Wikipedia Changes Its Open Editing Policy

Wikipedia.jpgThe New York Times reports:

Wikipedia is the online encyclopedia that “anyone can edit.” Unless you want to edit the entries on Albert Einstein, human rights in China or Christina Aguilera. . . .

The list changes rapidly, but as of yesterday, the entries for Einstein and Ms. Aguilera were among 82 that administrators had “protected” from all editing, mostly because of repeated vandalism or disputes over what should be said. Another 179 entries — including those for George W. Bush, Islam and Adolf Hitler — were “semi-protected,” open to editing only by people who had been registered at the site for at least four days. (See a List of Protected Entries)

While these measures may appear to undermine the site’s democratic principles, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder, notes that protection is usually temporary and affects a tiny fraction of the 1.2 million entries on the English-language site.

The writing was on the wall that Wikipedia would have to put more restrictions on the editing of articles. I think that these changes are a nice balance between an open editing policy and controlling against abuses. Perhaps the next step is to create a group of “trusted editors,” who will always be allowed to edit, and then have certain restrictions for anonymous editors.

Related Posts:

1. Solove, Wikipedia, Politics, and Anonymity Don’t Mix (Feb. 2006)

2. Solove, Wikipedia Irony: Jimmy Wales Edits His Own Entry (Dec. 2005)

3. Solove, Wikipedia Vandals (Dec. 2005)

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5 Responses

  1. ac says:

    Notably the trusted editors model you propose corresponds closely to how most open source software projects are run. For most projects, anonymous changes are not activated immediately. Instead they are posted to a public discussion list where one of the trusted group can enact the change. It seems to work pretty well.

  2. So Wikipedia was getting too many changes to its Chinese human rights section coming from China. Whoops, wait a minute, it’s banned in China.

  3. Eh Nonymous says:

    The easy story arc is in fact contradicted in the article itself, which belies both this post title and the article’s thesis.

    Wikipedia has always had a short-term, easily solved, bandit problem. Bandits, like many trolls and similar varmints, have no brains and short attention spans.

    Wikipedia has managed to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    Wikipedia skeptics – meaning critics who pretend they are skeptical, even when their minds are so open to anti-Wikipedianism that their brains fall out – are on the wrong side of history.

  4. mark says:

    i don’t think you can have a truly open editing solution. Am I going out on a limb or what?!