Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Wikipedia faces editorial debate

The BBC news website has reported on the internal editorial debate going on at Wikipedia, the user-generated encyclopedia which has come to dominate information needs on the web - as well as continually be a source of debate about accuracy and editorial standards.

Recent events on the site - where edits of the pages of Senators Robert Byrd and Edward Kennedy gave the false impression both had died - have prompted a review of the rules, that would see revisions being approved before they were added to the site. First raised by Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, he proposed a system of flagged revisions, which would mean any changes made by a new or unknown user would have to be approved by one of the site's editors, before the changes were published.

However, this potential editing change has proved controversial and sparked a row among the site's editors. It would mean a radical shift from the site's philosophy that ostensibly allows anyone to make changes to almost any entry. Wales' proposal has caused a storm of comments on his site, with many editors saying the proposal was unworkable.

Mr Wales has now offered a compromise, asking those who were opposed to the changes to make "an alternative proposal within the next 7 days, to be voted upon for the next 14 days after that." The BBC report says that a system of flagged revisions has been used by the German Wikipedia site for almost a year. However critics say that the process is labour intensive and some changes can take days, if not weeks, to appear.



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