What Wikipedia's new flagged revisions system actually means

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52 Responses to “What Wikipedia's new flagged revisions system actually means”

  1. Talia says:

    #19: deliberately antagonistic? no. He does tend to be very blunt and has strong feelings about particular subjects, which he has no problem expressing.

    Not antagonistic, just opinionated. :)

  2. Kieran O'Neill says:

    “It’s pretty simple- either it’s 100% open, or it’s not. If it’s not, then the experiment in true democracy has failed.”

    I refer you to WP:NOT: “Wikipedia is not an experiment in democracy or any other political system. Its primary but not exclusive method of determining consensus is through editing and discussion, not voting.”

    That policy has been in place from the start. Perhaps you’re misunderstanding the meaning of “democracy”?

  3. Kieran O'Neill says:

    “I’m not that familiar with how wikipedia got started, but the ideals behind it seemed clear enough- in essence, true anarchy.”

    And I refer you to
    section 3.4 of “WP:NOT
    :

    “Wikipedia is not an anarchy.
    Wikipedia is free and open, but restricts both freedom and openness where they interfere with creating an encyclopedia. Accordingly, Wikipedia is not a forum for unregulated free speech. The fact that Wikipedia is an open, self-governing project does not mean that any part of its purpose is to explore the viability of anarchistic communities. Our purpose is to build an encyclopedia, not to test the limits of anarchism. See also meta:Power structure.”

    That’s also been in place right from the beginning.

    If people actually bothered to read Wikipedia policy documents, they would run afoul of the policies (and complain) less.

  4. Dewi Morgan says:

    Can someone explain to me why lowering the restrictions on editing protected pages is a bad thing, or in any way not in the spirit of WP?

    Previously, protected pages were “only the cognoscenti can write in this article”. This was bad, and not very WPish.

    In this new system, it’s just “unverified revisions, while visible to the public if they choose, are not the default view shown”. Yes, even anon IP users can edit these pages!

    That’s a REDUCTION in the restrictions, even compared to the old “semi-protection” (only registered, confirmed users could post), and yet people are whining like someone took away their favourite toy. Why? Did you like the old “lock the page and prevent edits” system? Are you scared that some anon might edit your favourite protected page now? Did they tell you on CNN that it was bad, and you believed it without checking?

    Really. Why is this change a bad thing?

  5. Dewi Morgan says:

    “That’s also been in place right from the beginning.” – did you actually check the history on that page? That passage was not in at the beginning of Wikipedia… nor even when that page was first created in response to problems encountered at the beginning. It was added in a later edit.

    A response-to-problems page like that can’t possibly have been in “from the beginning”, by its nature.

  6. philentropist says:

    @ #48

    I can’t speak for the others, but my experiences do not match that categorization. Since there seem to be doubts about our experiences, I’d like to elaborate on mine…

    I was a moderately active WP editor (~500 edits). Some of my contributions were deleted by another editor that had not previously made edits on that page, or discussed it before hand. I asked why the content was deleted, got a response, and replaced the content with the offending portions removed.

    The material was removed again, without further discussion. This time when I asked for a reason, They said the material was disparaging towards living persons. However, it had been taken out of their own autobiographies and public speeches (and cited properly). When pressed further, all they could say was that it was unnecessary.

    The other editor then rewrote the rest of the article to make my contribution seem irrelevant, and requested a third opinion. The third opinion sided firmly with them. Upon further investigation, I discovered ongoing talk page discussions between the editor and the “neutral” third party going back far before my original edits. They were old pals.

    I brought this issue up on an admin board, trying to explain what had happened as concisely as possible. The only admin that replied turned out to have their own talk page history with the other editor, and threatened to ban me if I didn’t stop posting on the discussion page. So I dropped the issue, and WP editing altogether.

    So, Kieran, I cited everything properly, I discussed before making edits, I referenced applicable polices (and was accused of being a wiki-lawyer for doing it). Yet, this other editor was able to get me threatened with a ban for simply discussing re-posting verifiable information, because they thought it was unnecessary.

    I think WP should be able to do better than that.

  7. BingoTheChimp says:

    @#24

    deliberately antagonistic? no. He does tend to be very blunt and has strong feelings about particular subjects, which he has no problem expressing.)

    I didn’t say “deliberately,” but I am suggesting that his “strong feelings” cause him to over-simplify.

    In this post, he says “It’s a lie,” which itself is not true. He basically saying he disagrees with that assessment, therefore anyone who has a different opinion is lying. It’s the difference between OBjective (truth vs lie) and SUBjective (opinion and interpretation). Confusing the two is (in my opinion) polarizing and antagonistic.

    Take for example this post. The sign is “crazy,” and the customers are “crazy,” despite the fact that an astute reader points out why the sign is legally required. Cory’s MO is to jump to a conclusion, write attention-getting headline, make snarky comment, then go on to the next thing without waiting to see if he got it right.

    @#21

    Since this article is arguing that there’s nuance in Wikipedia’s new rules, I’d say that you have poor reading comprehension.

    No, this article is saying differing opinions are “a lie” and that the people who have those opinions are “convinced the Wikipedia must fail.” That’s an extreme and polarizing interpretation.

  8. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Arkizzle, my IP varies because I use hundreds of computers at dozens of sites. I almost always use BoingBoing as my external connectivity test, which gives me an excuse to read it from work. ;) Right now I’m using safari on a mac, the last post I made was from IE on XP, and the day before I was using a linux system.

    Wikipedia’s still a wonderful resource for some things. The example of using the GNU “find” command’s -prune switch, for one. I do a lot of research, so I often visit Wikipedia despite my disappointment over how it has evolved over time.

    And I agree with Cory and Dewi Morgan that the recent changes are an improvement, though I don’t believe they will cure all of Wikipedia’s problems.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’ve always been watching tech circles from the fringes. Herding Cats I tell ya!

    I’m seeing purists turn their back in disgust because their system isn’t the perfection they’d envisioned. Do you see an alternative? Reminds me of an oath i had to take once. Reconciling that makes this seem cut and dry.

    It is too soon to quit. wkpdia will be the light of the world when the libraries have fallen away. Only a major social shift can prevent that.

    For my part, I would prefer rules if they promote both detail and truth. I accept that wikipedia is a sort of authority, and as such is subject to politics. The idea of using pure democracy for those rules appears not well founded to me.

    I stings to hear you old guys with personal knowledge of science/space have had a bad time. Yours are the stories I search out. But would academia have vetted you easier? Truth is a lot of work.

    Important work.

  10. Anonymous says:

    But I like Cory’s snarky commentary! As you pointed out, people will correct him in the comments as necessary.

    Hell, if I didn’t appreciate snark, I’d be over on Bruce Perens’ blog instead of here.

  11. Beelzebuddy says:

    #14: I’m an admin on Wikipedia

    Original research AND non-neutral point of view!

    I move that all opinions stated by commenter #14 be immediately deleted, and his IP watched for further vandalism or sockpuppetry.

    #27: Can someone explain to me why lowering the restrictions on editing protected pages is a bad thing, or in any way not in the spirit of WP?

    For the same reason tasers as non-lethal substitutes for guns turned out to be a bad thing. We won’t see an improvement in edits to protected articles, but we will see a new category of semi-protected articles covering entirely different swathes of admin hubris.

  12. Kieran O'Neill says:

    @28: OK, to be fair, that phrase has “only” been in since February 2005, but it’s a clarification of a general policy of decision making by consensus that has been in place since the beginning.

  13. dequeued says:

    @Tdawwg #18

    Well, many of these articles have been deleted.
    Obscure articles that could only be written by someone who truly loves the subject that they’re writing about, deleted by power-hungry jerks for no good reason.

    What harm are these articles doing by existing?
    Taking up disk space?
    They’re what made wikipedia special.
    Frankly, for the more highly trafficked subjects, I would trust a more authoritative source like Encyclipedia Britanica than wikipedia.

    It used to be that each fan podcast about the American TV show LOST had it’s own wikipedia entry.
    Some of these podcasts were quite notable by wikipedia’s own standards, having been featured in newspapers and the like.
    They were updated by fans and kept accurate, and it was nice to have one place on the Internet where all of this stuff was kept up to date.

    Of course, editors who didn’t know a damn thing excised all of that and it’s gone now.

  14. Secret_Life_of_Plants says:

    “J’adore the Wikipedia! It is one of my favorite-ever human inventions.

    I read on Wired blogs (?) that there was going to be (October?) a new system where new text was going to be highlighted in Orange and slowly over time, as the entry remained, or if the person who put it there in the first place was trusted based on a large number of edits that had staying power, the highlighting would fade away. I hope it isn’t annoying to look at, but this seems like a good idea.

  15. andygates says:

    Thanks for the clarification. I’d been concerned that all edits would be held pending approval, which would take away one of the big draws for wikis generally: instant gratification. This actually just looks plain sensible.

  16. mdh says:

    bezelbuddy – fyi, you’re not coming across well. More signal, less noise, please. e.g. false equavalence between administrative rules and deadly weaponry.

  17. Jonathan says:

    I’m surprised nobody has yet mentioned WikiTruth. Lots of satirical snarkypants gossip, but not so Dramatica that you can’t extract a potentially credible narrative. The page on the Oversight user class is relevant to this discussion.

    The best thing about Wikipedia is the MediaWiki software.

  18. BingoTheChimp says:

    But I like Cory’s snarky commentary! As you pointed out, people will correct him in the comments as necessary.

    Yeah, I’m not trying to be humorless, but most people just read the headline and a few comments. Even when corrected in a comment, the headline stays up forever and is much more prominent than the correction. It’s like the late local news (not in a good way). Now, if he issued corrections or updated the original post, like a responsible journalist, that would be a start.

    I still think he needlessly over-simplifies and polarizes issues (even when I mostly agree with him), but there you go.

  19. Ugly Canuck says:

    Wikipedia’s great, just like an encyclopedia: you never know what you may stumble across.
    While checking out the etymology of “charlatan”,I found this bio for a guy whom I have never heard of before:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_R._Brinkley

    Xenotransplantation pioneer! Spiritual godfather to Viagra…probably himself robbed of the rightful Governorship of Kansas…cross-border radio propagandist…would-be Hollywood doctor to the stars…if he had won, would Kansas be today as “anti-science” as it is reputed to be?

    But as with all sources of info, it’s best to corroborate , and to listen for the ring of truth (so to speak), before betting the farm on the accuracy of the info.

  20. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Arkie, hmmmm, you’re right; I’m usually going to be posting through one particular NAT gateway regardless of where I am. I forgot we NATted all VPN through-traffic a year or two ago, even for portable addresses. (But no, I don’t post as much as I read.)

    Kieran O’Neill, I never had a page or edit removed due to “style” (and that seems ridiculous on the face of it anyway; no volunteer can fix the style if something’s been deleted) and I’ve never encountered an editor that actually looked up references (though I’m sure they exist). I agree with your initial characterization of the complaints, though, with the caveat that “armchair expert” seems unnecessarily dismissive – my chair had no arms on it when I was testing nuclear weapon delivery systems and designing test regimens for apogee boost motor exit nozzles. You don’t have to believe that if you don’t want to, obviously, and it’s clear that Wikipedia has no tools to distinguish between expertise and mental illness.

  21. ADavies says:

    The thought that Wikipedia editors – people who just want to give the world access to accurate, truthful information for free – actually exist gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

    Maybe I’ll be one myself someday. For now, I’m too busy/lazy. But I do donate money from time to time. I figure it’s the least I can do.

  22. Moriarty says:

    “What harm are these articles doing by existing?
    Taking up disk space?”

    I can’t speak to individual cases, but there are many legitimate reasons that wikipedia articles get deleted. For example, a great many are indeed “written by someone who truly loves the subject that they’re writing about,” because they’re self-promotion. Editors have to be very vigilant about this, because it’s an arms race with those seeking to sneak in some free advertising. What is at issue is the integrity of the project, not just disk space.

  23. Tdawwg says:

    Dequeued, Wikipedia itself is a great place for your complaints, no? Again, make it better.

  24. Beelzebuddy says:

    MDH: Which signal, and whose noise? That’s the issue under consideration here. To an anonymous editor, his changes may correct a grievous error. To the self-appointed wikiguardian with that article under his wing, the edit is vandalism that should be reverted. The squatter wins nearly every time, despite the only difference between the two being the squatter got there first, and has a more exhaustive knowledge of WP:Rules to accuse the other editor of.

    This change to policy promotes “trusted editors” from unofficial arbiters to sanctioned gatekeepers. We’re told that the new system will be used instead of protection, with the almost certainly false implication that the protection standards will remain unchanged.

    No, what I think we’ll see is every two-bit edit war between a newcomer and an established user immediately flagged semi-protected, to keep the newcomer from competing. Meanwhile protected status continues to exist on nearly the exact subset of pages it would have been on anyway.

    The argument WP is putting forth has the same flavor and carefully implied-but-never-stated loopholes that taser introduction contained. You may not like the analogy but well, neither do I. Don’t semi-protect me, bro.

  25. Kieran O'Neill says:

    A lot of people’s complaints about Wikipedia seem to run like this:

    “I’m an armchair expert in XYZ, and when I contributed anonymously to the XYZ article, all my edits kept getting reverted by a regular user too full of himself to know that I was right.”

    Generally speaking, when you actually read (and try to stick roughly to) the style guides, and when you reference everything that sounds even remotely arguable, you don’t get into edit wars.

    That’s not much to expect from people contributing to a project of this nature and scale.

  26. mdh says:

    bingothechimp – If you want journalism, go to a journal. This is a blog.

  27. Beelzebuddy says:

    #40: Wikipedia isn’t a democracy. If you don’t like how things are run you are simply overruled. Dequeued has no chance to “make it better,” except to give up in a huff and make his own wikipedia somewhere else.

  28. Lobster says:

    Wikipedia’s greatest strength is that anyone can edit it. Ideally, if something is factually wrong it is updated with information that’s closer to right, and eventually you settle on the truth. Realistically, unscrupulous (and stupid) people manage to screw that up.

    I don’t know if having a single editor is the best solution, though. That ensures that what ends up on the page is not the internet’s consensus, but one editor’s view. That editor might be right, they might be wrong, but either way the system is no longer working and Wikipedia becomes exactly as accurate as any other source.

  29. mdh says:

    To the self-appointed wikiguardian with that article under his wing, the edit is vandalism that should be reverted.

    rtfa. seriously. r t f a.

  30. Tdawwg says:

    Wikipedia isn’t a democracy. If you don’t like how things are run you are simply overruled.

    A democracy, then.

    Dequeued has no chance to “make it better,” except to give up in a huff and make his own wikipedia somewhere else.

    A Wikipedia Tea Party? Encyclopedia Dramatica? What are you talking about?

    Seriously, though, that hasn’t been my experience, nor others’. There would seem to be more than one way to experience Wikipedia.

  31. Mythus says:

    @ #6

    If I understand correctly, it’s not one single editor, but established/trusted ones.

  32. Eli says:

    Cory’s “debunking” seems to only apply to the “patrolled revisions” aspect.

    The “flagged protection” articles are pretty much exactly what the rumors said: my anonymous changes won’t appear until some editor approves them.

  33. SamSam says:

    I used to be an administrator and a moderator at Wikipedia for several years, although I’ve long since stopped and didn’t know about this.

    This isn’t surprising, and it’s part of what I really disliked about Wikipedia.

    There was always a problem with articles about living people: those people would complain to Jimbo. And Jimbo virtually always caved.

    There were dozens of articles that were very closely patrolled by Jimbo’s most trusted lieutenants. Any change that hinted at controversies would be instantly reverted, without explanations. The admins doing the revertings were secretive and frequently rude to the editors who didn’t know why their changes were being reverted.

    On several articles, whole histories were deleted. When editors complained that there was good information that was lost in the histories, they were told that if they could remember the exact date of the good edit, they could get it copied-and-pasted onto the talk page. (For at least one article, I reverted the hiding of the history, since the other administrator refused to give a reason, and I wasn’t challenged, at least not immediately. Don’t know if the history remained later.)

    Wikipedia’s a great project, but Jimbo has always been too willing to cave to VIPs who get angry about an biography and even hint that they could sue, and Jimbo’s circle of close lieutenants were secretive, proud that they had been entrusted with special responsibilities and information about why preventing anyone from editing article X would somehow save the project.

    Allowing anyone to edit, but not showing their edits until they are approved, is exactly what Britannica did in their lame attempt to catch up to Wikipedia. It was ridiculed then. Not surprised that it eventually got brought in.

  34. Ito Kagehisa says:

    I’m sorry, but my experience has been that it’s not so simple.

    I was a very prolific contributor to Wikipedia at one time. I never created an account, and as any moderator here will attest, I have no fixed IP address; consequently I never became part of the loose cabal of wiki overlords. (Nor did I want to; I am not obsessive enough for the job.)

    Over time it has become impossible for “drive by” contributors like myself to contribute anything that isn’t simply a rehash of other published work [citation needed]. For example; I have extensive personal knowledge of the US space program. I am not a published author, nor will I ever be; but I am an aquaintance of the man who designed the “airbag” system used by one of the more successful Mars landers. I wrote a brief bio page for him, which in the old days would have eventually filled out as others contributed, and it was immediately deleted by wikipedia’s staff with the comment “insufficiently notable for wikipedia”. So, I looked up a dozen of his aerospace patents, a few of the court cases caused by his decades of community activism, and the records of his service in political office, and added them to the page. It was immediately deleted with the comment “reads like hero worship”. At that point I gave up, because I have limited time available in my life.

    Additionally, politically contentious pages on wikipedia are mostly controlled by clinically obsessive personalities – note that there is a “holocaust” page that refers directly to the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany (despite the many other uses of the word, and the many other atrocities committed against the Jewish people in Medieval times) but “nakba” redirects to “1948 Palestinian Exodus”. You can’t fight these people unless you are mentally damaged to at least the degree that they are, and have the ability to spend 20+ hours a day patrolling your chosen obsessions. The wikipedia page on Reagan is an awesome and subtle achievement; take these two sentences for example: “Reagan’s legacy is mixed, with supporters pointing to a more efficient and prosperous economy and a peaceful end to the Cold War. Critics argue that his economic policies caused huge budget deficits, quadrupling the United States national debt, and that the Iran-Contra affair lowered American credibility.” Note how supporters “point”, implying that their ideas are correct, but critics “argue”, implying that their case is weaker (these implications are the opposite of objective truth; Reagan damaged the economy and American foreign policy, while Gorbachev ended the cold war peacefully).

    My work remains in wikipedia, in massively revised form (as it should be) mostly in the areas of hydropower, computing, and the space program. But I have not successfully been able to contribute for many years, so I have mostly stopped trying. Wikipedia was great before most people knew about it, and what makes it still valuable was mostly seeded at that time. Today it is bread, circuses, and pravda; and human nature is such that it is likely to remain so.

  35. dequeued says:

    Eh, wikipedia still sucks.

    It’s nice to know that the entry for Dr Steel, a steampunk artist, is being seriously considered for deletion:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Steel

    Apparently, being a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, having an article in Wired Magazine, and the LA Times still doesn’t make him “notable”

    The ONLY reason that deletionists are taking such glee in ripping out other people’s work is because they had their collective asses handed to them when somethingawful.com started doing wikigroaning (google it).

    Essentially, people poked fun at the editors, and, in response, they started trying to ruin wikipedia for everyone, out of spite.

    And you know what? Wikipedia still sucks.
    Many of it’s larger articles are terrible, but at least the smaller niche articles on the edges were cool.

  36. Anonymous says:

    @Eli — that’s not quite an accurate representation of flagged protection. It would only apply to a small number of articles that meet the requirements of Wikipedia’s protection policy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Protection_policy), and would allow *more* ability for you to contribute to those articles, not less.

    Currently, if an article is fully or semi-protected (usually because of widespread vandalism), you could not edit them at all anonymously. Instead, you’d have to propose a change on the article’s talk page, get everyone to agree to it, and hope the admin who moved the edit in did it exactly the way you wanted. With flagged protection, you could make the edit and it’s moved in verbatim or it’s not. If not, you can still make a case on the talk page.

    Why this seemingly small change? Because while there’s a lot of vandalism from anonymous editors, there’s also a lot of good edits. Flagged protection is an attempt to facilitate the good edits while still letting the vandal fighters take a breather. Will it work? No idea. But if it doesn’t, the community will try something else.

    (Full disclosure: I’m an admin on Wikipedia, and do a fair amount of work with page protection requests and vandalism reversion.)

  37. SamSam says:

    @ #27 Dewi Morgan:

    In this new system, it’s just “unverified revisions, while visible to the public if they choose, are not the default view shown”. Yes, even anon IP users can edit these pages!

    Really. Why is this change a bad thing?

    Because it lowers the bar on which articles have this feature. Basically, it’s going to be added to every biography of a living person who might object to things that people post about them. Previously (although less so in recent years), protection was a short-term way to deal with specific persistent vandals, trolls or edit wars.

    So now they can take any biography that Jimbo is worried about it and start using this flagged revision system. Then when people complain, you respond like you did: “what’s the big deal? You can edit! Just no one will see your edits.

    When I was an administrator, administrators were considered to be janitors — doing the clean-up work, blocking obvious vandals and other minor work. It was very clear, though: administrators were just regular editors. We did not have any extra power to decide whose edits were better than others, whose edits should be visible, besides those powers granted to every other wikipedia user.

  38. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Ito,
    if you are relying on the dynamism of your IP, I’d have a word with your ISP. It certainly isn’t static, but it isn’t that varied.

  39. das memsen says:

    I don’t get why Cory is defending the new rules, since they are doing exactly what wikipedia isn’t supposed to be. It’s pretty simple- either it’s 100% open, or it’s not. If it’s not, then the experiment in true democracy has failed. Whether it’s a “better system” or not can be debated ad nauseum- the point of wikipedia was the belief that people, collectively, without laws, could run something better than a few people with lots of power and rules. An ideal I actually believe in. Now we’re headed in the opposite direction, so it has, in fact, failed.

    I agree with some of the other posters, though- had it been left alone and not succumbed to pressure, it probably would have been in much better shape today.

    RIP

  40. philentropist says:

    @#11 I can relate to your experience. Aside from studying physics and CS at MIT, I’ve studied several other subjects on my own, such as the neuroscience of addiction (using peer-reviewed journal articles, of course). And like you, I used to do occasional edits to wikipedia until I ran into problems with cabal-like groups of misguided editors.

    I think wikipedia is great, but I also think it is far from the democratizing force that Cory makes it out to be. Power structures have been forming over the past several years, and they’re getting stronger and pushing out editors who don’t have the time for WP politics. Yes, everyone is subject to the same policies, but the enforcers and moderators are small groups of admins that too often value loyalty over equality.

    The system does seem to work well for uncontroversial articles and articles with high-traffic, though. However, for low-traffic articles, it’s too easy for a group of buddies to hijack any conversation.

  41. Tdawwg says:

    And you know what? Wikipedia still sucks.
    Many of it’s larger articles are terrible, but at least the smaller niche articles on the edges were cool.

    As a colleague of mine says, “So make it better then.” Since Wikipedia gives users the power to improve it, it also confers on them a responsibility to make it better. I think that’s called community: your distaste for Wikipedia’s practices, the thinness of its articles, etc., doesn’t absolve you from the responsibility, as a user, to contribute productively to it in some way.

  42. BingoTheChimp says:

    Off-topic:

    Am I the only one who thinks Cory D’s BB posts are consistently written in a polarizing, black-and-white, antagonistic fashion? Not that he’s the only one to do this, but he takes a kernel of something and presents it as an all-or-nothing argument. Reality is usually more nuanced.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Am I the only one who thinks Cory D’s BB posts are consistently written in a polarizing, black-and-white, antagonistic fashion?

      Since this article is arguing that there’s nuance in Wikipedia’s new rules, I’d say that you have poor reading comprehension.

  43. Moriarty says:

    “It’s pretty simple- either it’s 100% open, or it’s not. If it’s not, then the experiment in true democracy has failed. Whether it’s a “better system” or not can be debated ad nauseum- the point of wikipedia was the belief that people, collectively, without laws, could run something better than a few people with lots of power and rules. An ideal I actually believe in. Now we’re headed in the opposite direction, so it has, in fact, failed.”

    I disagree with this sentiment. Or at least, “without laws” is ambiguous. There have always been policies, but those policies are organic, endlessly evolving over time by consensus, in a perpetual debate that anyone can take part in, rather than legislated from above. This of course leads to inconsistencies and various competing factions over what the rules should be and how they should be interpretted. This too, though, is just part of the conversation. And there has always been “oversight” of a sort in the form of extra powers and responsibilities for administrators, but the process of becoming an administrator is ultimately just earning the respect and confidence by consensus of those who choose to weigh in. Is there a preferable social contract you have in mind?

  44. Anonymous says:

    I don’t agree with Kieran’s comments that so long as you follow the rules and use appropriate references your Wikipedia posts will not be reverted. My experience has been that if you’re not in Wikipedia’s inner circle, then no matter how well referenced or appropriate your edits are, then they will be reverted if they are not in line with the inner circle. It just reinforces my view that truth is a variable perception based on need (and who has more time on their hands).

  45. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Ito,
    I only mention it because since around February (I didn’t look any further), you have two overwhelmingly common IPs, scattered with maybe 3 very occasional others. Not the variety I’d expect from your job.

    Do you login and post when you run your tests?

  46. J France says:

    I’ve been hoping that Wikipedia would follow the German language’s lead, for…well, since it happened.

    I can understand the concern of prolific Wikipediers who are not yet trusted – although being in that situation itself sets off alarm bells about how trustworthy their contributions are.

    Wikipedia’s greatest weakness are the trolls – and there are many, all sitting in the specialised feild of trollery – which this will address. I don’t get how people are misinterpreting the changes, and how those misinterpretations are being spread so quickly.

    Or is that just how investigative reporting is done these days? Let the morons spam misinformed garbage until it reaches critical mass and has to be officially and vehemently denied and dispelled…sadly seems to be the case.

  47. pauldrye says:

    @Moriarty

    There have always been policies

    Well, no, there haven’t always been policies. [Citation needed]

    …hey, who inserted that tag?

    OK, you can check the history of some fairly major articles and see that I wrote the first version of fairly major and early articles like William Jones, or Jim Henson. I also wrote the first draft of others like Pixies, Snowball Earth and War of the Spanish Succession where the history log notice of my initial entry is wiped out because it predates a big Wikilog-database failure in September 2001.

    So I can tell you that there weren’t any policies during Wikipedia’s initial upward surge in article count. We made it up as we went along.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Wikipedia is not about the truth; it is about who has more time on their hands to keep posting their own personal version of the truth. I once tried posting something on Wikipedia, but kept getting it deleted by a long-term user who disagreed with “my facts.” I undid what they did and then they would simply delete it. I objected, but it was of no use. I thought at that time this is nuts. Who has the time to keep up with this stuff? Ultimately, I just gave up and now take what I read on Wikipedia with a grain of salt. I suppose you should take everything that way, unless it comes from a source you really know and trust.

  49. das memsen says:

    I’m not that familiar with how wikipedia got started, but the ideals behind it seemed clear enough- in essence, true anarchy. I do believe, all told, that our theoretical ideal society is basically that- a completely lawless, rule-less society that functions simply because people individually agree that a certain decision is the most rational one, even if they are still constantly re-thinking, debating, and adapting. I realize everyone will jump on this and say “that’s not reality, people are way too weak, flawed, the logistics of that kind of organizational proposal are a nightmare…” all of which are true, and why this remains a theoretical ideal. But theoretical ideals are important because they remind us of what direction we should always be heading in, even if we admit that human society just isn’t there yet.

    But the internet, playground of ideas that it is, allows for such experiments, which is what made wikipedia so great- in theory, at least. And, by and large, I do think that, even with the monitoring that goes on, it’s still incredibly open (you can’t moderate every entry all the time) and therefore at least a strong argument that this theoretical ideal of anarchy isn’t so crazy after all. But it has to be 100% open for it to be a genuine success- we can’t have different levels of moderators and wikicops, because then favoritism, bias, and politics all kick into play. In which case, we should just stick to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

    For the moment, I’m fine with a system that has some regulations and regulators, as long as it remains elastic and adaptable (which, clearly, the US government is not, corrupted by money and lobbies and all sorts of terrible things.) But I’m not fine with the view that this is humanity’s long-term goal, because really, what’s the point of living a life where you’re being told what to do all the time, rather than figuring it out yourself?

  50. BingoTheChimp says:

    @#42

    If you want journalism, go to a journal. This is a blog.

    From Cory’s official bio on his website:

    “Cory Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger.”

    Anyway, someone who publishes with the explicit intent of public consumption (ie: a blogger) should have no lower standards of truth and fairness than anyone else. If bloggers want the same protections and rights as traditional journalists, they have to take the responsibility, too.

    Just because you can get away with something doesn’t mean you should aspire to that.

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