Wikipedia: The Editors Are Watching You Now

Wikipedia is about to launch a two-month test of a feature called "flagged revisions" under which any changes to articles about living people and some organizations made by the public must be approved by one of the site's experienced volunteer editors, according to published reports by The New York Times, BBC News and other media outlets.

Under the system, changes to articles made by "inexperienced editors" -- those with little or no Wikipedia track record -- will remain invisible to viewers until approved.

The change marks a radical departure from the original vision for Wikipedia, created in January 2001 as a free encyclopedia on the Web to which anyone could contribute articles or edit existing articles. Today the English-language version of the site has more than 3 million articles and is visited by some 60 million users every month, according to The New York Times.

Many both inside the Wikipedia Foundation that manages the Web site and outside see the move as part of the online encyclopedia's necessary maturation as its use and influence grows.

Sponsored post

"We are no longer at the point that it is acceptable to throw things at the wall and see what sticks," said Michael Snow, chairman of the Wikipedia board, in The New York Times article. "There was a time probably when the community was more forgiving of things that were inaccurate or fudged in some fashion -- whether simply misunderstood or an author had some ax to grind. There is less tolerance for that sort of problem now."

Wikipedia's openness has led to problems in the past when online vandals posted false information about celebrities and politicians. Earlier this year, for example, someone changed articles about U.S. senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd to report that they had died.

Wikipedia has been using the flagged revisions procedure with its German-language version of the online encyclopedia during the past year. The two-month trial of the procedure for the English-language version is expected to start in a couple of weeks, according to published reports.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales first proposed the flagged revisions idea in January, but it was met by protests from users.