Wikipedia Erects Accuracy Firewall

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-12-19 Print this article Print

Wikipedia has implemented a new policy of using "semi-protection" on targets of frequent vandalism, such as its entries on love, beauty or George W. Bush.

Wikipedia has implemented a new policy of using "semi-protection" on targets of frequent vandalism, such as its entries on love, beauty or George W. Bush. Semi-protection of a page prevents new registered users and all unregistered users from editing that page and is only applied if the page in question is facing a serious vandalism problem. Although news reports are calling the new policy a major revision, it is actually only a slight spin on Wikipedias existing policy of protection.
Protection gives Wikipedia administrators the ability to protect pages from being edited or images from being overwritten, except by other administrators.
The move comes after complaints from John Seigenthaler Sr. regarding errors in an entry that falsely implicated the U.S. journalist and former aide to Robert Kennedy in his assassination and that of his brother, U.S. President John F. Kennedy. In an editorial published in USA Today, Seigenthaler wrote that the error had remained on Wikipedia for several months and that the anonymity of Wikipedia posters made it virtually impossible to track down its source. In the article, he described Wikipedia as a "flawed and irresponsible research tool." Even though the perpetrator of the inaccurate entry, Brian Chase, confessed and resigned from his job, the incident set off a torrent of criticism about Wikipedias accuracy and credibility. Still, according to a recent study by the journal Nature, Wikipedia isnt particularly prone to inaccuracies. Click here to read more from columnist Sean Carton about Wikipedias limits. Natures peer review of Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica found that among 42 entries tested, Wikipedia contained about four inaccuracies, compared with Britannicas three. Although 42 entries is a drop in the bucket when compared with the 873,231 articles on Wikipedia as of Monday, Nature concluded that inaccuracies on Wikipedia are the exception, not the rule. "The difference in accuracy was not particularly great," the journal reported. CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to indicate that Brian Chase resigned from his job. Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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