Feeds

Jimbo Wales ends death by Wikipedia

Kennedy murder shames online cult

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
Yes, Virginia, there IS a W3C HTML5 standard – as of now, that is
You asked for it! You begged for it! Then you gave up! And now it's HERE!
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
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.
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.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.