Sunday, June 18, 2006

Editing at Wikipedia

The New York Times (registration required)
reports Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia has placed new restrictions on editing.

Wikis are server programs that allow multiple users access to a website's information. Individual users can manipulate the information within wiki entries.

This type of access gives instructors and librarians migraines the size of Montana.

The Times reports that certain entries in any reference work are bound to be contentious, and with Wikipedia, disagreements can escalate to a "revert war," in which competing factions simply change an entry back and forth to reflect their opinions.

Such disputes have resulted in a status of "protected" for 82 entries, meaning they cannot be changed at all, and a status of "semi-protected" for another 179 entries.

Semi-protected entries can only be changed by someone who has been a registered user for more than four days, the idea being that such a "cooling off" period will avoid most of the problems resulting from disagreements. Despite the steps Wikipedia has taken away from the ideal of "anyone can edit," founder Jimmy Wales says the resource works and is valuable. Most entries are only protected for a short period of time, he said, and they represent a fraction of the 1.2 million entries in the English-language version.

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