[Foundation-l] Robert Mugabe's daughter - news story originating from Wikipedia?

Robert Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Fri Mar 30 00:37:18 UTC 2007

Gregory Maxwell wrote:
> On 3/29/07, Robert Brockway <rbrockway at opentrend.net> wrote:
>> While I do agree with this point, an MP making a statement in parliament
>> should be double checking all facts (don't they have staff to do this?).
>> Verification from a primary source (ie, LSE) should have been sought.
>> I'll point out that IMHO anon edits do more harm to WP than good.  If
>> people care about the project let them create an account - it takes
>> perhaps 30 seconds?
> We've never demonstrated that turning off anon-page creation made a
> substantial improvement on enwiki... I wouldn't make claims like yours
> without seeing it.
> Think of it this way, if you see a little error you'd like to correct,
> why would you also want to jump through a login hoop.. after all
> you're doing US a favor.
> If instead you'd like to put in some amusing piece of vandalism, you'd
> probably jump through a dozen hoops to pull it off. Some crackers will
> spend weeks of work sometimes to deface a single webpage...
> In any case, the harm caused by vandalism itself is very minor. The
> harm caused by our current practice of always instantly distributing
> anonymous edits to the entire world, is what is actually of concern.

I have wondered if it might be something useful for some of our projects 
to have a "published" page that would be a snapshot of the regular page 
that most of the people who have worked on and tried to develop the 
content on that page could say is slightly more authoritative than the 
general "draft" page.  I'm not talking anything fancy here, but perhaps 
something like a "publish" tab for an admin or other trusted user that 
would create a permalink to the current version of the page.  The 
"draft" page would still be editable as normal, and it would be 
considered pro forma for users to request a particular page to get this 
published status.  Perhaps something on the talk pages for more 
controversial content like the George W. Bush article, where the active 
content developers would decide what version is more or less ready for 
prime time and free of most vandalism.

While this is something that could be gamed by vandals, I think it would 
be quite a bit harder to produce some of the raw garbage such as what 
was added to this article about Robert Mugabe.  At the very least, 
articles that generally aren't watched (or seldom watched) would have a 
stable version that wouldn't necessarily require constant vigilance by 
the vandalism patrol to keep them current.  And you could diff the draft 
from the published article to help spot some of the vandals like this 
individual and the one that massacred the Siegenthaler article as well.

Certainly something needs to happen here, as like it or not, Wikipedia 
is being taken much more seriously than it was a few years ago.  I know 
the Wikipedia 1.0 crew is trying other methods to come up with quality 
articles to showcase, but more could be done.  And we have to somehow 
balance the need to expand the user base for Wikimedia projects with 
trying to come up with quality content.

Allowing anon editing is merely one tool to try and encourage new people 
to come in and join our projects.  The more steps they have to go 
through in order to become considered full members of our community, the 
harder it will be to get people to help us out.

-- Robert Horning

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