Stripping out a long email trail ...
I am not advocating lowering the BLP bar as there are genuine legal needs to prevent
What I am advocating is not letting new users do their first edits in “high risk”
articles. When I do training, I pick exercises for the group which deliberately take place
in quiet backwaters of Wikipedia, eg add schools to local suburb articles. Such articles
have low readership and low levels of watchers and no BLP considerations, i.e. low risk
articles. If the newbie first edit is a bit of a mess, probably no reader will see it
before it is fixed by a subsequent edit. They will be able to get help from me to fix it
before anyone is harmed by it and before anyone reverts them.
The “organic” newbie can dive into any article. It would be a very interesting research
question to look at reverts and see if we can develop risk models that predict which
articles are at higher risks of reverted edits (e.g. quality rating, length, type of
article eg BLP, level of readership, number of active watchers, etc) and there might be
separate models specifically for newbies revert risk and female newbie revert risk.
Or we just simply calculate the proportion of reverted edits and just use declare
anything over some threshold as “high risk” and not bother finding out what the article
characteristics are. We could also calculate what is the newbie revert rate.
Then we have something actionable. We could treat the high risk articles (by predictive
model or straight stats) as semi-protected and divert newbies from making direct edits. Or
at least warn them before letting them loose. For that matter, warn any user if they are
entering into a high conflict zone.
When you learn to drive a car, you normally start in the quiet streets, not a busy high
speed freeway, not narrow winding roads without guard rails up a mountain. Why shouldn’t
we take the same attitude to Wikipedia? Start where it is safe.