Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wikipedia Gets Serious

We spent our first class talking about the power of citizen blogging and the evolving criteria used to ensure the credibility of diverse forms of communication. After embarrassing user "updates", including the announcement of deaths that hadn't yet happened, it seems Wikipedia is eager to take back some control over its content. They have announced that "within weeks, the English-language Wikipedia will begin imposing a layer of editorial review on articles about living people." Wikipedia will make a distinction between their regular contributors and their trusted editors - the latter of which must approve changes to articles discussing people. With over 3 million English-language articles and prominent rankings in most Google searches, it makes sense that they'd like to enforce a little quality control over the website. The New York Times article also notes that after a steady increase in popularity, Wikipedia had been recently losing credibility as a result of inaccurate edits by newbie contributors that required continuous correction.

Readers are eager to see how long the new approach will delay updates. Under the new system, would Ted Kennedy's death (and two paragraphs on the circumstances surrounding it) already be posted this morning? (Since midnight last night, around 150 edits have been made - and argued about - on his page. One editor even questioned in his notes whether it was too soon to be updating the Wikipedia page.) For now, we can carefully read Senator Kennedy's updated article but note Wikipedia's prominent warning: "This article is about a person who has recently died. Some information, such as that pertaining to the circumstances of the person's death and surrounding events, may change rapidly as more facts become known."

1 comment:

  1. I think that Wikipedia's move shows that there is still a role for editors and journalists - though citizens can easily access information, someone is still need to fact-check and organize the information in a more professional manner.