One of the beauties of Wikipedia is the simple fact that nearly anybody is able to contribute to the site. They’re also criticized for this as well, and some say the practice of allowing open-editing makes Wikipedia susceptible to vandalism. What is Wikipedia to do to find a happy-medium where they can allow open editing of content yet keep the site accurate and free of vandalism?
Right now at the annual Wikimania 2008 event going on in Egypt, Wikipedia officials and contributors are discussing what they can do to improve the quality of content on Wikipedia and reduce vandalism. One idea that has come up and is already being tested on the German Wikipedia site is something they are calling “flagged revisions.” The concept of flagged revisions is pretty basic but could definitely change the way Wikipedia operates. Under the system, when someone contributed a change to an article, the change would not appear on the site until an “authority figure” verified the changes and assured they were accurate.
What does this mean for Wikipedia users? Well, for those who tend to use it almost as a news source, they’ll no longer be able to. The near instant updates to the site have turned Wikipedia into a place where you could go to learn about current events, but by the time an authority figure is able to verify changes, the event will probably no longer be “current.”
The New York Times wrote about this new approval system and said, “it well could bring some law and order to the creative anarchy that has made the site a runaway success but also made it a target for familiar criticism.” It’ll be near impossible for Wikipedia to please everybody because on one-hand they’ve got those that like the current system as it is, flaws and all, and then on the other-hand they’ve got those pushing for a more accurate and correct Wikipedia with a checks and balances system.
Our thought on this is that Wikipedia has done something right to get millions upon millions of visitors every single year. Why “fix” something if it isn’t broken? Flagged Revisions could certainly help cut-back on vandalism, but in the process it could stifle creativity and slow-down the flow of information.