Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wikipedia Changes Editorial Model, and Hopes To Move On

The BBC reports that Wikipedia is close to a radical change of its publishing model, which would provide for editorial control of changes to pages devoted to living persons and "some organizations." The changes are in response to recent problems with pages devoted to high profile personalities such as the late singer Michael Jackson and U.S. Senator Robert Byrd. Some Wikipedia users are upset about the new policy, but some welcome it. Editorial control would extend only to changes attempted by new or unknown users. Says the New York Times' Noam Cohen,

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.

The change is part of a growing realization on the part of Wikipedia’s leaders that as the site grows more influential, they must transform its embrace-the-chaos culture into something more mature and dependable.

Mr. Cohen also notes that the new policy "crosses a psychological Rubicon. It will divide Wikipedia’s contributors into two classes — experienced, trusted editors, and everyone else — altering Wikipedia’s implicit notion that everyone has an equal right to edit entries."

Read more in the New York Times article here.

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