One key problem with a wiki encyclopaedia is that there's no quality
control whatsoever. An article may have been vandalized 5 seconds ago,
or be grossly non-NPOV etc. As we get more and more articles, this
problem becomes more urgent.
Fortunately, the solution is rather simple. Articles can be certified by
contributors to be high quality. But who is allowed to certify articles?
The system works by allowing groups of people to form certification
teams. Anyone can submit a new team to be created, and anyone can apply
to join an existing team and certify articles in its name. Users can
then decide to view only article revisions certified by members of
So I could decide in my user preferences:
Certification: Approved Teams
Then there would have to be a way to display certified article
revisions. This could be accomplished by having a "Certified Mode",
showing *only* articles that have received certs, with the most recently
certified revision shown. Somewhat weaker, where an article has been
certified, a link "There is a version of this article certified by Team
X" could be placed above the article, showing the certified revision
when clicked (or a text "This article has been certified by .." if the
current revision is the certified one). This could be the default view,
making users aware of the cert system.
Each team could have its own quality standards, policies, and subject
preferences. I suggest that the creation of new teams would have to be
approved by the Wikipedia cabal to avoid "Team Trolls". New team members
would either be voted on or approved by team members that have a certain
status flag ("can_approve_newcomers"). Teams could get their own
namespace as well.
A decision would have to be made as to which teams to include in the
default view, i.e. the one that anonymous and newly registered users
get. In the short term such decisions may be made by the cabal, in the
long term I would prefer voting.
There needs to be a teams table that at least has a TID and a TDesc, and
a team-member table that links TIDs and UIDs and grants individual users
certain permissions within the team, as well as a "pending" status flag
for newly applied members. A TCert table would link UIDs, TIDs certs and
article IDs (must include timestamp).
I am currently assuming that certifications would be simple "Good
article" binary flags. My reasoning is that a rating of "good, but not
good enough" may not be very helpful. Still, practice may prove that
wrong, and the table should therefore be designed to accomodate possibly
more flexible ratings.
Giving each individual member the power to rule an article certified in
the name of the whole team may be undesirable. Thus, teams should be
configurable to set their own min_number_of_certs, where certifications
would only be valid if so many team numbers agree that the article is
complete and high quality.
Finally, the PHP scripts of course have to be updated to reflect this
functionality. There needs to be some way to apply for team membership,
to approve team membership, and to submit a new team for cabal approval.
A module listing all articles approved by a certain team would be nice
and could substitute the "Brilliant Prose" page.
If this works as intended, it should solve the quality problem and allow
users to browse Wikipedia as a high quality content only encyclopaedia.
The more teams you would admit to your personal filter, the more content
you would see, but quality standards of individual teams might not be up
to par. By distributing the job of quality approval on several team
leaders, we can get competition of quality standards and social methods,
which is probably a good thing and reduces social problems.
If too many people use highly customized views, caching will get harder.
I don't see this as too big a problem as a) most people typically don't
customize views, b) article retrieval is already very fast with or
Too many teams may have undesired effects, such as teams deliberately
inserting POV articles to certify them. This is not a problem with the
team principle per se but with the way teams are approved and moderated.
Generally, teams should have a clear NPOV commitment and respect
Wikipedia policy, otherwise they should be deleted.
Comments on this would be appreciated. This is something I probably
won't have time to implement fully, but I will gladly help with any/all
efforts. I consider it very necessary for Wikipedia in the long term.
FOKUS - Fraunhofer Insitute for Open Communication Systems
Project BerliOS - http://www.berlios.de