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Could a Reputation System Improve Wikipedia? 216

Posted by kdawson
from the must-be-true dept.
Acidus writes, "There is an excellent article in this month's First Monday about using reputation systems to limit the effects of vandalism on public wikis like Wikipedia. It discusses the benefits and weaknesses of various algorithms to judge how 'reliable' a given piece of text or an edit is. From the article: 'I propose that it would be better to provide Wikipedia users with a visual cue that enables them to see what assertions in an article have, in fact, survived the scrutiny of a large number of people, and what assertions are relatively fresh, and may not be as reliable. This would enable Wikipedia users to take more advantage of the power of the collaborative editing process taking place without forcing that process to change.'"
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Could a Reputation System Improve Wikipedia?

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  • by gasmonso (929871) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:54PM (#16091759) Homepage

    I agree that they need to do something, but that is a fantastic challenge. Look at your major encyclopedias, they have a team of several thousand to do fact checking on a paid basis. I'm not saying people wouldn't fact check, but its a great challenge. How would you know that people aren't just saying its legit or not just for fun?

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:19PM (#16091998) Homepage Journal
      With the method recommended in the article the system automatically assumes that a section of text which has not been modified over a series of edits to be more likely to be accurate. It's not that someone denotes a section as fact checked. But if a page has been edited many times, yet one section of it has not been modified, it assumes that unmodified section is more likely correct and colors it appropriately.
      • by miyako (632510) <miyako AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:58PM (#16092324) Homepage Journal
        There are two big problems I see with this:
        The first is that there are a lot of articles and sections of articles in wikipedia that are heavily edited without the facts changing much. This is mostly a good thing, cleaning up grammar, etc. But the if that is used as a basis for how reliable the information is, it could be misleading because the software won't know if the facts have changed, or just their wording
        The other problem that I see with this is that it makes it easy for people who "disagree" with facts to make edits to the sections to reduce their rating without just deleting them. It just makes me thing of those people who say "yeah, but evolution is only a theory" to undermine it, I can see them making minor changes to wordings of things to make the facts seem less debatable.
        Of course, if someone was doing that, it would be impossible to say if they were doing it because they wanted to supress facts by making them look less reliable, or if there were simply trying to contribute to the quality of an article.
        • by laxcat (600727)

          ...there are a lot of articles and sections of articles in wikipedia that are heavily edited without the facts changing much. This is mostly a good thing, cleaning up grammar, etc. But the if that is used as a basis for how reliable the information is, it could be misleading because the software won't know if the facts have changed, or just their wording.

          It's a good point, but I think the edit frequency would be pretty substantialy different in those cases. I'm not really basing this off anything more tha

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        For instance, something has been wrong with an article from the very begnining http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gato_cla ss_submarine&diff=2048162&oldid=2048151 [wikipedia.org] Like the Horsepower on the submarine being four times its actual size. Then it gets repeated on every single entry for the class http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Tinosa_(SS-283) [wikipedia.org] and then gets repeated as fact on thousands of wiki-replicas http://www.google.com/search?q=four+6500-hp+Diesel +engines [google.com] to the point where you can only fin
    • by beheaderaswp (549877) * on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:22PM (#16092020)
      Well the biggest problem they are dealing with is standards. In academia there's a criteria for what constitutes a "fact" and a formal process for fact checking. On the "internets", well anyone can submit edits, and claim a factual basis for it.

      So a reputation system is pretty useless because special interest groups can mobilize to skew reputation.

      Want to have Intelligent Design show more favorably? Ok, get a bunch of like minded people to raise your reputation.

      Heck, we even see it on Slashdot when a conservative or liberal viewpoint gets buried in moderation because people of a certain political belief gang up on the opposition.

      A lot of what Wikipedia is dealing with is a direct result of the deep divisions on our society. And the fact that unlike World Book Encyclopedia, apparently *everyone* is allowed into the research offices. In a virtual sense of course...
    • by Tweekster (949766)
      Do they have teams of several thousand?

      seriously, do they
    • by RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @05:49PM (#16092634) Homepage Journal
      Pardon my nerdocratic hubris here, but IMO Wikipedia would be a fantastic petri dish for evolving a robust reputation system, and the result could be useful in a wide variety of applications that facilitate pseudonymous communication & transactions.

      In the beginning, I'm sure this would just gather data & have little to no impact on the content. But over time, it could well become increasingly effective at improving content quality as its designers started to identify patterns & meaningful correlations in the collected data.

      This isn't so different from SPAM filters that need constant training, or PageRank, or eBay feedback scores, or AVN forum posting rules, etc. One needn't restrict the reputation data to any one data species; you could use a composite of community feedback + usage statistics + genetic algorithms etc., and over time tweak the weight any category of data is given to account for its sample size, its expected margin of error, and its track record in terms of predictive power.

      Sure, it's a time consuming undertaking & it'll take patience before we see results, but I don't see the real difficulty being in rigging up the system; I think the real difficulty will be in defining exactly what constitutes a quality article.

      Now, take a minute to share a utopian dream with me: Imagine the day when registered Wikipedia users with good reputations will be able to make edits from a Tor connection. :-)

    • by hpavc (129350)
      They should put in a rep+web of trust system right now, but the system shouldn't limit someone until the rep system as a time for it to saturate a large number of its users. They really need to be able to express the data on users and their change management relationships.

      If you have a change to my document. We need to have a way of saying 'i agree' and 'i defer to your judgment', etc.
  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:54PM (#16091760) Homepage Journal
    That answer is "no". We've seen numerous ratings and karma systems set up on a variety of boards and time and time again they've been defeated by people willing to take the time to game them for whatever reason.

    It's typical nerd hubris to believe that you can solve social problems through technological means.
    It's been proven time and time again that you can't.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A rating system is a social solution to a social problem.
    • by NewWorldDan (899800) <dan@gen-tracker.com> on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:07PM (#16091891) Homepage Journal
      Firstly, the word was "improve", not "solve". I think Wikipedia would improve substantially if it added an editorial supervision system. For example, changes were not posted until approved by a randomly assigned editor. The random part is important. Sure, it's still possible to trash the system, but that takes a lot more effort. And then you need a rating system for editors, and so on and so forth. But the Wikipedia is run on a volunteer basis. There are limits to what it can accomplish without resorting to professional oversight, which would change the very nature of the beast. Ultimately, I think we just have to accept that it is what it is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jZnat (793348) *
        Then it isn't a wiki anymore. I'm sure a lot of edits these days are clarifications, typo fixes, and other minor modifications. Having to approve them all would be tedious and would grind Wikipedia to a halt.
    • by Somatic (888514) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:09PM (#16091908) Journal
      I was tempted to mod that down cause it would have been funny. But no one but me would have got it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cavintage (1002078)
      There are successful reputation systems out there. For instance, Credence [sourceforge.net] can avoid Gnutella spam. They have a cool algo for detecting when a group of fake users all rate the same bogus files up. Wish this sort of thing was more widely deployed. Bitzi [bitzi.com] is the dumb version of the same idea, but never worked for me.
    • by catbutt (469582) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:16PM (#16091976)
      Good the Wright brothers didn't say that because lots of attempts were made at flying that failed.

      Slashdot's karma system is far from perfect, but at the end of the day it works. Can you game it? I don't really think so, at least not without a LOT of effort, which generally means contributing a lot of good content/ratings so that you can sneak in a very small amount of biased content or ratings.

      Whether "ungameable" is possible or not I don't know, but I am quite sure that wikipedia's system could be improved upon massively.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Slashdot's karma system works fine for Slashdot, but wouldn't work at all for Wikipedia. Slashdot, despite how much you may like it, is pretty far from neutral. It does the same thing this reputation thing would, represent the opinions of those most active in using it. Wikipedia would be ruined.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by catbutt (469582)
          How does wikipedia, in its current form, *not* represent the opinions of those who use it (including the opinion that it shoudl be as neutral as possible)?

          If people using it today value neutrality, how is that going to change when a karma system is put in place?
      • Wow, worst analogy on slashdot ever.

        The wright brothers weren't trying to overcome social issues, they were overcoming a technical issue.

        You can not solve social issues with technology. Social issue aren't always rational.

        I have gamed slashdot karma many times.
        In days of yor, I could intentional get a 50 karma in a week, and a -49 karma the next.
        I can do it today.

        Don't believe me? mod me up. ;)

        • by catbutt (469582)
          I'll make an analogy about how badly you understand analogies.

          I say "puppies are to dogs as kittens are to cats".

          You say "flawed analogy! Kittens are not canines!"

          And I'm not convinced you really "gamed" slashdot in any significant way. Try to get a crappy (as seen by the community) comment prominently displayed for a long time, in order to push some agenda. Without balancing it out by posting a large amount of good (as seen by the community) content.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mdwh2 (535323)
        Slashdot's karma system is far from perfect, but at the end of the day it works.

        I disagree. I set my preferences so anons don't have a -1, and people with karma bonuses aren't shown with +1.

        If you have something good to say, it should stand on its own merit - and that applies to Wikipedia. We should accept information there because it is verifiable, and not because we trust the random person who wrote it.
        • by catbutt (469582)
          I disagree. I set my preferences so anons don't have a -1, and people with karma bonuses aren't shown with +1.
          You are forgettting an important point. Because other people don't do that, others have less incentive to post crap. I think you have no idea how much spam there would be if no karma system.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by mdwh2 (535323)
            How does karma stop spam? Not moderation (which Wikipedia already has on a far more powerful level than Slashdot, in that edits can be reverted rather than simply moderated down), but the karma bonus system? I see no way to distinguish the trolls from the majority of Slashdotters who are not trolls, but simply do not have a karma bonus.
            • by catbutt (469582)
              First of all its not just the "karma bonus system", but that counts for a fair amount.

              It's really the whole ratings system, of which karma is one aspect. Note also that people with good karma get to moderate more often (at least that is my understanding), so a spammer can't easily just create a bunch of accounts solely for the purpose of rating his own posts up. And meta moderation is also important.

              The point is, a spammer would have his post viewed by very few people if he doesn't have any karma, and
      • by gatzke (2977)

        Every dupe someone reposts stale comments.

        Almost ever story someone whores and posts the article.

        It takes a little effort, but you can boost your karma.

        Recently, I found out that they may ban you from AC posts if you get enough down mods on past AC posts. I was posting asinine stuff AC, but it still hurt my account and I did not know that was an option...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AndyG314 (760442)
      I think that almost any reputation system woulth threaten the impartial nature of wikipedia.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jerf (17166)
        But he's not talking about assigning reputation to people, he's talking about assigning reputation to content.

        There is a world of difference.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yokaze (70883)
      > It's typical nerd hubris to believe that you can solve social problems through technological means.

      That is not what nerds are trying, it is what society is doing: Trying to solve social problems through software for wetware (laws).

      In the case of computer based communities, that laws are codified in programming languages, whereas in RL it is codified in legalese.

      > It's been proven time and time again that you can't.

      Yes... like flying.

      I admit, my first statement seem to be more an argument against th
    • One point with Wikipedia that seems to get overlooked -- or at least taken for granted -- is the power and ingenuity of the code that runs it. Technology is part of the solution here. If nothing else, Wikimedia deserves credit for putting together a state-of-the-art wiki machine -- an open source state-of-the-art wiki machine. Some of its features are dauntingly obscure and complex but it falls back quite gracefully to allow even the newest user to function with it effectively. I'd argue Wikipedia has s
      • #2 sounds like it would be a more unequivocal benefit.

        Maybe, but even if you managed to get it to provide meaningful insight into the reliability of the content, could you do it without turning the page into a rainbow striped eyesore?
    • We've seen numerous ratings and karma systems set up on a variety of boards and time and time again they've been defeated by people willing to take the time to game them for whatever reason

      surely these people who can beat the system are smart enough to make a useful contribution?
      if they put all the effort into getting a good reputation, then won't they want to keep it?
      rep based systems can work quite well - ebay for instance (although I can tell that a significant number of ebaybuyers don't really thi

    • Any sufficently insular group can convince themselves of any idea they choose simply by weeding out those that don't agree with them. This is a given. What you have to do is identify the obvious biases of a group (i.e. Slashdotters hate Microsoft) and ignore any opinion in that direction. You'll still get plenty of actual facts (or at least well supported truths), but those will require supplementing from an inversely biased truth source.

      What you CAN do is identify those thing for which there is no natur
  • this wouldn't work.
    • That's exactly right. We would just see the emergence of a "Wikipedia groupthink"; not unlike what we see on Slashdot, or University faculties.
      • by catbutt (469582)
        And what is wikipedia today if not "groupthink"? As much as they like to say their is "NPOV" and that this is purely objective, I call BS.

        Wikipedia's current system is "edit till the arguing stops". Ultimately, the more people sharing an opinion, the more the articles will bias that way. A good reputation system would not change this, just make it more efficient.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by mdwh2 (535323)
          And what is wikipedia today if not "groupthink"? As much as they like to say their is "NPOV" and that this is purely objective, I call BS.

          But if what you say is true, then a karma system would only make this worse. Who would get the most karma? Those people who are spending all their time editing on Wikipedia, of course.
          • by catbutt (469582)
            No, karma would have more to do with quality of content than quantity. People who's content is rated consistantly highly by those who themselves have a good reputation (for giving quality ratings and/or posting quality content). And so on. A smart karma system is very similar to Googles PageRank thing.
    • by joe 155 (937621) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:11PM (#16091924) Journal
      I must disagree, the /. system is actually working pretty well. If you say something which is needlessly offensive you will be modded flaimbait, the same would go if you're trying to start a flame war with comments like "GNOME smells of cheese and suX!!11!". If you make some "GNAA!!!!!" type posts, that'll be a troll. If you say something which is completely off topic, it gets modded as such. Both of these things mean that modding becomes pretty much a true/false kind of thing, which meta modding can comfirm. It also stops being seeing it as a default and makes the best shine out...

      Possitive modding is a little more shakey with "informative/interesting/insightful" all meaning pretty much the same thing in most people's mind, but that's not too much of a problem.

      Group think can cause issues, but in reality there is such a wide range of modders it is often avoided (you can see some pro-MS or anti-Apple comments come through)... although the system isn't perfect I guess group think at least only makes content that most would want to see if they come here.

      It is also interesting to note that most people do care about karma and do like to get modded +5, maybe the wiki system would work in a similar way - where people will care.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AlphaWolf_HK (692722)
        If you say something which is needlessly offensive you will be modded flaimbait, the same would go if you're trying to start a flame war with comments like "GNOME smells of cheese and suX!!11!". If you make some "GNAA!!!!!" type posts, that'll be a troll. If you say something which is completely off topic, it gets modded as such. Both of these things mean that modding becomes pretty much a true/false kind of thing, which meta modding can comfirm. It also stops being seeing it as a default and makes the best
        • Your perfectly right. This is why I like the moderation system on sites like urbandictionary and reddit. They let multiple people upmod or downmod a comment and then list the most upmodded ones at the top. That way you get the consensus of the site, much more than the consensus of what must be the two or three people, who get mod points.

        • by jZnat (793348) *
          If you post your opinion enough (e.g. like twitter does, although I agree with him), there just aren't enough mod points to go around to mod you down all the time. A lot of people's comment history seem to be a lot of +1 comments, even those with excellent karma.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      [The Slashdot moderation system proves....] this wouldn't work.

      So what you're saying is that because a bad, stupid, wrong moderation system doesn't work on slashdot, that some other moderation system wouldn't work on wikipedia?

      I don't think you really completed that thought before you wrote your comment.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Arivia (783328)
        Of course it was. It was perfectly formed for the best karma payoff with the least amount of effort. That's what posting to Slashdot is all about, right?
    • by catbutt (469582)
      Please make your case that slashdot would be better if there was no karma system...I don't buy it. I think it is poorly designed, but still makes slashdot more useful than boards of comparable size that have no such system. (actually, I don't think boards of such size without a rep system exist....they became unusable long ago because of all the trolling and spam)

      Also I think it is odd to say that "because there is a case of something doesn't work, that will never work".
  • rep farming (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sebastopol (189276) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:55PM (#16091766) Homepage
    of course it won't help. people will just grind for rep and then vandalize.

    what we need are national ids and biometric logins.

    i kid... i kid...
    • Bah. I'm already wasting several hours a week farming Cenarion Circle rep for my new axe, and now I've gotta farm wikipedia rep?

    • by jelle (14827)
      "of course it won't help. people will just grind for rep and then vandalize"

      It's a form of 'payment'. Need to 'do good' before can 'do bad'. How wouldn't that help if vandals need to make (e.g.) 10 useful contributions for each vandalization instead of just vandalizing like it's possible now?

      With the example above, for every 10 vandals, there only needs to be one more vandal still building up his reputation to undo the vandalism of all the others...

      And that's without the people who don't vandalize.
      • The problem is the bandwidth and debate required to decide what is a USEFUL mod and what isn't. By inserting a person or people into the loop you do two things: 1) bottleneck wikipedia immensely, and 2) require a subjective analysis of each edit by an inherently biased 3rd (er, 2nd) party.

        * Yes, there's the karma-like concept, but that could easily be spammed by the opposition, just like it is on /. with alternate login IDs. Metamoderation taught me moderation is probably only (just a guess) 50% effectiv
        • by jZnat (793348) *
          I'd recommend giving troll posts a +3 bonus; that seems to be the most abused negative mod out there, and at least 75% of the time (in my experience M2'ing) are given unfairly.

          Otherwise, I've found that most moderations are fine. Maybe I luck out while M2'ing?
  • by capoccia (312092) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:55PM (#16091769) Journal
    this is a solution in search of a problem. wikipedia does not have a problem with ordinary vandalism that could result in a reasonable measure of a user's reliability. wikipedia's biggest problem is with unfounded but believable information. in this case, the measure of reliability of a user would be nearly useless because the reliability of their edits is unknown.
    • by owlnation (858981)
      Yes, absolutely, I couldn't agree more.

      I am progressively more and more disturbed by the wikipedophile focus on finding a solution to "vandalism". Liken it if you will to an right wing politicans campaign to rid the world of "terrorism".

      I would concur that mindless destruction of someone's work is annoying and should be dealt with, however, I think it is important to understand that not all acts of destruction are in fact mindless - some are legitimate protests. Much as wikipedia likes to harp on abo
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:56PM (#16091778) Homepage Journal

    I mean, we could all moderate/evaluate the slashdot editors on their choice of stories and keep stats, like onna baseball card.

    CmdrTaco
    Dupes: 23
    Veiled ads as news: 18
    Old news: 17
    Allowed Bad Grammar: 2,980
    Allowed Bad Spelling: 9,874,376

    • by gardyloo (512791)
      Dude, to be fair, you have to have the amount of time over which those stats were accumulated. The ones you give are valid for the period of at least a day. Maybe even a week!
  • Yes (Score:3, Funny)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:56PM (#16091780) Homepage
    Could a Reputation System Improve Wikipedia?

    YES - It works on /.
  • Even if somebody makes hundreds of edits in good faith, there will still be a good deal of inaccuracy in some of the edits. A rep system built on trusted edits does not mean the quality will be any better. Whatsmore, determined vandals could start trying to access accounts through phishing.


  • I've only edited a wiki once, and that was info on my home country. I have however been addicted to yahoo answers. thats what i doo all day ( why I dont know) one cool feature is you have to gain a certain rank before you can be allowed to either thumbs up or thumbs down and answer or question. I guess it's kind of a prove your worth sort of deal.
  • What about... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:05PM (#16091864)
    The site is /.-ed, but this got me thinking: what about having an additional page view that uses color to highlight text age? Oldest text would be black, newest would be something else (red? blue?), intermediate 'ages' in intermediate shades. This would make it quite obvious which parts of the article haven't been modified in a long time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tonyr1988 (962108)
      Better yet, we could use MySpace color schemes.
      • Oldest: black with jet black background
      • Little newer: Yellow on orange
      • Tad bit newer: Light blue with seventeen exclamation points
      • Couple days old: ALL CAPS BABY
      • Posted today: Embedded into a crappy Flash movie from www.pimpandrockoutyourwikipediavids.com
      Then it will be truly distinguishable.
  • by br00tus (528477) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:07PM (#16091897)
    On Wikipedia, pages relating to quantum mechanics are sometimes vandalized, but 99% of people are on the same side in terms of keeping it accurate. So there are various ways this can be improved.

    On the other hand, the pages regarding the fight between Hamas and IDF are as much a battleground as is the area around the Israeli/Lebanese border. I have been involved in Wikipedia for years and have just seen things deteriorate around these types of flame-wars. Wikipedia's leadership is not dealing with it well. Imagine Slashdot setting up a wiki where we had to determine which was better - Debian or Gentoo (or Ubuntu etc.), BSD or Linux, vi or emacs etc.

    We are technical people, and there's the old thing about when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. But I don't think a technical solution will help much in regards to this. I'm not even sure you really can have a neutral view about wars in the Middle East. And even if you could, Wikipedia's "cabal" is nowhere near able to deal with it, and I doubt they ever will be. Personally, I think most of the people in high positions at Wikipedia are jerks, all the flamewars and such seem to have driven most of the nice people off.

    Things like Wikipediareview.com convince me that what will ultimately happen is alternatives to Wikipedia will pop up. Wikipedia is a new phenomenom, and it makes sense everyone edits on the same wiki, but why should that be? Why should pro-Hamas and pro-Israel people edit and battle on the same wiki? It makes little sense, and I'm sure in time, just as IRC went from one network to EFnet and Anet, and then split even more, I'm sure we'll see splits with Wikipedia. In the old days, the Encyclopaedia Britannica had one view of history and the Great Soviet Encyclopedia had another, why should the future be any different?

    • by Kesch (943326) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:23PM (#16092025)
      On Wikipedia, pages relating to quantum mechanics are sometimes vandalized.


      Actually, every article on quantum mechanics exists in a state between vandalized and not vandalized. By viewing it you colapse the waveform and change it's value. Now, there is a good probability that it will turn out unvandalized, but as you have stated it occasionaly collapses into a vandalized article. After you leave the page, Wikipedia runs complex calculations in it's improbability engine and sends the article back into a quantum state.

      P.S. This is presented as per my understanding of quantum mechanics which I learned entirely from Wikipedia. It may be wrong however as my viewing might have caused it to appear in a vandalized state.

      P.P.S
      Imagine Slashdot setting up a wiki where we had to determine which was better - Debian or Gentoo (or Ubuntu etc.), BSD or Linux, vi or emacs

      Debian, Linux, emacs. That wasn't so hard. (Anyone who disagrees is a terrorist.)
    • by FhnuZoag (875558)
      Simple, really.

      Because splitting from Wikipedia to create the Palestinapedia would be an admission of defeat.
    • A "perfect" solution isn't really needed. Indeed, given Wikipedia's stellar success, you could argue that the current situation is already good enough. People already use Wikipedia, and make improvements to it... and since it has many readers and writers, it's a success by any mreasure.

      But I think that discussing ways to improve Wikipedia is very valuable; only by proposing ideas and trying them out can things get better.

      This is not a user reputation scheme; it simply colors text based on how many edi

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not even sure you really can have a neutral view about wars in the Middle East. ... Why should pro-Hamas and pro-Israel people edit and battle on the same wiki?

      Because the harder you try, the closer you come to success.

      In contrast to most articles on the Israeli-Palestinian situation where the writer is trying to advance a particular viewpoint, I've actually found the Wikipedia articles to be quite good. You actually have a situation where people on both sides of the issue are coming together to try to

    • The Slashdot Wiki wouldn't be too bad. It would just say Linux and Emacs. Right? Right?!?
  • ...and I'm not even speaking about the validity and effectiveness of a karma point system. I mean, a visual queue to tell people what content to believe or not? What happened to reasoning, critical thinking and the scientific process? Do we need to think for ourselves or rely on someone's visually appealing color code to know what or what not to trust?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KillerBob (217953)

      ...and I'm not even speaking about the validity and effectiveness of a karma point system. I mean, a visual queue to tell people what content to believe or not? What happened to reasoning, critical thinking and the scientific process? Do we need to think for ourselves or rely on someone's visually appealing color code to know what or what not to trust?

      Sometimes it's obvious when a factual error has been made. Say, for example, somebody changes the article on Monarch butterflies to claim that they feed on th

  • Any reputation system would need to take into account topic area somehow. Otherwise you could get someone who is extremely competent in one area making an @ss of themselves in another article.

    Consider Einstein's quote, "Marriage is nothing more than an attempt to make something lasting out of an incident." Obviously Einstein was a less than stellar social psychologist.
  • by gnetwerker (526997) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:12PM (#16091932) Journal
    In my opinion, vandalism is not the primary Wikipedia problem. Yes, it is embarrassing, but ultimately only a secondary symptom of the central problem: when you have an "encyclopedia that anyone can edit", anyone does edit it. The clear observtion (can't remember who said this first) is that twenty teenage idiots do not collaboratively make an expert. The perhaps more important corollary is that twenty teenage idiots plus one expert are indistinguishable from twenty-one idiots.

    Larry Sanger has acutely commented on Wikipedia's anti-elitism and the way they have run experts off the system. Experts don't have the time or energy to debate fundamental points of well-understood scholarships with game-playing trolls. Further, even when they aren't teenagers, Wikipedia has become the home of everyone who wants history and scholarship to read the way they like it rather than representing some academic consensus. As a result we have politicians trying to rewrite their personal biographies (or those of their opponents), partisans on each side of the world's conflicts burnishing their allies and undermining their opponents (Israel/Palestine, Turkey/Armenia, US/everyone else), and devotees of everything from Microsoft Vista to Nintendo to PETA skillfully expunging objective truth from their deifications of the chosen object of worship.

    So doling out karma to 100,000 teenage idiots is not going to solve Wikipedia's problem. In order to save Wikipedia, we need to destroy it -- it needs to be edited by more experts and fewer "normal people".

    • by DoninIN (115418)
      Wikipedia isn't broken. What you're describing could be created as an add on layer, wiki is free, all content available under the GNU documentation license etc. Youre expertwiki could be added on top and be used to provide commentary and point out the articles that regularly are biased/suck because of the nature of wiki. Basically I use the wiki for EVERYTHING as a starting point, and often it's the only place I need to look, say for a recipe or to find out something utterly unimportant, if I'm looking for
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Guess what? Anyone who thinks that Wikipedia some sort of expert-system and that it is being dragged down with anti-elitism has no idea at all what WP has become.

      Right now, Wikipedia strives to attribute all statements in its articles to a reliable source. This is something an idiot can do, once they are shown how.

      Assuming that debates would somehow be fewer or settled faster and with universal agreement if there were more 'experts' shows no understand of human nature what-so-ever. The best WP can hope
    • by sethg (15187)
      A co-worker of mine, an Eastern European emigre, observed that many of the articles in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia were untrustworthy, but everyone who hadn't swallowed the Party line could tell which articles to distrust. Slashdot draws its commenters from a certain slice of the nerd population, and if you disagree with the technical/political biases of that slice, well, you should read Slashdot with the appropriate skepticism. With Wikipedia, because the people trying to influence the process are all
  • First off, most of this artical was a bad idea. One thing that did seem like a good idea, was to somehow (perhaps by marking in red or some other visual clue) indicate what part of an artical was new, from the part of the artical which has existed for a while. This would help in several ways:
    1) People looking for reliable information would know that these parts of an artical have not been exposed to long term scrutney, and therefore may be inacurate.
    2) The new, and therefore unverified parts would be mo
  • They need to stop worrying about being authoritative or credible. Wikipedia is useful for discovering links and keywords to use in a subsequent search for authoritative material. It's a place to start, not a place to finish. The more people that give a shit about a topic on Wikipedia - whichever side of a controversy they are on - the more useful the content posted to that topic becomes for the purpose of getting more research leads.

    The topics on Wiki that are least useful are the obscure, non-controvers
    • They need to stop worrying about being authoritative or credible. Wikipedia is useful for discovering links and keywords to use in a subsequent search for authoritative material.

      Sounds fair, but there's that tricky part of obtaining the cooperation of everyone who cites a Wikipedia article as an authoritative source to go along. Judging from posts on Slashdot, for example, I'd suggest the "It's on the internet, therefore it's true." approach is, if not alive and well, valid enough to garner enough nods of
  • The link's web server does not seem to be responding, so I have no idea what they are proposing. I think a reputation system somewhat similar to slashdot's might be very useful if correctly implemented - users could establish a reputation for themselves over time, and edits by users with a bad reputation (or no reputation) might receive more scrutiny.

    This might help with an unrelated problem: giving recognition to people who make good edits. I suspect a lot of people wouldn't post as often (or word thei

  • When you create an account you get the opportunity to create one article. Then the moderators get to vote on the article (because lets face it those editors read everything posted). If you get enough votes, then you can post another article. If you don't get enough votes, then you have to fix up the article until it can get enough votes to write a new article. The votes will also go into a total votes system. So after a month or so of submitting one article at a time you accumulate 100 votes, then you can
  • I dunno... (Score:5, Informative)

    by earthbound kid (859282) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:23PM (#16092028) Homepage
    According to some preliminary [aaronsw.com] research [aaronsw.com] by Aaron Swartz about who write Wikipedia, while it's true that most of the editing is done by regulars of the sort who would have karma, most of the original content is added by people with few other contributions to Wikipedia. The regulars just go back and put everything into Wiki format, add tags, make things follow style guides, etc. Since the real work is done by anonymous people who may never come back to the site, it's important to keep the process as open as possible for people who are still new to Wikipedia.
  • I don't think a single reputation system is a particularly good idea, but I think having site member points of view, which are either edits or endorsements, and the ability for people to choose other views, would work well. Since the wikipedia content is all gfdl, other sites could represent their own points of view, and this content could be exchanged, and no content would need to be censored.

    Browsing a site might consist of choosing which views you want to see by default, and accessing other versions/site
  • I propose that it would be better to provide Wikipedia users with a visual cue that enables them to see what assertions in an article have, in fact, survived the scrutiny of a large number of people, and what assertions are relatively fresh, and may not be as reliable.

    And I know just the way to implement this! New text starts with font colour #FFFFFF. At every edit, if the text survives, the colour value is decremented by 1. When it hits #000000 it is forever barred from being edited ever again.

    It's useful:

    • by Al Dimond (792444)
      But not only will new text be nearly invisible under this scheme: text slightly more than 1/3 and 2/3 the way to undeletability will be nearly invisible. You'd need to trace a smoother path through the colorspace to make such an idea like that work: a gradient of grays (straight line from white to black) would be boring, but something like the heat scale might work.

      And as far as the wise man goes, he is trivially proven a fool. Every page has the same color pattern just after its creation! Besides, certa
  • by kinglink (195330) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:33PM (#16092114)
    I'm not going to get in the politicing and all. The simple fact is the only response back you'll get from this is how many reverts have been done when you post and those arn't always your fault.

    The best parts of Wikipedia is a fast and easy way to edit information, no hassles, no extra effort required. You get out what you put in and that's it. You want to put in the work to be a vandal you're a vandal, but in the end you already know what you're doing. Type in a good sentance but someone replaces it with a better paragraph that's fine.

    But instead of working on the core of the experience now we are going to spend time rating each others' facts, rating each other. Basically just killing time. The simple fact is we don't need it, this system is in place in a lot of other places and in effect it basically weeds out the bad apples at the inconvience of all the good users. "You'll have to do 5 discussion posts before you can edit an article" "you have to edit three more articles before you can add an article". This stuff doesn't help or appeal to anyone but "karma whore" types.

    If I write a well written page about the new player on the Red Soxes, I should be able to go in to a page that links to it create that page, set up my links and go. I should be able to do this on the first day as well as the fifth year with the same ease. Adding in safe blocks and guards will only hurt wikipedia's overall goals, not help the ideas it promotes. The best thing to do is start handing out serious penalties for vandalism or obvious weasel words.

    This doesn't even get into the idea of being able to do fast edits with out logging in, something that's helpful at times.
  • Web of credibility (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jemenake (595948) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @05:04PM (#16092364)
    About 10 years ago, when I learned of PGP's "Web of Trust" system (where I could choose to trust everybody that you trust), I turned to a colleague and said "What we need next is a 'Web of Credibility'..." where individuals in the community can bestow credibility points to others... and the points I can bestow to you would depend upon how credible the community thinks *I* am, and so on. In other words, if Noam Chomsky or Lester Thurow vouch that you're highly-credible, then that would boost your credibility more than a few glowing scores from your cable guy and the kid at the local sip-n-go. Ultimately, it would be a measure of how likely (or unlikely) you were to spout off on something that you had no clue about.

    Having not yet RTFA, I'd just like to say that I agree, wholeheartedly, with the general notion... and I look forward to the day when our credibilities are incoporated into our digital signatures (that I hope we're also all using someday). - Joe
    • Credibility is very much specific to the subject matter and it would seem to be hard to apply to wikipedia.

      I know people that i think are absolutely credible sources about technology subjects, but who I wouldn't consider credible in discussing say politics (although i'm sure they feel they were qualified).

      I see your point about having to assess how likely it was that someone would spout off something inaccurate, but i feel that most people do that at some point or another (see Slashdot)
      • by jemenake (595948)

        I know people that i think are absolutely credible sources about technology subjects, but who I wouldn't consider credible in discussing say politics (although i'm sure they feel they were qualified).

        Well then, if they often expounded about technology topics *and* political topics, then other people would be giving them a blend of high and low credibility scores... yielding a score of "so so". However, if they knew to keep their trap shut when the topic turned to politics, then they wouldn't get as man

  • Search engines use a similar variation of the idea that trusted sources lead to accurate results (PageRank & TrustRank). However anything can get manipulated. Search engine rankings are always abused. And look at DMOZ - editors that act as gatekeepers for submissions demand money. Corruption is rampant on DMOZ. But maybe wikipedia has too little commercial motivation to lead to high levels of corruption. The whole colbert thing with african elephants seemed like a good test of the system and wikip
    • Everyone will give points to moderators and administrators. Why? Who knows. Maybe they think it's like a bribe.
    • Lots of people who contribute won't be noticed by everyone who's giving mods, admins, and big editors/posters points. Thus these people end up not getting points. Unless:
      • Everyone gets a point for every day they do something on wikipedia and don't get marked as a vandal, for example.
      • People have unlimited points to give or are otherwise set up with limitations that encourage wider spreadin
  • It certainly helps with Xbox live.
  • by 4D6963 (933028)

    Short answer : No

    Long answer : No..

    I know of some wikipedia user who has a good reputation but vandalizes afrocentrism-related articles to push her personal agenda, so reputation is nothing actually. It's as if you believed in whatever scientists claim due to their reputation, as we know very well that even some reputed scientists make up some crap for non-scientifical publications from time to time for various reasons.

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

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