Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wikipedia will tighten rules for updating, contributing?: what is a "reliable user"?


Wikipedia is reported to be considering tightening its system of letting anyone post. That is, only posts by approved and “trusted” members are viewable to the public immediately; posts by others must be reviewed first by “trusted” members. “Trusted” or “reliable” users would be able to see all revisions immediately.

Noam Cohen has a story (“Wikipedia May Restrict Public’s Ability to Change Entries”) in The New York Times ("Bits Blog") on the new policy, called “Flagged Revisions,” here. The German Wikipedia has used this system in Beta mode since May 2008. The policy seems to be coming about because of vandalism concerning Sen. Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd.

Last summer, I update one page, about “don’t ask don’t tell”, with the factual bibliographic material about the Rand Report, here.

Wikipedia has generated some controversy over the concept of “notability.” Generally, Wikipedia does not want people to create their own entries, or people in “mutual admiration societies” to create or update posts, although this seems to happen with advocacy groups and some corporations. The preferred posts come from individuals or parties with no business relationship and limited personal contact with the entity being described,

That would create a question about “notability” of “amateur” or “self-published” writers. Generally, the more material about a person that appears in search engines and that is written by others independently (and is substantial, not just links), the better. Generally, publication of a significant work by a third party makes someone notable.

I do not have a Wikipedia entry now, although my sites show up in footnotes of other articles. I would like to “earn” the notability for one, although that is a two-way street. A Wikipedia entry is often the first found (even above LinkedIn or Facebook) so it could have “online reputation” implications, favorable or not. (A lot of “bad people” in history are “notable” according to the site’s definition.)

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