Feeds

Jimbo Wales ends death by Wikipedia

Kennedy murder shames online cult

Build a business case: developing custom apps

On Tuesday afternoon, following a Washington luncheon celebrating the inauguration of President Barack Obama, longtime US Senators Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd kicked the proverbial bucket. At least, that's what happened in Wikiland. In our world, they're still among the living.

Ted Kennedy - diagnosed with a brain tumor last year - was rushed to the hospital on Tuesday, after suffering a seizure at Obama's post-inauguration lunch, and just before 3pm Eastern time, he turned up dead on "the encyclopedia anyone can edit" - the victim of an overzealous Wikifiddler.

Then, a few minutes later, 91-year-old Robert Byrd died his own Wikideath. He too left the luncheon early due to "a medical issue." But as with Kennedy, Wikireports of his death were greatly exaggerated.

This sort of Wikinonsense is nothing new. In recent months, the free encyclopedia murdered both Sinbad and Paul Reiser. But this time around, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales felt the need to take some action.

In the wake of the Kennedy-Byrd embarrassment, reported yesterday by The Washington Post, Jimbo ordered the site's IT staff to roll out a new Wikitool designed to mask encyclopedia "vandalism." With "Flagged Revisions," certain edits won't be shown to the public unless they're approved by "trusted editors."

Wikipedia admins already have the power to "protect" articles (i.e. lock them down to prevent edits entirely) and "semi-protect" them (prevent edits from editors without established accounts). But Wales sees Flagged Revisions as a more-nimble solution. "[The Kennedy-Byrd situation] would have been 100% prevented by Flagged Revisions," Wales wrote yesterday.

"It could also have been prevented by protection or semi-protection, but this is a prime example of why we don't want to protect or semi-protect articles - his was a breaking news story and we want people to be able to participate (so protection is out) and even to participate in good faith for the first time ever (so semi-protection is out)."

A Wikipoll recently approved Flagged Revisions, with 60 per cent of "the community" voting in favor of the new tool. Flags will make their debut on a trial basis, turning up on all articles that describe, yes, living persons.

Anyone can still edit these pages. But certain "trusted editors" will decide which edits are seen by the public at large. "The version shown to the public will not automatically be the most recent revision of the article," explains longtime admin David Yellope. "At least for some articles, only 'approved' revisions - those reviewed by administrators or trusted users - will be shown publicly."

This will spare Jimbo at least some embarrassment. But we all know that trusted Wikipedia editors can't always be trusted. "Yes, there's a chance that folks with a certain Point of View will use this to 'Flag' a revision that's pro their side," Yellope admits. But he says the Wikicommunity will quickly revoke flag rights if they're misused in any way.

So, if you're plotting a Wikikilling, you should get cracking. Flags will appear at any moment. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.