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“We are no longer at the point that it is acceptable to throw things at the wall and see what sticks,” said Michael Snow, a lawyer in Seattle who is the chairman of the Wikimedia board. “There was a time probably when the community was more forgiving of things that were inaccurate or fudged in some fashion — whether simply misunderstood or an author had some ax to grind. There is less tolerance for that sort of problem now.”

That quote is from a NY Times article on Wikipedia (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/25/technology/internet/25wikipedia.html?th&emc=th). The article notes a definite change in Wikipedia editorial policy. The article states: "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."

A new feature is being added, called "flagged revisions", which will require that an experienced Wikipedia volunteer review any changes to articles on living people before the changes are published.

Wikipedia is often our first resource for general information, if nothing else, because it usually has something about any topic. But because the articles are unsigned, I have always been very skeptical of seeing Wikipedia cited on any paper or exam, preferring to use the footnotes and citations for further research and validation.

Is this new policy a step towards a more reliable source of information? Or is it a kind of censorship, and restriction on free speech? What do you think?

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Comment by Godfred FRU NGANG on August 27, 2009 at 8:54pm
There is one thing we all want: the accuracy of the information we find on WIKI. There is a price we have to pay for that. We may call it censorship or curtailing our rights to free speech. If we look at the what censorship has been placed on, we will realize that this concerns living people. Every living person has his strong and soft points. Where will this censorship trend end?

I think we need accurate information and also we like to know all sides of the story. Will the flagged revisions let us see the different sides of complex living personalities?

There is one thing those searching well researched information require: references. I think the openness of the system gave us an opportunity to know what to trust.
Comment by Sheba Mohammid on August 26, 2009 at 4:00pm
This was an inevitable debate with the formation of an Open Encyclopedia. Snow's comments may be justifiable in some ways. Take the case of the annonymous Wikipeida user who created an (in many way ways fictional)wiki on former USA today editorial director John Seigenthaler possibly implicating him in the Kennedy assasination. Seigenthaler has repsonded by calling it Internet Character Assasination. This is an interesting dynamic and a fear of inaccuracies and deliberate re-shaping of hisotry or as you rightly point out Ginger, the present. On the other hand though, I believe it is the very dynamic nature of Wikipedia that makes it important as editing and verification are constant processes. In many ways this different paradigm means that openess actually creates better scrutiny in the long term on what is written, and what perspective is presented. Are traditional encyclopedias necessarily encoded in an objective way? Is is a powerly inclusive thing to have an online collobarative encyclopedia that abolishes a single dominant ideology by building in varying perpectives? ( or does it just replicate hegemony with those who have access in a number of ways)
Comment by Rafik on August 25, 2009 at 7:52pm
@Seiiti you are assuming many about journalists which in many times were wrong. why thinking that journalists or old media are the only source of accurate informations?
two incidents happens this summer with one of rare respectable newpaper in Tunisia (or should be was), first a journalist made a fake interview of famous French artist and this interview was mentioned in foreign media and then the artist discovered that... the second incident was worse last days ago with the information about Tunisian woman pregnant of 12 babies.. it was a scam/ so we have a fake information and not accurate and verified one. I think that is time to media and journalist to reinvent the journalism again, to reinvent or to disappear.
@Ginger there are some stereotypes about wikipedia, yes everybody can edit but in fact all edits are usually discussed and you can notice many information about article itself in the page like lack of references, or unverified information etc a kind of information that make any reader careful about the quality of article, a wikipedia entry is a forever unfinished article, it is a really dynamic page where you can find tracking of changes, discussion about articles , the structure is designed to help to redirect to other source. the wikipedia entry is an entry to other sources at the end.
there is also the featured content which is unknown mechanism in wikipedia which is review for labelling an article as featured content and so verifying its quality.
wikipedia or crowdsourcing in general has enemies like Andrew keen ("cult of amateurs") or the last book "digital barbarism", not all crowdsourcing projects are success but through my experience in more specific project of translation community I think that those latter are providing a good content and participate in localization that we cannot expect from old structure
by the way about wikimedia, we can comment at this link about the strategy (we are always focus on wikipedia but there are many sister projects managed by wikimedia) http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
Comment by Seiiti on August 25, 2009 at 12:53pm
There are always those in power who feel threatened whenever something new pops up. For example journalists with diplomas v. bloggers.

Not only they have an interest to protect their territory, but they also have good arguments, particularly whenever there is a bad blogger writing things without doing proper investigation. But at the end of the day the good ones remain. And those who want to criticize the new thing do it a favor by catalyzing the process of eliminating the bad ones and creating systems to better filter and sort content.

I see this Wikipedia thing similarly: there are some good points. Everyone wants better content. This process will be facilitated by those who complain and point to the weak points...



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