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Wikipedia To Unlock Frequently Vandalized Pages 244

Posted by timothy
from the when-hitler-came-up-with-scientology dept.
netbuzz writes "In an effort to encourage greater participation, Wikipedia, the self-described 'online encyclopedia that anyone can edit,' is turning to tighter editorial control as a substitute for simply 'locking' those entries that frequently attract mischief makers and ideologues. The new system, which will apply to a maximum of 2,000 most-vulnerable pages, is sure to create controversies of its own."
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Wikipedia To Unlock Frequently Vandalized Pages

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:12PM (#32581350)

    (I try to volunteer a bit of my time on Huggle, a .NET application that allows for Wikipedia users with rollback permission to quickly patrol, revert vandalism, warn, and report users)

    Vandalism has been down a lot from what I've seen in the past, and more and more I get beaten to the punch reverting it.

    The biggest problem I see with this "pending changes" is that there will be so many edits that intentional subtle trolling (deliberately inserting incorrect facts/statistics) is more likely to get through just by the nature of the fact that experienced editors will have to read thousands of edits.

    However, it does make Wikipedia more accessible to a wider variety of users and should stop scaring away new contributors. Most anonymously made edits are actually not vandalism, so it's good to see Wikipedia trying to take an approach that allows these people to contribute to "bigger" (in the sense of # of visitors) articles.

    • by Moryath (553296)

      Everybody knows part of the problem with Wikipedia is the automated tools, that and the insane edit counts required by people who play it as a game with the idea of "leveling up" to admin.

      Try to correct a date, for example, and watch it get reverted just so someone can add another reversion to their edit count. Lather, rinse, repeat. Good data is 99% likely to be reverted at this point, because the people operating "tools" like Huggle, Twinkle, Finkle, Fuckle, Whatever don't give two shits about checking to

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      The biggest problem I see with this "pending changes" is that there will be so many edits that intentional subtle trolling (deliberately inserting incorrect facts/statistics) is more likely to get through just by the nature of the fact that experienced editors will have to read thousands of edits.

      I wouldn't agree with this - for the main reason that (AFAIK) anti-vandalism currently relies a lot on automated processes that check for common vandalism patterns. This change will bring the changes under the scru

  • The article specifically mentions W's page, but doesn't seem to give any direction on where one might find a comprehensive list. I'd actually be kind of interested to see that.

  • by spitzak (4019) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:21PM (#32581450) Homepage

    This is great! Everybody will now know that Obama was born to a prostitute in Kenya, and that Bush personally parachuted from the planes just before they crashed into the towers!

    • by Pojut (1027544)

      They will also know that Ross Perot is actually an elephant [in a room], Fox News really is fair and balanced, and that farts smell like flowers if a woman does it.

  • deeper problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:23PM (#32581478) Homepage
    This is supposed to open up participation by anonymous and new editors so that they can work on a small number of highly controversial articles. It might work, for those articles. But there is a broader problem that it won't address, which is that when a newbie edits *any* article on WP, they are extremely likely to get slapped in the face by having their edits immediately reverted without any explanation. I started working on WP articles in 2002, did a lot of editing until 2006, and finally gave up and munged the password to my account so I wouldn't be tempted to get heavily into it again. Somewhere between 2002 and 2006, the whole experience changed. These days, WP belongs to people who keep watch-lists of articles that they want to defend. The type of person who is successful at this game is totally obsessed with making sure that a particular paragraph in the article on shoe polish remains the way it is. Since I only edit anonymously now, I see the same experience as a newbie, and it ain't pretty. If you add a citation to a source, people will revert you because they assume the link is spam. If you clean up redundant text in an article, people revert you because they were in love with the sentence they wrote, and want it to stay in the article. Recently I added a couple of sentences to a WWII-era biographical article in which I referred to the Nazi party, and someone's bot reverted it because "Nazi" was a keyword that it was programmed to assume indicated vandalism.
    • I can totally understand how people would defend their paragraphs. In that case, the system should allow others to attack. A really CMS should be able to list multiple versions of the same issue, along with some background information about the authors. In other words, just let the world decide who's the genius and who's the moron.
    • Re:deeper problem (Score:4, Insightful)

      by melikamp (631205) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:51PM (#32581808) Homepage Journal

      I generally had a very positive experience with editing WIkipedia. Your examples indicate that there is a lot of bullshit going on behind the scenes, but still, we need this friction, because without it it would be little better than uncyclopedia. If I wanted to edit articles in the earnest, I would definitely create an account, I would write intelligible comments explaining my edits, and I would start asking to lock articles with dumb-skull bots guarding them, and get my way after a proper bureaucratic process. The end result is a better article, so it is totally worth the effort.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      Recently I added a couple of sentences to a WWII-era biographical article in which I referred to the Nazi party, and someone's bot reverted it because "Nazi" was a keyword that it was programmed to assume indicated vandalism.

      Should Wikipedia continue to allow personal revert-bots to troll webpages?
      If it's really necessary, maybe Wikipedia should create an internal auto-revert framework and accept page specific submissions.

    • If you clean up redundant text in an article, people revert you because they were in love with the sentence they wrote, and want it to stay in the article.

      Your example perfectly illustrates one of the biggest problems. You say the text you modifed is "redundant". You are you? What makes you right and them wrong? Maybe the text was fine as written and you lack the intelligence to appreciate it. Or maybe the original author was an idiot who has no ability to write coherently. Who decides which one is c

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        On WP, the final say resides with whoever has the strongest case of OCD or Asperger's. In the event of a tie, whoever has the best admin connections dominates.

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      My exact same experience. I uploaded over 100 images (many of which kept getting deleted), had over 8000 edits, and finally just gave up as the WikiNazis just sucked all the enjoyment out of it. It went from being a way to share my experience and willingness to research, into a drudgery that forced me to have to constantly argue with Admins who had more interest in inflating their numbers than creating a set of balanced articles.

      Once in a while, I will remove a comma, correct a spelling, or do something m

  • "This page is part of Wikipedia Project:Vandalism. Please be kind."

  • by VShael (62735) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:37PM (#32581646) Journal

    Even leaving aside the obvious entries on religion, abortion, evolution, etc... We also have to deal with viral marketing firms who, for example, kept editing the entry for the faux-dokumentary "The Fourth Kind" trying to make it seem real.

    There are simply more people willing to discredit Wikipedia, not just the small percentage of the population who indulge in trolling behaviour for shits and giggles.

    • The funny thing is that I think a lot of the shits and giggles type vandalism is done by (otherwise) productive editors of the Wikipedia. I've done a bit, practical joking sometimes, and I generally check that my vandalism didn't stick (it never does).

      Wikipedia is facing marketeers and anti-wikipedia ideologues now, and they want their edits to stick. So the problem is harder.

      That said, I think the problem of vandalism is overblown, and the reaction too strong in many cases. I've seen articles on my watchl

    • How does this change affect any of this? Previously, when a new/anonymous user wanted to change something in a semi-protected article, they had to suggest the changes on the talk page and get an "approved" user to do them. Now, anyone can make changes to the page in a way that's not visible to Wikipedia visitors, and they can be approved by experienced editors. It's the same thing, except now it requires less work on both sides.

  • which will apply to a maximum of 2,000 most-vulnerable pages

    I wonder why 2000? Did they look at the numbers and was there a natural break there. I wonder if the number of topics means anything.

    It will also be interesting to see what the list of 2000 actually are and what made or didn't make the list.

    It could just mean that much of these shenanigans will simply be shifted to the 2001-3001 topics...

  • I predict this debate will take more than one hundred years and exceed over 9000 posts before we have the correct question...

  • How about a warning? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @06:18PM (#32584202)

    Everybody knows Wikipedia is often very helpful, but occasionally can't be trusted. The problem is, Wikipedia doesn't seem to give feedback about *when* vandalism, non-neutrality, and other problems are likely. Of course it can happen anywhere, but for some pages, vandalism is an epidemic.

    How about if the Wikipedia engine automatically identified pages with very high rates of reverted page edits, "vandalism" and other similar terms appearing in the history, rapidly growing Talk:: sections, and other signs of trouble, and came right out and said in a top-of-page banner: this page is rapidly changing, and may be unreliable.

    This can be done mechanically, without having possibly biased editors to flag or protect pages, or to approve or disapprove changes. As a reader, if I know that the page I'm reading has been modified 20 times in the past week, with edits affecting 50% of the total text, most of which were reverted, I can form my own conclusion about its current reliability.

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