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Wikipedia edits now need approval!

At least edits made to pages about living persons do.

By a new Wikipedia policy, called “flagged revisions”, all edits made about living people will need to be approved (flagged) by an editor or authorised volunteer before they go public.
Though this move has evoked a lot of criticism, it seems sensible, seeing the increasing reliance people have on Wikipedia for information.

The chairman of the Wikimedia foundation, Michael Snow, says

“We are no longer at the point that it is acceptable to throw things at the wall and see what sticks. 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.”

Some pigs are more equal than others?

Till now, Wikipedia has flourished under the principle of letting anyone edit entries, one of the things that made it as big as it is today.

Earlier, Wikipedia prevented anonymous users from creating new articles. This allowed Wikipedia moderators to exercise a little control over content, accounts being easier to manage than IP addresses. But now, only authorised individuals have the right to commit changes to Wikipedia entries on living persons.

These changes are not entirely new, having been applied to the entire German Wikipedia over the past year. It will probably be a hot topic for discussion at this year’s Wikimania.

With the German Wikipedia, over 7500 people have the power to approve edits. The English Wikipedia, being significantly bigger, will need a larger task force to keep it updated. Though the exact number has not been announced, it is estimated to be in the thousands.

“It is a test,” said Jimmy Wales, a founder of Wikipedia. “We will be interested to see all the questions raised. How long will it take for something to be approved? Will it take a couple of minutes, days, weeks?”

Wikipedia contributions slowing down?

As more and more articles are added everyday. the number of popular topics that have not been added to it is coming down. Is this why the number of edits are on a decreasing trend? An interesting arcticle on PARC’s Augmented Social Cognition blog gives us statistics on Wikipedia’s editing trends.

But again, Wikipedia is huge. It has grown exponentially over the past few years and the number of people using it as a reference is steadily going up.

“Wikipedia now has the ability to alter the world that it attempts to document”

– Joseph Reagle, professor of communications at New York University