, but when it concerns Islam, those are scrubbed clean. Questionable claims such as "Islam means peace" (it means "Submission") is allowed and things perceived as negative (taqiyya etc..) are not part of Wikipedia. Complains will get people banned. Attempts to include links to ex-muslim sites are not allowed. If you don't know Islam and try to get info on it on Wikipedia, you'd think that Mohammed did not marry a 6 year old girl and consumated the marriage at 9.

The problem is, when it comes to the truth, many people see things differently and Wikipedians certainly take sides subjectively. Whatever happens to accepting facts as facts whether they are "offensive" or not? Political correctness and moral relativity are ruining every good things.

That still doesn't change some things. (3, Funny)

TheOtherAgentM (700696) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253244)

"Hollabackgirl" will still be some term that Gwen Stefani just made the fuck up and tried to pass off as normal speech.

Re:That still doesn't change some things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253365)

lol, what?

Re:That still doesn't change some things. (2, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253468)

That shit is bananas.


fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253247)

fp neon golden

Hmmm... (0, Flamebait)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253248)

Have the Chinese censors taken over? Inquiring minds want to know.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253261)

Doubtful. Probably just people with too much time on their hands.

To confirm you're not a script,
please type the word in this image: [pygmies<<</\/\/\]

No, but asshats have (4, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253397)

You know how the story goes: "A few rotten apples spoil the bunch."

Wikipedia is one of the most awesome things ever to come out of the depths of the internet. It provides up to date, accurate content from a variety of different sources and view points that is subject to the collective scrutiny of the community that maintains it.

It's something like democracy in that everyone has an active hand in it which inspires people to do their best because the wikipedia is as much theirs as anyone else's.

Of course there are always going to be asshats, internet trolls, and other fuckwads who spoil a good thing be being dicks. As with any society, organization, or project that is open and free in nature, there exists the possibility that someone can easily ruin it for everyone.

When this happens the common reaction is to take away some of that freedom in order to maintain what has been created. This is very similar to the US Patriot Act which is theoretically designed to protect the United States be limiting individual freedoms for the greater good. Whether you agree with the approach or not is moot.

Perhaps the best way to handle something so democratic as wikipedia is to have changed content be reviewed by several people who can reject or approve the changes before they go through. Another system akin to the /. moderation system would to give editors who do a good job at wikipedia more control over what they can change and how much they can change it. This means that the best editors will be able to quickly change content if necessary and provide new entries as necessary while preventing some jerk with too much time on his/her hands from doing a lot of damage.

about time (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253249)

I realize you can rollback the pages and all, but judging from the amount of trolls on slashdot, was anyone not expecting this?

Re:about time (1)

munboy (732717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253445)

nice sig.

anchorman > all

Hint hint (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253250)

Hey now, maybe a certain *other* site could take this opportunity to review the quality of its editors...

Re:Hint hint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253382)

You got it mixed up. Wikipedia trolls are doing it out of malice. The Slashdot editors are just stupid.

Re:Hint hint (4, Funny)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253473)

I agree, it's high time K5 got it's shit together.

If only... (1, Redundant)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253252)

There was more editorial control on slashdot

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253328) learned the motherfucking subjunctive

Interesting, but... (5, Insightful)

imstanny (722685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253255)

"There may soon be so-called stable contents. In this case, we'd freeze the pages whose quality is undisputed..." The question is, however, how do you determine when something is undisputed. A lot of politically driven pages are constantly edited until there forms a 'balance' between opposing views; that, however, takes time and is never 'undisputed'.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

daniel_mcl (77919) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253288)

I think the issue is when someone writes an article about abortion in the American legal system and someone attempts to replace it with several copies of the word "murder." Other good targets for stasis would be pages pertaining to evolutionary biology, the holocaust, and similar areas where there is a small, vocal lunatic fringe which is militant in publicizing its incorrect dogma.

Re:Interesting, but... (2, Funny)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253478)

I think they may mean biographies of minor dead people, old TV shows, etc.

Freezing these would stop the totally ramdom vandals who pick rarely visited pages and insert incorrect information.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

spun (1352) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253300)

Well in this case I think it means "whose quality no one we think matters cares to dispute." Which is really the case in for any editor. But the point made by an earlier post still stands, having official editors makes it less "wiki-like."

Re:Interesting, but... (3, Interesting)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253323)

"There may soon be so-called stable contents. In this case, we'd freeze the pages whose quality is undisputed..." The question is, however, how do you determine when something is undisputed. A lot of politically driven pages are constantly edited until there forms a 'balance' between opposing views; that, however, takes time and is never 'undisputed'.

While there are a fairly small number of hotly contested pages, the vast bulk of the Wikipedia is comprised of short entries about fairly unremarkible subjects. These also tend to be the best pages to vandalize (especially in nonobvious ways) because they generally don't get looked at all that much.

So while, say, the Robert Novak page is going to see a lot of dispute between now and whenever someone finally drives a stake through his heart, the page on the Byzantine Emperor Basil I (811-886 AD) probably isn't going to see a great number of worthwhile changes anytime soon.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

SlashEdsDoYourJobs (905360) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253479)

In this case, we'd freeze the pages whose quality is undisputed..." The question is, however, how do you determine when something is undisputed.

Good point. An edit is by its very nature somebody who is 'disputing' the current content of an article, so really, restricting the editing of pages because they are undisputed is never necessary - if they were undisputed, there wouldn't be any edits to restrict.

Lack of changes perhaps? (1)

jhines (82154) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253484)

If an article has been posted to the world, and stood the the test of time, like a year or more, and nobody has anything to add/edit to it, then it can be frozen.

Nothing prevents someone from posting their own article on a similar subject.

Good Idea. (3, Insightful)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253260)

It always seemed a little silly to me that anyone even without so much as a valid logon could change the content of these pages.

But I wonder what it will mean for people like me who post edits to maybe 4 or 5 articles a year, when we find an error?

I think the biggest problem is edits to 'contraversial' posts, like "Intelegent Design" or "Joseph McCarthy".

Of course the "real" trolls will simply poison the well by inserting subtle errors.

Heh - "Intelegent Design" (4, Funny)

starseeker (141897) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253329)

I have no idea if that was intentional, but either way it's sheer genius :-).

Re:Heh - "Intelegent Design" (1, Flamebait)

Flunitrazepam (664690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253376)

He probably spelled it that way on purpose, because any post with "intelligent design" in it gets modded down with bot-like speed

Re:Good Idea. (1)

imstanny (722685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253339)

"It always seemed a little silly to me that anyone even without so much as a valid logon could change the content of these pages."

True. But there are protective measures that are in place and seem to be working quite well. For one, there is a history of the page, which can be reverted back by another user. Also, those that vandalize can be banned & so can their IP's.

Re: Good Idea. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253343)

> It always seemed a little silly to me that anyone even without so much as a valid logon could change the content of these pages.

It worked semi-OK for a while, but a few months ago it became a popular trolling spot, and now if I look at my watchlist once a day I'll find about half a dozen acts of outright vandalism. I just don't have time to keep up with it anymore.

> I think the biggest problem is edits to 'contraversial' posts, like "Intelegent Design" or "Joseph McCarthy".

Yes, stuff that can be spun for the purposes of nationalism, religion, politics, or racism have always been problems. Nationalism gets inserted into all kinds of articles about history, archaeology, language, etc. Religious spin is creeping into everything.

Another problem is that if you try to work on stuff that makes a coherent set of articles, you find yourself transgressing on someone's assumed turf on every hand, making it nigh impossible to enforce consistency across the whole set.

I was once very gung-ho on Wikipedia, but now I've all but given up on contributing to it. I think I've pulled up my watchlist about once in the past two or three months.

I still use it as a quick reference for all kinds of topics, though.

Re: Good Idea. (1)

Khalid (31037) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253523)

Another problem is Wikipedia now high visbility especially in Google, is begining to attract spammers, and it's sometimes very hard to track them or ban them as they are even creating now bogus articles to put their spam in.

Another problem is what I'll call "fan articles", their are lots of obscure people, bands, artists and so on making their way into Wikipedia, that have absolutly no Encyclopedic interest.

What is the best way to implement this? (5, Insightful)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253350)

I have no idea how they plan on implementing this, but if it was up to me, I'd have a "stable" and "draft" version of each high-profile page. Anyone should be able to edit the draft. Periodically, the draft version could replace the stable version (perhaps a voting system could be in place, not unlike the kuro5hin submission queue).

The importance of a page (to decide if a locked "stable" page is necessary) could be determined automatically either by number of hits, or computing the pagerank of each page given the link graph of the whole wiki.

Re:What is the best way to implement this? (1)

Zarel (900479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253438)

I believe that would be the best idea I've seen so far. It has all the advantages of a wiki and the stability of every other idea out there.

Re:What is the best way to implement this? (1)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253491)

This is an excellent idea, actually.

Re:What is the best way to implement this? (4, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253506)

Mod Up!

You HAVE to have a way of getting new data into Wikipedia pages. Even long-ago historical events need to be updated when new evidence or new analysis brings new facts to light. History is never cemented. And Wikipedia has proven remarkably capable of keeping up-to-date with new events.

But yes, Wikipedia editing is sometimes like making sausage. No matter how good it tastes in the end, the intermediate steps aren't always good looking. You need to simultaneously hide this sausage-making from the casual user (by making the "stable" page be the default one to appear), while also making it not too difficult for people to contribute to the sausage-making process (by making the "draft" page only a single click away).


liquidpele (663430) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253511)

Great solution.
But would the users change over drafts to stable, or would the editors? I'm just curious if the editors would be able to keep up with even checking draft/stable relationships in a timely mannor...

Re:What is the best way to implement this? (1)

General Wesc (59919) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253544)

They've discussed just this to a great extent over the past several years, and I suspect that's what Jimbo was talking about. Here's one post about it from 2002. [] and there's plenty more where that came from. Sounds like maybe they're finally doing something about it.

Great minds think alike.

Re:Good Idea. (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253404)

Indeed. I have often thought that it would be quite easy to insert insidious inaccuracies into Wiki entries. You may not even be flagged for quite some time if you do it cleverly. Why would anyone want to do this? I gave up a long time ago trying to figure out why people devote their lives to trolling but they do. If the whole site starts to revolve around an effort to rollback trolls then it will quickly become unmanageable.

However, the fact of the matter is that I do not consider wiki an authoritative source of infomation. In fact, what I use it most for is to look up the etymology of words or phrases. Like, if I wanted to know what "free as in beer" means I'd go to Wiki straight away. Even though they claim not to be a dictionary I fid it useful for just that purpose. I also may read it if something is on the tip of my brain and i just want a quick refresher that I'll know is right or wrong by looking at it. If I'm doing original research/learning or if I'm writing a research paper I would NOT use wiki entries as a reference.

The Slashdotter's dilemma (2, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253266)

We want total freedom from censorship and total creative control!
We want to be protected from malicious actions of both others and ourselves!

Re:The Slashdotter's dilemma (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253341)

That's a rather profound contradiction! Have you considered submitting it as an Ask Slashdot? ("For example, smarmy nerds constantly sneer at viewers of reality programs. And yet they watch anime, which is for complete morons!")

My freedoms end where another's begins. (2, Interesting)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253464)

We want total freedom from censorship and total creative control!
We want to be protected from malicious actions of both others and ourselves!

Defacing of informative wiki content by trolls is a form of censorship [] , where the troll objects to clear, informative content.

P.S. To anyone about to reply "only guvments censor!1!": I linked to a dictionary, go read it.

Sounds good to me (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253283)

But I certainly hope that the changes are "you can't make a change without some kind of external board approving it" not "you can't make a change, EVER!". Like, let's say they lock the Pope Ratzlinger page to prevent vandalism, saying "this page is perfect! it doesn't need more changes!". Then then the Pope dies. Um... what now? Do we have to wait for whoever holds the key to the Pope page to wake up so wikipedia can be updated?

I also wish they'd have better/clearer rules for what to do when some kind of cartel seizes a page and consistently ties to impose an editorial bias on it. Groups like the one at littlegreenfootballs will occasionally descend on a page and attempt to twist its content by claiming anything that doesn't bolster their close-minded worldview is "biased" and must be "fixed". Change one of these pages and it will be immediately rv'd to what the cartel wants. What do you do in such a case? Well, maybe the people who hang out on wikipedia all the time know, but someone just passing through has no idea.

Some suggestions... (4, Insightful)

Corsican Upstart (879857) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253287)

Hmm.. I don't know if this really goes along with the openness aspect that Wikis have. I do know what they mean though; vandalism is a problem.

Maybe for the "frozen" entries, updates should be allowed to be submitted, but then there'd be a voting, where the update would only be applied if enough people accepted it.

Maybe they could even impliment a reputation system, where the votes of people with higher reputations count more, and/or where people with higher reputations can make changes without needing a vote...

Re:Some suggestions... (2, Insightful)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253533)

IMO a better solution is to just delay changes for a while. Have the main page shown for each article be one that is 1+ hours out of date from the current page (when you go to edit it takes you to the most up-to-date page).

So in order to vandalize, the changes would have to survive a 'burn in' period where those people watching the article have a chance to cancel it before everybody sees it on the main page. This takes away the primary motivation for vandalism since nobody sees the change except to revert it. Currently people make rapid changes and keep hacking the articles day after day because they think somebody sees it, even for the several minutes or less before it is reverted. This incentive would be gone with a time-delayed scheme.

Grammar checking, too? Please?? (2, Interesting)

CompSci101 (706779) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253291)

I know this is Slashdot and someone is bound to call me a grammar/spelling Nazi for saying this, but one of the biggest problems I have with Wikipedia is that articles that have been handled by many people tend to start losing any semblance of decent grammar and coherent thought. I hope the editors take a closer look not only at blatant vandalism, but also ensure that the articles are written well. If Wikipedia is to be taken seriously by a more mainstream audience (I love it, personally, but many academics don't) it has to maintain appearances of academic quality, one of which, definitely, is attention to grammar and flow of the articles. Hell, in some of the articles I've read, you could actually be dumber after having read it. How embarrassing would it be for a little kid to submit a report based on the things they read in Wikipedia and, not having known any better and not having a good example from something they'd consider a reputable source, have it plagued with "should of gone"s and "where their going"s? C

Re:Grammar checking, too? Please?? (1)

bobbis.u (703273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253435)

Well, I hope you improved the articles that you are moaning about. YOU are an editor. That is how Wikipedia works. If everyone sat around moaning about WP instead of helping improve it, there wouldn't even be a Wikipedia.

Anyway, WP has little to gain by being "taken seriously by a more mainstream audience". People can use it if they find it useful or they can not use it if they don't. There are now enough people that do care about WP to pay the bills.

It will never be like Encylopedia Britannica - but it has the potential to be so much more. It just takes people like you to improve it.

Re:Grammar checking, too? Please?? (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253450)

Wiki as a resource is nowhere near being an authoritative source. How on earth can you reference a page that may be changed tomorrow because it was written by a 12 year old with a large vocabulary? No, people are placing WAY too much faith in wiki if they think it is an authoritative resource. A tool? Absolutely. An authoritative reference? Absolutely not.

No Surprise (2, Insightful)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253295)

The bigger the population, the more sociopaths it'll have, and the more damage any one sociopath will be able to do. You either have to take steps to fight it or let the sociopaths pare the population down to the point where they're not a problem anymore.

Personally, I prefer the former solution. Good luck, Wikipedia!

Re:No Surprise (1)

airship (242862) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253402)

There is a third alternative - pare the population down until there are no more sociopaths. :)

About time (3, Insightful)

jolar (905312) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253298)

I'm tired of seeing vandalized pages, pages for 14 year old kids who think their ability with Flash warrants their own page on Wikipedia (I shit you not, I deleted one of these), and other stuff that just shouldn't be there. Their "talk pages" seem to make a simple issue take a long time to resolve. With a little tighter control, I think that the article quality will be a little higher. I, for one, welcome this development.

From their own definition... (2, Insightful)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253316)

...of a wiki at [] :

A wiki is a web application that allows users to add content, as on an Internet forum, but also allows anyone to edit the content.

So this definitely goes against the spirit of a Wiki. That said, I think a little editorial control is probably justified, especially with mature/stable articles, which have reached a high level of quality and experience only infrequent updates.

Rather than having such articles targeted by vandals, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have an occasional valid update go through an editorial vote. Wikipedia already does this currently with "Controversial" articles which are likely to experience Edit-wars.

Extending the control a little probably would do Wikipedia good. The emphasis there being on "little", since overextending editorial content is likely to cause the same problems that regular encyclopedias do - biased content, inaccuracies due to limited knowledge of editors, outdated content, etc.

Reminds me of Slashdot changes (3, Informative)

bgfay (5362) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253318)

When I first started reading /. the contents were completely wide open and free. At first, when changes were made to tame the wildness of it, I was skeptical. Such changes often kill off the spirit of the site. However, the /. changes have been good for me. I read only those responses that score a 3 or better, I meta moderate, I moderate, and all of that seems to work well.

The question I have with Wikipedia is how they will go about imposing stricter editorial control. Discipline is often a good thing, but almost as often it can be a very bad thing. I'll be watching what they come up with, commenting on it when possible, and trying to keep the site as one of the most useful on the web.

Groupthink (1)

hendridm (302246) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253425)

I read only those responses that score a 3 or better, I meta moderate, I moderate, and all of that seems to work well.

So you're standing on the shoulders of others who are willing to read < 3 and basically agreeing with them? This is something I've always had a problem with. I guess it's fine as long as there are honest souls who are willing to browse < 3 and mod up what you would consider relevant.

Re:Groupthink (1)

Ed_Moyse (171820) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253486)

Maybe when he/she moderates they browse at 3, as instructed in the mod guidelines? (This is what I do, but I also browse at 3 normally ... I probably miss some interesting stuff but I also manage to retain some faith in humanity as well but avoiding the dregs, so I figure it balances out)

Re:Groupthink (1)

BobaFett (93158) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253524)

Well, not entirely: most of the times when you read Slashdot you don't have mod points, so even if you read at 3 otherwise.

Re:Groupthink (1)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253528)

But I only browse that low when I'm moderating. Whenever I get mod points, I grab a recent thread (or two), change my settings to -1, flat, newest (ignore threads), and go down the line looking for five comments that I think are good, to moderate up. Most of the rest of the time, I only read comments that are 4 and above. (Except when I'm really interested in a topic and it's new, like on this thread, where there's not enough reading material yet so I'm dipping down into the other comments.)

Re:Reminds me of Slashdot changes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253476)

Slashdot and Wikipedia struggles with the same detrimental issues.
  - what brought Slashdot down in terms of quality was miserable moderations by far too many kids whose knowledge of an issue was minimal unless non-existent, who were willing to mod things up if it sounded funny or cool or just vaguely plausible. Real experts didn't rate well. Just look at any thread, what do you see more often, funny or interesting? Reading at level 0 shows a lot of buried gems, admittedly amongst tons of junk.
  - what is bringing Wikipedia down is far too many edits by people who either do not know what they are writing about or are plain malicious. Deletionists try to wipe as many page as they can, and there are even lots of registered amongst them. Just check their Wiki-page. I was tempted to replace it with "Rah! Rah! Rah!", for brevity. The contents was much the same.
  - Usenet News also took a nose dive, hopefully things are looking up as MS will not support NNTP.

Any solutions? It is sorely and urgently needed.

Perhaps, just perhaps, we should go back to the old days when the user interface was so user hostile that kids never bothered to learn. Command line driven interfaces with single character commands, like trn. Elitism? Well, being able to read, write and think apparently rates you as memmber of the elite these days.

Re:Reminds me of Slashdot changes (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253509)

I read at -1 if I have the time and +2 or above if I'm pressed for time. The issue I have with only reading +3 and above is that it can become a real circle jerk where you have self-reinforcing viewpoints. This probably does feel good but IMO inbred is never actually good over time.

I have lost count, a long time ago, of the 1s and 0s (and even a few -1) I'd bump up to 5s if I had the points.

Worth it? (1)

cached (801963) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253320)

Wikipedia, as we all know, is based on the community modifying articles to be more correct/helpful. Taking away this right of the people just hurts its purpose.

On the other hand, today alone I got rid of 3 different advertisements for this resort in Honolulu from 3 totally different topics (tapioca pudding, salamander, telnet) so maybe the reason for this is that spammer. Seems like they are following the path that Planet Source Code [] started on August 1.

God Bless America (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253330)

God Bless America

God Bless America , with the worst crime levels in the first world
God Bless America , where "democracy" means a rich, white male as Presiden t
God Bless America , the biggest consumer of the world's natural resources
God Bless America , where "freedom of speech" means race-hate groups like KKK
God Bless America , and its massive and ever-growing poverty gap
God Bless America , with the highest obesity levels in the developed world
God Bless America , all its appalling "sitcoms" with no grasp of irony
God Bless America , because corporations should be allowed to run amok
God Bless America , wasting billions to attack foreign countries

God Bless America , and thank God I don't have to live there.

Re:God Bless America (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253495)

Yeah I'm much happier here in Europe:

where documentary film makers get shot for making anti-islamic films,

where neo-nazism is still a major problem,

where gay politicians get assasinated for being gay,

where there will be more mosques than churches in 22 years,

where holocaust deniers get equal air time in order to show "both sides of the issue",

where bombs go off on subways,

where the laws don't provide close to the level of protection for individual rights as in the US,

where xenophobic anti-immigration policies are higher than anywhere in the world,

where there will be only 40% of the current workforce in only 20 years (!!!)

We may have problems my friend, but Eurabia is f*cked. How does it feel to be conquered?

Thanks, Wikipedia. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253332)

Thanks, Wikipedia, for a wonderful resource.

My total contribution so far: One sentence (a very good one. grin) and two small corrections.

Re:Thanks, Wikipedia. (1)

SpottedKuh (855161) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253516)

My total contribution so far: One sentence (a very good one. grin) and two small corrections.

With that sort of contribution, you should make a Wikipedia page about yourself, to tell others what you have done ;)

...oh wait, the article was trying to stop those kinds of Wikipedia entries? Oops!

Two ideas I was very wrong about... (2, Interesting)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253335)

Ebay and Wikipedia. I thought neither of them had a chance in hell to work. Ebay was an intermediary broker and I figured would go down in flames from bogus sales, and I thought Wiki would be flooded with ass clowns who wrote a lot of silly joke pages.

I was wrong about both of them. Of the two, Wiki is an actual valuable contribution to mankind. The Wiki project, like the Gutenberg project, is about the proliferation of knowledge. It needs creative input from the whole net community in order to thrive, but as it gains status it becomes a bigger target for systematic abuse. I think this move is sound, Encyclopedia Brittanica and the World Book are bereft after the Internet. What Wiki needs is some sort of incentive system. If Gates wanted to buy some good will, he should give a billion or so to the WIki crew (despite the relationship with Google) and have the editors pay net citizens with Paypal for especially valuable work, or really excellent photos, etc. That is the next step in the evolution of the online knowledge center.

Sad that people would deface the site (3, Interesting)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253342)

One of the fun things about Wiki is reading well-written and moderate view on some nasty subjects, like porn stars or the history of shock sites. The internet is full of 'shock' media and seeing juicy subjects dismantled into enclyopediese makes me laugh my ass off. I can't understand why people would want to hurt a 'good thing' like wikipedia.

I am a meta-meta-meta-troll! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253504)

"juicy subjects dismantled into enclyopediese "

How about some links? (I've already read the goatse [] entry...)

It's an interesting idea (2, Interesting)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253347)

I've been thinking about this as well as I launch my own wiki. Probably the most logical thing is to have a karma like system a la slashdot (granted, perhaps more modular) tied with voting, and tie changes into articles into votes, then tie that karma to kinds of articles.

For example, news require low karma to post (since by their nature they are fast, and you want information now). Other items, such as definitions, etc, would require higher karma, and you could even tie voting into how high karma on a specific article can be. This way, during presidential elections the community could have voted to have the definitions of "John Kerry" and "George W Bush" very high, so up to a 10.

A person with a karma of 5 would need only 5 more "points" for the article to become accepted, while someone with a 3 would need even more. Unregistered users would be 0, so anonymous people could still register - but they'd just need more "votes".

Granted, this is just a brainstorm, and I'm sure people smarter than myself can find holes, but it's just something I've been considering as I work on my own wiki project.

Re:It's an interesting idea (1)

RevMike (632002) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253515)

The problem with this is that it could potentially be used to enforse "group think". Whatever group of people get enough karma to get past some magic threshold first have the ability to block everyone else. For instance, if enough left wing American democratic party activists establish themsleves first, they can create pages of unflattering propaganda about republicans and use their votes to prevent republicans from gaining enough karma that they could remove the propaganda.

Well, so much for Wikipedia (2)

grungebox (578982) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253361)

How does having a "commision" who oversees when content is "undisputed" work? Do they rely on an expert in a subject area? If so, isn't that pretty much like most encyclopedias such as, say, the Britannica? You know, the ones /.ers refer to as antiquated or obsolete relative to Wikipedia? I think they should just make people log in to edit entries, so anyone can still edit stuff, they just need to make an account (i.e., give enough of a damn to create an account), and let it be. If you get pics of Palpatine as Pope for a few minutes then so be it, Jedi. Price you pay for a democratic info source, that's what I say.

Rate of vandalism is up (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253374)

I am a long time contributor and see that just the last year the number of vandalisms have increased sharply. Just pick any article, check the history and look for commenstr like "reverting vandalism" or just "rv" for short.

Moreover, and to me more serious, are the deletionists, whose agenta is to cull all they can on a darwinian principle. This annoys me in particular since they succeeded in wiping one of my articles. First attempt that it was "fan work" I managed to hold off, anohter attempt was made and I stopped that too. Then someone said it should be merged. So they agreed (quickly voted on), set up a redirect and did not merge. In effect the deletionists won the day, the article gone and I lost.

The issue is process. There is no good process (what passes for process has too many holes to qualify, as I illustrated above) and therefore no QA is possible.

Baselining is not available, so what once was a featured article can be hacked apart and lowered in quality, unless the deletionists get there first. Locating the once featured article is hard.

I believe the increased visibility and popularity has made the vandals creep out and attack.

Oh, thanks a lot! (3, Funny)

aftk2 (556992) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253378)

Why couldn't they have done this several months ago, before my boss started looking closely at Wikipedia, and their method of allowing anyone - even users not logged into specific user accounts - to edit a given page? It's taken a bit of effort and time to reengineer our CMS to do the same, should someone desire the option.

Sigh. I fully expect to walk into work on Monday and see "One-button page locking" as the next feature to implement.

This is what the "Discussion" tab is for... (1)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253409)

...for reaching a consensus on changes (if any) that need to be done on stable pages.

The culture at Wikipedia (regarding people that enjoy contributing) has impressed me the deeper I look into it. Even something as "trivial" as deleting unnecessary categories [] has its own open forum, discussion, and voting -- and anyone with a minority view can still leave their input and rationale. If government ran nearly this efficiently, it'd be quite a sight.

So I'm not too worried about the idea of 'locking' pages that tend to be vandalized.

Self-selecting per-article editorial boards? (1)

athomascr (851385) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253430)

Wonder if individual articles should have editorial boards, and if so, how those would be selected. Self-selection would automate the process, but would allow abuse by extremists.

Rated history menu (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13253439)

Give each edit a month to be rated by:
- visitors
- members
- recognized dedicated scientists

Then have each page contain a history tree menu which shows you the ratings for all entries over a month old. Now just pick a revision of the article which has high ratings. Read it and learn.

Optionally check recent changes to see if anything worthwhile has been added, but remain highly skeptical.


The world is ending... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253441)

Dvorak was right!

"Wikis and any public reviewing or consensus processes have to be regulated and closed to the public at large for them to work effectively over time.",1895,1835858, p []

Goes against the spirit of Wiki (1)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253452)

The whole point of a Wiki is that anyone can edit it. Even if the page is factually accurate and up-to-date, someone can always decide that the text of the article needs to be reworded for clarity, because it'll look better, etc. Or things can change--like the Pope for example. Things can be accurate for the moment, and then something happens--he says something notable (and/or controversial), he retires, he dies, etc.

However, I think Wikipedia needs to crack down even harder on vandals. For example, there's one guy [] who constantly edits misinformation into various [] pages [] , and keeps on reverting them to his version, which involves terms that he made up, and a severe misunderstanding of words like Hertz [] , despite everyone constantly telling him he's wrong [] .

Yeah, I'm bitter. I actually want to see accurate information on Wikipedia, and asshats like him ruin things for everyone.

I could prefer stable to frozen (2, Interesting)

cgrand (852896) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253475)

I would prefer see a banner reading 'You're seeing the stable revision of this article. Click here to access the draft for the next stable revision (beware of vandalism).'. It's like moving a STABLE tag in a revision control system.

Don't worry, guys (5, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253477)

I decided I didn't like this new policy, so I went to WikiPedia and rewrote it.

Not an "authority", but it could become one. (1)

donleyp (745680) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253485)

I have been hesitant to reference WikiPedia as an authority in my university assignments because of the fact that it's not necessarily an authority. The article could have been written by a complete yahoo. You can't even attribute the reference to a particular author! Having said that, I do find it a great place to find authorities on various topics using the links that are gathered with each article.

delay mechanism (2, Insightful)

chronos2266 (514349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253490)

They should have a period of delay between the edited version of a page and when the page is actually published. This gives the edits some time for review before they 'go live'. It isn't perfect but with that many eyes it should keep down on new users from being turned off because they came to the site the second it has been vandalized.

democracy (1)

notjim (879031) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253497)

having a commission introduces a notion of an appointed authority: the great thing about Wikipedia is that there is no appointed authority, just loads of self-appointed authorities. what they need is a definition of a self appointed commission, so many editors, so many previous edits between them and allow them to add a tab to anything they regard as a stable version, different commissions, different tabs, with some commissions being general, some concentrating on certain areas of expertise. This way you could choose always to look first at the top version of an article with the option of clicking a tab by a commission you trust to see their stable version, or, you could choose a skin which would choose the version endorsed by certain commissions if there is one available. You could even set a preference list.

Just Slashdotitize it! (1)

UltraSkuzzi (682384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253512)

I think a better idea would be creating a system based on merit, in which users could 'rank' other people's submissions. Only registered users could submit work, and repeat trollers could be stopped by way of an IP block. That seems to be a far more common sense approach then radically changing the nature of Wikipedia. -skuz

Stable? (1)

General Wesc (59919) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253518)

For years, we've been discussing having two versions of the articles, a 'stable' and a 'development', the stable version often being refered to as 'Wikipedia 1.0' (Google for that or for stable on the mailing list). I'm not sure if this is what Jimbo was talking about (I'm long out of the Wikipedia loop), but if so, it may not be too bad.

Yes, there are concerns over who gets to mark it stable, but I don't think it's that big of a deal. So long as it's easy to trigger a re-review to put the current development version as the new stable, Wikipedia will still be very dynamic and Free.

Tempest, Meet the Teapot (1)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13253531)

I would be shocked if this article is reporting things accurately. My guess is that Jimbo is talking about one of two things that have been being floated for a while. There's a proposal with code that is still generally unsatisfying to the developers to have an article verification system - basically, particular versions of articles would get rated as very good, so that articles that are the subject of continual edit wars between the sane and the crackmonkies could be read in the sane versions.

The other thing he might be talking about is the idea of a stable version, which would exist alongside the normal version, and just have the "good" versions of articles.

Or he could be talking about a combination.

What I do know is that if there is a major change brewing about how Wikipedia is working, it's not a change that Jimbo has told anyone about. And I don't exactly trust Reuters to know a whole lot about how Wikipedia works, so.
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