[WikiEN-l] Experiment on new pages
jwales at wikia.com
Mon Dec 5 13:35:30 UTC 2005
Today, as an experiment, we will be turning off new pages creation for
anonymous users in the English Wikipedia.
Last Sunday at the wikimeet in London, there was some informal
discussion in which David Gerard referred to the new pages patrollers as
being very brave people (which they are) standing in front of a firehose
of nonsense (which it can be).
If we diagnose what went wrong in the Seigenthaler case, this seems like
a very opportune place to try a small change of policy.
1. First, the Seigenthaler article was created by an anon.
2. Then, a patroller simply corrected a spelling error and wikified the
entry a bit, but did not recognize the spurious claim. This was a
regrettable error, but one which we can understand in retrospect as
being a byproduct of the sheer volume of work.
3. Because the entry was never well-linked from related articles, the
subject-area sorts who would have spotted the dubious claim likely never
It seems to me that the first thing we can do is try to reduce the
workload on the people doing new pages patrol. A fairly extensive
monitoring and survey of new pages conducted by me over the past few
days, coupled with discussions with several people who keep an eye on
such things, suggests that we can have a substantial improvement here by
eliminating the ability for anons to make new pages.
There are some potentially negative side-effects, which is why I call
this an experiment:
1. Annoying anons may simply decide to create accounts and make annoying
nonsense pages anyway. This will certainly be true in some cases, but
it is an empirical question as to how many.
2. We will lose good new pages created by anons of good will. This may
cause the growth of English Wikipedia (in terms of the number of
articles) to slow a little bit. With 800,000+ articles, and
ever-increasing traffic to the website, this seems to be a worthwhile cost.
Notice that anons can still edit. I am a firm believer in the validity
of allowing anons to edit. Most anon edits are good, and done "on
impulse". We would most of the good edits from anons if we did not
allow anon edits, but we would probably not lose most of the vandalistic
anon edits. So the net effect of forbidding anon edits would likely be
But preveneting anons from creating new pages is a different matter, and
it seems a worthy time to make an experiment of it.
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