[WikiEN-l] Anonymous page creation will be reenabled on English Wikipedia.

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Fri Oct 26 21:29:37 UTC 2007

In December 2005 during the John Seigenthaler biography controversy
it was decided to require that users create an account and log in
before starting a new article.  The ability of people to make changes
without logging in remained unchanged.

Some people believed that Wikipedia's the high rate of growth may have
outpaced its community's ability to monitor new articles, contributing
to the Seigenthaler problem. It was hoped that the limitation of page
creation would increase the quality of newly created pages, increase
oversight over newly created pages, and avoid the creation of hoax
articles.  Since that point several attempts to study the impact of
the change have been conducted.  These studies have been unable to
produce conclusive findings.

Around the time of the Seigenthaler controversy Wikipedia underwent a
dramatic and discontinuous increase in traffic and editing activity
beyond the high rate of growth Wikipedia had long been experiencing.
It is very likely that the press surrounding this incident contributed
to this increase.  This increase had made it impossible to make
conclusive statements about the impact limiting page creation.

Furthermore, if we ignore the growth effects the data suggests that
the change has been harmful to the quality of Wikipedia. I must
emphasize that all results have been inconclusive. We just can't tell.

Numerous discussions with Wikipedians, Foundation leaders, and
Foundation staff going back for more than a year have generally been
positive about the idea of re-enabling anonymous page creation.

In the time since late 2005 the English Wikipedia community has grown
substantially. The nearly exponential growth rate in articles we
previously experienced has stopped.  Even if disabling anon page
creation was beneficial then, there is no current evidence suggesting
that the change continues to be beneficial.  As such, barring
complications, anonymous page creation will be re-enabled on English
Wikipedia on Friday November 9th.

After a one month period, on December 9th, we will re-evaluate this
decision using previously established methods (average article
lifespan, rate of deletion, manual quality classification, random
samplings of newly created articles, and most importantly, community
discussion). If there is evidence of harm, anonymous page creation
will be disabled to collect more data and provide time for discussion.
 If there is no significant evidence of harm, the issue will be
evaluated again after six months. Further milestones and actions may
be proposed at that time.

Finally the community will have the chance to make an informed
decision on this subject. It would have been best if that had happened
initially, but it wasn't possible then.

I hope that we can all look at this matter with optimism. If you are
aware of a strong factually-grounded reason why this should not be
done please provide it as soon as possible, either as a response to
this list or emailed to me privately.  If you have ideas on additional
measurements we can perform after making this change or if you'd like
to volunteer your effort for helping to perform a manual new article
quality study next month, please let me know.

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