Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Change in Wiki Model?

Just yesterday, we blogged about a project that was adopting the Wikipedia format to provide agriculture related information. The same post also mentioned how Britannica was inviting users to contribute, but would have more control than the Wikipedia model over the information being put up (Read the post here).

So while many projects are adopting the Wikipedia model, is Wikipedia itself on the verge of making some huge changes? A post in guardian.co.uk tells us more:

Until now, Wikipedia has allowed anybody to make instant changes to almost all of its 2.7m entries, with only a handful of entries protected from being altered.

But under proposals put forward by the website's co-founder Jimmy Wales, many future changes to the site would need to be approved by a group of editors before going live.

Wales argues the scheme will bring greater accuracy, particularly in articles referring to living people. But the possibility has caused a furore among Wikipedia users, since many see it as a fundamental change to the egalitarian nature of the site.

A user poll on the website suggests 60% are in favour of trials, which could take place within the next few weeks. But some think the split could ultimately threaten the future of the site.

Such changes have been considered before, but were brought into focus last week when Wikipedia falsely announced that two prominent US politicians had died.

On the day of Barack Obama's inauguration, the site reported the deaths of West Virginia's Robert Byrd - the longest-serving senator in American history - and Ted Kennedy, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour and collapsed during the inaugural lunch.

Both reports were false, and Wikipedia quickly changed the site back to reflect the truth, but the situation drove Wales to push strongly for change.

"This nonsense would have been 100% prevented by flagged revisions," he wrote on the site. "This was a breaking news story and we want people to be able to participate [but] we have a tool available now that is consistent with higher quality."

If the site grants new powers to editors, it would bring Wikipedia even closer to traditional encyclopedia websites such as Britannica, which last week announced that it would be launching a new online version that would allow readers to submit their own updates to entries.
Read the entire article here

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