[This story has since been denied by the purported source. Please see below for details]
For Wikipedia there have long been two problems: How to stop vandalism and how to create a product that could be considered ‘stable’ and ‘complete’ enough to burn to CD — in short a releasable version of the encyclopedia.
Maybe they’re close to an answer. Reuters is quoting founder Jimmy Wales as saying that he plans to impose stricter editorial rules to prevent vandalism of its content:
In an interview with German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Wales, who launched Wikipedia with partner Larry Sanger in 2001, said it needed to find a balance between protecting information from abuse and providing open access to improve entries.
“There may soon be so-called stable contents. In this case, we’d freeze the pages whose quality is undisputed,” he said.
Citing a recent example of vandalism, Wales recalled how following the election of the new Pope Benedict in April, a user substituted the pontiff’s photo on the Wikipedia site with that of the evil emperor from the Star Wars film series.
“The picture was only on the page for a minute. But whoever opens the article at this moment will get annoyed — and therefore doubt our credibility,” he told the paper.
Here’s how he might do it:
He said that setting up a form of “commission” might be one way of deciding which entries could be “frozen” in perpetuity.
My understanding is that this has been discussed for a while. I think it’s a great idea, not least because it would be great to see hard copy versions, and CD-Roms, of Wikipedia despatched to the schools and libraries of the world where its rich pool of information could be accessed by those without an Internet connection. I know the schools of Indonesia, where I am at the moment, could do with it.
You might be interested in this. It looks like Jimmy Wales is claiming he never said that he would freeze some of the pages. Apparently the translation from German to English got things mixed up.
Love the site!
Thanks, Angel. Pretty poor stuff on the part of the journalists involved. And worrying, too, is Steve Outing’s parting comment:
Wales says: “The story seems to have legs, even though we’ve contacted Reuters and every other outlet to try to get a correction, no one seems to care at all. … No response. We’re important enough to write about, but not important enough for them to listen to at all.” … Well, here’s at least one correction. Mea culpa.
I’m not apologising because the sourcing here on my piece is clear, as it is on Steve’s site. If you clearly cite your source you have done what you can to offer the reader a sense of the authority of the story. The shame here is that the source was the respectable news agency Reuters, quoting a respectable German newspaper.
Anyway, Jimmy, glad to put the record straight.