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The Internet News

Wikipedia to Restrict Creation of Articles 368

cine writes "News.com reports that starting Monday Wikipedia will restrict the creation of new articles to members. Anonymous users will only be able to edit existing articles. This move comes after a controversial week for the free online encyclopedia" From the article: "Wales said the Seigenthaler article not only escaped the notice of this corps of watchdogs, but it also became a kind of needle in a haystack: The page remained unchanged for so long because it wasn't linked to from any other Wikipedia articles, depriving it of traffic that might have led to closer scrutiny."
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Wikipedia to Restrict Creation of Articles

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  • That's Okay (Score:5, Funny)

    by bclark ( 858016 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:13PM (#14188868)
    I was never the first to post an article anyway.
    • by jim_v2000 ( 818799 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @07:15PM (#14189405)
      "...the Seigenthaler article not only escaped the notice of this corps of watchdogs, but it also became a kind of needle in a haystack: The page remained unchanged for so long because it wasn't linked to from any other Wikipedia articles, depriving it of traffic..."

      Not only does the Wikipedia contain incorrect information about Mr. Seigenthaler, but they now also let out that he's not important enough for anyone to care about his biography. /hilarity
      • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @09:35PM (#14190341) Homepage Journal
        /. itself is a prime locus for the abuse of anonymity. There are a few cases where anonymity is reasonable, but in general, I'd estimate that 99% of the anonymous comments are made by people who would simply be too ashamed to want to be linked to the comment, even in the form of a link to their handle. The ACs (in /. parlance) apparently have various motivations and excuses, but all of them stink.

        Go ahead and wail, you stupid ACs. My settings eagerly ignore your replies. One of the best little-known features of /., if you ask me.

        Returning to the Wikipedia context, I can actually imagine a SINGLE case where anonymity would be justified. That is the case where someone wants to expose an important truth to the public, but would be subject to attack for telling that truth. However, in that case, Wikipedia is obviously the wrong place, since the same person or organization that wants to conceal that truth could just edit the Wikipedia article in question to remove or obfuscate the data.

        This is actually the same kind of case where in the old (pre-Reagan) days you could have tried to find an actual journalist to pursue the story. Look at Bob Woodward to see how things have changed, eh? These days, I guess we just have to hope that the glut of data will allow enough of the truths to leak out? (But look at Iraq to see how well that works.)

        • I don't know about that. I think that people would just dismiss the "article" as delusional/paranoid/stupid whatever. They're even more likely to ignore it when the writer is anonymous. There are enough whack jobs with web sites that a lone whistleblower in Wikipedia is not likely to be noticed much less believed. I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand, but I'd use my own critical thinking skills to try to determine the validity of the claims. But I take the same grain of salt with every article on Wikipedi
          • Well, it was slightly out of context, but yes, I do mean "justified" in the case of anonymity, but not for privacy. Rather, I think the default for privacy should be exactly the opposite. Your personal information should belong to you, and no one else should have any right to collect information about you without your knowledge and consent. The other person should be required to justify any intrusion on your privacy, and you should have the absolute right to deny those requests. (This is basically an extens
        • AC on wikipedia like on many other webpage is most to encourage activity altough user laziness.

          It just a good start to be able to just participate, without having do go through the "complicated" process to create an account. Its just to move one barrier away, to become a wikipedian. Once you feel more comfortable you will create an account nevertheless.
  • by Mecdemort ( 930017 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:14PM (#14188870)
    When it is so easy to create an account on wikipedia, how does this really affect anything? Banning anonymous article creation isn't suddenly going to make all articles interlinked, nor will it stop people from making pointless articles.
    • by pomo monster ( 873962 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:21PM (#14188944)
      "Anonymous" Wikipedia accounts are actually less anonymous than registered users. As an anonymous user, your IP is visible for tracking across the site and tracing to your physical location; but you have the ability to create as many username sockpuppets as you want.

      As a formerly prolific contributor, I never really understood how registration was helpful for anything but tracking people who want to be tracked.
      • by R.Mo_Robert ( 737913 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:55PM (#14189254)

        Dial-up users (and, yes, there still are some) generally don't have a static IP, so it's not like the IP address is all that identifying. Even on broadband, if people wanted to, I'm sure they could go through some sort of proxy if they really wanted to.

        That being said, unfortunately, I really don't think this new policy will help things, either.

        • by XPulga ( 1242 )
          In Brazil (and most likely in other countries too) an IP address and a timestamp of an event coming from it (DoS attack, break-in attempt, fraud ou whatever) is enough to identify the user. If something unlawful is performed on the net, the authorities have the right to obtain the user's identity from the ISP. ISPs are required to be able to identify users based on IP/timestamp. Most ISPs disencourage IP-sharing (one user buys fat-pipe link, provides access to friends/neighbours via NAT) and even if that is
      • by Woldry ( 928749 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @07:38PM (#14189574) Journal
        I work in a library. We provide free Internet access to literally thousands of patrons every week. Under state law, what you do in the library is confidential, so we do not keep any record of your Internet usage. Should an anonymous Wikipedia account be traced to a library IP, there is no possible way to determine who was using a particular library computer at a particular time on a particular day.

        It might narrow you down to a particular physical community, or at least to being within driving distance of a particular community. But otherwise it sounds pretty darn anonymous to me.

    • I don't know (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Descalzo ( 898339 )
      but perhaps they are trying to increase responsibility and accountability. Perhaps if that guy had been able to find out who had libeled him, he would never have been libeled, or at least they would have fired him or sued him or whatever.
      • Re:I don't know (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 ( 468275 )
        I still maintain that Sigenthaler is full of horseshit with regards to his libel claims, and it's unfortunate that the person who wrote that page can't be identified just so Sigenthaler can't have his day in court, and be promptly laughed out of it.

        Because he's a public figure, he'd have to not only show damages (which are doubtful, given that it would require demonstrating that people essentially take Wikipedia as gospel, when in reality you could get any number of reasonable, unsophisticated users to say
    • Nope (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bwd ( 936324 )
      You don't even need to provide a valid email address to create a wikipedia account right now; it's purely optional. This looks like more of a PR move than a move aimed to actually improve the quality of the content submitted.
      • Re:Nope (Score:4, Insightful)

        by smallfeet ( 609452 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:29PM (#14190610) Journal
        The whole idea in the wikiwiki is that good information will drive out bad over time. If it is wrong today, fix it and it is correct, at least for a while. If have to see it as a dynamic media of time.

        The problem with Wikipedia is that it is too big and impossible to control. Maybe a more distributed approach would be better, SciencePedia, HistoryPedia, etc. Less pages, more focused, the editors might be able to keep more of a handle on things.

    • There is virtually no hassle to register a free account. Virtually is the keyword. This little hassle is what might reduce the creation of flamebait or other nonsense articles. If you are going to create a legit article, then I'd wager you have enough determination to take this little step anyway, so there's no problem in that respect, either.
    • by sbaker ( 47485 ) *
      Since anonymous users can still edit articles, it is perfectly possible to log in using a legitimate account, create a new page with minimal content then log out and put whatever crap you want into it using an anonymous account.

      Perhaps a better approach is to somehow disallow access to disconnected pages. When the last link to the page goes away, the article is put into hibernation until someone again links to it.
  • by FlyByPC ( 841016 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:14PM (#14188875) Homepage
    It's a shame that creation of articles can't be (officially) anonymous anymore, but I do see the benefit in requiring registration to start a new article. Most common topics already have an article by now -- and it's easy enough to register to start new ones.

    I hope they still allow anonymous edits and posts.
  • Not a problem. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FireballX301 ( 766274 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:14PM (#14188877) Journal
    But wasn't the Siegenthaler issue about an edit of his article, not creation?

    In any case it's not that hard to register, and it's not hard to lie about your personal details. Nor is it hard to do this by proxy. So not quite a free-speech issue since prior to this your IP was published anyway. Thumbs up for a decent resolution.
    • Re:Not a problem. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SycoCowz ( 823572 )
      The issue was present in the original article as it was first written. At least that's what he and Jimmy Wales agreed to today on CNN.
    • This sounds to me like a CYA effort by Wikipedia more than a change that will actually affect users all that much.

      If Seigenthaler sues, now Wikipedia can respond that when Seigenthaler sent them a request to take down the article, they did so, and instituted changes to prevent something similar from happening again. That's a pretty good way to get a lawsuit dismissed.
  • by Okita ( 853139 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:15PM (#14188887)
    In the interest of accountability, shouldn't it have been this way in the first place? Then again, I'm a crazy person who thinks real sources (not just websites) need to be cited in a Wikipedia article for it to have real credibility.
    • imho, i think something like the trust system should be used to gain credibility points. I'd be happy to see an assurer or something in order to post or even edit articles, because I'm willing to sacrifice a minimal amount of time to make a better site.
    • by ebusinessmedia1 ( 561777 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:40PM (#14189126)
      This is exactly right. In fact, I had an entire Wiki wiped out by someone who didn't "agree" with the thrust ofo my project. The project in question was a Wiki project that I had been using as a placeholder to show the potential power of distributed and open source publishing to state public education officials. It's a K-12 textbook project.

      What I discovered one day - because i dodn't visit the Wiki every day - was that the whole thing had been co-opted by some anarchistic fool who simply thought that *his* take on my project was a better one. That person literally stole my Wiki URL, erased what I and many others had constructed, and started putting his content on it. That, instead of simply starting his own project under a different name. I had to find an intermediary to help me negotiate with this person, just to get him to cease and desist. In the interim, I lost the promise of help for the project that I had received from several people who could have made the project move along faster. they were afraid that their work could/would be wiped out.

      The entire incident caused immeasureable harm to my project, and to the project's self-image. The project lost viable contributions from nearly 100 contributors that really cared about what I was doing.This has since been repaired. I had to reconstruct everything from scratch. This disaster happened simply because there was no proper control designed into the process. Thiings are noe getting better on Wikipedia

      If you want to see the project- the California Open Source Textbook Project [COSTP] now almost fully back from near-decimation, go to http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/COSTP_World_History_P roject [wikibooks.org]

      http://www.opensourcetext.org/ [opensourcetext.org]

      • This sounds really frustrating, but I don't understand why all your content was lost. Doesn't the wiki keep diffs for each edit? If not, it seems to me that that's the solution. If someone comes in and makes a mess, you just revert to the previous state.

        • by ebusinessmedia1 ( 561777 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:58PM (#14189287)
          Apparently, that's the way the system is supposed to work. in this case, it didn't. My content was gone. Some of it was recovered eventually, but much of it disappeared.

          Following this incident, a control system was begun that let project initiators have increased control over their Wiki. this appears to be working.

          Wikipedia is a great resource, and a great idea. That said, I think the move to more rational control - to prevent malicious attacks or even inadvertant disasters - is a good idea.

      • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @08:01PM (#14189739) Homepage Journal
        Why not set up wiki software on your own site and manage wiki permissions as you see fit? It doesn't sound like you expected a bunch of strangers to compose the book for you, so the main gain of it being on wikibooks is negated.

        Dan East
      • I've written some free-as-in-speech textbooks, and I run a site that catalogs free books and accept user-submitted reviews of them. So far, I have never seen a successful book done via a wiki, except for Wikipedia. IMO, Wikipedia is a special case that happens to be very well suited to the wiki model (too big for one person to do alone, and inherently parallelizable). For any other kind of book, you need a single person who's a good writer (or at most 2 or 3 such people), and who has a commitment to writing
    • by Woldry ( 928749 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @07:54PM (#14189693) Journal
      Define "real sources".

      As a reference librarian, I have no illusions about the reliability of Wikipedia. But unlike an awful lot of non-librarians, I also have no illusions about the reliability of the standard reference tools, either. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, World Almanac, and the OED have problems, too -- fewer, I'll readily grant you, but also far, far slower to come to light and be corrected.

      How do you vet the "real sources"? What criteria do you use to decide that they are reliable? What criteria do you use to decide that what you think is an error in Wikipedia is indeed an error?

      Ultimately, with Wikipedia as with the rest of the information world, you have only one guide to trust: your own judgment.

  • by Mori Chu ( 737710 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:18PM (#14188912)
    So a hostile anonymous coward can no longer create an entry. Fine. But isn't the real mischief to be made by modifying a pre-existing entry anyway? The article itself talks about a blogging "pioneer" who deleted references to early bloggers from a Wikipedia story. He could still have done that despite this change.
    • Actually, there were two cases mentioned. One was that an article was created with factually incorrect information that was inadequately checked after publication. The second was that an article was changed and this has led to problems. It is the former that has caused the change.

      If I've read the article correctly, Wikipedia does a far better job of tracking changes than it does new articles. The second problem was noticed very quickly, reported and presumably corrected (after much comment on slashdot).
  • by pomo monster ( 873962 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:18PM (#14188916)
    This article has recently been linked from a high-traffic Internet site. All prior and subsequent edits are noted in the page history.
    This, to me, is the clearest sign yet of Wikipedia's untenability. Isn't the project predicated on the belief that more eyeballs make an article better, not worse?

    Perhaps the problem is that high-traffic pages attract all the vandals and trolls. But even so, according to Wikipedian doctrine, any suspect edits on a high-traffic page should be discovered and corrected quickly enough to be of negligible impact. Why, then, the need for Template:High-traffic?

    If anything, Wikipedia should include a Template:Low-traffic to warn that fewer eyeballs make an article less reliable. That there exists only Template:High-traffic as a minor concession to reality suggests myopia at best, and a willful doublethink at worst.
    • by bwd ( 936324 )
      Wikipedia is realizing that the theory of "many eyes" completely breaks down in an atmosphere lacking in authority. Nothing stops people from acting irresponsibly, and now they are forced to take some action or lose what credibility and cache they have left.
    • by Axe ( 11122 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:25PM (#14188984)
      Isn't the project predicated on the belief that more eyeballs make an article better, not worse?

      What we see is an example that this belief is nothing more then wishful thinking.

      In the area of expert knowledge "elitism", (or, rather, professionalism) is a good thing. The fact is, there are less people who actually know about something, then those who think they know something.

      • I agree completely.

        Also, in the area of writing, elitism is a good thing. Expert knowledge of a topic does not mean an expert ability to write on the topic.

        What wikipedia needs is a system for editing its content for style and grammar. The writing is generally awful: awkward sentences stitched together from the contributions of multiple different authors, thousands of malapropisms, blatant misuse of jargon, etc.

        Wikipedia is OK for what it is, but reading it is painful. If I want a quick survey of hair m
      • by Kelson ( 129150 ) *
        The fact is, there are less people who actually know about something, then those who think they know something.

        And there's the challenge of the Internet. If everyone knew what they didn't know as well as what they knew, we wouldn't have so many people spouting off nonsense online.

        Or, to put it more intelligibly, if everyone could draw a line between what they do and don't know, and not get the two mixed up. (Of course, one hopes that over time this line would shift as one gained experience, but that might
      • In the area of expert knowledge "elitism", (or, rather, professionalism) is a good thing. The fact is, there are less people who actually know about something, then those who think they know something.

        But what if all the professionals were incompetant to begin with? Or rather... Who is to say you are an expert? PHD does not make one an expert by default. Especially when we are talking about all the thousands of odd topic wiki articles about pop culture and non-scientific/non-historic articles. (you know lik
        • by k98sven ( 324383 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @08:32PM (#14189960) Journal
          Or rather... Who is to say you are an expert? PHD does not make one an expert by default.

          I'd say that yes it does. Earning a PhD in a subject means that you have spent years studying that subject, and that that research has been scrutinized by a supervisor and outside parties who have studied that subject even longer.

          If a PhD does not entitle you to 'expert' status in a particular subject, then nothing does.

          Especially when we are talking about all the thousands of odd topic wiki articles about pop culture and non-scientific/non-historic articles.

          Nobody said a PhD made you an expert in every subject. It makes you an expert in the subject you got your PhD in. However, in the sciences, there is a lot of overlap, so that someone who has a PhD in structural biochemistry can also be considered an expert on biochemistry in general, a good authority on chemistry, and well-versed in physics. But if a PhD in biochemistry says something about physics which a physics PhD disagrees with, you'd be better off listening to the latter.

          If you want real professional articles then go get them from their sources or buy a scientific journal. If you want general or common knowledge then wiki it.

          Wikipedia's stated goal is to create an encyclopedia of all human knowledge. Meaning most of that is expert knowledge. And the people looking at Wikipedia (or any encyclopedia) don't want 'common knowledge'. They want facts.

          It's "common knowledge" that eating too much sugar causes diabetes. (Try going out and asking some people in the street.) It's also completely false. (Try going out and asking some medical doctors). Popular myth or lesser-known fact? I think most our out for the latter.

          • If a PhD does not entitle you to 'expert' status in a particular subject, then nothing does.

            You might be right... that nothing *entitles* you to the status of 'expert'. Think about, and tell me one objective factor that you've ever been able to note, before meeting someone, and feel confident that they aren't completely stupid. I'll tell you this: a PHD doesn't fit that bill for me.

            I think the only thing that suggests that you should be considered 'not stupid' is for you to not-be stupid. The only thing

    • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:26PM (#14188996) Homepage Journal
      Isn't the project predicated on the belief that more eyeballs make an article better, not worse?

      No, it's predicated on the belief that an infinite number of trolls will eventually produce an objective authoritative reference work.
    • by Spad ( 470073 )
      It's just a standard "This page has just been linked from Slashdot, if all you can see is an ASCII rendition of Goatse, then you'll be wanting to check the article history for the original content. We'll be rectifying it shortly" disclaimer.
    • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:27PM (#14189014) Homepage
      It's no the "high traffic" part that causes the problem, it's the "recent" part. i.e. if the page is being Slashdotted, that means that it's likely in a very dynamic/volatile state, and so when you view the page, there may be errors introduced into the page (e.g. within the last 5 seconds) that nobody has had time to correct yet.


      After the page has had time to settle down, the extra eyeballs will (on average) have improved it. But if the page is still in the process of being edited fifty different ways by fifty different people, then it's not surprising that it may be inconsistent/incorrect. Hence the warning message.

      • I considered that, but it occurred to me that every article is in the process of being edited fifty different ways by fifty different people. The process is more rapid, and more visible, for high-traffic articles, but the same argument would hold that there may be errors introduced into low-traffic pages, e.g. within the last 12 months, that nobody (who's noticed) has had time to correct yet (because very few people have, in fact, noticed).

        Basically, what you're saying is that Wikipedia doesn't scale. That'
      • After the page has had time to settle down, the extra eyeballs will (on average) have improved it.

        Proof?
    • by Valar ( 167606 )
      Well, the problem is that there is an increase in the number of people seeing the article, relative to the number of people who usually maintain it ("the wikipedia community"). Under normal conditions, the incentive to deface an entry are somewhat lower, and vandalism can be reversed by people in the know. In cases of high traffic, hundreds of people who don't know about a topic will see the article before the maintainers check on it. I know, in theory, that anybody could fix an incident of vandalism, but i
    • This is only the case if there is no reward for trolling.

      If the article is linked to from Slashdot, the editor-to-visitor ratio will drop significantly, and the number of views will encourage asshats to deface the article.

      If, on the other hand, the number of eyeballs is high and steady as opposed to an one-time surge, good-willed people will have enough time to catch any vandalism before significant damage is done (damage defined as number of views of the defacement-- exactly the same thing that measures th
    • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:34PM (#14189079) Homepage Journal
      The high traffic warning is to new eyes, and to old eyes, for different reasons. It lets experienced Wiki users know that things might have ben changed with malice, and it lets new people know that things can be changed.

      It's not saying that more eyes are bad, it just means that more eyes means more vandals as well as fixers too.
    • This is a variant on the Slashdotted tag. The old tag was along the lines of "this articles has recently been featured on slashdot, be on the lookout for trolls". Quite a few people didn't like the specifity of the old tag so the new tag is a generalization of it.
    • Why, then, the need for Template:High-traffic?

      It's not a comment on the voracity [sic] of the page's content, but rather the freshness.

      As anyone who's adminned a site that deals with bursts of high traffic can tell you, one way to speed up page serving is to remove dynamic content and replace it with static content to whatever extent possible.

      Faced with a Slashdotting, it makes sense for Wikipedia to cache a static copy of the page and serve that for some interval. Most of the time, it won't matter to user
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Obviously you've not done RC patrol or vandalism watch on a high traffic article. The trolls can in the short run overwhelm people trying to keep the article clean. But the notice alerts good users to the situation and can push the issue in the favor of people trying to improve the article. There is of course controversy and some people think the template is dumb.

      The problem is that if 25% of the visitors to a high traffic article are determined trolls they can screw up the article a certain % of the time,
  • by adnonsense ( 826530 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:19PM (#14188924) Homepage Journal
    IMHO (as an anti-linkspam vigilante on one Wikipedia language version) it's high time anonymous users are prevented from edits which contain external links, as the chances are these will be to spammy sites.
  • by Captain Perspicuous ( 899892 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:20PM (#14188933)
    Creating an account takes before creating an article adds about 5 seconds for a user. I can't see how this will help prevent this scenario again. However, I could imagine that this idea [wikimedia.org] ("Best approach?") would help a lot.
  • Creeping elitism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redelm ( 54142 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:21PM (#14188943) Homepage
    I do not mean to cricise the decision, merely point out that as projects become more popular and mature, the entrance criteria can and should be tightened. The value of an individual contribution is a much lower fraction of the total.

    The real question is how to manage this tightening. To quick shuts off valuable contribution, too slowly risks splintering chaos.

    • How on earth is it elitism of any kind to ask a potential article contributor to spend an extra 15 seconds to take the steps that will make him accountable for what he writes? Of course, not even that matters to someone who's purely a troll and doesn't much care about his standing in the community. After all, if he's banned he can just create another account as long as he has a dynamic IP address. As a barrier to entry, this is so low as to be virtually nonexistent.
  • by goldseries ( 932320 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:22PM (#14188955) Journal
    The second story is interesting too. On page two they talk about Adam Curry deleting references to other people's work on pod casting and bogging. He deleted Kevin Marks's accomplishments and largely credited himself more. A way to weed out conflict of interest is needed for wikipedia. Over all the author of the article makes wikipedia look bad and almost malicious. Why can't people accept this as an information source?
    • On page two they talk about Adam Curry deleting references to other people's work on pod casting and bogging. He deleted Kevin Marks's accomplishments and largely credited himself more. A way to weed out conflict of interest is needed for wikipedia.

      Actually that's the simplified version. If what Curry says is correct, and he simply edited because what was written didn't jive with what he remembered the facts to be, then we have a stickier issue. I think a medium like wikipedia is great for more authori
    • A way to weed out conflict of interest is needed for wikipedia.

      You know what I like a lot about slashdot (and message boards/forums in general)? No one can delete content, they can only add. That way, I can go through and read the differing opinions and decide for _myself_ which one is correct.

      I'm not saying this would be a workable solution for a wikipedia type project. However, it is much nicer knowing I am hearing the differing sides of a story, rather than just being fed the "correct" version, w
  • Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AsmCoder8088 ( 745645 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:22PM (#14188965)
    Now that they have reached close to a million articles, they think they don't need any help getting 10 million+. Seriously, it is a "free" encyclopedia. If I read something on there that I know not to be true, I can edit it. If no one catches the error, and they believe it to be "fact", well, that's kind of why you are not supposed to use Wikipedia as a scientific reference in the first place.

    Wikipedia's success has come from people joining together and creating new articles, not just editing them. We need to be able to post new facts, new ideas, and new discoveries that are going on in the world. New users are the primary source of these articles.

    I would rather have a "free" encyclopedia where I can post articles of my subjects of interest than having to edit those that already exist. Besides, I, like most other people out there, use Wikipedia not for scientific research, but to broaden my perspective on the various subjects out there which old fashioned books are "out of the scope" to provide insight for.

    Daniel
    basiCreations Software [basicreations.com]

    • You still can. Registration takes only seconds.
    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

      by AeroIllini ( 726211 ) <aeroillini&gmail,com> on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:58PM (#14189284)
      Wikipedia's success has come from people joining together and creating new articles, not just editing them. We need to be able to post new facts, new ideas, and new discoveries that are going on in the world. New users are the primary source of these articles.

      Perhaps you didn't read the summary.

      "Wikipedia will restrict the creation of new articles to members. Anonymous users will only be able to edit existing articles."

      Members. Not admins, or moderators, or privileged people. Just members. All you have to do to create an article is sign up. Becoming a member is free.

      Most people on Slashdot moderate/modify Anonymous Cowards into oblivion. If someone takes the time to register their name, there's a greater likelihood that what they have to say is relevent, from a purely statistical point of view (trolls obviously also register their name). I don't see how Wikipedia should be any different in its regard of anonymous postings.
  • Bad news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Willy on Wheels ( 889645 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:26PM (#14189007) Homepage Journal
    As an ex-vandal of Wikipedia, I see this is as bad news. First of all, it only takes a few minutes to create an account, so vandals can still create vandalism. Consider this, Wikipedia restricted page-moves from new users due to page moving vandals, but vandals just created accounts, left them to mature for a few weeks and still got through. It will stop idiots performing toolbar vandalism, but it won't stop the professionals.

    To give an example, we had a user who created lots of new articles, then claimed he created lots of hoaxes. They banned him, but they still haven't repaired all the damage. There are over 12000 articles tagged for clean up [wikipedia.org], how many hoaxes are there? This list [wikipedia.org] for example has tonnes of hoaxes, and they have been kept there for over a year!

    The Willy on Wheeels is no longer a threat to the Wiki, entropy and admin ignorance is!
    • Not THAT bad (Score:3, Informative)

      by aepervius ( 535155 )
      Quote from the wiki clean up page : The cleanup page is a place where articles with problems (ungrammatical, poorly formatted, confusing, etc.) can be listed. Any user can fix or list articles here.

      So this could simply be bad spelling or grammar. Since wiki article are also written by persons not having english as first language this does not sound that bad. Example taken at random : # Project Chapleau - reads like a press release # Jeff Morrow - Contains poor language, lacking in formatting, and general
  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:31PM (#14189047) Homepage
    Wikipedia, nice concept...a fairly large resource of information, but a good example somewhat of anarchy in action.

    First, Wikipedia often fails to state it's purposes clearly. Is it an information source, an encyclopedia or an all encompassing well of knowledge?

    Take for example issues regarding web comics. Wikipedia went on a purge of dozens of web comic entries. Eliminating vast amounts of effort put in by individuals. The premise, "noteworthiness"....a change in the meaning of that term eliminated large quantities of listings. Such a premise must be taken into account before entries begin. To decide to change the qualifications so as to eliminate 90% of entries is to deride the effort of user's works.

    Second, a complete lack of check and balances for edits allow for great risk of destructive behaviors. Were Wikipedia to simply implement a small concept common in Roget's rules of order and most others rules of order there would be much less inclination toward destruction. And that is to require a member to "second" any edits. Sure, it still poses risk. But to do so would enable a bit more order. Perhaps large and substantial edits or deletions of content would require 2 or more "seconds" before said change would be implemented.

    Changes should go thru some sort of review process and affirmation.

    *shrug*

    Until such processes are implemented little will impede the anarchy that is Wikipedia.
  • by jacoplane ( 78110 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:33PM (#14189061) Homepage Journal
    Jimbo Wales and John Seigenthaler Sr. were on CNN to debate this issue. There's a partial transcript [wikipedia.org] being worked on now.

    • ...And that was Jimmy Wales and John Seigenthaler Sr., giving us the only two possible sides to this issue.

      Next on CNN, in keeping with our binary debate format, we'll hear from the Rev. Jerry Falwell, telling us how secularists are trying to kill Christmas, and from Michael Newdow, who thinks all Christians should "shut the hell up."

      Join us later this evening, when Anderson Cooper will oversee a cage match to the death between a pro-life activist and her pro-choice counterpart. All on CNN...We set up f
  • by Andrew Lenahan ( 912846 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:39PM (#14189124) Homepage
    Although it hasn't happened yet, and arguably isn't likely to happen for months or perhaps years, there will be a point at which every even slightly encyclopedic topic will have a Wikipedia article. Think about it: an average week goes by... there's maybe two or three major news stories, a handful of books, movies, and records get released, maybe a new product or two comes to market, and occasionally there will be some sort of scientific discovery. Even by very loose standards, that would be maybe 50-200 new encyclopedic topics per week. Wikipedia has thousands of editors, and currently several new articles every minute.

    Since I don't think the flow of new articles will cease once the encyclopedic topics are covered, this means we'll reach a point when "bad" new articles will far outnumber the "good" new articles. Any action on Wikipedia's part to help stem the tide is a good thing. Wikipedia's openness is both its greatest asset and its curse. The challenge it must face is to strike that perfect balance between freedom and control. All the openness in the world will do it no good if nobody takes it seriously as even a causal information source.
  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:40PM (#14189128)
    Here's the real problem with this episode:

    1. Some jackass complains about something

    2. People listen and decide they care.

    3. Wikipedia is changed to suit the needs of the complainer.

    The mistake was #2.

    A more correct action:

    2. Fix the article.

    3. Issue an insincere apology.

    4. Ignore subsequent whining by irrelevant jackasses.

    5. Continue as before.
  • by edashofy ( 265252 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:59PM (#14189300)
    A lot of stories of this ilk about Wikipedia seem to imply that Wikipedia is sort of a black or white thing - it's either authoritative or not, it's either correct or not, it's either a good resource or it's not.

    In reality, it's (of course) some of all these things. Sure, it may be less correct on average than some other source, or it may be less authoritative, but that doesn't make it any less useful (especially on topics that are new, esoteric, or emerging - where else could you find well-written, generally correct information about Leeroy Jenkins or the GNAA?)

    Honestly, I think having something where a slightly greater burden lies on readers to evaluate the quality of information is probably a good thing - we should really be doing that more with all "authoritative" information sources anyway.
    • Honestly, I think having something where a slightly greater burden lies on readers to evaluate the quality of information is probably a good thing - we should really be doing that more with all "authoritative" information sources anyway.

      I couldn't agree more: Tell me, what is authoritative? CNN? The New York Times? The Wall Street Journal? Never see any slander, errors or pure fraud sneak into those sources.

      To be fair, CNN and the Times are probably more accurate (if you ignore editorial pages/shows), bu
  • Shame (Score:5, Informative)

    by elfguy ( 22889 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @07:00PM (#14189305) Homepage
    I used to be a big Wikipedia proponent. I have well over 3,000 edits there. Now however I think the site has gone to hell. I do think that it remains a nice reference site when trying to find general information about a common subject, but its usefulness stops there. Trying to get involved in the process any further is an exercise in futility. The site is run by people with huge egos, and any change you do will most likely get changed back regardless what it is. The time of big contributions of factual information is over, and it's mainly revert wars, arguing and vandalism that are most of the current edits.
    • Re:Shame (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fyz ( 581804 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @07:33PM (#14189534)
      I honestly think that wikipedia has just fallen(arguably) to the same problem as /.: lack of scalability.

      What they need is a solid, decentralised moderation system based on some kind of digital respect. For example, let everyone moderate a change in an article or a new one either up or down. But let those who have previously had good moderations have a greater voice.

      It's just an example, and might not work, but a system the size and complexity that wikipedia has reached needs some kind of feedback mechanism that's more than just everybody screaming at the top of their lungs at each other.
    • Re:Shame (Score:4, Informative)

      by jacoplane ( 78110 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @07:33PM (#14189537) Homepage Journal
      My experience over the last few months has been totally different. I've been working with others in the Wikiproject CVG [wikipedia.org] and I find that by far the most contributions are from good contributors, not vandals. On certain articles, like the Bush article, sure there are a lot of vandals. Besides, others are actively working on countering vandalism [wikipedia.org].
    • Re:Shame (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @11:03PM (#14190762) Homepage
      I used to be a big Wikipedia proponent. I have well over 3,000 edits there. Now however I think the site has gone to hell.
      I have about 4,000 edits over the last 3 years, and I more or less agree with you. There is definitely a phenomenon that once an article hits a certain high level of quality, it then tends to get worse over time, as various people come along and make low-quality, disorganized edits. It's amazing when you look at a mature article and do a diff between the versions on, say, Nov. 1 and Dec. 1. You see that there is essentially no difference, and yet hundreds of edits have been made. All that's going on is vandalism that gets corrected, or other low-quality edits that just get reverted.

      WP is right up there with Civilization and Freecell in the competition for the most efficient time-eaters ever created. It's sort of like the humans in The Matrix -- they're all pumping huge amounts of energy into the system, and most of it isn't productive.

      Now that all the most important topics have articles, it's really just devolved into a situation where people check their watchlists obsessively to keep changes they don't like from happening to their cherished articles. Nothing constructive is going on, and it's really getting to be a waste of time. I've emptied out my watchlist, and have made an effort not to waste any significant amount of time on WP since this summer.

  • by merc ( 115854 ) <slashdot@upt.org> on Monday December 05, 2005 @07:01PM (#14189311) Homepage
    Slashdot reports that soon, slashdot editors will only accept story submissions which contain severe grammatical or spelling errors, which are dupes of stories you have already sumbitted.

    *blinks*

    joking!
  • Crap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m50d ( 797211 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @07:04PM (#14189333) Homepage Journal
    If I wanted just articles on what the people in charge thought was worth having them on I've got Encarta for that. I go to Wikipedia for the article on a small-time foreign singer whose one obsessive fan was able to write a great bio via his public library's net connection. I *want* there to be articles on everything. What makes wikipedia so great is the anonymous stuff. Has anyone actually counted how much of the good contributions come from anonymous people? I know I never went to the trouble of making an account. There are three pretty good articles (they were barely more than stubs when I started them, but the internet has worked its magic and they're pretty darn good now) that wouldn't be there if this policy had been effect in the past.
  • by massysett ( 910130 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @07:10PM (#14189373) Homepage
    The News.com story did not report this: Jimbo Wales calls this an "experiment." Link to his email [wikipedia.org] announcing the change.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @07:20PM (#14189442)
    The situation with the Seigenthaler article was somewhat unusual. The article (according to the OP link) had no links from within Wikipedia, allowing it to escape the scrutiny of Wikipedians. The article might as well have been posted to someone's Myspace page, except that being on Wikipedia grants somewhat more credibility than just appearing on some random blog. In other words, Wikipedia is as much a victim here as Seigenthaler, as its credibility was usurped (presumably with contravention of Wikipedia's rules like NPOV and no original research) to post an unsubstantiated political point. If the article went unnoticed for so long, it's likely that the only people that ever saw it were people who got the link e-mailed to them by the article's OP, or people who actually searched for Seigenthaler's name. Given such minimal exposure, the damage caused to Seigenthaler's reputation is probably greater now than if he hadn't said anything publicly after he eventually edited the article himself.

    But unlike Seigenthaler, Wikipedia gets it from both ends in this case. An anonymous user posts (allegedly) false information about Seigenthaler, and then, seeing that he has no recourse against the offender, Seigenthaler lambasts Wikipedia. Are there problems with Wikipedia's policies? Sure. Adding restrictions upon anonymous users is a good thing, especially given how prone Wikipedia is to vandalism, and I'm still surprised it doesn't require every contributor to post under an account (which would let them then focus their attention on weeding out sock puppets). But that doesn't make Wikimedia, as an organization, responsible for the incorrect content. In fact, the whole point of Wikipedia is that if you, the user, see something that you know is incorrect, you behave as any good member of the community would, and you contribute to making Wikipedia more factually correct. This is peer-to-peer information: the community as a whole suffers if you only take without giving back.

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @08:13PM (#14189819) Journal
    I know there use to be behind the scenes discussions on Wikipedia.org itself, but was wondering if someone knew off the top of their head a place where such discussions take place there? That is, about this issue with vandalisms and thoughts on how to counter it, assume there is such a discussion there ?

    I often feel it's a sort of a maze to find stuff among all the meta-Wiki and special pages there, but I'm also interested in following this discussion if there is one, as I hope Wikipedia can continue to exist, but hopefully in a better shape with improved mechanisms against vandalism in general.

    I'm not sure this specific action will help much, so I hope Jimbo is intending to proceed trying to drive a discussion about this, as the most important thing for an encyclopedia is credibility, really.

    I'm aware of the "Wikipedia 1.0" initiative with only screened articles, but I'm more wondering along the lines of Wikipedia rights and policy changes on the site itself.
  • by sbaker ( 47485 ) * on Monday December 05, 2005 @08:17PM (#14189854) Homepage
    In most cases when someone says or prints something nasty and incorrect about you, you have a major struggle on your hand to get it retracted.

    This is the one - possibly the *only* - place where you can simply get in there and fix it yourself. Yes, someone can then go back and trash you again - but there are Wiki mechanisms to get that fixed.

    If someone had said this stuff about the guy on Slashdot - or in the New York Times - or on radio or TV - he'd have had an enormous fight on his hands to get his good name cleared - and in all likelyhood, never have gotten clear retractions. A retraction in a newspaper doesn't retract all of the copies already in print - an erratum or even a full apology is going to go unread by the vast percentage of readers and would possibly occur weeks or months after the damage was done.

    In this case, a dozen keystrokes would have fixed the problem within minutes of the problem being discovered - and REPLACED the offending material burying the original maligning text where most people will never look - and those who do will understand clearly what happened from the document history. Furthermore, the fact that nobody noticed the problem means that almost certainly nobody read the darned article in the first place.

    This should never have happened to Wikipedia - it's the one place where this kind of thing isn't a real problem.
  • by br00tus ( 528477 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @08:25PM (#14189899)
    One of Wikipedia's problems is it has a political point of view, but it does not say it does. Thus it is similar to television news, and this contradiction makes it unstable, where at some point it will probably collapse. Jimbo Wales has talked about how he is an admirer of Ayn Rand, wants Wikipedia to follow a von Mises model and so forth. If you're following how people get on the Arbitration Committee, Jimbo is unhappy with the elections (which actually put up much better candidates than he selected) and wants to exercise more power over it again. A Wikipedia guideline is "Wikipedia is not a democracy", something that is being said more and more often recently, and you know where that leads. Slanders, trolls, vandalism and so forth are left alone - trolls operate for months and months and months and are not dealt with, while all of Wikipedia will come down on someone who displeases the "Wikipedia cabal"

    As I have said before on Wikipedia, on the top of the front page of Wikipedia, it breaks almost all articles into eight master categories. On the Mathematics and Science categories it does fine. On the History and Society pages, it does an awful job. As far as the History and Society pages, they have just gotten worse and worse over time. Jimbo is lucky Seigenthaler is a free speech advocate and is raising the issue in the press instead of suing the hell out of him and Wikipedia. I foresee alternative wikis springing up to handle history and so forth. The left-leaning Democratic Underground has started Demopedia [democratic...ground.com], although I'm unaware of Free Republic or any other conservative site starting a conservative counter to Wikipedia yet. Anyhow, I'm sure that's the route it will go down I'm sure, a balkanization of certain categories.

  • Modify the System (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rydia ( 556444 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @11:29PM (#14190862)
    Why doesn't wikipedia just create a queue for articles before they're submitted. Have different queues for each topic that can be pared down, so the editors can see it before it's committed and vote on it or something to ensure some validity. If no one notices/votes on it while it's in the queue, you could commit it, flag the article at the top saying there was unverified data, and zip off a message to a couple people designated to keep an eye on articles committed due to review expiration. If you tweaked the system enough, I could see a couple days between submission and commitance (due to deadline) at the most, which would help credibility and accuracy a great deal, I think.
  • by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2005 @02:26AM (#14191524)
    As the creator and administrator of a Wiki service myself (Wikinote [wikinote.com]), I have to wonder what Wikipedia is truly thinking.

    Wikinote and its sister website, Shortify [shortify.com], have seen their share of abuse. Most of the time it's SSH password-cracking scripts that try millions of usernames and passwords (and make 1GB logfiles with the auth failures - password authentication is disabled on WikinoteShortify). Sometimes you get a user who will try to fill the DB with random garbage.

    On WikinoteShortify, disk space is extremely limited, so the major focus of our anti-abuse methods are in limiting the size of individual pages (64KB). Abuse still happens, though.

    I've often thought of using CAPATCHAs or email verification to slow down the tide of bogus signups. But, realistically, that would cause more trouble for my users than it would for the spammers.

    Abuse is going to happen. Do what you can to limit it. But don't stomp on your users while you are doing it.

    That's the problem with limiting page creation to signed-in users. Spammers will create an account (or many, through a script) and attack. The extra step of an HTTP POST to get a new account is nothing for a Python script (nor, mind you, is the block on Python's user-agent). If you think you're accomplishing something, you're not - people will still find a way to vandalize Wikipedia.

    The real question is why it is so difficult to detect bogus page creation. Wikipedia has always relied on human intervention to prevent abuse. There's always someone watching. Why is page creation any harder to audit than editing?

"I'm not a god, I was misquoted." -- Lister, Red Dwarf

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