[Mediawiki-l] Forbidding anonymous edits in MediaWiki?

Evan Prodromou evan at wikitravel.org
Fri Apr 2 01:27:14 UTC 2004

>>>>> "DC" == Dan Carlson <minutiaeman at st-minutiae.com> writes:

    DC> I'd like to know if it's possible under the current system to
    DC> require contributors to register a user account before they
    DC> may make edits to any pages.  I realize that this isn't
    DC> exactly in the spirit of the wiki system, but we've had a
    DC> problem with a user lately who hasn't been paying attention to
    DC> our repeated requests to follow the rules.

Not to preach too hard, but: I suggest you think hard about what
you're doing.

It is a hassle dealing with unwanted edits, I know. Rolling back
unwanted edits takes time and effort. But if you think about it, it's
also an exercise in strengthening your community.

Other members of your wiki will know that they can count on each other
to maintain the editorial integrity of the site. And they know that
it's their job to do it, too.

Best of all, they know that Wiki Works. And it does. There are
hundreds if not thousands of open-editable wikis around the
Internet. They have great information, they work well, and they have
robust communities that keep them in good shape. And, trust me: you're
not the first wiki to have to deal with an uncooperative editor.

If you implement technological measures to maintain editorial
integrity, that means there's now one person who's responsible:
you. Or, rather, you, plus whoever's working on MediaWiki.

Not only that, but you'd be letting one person set your entire site
policy. And just by not following your rules! One person! Against all
of you! You're putting down your community by doing that, and you're
making this disruptive person a Super Giant!

Now, specifically on the point of disallowing anonymous edits: first,
you lose a lot of the advantage of wiki. People now, when they are
browsing your site for the first time, can see something misspelled or
bad grammar or a factual error can just edit the page and fix it. If
you disallow anonymous edits, they have to sign up to make
changes. Will they? Some will, some won't. But it stops the "impulse
edit", most of which are benign.

But also: what's to stop your disruptive visitor from creating a user
account? Or another user account, when you block that one? And
another? How much time has been saved, over simply rolling back edits?
And now there's just one, or a few, people who are able to take active
measures... meaning things get out of hand faster.

You _could_ set up a system where only people you know and trust can
get user accounts... and then you have just a few editors. So your
site's editorial content and robustness goes down quite a bit. You'll
have lost both anonymous editors and people you don't know.

Consider the other possibility: your community keeps patiently rolling
back or correcting unwanted edits from this one person. They
eventually get sick of wasting their time, and either start dialoguing
to come up with a compromise, or just give up. And your community
wins! You guys did it! The next time someone pulls this kind of stunt,
you know you can do it again.

Anyways, just a long speech to suggest you think it over again. You
might want to read up on SoftSecurity at the MeatballWiki, for advice
and a little encouragement:


Good luck!


Evan Prodromou <evan at wikitravel.org>
Wikitravel - http://www.wikitravel.org/
The free, complete, up-to-date and reliable world-wide travel guide

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