Wikipedia is considering banning unregistered users from making alterations to certain articles. It would be a radical policy change for the Encyclopedia whose slogan is “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”.
Last week, during President Obama’s inauguration lunch, US Senators Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were both taken ill, quite seriously in the case of Kennedy. They have both since recovered, however shortly after the event, their Wikipedia entries read that they had died.
Although the changes were removed within five minutes of going up, the site’s founder, Jimmy Wales, went on record saying that a “flagged revisions” system would have prevented the problem. Such a system has been trialed on the German Wikipedia, and means that any unregistered edits have to be approved by a ‘trusted editor’ before they appear to the public.
Although it increases the reliability of the site slightly, and might silence some of its critics, it considerably reduces the timeliness of some of the edits. On the German Wikipedia it can take as long as three weeks to approve revisions, and the bureaucracy involved is massive.
This news coincides curiously with Encyclopedia Britannica permitting user-generated-content, though with similar restrictions. As for Wikipedia’s editor community, which is massive, responses have been mixed with some of the heaviest editors reacting positively, but the lighter editors less keen.
At the end of the day, it’ll be down to the community to decide whether this change is implemented. Although Wales’ opinion carries weight, anyone will be allowed to vote, so it’ll be interesting to see the results.
Personally, I hope that Wikipedia’s more egalitarian tradition continues and unregistered users aren’t subject to the whims of ‘the administrators’. What’s your opinion? Tell all in the comments.
(via PC Pro)