Wikipedia and editorial control

Wikipedia continues to experiment with access and control in relation to the most frequently vandalized pages. Previously it would simply “lock” the pages, removing the ability of anyone to just edit the page. This loses the advantage of dynamic creation which made Wikipedia great and now changes are afoot to enable editing. Instead of locking the pages the organization will have a system of tighter editorial control. As Buzzblog points out there seems to be a paradox between freedom and control but the systems goal is to limit “bad” edits. In an interview Jimmy Wales explained the position “These (pages) have had to be semi-protected for years just because they are too tempting for naughty people to try something funny. But semi-protection has prevented thoughtful and sincere newcomers from making good changes.”

A blog post from Wikipedia’s Moka Pantages explains the changes:

Over the next few days, English language Wikipedia users may notice a small change on some articles: a little magnifying glass where a lock once was. The icon, on the upper right corner of the article, represents an important step that Wikipedia volunteers have taken to open up articles that were previously protected from editing. Starting Tuesday at 11pm UTC, the English Wikipedia community will begin a two-month trial of a new tool called “Pending Changes” (formerly known as Flagged Protection).

Articles that are frequently subjected to malicious edits have long been locked, sometimes for years, and protected from editing by new and anonymous users. Over the last year, the Wikimedia Foundation and volunteers from the community have been working to develop Pending Changes, a softer alternative to these editing restrictions. At present, only about 0.1 percent of the 3.3 million articles on the English Wikipedia are under edit protection. This tool should help reduce disruptive edits or errors to articles while maintaining open, collaborative editing from anyone who wants to contribute.

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