Wikipedia's new editorial policy: Wiki-whaaa?

Your ability to influence Wikiality is about to change: Wikipedia is instituting what the New York Times is calling “a layer of editorial review,” but only on articles about living people. “The new feature, called ‘flagged revisions,’ will require that an experienced volunteer editor for Wikipedia sign off on any change made by the public before it can go live. Until the change is approved — or in Wikispeak, flagged — it will sit invisibly on Wikipedia’s servers, and visitors will be directed to the earlier version.”

A similar editorial process has been in place for the German-language version for some time now, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says Wikipedia has a “serious responsibility” now to be accurate.

On a practical level, this is a good decision: Accuracy and accountability are good things, and Wikipedia — like any other source — can always use more. On an abstract level, though, there’s part of me that wonders if this runs counter to the entire premise Wikipedia: The whole point was that it was a bottom-up process, not a top-down one; that everyone’s contributions were equally welcome; and that the community edited itself.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Now that Wikipedia is as front-and-center as its ever been, should it change its editorial policies? And do you love BJ Novak’s “Wikipedia Brown” bit as much as I do?


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Comments (8 total) Add your comment
  • yogi

    Well now how am I going to inform people of all the hookers Dan Rather has buried under his house? Seriously guys, its true.

  • David Gerard

    You have a typo in your headline, title and URL … if this were Wikipedia I could fix that ;-p

    Changing the instant nature of Wikipedia is a serious concern, and Wikipedia regulars are going to be watching closely to see how it all goes. The implementation on German Wikipedia had quite a few problems with long queues for approval. But limiting it to the most problematic of articles about living people – which should already be under an editorial iron hand regarding rubbish – should, everyone hopes, be manageable.

  • A

    I think it should- schools never let you source WWikipedia. And you don’t know if what you’re reading is true.

  • wrp

    Well, I guess this is one way of keeping people from posting wiki entries saying someone is dead when they aren’t.

    • Nick

      Like when Ted Kennedy was taken to the hospital during this year’s Presidential Inauguration. His Wikipedia entry was changed a dozen times during the day, confirming his “death” and then refuting it. I could get behind some checks and balances to keep something like that from happening.

  • Fyrkat

    I like the idea.
    I like it because now, hopefully, people will not be able to change established articles by inserting blatant falsities or lies. There will be someone to look at the change and possibly (hopefully)ensure accuracy.

  • daisyj

    This seems like a reasonable compromise to me; it preserves the openness where it’s really useful (the millions of articles on obscure/non-controversial topics written by people who are genuinely interested), while fencing off the ones that end up serving largely as troll-bait in many cases. It’s too bad it’s necessary, but it seems like they’re doing their best here.

  • Matthew

    I love that when I Google BJ Novak, the first link that comes up is his Wikipedia page.

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