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The Internet

Wikipedia Adopting Semi-Protection of Pages 258

kizzle (the other one) writes "A major policy change on Wikipedia was just passed 103-4-2 along with Jimbo Wales' endorsement to incorporate a process called 'Semi-protection' only on the most frequent targets of vandalism."
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Wikipedia Adopting Semi-Protection of Pages

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  • by WTBF ( 893340 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:47AM (#14278899)
    ...at people doing this [theregister.co.uk] and so that is why he is endorsing this change.
  • The wiki (Score:5, Funny)

    by smeagols_ghost ( 644286 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:49AM (#14278904) Journal
    The semi free encyclopedia, editable by some.
    • Re:The wiki (Score:5, Informative)

      by Virak ( 897071 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:10AM (#14278953) Homepage
      Did you bother to RTFA, or even read the entire summary? This only applies to pages which are frequent targets of vandalism, and only prevents anonymous and very new users from editing them; from the SPP page [wikipedia.org]:

      The barrier should be low enough that editors who wish to contribute constructively need only wait a short time (on en.wikipedia, the newest 1% of accounts last about 4 days) to be fully active.

      While I'm sure there'll be plenty of idiots screaming about how Wikipedia is becoming less 'Free', if anything it's becoming less restricted; up until now, the only possible course of action has been 'full protection', in which case only *admins* can edit the article.
      • mod parent up (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NumbThumb ( 468496 ) <danielNO@SPAMbrightbyte.de> on Saturday December 17, 2005 @11:02AM (#14279764) Homepage Journal
        ...he's right. As an active Wikipedia admin (German wikipedia, not English, though), I expect that this feature will allow us to use the "full" protection less often, especially for article relevant to current events. Thus, "normal" contributors could work on updating those article without having to revert lots of dumb vandalism. Right now, such articles get "full" protection, so only admins would be able to edit it. That's quite annoying.

        I belive that together with the ability to mark "good" versions (which has been discussed a lot, but is still vaporware, AFAIK), the semi protection feature will help to make wikipedia more reliable, while remaining open and free. That's what everybody wants, no?
    • Re:The wiki (Score:3, Informative)

      by kptBlaha ( 522498 )
      Please read the policy:

      Semi-protection of a page prevents the newest X% of registered users and all unregistered users from editing that page. ...

      Semi-protection:
              * Is not a proposal to prohibit anonymous editing.
              * Is not a proposal for pre-emptive protection of articles that might get vandalized.

    • It's OK - I just editied the policy. Anonymously.

      (No really - I did. I tidied up the rationale part, which was nearly painful to read.)
      • Re:The wiki (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Dutch_Cap ( 532453 )
        "This page is temporarily protected from being edited by unregistered users and users with very new accounts in order to deal with vandalism. Please discuss changes on the talk page or request unprotection."

        The system works.

        Man, I've always wanted to say that!
  • by Simon Brooke ( 45012 ) * <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:52AM (#14278912) Homepage Journal

    Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]'s been under some pretty harsh pressure lately. Orlowski's articles [theregister.co.uk] in the Register have been referred to here already; when I replied to Orlowski [jasmine.org.uk] he responded with an unrelated allegation that Wikipedia had become a haven for pædophiles [perverted-justice.com].

    Quite a lot of people evidently don't like Wikipedia; partly, of course, because its rapid growth is making waves and it promises to grow into an extremely influential (and consequently powerful) source of 'knowledge', but also, I suspect, because 'Jimbo' Wales simply gets up some people's noses.

    • Of course this particular policy will do absolutely nothing to counter these problems. This is only to prevent repeated vandalism from users who are not in good standing.
    • Harsh pressure? Maybe.

      But Orlowski is well known for his "trolling" - as in writing articles that generate page hits.

      Perverted-justice.com seems to be a front for some fundamentalist Christian organization or something which fights against factual representation of issues relating to sexuality.

      I personally don't contribute much to Wikipedia, but I do find it to be rather useful. I'm not going to defend everything about it, and I wouldn't be pleased to find an article about myself there, but then again

  • by eagl ( 86459 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:53AM (#14278913) Journal
    Why can't they do a contributor rating system, sort of like how slashdot has karma rating?

    Require a login. Allow everyone to make changes initially, but track who makes changes. Allow any contributor with a positive rating over a certain threshold to score changes. If the contributor gets ratings below a certain threshold, they're not allowed to change certain "protected" entries. If the rating drops any lower, they're not allowed to contribute, period.

    Anonymous ratings would not be allowed.

    Thresholds of positive ratings could be used to determine if someone is allowed to make changes to long-established entries or entries otherwise classed as protected.

    There would of course be the potential for moderator wars and as always a really persistant jerk could still corrupt the process, but detecting and correcting abuses might be a bit easier especially if ip addresses are logged to help detect abusers with multiple logins.

    Yea, it won't stop the abuses but it would limit the number of people willing to take the effort.
    • by Kuciwalker ( 891651 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:29AM (#14278995)
      And so Wikipedia would then be as reliable as slashdot posts?
    • by Julian Morrison ( 5575 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:35AM (#14279002)
      Namely, groupthink, conformism, the silencing of heretics, and the promotion of biased agendas.

      If there's two things Slash and Wiki have taught us, it's:

      - collaborative creation is a success. Most people do good work. It's a positive-sum game.

      - collaborative restriction is a failure. Most people wield their power to blindly advance their politics. It's a zero-sum game.
      • Namely, groupthink, conformism, the silencing of heretics, and the promotion of biased agendas.

        Wikipedia already has all of these - plus the lack of a strong disciplinary system, meaning good editors get sick of harassment (or simply the lack of enforcement of the incivility policy )and simply leave.

      • by deaddrunk ( 443038 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @07:54AM (#14279155)
        None of the successful collaborative OSS projects have let anyone and everyone submit code to them; that would be a recipe for disaster. What's wrong with Wikipedia restricting people from turning a really good idea into a vehicle for furthering agendas, trolling and outright libel? The world is full of assholes and the relative anonymity of the internet allows them to be a lot more obnoxious than they'd dare be in the real world. Anyone who's played online games has seen that in action.
        • by Julian Morrison ( 5575 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @08:01AM (#14279173)
          What's wrong with Wikipedia restricting people from turning a really good idea into a vehicle for furthering agendas, trolling and outright libel?
          Nothing. All I was saying is that collaborative (ie: democratic) methods of restriction lead to issue war and a biased consensus. Wiki is proposing an algorithmic restriction (no anon or newly created accounts). I agree with their design - it won't introduce groupthink or POV.
          • Didn't read TFA but that never stops me. I think they could restrict the size of the edit based on article metrics such as age, size, rate of change, rate of rollbacks, ect. Otherwise stable articles that are prone to vandalisim should have a unique pattern. Articles identified this way could have proposed edits submitted for user review, other users would have a time period to object.

            Wiki vandalisim should be treated like a virus and identified automagically. The hard part is where do you draw the line
            • That would be simple for vandalism that consists of deleting parts of the page, inserting 50 links or stuff like "Wikipedia sucks ass" and such. But those are usually found and reverted soon anyway.

              The hard part is the subtle stuff - people who insert false information that sounds credible, and can only be falsified by thorough research. It gets really tricky there, the semi-protection stuff will not help with that.
      • by mickwd ( 196449 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @09:19AM (#14279377)
        "Namely, groupthink, conformism, the silencing of heretics, and the promotion of biased agendas."

        Then why is slashdot one of the most popular discussion sites on the web ?

        I can't remember reading many discussions where a few people make the same point, and then hundreds of others unanimously agree with them. This is why I think its ridiculous when people talk about the slashdot "groupthink". Think how many times here you've read the word "groupthink" here - that's a lot of people who aren't part of the "groupthinking".

        The fact that you made the post to which I'm replying reinforces this. The fact you're (currently) at +5 reinforces it further. I don't agree with your comment. Personally, I think its an effort to use a personal gripe with the slashdot moderation system as a means of promoting a personal "political" belief in lack of restrictions on personal behaviour (which I personally think is a very valid and important principle in many areas).

        I'm not complaining about your moderation - you've obviously hit some sort of chord somewhere - but I find it very interesting that the very fact you've been moderated to +5 invalidates the point you were making.
        • I'm not complaining about your moderation - you've obviously hit some sort of chord somewhere

          Obviously part of the slashdot groupthink is that there is slashdot groupthink...
        • Then why is slashdot one of the most popular discussion sites on the web ?

          Because many people still read most or all comments (rather than just the highly moderated ones), and a lot of people are prepared to post against the popular groupthink opinion (we aren't all karma-obsessed).

          I can't remember reading many discussions where a few people make the same point, and then hundreds of others unanimously agree with them. This is why I think its ridiculous when people talk about the slashdot "groupthink".

          The po
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:53AM (#14278915) Homepage
    As an encyclopedia, Wikipedia has some issues. As a model of how and where distributed intellect fails, it's almost shockingly comprehensive.

    When we were first considering making Epic Legends Of The Hierarchs available as a publically manageable satirical metanarrative, we dropped the basic timeline on Wikipedia because I liked the way their software went about things. Of course, a phalanx of pedants leapt into action almost immediately to scour - from the sacred corpus of their data - our revolting fancruft.

    That's okay with me. I wasn't aware they thought they were making a real encyclopedia for big people at the time, and if I had, I'd have sought out one of the many other free solutions. I had seen the unbelievably detailed He-Man and Pokémon entries and assumed - like any rational person would - that Pokémaniacs were largely at the rudder of the institution.

    I am almost certain that - while they prune their deep mine of trivia - they believe themselves to be engaged in the unfolding of humanity's Greatest Working.

    Reponses to criticism of Wikipedia go something like this: the first is usually a paean to that pure democracy which is the project's noble fundament. If I don't like it, why don't I go edit it myself? To which I reply: because I don't have time to babysit the Internet. Hardly anyone does. If they do, it isn't exactly a compliment.

    Any persistent idiot can obliterate your contributions. The fact of the matter is that all sources of information are not of equal value, and I don't know how or when it became impolitic to suggest it. In opposition to the spirit of Wikipedia, I believe there is such a thing as expertise.

    The second response is: the collaborative nature of the apparatus means that the right data tends to emerge, ultimately, even if there is turmoil temporarily as dichotomous viewpoints violently intersect. To which I reply: that does not inspire confidence. In fact, it makes the whole effort even more ridiculous. What you've proposed is a kind of quantum encyclopedia, where genuine data both exists and doesn't exist depending on the precise moment I rely upon your discordant fucking mob for my information.

    (Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com])
    • by dancingmad ( 128588 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:56AM (#14278920)
      When we were first considering making Epic Legends Of The Hierarchs available as a publically manageable satirical metanarrative, we dropped the basic timeline on Wikipedia because I liked the way their software went about things. Of course, a phalanx of pedants leapt into action almost immediately to scour - from the sacred corpus of their data - our revolting fancruft.

      Holy crap, was that English? I've been out of the U.S. far too long.
    • Speaking of Penny Arcade, I never did figure out what exactly Tycho was referring to (e.g. - what article on Wikipedia did they create and subsequently get deleted, or so on).
    • My reply to that "rant" would go something like this:

      As an encyclopedia, Wikipedia has some issues.

      Very true.

      As a model of how and where distributed intellect fails, it's almost shockingly comprehensive.

      I quite agree.

      I am almost certain that - while they prune their deep mine of trivia - they believe themselves to be engaged in the unfolding of humanity's Greatest Working.

      I'm fairly certain that many, even most, do think that. They too are correct.
    • You know, Tycho is a smart guy, but he's completely wrong about Wikipedia. "A model of how and where distributed intellect fails"? Come on. The surprising thing about Wikipedia is not that you can vandalize it. That's rather obvious. The surprising thing is that it works so amazingly well. He must have missed the article in Nature [nature.com] that found Wikipedia to be almost as reliable as Brittanica, despite being maintained by unpaid volunteers and being two centuries or so younger.

      And the trivia? There is

    • The related comic was actually pretty funny - Skeletor updates He-Man's Wikipedia entry. However I think the timeline has no place on Wikipedia. It's of no interest to anybody but fans, who could just as easily go straight to the Epic Legends of the Hierarchs page. And hiding the whining behind a slew of fifty-cent words is just ridiculous. Wikipedia isn't the place for every single minor Internet phenomenon to get an encyclopedic entry, and its guidelines make that pretty clear.
      • Agreed, you can't let every half-wit thesauruspants get 60 pages on his gerbil collection just because he thinks that they're historically notable.

        I've been skeptical of wikis in general and wikipedia in particular since wikis first appeared. A previous company I worked at had a wiki; the QA manager argued that anyone smart enough to edit one wouldn't be malicious (at the time, wikis were new enough that only IT geeks had heard of them). I argued that it was an awful idea, that intellect and morality are or
    • I don't normally disagree with what Tycho says (if I ever bother to read what he says at all), but I have to say, he's flat-out, fucking wrong about this; almost to the point of looking like a fool, despite the use of "fancy words" that he only seems to use when he needs to project an aura of elite intellectualism. I'm not saying he's not a smart guy, but... wow...

      I wasn't aware they thought they were making a real encyclopedia for big people at the time...

      That's half the damn problem right there. Sadly,

      • To be honest, this just sounds like so much sour grapes...

        +100000000 Insightful
    • by RoLi ( 141856 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @07:35AM (#14279121)
      To which I reply: because I don't have time to babysit the Internet. Hardly anyone does. If they do, it isn't exactly a compliment.

      These guys are so ignorant it's not funny anymore.

      We are talking about Penny Arcade, a website for gamers. So they say it's a "waste of time" and only losers have time for something like that? Gamers say that? If Wikipedia-contributors have too much time, what is to be said about gamers? At least Wikipedia-contributors are getting themselves educated as a side-effect but what excuse do gamers have?

      It's a hobby.

      Some people collect stamps, others play computer games, others contribute to Wikipedia.

      But it seems that a hobby is only OK when it's a complete waste of time, but if someone profits of it (like Wikipedia or free software) immediately someone starts namecalling.

      • So they say it's a "waste of time" and only losers have time for something like that?

        This was not a comment about anyone who contributes to Wikipedia. It was a response to a particular argument that people make in defense of Wikipedia, that if a person is upset by an entry, they can change it themselves.

        His point is that the "if you don't like it, change it" argument doesn't take into account the fact that Wikipedia exists now. There is no "end goal" for Wikipedia, because it is a resource at this v
    • In other words, he's complaining because he tried to use the page as a way of allowing people to collaboratively write a story, or did he post a genuine article he thought would be interesting to some? If it's the latter, he has a genuine complaint; if it's the former, then he's guilty of being a victim of his own ignorance, gilded with fancy words. Eloquent use of language still doesn't make you right.
    • "the first is usually a paean to that pure democracy which is the project's noble fundament."

      My, sounds like someone doesn't have a clue what he's talking about [wikipedia.org].

      Tycho seems to have a grudge left over from the whole Epic Legends Of The Hierarchs episode. I'm sorry Tycho, but He-man and Pokemon are a part of popular culture, and therefore belong in Wikipedia. Legends of the Hierarchs does not.

      "I am almost certain that - while they prune their deep mine of trivia - they believe themselves to be engaged in the
    • It is a shame parent was modded funny. It is full of insights such as:

      As an encyclopedia, Wikipedia has some issues. As a model of how and where distributed intellect fails, it's almost shockingly comprehensive.

      Any persistent idiot can obliterate your contributions.

      If I don't like it, why don't I go edit it myself? To which I reply: because I don't have time to babysit the Internet.

      I think parent should be read several times by those who are so quick to throw around the Wikipedia-basher label

      • As an encyclopedia, Wikipedia has some issues. As a model of how and where distributed intellect fails, it's almost shockingly comprehensive.

        The first statement is true. The second is meaningless; it uses big words, but ultimately doesn't use them to say anything.

        Any persistent idiot can obliterate your contributions.

        This is simply untrue. Any persistent idiot who tries to obliterate genuine contributions will inevitably fall foul of some of the disciplinary policies that are enforced quite rigorously. F
  • Move along ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by arrrrg ( 902404 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:56AM (#14278921)
    While this might be a significant change if you are a frequent Wikipedia editor, it really isn't anything that we on the outside will notice. This is basically a less restricted form of protection that is currently applied to a heavily vandilized pages, where only administrators are allowed to edit. This adds an intermediate status where you don't have to be an administrator, but your account has to be (only) about 4 days old.
    • Re:Move along ... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tronicum ( 617382 ) * on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:25AM (#14278987)
      true. most of the anonymous IP edits are changed by the editors that monitor them.

      only minimal changes, which can be dramatic, are not changed due to nobody knows that the fact is false.

      There is a blocking feature already and it makes sense to protect some of the pages which are changed to often (Like GW Bush, or 9-11 and similar). Even on that pages you can still contribute.

      It is a open dictionary, but nobody claimed ever that there would be no control on it.

      btw. even slashdot adpoted some stupid graphics to protect posts just as everybody discusses it on WP.

    • While this might be a significant change

      In reality, it is a minor change with major PR. The protection of a page is temporary.

      RFA, specifically the template that is used on a semi-protected page. This page is temporarily protected from being edited...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:02AM (#14278938)
    The PHP page [wikipedia.org] over at wikipedia has been attacked by spambots. Basically, what the spambot does is blank the page, and replace the page with links to some web pages the spammer has set up, usually completely unrelated to PHP. The IPs the spammer use constantly change; we think the spammer in question is controlling a number of zombies across the net since the same IP never spams the page more than once.

    When the spammer hits again, this particular for of protection will stop the spammer cold. This does nothing to stop the kind of subtle vandalism where someone falsely states that someone helped assassinate Kennedy, for example. But it does help stem a particular problem some wikipedia pages encounter.

    • That's a problem better dealt with by requiring account creation for any page edit. Accounts aren't any less anonymous than IP addresses, for those with privacy concerns, but the extra step of requiring an account to be created (thus allowing spam accounts to be banned) would make automated spam far more difficult (especially if combined with a good captcha).

      It might not be a permanent solution, since eventually someone will probably come up with a way to defeat it, but it'd be far more effective than lett
    • This actually helps on some pages

      I agree entirely, and if I had any pull at Wikipedia, I'd be taking it even further. Specifically,

      a) Require voice-verified[1] accounts before allowing live edit privileges.

      b) Require email-verified accounts before allowing edit privileges at all. Unregistered users can view, they can't edit. Disallow Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, GMail, and other known free email providers from email verification. You want to edit at Wikipedia? You need a real email address.

      c) Edits submitted by ema

    • That all sounds very nice, but what happens when said spammer lets your zombies register an account, and wait a week until they perform the drop? He could simply have them pipelined and waiting and continue exactly as before.
  • Excellent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by squoozer ( 730327 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:05AM (#14278943)

    Perhaps now we can get on with writting a free encylopedia rather than arguing about who has the ability to edit pages. I'm surpuised it took them so long to get to this point. If parallels are drawn to software development it would be like letting any Tom, Dick or Harry submit a patch to the kernel, and have it included automatically, regardless of whether it even compiled.

    While it would be nice to live in a world where people didn't abuse things like wikipedia that just isn't going to happen. The problem is that a very small number of people can do a lot of damage in a short space of time when it's completely open. I wouldn't be shocked if they moved to a completely moderated system before long.

    • Re:Excellent (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 )
      While it would be nice to live in a world where people didn't abuse things like wikipedia that just isn't going to happen

      In that regard, it's a perfect model of larger society. Vandals, terrorists, and just plain twits are a tiny minority, but can rob the whole system of its value. The only option is a trade-off, and eternal vigilance is the cost. And by that, I don't mean that everyone about whom an article is written should have to spend every Sunday mopping up after idiots.
  • by HD Webdev ( 247266 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:07AM (#14278946) Homepage Journal
    This is a protection akin to slashdot only allowing mod points to users who have UID's below X% of the total. Loosely speaking of course.

    It's pretty much splitting the difference between the full protection (admins only) that already exists and just keeping more power away from anons and newer users. So now, to use a Windows comparison, there are pages that Administrators can change (full protection), Power Users (semi-protected, NEW!), and the overwhelming majority of the rest can be edited by guest users.

    Now, they'll have to deal with the trolls who will register craploads of accounts for use in the future against the semi-protected pages. They're trying to make people/media happy on one end, yet ending up feeding the trolls on the other end.

    I love wikipedia, even with the exploits available due to the anon & instant user editing ability. Considering the overwhelming amount non-trolled information, it's pretty incredible that it hasn't been abused quite a bit more.

    I hope that they don't pursue this much farther. IMHO, anything more will trigger the trolls into being (even) more subtle and keep their bellies much more full.
  • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:09AM (#14278951) Homepage Journal
    Hey CmdrTaco and Roblimo! Want to help Wikipedia and at the same time deliver more page views to your advertisers?

    wiki.slashdot.org : WikiSlashdot
    Add a Wiki plugin [onlamp.com] to slashode [slashcode.com] and host it on slashdot. This it will attract the trolls away from Wikipedia and introduce a persistant layer to the debate that takes place on slashdot.

    Individual changes could be moderated just like on slashdot and the user could elect to ignore changes with a low score.

  • Does anyone know who is behind wikipediaclassaction.org?

    They have some kind of axe to grind and I'd really like to know what it is. Apparently they have some sort of organizational affiliation.
    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:39AM (#14279015) Journal
      Does anyone know who is behind wikipediaclassaction.org?

      It looks like the article is up for a deletion vote at the moment (some consider it non-encyclopedic), but there's actually a pretty good Wikipedia article on the Wikipedia class action suit [wikipedia.org]. Here's the first few paragraphs:

      WikipediaClassAction.org is a website that claims to represent people wishing to file a class action suit against the Wikimedia Foundation to hold the creators/founders of Wikipedia legally responsible for malicious postings made by contributors to Wikipedia that are claimed to have caused damages to other individuals and groups.

      Allegedly started by the owners of QuakeAID, wikipediaclassaction.org (domain name registered on December 11, 2005 by Jennifer Monroe) refers to a 2005 incident involving John Seigenthaler Sr. who was identified by a Wikipedia article between May and September of 2005 as having been implicated in the John F. Kennedy assassination and the Robert F. Kennedy assassination.

      The site claims to be "currently gathering complaints from the entire Internet community, including individuals, corporations, partnerships, etc., who believe that they have been defamed and or who have been or are the subject of anonymous and malicious postings to the popular online encyclopedia WikiPedia."


      I should add that QuakeAID [wikipedia.org], the company behind the suit, is generally considered by many to be a fake/illegitimate charity. They seem to be upset that information about this illegitimacy is in their Wikipedia article, although people from the company have done quite a bit of editing on it.
  • by 404 Clue Not Found ( 763556 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:19AM (#14278978)
    This is a nice step towards increasing Wikipedia's reliability, as now they'll be able to protect articles without completely freezing them (meaning, perhaps, that they can use this on more articles without drawing cries of "censorship!"). But is this enough? It's not at all difficult to make a bunch of Wikipedia accounts and store them for use in later vandalism.

    Here's one idea: Separate articles into "reviewed" and "unreviewed" versions, much like the stable/unstable version proposed by some , but combine that with a reputation system almost like Slashdot karma. Like Slashdot, articles and users will never be outright censored or blocked, only *marked*. For example: Once enough people review and approve a proposed "stable" version of an article, that stable version will be made the default view of the article, with a note at the top saying something like "You're viewing a peer-reviewed version of this article. It has a reputation score of 644 and is likely to be accurate.

    It has been reviewed and approved by 524 registered users, 4 certified users, and 1034 anonymous users. For your information, this version has also received 13 disapproval votes; you may view the voters' reasons on the article's Talk page.

    For the latest non-reviewed version of this article (which may be more current but less accurate), click here."

    On the other hand, new or otherwise unreviewed articles would stay unstable, with a note saying "This article has not been reviewed. Its accuracy has not been vouched for and it is suggested that you use the information contained here with discretion and caution."

    Basically, this would mean that:
    1. Most articles that visitors see at any given time would be a reviewed, vandalism-free version containing the relatively current consensus view of the majority of registered users and contributors.
    2. Anybody can still make edits, and anybody can still see the latest unstable version if they want to.
    3. Unreviewed articles will lose trustworthiness, so it will be important for people to examine and review new articles.

    As for the reputation system itself: Users' reputations would start at 0 (anonymous/unregistered users) and then gradually increase both with time and with each new contribution they make. Certain individuals -- certified scientists, professors, etc -- could also be given field-specific bonuses in the fields they're knowledgeable in (but of course, the certification/bonuses would have to apply equally to people on either sides of any issue). The certification must be done in a professional yet fair way, such as requiring official diplomas from universities or proof of employment from organizations. I suspect this will be rather difficult but not impossible. Anyway, this optional certification is just to give experts more of a voice than the layperson -- but only in terms of reviews, not editing abiilty. And anybody can still gain a better reputation with time and effort; the experts just start out with a higher initial bonus.

    Conversely, reputations will be decreased whenever an edit is completely reverted by another registered user. More serious incidents of vandalism or deliberate false information, when reported by multiple registered users with a minimum of X reputation each, will severely decrease the vandal's reputation. As a protection against abuse, reputation loss will be removed if the reverter/reporter who caused it loses a certain amount of reputation himself/herself within, say, 3 months. (So if somebody suddenly goes on a revert-spree or a reportfest, other users can report that person and once enough people do so, his abusive reports will be removed completely from other users' reputations.)

    As for articles, their reputation would just be a score based on how many users voted for and against it, weighed by user status and reputation (anon votes would not count for much, registered users would count for some, certified users would count for some more, high-reputation users even more).

    This syst
    • by midgley ( 629008 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @12:00PM (#14279998) Homepage Journal
      Wikipedia's action seems sensible, proportional, measured and helpful to me. (I have edited a few articles, started a couple, been irritated by a couple of strangely driven anonymous editors.

      A group of medical practitioners are establishing the ganfyd (it is full of notes from/for your doctor(s)) medical reference wiki (URL:http://www.ganfyd.org).

      We aimed from the start at an effect distinct from those of The Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/ [wikipedia.org]) and the medical encyclopedia at URL:http://www.wikimd.org/ in two ways:-

      • We aim more at textbook than encyclopedia;
      • the content is to be qualified - our current restriction is that content may be edited in place or otherwise, only by registered medical practitioners ( URL:http://ganfyd.org/index.php?title=Registered_m edical_practitioners ).

      Other small differences include scope - ours is of and for doctors of the UK, Australia and Canada reflecting the membership of the forum in which the project was sparked (URL:http://www.doctors.netuk/ (closed forum)) and the licence required to enforce the restriction of qualification - I wrote a modification of one of the stock Creative Commons licences for this URL:http:/osborne.defoam.net/~akm/ - rather than the GFDL.

      We hope, and expect, that these design differences will produce the effect desired, although we will undoubtedly modify them as time and events indicate.

  • I just hope they get that page on inteeligeyant-esignday worked out to *everyones* best interests...
  • by Paul Crowley ( 837 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:56AM (#14279050) Homepage Journal
    Bulk-create your vandal accounts now, and then wait for them to mature into the sort that can attack heavily-vandalized pages.

    In practice, on the other hand, there are probably two or three people worldwide who are prepared to put time, effort and forward planning into attacking Wikipedia, as opposed to the thousands of casual vandals who will be dissuaded by the loss of instant gratification. So despite its theoretical shortcomings this will probably work very well in practice.
  • voting? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kipsate ( 314423 )
    How about making Wikipedia more democratic by introducing a voting system. Let's say that for certain pages, each change gets a short (1 day at most) voting period and needs at least 50% of the votes to be accepted.

    This will at least make vandalism much harder, while at the same time there is no barrier for proposing changes, as it should.

    • Problem here would be that the insta edit, many edits a day system that pages can enjoy would be elongated over several days if not weeks. Discouraging drive by fixes and contributions.
    • Ever noticed how Wikipedia articles are updated within minutes of an event - for example, a news story, or someone's death? If we had to wait for these changes to be accepted Wikipedia would lose its reputation for being so fast.

    • Voting works where opinions reign, but wikipedia is supposed to be a factual resource. Voting on factual information seems kind of risky, especially if the voting is open to anyone (who may or may not have the specialized knowledge required to make an informed choice).
  • by ThurlMakes7 ( 937619 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @08:11AM (#14279198)
    IIRC, this kicked off when Jimmy Wales admitted two entries chosen at random by Nick Carr were "horrific crap [roughtype.com]". They weren't the result of vandalism, but just really badly written collections of badly chosen facts.

    This happens alot with writing by committees, and isn't unique to Wikipedia. It just gets worse as it gets older. Wikipedia has collected more facts over time, but it reads worse.

    There's no cure for this except getting experts and real editors with good language skills, and they're hard to find as anyone who's tried to staff a tech docs team knows. But this runs counter to the "anyone can do it" philosophy.

    So no amount of tweaking the processes helps - you simply need skillful people. The ex-Britannica guy (McHenry?) had a good line, which is that Wikipedia can get better, or Wikipedia can keep the utopians - but it can't do both.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Getting worse? Don't think so.

      I personally "cleaned up" several articles, i.e. wrote a decent intro, moved paragraphs into appropriate sections, linked and unlinked things, and, of course, corrected many typos and grammatical errors.

      There are many people devoting time to such work besides "fact adding", at least in the German wiki.

      I would think the process by which an article is created is

      stub ->
      facts added, possibly in form of horrible lists ->
      turning the thing into an article

      Regards.
    • Well, the fact is, comp.

      a) How old is wikipedia

      b) How old is Brittanica

      Another four years and Brittanica is out of Business.

      It is not Brittanica to tell Wikipedia which way to go. I don't see the quality problem, despite that Brittanica gets a new edition every 20 years (?) and is then quality checked. Whatever they do, they cannot compete with the quality of Wikipedia because quality of wikipedia will not decrease, we will not see less articles, articles with lower standards and the core of articles.

      One ed
      • How old is Brittanica

        The first edition was published 1768-1771 in three volumes.

        Brittanica gets a new edition every 20 years (?)

        The print edition was revised this year. The Brittanica Book of the Tear was first published in 1938. Brittanica has been on-line since 1981, beginning with Lexis-Nexis.

        One edition of Brittanica is several thousand dollars

        The holiday special: $1500 US for the cloth-bound Brittanica, Book of the Year, Great Books of The Western World, Annals of America, and Webster's Third Int

  • by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <{wgrother} {at} {optonline.net}> on Saturday December 17, 2005 @09:37AM (#14279435) Journal
    • Encyclopedia?
    • Knowledge base?
    • Data gang rape?
    • Hive-mind?
    • Propoganda machine?

    Frankly the whole discussion is pointless, because I don't think Wikipedia knows what it is, and until it has some firm direction and some logical guidance all it is, is a mob scene. A great deal of the data there is valid (I reference it a lot, after carefully reading the articles), but a system that allows anyone to edit it makes it ripe for abuse. Imagine if the Founding Fathers of the USA made the Constitution re-writable on-the-fly like Wikipedia: chaos! But they knew that the Constitution could not remain static if it was to keep up with change, so they wrote in a mechanism to allow for changes, but measured changes. This same sort of system needs to be applied to Wikipedia, a kind of group peer-review, to lower the GIGO factor.

    • I really shouldn't reply to trolls, I think, but let me point out one thing: Wikipedia perfectly well knows what it is, namely, an encyclopedia, one that's free (as in freedom) and based on collaborative editing (that is, the bazaar approach instead of the cathedral).
  • by photon317 ( 208409 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @10:34AM (#14279642)

    Wikipedia already tracks past revisions of an article. Each article has a revision history. What you get when use wikipedia is the latest version of the document. The most simplistic and obvious fix for vandalism is this: Whenever someone submits a revision to a document, that revision has to remain the latest version (with no more edits by that person or anyone else) for 24 hours before it becomes the version which is shown to visitors as the main version. If another edit happens before the 24 hours is up, the clock is reset and it's another 24 hours before that version can become the main one (and the one currently showing still hasn't changed). What this means is that "edit wars" flip-flopping content back and forth in periods of hours will be invisible to the wiki-browsing public (Whereas editors/contributors always have the option to view the "raw" most-recent version of course).

    We already have plenty of "good guys" at wikipedia who go watch the list of recently-edited documents for vandalism or inappropriateness and correct it - the problem is just that they cannot get to them all in time. This gives them a 24-hour window to catch the problem and fight it back. Only when the doc "settles down" for 24+ hours will an updated revision be available to the world. And it requires no user ratings or moderation system beyond what has already been in place, or special priveleges, or anything of the sort.

    THe only real problem with this is news / current events. But there's already a seperate wikinews for that kind of thing, and you could always categorically handle "current events" docs differently. This is a system for protection encyclopedic articles.
  • by jwales ( 97533 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @11:05AM (#14279776) Homepage
    This is not a major policy change. It is not what is being reported here or elsewhere. It is one of many very minor changes to the software to allow better management of the site by the community. It is my opinion that this particular status is not likely to be used very much at all because the other changes to the software will be more wiki-like and more powerful.

    It is a very unfortunate thing that Wikipedia has gotten so popular that random internal bits of discussion in the community about all kinds of different things are so badly reported as 'news' when they are not. I advise the world to relax a notch or two. :-)

    --Jimbo Wales
  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @11:51AM (#14279955) Homepage Journal
    From the page linked in the summary:

    Important Note from Jimbo to news media: I see that some news media have picked this story up as if it is important. Please please please don't do that. This is one of many changes to the software which are coming soon, including the ability to put pages into a 'validated' state (better name should be determined) and so on. Treating this as a major policy change is therefore a huge huge error being made by people who have no understanding of how Wikipedia works.--Jimbo Wales 16:00, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

    He couldn't possibly be referring to Slashdot editors, now could he? They? Not understand how something works? Inconceivable!
  • End of experiment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @12:01PM (#14280003) Journal
    The real problem with the wikipedia isn't the vandals.

    It's how the system creates and nurtures vandals.

    The capricious, frustration-based, and heavy-handed behavior of the admins results in a game that vandals enjoy playing, over and over again.

    People who might have been brought calmly into the business of improving the encyclopedia are goaded instead into becoming pests.

    The problem isn't mechanical, it's social. Admins need to be trained that humility and acceptance are more powerful motivators than insults, imperiousness and backhanded punishments.
    • Admins need to be trained that humility and acceptance are more powerful motivators than insults, imperiousness and backhanded punishments.

      Hey! Don't post things like this on Slashdot. If people here catch on to that and start behaving decently, tens of thousands of jerks may take their arrogance, trolling, and dramatic bickering elsewhere. It'd be like unleashing a plague of locusts on the Internet.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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