Feeds

Jimbo Wales ends death by Wikipedia

Kennedy murder shames online cult

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
ONE MILLION people already running Windows 10
A third of them are doing it in VMs, but early feedback focuses on frippery
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Do Moan! MONSTER 6-day EMAIL OUTAGE hits Domain Monster
Customers freaked out by frightful service
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.