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Edit-Approval System Proposed For English-Language Wikipedia 439

Posted by timothy
from the would-take-a-lot-of-editors dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A group of powerful Wikipedia insiders are pushing for FlaggedRevisions which will require a 'trusted user' to approve of edits before they go live on the online encyclopedia. There is also opposition but with support of founder Jimbo Wales it is likely to go through. The German version has tried the system, leading to three-week delays between edit and publication. The English wiki with its higher number of anonymous editors per trusted user is expected to suffer longer queues if FlaggedRevisions is implemented on all articles. This comes just a few days after Britannica announced that readers will be allowed to suggest edits and have them reviewed within 20 minutes. Will we see the day when Britannica can be edited almost instantly while editing Wikipedia requires fighting bureaucracy, patience and the right contacts?" Note that, according to the quote from Jimmy Wales in the linked article, this system would only be used "on a subset of articles, the boundaries of which can be adjusted over time to manage the backlog."
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Edit-Approval System Proposed For English-Language Wikipedia

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a disaster. No hierarchy is why I like Wikipedia. *sigh* end of an era.

    • by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robertNO@SPAMchromablue.net> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:21PM (#26601657)
      If you think Wikipedia has no hierarchy, you are living in a dream world. Admins, Mediators, Arbitrators, Checkusers, Oversighters, Bureaucrats, Stewards. Wikipedia has a huge problem - it is a phenomenal target for those wishing to defame and libel people they don't like.

      So, you say? "People will find and edit, no problem! That's why we have vandalism patrol, RC patrol etc! The system works!" - does it? No, it don't [wikipedia.org]. Apparently, Ms Tavares "preferred color of vibrator" sat, untouched, through such measures, and according to statistics, had over 1,000 visitors. The vandalism was only reverted after being pointed out in Wikipedia Review [wikipediareview.com], a site that goes to great lengths to expose a lot of the more nefarious back-room manoeuvrings that plague "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit" (and thus has garnered such a great deal of spite from certain factions at Wikipedia (uncoincidentally, many of whom are exposed for their part in said manoeuvrings), that there have been times when WR was added to spam blacklists to prevent linking to it from WP, and proposals, one called "BADSITES"(!) were raised to curtail any mention of sites which said negative things of WP (and yet, here people are screaming "NO CENSORSHIP! Except for the things WE don't like!"). Even now, if you find yourself caught up in the WP TLA bureacracy, (RFC, RFArb, MED, AN, ANI, etc, etc, et al, et al), or trying to gain, say, Administrator status, it's a nice way to poison the well by having someone point out that "Gasp. Such-and-such is a KNOWN WR CONTRIBUTOR!".

      Flagged revisions do no more, and no less, than allow people to tag revisions which have been reviewed to be vandalism-free. They don't prevent anyone editing. They don't censor information.

      I find it highly telling that the "anonymous reader" trying to rouse support for the "end of Wikipedia as we know it" has not the courage of their convictions to name themselves.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Flagged revisions do no more, and no less, than allow people to tag revisions which have been reviewed to be vandalism-free.

        What about vandalism that's not so easy to spot? Like a subtle change to an article that (presumably) is not on a lot of people's watchlist? How would the FlaggedRev system handle these types of edits? Would it create tacit approval for these changes? Would it be difficult to revert them at a later time, since at that point the rv would itself look like vandalism? Just a thought.

        Cheers, Mike

      • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:35PM (#26602201)

        Its a nice story, but i stopped giving a shit about wikiadmins when they showed they were elitist pricks, comics aren't good enough for Wikipedia, nothing on the internet counts as a reputable source, etc. Sure this could be used to stop vandalism, but at the end of the day it will just be another way to keep information OFF wikipedia

        • comics aren't good enough for Wikipedia

          Today I was reading an article on Wikipedia about DC Comics' Final Crisis series. Which deleted articles about comics that have been the subject of non-trivial coverage in multiple "third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy" are you complaining about?

          nothing on the internet counts as a reputable source

          What do you mean? Please name a specific third-party source or type of source that Wikipedia has rejected, and show us that it has "a reputation for fact-checking".

          • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @09:39PM (#26603557)

            Which deleted articles about comics that have been the subject of non-trivial coverage in multiple "third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy" are you complaining about?

            This is the Internet! Wikipedia is on the Internet! There are entire, large, long-standing, communities here that have virtually no coverage in "multiple third-party published sources with a reputation yadda yadda."

            For instance, I used to play MUDs, like tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people. MUDs have been around since the mid-80s, all modern MMOs (which have "multiple third-party yadda yadda") are based off MUDs to some extent, and yet there's maybe... 2-3 books and a dozen articles on the entire thing. So I can't write a Wikipedia article on my MUD, which had hundreds or thousands of users and lasted > 10 years and had revolutionary RP-based features which still hasn't been replicated in any other game, because we never got an article in the Wall Street Journal? Fuck that.

            Wikipedia has put a bar where, for many communities, is simply impossible to reach. The most famous example being web comics, and of course my MUDs. And this problem will only get worse as the Internet gets bigger and more popular. (If it hasn't already maxed out.)

            • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:29AM (#26606127) Journal

              Look below, and you might start to grasp the idea why wikipedia is based upon verifiable facts (same as science journals), rather than faith:

              I can't write a Wikipedia article on my [leprechauns], which had hundreds or thousands of [leprachanish citizens] and lasted > 10 years and had revolutionary [gold-finding abilities] which still hasn't been replicated in any other [continent], because we never got an article in the Wall Street Journal? Fuck that.

              I can't write a Wikipedia article on my [revolutionary Commodore 64 Star Trek game], which had hundreds or thousands of [players] and lasted > 10 years and had revolutionary [polygonal graphics in three-dimensions] which still hasn't been replicated in any other [8-bit game], because we never got an article in the Wall Street Journal? Fuck that.

              Get it?

              If wikipedia was opened to just anyone, and the claims were not verifiable through citations, then wikipedia would no longer be an encyclopedia. It would be a mythology journal. That can not be allowed to happen.

      • by enjo13 (444114) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:37PM (#26602215) Homepage

        You sir have master (with incredible (and absolute)) skill the art of parenthetical (the use of parenthesis to denote (or markup (or provide additional detail))) writing.

        My hat is off to you :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mdwh2 (535323)

        Sure, it's bad if vandalism doesn't get spotted, but what does the Sara Tavares example have to do with "Admins, Mediators, Arbitrators, Checkusers, Oversighters, Bureaucrats, Stewards"? What "nefarious back-room manoeuvrings" are you referring to? That might apply if an admin reinstated the vandalism, but the vandalism has been removed, and no one is contesting it AFAICS.

        Why bother with WikipediaReview - why not just revert the vandalism?

        I don't see how flagged revisions would help either, for cases where

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @07:03PM (#26602411)

        At least save us some time and link to the fun version [wikipedia.org] of the article.

        (Fun content is at the end.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:24PM (#26601687)

      How sad that I'll never again get to read that Nicole Richie was born in the town of East Bumfuck.

    • by // (81289)

      So when a major world event happens, 100+ people will see an out-of-date page and submit an edit.

      Which one will be chosen? The first? The best? How do you reconcile conflicting edits made to the article?

      Sounds like an UGLY mess to me.....

    • by CarpetShark (865376) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:56PM (#26601919)

      This is a disaster. No hierarchy is why I like Wikipedia. *sigh* end of an era.

      Agreed. Wikipedia was great a few years back, but it's been growing ever more elitist. That would be justified if the elite actually were the ones writing useful content (as Jimmy thought), but a recent study proved him wrong -- actually, the people who frequent the site (these "trusted users") are actually the ones who sit and nitpick the knowledge they weren't knowledgeable enough to contribute themselves.

      • by Admiral Ag (829695) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @07:26PM (#26602581)

        Most of the site's problems could be solved by having paid, professional administrators who do not directly edit, but solve disputes. That way, it would be difficult for some of the rampant POV pushers to get their way (as is the case on Israel/Palestine articles). It would also be much easier to break up organized groups of editors (the whole "wisdom of crowds" thing works better when people edit as individuals free of the pressures of groupthink).

        It won't happen though. Wikipedia is run by nutcases, and everyone knows that the owner will change pages in exchange for sex.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timrichardson (450256) *

        Why assume that wikipedia has stopped learning about how it should work? Maybe this proposal is a bad idea. However, it's an attempt to solve a problem, and it's better than the current tool of locking-down pages. Because this will only be used for a small range of pages, I think/hope. What other solutions are there? Peer review is essential in open source projects, why should it be different for Wikipedia? This is a process or technical question.

        The problem with Wikipedia is cultural. Peer review can work

    • In case this goes through, the easiest way to filter Wikipedia pages from your Google results is to add this to your query string:

      -site:wikipedia.org

      What a sad end it would be for such a beautiful idea. Let's hope it never happens.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:46PM (#26601335)

    Seems they could have the best of both worlds; if they gave users the option to see either

      1) the most recently edited version, or
      2) the most recently approved version.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Logged-in users will always see the latest and greatest (or less-than-greatest) version. This only applies to anonymous users.

      (Really, the summary is about as propagandistic in its distortion and misrepesentation of the facts as it could possibly get without resorting to outright lies.)

    • by DanielHast (1333055) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:48PM (#26601869)

      Seems they could have the best of both worlds; if they gave users the option to see either

      1) the most recently edited version, or 2) the most recently approved version.

      Your suggestion is already a part of flagged revisions. The summary is rather misleading as to the nature of Flagged Revisions, in my opinion. Edits won't simply disappear until they are reviewed; they'll still be visible to anyone who wants to see them.

      If you're logged in, there will be a user preference for whether you want to see the approved version or the most recent version by default. Whether you're logged in or not, the most recent version, along with the complete history (including unreviewed edits) will be accessible through a tab at the top or similar interface.

      I think that a lot of opposition to Flagged Revisions comes from misunderstandings about what it will actually do, though there are certainly plenty of legitimate concerns about it as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fumus (1258966)

      How about just letting the users know what was just edited?

      I know this'll never work because of the additional load on the servers it would cause, but here's my idea anyway:

      Each wikipedia entry would have the last ten, or whatever, edits highlighted. The highlights would add up, so if out of the last ten, five edits changed just the first line, the first line would be more intensive.
      That way, when a user checks an article and sees that a piece of information was often changed, he may check out the edit hist

  • bad idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:46PM (#26601337)

    are they forgetting the what made wikipedia successful in the first place?

    • Re:bad idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AuMatar (183847) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:56PM (#26601445)

      Yes. But it isn't surprising. Remember that Wales never wanted wikipedia- his original idea was for a free encyclopedia written by experts. That was taking way to long, so he did wikipedia as a way to create articles which could be edited and brought into the "real" encyclopedia. He's always hated that the bastard child took off, and always wanted to move back to his original idea. If he could kill the idea of a user edited encyclopedia, he would. He's *just* practical enough to know he can't, but it will get progressively less open as he closes it as much as he can.

      • we have those expert versions: knole and the other wone ... can't remember the name ... former wikipedia staff started it.
      • Re:bad idea (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:07PM (#26601555)

        Amazing how some internet "services" become popular (ebay, youtube, etc) and then get progressively destroyed by the ones that own them and how they destroy what made them once great. Let's hope it doesn't happen to gmail and google.

        Although the architecture of internet itself sought to decentralize delivery, it's funny that humans always gravitate toward provided services that are so centralized. I wish there was a way to provide these services in a more decentralized fashion while not being completely chaotic, but that likely won't happen.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Metasquares (555685)
          It does bring up a fascinating point about attempts to copy a current model being doomed to failure, though. The current model becomes something that could be sustained only because it was built up from a completely different model in the past. Yet people have short recollections, and the new model eventually becomes the model everyone assumes the organization began with. Then they try to copy it that way from launch and wonder why it fails to take off.
        • Re:bad idea (Score:5, Interesting)

          by rtechie (244489) * on Sunday January 25, 2009 @08:00PM (#26602837)

          Please mod OP up.

          This is a keen insight that needs more attention. He forgot to mention Yahoo. A lot of internet projects started out great and then died when the copyright czars or PHBs mucked with them too much. And a lot of this has to do with fear of lawsuits and legislation.

          Americans should be concerned. If we keep letting incumbents (I'm looking at you Disney) fuck up the new media market it will eventually be taken over by someone else. Think I'm kidding? When Google implodes I guarantee you it's replacement will be Chinese.

          The decentralized systems you talk about DO exist and they ARE widely used. It's called P2P, in particular bittorrent. It's just that it's very difficult for the copyright czars and decency police to control such systems so they fight to shut them down. This is the essence of the new media conflict.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cmacb (547347)

        I think you are right, and after all, how do you build the foundation for an encyclopedia? You have to either rely on information so old it is no longer under any sort of copyright, pay a bunch of people to write it from scratch, or as was done, get an even larger bunch of people to do it for free.

        Once the base is established, it takes a much smaller group of people to keep it up to date.

        Wikipedia is free in the sense that I can send someone a link to an article without having to worry that I've committed

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I like the fact that Britannica is trying to get into the "free dictionary" sphere, wiki may be good, but several independent (free) sources are always better than one!

    • by rs79 (71822)

      "I like the fact that Britannica is trying to get into the "free dictionary" sphere, wiki may be good, but several independent (free) sources are always better than one!"

      A more cynical view would have it that it's the articles you're allowed to create, not the time to publication, that will determine the winner.

  • by ohxten (1248800) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:47PM (#26601345) Homepage
    Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.
  • Will we? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:51PM (#26601393)

    Will we see the day when Britannica can be edited almost instantly while editing Wikipedia requires fighting bureaucracy, patience and the right contacts?

    Sure, I'd say it's probably inevitable at this point. It is human nature to overcomplicate things to an insane degree, because we have a penchant for fiddling: we just can't leave a good thing alone. It's one of the things we do best. And when that happens to Wikipedia, when it has become too topheavy and hidebound to be useful, someone will start a new project that will attempt to learn from the lessons of the old, and go from there.

    Nothing really new to see here, when you get right down to it.

  • by mikelieman (35628) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:53PM (#26601415) Homepage

    Seems to me that unless there's some sort of "Meta-something" that the 'Sighters' will have unchecked authority.

    That's bad.

  • not smart (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Michael Restivo (1103825) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:54PM (#26601431)
    Let me be the first to say, as an infrequent Wikipedia contributor, that a FlaggedRev system would drive me away from the project.

    Cheers, Mike
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HarryCaul (25943)

      Absolutely.

      Any such system will kill Wikipedia dead.

      It's like they don't understand why they are successful.

      Ah well, someone else will it right while they fail.

    • Re:not smart (Score:5, Informative)

      by Alanceil (891771) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:04PM (#26601513)

      The german wikipedia has this system for quite a while now, and it works pretty well. Approvals for edits (sighted) come in fast, and that's the criteria for displaying your edit. The next level would be a confirmation by an expert, but I have yet to find an article that has this flag.

  • fork it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fyoder (857358) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:55PM (#26601433) Homepage Journal

    It's decent now, so even if it was frozen as is it would still be a valuable resource. And edit approval won't freeze it, it can still grow just more slowly.

    Besides, there's enough dissatisfaction already with Wikipedia's policies to warrant a fork. This will just increase the likelihood of someone forking off a better wikipedia, a wikipedia for the masses with no notability bullshit, fewer rampaging herds of deletionists, and commitment to the original idea of an online encyclopedia which everyone can contribute to and edit.

    • by HarryCaul (25943)

      Yep. Forking is clearly the right response to this.

      And watching the fork pass the original.

    • it's been forked a gazillion times. The interwebs are riddled with cheap wikipedia rip-offs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        They're typically not forked to create a new community with similar goals but differing means of getting there, but typically as static scrapes to leech ad revenue.
    • by coryking (104614) * on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:07PM (#26601553) Homepage Journal

      Is what is needed. Look, most people understand that they need to take anything they read on wikipedia with a grain of salt; a website that anybody can edit has to be. But see, wikipedia seems to project the aura that it doesn't think it's shit stinks. As a result, you get crap like the warnings for this [wikipedia.org]. Look, who cares if that article isn't well referenced or cited. I was just looking for a general idea of why the Chinnese consider "May you live in interesting times" a curse. We dont need the damn disclaimer, it makes the place feel like it is full of anal retentive blow-hards on power trips. And the best part is, the article I linked to seems to have had at least one of those warning boxes since Sept. 2007! Nobody cares!

      I used to remove every one of those stupid warnings when I'd hit an article via google just for spite. Now I stopped caring. When I see one, I just back out and go somewhere else. I certainly wouldn't take the time to do whatever the silly warning box wanted. Obviously I'm not alone or those boxes wouldn't have been around for more than a year.

      My ideal wikipedia would not have any of that "citation needed" or "needs more references" bullshit. Just leave the damn thing alone. We all know the thing is never going to be a bastion of truthliness. We all use it for trivia and cases were we really dont care how accurate the information we get is. And if we spot bias, we just might edit it out. Isn't that the point?

      Bottom line is wikipedia would be better served by removing every single one of those annoying warning boxes. Every one. They serve no purpose other then to project the aura of pretenciousness.

      • by WarwickRyan (780794) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:23PM (#26601673)

        > it makes the place feel like it is full of anal retentive blow-hards on power trips.

        Erm, I think you've found the problem.

      • by mangu (126918) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:58PM (#26601939)

        Look, who cares if that article isn't well referenced or cited. I was just looking for a general idea

        And a general idea is all you'll ever get on Wikipedia that you can trust. Those warnings seem like some form of propaganda [wikipedia.org] which tries to project an aura of reliability that the Wikipedia does not have.

        The way I would do it would be to allow only logged-in edition and institute some form of "karma", where users could label content as "vandalism". Users with a high level of vandalism in their contributions would be banned.

        In short, I would make Wikipedia somewhat like Slashdot, only I think the Slashdot criteria for moderation isn't very good, I would let any logged-in user with enough karma to moderate. That would create a herd-mentality, for sure, but I believe it would be in the right direction. People who just wanted to troll would get tired of it pretty soon.

        I'm sure there are many people who are willing to work seriously to make Wikipedia work. Just look at what they have created, despite all the bullshit the overlords impose upon us, the humble contributors.
         

        • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @07:50PM (#26602767)

          Users with a high level of vandalism in their contributions would be banned.

          They would just come back under a different account. There's no "reputation" to hold people to a now-banned account, since that reputation would be "worthless contributor." Better to simply be "guy nobody knows anything about" at that point. Karma needs to be positive; it needs to be something that people want, and care about keeping. It would probably work better in the reverse: People with good karma, perhaps in the topic in question, could bypass proposed edit approval queues. Or perhaps send it to the queue for approval, but default to adding the change in and have the queue revert it instead of defaulting it out and having the queue put it in. It's still guaranteed to be looked at at some point, as opposed to the current system where it may or may not be depending on who happens on the page, its subject matter, edit history, etc etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by owlnation (858981)
        You are absolutely correct. If wikipedia was fun, there would be no problem. Put a disclaimer at the top of the page, saying you use this info at your own risk. It would be a happy useful place. You can have filters to cut out the genuine spam and "vandalism" (as opposed to the manipulative definition of "vandalism that the wikinazis use -- like Bush used "terrorist" or tabloids use "pedophiles" -- basically to justify doing anything they want)

        Wikipedia used to be more like that. Then... they started tak
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blind biker (1066130)

        I mostly agree with the spirit of your post, but I would never let go of the "Citation needed"-tag. I wouldn't make it a precondition, but at least it is good to see when a certain claim is not backed by any proof of any sorts. Let me try to explain: I see my undergrad students copy/paste from Wikipedia mercilessly. OK, I may look over that, but when they also copy certain physical values or statements that in the Wikipedia article are not supported by any citation, I want them (the students) to see that.

      • Sounds like Encyclopedia Dramatica is just the place that you're looking for!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I was just looking for a general idea of why the Chinnese consider "May you live in interesting times" a curse.

        So it doesn't matter to you whether or not it's an actual Chinese curse? You're perfectly happy to go on spouting the "'may you live in interesting times' is a Chinese curse" line, even when it's almost certainly not?

        Wikipedia is supposed to be a resource for people who want to learn facts, and those who want to help others learn facts. How well it succeeds in that goal is certainly up for debate

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jbolden (176878)

        Wikipedia (and related sites) is aiming at this point to be standard reference. That's high up there on serious and pretentious. I don't see anything wrong with them taking the job seriously at this point.

        Beating Britannica has consequences and one of them is what they say is treated with weight, and should be.

  • Will we see the day when Britannica can be edited almost instantly while editing Wikipedia requires fighting bureaucracy, patience and the right contacts? At this point with whos running things at Wikipedia, I would not be shocked to see the day Britannica supersedes Wikipedia. Wikipedia has LONG to go to answer for its many sins of recent, the biggest being kicking Jimmy Wales and his cult to the curb.
  • Let Obama do it (Score:2, Informative)

    He can do it as an intermezzo between solving the economy, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Iraq, the internets, civil right, ...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:05PM (#26601533)

    The overwhelmingly majority of edits to the German Wikipedia are flagged within seconds.

    However, the single oldest non-reviewed or reverted change will often be a few weeks old. This is usually because someone made a large edit with a mixture of good and terrible changes, so no one wants to either sight it or revert it⦠so the draft hangs around awhile until someone improves it enough to justify publishing it, or until someone finally decides its crap and removes the change.

    Under the old system edits like this, ones which were of mixed quality, were quickly undone. The new system is much better at conserving the users work.

    Of course, everyone can see the latest draft version: There is a big banner that tells you the the version you are viewing is not the latest.

    I think it has been an enormous improvement.

     

  • by drDugan (219551) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:09PM (#26601569) Homepage

    Restricting edits to trusted users is ideologically opposite to the core principles that made Wikipedia great. I think it is a terrible idea.

    Instead, I've advocated alternatives in the past: article 'sets' based on quality and notability, and real-time feedback of edits/history and controvercial regions

    article sets: instead of an "in or out" policy for articles... let people make any article the want - any person, any thing, but have a graded system for what makes it to full publication. For example: Level 5 articles, "Full Publication" are basically all the things on Wikipedia now. Level 1 are minutia of almost no interest to anyone but a select few, and only accessible to logged-in users. All new articles start at Level 1. Level 0 and -1 are candidates for deletion. Levels in between are various degrees of publication openness; community nominated moderation panels select articles' levels (think: meta-moderation). This would create an even more open ecosystem of creative expression that would lead to higher-quality publication of new articles in Wikipedia.

    real-time feedback: The web pages need to include a sidebar or underlines, or some integrated, obvious feedback mechanism to flag recent edits and controversial (high-change-rate) sections of text. This is critical to understanding the longevity, accuracy and community agreement to content in a page. This would eliminate one of the most serious criticisms of Wikipedia, by letting readers know what was recently changed or what has been changed often. One would need to create many complex metrics about article edit rates, user reliability and content filters to make such an integrated flagging/feedback system work well.

    These are the areas where the Wikipedia foundation could innovate and create things that are better than we have today - not with closing down edits with approvals.

  • NO. (Score:2, Troll)

    by unity100 (970058)

    i dont want it. if i wanted another britannica, or larousse, i wouldnt use wikipedia.

    a group of dimwitted morons can propose it. but if anyone actually puts in motion, they can shove wikipedia in their butt - im sure an alternative will come up.

  • by gringer (252588) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:28PM (#26601717)

    Set up a timeout limit, with a fallback to what happens now. In other words, if an edit hasn't been approved or rejected in days/hours (with a default, but customisable per article), the edit is flagged as "approved via timeout".

  • noooooo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scientus (1357317)

    this breaks the entire reason that wikipedia worked!!!!

  • by Cathoderoytube (1088737) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:31PM (#26601741)
    Gee, considering the amount of babysitting some of those articles get one would think this sort of system wouldn't be needed.
  • I wrote some time ago an article about peer reviewing Wikipedia:

    http://cameralovesyou.net/random/wikipedia-digital-signatures.html [cameralovesyou.net]

    I submitted it to Wikipedia Village Pump about six months ago, but at the time it didn't go through to the implementation phase.

    The basic idea was that a revision of an article could be peer reviewed, so that it could later be referenced as if approved by the peer reviewers. The idea looks actually quite much like the "flagged" revisions that are now under discussion. :-)

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:01PM (#26601979)

    How do they choose these 'trusted' users? On many topics in Wikipedia a gauntlet is formed by a Wikithugs. They decide they own the topic, and sit there and revert every change that comes along for the most trite of reasons. Most of these translate to "I wrote this article and I don't want anyone to change it." You can revert it back yourself of course, but they'll just revert it back. And they have more time that you: they seem to have nothing better to do. Challenge their credentials and you'll be directed to some pretty Wikihomepage declaring all the wonderful Wikicliques they belong to. I've seen wikithugs sitting on insignificant topics, but on larger ones they form a circlejerk and jump to each others defenses. "Oh sure. Don't put down BasementDweller215 - they've been a Wikipedia editor for X years". Since these cliques are self-policing, there's a lot of back scratching and no reason for them to be responsible. Basically it smells of "We were here first - Keep out the Noobs."

    It's why I don't waste my time editing Wikipedia any more. Why waste time researching and writing a change when it'll be reverted and re-reverted until you go up? Any system for choosing "trusted editors" from the wikithug crowd is doomed to fail. Hell. It would make the system even worse. Bad idea.

  • Not all subjects... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kulfaangaren! (1294552) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:12PM (#26602051)
    Not all subjects are so controversial/disputed that they need this Edit-Approval system IMHO. Certain subjects could be flagged, like political and religious content, the rest could be "peer-reviewed" as it is today. That might cut the possible backlog a bit.
  • 60% (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:15PM (#26602073)

    TFA quotes Jimmy Wales as stating that a poll of members shows 60% are OK with the new system.

    That's a poor analysis of what the membership is telling them. They're considering a major change that 40% of their members ARE NOT OK with.

    Splitting your membership in half and improving life slightly for those that remain is rarely a good strategy.

  • by pha3r0 (1210530) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:41PM (#26602243)

    Who writes Wikipedia? [aaronsw.com]

    That story was on /. about a month ago. My thought is that what TFA refers to as "Wikipedia Insiders" is the same 500 or so nuts detailed my linked article.

    It might not be a bad thing but a lot of things I have gone to "the pedia", as I call it, have been items that are changing quite often at the time. The fact the Wikipedia can stay up with recent events and discoveries means I get the best information available. Even if I found some other site with relevant information on any given subject it is very likely the information is stale at best.

    Plus if I am not sure how current info is the pedia gives me a way to check exactly when it was added, who added it, and mostly cites credible static pages or articles.

    Why go from that level of usefulness to a (possible) 20+ day delay governed by a group that (presumably) is not the best or most knowledgeable on the subject matter?

  • The whole idea of Wikipedia is its 'crowdsource' nature. It shouldn't be 'perma-locked' this way.

    What would be nicer to me is a 'subset' of Wikipedia that was exactly what is suggested here. Something that, among other things, would be 'safe' for use at elementary and middle schools.

  • experimental (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday January 26, 2009 @03:40AM (#26605209) Homepage Journal

    Wikipedia was an interesting experiment. With the stress on experiment. It taught us the Do's and Dont's of a massive collaboration effort.

    However, as with all experiments, lots of things turned out to be different than we thought, or more difficult. Wikipedia suffers badly from the grey areas around its core idea. Deletionism is the most famous one - the fact alone that even after years of discussion there is no consensus should serve to illustrate that there's still something to be done here. Edit Wars are another topic of that kind. There's obviously a problem here, and no one has found a solution so far.

    What has been done for the past two years or so is patchwork. It reminds me of DOS/Windos. You've got something that through luck and being there at the right time exploded into this huge, dominant system, and now you're stuck with all the legacy crap.

  • by WWWWolf (2428) <wwwwolf@iki.fi> on Monday January 26, 2009 @03:46AM (#26605227) Homepage

    This comes just a few days after Britannica announced that readers will be allowed to suggest edits and have them reviewed within 20 minutes. Will we see the day when Britannica can be edited almost instantly while editing Wikipedia requires fighting bureaucracy, patience and the right contacts?

    Wow, talk about putting a spin on the story! The sky is falling and stuff!

    The wait times of several weeks don't sound realistic to me for most articles, because heavily edited articles are also heavily watched and scrutinised - I can't imagine there being much bigger delays on getting up-to-date information on current events than there is now.

    Also, I don't believe anyone really wants more bureaucracy than there already is. In my personal opinion, article sighting powers should be handed out like autoconfirmation is handed out today: Automatically after a set period of time after article creation.

    But let's talk about history.

    Last time when we did a major move to "limit the editing", we introduced semi-protection. A lot of people felt limiting newly registered users from editing article was a blow against the principle of open editing. But also, these people didn't stop to consider what the alternative to the semi-protection was.

    The alternative to semi-protection was full protection. Either everyone is allowed to edit, or no one is. Which one do you prefer: Wait a few days to get yourself a confirmation to edit all semi-protected articles ever, or always bother the much-hated administrative nazi bastards and hope they add the precious bit of information to the protected article? I'm pretty sure most people feel the former is more within the spirit of open editing.

    Flagged revisions aren't taking away open editing either. Instead, they are a tool to let people scrutinise the new additions better. No one's taking away the ability to view the bleeding-edge versions, if you want them. The idea is just to make sure that someone has at least checked the recent edits.

    So what's the alternative horror scenario?

    The alternative horror scenario is that no one looks through the stuff. Semi-protection is entirely mechanical in nature: we can't technically define a "suspected vandal" as "unregistered or a recently registered account", vandalism is a social issue, and social issues are solved by social interaction, not by computers. The only way to introduce social problem-solving is to let people vet the edits. That's how real editing process works in real life.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jbolden (176878)

      In reading (and responding above) I don't think there is much problem with flagging. What this debate has really turned into is a debate on deletionism. The question is how it is used.

      Semi protection was a nice compromise. Flagged versions seems like a nice compromise.

  • by graft (556969) on Monday January 26, 2009 @02:30PM (#26611041) Homepage
    I've been editing the Wikipedia "Evolution" article for years. For about a year now, a single individual has been repeatedly vandalizing the article (replacing its text with Genesis Chapter 1). As a result, the article usually lives in a locked state - only admins can edit it. We keep a user-editable version on a separate page linked from the article's discussion page; people edit that, and admins then transfer the edits to the main article. This is essentially what "Flagged Revisions" would do, so it's already in place, just in a very inconvenient non-software form.

    We don't like locking articles, but we can do it already. Flagged Revisions is just another form of locking, and it's unfortunate, but there are assholes who have nothing better to do than sit around and wait for their favorite article to get unlocked so they can start vandalizing it again (like this guy). Whenever we try to unlock the article again (because, astonishingly, Wikipedia editors - and, contrary to what you might think, Wikipedia is very much run by its editors, it's far too vast to be effectively policed by any cabal) the vandalism starts again. We want to be able to deal with it in a way that's simple and fair to other editors. Flagged Revisions seems the best compromise, and it's hardly more Orwellian than locking the article to admin-only edits. Can you suggest a better solution to our problem?

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